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Remembrance Day

Hon. Mary Jane McCallum: Honourable senators, today is the first day of Veterans’ Week, this year marking the seventy-fifth anniversary of the end of the Second World War. As such, I would like to remember and honour the legacy of Charles Richard Hawthorne, a veteran who served bravely in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II.

Born in Montreal in 1923, Mr. Hawthorne enlisted in the RCAF at age 17, lying about his age to meet the eligibility criteria. Trained as a P/O Navigator, he was stationed at the RCAF airbase in Pocklington, United Kingdom, as a member of Bomber Command’s 102 Ceylon Squadron. His air operations overseas entailed flying bombing missions over German airfields.

On December 24, 1944, Airborne 11.57 was on a mission from Pocklington to attack one of the airfields at Mülheim, Germany, which was thought to be a forward supply point for the Ardennes Offensive. While running this operation, Pilot Officer Hawthorne’s Halifax aircraft was shot down near Krefeld, Germany. Forced to parachute out of the plane, six crew members survived, including Mr. Hawthorne. Tragically, two other crew members did not.

Having survived the crash, Mr. Hawthorne was captured by German soldiers and was taken as a prisoner of war at Stalag Luft 1 (L1) near Barth in northern Germany. His family received a telegram three days after the crash, informing them that their son was missing in action.

It wasn’t until February 1945 that they received word that their son was alive and being held as a POW.

Thankfully, the camp holding Mr. Hawthorne was liberated near the end of the war. He returned to his home in Montreal in May 1945, malnourished but alive.

In recognition of his service, Pilot Officer Hawthorne was awarded several medals, including the 1939-1945 Star, France and Germany Star, Defence Medal, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and a clasp to the CVSM, War Medal 1939-1945, General Service Badge, RCAF Reserve Badge and the Navigator’s badge.

Upon his return home from the war, Mr. Hawthorne began working for CNR, where he worked for 48 years, while also attending Bishop’s University and Sir George Williams University, from which he received a Bachelor of Commerce.

I am proud to highlight his achievements for you, honourable senators, and to let you know that he’s the grandfather of James Campbell. Thank you.

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