Mingay: MIA Presumed Dead
by Bob Hogarth
had seemingly vanished from the face of the earth.
His status was listed as Missing in Action Presumed
in the local newspapers.
Mingays death certificate
Mingay served in the Royal Canadian Air Force. He was always reluctant
to talk about his experiences during World War II, but when he did,
he would enthrall his listeners.
Shot down over Belgium during his very first bombing raid, Ross
and the surviving crew members of his Halifax bomber bailed out
deep over enemy territory.
Seriously injured, and in excruciating pain, Ross lay immobile in
a farm field for over two days. In desperation, Ross stumbled and
crawled his way to a nearby farmhouse. Quickly deciding that capture
would be no worse than his present situation, he knocked on the
The lady of the house was alone at the time, and showed little sympathy
for his predicament. This was understandable, as it was not uncommon
for the Nazis to masquerade as allied airmen in order to infiltrate
the underground network. The woman helped Ross to the barn, and
told him she was going for the authorities.
She subsequently returned with her husband and several associates.
Ross was interrogated at some length, and eventually convinced them
that he was in fact, an allied airman. He received shelter and badly
needed medical attention, and eventually made contact with the underground
chain that would aid in his escape back to Britain.
Young Ross Mingay
had seemingly vanished from the face of the earth. As a result,
his name was listed in the dreaded Missing in Action
notices in the local newspaper. Later his status was changed to
Missing in Action Presumed dead.
The grieving Mingay family accepted condolences from the Governor
General, the Prime Minister and countless relatives and friends.
They arranged for a stained glass window to be installed at their
church as a memorial to the young airman.
Meanwhile, Ross was making his way through the underground, posing
as a French national. Little did he know that the leader of their
small group was a double agent, who would turn them over to the
Gestapo when they reached Bordeaux. It was 1943, and Ross spent
the remainder of the war in a prisoner of war camp.
In 1991, a Belgium writer researching a book on the German air war,
wrote to Ross seeking information on the fate of his crew. This
gentleman also sent Ross a photograph of the twenty-two year old
German fighter Ace, who had shot down his Halifax bomber on that
Ross and his late wife Betty returned to the Continent in 1966 to
retrace his steps through the underground. They visited all the
homes where he had been harbored, and he renewed his acquaintance
with those families whom had sheltered him. On his visit to the
Belgium farmhouse, the family returned his flying boots and the
remnants of his parachute, most of which had been used for clothing
by the family during those difficult times. Ross, understandably,
had great admiration and respect for this family, who had rendered
assistance, at great personal risk.
Ross wartime experiences had a profound effect on him, and
certainly influenced his zest for life. He exhibited an interest
and concern for everyone he came into contact with, and enriched
the lives of us all. Ross had a great sense of fair play, and would
always remind you that every story had two sides.
If Ross Mingay ever did have an enemy, he surely would have made
that enemy his friend.
provided by Robert Hogarth, from
The Windsor Club News in Jan.,1992.