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Ross Mingay: MIA – Presumed Dead

by Bob Hogarth

Mingay had seemingly vanished from the face of the earth.
His status was listed as “Missing in Action – Presumed dead,”
in the local newspapers.

Ross Mingay’s “death certificate”

Ross 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 farmhouse door.

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

Ross 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 fateful night.

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.

Article provided by Robert Hogarth, from
The Windsor Club News in Jan.,1992.


 

 

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