Royal Canadian Air Force
No.408 (R.C.A.F.) Squadron
File No. 408/702/87/P.1.
20 April, 1943
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Pilon:
Before you receive this letter you will have had a signal informing you that your son, R 90867 Sergeant Francois Rolland PILON, has been reported missing as a result of air operations.
At approximately 9 P.M. on the night of the 16th instant, "Frank" (as he was known to the boys) and members of his crew took off from this Aerodrome to carry out operations over PLZEN (Pilsen), Czecho-Slovakia, but, unfortunately, failed to return. He and his crew were due back at this Aerodrome at approximately 6:30 A.M. the next morning, but no news has been received from either the crew of the aircraft since the time of take-off.
It is with regret that I have to write to you this date to convey to you the feelings of my entire Squadron. The loss of your son and other members of the crew is greatly felt by everyone in the Squadron. He was very popular with the boys especially in the Sergeants' Mess where he was looked upon as "a good fellow", and his loss is regretted by all.
We lost one of our best Aircrews when this aircraft did not return for it had already been mapped out for a great future with my Squadron. Your son had 3 operational trips to his credit and a total of 10 operational hours over enemy territory, and was fast becoming an "Ace" Navigator. Five of the seven members of the crew were Canadians and two were English boys.
There is always a possibility that your son may be a prisoner of war, in which case, you will either hear from him direct or through Air Ministry who will receive advice from the International Red Cross Society. To be a prisoner of war is not the happiest thought in one's mind, particularly for you who has so fond of your son, but on the other hand, I hope you will bear with me that it carries a certain gratifying thought in knowing that our loved ones are alive and well and will, some day, return home safely.
This War has caused grief to millions of people all over the world, and, it is a sorrowful state to know that so many fine young men must make great sacrifices in order to crush and erase from the face of the earth an infuriated enemy whose jealousy and hatred of our spirit and strength will eventually crush him and the members of his clique.
I do not wish to grieve you further in your deep anxiety, but trust that you will bear with us until such a time as definite information is received one way or the other concerning the welfare of your son.
Your son's effects have been gathered together and forwarded to Royal Air Force, Central Depository, where they will be held until further news is received or in any event, for a period of at least six months before being forwarded to you through the Administrator of Estates, Ottawa. The Commanding Officer, Central Depository, will communicate with you in the very near future.
Should there be any further information you require or anything in my power that I could do for you, I would only be too pleased to comply with your wishes. If any furhter news of your son is received by my Squadron, I can assure you I will convey same to you immediately.
May I offer my most sincere sympathies as well as those of my Officers and men in your anxiety.
Wing Commander Commanding
No.408 (R.C.A.F.) Squadron.
Mr. and Mrs. P. Pilon