|Gerard Russell Eddy Pilon
Régiment de Maisonneuve
26/7/1923 - 05/4/1945
|Gerard Russell Eddy Pilon was born in
Montréal, Québec in 1923, unlike his older brother
Philippe who was born in Massachusetts. His parents had been
married in Upton, Québec in 1908 and must have spent a few years
in the French-Canadian textile towns of New England before returning to
Canada. Gerard was the next to youngest child in a family of 5
children. He had two brothers, both in the army (Philippe also
died in the war and his brother Jean-Paul was in the Royal 22e
Régiment) and two sisters, both married. He was a slightly
man measuring 5 ft 6 3/4 and weighing 128 lbs. He had
completed his 8th grade of primary education. At the time
he enlisted on January 25, 1943, he was living with his mother on
Jeanne d'Arc Avenue in Montréal. On his attestation
document, his trade is listed as a solderer (soudeur,
électricité) but after he died, his mother indicated in
the form P.64 that he had been a shoe salesman in civilian life before
His initial training took place in Montréal and at St.Jérome, but by June of 1943, he was based in Camp Borden, near Barrie, Ontario where he was attached to the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps. He left Canada on August 28, 1943, arriving in the United Kingdom on September 1, 1943, the same day as his older brother Philippe who had left Canada two days earlier than him. Did they ever have the opportunity of meeting up while in the U.K. to exchange stories about their respective training adventures, new friends, views on the war, life and news from home? In the fall of 1943 he is attached to the 18th Field Ambulance while still in the U.K. He remained with the 18th Field Ambulance when he embarked for France on July 5, 1944, arriving there the next day. Once again, synchronicity was in motion. His brother Philippe, in the Royal Canadian Artillery, embarked for France on the same day as Gerard did.
On August 8, 1944, he received a superficial schrapnel wound to the left temporal area from a mortar shell and he was evacuated back to the U.K. where he was admitted to the 4th Canadian Convalescent Depot Hospital on August 14, 1944. This is the same day that his brother Philippe was killed in action. A telegramme was sent to his mother informing her of Gerard's wounding only on the 17th of August, at about the same time that she was learning of the death of her oldest child, Philippe. Gerard was to remain in the Convalescent Hospital until August 28, 1944. In October he became attached to the Régiment de Hull. Eventually, he re-embarked for Northwestern Europe on November 3, 1944, arriving on the continent the next day, and on November 11, 1944, he was taken on strength by the Régiment de Maisonneuve.
At the end of January of 1945, he was promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal, then on March 2, 1945, he became a full Corporal. The next day he was promoted to the rank of Acting Sergeant. Gerard Russell Eddy Pilon was killed in action on April 5, 1945, at the age of 21 years old, barely one month before the capitulation of Germany on May 8, 1945. His initial, temporary grave was in Holland and by June of 1946, his mother was informed that her son Gerard had been re-interred in the Canadian Military Cemetery in Holten, Holland (Grave 15, Row E, Plot II), where a Mr. E.H. Van Santen had adopted Gerard's grave.
In March of 1946, Gerard's mother was sent a letter informing her that her son Gerard Russell Eddy Pilon had been Mentioned in Despatches "for gallant and distinguished service" and a formal certificate was sent to her in October of 1948. How much consolation could this have been for this widow who had lost two of her three sons in the war.
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