|L/Bombadier Philippe Pilon
Royal Canadian Artillery
05/3/1913 - 08/8/1944
|Philippe Pilon was born in Springfield,
Massachusetts, USA in 1913. He was a slightly built, bilingual
man measuring 5 ft 8 3/4 and weighing 145 lbs. At the time
he enlisted on November 10, 1941, he was living in the town of Beloeil,
(Beloeilville on his attestation document) Québec, less than 20
kilometres east of Montréal, and working in a munitions
factory. He initially joined the 75th Battery of the Royal
Canadian Artillery. He was probably one of the older recruits in
his training unit at the age of 29, and more than likely received his
fair share of jokes because of that, but he may also have been a source
of some comfort for others.
He trained mostly in Petawawa on the Ottawa River and at Valcartier near Québec City before being shipped to Debert, Nova Scotia. There, in November of 1942, he was tried for being Away Without Leave, apparently for 25 days! It would appear that he was having second thoughts about being in the military, or perhaps he had other reasons for being away. However, he was eventually promoted to the rank of Lance Bombadier in April of 1943 while still in Nova Scotia, which suggests that by that point he was not only committed to being in the military, but was judged to be an asset. He returned to Petawawa in May of 1943 to continue his training.
He last saw the shores of Canada on August 25, 1943 and arrived in the United Kingdom a few days later on the 1st of September (the same day as his younger brother Gerard who had left two days later, on August 28). On July 5, 1944, he embarked for France, arriving there the next day and being attached to the 4th Medium Regiment of the Royal Canadian Artillery. On August 8, 1944, he was killed by enemy action. This was the day that operation Totalize began, a plan to encircle and capture the German army contained in the Falaise pocket. Through an odd twist of fate, the same day that Philippe was killed, his brother, Gerard Russel Eddy, was wounded in the head. In addition to Gerard, there was a third brother, Sgt. Jean-Paul Pilon, serving with the Royal 22e Régiment, the fabbled Van Doos. The 8th of August was a bad day for the Massachusetts Pilons.
The exact circumstances of his death are not contained in his personel file. However, a note dated April 8, 1945 that has been kept along many many others dealing with his personal effects, reveals that the truck he was travelling in was hit by a bomb, destroying all personal effects. In the absence of specific information, it is nonetheless worth pointing out that when operation Totalize began, the US Army Air Force lent bomber support to the effort, but apparently, on that first day of the operation, two dozen of their bombers dropped their ordonance "short" and hit allied lines. Was Philippe killed by this so-called "friendly" fire?
Philippe Pilon was initially buried in a Canadian Military Cemetery at Mondeville, on the outskirts of the city of Caen and his body was eventually reburied in the Canadian Military Cemetery of Bretteville-sur-Laize, in Grave 12, Row H, Plot 10. He was 31 years of age.
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