Jean Fontaine – Le projet mémoire: Prise deux

Jacques Coco Morin m’a parlé de cet aviateur cet après-midi.

Il n’avait que des éloges envers cet aviateur, un sans-filiste qui a fait 55 missions sans jamais avoir été blessé.

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collection Jacques Morin

Il a conservé des articles de la Tribune qui rendait hommage à cet aviateur.

Je lui ai dit que je parlerais de Jean Fontaine sur mon blogue…

J’en avais déjà parlé. En fait c’est Jean Fontaine qui parlait de lui. Voici donc en reprise ce que j’avais écrit.

Cliquez ici.

Voici la transcription que l’on trouve sur le site.

Bonjour. Ici, c’est Lieutenant colonel Jean Fontaine, colonel honoraire du 714e Escadron des communications à Sherbrooke.

Je suis un aviateur de la Deuxième Guerre mondiale ayant opéré sur des bombardiers lourds, soit le Wellington qui avait cinq membres d’équipage. Après ça, je suis allé sur le Halifax avec sept membres d’équipage et couronné avec un tour sur les Lancasters avec la Royal Air Force. Autrement dit, je m’empresse à ajouter que, sur la base RAF Waverley, pas loin de Cambridge, il y avait deux escadrilles : l’Escadrille de Mosquitoes et Lancasters, j’étais le seul francophone sur la base. J’ai commencé avec l’Escadrille des Alouettes, ce qu’on appelle le 425. Puis on a été chanceux. On s’est fait prendre par la DCA, le flak, les phares lumineux, et tout ça. Mais mon pilote était très expérimenté, ça fait qu’on a pu s’en sortir sauf que je suis arrivé à la base le soir, moi même et l’équipage, on était un petit peu « sur la corde raide », comme on dit. On était content de revenir à la maison, puis s’en aller pour une semaine de congé.

Alors, après ça, on continue de faire notre tour. Et en passant, le premier tour dans ce temps là, c’était 30 voyages. Et le deuxième un peu moins, 25, pour en faire une moyenne d’à peu près 55. Dans mon cas, j’ai 28 pour le premier tour, puis 27 pour le deuxième; total : 55. Moi, j’ai bien aimé puis j’ai été très bien traité.

En 1944, on m’a envoyé comme instructeur sur une base où il y avait des aviateurs français. Ça fait que j’ai fini la fin de l’été, puis on m’a offert de retourner au Canada. J’ai dit : « Qu’est ce que je vais faire là? What am I gonna do? » Alors, là, il dit : « Tu vas retourner au Canada. Tu vas prendre un mois de vacances, après ça revenir faire ton deuxième tour. » Personnellement, j’ai dit à l’officier supérieur : « That’s a waste of time. C’est une perte de temps. » Et moi, je vais m’arranger avec les types que je connais. J’ai dit : « Je vous remercie quand même. » Puis alors j’ai appelé au « group » duquel on faisait partie, ce qu’on appelle 91 Group Bomber Command. J’ai demandé à la téléphoniste de me connecter avec Addington. C’est pas loin de Cambridge puis Oxford, dans le Midlands. Alors, je prends le téléphone puis je demande à la demoiselle de me brancher sur 91 Group Headquarters à Addington. Puis j’entends la petite voix, là, qui dit 91 Group et tout ça. Ça fait qu’il donne son nom en plus. Son nom, c’est Storey. Je me souviens. Il dit : « Storey, here. » J’ai dit : « Sir, I’ve done what you’ve asked me and it’s my turn to ask. » And he said : « By all means. Where do you want to go? » J’ai dit : « I want to go on Pathfinders. This is an elite group, the Pathfinders, the best group. It’s the best navigators. The best… The whole shebang. Alors, ç’a marché. Puis on m’a envoyé sur une base pour faire un petit entraînement de 3 ou 4 jours et j’étais heureux ! Heureux comme… Je ne sais pas comment l’expliquer, mais c’était pas mal excitant, là. Par contre, ça va pas toujours bien.

Mon équipage…

Premièrement, on s’est écrasé au décollage. Quand vous commencez à pénétrer à l’intérieur de l’Allemagne, vous avez les chasseurs puis la DCA. C’est assez pour énerver n’importe qui. Finalement, on s’en est passé. On disait : « Quelle que soit la qualité de l’équipage que vous avez, si vous n’avez pas, Madame La Chance, vous n’avez pas de chance de finir. If you don’t have Lady luck riding with you, you’ll never finish. »

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In memoriam Maurice Bélanger

Richard Girouard partage…

Maurice a été des toutes premières Alouettes, de la naissance du 425 en
juin 1942 à Dishforth, ensuite à Kairouan en Tunisie, en Afrique du nord et
finalement à Thorlthope jusqu’à la fin de la guerre en juin 1945. Il a
été dans plusieurs organisations dont président de la Légion canadienne
à Chicoutimi.
#2

 

1921-2014

L’équipage de Lafrenière – Red Gauvreau

Monsieur Corbeil m’a dit hier que mon blogue sur Les Alouettes était un peu difficile à suivre même pour un vétéran du 425 comme lui.

Je lui ai dit que mon blogue est comme aller à la pêche. Aller à la pêche pour trouver des membres des familles des aviateurs dont je parle. C’est comme ça que la fille de Jean Ouellet m’a trouvé et a ensuite partagé tous les souvenirs de guerre de son père. C’est aussi le cas d’André Lafrenière qui a partagé le logbook et les photos de son père.

Rodolphe Lafreni+¿re

C’est comme ça que j’établis le contact.

Voici donc en reprise le billet sur l’équipage de Rodolphe Lafrenière, dans l’espoir qu’on m’écrive un jour.

logo escadron 425

On ne trouve  que peu d’information sur les membres de l’équipage de Lafrenière sur Internet, encore moins sur les ground crew.

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Pas surprenant qu’on ne trouve rien, car on n’avait pas grand chose non plus sur Internet sur le pilote.

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Collection Jacques Morin

C’était avant que son fils ne partage les photos et le logbook de son père.

Heureusement j’avais cette photo avec les noms pour m’aider dans mes recherches.

Lafrenière

Musée de la Défense aérienne via Richard Girouard

La photo vient de Richard Girouard, recherchiste bénévole au musée de la Défense aérienne à Bagotville.

Je rends toujours à Richard ce qui appartient à Richard.

Le navigateur de l’équipage de Lafrenière était le Pilot Officer Bouchard. Pilot Officer ne veut pas nécessairement dire qu’il était un pilote. Sans le navigateur l’équipage était aveugle.

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Collection Jacques Morin

Le bomb aimer était le Warrant Officer Hudson. Sans le bomb aimer l’équipage était inoffensif.

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Collection Jacques Morin

Le Pilot Officer Shelmerdine, le flight engineer, était de la RAF, car la RCAF n’avait pas eu le temps de former des ingénieurs pour les escadrilles canadiennes volant sur Halifax.

Devant la photo de l’équipage nous voyons le Pilot Officer Numainville. C’est un WAG.

équipage de Rodolphe Lafrenière

WAG c’était wireless air gunner, le sans-filiste. Sans wireless air gunner l’équipage était sourd.

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Collection Jacques Morin

Puis nous avons deux AG, des air gunners, les Flight Sergeants Golden et Gauvreau (Gauvrian). Selon moi le plus petit était le mitrailleur de la tourelle arrière et le plus grand était le mitrailleur de la tourelle dorsale. Mais je peux être complèment dans le champ. Sans les air gunners l’équipage était sans défense.

Fallait surtout pas s’endormir dans sa tourelle!

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Collection Jacques Morin

On retrouve les membres d’équipage de Rodolphe Lafrenière sur ces deux autres photos où on voit également des ground crew: mécaniciens, armuriers…

Ils traitaient le KW-L aux petits oignons.

KW-L 2

On les voit ici photographiés devant le Halifax KW-L.

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Je reconnais facilement maintenant certains visages. Ceux de Lafrenière, Numainville, Golden, Shelmerdine, Bouchard, Gauvreau et Hudson.

Les autres sont sûrement des ground crew qui dorlotaient le KW-L.

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Ici Lafrenière sert la main à Gauvreau. C’était une photo prise par la RCAF pour la propagande sûrement.

Un autre air gunner est derrière.  Son visage ne me dit rien. Quant aux autres, aucune idée qui ils sont.

Il faudrait bien un jour mettre des noms sur chacun de ces visages comme nous l’avons fait pour ces autres photos de ground crew prises en Afrique du Nord…

afrique du nord 2

425 Aouette Afrique du Nord Maurice Bélanger

Maurice Bélanger et Paul Bérubé

Vous pouvez me contacter en laissant un commentaire ou en utilisant le formulaire ci-dessous.

Alouettement vôtre Maurice Bélanger – Avis de décès de Maurice Bélanger

Richard Girouard vient de m’annoncer la nouvelle…

J’avais écrit ceci plutôt cette année.

J’aime bien cet autre message d’une alouette du 425.

J’avais encore écrit à monsieur Bélanger à propos de cette photo.

afrique du nord 2

1943 en Tunisie

Bonjour M. Lagacé,
 
Pour ce qui est de notre ami Bérubé:

Enrôlé comme G.D. (homme à tout faire (General Duty)).
 
 Je l’ai connu à notre départ pour l’Afrique où il fut attaché à mon unité pour l’élévation de notre nouvelle base. Après quelques mois, il fut attaché soit au transport, soit à l’armement (bombes) ou encore avec les mécaniciens.

À notre retour en Angleterre, ce fut le même travail. Pendant tout ce temps nous avons continué nos relations avec notre ami Bérubé.
 
Moi-même comme G.D. Je fus toujours attaché à l’administration, section de la discipline ou du logement. Je travaillais sous les ordres du Sergent Major de l’Escadrille.(Flight Sergent Régnier)
 
 Alouettement vôtre
 Maurice Bélanger (Caporal   R 559781)

Le 10 juillet 2014, est décédé à l’hôpital de Chicoutimi, à l’âge de 92 ans et 8 mois, M. Maurice Bélanger, époux de feu dame Jeanne d’Arc Bergeron, demeurant à Chicoutimi. La famille accueillera les parents et amis à la Résidence funéraire
Gravel et Fils, Réseau Dignité
825 Bégin, coin des Champs-Élysées
Chicoutimi.

Les heures d’accueil sont le dimanche 13 juillet 2014, de 14 h à 17 h et de 19 h à 22 h. Lundi 14 juillet, le salon ouvrira à compter de 9 h. Les funérailles auront lieu à l’église St-Antoine le lundi 14 juillet 2014 à 11 h. M. Bélanger faisait partie des Anciens Combattants RCAF, de l’escadron Alouette 425 et de la légion canadienne. Il était fils de feu Joseph et feu Rolande Tremblay (Rose-Anna Lapointe). Il laisse dans le deuil ses enfants : Ruth Bélanger (Robert Martel), Diane (Marcel Girard), Jean-Pierre (Marie Blackburn), Michel (Julie Corneau); ses petits-enfants : Bruno Martel, Martin Martel (Juan Carlos Cordero), Jean-François Girard (Katia Desbiens), Konnie Girard (Danny Paquette), Simon Bélanger (Martine Rioux), Louis (Nacéra Bouffar), Guy et Amélia Bélanger; ses arrières petits-enfants : Naïla, Mélissa, Frédérik, Maxime, Charles, Philippe, Jean-Benoît, Louis-David, Alyssa, Charles, Lio. Il était frère de : feu Émile (feu Cécile Lavoie), feu Jean-Baptiste (feu Rita Gagnon), feu Roland (feu Thérèse Munger, Dixie Tremblay), feu Hilaire (feu Jeanne d’Arc Fortin), Monique (feu Jacques Lalancette). Il était le beau-frère de : feu Albert Bergeron (feu Marie-Jeanne Duchesne), feu Georges-Henri (feu Patricia Lessard), feu Marie-Jeanne (feu Philias Cajelais), feu Marcel Gagné (feu Simone Corneau), feu Marie Gagné (feu Auguste Lapointe, Edouard Ouellet), Georgette Bergeron (feu Vilmond Lavoie), feu Paul (feu Monique Tremblay), feu Robert (Anita Desmeules), feu Claude (Lisette Girard), Jean-Eudes (Lisette Bergeron). Il laisse également dans le deuil de nombreux neveux et nièces, parents et amis. Nous souhaitons à remercier l’équipe du Manoir Champlain de leur présence et de leur grande bienveillance pour notre père. Un merci spécial à Julie Corneau pour sa présence et son accompagnement de fin de vie à notre père. Pour rendre hommage à M. Bélanger et signer le livre des invités en ligne visitez notre

site : www.graveletfilschicoutimi.com.

Pour information : (418) 543-0755, télécopieur : (418) 543-7241, courriel : info@graveletfils.com. Direction funéraire : Résidences funéraires Gravel & Fils.

Lest We Forget

Note

How I came to write several blogs about WWII and about veterans is a very long story which started back in July 2009.

How I came to know Jacques Gagnon is also a very long story. Meeting Jacques Gagnon in 2011 led to a guest post he wrote in French on this blog about 425 Les Alouettes one week ago. This is the English translation of the meeting Jacques Gagnon had with a veteran air gunner Jacques "Coco" Morin.

collection Jacques Morin - Jacques Morin Mont-Joli 1942

Collection Jacques "Coco" Morin (Mont-Joli, Quebec – 1944)

Jacques Gagnon wrote the text and he sent me pictures his wife took of the meeting. I rarely put personal pictures of people on this blog. I am always relunctant to do so. These pictures on the other hand help to better understand what you will read.

Ce diaporama nécessite JavaScript.

The original text was written in French and automatic translation did not do justice to the message Jacques Gagnon wants to convey.

This whole story began in 2011 when I first met Mr. Morin. Jacques Gagnon was the go-between. I found that Mr. Morin was a little nervous during our first meeting but he was not during the next two as he felt he could trust me.

This is the story of his crew and his old friend Georges Tremblay. Jacques "Coco" Morin is in the first row on the right and Georges Tremblay is on the left. 

Eudore Marcoux 1

(Archives Musée de la Défense aérienne de Bagotville via Richard Girouard)

Eudore Marcoux was their pilot.

I told part of that story on this blog which pays homage to 425 Les Alouettes squadron. This story will end when Jacques Morin is one day once again reunited with his old friend Georges Tremblay.

The last time Jacques Morin and Georges Tremblay saw each other was in 1946. In one of our three meetings, Mr. Morin had asked me to try to locate Georges for him. I said I would try, but I was not lucky until Georges’ daughter-in-law found my blog in early June 2014 and wrote me that she was "shocked and thrilled." I was also shocked and thrilled.

This is the story about two young men, one from Sherbrooke, Quebec, and the other one from Trois-Rivières, Quebec, both going to a war they had not started but had to stop.

George Tremblay (R) Jean Morin (L) May 1944

Jacques Morin and Georges Tremblay (Collection Georges Tremblay)

Both were lucky to get back from training unscathed at Mont-Joli, and from seven missions they flew over Europe like the other members of the crew.

George Tremblay bottem centre March 1945

Collection Georges Tremblay

No one was ever hurt physically, but most were psychologically.

I will write about how lucky they were another time when they flew on a mission over Munster.

written on back-Raid on Munster-if we came back it was a miracle and I still can't believe it

Collection Georges Tremblay

This young man from Sherbrooke had never talked about the war. He was afraid people would laugh at him. Mr. Morin was known as some practical joker…

For 65 years he never said a word about the war. He started to talk about the war when he met Jacques Gagnon, Eugène Gagnon’s nephew. Eugène was a Mosquito pilot with RAF 23 Squadron.

Eugene Gagnon

(Collection Tom Cushings via Peter Smith)

He died after the war in an airplane crash in the woods near Windsor Mills on October 21st, 1947.

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(Collection Jacques Gagnon)

In 1947 I was not even born, Jacques Gagnon was 5 years-old.

Jacques Gagnon befriended Coco Morin who knew he could trust him.

They are still friends.

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(Collection Jacques Gagnon)

Then I befriended Jacques Gagnon…

We are still friends. Jacques Gagnon is the one who introduced me to Coco Morin in 2011.

This is the text about Jacques’ meeting with Mr. Morin last June 23rd. It’s about a last meeting.

His last meeting with Georges Tremblay

In 1946, we were both in Trenton. We were both reinstated full-time in the RCAF. The first part of the training was at Trenton. I told him that I was coming back in the airforce. I had taken a sabbatical for one year. He had done the same. When he was at Trenton he never told me during the two weeks that we were together what he was training for: mechanic or something else. One day, when he got his transfer, he came to see me in my room and said: "I am saying farewell, I’m going. I got my transfer."

This was a shock. I was surprised, but being surprised is normal for a service man. I had my trade and Georges had his. he never told me his. Mine was meteorology. I completed my course in meteorology and I got transfered at Rockcliffe in Ottawa. Georges disappeared. Where he went I did not know.

When my daughter Christine mentioned you were coming to see me to talk about Georges Tremblay I was happy. I said to myself: "at last I will know. Georges never never contacted me. I tried to contact him using his parents’s home address in Trois-Rivières. I got nowhere. The letters were always coming back: address unknown. I did not know where to reach him and I did not have his service number.

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(Collection Jacques Gagnon)

When we were discharged from the airforce he always told me: "This girl here, I am going to marry her." He was dating a girl from Trois-Rivières. I don’t know if this is the girl he married. He had her picture when we were in Centralia (in Ontario). I also saw that picture in England.

"Ah… I thought that was her he had married", he comments when he learned it was not the case.

I told Mr. Morin that Georges married Margaret Harder in 1948, in Calgary. They had three children.

"1948! Same thing here", said a stunned Jacques Morin.

(I take a few moments to talk about Georges Tremblay’s life, as told to Pierre Lagacé by Sharon, Georges’ daughter-in-law, .)

"Isn’t amazing what we can find after all these years? So his daughter-in-law is interested in knowing about my past. Does she mentions that Georges had talk about me? (Georges did according to the e-mails.)

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(Collection Jacques Gagnon)

Comments about the photos

"So her daughter-in-law had all these pictures."

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(Collection Jacques Gagnon from pictures sent by Sharon Tremblay)

So she knew me (Mr. Morin laughing)?

(Mr. Morin now looks at the nose of the Lancaster)

Oh my God! This is Tarzan. Tarzan was our bomb aimer. He was an athlete, he was in fitness training. He had his picture taken with his dog. He is the one who painted this on the nose of the plane.

George  RCAF plane photo<

(Collection Georges Tremblay)

(Jacques Morin commented on each photo. He was most interested by those after 1946. He suddenly became pensive when he looked at his friend’s black hair that had turned to gray. I had a feeling he would have liked to know him and socialized with that man.)

An answer to a question from Sharon about Jacques Morin’s career in the military after the war

When I got out in 1948 to get married, I was a LAC (Leading Aircraft Man) like Georges.

I was in the Airforce Reserve. I was with a radar unit in Sherbrooke. At that time I was a lieutenant until 1961. Radar was for us officers like air traffic control. I was an air traffic controller  from 1953 to 1961. This unit was closed in December 1961. It was a reserve unit  number 2450. In February 1962 I joined the Fusiliers de Sherbrooke as captain, the equivalent of Flight/Lieutenant in the Airforce. I left in 1975. I had the right to add CD after my name. It was for Canadian Decoration. I was in the service for 23 years. I liked it. I worked with General John Dunn as his aide de camp when we were going to Farnham (an Canadian army base located in Quebec). He knew nothing about drawings. We made sketches for battle simultations. I was good at drawing. I was always good at drawing. John was saying: Coco is my man. I don’t want no one else.

Who was Georges Tremblay for Jacques Morin?

He was a great friend, a very close friend. He would tell me everything about himself and so did I. When he came to say farewell, he simply shook my hand. His mother had told me when I went to Trois-Rivières to get commando training: " Coco I want you to take care of Georges." Georges would never anything without asking me first.

Coco… Did Georges have a nickname?

No. It was Louis. We called him Louis or just Georges. It was like our pilot. His name was Eudore but in the airforce it’s hard to say that in English, so it was Eddy.

Did you have other friends other than Georges?

I had other friends. We would go out from time to time. Have a beer, go dancing. But when the night was over that was all. But it was not the same with Georges. We were always together. Georges was never going out without Coco.

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(Collection Jacques Gagnon)

Message pour Sharon Tremblay

I would like very much to be in a position to know them. I did not have the pleasure of knowing the family, the parents. Tell her that I have enjoyed everything you brought me. The mistake I made was that I did not write down his service number when he left Trenton.

A quite unusual anecdote

(I explain to Jacques Morin that Georges’ family can’t find Georges Tremblay’s logbook. Pierre Lagacé will send a copy of his logbook to his daughter-in-law since they both flew in the same bomber and experienced the same events.)

I was the first crew member to get out of the bomber. Georges was second. We would sit in the truck without saying a word. I was completely washed out. And then we waited. There was just that time when he was walking awkwardly. I asked him: "You look like someone who had shat in his pants." He replied: Yes for Christ sake. It’s been three and a half hours that I am sitting on shit." We got shot at. He had the scare of his life. A bomb came down from another bomber and passed between the wing and the tail. He cleary saw it because he was in the top turret. He was talking  to the pilot. I remember as if it was yesterday. He was saying: "Eddy, I think someone will drop bombs on us. The plane above us is about 1000 feet higher than we are. That plane has jettisoned its bombs too soon." The incendiairies came down in front of our bomber and then a large 1000 pound bomb past between the wing and the tail. Georges saw it as it was coming down. He was explaining that to the pilot. He said "Euh…"  and stopped talking. I don’t have to say no more. On the tarmac when we came back, I saw him put covers on his two machine guns. I was sitting in the truck smoking a cigarette while I was waiting. When we were coming back from a bombing mission, I was not talking to anyone. I was angry deep inside. I just had to cool down. But when I saw Georges walking that way, I just had to let it out and I started laughing and teasing him. From time to time he would curse at me. He had all the rights to do so.

When I arrived at the airbase I liked to play tricks on others. At the briefing room while waiting to be  interrogated by the intelligence officers, both chaplains, one protestant and one catholic, would walk in the room with a stonewear teapot and they would ask us if we wanted to add stronger tea in our cups. It was cognac. They could not carry a bottle but instead they would put it in a teapot. The time was right to play another "dirty" trick as I always did. I said to the chaplain: "When you go by Georges, pretend you know nothing and when you pour cognac in his tea just say: ‘My God Georges there’s something that is smelling awful bad here’". Georges replied without hesitation: "That has to be Coco Morin with his big mouth." The word got around and everyone was sniffing as they were passing by Georges.

(I admit this anecdote is somewhat crude, but it was a fact. Jacques Morin agrees it was not very elegant. I want to add that it was not the time to be romancing about the war. It was war and what these men were experiencing was unimaginable. Georges Tremblay is the only crew member who saw that diabolical weapon fall from the sky. It was just a matter of a few inches and both he and his comrades would have been blown to smithereens. Let’s not forget that their plane was fully loaded with high octane gas and furthermore still had a full load of bombs in the bomb bay. I still have goose bumps as I am writing this and I dare any human being to have reacted otherwise as Georges Tremblay did on that day. How not to talk about the psychologically scars of such events? How could they find the courage to laugh a little about it???)

Jacques Morin’s final word

Why Georges never kept in touch? I have always searched in my memorabilia to try to find something to remind me of him.

Note about Jacques Morin’s tatoos. On his right arm there is a snake with a dagger through its head. The symbol: Death instead of dishonour. He had it tattoed in a train station when he arrived in England. The dragon, on his left arm, was tattoed a little later.

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(Collection Jacques Gagnon)

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