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Thread: War parachute was Communion dress

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Thanked 5 Times in 5 Posts

    Default War parachute was Communion dress

    BBC News today...

    “War parachute was Communion dress

    The family of a Scots WWII airman who was shot down over Belgium has been contacted by a woman who used his parachute for a First Communion dress.
    RAF Flight Sergeant John McCallum, from Hamilton, in Lanarkshire, was part of an eight-man crew shot down in their bomber in August 1943.
    Eleven-year-old Paulette Bisiaux from the village of Harmignies later wore a dress made from his silk parachute.
    Now, aged 75, she has tracked down his family with help from the RAF.
    After the crash, in which one member of the crew was killed, Flt Sgt McCallum buried his parachute and eventually returned to RAF Portreath in Cornwall.
    Some of the other survivors were sheltered by families including Ms Bisiaux's.
    Two-years later they took the parachute from its hiding place and the material was used to make her First Communion dress.
    She contacted the RAF's 10th Squadron Association last year in the hope of discovering the story behind her dress.
    David Mole, ex-chairman of the Association, tracked down Flt Sgt McCallum's family.
    After the war he had returned to Glasgow and worked as a policeman.
    He had three children with his wife Jean, 90, and seven grandchildren.
    He passed away in 1999 at the age of 77.
    Mr Mole said: "Amazingly I had already reunited some members of the team's families with the Belgian people they stayed with before Paulette contacted the Association so I was very familiar with the story.
    "Paulette told us how she was connected to them and how John's parachute had been used.
    "I was determined to find John's family so she could tell him what good use the parachute that saved his life came to."
    He added: "I worked for about a year with my team, contacting her family in Belgium and trying to track down John's family."
    Flt Sgt McCallum's son Daniel, 64, from Cumbernauld, said the family had been delighted at being contacted.
    He was given the middle name Lesecc in tribute to a French couple who assisted his father's escape.
    He said: "We didn't know anything about this aspect of my father's story.
    "It's marvellous and a wonderful tale as most parachutes would end up destroyed.
    "My sisters and I have discussed going to meet Paulette in Belgium, possibly next year some time, and it would be the perfect ending to my father's story."

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Aubers, France
    Thanked 3 Times in 3 Posts


    Hello Bruce,

    This is actually quite common in occupied France and Belgium. I have a sample of the parachute used by Jack Misseldine (611 Squadron, 8th June 1942) which was turned into coloured scarves.
    Years ago I've displayed (it was on loan, and sadly I've learned later that it was destroyed by the children) a wedding dress made out of a U.S. parachute (from a B-17 crew, in Poperinge, Belgium), and I've seen a baby suit also made from a parachute, near Merville airfield.

    In farms, you can sometimes discover some items coming from local crashed planes and re-used. No waste !


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts


    Details of the crash......

    27-28 August 1943

    10 Squadron
    Halifax II JD368 ZA-A
    Op. Nuremberg

    Sgt. G. Baker. evd.
    Sgt. R W. Cornelius. evd.
    Sgt. J. McCallum. evd.
    Sgt. V W. Davies. evd.
    Sgt. M. Pearce. evd.
    P/O. F N. Lawrence. evd.
    Sgt. G R. Darvill. pow.
    Sgt. G R. Warren RCAF +

    Took off 2049 hrs Melbourne. Homebound, shot down by a night-fighter crashing 0330 hrs at Haulchin (Hainaut) 12 km south east of Mons, Belgium. Sgt. Warren RCAF is buried in Gosselies Communal Cemetery.

    BCL Vol.4 - W R. Chorley.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    New Zealand
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default Parachute silk

    was used as an underskirt for my mothers wedding dress, I have part of it, and later for my christening gown which I still have. During the war is was not uncommon (on the black market) to get parachute silk for clothing etc. Mum also had a blouse made of it. It did help if you had/knew someone who was in the RAF or was associated with the Parachute packers. I know that after the war my aunt had a pair of "french knickers" made out of it (very daring in those days. You young guys would not know what I am talking about - think boxer shorts for ladies)

    Useless bit of info from one of the "oldies"


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts


    My Grandmother had a `Parachute` wedding dress,although very smooth on the skin (still fits me) the military green is not too fetching !!!!!!!!!!

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