Page last updated at 06:38 GMT, Friday, 13 November 2009

Communion dress was war parachute

Paulette Bisiaux in Communion dress
Paulette Bisiaux's family sheltered the crash survivors

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.

It's marvellous and a wonderful tale as most parachutes would end up destroyed
Daniel McCallum
Son

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.

Flt Sgt John McCallum
Flt Sgt McCallum worked as a policeman in Glasgow after the war

"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."



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