Three falls from the sky

EmontonJournalNotMuchtoTellThe old Edmonton newspaper clipping doesn’t include a clear date, but was written sometime well after January 1942 and prior to September 27, 1944.

Its title “Airman Shot Down Twice But ‘Nothing Much to Tell’ emphasizes the key point of the story.

The nutgraph reads “Like nearly all of the fighting men who return after serving in battle, WO. Hurtubise had little to say about his adventures in the air.” It goes on to say:

The airman had been shot down over friendly territory. He crashlanded both times. He admitted he had been wounded slightly but said “it was nothing at all. You’d never know it now.” [1]

The soldier of few words was a distant cousin—the son of my great-grandfather’s brother and my great grandmother’s sister. His name was Paul Emile Hurtubise. At the time of the newspaper article quoted above, he served as a Warrant Officer and pilot in the Royal Air Force.

Hurtubise was interviewed for the story at his 99 Avenue home in Edmonton (address 111204). The unnamed newspaper reporter writes that Hurtubise was shot down twice in North Africa and also served in raids over Sicily and Italy.

His father Gus was still alive at the time of the article, but his mother Ida died sometime prior to the article date, but after the 1921 census .[2] There was one mention on an ancestry family tree that she died in 1922, when he was only three years old, but that isn’t yet confirmed. Another newspaper clipping in French from an unnamed and undated source cites the family as formerly living in Peace River, Alberta.

Hurtubise attended Jesuit College in Edmonton and enlisted with the air force in January 1941. After training with the air force in Ontario, he got his wings in Dunnville, Ontario and went overseas in January 1942.

At the time of the article, he had returned to Canada to serve as a flying instructor, but at some point, he went back to the front.

On September 27, 1944, he crashed a third time in a Spitfire NH while serving with 412 Squadron.

The third time, he died. His remains are buried in plot 2B12 in the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery in Germany.[3]  He is listed as a pilot officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force in the Service Files of the Second World War Dead.[4] He’s also commemorated on page 341 in the Second World War Book of Remembrance.


[1] “Airman Shot Down Twice But ‘Nothing Much to Tell’,” Edmonton Journal or Bulletin in its Forty-First Year, but the article describes January 1942 as the distant past.

[2] Alberta Province, Bow River District #2,Enumerated subdistrict 25, uncategorized district 218, section number 7, township 22, range 21, meridian 4, lines 28 to 31, family #69, page 5, Sixth Census of Canada, 1921. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: Library and Archives Canada, 2013. Series RG31. Statistics Canada Fonds.

[3] Canadian Virtual War Memorial by Veterans Affairs Canada. (n.d.). Retrieved February 24, 2015, from

[4] Library and Archives Canada, Service Files of the Second World War – War Dead, 1939-1947, RG 24, Volume 27803, Item 16884, Service number J45927.

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