Private Georges-Henri Moffatt
Joseph Georges-Henri Moffatt was born on April 19, 1922, he was the youngest of two boys. Georges-Henri and his older brother Rolland were raised by their parents, Georges Moffatt and Parmelia Despaties in Montreal, Canada. Georges-Henri attended Chomedey School and by the time he completed grade 7, he decided to leave school and secure employment in order to assist his family financially. From 1936 to 1940, Georges-Henri accepted a variety of job opportunities such as a messenger and apprentice printer along with several general labour positions. He also was an usher at a local theatre before becoming an apprentice steamfitter and finally a machine operator at Noorduyn Aviation until his enlistment in the military.
Georges-Henri was residing in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve district of Montreal when a young girl named Rose-Blanche Lafrance caught his attention. After a short courtship, they decided to get married and the young couple exchanged wedding vows on July 25, 1942. It wasn’t long before they had their first daughter in 1943.
World War 2 was in full momentum and Georges-Henri enlisted in the military on September 8, 1942 and was taken on strength with 4 District Depot in south Montreal. Shortly after, he transferred to another Depot in order to support wherever the military decided they needed him. It was during this time when Georges-Henri learned about a new exciting unit being formed and requested to be transferred to the Parachute Corps. He successfully passed all the aptitude screening, psychological interviews and rigorous physical testing. The next stage was to attend training at the parachute school in Fort Benning, Georgia, U.S.A. On January 16, 1943, Georges-Henri graduated from the parachute school and was now a proud member of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion. In April of 1943, Georges-Henri reported for duty at Shilo, Manitoba where he received additional training.
Georges-Henri was granted leave in June of 1943, and by July of the same year, he embarked to the UK, where he began training with the Battalion as part of the 6th Airborne Division in preparation for Operation Overlord. Georges-Henri was assigned a position in Head Quarters for the operation. During the early morning of June 6, 1944, he parachuted into Normandy, however the plane carrying the soldiers missed the drop zone by many miles. Upon landing they were under heavy enemy contact and he received shrapnel in his right knee. On June 11, 1944, Georges-Henri was taken prisoner and a German medic removed the shrapnel from his knee. He was now a Prisoner of War at Oflag 79 and Dulagluft Weiszlar, Germany. Georges-Henri recalls he attempted to escape on March 22, 1945, however recaptured and received multiple merciless blows from the buttstock of a rifle to the face, head and wrist. Nonetheless, on March 25, 1945 after 9 months of being held in captivity, they were finally liberated. Georges-Henri was admitted to the hospital in Amersham on April 4, 1945, where he received x-rays and treatment for his injuries. The war was finally over for Georges-Henri, he returned to the UK, eventually making his way back to Canada and discharged on July 21, 1945.
After the war, he returned home in Montreal where he worked for the Harbor. Since the harbour was closed in winters, he worked other jobs such a taxi driver and oil company delivery man. By the late 1950s, those extra jobs were no longer required once the St-Lawrence River was finally open to shipping circulation year-round. Georges-Henri and his wife Rose-Blanche continued to grow their family until they had 6 children. He and his wife remained by each other's side until he suffered a heart attack and died on October 23, 1973. If you have taken the time to read about World War II veteran Georges-Henri, then you have kept his memory alive.
Artifacts and information Courtesy of Bernard Moffatt.
Portrait studio picture of Private Joseph Georges Henri Moffatt, circa 1943
Portrait studio picture of Private Joseph Georges Henri Moffatt.
Honorary Service Retiring Card, issued by the International Association of Machinist. Those cards were given to the union members leaving their job to join the army.
Form left to right: Parmelia, Georges-Henri, Rose-Blanche and Rolland. Picture taken on July 25, 1942.
Rose-Blanche on the right in her wedding gown, with her mother-in-law Parmelia. Picture taken on July 25, 1942.
Enrolment form, Sept 8th 1942, when GH decided to volunteer for the Canadian Army.
Front page of the enrolment form, Dec 9th 1942, when Private Georges-Henri volunteered for the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion.
Private Georges-Henri's paybook, from August 1st 1943 until May 5th 1944.
Group photograph taken during the first 4 months of infantry training, between circa sept-oct 1942. Priavate Georges-Henri Moffatt is on the top row, 6th from the left.
Private Georges-Henri Moffatt on the right, dressed in US Army issued uniform and boots. On the left, his older brother Rolland, who was instructor in the Canadian Army, in Farnham, Quebec. Circa spring 1943, on leave after training at Fort Benning, Georgia.
Private Georges-Henri and his wife, Rose-Blanche, Montreal, circa 1943.
Private Georges-Henri’s Fort Benning Paratrooper school certificate.
Sterling silver US paratrooper wings Private Georges-Henri received after successful completion of parachute training at Fort Benning, January 1943.
Original brass cap badge that Private Georges-Henri Moffatt wore overseas.
Uniform paratrooper wings, removed from the battle dress of Private Georges-Henri.
Uniform paratrooper wings from the battle dress of Private Georges-Henri.
Telegram #2, sent to Rose-Blanche, telling here that GH previously MIA has now been reported POW.
Airborne Canada shoulder patches, stripped from the uniform of Private Georges-Henri.
Late war British production 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion shoulder flash.
Allied Airborne shoulder patch.
Permission for absence, April 21th 1944, while in UK.
I finally have the chance to give you some news which are very good, my health is correct and the rest is correct too.
As a POW we are very well treated, the food is good and we have enough to smoke. I do not think you need to send me anything but you can go and get information at the nearest Red Cross Office for POW.
I hope your health is good, that everything is fine at home and how is little Michelle? I hope she is very kind. And I do not want you to worry about me, keep smiling. Mom works and is still healthy? Do you see Dad sometimes? And if you see Paul, tell him where I am and ask him to keep me a Molson for me.
Not sure I’ll be home for Roland’s wedding but he loses nothing by waiting.
With these words I leave you, hoping to hear from you soon.
Your husband who loves you very much.
Salutations to all
Telegram form Private Georges-Henri to Rose-Blanche for her upcoming birthday.
1st Canadian Parachute Battalion sweetheart pin, given to Rose-Blanche by Private Georges-Henri.
U.S. Paratrooper wings belonging to Private Georges-Henri Moffatt, turned into a necklace.
Telegram #1, sent to Rose-Blanche, reporting her husband officially Missing In Action (MIA).
Telegram #3, reporting Private Georges-Henri now safe in UK.
Prisoner of War (POW) dog tag, bearing #27 (Georges-Henri POW number), DulagLuft, Wezlar, Germany. Georges-Henri was first detained at Oflag 79, near Brunswick, Germany, then transferred to DulagLuft, Wezlar, near Frankfurt. Ironically, his ancestor were from coming from Brunswick, in the mid18th century, according to recent genealogical researches.
Service and Casualty form, filled upon acceptance in the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion.
Blank form used to send personal parcels to POW.
Rules and regulations on communication with POW's, given to Private Georges-Henri’s wife.
Money transfer order from Private Georges-Henri to his wife Rose-Blanche.
Money transfer order from Private Georges-Henri to his wife Rose-Blanche.
Parcel label form, used to send goods to POW.
Hello my dear
Christmas today? And I’m far away from you. How happy would I be if I could spend this Christmas with you and Michelle. Unfortunately, bad luck has decided otherwise. Ah, as the years go by and are not alike. I hope that 1945 will be a merrier year for us. My little wife, please receive my affectionate thought.
Obverse of the first postcard sent from Private Georges-Henri to Rose-Blanche, from Dulagluft POW camp.
Casualty Wings Extracts, dated November 22nd 1944.
List of liberated POW's regarding what to do with their personal effects.
List of POW’s TOS by the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion REC Depot, April 1945
The Canadian Relatives of War Prisoners Association news sheet, published in Montreal, given important information to POW family members.
“Prisonnier de Guerre” (Prisoner of War), a Canadian Red Cross publication for the POW's relatives and family
A form allowing the bearer to buy goods for the POW. Package would then use the label listed on #34
Statement of Pay Account, form June 1944 until end of March 1945, covering the 9 months as POW.
Private Georges-Henri's official Discharge certificate.
The campaign medals earned my Private Georges-Henri Moffatt.
Upon being discharged on July 21th 1945, Georges-Henri was entitled to receive the General Service Class pin, as stated in this document.
Private Georges-Henri's veteran pin for his service to Canada.
From left to right, Pauline Rousseau, Private Georges-Henri and Marie Rousseau, sisters of Lt Philippe Rousseau and Capt Maurice Rousseau.
Parachuting as a career, War time story written by Major Anthony Cotterell, war staff writer, British Army. Those booklets were collected by Pvt GH Moffatt during his training in the UK, 1943-44.
Parachuting as a career, War time story written by Major Anthony Cotterell, war staff writer, British Army. Those booklets were collected by Pvt GH Moffatt during his training in the UK, 1943-44
Snow flakes of war, newspaper clipping, The Daily Mirror, February 11th 1944.
Newspaper clipping: “Paratrooper going down, photograph by Harry Rowed of the Canadian Film Board, award-winning photo at the Chicago International Salon with 12 other sent by Canadians”.
Newspaper clipping, unknown local newspaper, May 29th 1945, describing the arrival home of 83 Vets POW, including Private Georges-Henri whose name appears in the last paragraph (hidden by watermark).
Newspaper clipping, March 19th 1944. Top: Two brothers, J.M. Rousseau (left) and Lieutenant J.R. Rousseau, from Montreal, both of them experts in a Parachute unit, currently training in UK. Bottom: Sergeant Kowalski, member of a Canadian parachute unit at training in UK, with the regiment’s mascot. The dog is also training with him to become a paratrooper and when its unit will see action, it will jump with its master, bringing him ammo or first aid kit.
Lt. Marcel Côté (first French-Canadian officer to become a paratrooper).