Cournelisson, Rene

Rene Cournelisson’s World War Two story is one we have not previously heard at Crestwood. Rene was born October 6, 1926 into a family of thirteen, and he grew up in prewar Holland, a nation that found itself occupied by Germany in 1940. Rene like so many Dutch chafed under the restrictions of occupation, and like many brave young Dutch citizens, he joined the resistance, doing what he could to disrupt the Nazi regime. When the Americans liberated his area, Rene made the decision to join the Royal Dutch Air Force, hoping to take the fight to Germany alongside the Allies. But they had a different agenda for Rene, and with the end of the European war on the way, Rene was dispatched to the Far East, and his training took place in Australia, as he and his crewmates learned their way around the B-25 Mitchell. They were sent to active duty in New Guinea, but the war with Japan ended quickly. Rene chose to stay in the Dutch East Indies to work in the colonial plantation system for a few years, eventually returning to his family in Holland, where he found the opportunities too limited. Having seen the world, Rene looked for a new place to settle, and memories of Canadians from the war led him to Toronto, where he built a life and family postwar.
We met Rene at the Sunnybrook Veterans’ Wing in June 2018, where he was interviewed by Mr. Masters and a delegation of CPC students.