HERITAGE MINUTES#PARTOF OUR HERITAGE

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Mona Parsons

HERITAGE MINUTES

#PARTOFOURHERITAGE

RELEASED 2005

Mona Parsons is sentenced to a Nazi prison camp for helping downed Allied airmen escape. (1941)

Mona Louise Parsons was born in 1901 in Nova Scotia. Although Parsons never wore a uniform, she was willing to lay her life on the line for her country and for freedom. And she very nearly lost her life when she was arrested by the Gestapo near Amsterdam in September 1941, for assisting downed Allied airmen.

As a young woman, Parsons moved to New York City in 1929 to pursue an acting career. Soon after, she met Dutch millionaire Willem Leonhardt and they were married in 1937. They moved to Holland where they prospered until the Nazis invaded in 1940. The couple became part of the resistance and defied the Nazis by repatriating downed Allied airmen. An informer gave them away in 1941 and Parsons was condemned to death. She appealed her sentence and had it commuted to life in prison. Parsons was interned in Vechta prison where she met a young baroness, Wendelien van Boetzelaer.

In 1945, Vechta prison was heavily bombed when the Allies pushed across the Rhein. Parsons and van Boetzelaer seized the opportunity to escape and devised a plan to get back across Germany without being captured. For weeks the two women made their way by posing as German sisters. Parsons' acting skills were invaluable as she feigned a speech impediment to mask her inauthentic German accent. At the Dutch border, the pair became separated. Parsons continued on her own and eventually met a Canadian unit, the North Nova Scotia Highlanders.

Parsons received a commendation for her war effort from British Air Marshal Lord Tedder and US president Dwight D. Eisenhower. Still, few Canadians are aware of Parsons' bravery and sacrifice. The headstone that marks her grave in Wolfville's Willowbank Cemetery remembers her only as "wife of..." her second husband, Major General Harry Foster. Of Mona Parsons' bravery and sacrifice, the stone remains silent.

CAST
  • Mona Parsons – Sonja Smits
  • Judge – Heinar Piller
  • Harry Foster – Greg Ellwand
  • Captain Davis – Jeff Roop
  • Sergeant – Austin Strugnell