BY LAURIE WEIR
Andre Hissink, a 104-year-old veteran of the Second World War, died on Jan. 1.
He lived in Perth at Perth’s Aspira Carolina Retirement Living complex.
According to the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Canada, Hissink was a Dutch hero, flying 67 wartime missions over Europe in the B25 Mitchell Bomber.
During an attack on German troops in the Belgian Ardennes, Hissink and his crew had to leave the plane by parachute, which killed one of the gunners.
After the war, Hissink worked for KLM in Switzerland and New Zealand and then in Montreal, Canada, he continued his career at the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). He was guest of honour at many reunion events in England and The Netherlands and he spoke frequently about his war years and his time with the Dutch 320 Squadron. He also always spoke with reverence about his English wife Janet, who followed him everywhere from 1941 at the risk of her own life.
Hissink was a bearer of the War Remembrance Cross with the clasps War Flights 1940-1945, Netherlands May 1940, and Java Sea 1941-1942 and the Flying Cross.
Sue Doran, a member of the Perth-Upon-Tay Royal Canadian Legion and founder of the Veterans’ Banner Program, said she was saddened to learn of Hissink’s death.
“So honoured to have met Andre on several occasions,” she said.
In June last year, Doran helped initiate a drive-by birthday salute the veteran, which included a parade of dignitaries: MP Scott Reid, Mayor Judy Brown, piper Casey Cerson, Town Crier Brent McLaren, legion president Ivan Cole, as well as the Perth Fire Department, veterans on motorcycles, and many friends and family who came out to offer celebratory greetings on his 104th birthday.
In September, Hissink visited his banner for the first time as it was hung at the Tim Hortons parking lot on Highway 7 in Perth to kick off the Remembrance Day program.
It was 10 years ago when Hissink represented the Dutch veterans of the Second World War during the 70th anniversary of D-Day. He was flown to Paris with his daughter, to lay a wreath.
In 2022, Hissink was presented with his Dutch citizenship after having to give it up in the 1950s when he joined the New Zealand government, something he said at the time, “really irked” him.
During the Jan. 30, 2024, meeting of Perth town council, Coun. Isabel Anne McRae spoke of attending a celebration of life for Hissink, on behalf of Mayor Judy Brown.
“Many of the speakers, including the Ambassador of Holland, (Ines Coppoolse) were there,” McRae said. “They shared heroic and heartwarming stories of his life, courage, and resilience, and the heroic role model he was for this community.”