Born in Narcisse Manitoba, John Sandulak was one of nine surviving children of twelve in a family that moved to a farm near Sperling, MB when he was young. 

He enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force at a young age and, shortly after his training, was called to go overseas. 

His daughter, Dianne Sandulak of Carman shared his story. 

"It was the Second World War when he was sent across to fight. They left Pier 21 in Nova Scotia, and it was a very dark, stormy night when they headed across. Dad drew the lucky card and got to be up in the crow's nest. As they left port, he said it was such a sad, lonely vision watching his country fade away." 

They were met overseas by a lone Scottish piper who played as they disembarked, putting their boots on English soil, she recalled her father telling her. 

"On their third mission, they were on their way to Stuttgart (Germany) and the Lancaster bomber was loaded with bombs. They were hit by fire. There was an explosion up front and the order came back from the pilot to jump, so Dad immediately pulled out his headphones and he jumped."  

Sgt Sandulak was the only one to jump from the damaged plane that later made an emergency landing in England.  His boot had been wrapped around cords or cables in the plane and was ripped off when he jumped, and Dianne surmised he must have hit his head, as he was unconscious when he fell to the ground.   

He was luckily discovered by people from the French Resistance, an underground operation fighting the German occupation of France, and was hidden in a nearby farm until he was moved to the Fréteval - a forest with large leaves making the happenings within it impossible to be seen from the air, Sandulak described. 

Her father was one of 152 soldiers harboured in the forest by the resistance. 

The RCAF, unable to locate his whereabouts, sent word to his family that he was missing in action. 

SandulakThis is the official letter saying Dad was MIA.

Sgt. Sandulack's family sent a letter requesting his belongings be sent home to them. 

"And my Uncle Stan, who's the youngest of the surviving nine, remembered that day when this officer appeared with a letter saying, 'We're so sorry, we can't send his things to you. He's going to be bringing them home himself.' And then they got a telegram from my dad. I've seen it and it says, 'Dad and mom, I'm coming home. Johnny."  

Sgt. RCAF, RAF Bomber Command 428 Squadron John Sandulak did come home, and met and married his bride, Wilma Roth, who had heard of this missing soldier and claimed, "If he comes home, I will marry him." And she did. They were married December 20, 1947. They had six children, 4 girls and 2 boys. Sandulak farmed grain near Carman. He passed away in 2010, never returning to France, in spite of several invitations to do so. 

Dianne described her dad as a solid man and very approachable and lovely, but a private man, as she was well into her 30's before she ever heard his full story. 

In 2014, Sandulak and her three sisters and one sister-in-law were invited to Villebout, France for the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of the Allied Aviators. She said it was a humbling experience as they were treated like royalty. Among the many parts of the ceremony, they were marched in with a marching band to a monument erected by the French people on the Balland Farm on the edge of the Fréteval forest to thank the 152 Allied Aviators from Belgum, Canada, Australia and Britain who were hidden there. After the ceremony, two Lancaster bombers flew overhead. Sandulak said she could not stop crying, adding most of the people who had put in the work to create this event weren't alive during the war, but still took time to plan and celebrate the anniversary. 

Sandulak"They were marched in with a marching band to a monument erected by the French people on the Balland Farm on the edge of the Fréteval forest to thank the152 Allied Aviators from Belgum, Canada, Australia and Britain who were hidden there."  

On this trip, Sandulak had the opportunity of a lifetime. 

"I was introduced to a member, I think he's probably one of the last surviving members of the French Resistance, and I shook his hand, and I thanked him, and I said, 'Thank you for saving my dad's life,' and he said, 'No, no, no thank your father for saving our lives.' The gratitude from the French people, it's so touching."  

Also, while they were there, they met the widow of Pierre Grillon, Janine Grillon and their family, the man whose farm Sandulak had landed on. They were able to express their gratitude to her and give her a poppy scarf from the Royal Canadian Legion. They took a tour of the farmyard and forests where Sandulak had landed. For many years after the war, Pierre had sent letters, Christmas cards and pictures to Sandulak. 

SandulakCaption: E. Renière, Jean-Noël Grillon and his wife, Janine Grillon, Dianne, Lori, Nikki, Yvette, Maggie and Shelly. Villemuzard, June 29, 2014 (Photo courtesy

Dianne and her sisters hope to return to France in 2024 for the next milestone celebration of 80 years. 

When done reflecting on her dad's story, Sandulak said Remembrance Day for her family is a day of remembrance, solemn gratitude and sadness for the families who lost their boys. She is grateful her dad came home. 

Presently, there are 85 members in the John and Wilma Sandulak family.