Bravery, determination, and selflessness
By Olivia Crook-Simiana
We all know about Heritage Day. The day in February we get to sleep in, not worry about work or school, and the day that honours a different person each year. This year, Heritage Day honours Mona Louise Parsons. Who is she you ask? Keep reading to find out!
Mona Parsons was born in 1901 in Middleton, Nova Scotia, about an hour and a half from Dartmouth. In 1937, she married a Dutch millionaire and the pair moved to the Netherlands. Only three years after they settled in their new Dutch home, Germany invaded the Netherlands and drove the country into a desperate state of poverty and starvation. Ms. Parsons and her husband decided to rebel against the Nazis and they joined a resistance group.
The couple used their estate in Ingleside as a shelter for Allied airmen to recover before rejoining the fight against the Nazis. They even set up a secret space behind one of their closets to hide soldiers in case their house was searched. Parsons helped coordinate an escape for these soldiers so that they could get back to the British submarines and return safely to England.
Sadly, someone notified the Gestapo of Ms. Parsons’ actions and she was arrested on September 29, 1941. She was transported to a prison and at her trial was found guilty and sentenced to death. Due to Ms. Parsons’ composure, however, the judge granted her life in prison with labour, instead of death.
A stroke of luck came in March of 1945 when the prison was bombed. Ms. Parsons and another inmate disguised themselves as sisters and took off on what became a three-week-long trek across Germany to get back to Holland. They survived by exchanging hard labour for food and shelter. After approximately 125 kilometres of walking on the little bit of life she had left, Ms. Parsons found a Dutch farmer who agreed to help her. She told the farmer that she was Canadian and needed to find Allied soldiers. By chance, the farmer ended up taking her to the North Nova Scotia Highlanders who were amazed by her story and escape. Although she was in a very poor condition, Ms. Parsons survived the war and eventually returned to her home, Nova Scotia.
Ms. Parsons became known as the “only Canadian female civilian to be imprisoned by the Nazis, and one of the first—and few—women to be tried by a Nazi military tribunal in Holland.” She is a Canadian and Nova Scotian hero. Though Parsons passed away in 1976, her bravery, determination, and selflessness is something that we will remember forever.
SOURCE: “Nova Scotia Heritage Day.” 2018 Honouree Mona Louise Parsons | Nova Scotia Heritage Day, heritageday.novascotia.ca/content/2018-honouree-mona-louise-parsons.