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Haunting Memories

Heroes Remember

As I was going in to Ortona, I met this little fella, he was, he was mortally wounded. And, I, I had him by the hand. He was dying because the top of his head was blown off. And that little fella travelled with me for sixty years, I see him, you know a lot of times at night. He's always around the same age, around, never gets any older he's around eight years old and that's what stuck with me because when I left home, I had a little brother about that, looked like him, a little fella eh. And, I cried when I, when I was holding his hand and I was wondering what he was doing there you know, he had no mother to hold or, or comfort him. In amongst, there was dead soldiers by him and I always wondered why he was there, but I guess he was fleeing, probably fleeing out of Ortona. But that little fella he always travels with me, mostly at night. And, what I try to tell people is you know, just because the guns stop and the firing stops on the front line, people say the war is over. Well the war is not over. The war just begins for the combat soldier. With the nightmares and the bad dreams, its forever on your mind. How do you go up and blow the face of a fella and then forget about it? You don't do it. The combat soldier will never get over the war. You just won't get over it. Everyone's got a different story that sticks with them through. There's no way you can go on for four or five years and watch the slaughter that you watched, and then come home and forget about it, you just don't do it. You see a lot of fellas after the war, well not much now because most of them are gone but the only way you'd get a good sleep, is you went out and get half gassed up, you went home and went to bed, otherwise you didn't sleep. You know, we should have been debriefed after the war. You know, we, I think if we were debriefed after the war, I think we would have made better, better husbands and better fathers and that, you know but we weren't and we were just, we kept this stuff bottled up all the time. Just now it's coming out and to me, I think you feel a little better by telling the story. It seems like you try to blank it, blank it out of your mind all together, but it was a mistake to do that. Now I know.

In Mr. McInnis' own words "a combat soldier never gets over the war". Find out why...

Alexander McInnis

Mr. McInnis was born in Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia, on September 7, 1919. His father was a section man for the CNR. He was the 3rd in a family of six (four brothers and one sister) of which his sister was the eldest. He joined the Cape Breton Highlanders without telling his parents when he was 20 years old. His four brothers also joined the forces. He started training in Baddeck, Nova Scotia, and then Victoria Park in Sydney until joining the West Nova Scotia Highlanders Regiment. He went overseas May 12, 1940, and trained in Aldershot for three years. In 1943 he was sent by convoy to partake in the invasion of Sicily. After helping to free the town of Agira, he was sent across to southern Italy. After taking part in the Battle of Ortona he was wounded and ended up in the hospital in England for seven months. He then moved on to France, with the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry Division. After five more months of fighting in France and Holland where he helped in freeing the port of Antwerp, he was sent home to Canada.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Alexander McInnis
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War

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