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Being a Young Sergeant

Heroes Remember

Being a Young Sergeant

I was from Toronto and they were Maritimers. I was a high school graduate and they were not. As I said earlier, these were really tough young men and taking orders, some of them were older than I was, taking orders from this upstart from Toronto was difficult. First of all, I looked so different from them. I'd been a soldier for a year. I had been trained by the very best soldiers in Canada and they were all recruits so I had a great advantage in that I knew a great deal about the Army and above all, I knew about these weapons. And they were fascinated by these weapons. They knew a lot about single shot weapons but they wanted to learn everything about these new weapons they could. And since I was their teacher they accepted me without any difficulty. The fact that I'd had little more than a year experience than they did, made it very helpful. They didn't, they were so, such raw recruits they didn't even know how to put on their putties. You know, they had all sorts of jobs, even my officers were delighted to have me because one of the first jobs we had on the camp guard at Sussex, NB, was to mount a guard, but my officers had never mounted a guard and this was very important that we didn't make a mess of it. So I had to teach my officers the orders and then I had to drill the guards so that they would understand how this ceremony would be run. And so I was an instructor to a bunch of civilians trying rapidly to become soldiers.

Mr. MacDonell explains his role as Company Sergeant instructing soldiers older than himself, and gaining respect from his comrades.

George MacDonell

Mr. MacDonell was born in Edmonton, Alberta on August 15, 1922. He lost his parents at an early age and was raised by his uncle and family. In 1939, he ran away from home and made the decision to join the army. Mr. MacDonell served as Company Sergeant Major during the Battle of Hong Kong and in 1941 was captured and was a POW for four years. Post-military, Mr. MacDonell earned his Bachelor of Arts at the University of Toronto and went on to have a successful business career. Mr. MacDonell is very active in his city and very proud of having served. Mr. MacDonell is retired and resides in Toronto, Ontario.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
George MacDonell
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Hong Kong
Royal Rifles of Canada
Vehicle Technician

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