First Attacks and the Battle of the Scheldt

Heroes Remember

First Attacks and the Battle of the Scheldt

Remembers First Attacks Well, I can remember the first attack, I used to wonder what it would be like and I'd asked the people who had seen a little bit of action and well they said, "You got to find out for yourself." It's a queer feeling, you're sitting around and you're waiting to go in, and you know you're going in and you look around and who's not coming back. Every time you went in there was somebody who wasn't coming back. So, it's just the grace of God that, that you're alive. I'd say the average infantryman would be lucky if he last for, for two weeks and I had over six months of it, pretty near seven months. But, you were so busy and so much on your mind trying to save yourself and at night, sometimes when you'd be waiting to go in on an attack, they might send out fighting patrols and it was all voluntary, you know, you'd rather volunteer than see some married fella going. I never met nicer people than I met on the Front Lines, that's where they were at, because you depended on the other fella, and the friendships that you met there, they were great. There was never a swear word, there was never anything, they were, they were the finest people that you could meet. Germans Flood the Dikes And we landed in France, see, and then we allocated from there to different regiments and it was before the Scheldt estuary. You heard of the Scheldt? Well that was one of the, another toughest battle of the war. The day the Germans flooded the dikes. We were fighting, I showed the wife one time they had the thing on before Remembrance Day and we're fighting in mud up to your knees. Now, they flooded the dikes and this was for the Port of Antwerp in Belgium, because that's where the, all the goods were coming in. We had to hold onto that port because that was a big thing, yeah. Well, we were one of the top regiments, to my knowledge, in the clearing of it. We were in there, we done a lot of fighting because I remember that. We were in so many different places and so many names you forget a lot of them, you know. But I remember that was, any place that was real bad and that was one of the toughest of the whole war, tougher than France or anything. Because if we hadn't have held that and the Germans had crack troops in there, SS and paratroopers and they were professional soldiers. But the Germans respected the Canadians because they told me when I lived there for a year after the war, because we weren't professionals. They were professionals, they were trained and we were like an intermediate team playing an NHL team. But the Canadians surprised me, you know, they were average people, yeah. When we finished, you are talking about finishing Holland, well we fought, our regiment was up in the northern part of Holland and we fought in, I remember one city was close to us, about sixty kilometres from the German border, Groningen, in Holland and as a matter of fact I hear of some people there, I met them when I was fighting on their street. I started up their street, we were, I think we were three days in Groningen and the fella that was with me got wounded and I kept going up the street and I got by this house and they were tapping the window to me and they were pointing out back, because they have a fence that goes right around the houses and you go in the front door, so I knew there was something. So anyway, I went in, they couldn't speak any English at the time, I went out the back door and there were seven or eight Germans who, in the winter time, had their great coats on, so I fired one shot in the air and said, They put their hands up pretty near touching the sky. I guess they wanted to give up anyway. But that particular family, I still hear from them and like I say when I go over there, I visit them and people in Apeldoorn and all the different places. Starving in Holland Kleve, is right on the border there, they had two little towns there, Kleve, there's a shopping centre there today, Kalcar and Xanten, I remember those two little towns there, and their cemetery in Groesbeek, that's where the fella that, I fought in Groesbeek. It was all the open, if you are ever over there, it's quite a place. You can go into the graveyard, you won't see a leaf, you won't see anything there. The people there they look after the graves. I wish the people from here would go over there and see what's going on, because, and, there doesn't seem to be any unemployment, they seem to be very rich and if we had have been another month coming into Holland they would have starved to death. We were fighting there all winter, you know, it was a tough, they had no food, they had nothing when we got there. They were living under terrible conditions, most of them were in their basements, they had nothing. They had no power, no lights, they had nothing. The poorest people in Canada don't know what tough times are. Now, the people in the country weren't bad, in country areas that had, you know, but in cities like Amsterdam and that it was pretty tough. But, there's nobody, and I've been to Belgium and France and that, there's nobody that appreciates the Canadians like the Dutch. They can't do enough for you when you go over there.

Mr. MacDougall remembers the first attacks that he was involved in and the lasting friendships that were developed on the front lines. He explains the role that the Calgary Highlanders played in the Battle of the Scheldt and recalls the Germans flooding the dikes at the Port of Antwerp. He recalls the terrible living conditions and how poor the Dutch people were during those years.

Donald J. (Stan) MacDougall

Donald "Stan the Man" MacDougall was born on November 27, 1924. Mr. McDougall's father was a plumber by trade and he is the oldest of 10 siblings. After completing his schooling, he joined the Canadian Army in Halifax. Then, he was sent to Brampton, Ontario for basic training with the Tanks Corps. From there, he went to Camp Borden for more training in trucks and heavy equipment. He then went to England with the infantry and subsequently fought in Germany, France, Belgium and Holland.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Donald J. (Stan) MacDougall
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Battle of the Scheldt
Calgary Highlanders

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