Language selection


Training and Witnessing

Heroes Remember

Training and Witnessing

They were short, I think reinforcements, so there was thirty of us I think left the Cape Breton Highlanders because they were going overseas and our, the Cape Breton Highlanders weren't going over that, that fast so I guess we were in kind of a rush to get into war. So we, we joined the West Nova Scotia Regiment which is a great regiment, one of the better regiments that went overseas. They were, they were I suppose fishermen and lumbermen from the Lunenburg area down through there, and they were the finest men you ever met. You could certainly lay your body at their feet, they were, they, they'd backed you all the way. Oh they, they loved the Cape Bretoners. They were a little scared of us at first because our reputation preceeded us. The Cape Bretoners are known as, you know, their pockets were full of fists. So, I think they've calmed down a bit now. We trained in Aldershot, we trained in Aldershot and we trained all winter in Aldershot and on the 12th of May we sailed for overseas. It was rough that time of year, and it, no it wasn't, I think it took us eight days going across. We were unloaded off of the ship and went right to our barracks which was a couple of miles away. And from there on in we watched the, people coming back from Dunkirk, the, the British Army and it wasn't a very good sight. Our division, the 1st Canadian Division, was the only equipped division in England at that time when the, when the people, the soldiers, British soldiers came back from across the channel. And they were a pretty sad looking sight. We were doing a lot of deceiving the Germans because we'd drive posts in the sand and put a cape over them and they, they looked like, a gun if you had a cape over them but they were really three pieces of wood. So we, we weren't the best equipped division either eh. We didn't have too much gear but... The Battle of Britain we were, we had a ring side seat for the Battle of Britain we were, we had a Canadian fighter base, it was big, it was called Biggin Hill, the fighter base. And we had Croughton was the big airport it was the bomber airport, and then we had Gatwick in London, so we were in the centre of them and we, we, we watched the... For weeks we watched the Battle of Britain, the whole summer, the whole year we watched it. In London, a lot of times when the city was being bombed you spent, you spent most of your time, if you had a leave, you spent it in an air raid shelter. ‘Cause there was, they were continuously bombing London. I met a lot of English people the years I was there and they were really, really fine race of people. There's not much they could do, there was no place for them to go, they had to stay and, and take what was coming, you know, the bombing of, of London and there was no place they could go. They, they took a, they took a terrible beating, but they came out of it. They, you'd meet them in the morning, they were smiling. They took it but I don't know how much longer they would have, could have held out because they were, London was devastated. I don't think we realized how tough it really was. I don't think we realized even through Sicily, it wasn't too bad. But once you got on the mainland you got into the fighting, then you knew there was something on eh?

Three years elapsed between the moment Mr. McInnis enlisted and the day he was actually sent to the Sicilian front. During that time he trained hard, deceived Germans and witnessed destruction during the Battle of Britain, but the reality of war caught up with him only much later.

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
Cape Breton Highlanders

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

Related Videos

Date modified: