Veteran Stories:
John Angus McDonald

Army

  • Postscript on Mr. John Angus McDonald's service. Prepared by his daughter, Janine McDonald Seaver.

    Janine McDonald Seaver
  • Biographical and service information of Mr. John Angus McDonald.

    John Angus McDonald
  • Donald John McDonald (1913-2000), eldest brother of John Angus McDonald.
    Donald served in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), while all three of his younger brothers served in with The Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry Highlanders.

    John Angus McDonald
  • The three youngest McDonald brothers - all members of The Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry Highlanders - in Horsham, England, 1942.
    From left to right: James William (wounded in action at Boulogne on September 19, 1944; 1916-2008); Francis Ronald (killed in action at Caen on July 20, 1944; 1920-1944); John Angus (1918-).

    John Angus McDonald
Enlarge Image
Listen to this story

"it was like a ‘Private Ryan’ business, they didn’t want another casualty in the family. It was only about 50 years after the war that my friend, Captain Galt, told me."

Transcript

I was born on the 18 March, 1918 in Lancaster Township, Glengarry County, Ontario. I attended Centre Ward Separate School, Gonzaga High School and Cornwall Collegiate Institute, all in Cornwall, where I was a member of the cadet corps. I was employed at the Crystal Bottling Works before enlisting in the First Battalion, SDG [Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry] Highlanders in June 1940.

I trained at Kingston, Ottawa and [Camp] Debert, Nova Scotia, before going overseas in July 1940. I took part in the Normandy invasion, landing on D-Day, 6 June, 1944. I fought with the battalion until January 1945, when I was sent to England to help in the training of reinforcements. I returned to the battalion at the end of April 1945 in Holland, just in time to march into Emden, Germany, on the 6 May, two days before V-E [Victory in Europe] Day.

On the 12 February, 1944, I married Kathleen Burnett of Manchester, England. After the war, I took a position with the Commonwealth Institute of Entomology in London, England, where I remained until 1967 when I returned home to Canada.

There were four brothers in the service during the war and all served overseas. Donald with the RCAF [Royal Canadian Air Force], James, John Angus, myself; and Francis with the SD and G Highlanders. Francis, the youngest, was killed in the Battle of Caen, Normandy, on the 20 July, 1944. James was shot in the knee while the battalion was engaged in fighting for the [English] Channel port of Boulogne on the 19 September, 1944. I was lucky enough to come out with no scratches.

D-Day, we were in the reserves, as I say. We had only one fatal casualty that day. But then the next day, we moved up, sixth of June, into the line and we came up against the 1st [Panzer] SS [Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler Division: Waffen-SS division initially established as Hitler’s bodyguard regiment] and the 12th [Panzer] SS Division [Hitlerjugend: a Waffen-SS armoured division made up mainly of Hitler Youth members]. That was nasty, so on the seventh of June, the battalion had 30 killed and 90 wounded in the one day. That was just a start, anyway.

I served with Captain Ralph Gault; and I thought, I told you about them sending me out to train reinforcements. This friend of mine, we were in the same regiment, Captain Ralph Gault. I was telling him about that and he said to me, they didn’t do that, not the reason they sent you out, you crazy so and so. He said, they sent you out because they didn’t want another casualty in the family. My younger brother had already been killed; my other brother had been wounded and they sent me out because it was like a "Private Ryan" business, they didn’t want another casualty in the family. It was only about 50 years after the war that my friend, Captain Gault, told me.

Follow us