Veteran Stories:
Gillis Mackinnon


  • This photo of Gillis Mackinnon was taken at the end of the war.

  • The citation for Gillis Mackinnon's Canadian Efficiency Decoration. (ED)

  • Gillis Mackinnon, 2010.

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"So in 1944, they took us out of the artillery and put us in the infantry. And they shipped us overseas in 1944."


First in the army, my first three and a half years, I was on the coast in Nova Scotia, patrolling the ships that’s coming through the strait. We had four inch guns on the land to watch the shipping that’s going through. And that was artillery. So in 1944, they took us out of the artillery and put us in the infantry. And they shipped us overseas in 1944. We trained over there in the infantry and I took a course in first aid while I was in Canada. I had a fellow soldier who got injured in activities and they seen I had a potential to be an orderly. So, and overseas, after D-Day, there was quite a few soldiers who had came over across and had to be looked after in the hospitals. So they got me to be an orderly. And I worked looking after the wounded, for the remainder of the war. The main thing is to comfort them. There were, they’re minors and wanting to get home. It was better to be up front than really at times looking after them, but I guess I had an idea, the medical officer said, I was more or less, as a big strong man, I could drop to their feelings. That’s what they wanted me to look after those men. Well, the English people loved us, especially the girls. Otherwise married, you can’t help that. I mean, they loved the Canadians. But you know, the Canadians, the English people are well mannered people. It’s yes sir, thank you. But Canadians weren’t that good. I remember one time they used to have buses in England. And they used the word queue up, line up. Canadians used the word, line up, it’s queue up there. So us Canadians would rush ahead of the queue and go in. I mean, we were just stupid Canadians. But the English people let us go in and butt ahead, they wouldn’t say a word to us. Stupid. You line up maybe 40 people and we’d rush ahead and go in ahead of them. I mean, we didn’t, just … Not all of us did it. I did it. In a rush, yeah. But I mean, when you’re thinking of things, you’re stupid, stupid. But the English people, oh, were they ever … They give half, they were tremendous. They’re great people, the English people. They were just wonderful. They loved the Canadians. They loved the Canadians. And the Americans, soldiers, were fantastic to us. They’d give us, they were just, American soldiers, if you went to a dance or something, you didn’t have money, you never, they’d take you anyway. They always had more money than Canadians. They were paid more. The American soldiers were great to us. God bless the American soldiers. They were wonderful. They were just wonderful to us. And of course, the American girls too. It’s strange, the American soldiers, if they had stripes on, if you were a private, they never thought about that. But the Canadians, if they had the stripes on, they knew they had their stripes on. I had two hooks on, but you never think. But in order to get along in this world, you’ve got to have charity, I’m telling you this, young man.
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