There is a book called "The Long Road Home" by Fred Ceederberg (I believe he spelled his last name this way)which came out in the mid-1980's. Fred was a young lad from Ontario who met up with a relative in the Cape Breton Highlanders while they were in Camp Borden, Ontario around 1940. Fred subsequently joined the CBH and became a Sgt. in Italy. My memory has aded a bit but after being wounded, he was sent as an experienced NCO to help train (I think) the Lanark and Renfrew Scottish Regiment which had recently converted over from a Light Anti-Aircraft. A very good read.
As a side note, the former Minister of Veterans Affairs , Hon. Daniel J. MacDonald was a former PEI Highlander who served as a Sgt. in the CBH in Italy (several PEI Highlanders served in the CBH and North Nova Scotia Highlanders). MacDonald lost a portion of his left arm and a leg in Italy from an 88 which landed nearby. His BD tunic complete with his brace for his left arm is on display in Veterans Affairs here in Charlottetown. Interestingly enough, his wound badges are on his right arm (since the left sleve of his tunic was shortened). He also has the British 8th Army flash on the left epaulet of his tunic along with the CBH shoulder flash and maroon 5th Armd Div on the sleve of his tunic. There is also a beautiful Gurkha Kukhri (spelling?) on display with the tunic which was presented to MacDonald by Lord Louis Mountbatten.
MacDonald returned to PEI and went into politics after the war. The story goes that when Pierre Trudeau visited MacDonald's house in the rural area of PEI in the late 1970's to ask him if he would take the Minister of Veterans Affairs position, Trudeau was amazed to see that MacDonald, with his artificial arm and leg was on the roof of the barn installing new shingles.
MacDonald died in the fall of 1980. He was Honourary Colonel of the PEI Regiment of which I was a MCpl at the time. There was a large funeral for the TV cameras in Charlottetown with several Politicans and Pierre Trudeau in attendance. The PEI Regiment and the 721 Communications Regiment slow marched through Charlottetown with MacDonald's casket on a 25 pounder gun. The vehicle towing it was a CF 1975 pattern 1 1/4 Ton. I was in the volley party and we presented arms with our FNC1 rifles as MacDonald was placed in the hearse. After the main media event was over and the politicians dissappeared, we drove a couple of hours to the rural area where MacDonald had lived and had a smaller ceremony in the local Catholic church. A Veteran piper played the lament and we fired a volley at the cemetary.
Even at a solem occasion there can be some humour. I remember the RCMP Constable with his back to us standing about 6 feet away almost jumped into the grave as 12 x 7.62mm rifles without blank firing attachments let loose behind him. The piper, a crusty Veteran from the North Nova Scotia Highlanders, I believe, also kept grumbling out loud "When the hell are they going to finish in the bloody church. It's getting cold. Christ, we had funeral for one of my buddies the other day and it only took us 20 minutes to plant him."
I, too, have a story involving Minister Dan MacDonald and my Father Gordon MacDonald (no middle name or initial as he was the 13th child in his family).
On 6 November 1943, Dad was on the "SS Santa Elena" (as part of a Flotilla heading from England to Italy),when it was attacked and ultimately sunk (the sinking itself is yet another story) in the Mediterranean. Following relatively closely behind was the "SS Monterey" on which Minister MacDonald found himself.
Many men and nurses from the "Santa Elena" ended up in the drink and, as it happened, then Sergeant Daniel MacDonald was one of the people lifting survivors off the scrambling nets and to safety on the "Monterey". My Father, then also a Sergeant, was one of the men he pulled aboard. That was the start of a friendship which lasted until their passings, Dan in 1980 and my Dad in 1985.
They both ultimately made it to Italy to serve as part of the 11th Canadian Infantry Brigade. The many feats of the proud and honourable men of the Cape Breton Highlanders in Italy are legendary. Vern Murphy, who wrote an article about these two MacDonalds, quoted the following statistics: "... casualties -- 821 in all, with over 200 of those killed. ... Among the honours won by the CBH were: 3 DSOs, 4 DCMs, 8 MCs, 11 MMs, 17 MIDs, 1 Silver Star conferred by the United States, 2 Croix de Guerre conferred by France, 1 Orange Nassau conferred by the Netherlands, 2 Bronze Lions from the Netherlands, and 1 Bronze Cross. The OBE was won by one of the Commanding Officers, while MBBs were awarded to two men from the ranks." This proved the CBHs lived up to their motto, "STOL NA FEAR FEARIL" (the breed of manly men).
Captain Gordon MacDonald retired after 35 years of service and was the last serving member of the WWII Cape Breton Highlanders.
A Proud Daughter,
Linda D. MacDonald-Peake
Sharbot Lake, Ontario