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February 4 2017 at 1:44 PM
Linda D. MacDonald 

Response to Book on Cape Breton Highlanders

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

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