I was born 22 October 1916 at Big Baddeck, Cape Breton Island. My father Daniel “Danny” MacInnis was a poultry man at Nova Scotia Agriculture College and my mother Lynda nee MacKay was a stenographer and later a housewife. She worked as a stenographer for a Maxwell family and that’s where I got my middle name. I had two brothers and two sisters. I finished my grade nine at Bible Hill and took grades 10 and 11 at Truro Academy. After the war I attended Success Business College and took a bookkeeping course. Before I joined the military I was a Fuller Brush Salesman.
In July 1942 I went to Halifax and joined the military at Depot # 6. I attended Basic Training in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia and from there I took my Advanced Training in Camp Borden, Ontario. From Borden I was sent to Halifax where I boarded the Queen Elizabeth to go the Liverpool, England, but we couldn’t land there due to excessive bombing so we landed in Greenock, Scotland where I took more Advanced Training. I was posted with 86 Bridge Coy and my job as an engineer was to build bridges over rivers.
One thing I will always remember is the fact that whenever I shot a German, I always made sure it was in the leg. I didn‘t want any men to die and I had hoped we‘d all have the opportunity to go home when the war was over. It bothered me tremendously to see a friend shot or taken as a prisoner of war and not be allowed to stop and try to help them. Chances were if I had, I also would have been shot.
Once, approximately 1500 guns went off at once and the explosion of it made me deaf for about two weeks. Ever since I’ve had a hearing loss. I’ll never forget my good buddy Clarence “Ace” Calder. He was a football player and had hands on him two sizes to one of mine. One time we were on leave together and went for a beer. This old hag up at the bar asked us if she could sit with us Canadians and Ace said “if you want to sit you can”. Then some old guy asked us if she was not good enough to sit with us and made the first move towards us. Ace caught him under the nose and there was blood everywhere. The police whistle was just a blowing and we took off out of there some quick. Ace resides in Flin Flon, Manitoba.
Another good memory I have is of my first cousin Bill Jenkins who is five days older than I am. Bill, who was a Major at the time, came down to see me in Apeldoorn, Holland. We were going down the street and Bill had to salute all the time and he said he was sick of saluting. So we hid in an alleyway and exchanged tunics and berets and I had a great time doing the saluting! Thank God we never got caught! I had another good buddy by the name of Jenkins in my outfit. He made his living as a gambler in Toronto and he taught me how to play cards and how to cheat - all the tricks of the trade.
When the war ended I volunteered on “Land Lease” to help the Dutch in Holland. I came back to Halifax on the S.S. ACQUATANIA, boarded a train to Truro where Mom and Dad met me. I brought home five men when the war ended. One of my men was caught and taken as a prisoner of war, but he got free and arrived home a year later. I was discharged 28 March 1946, as a Corporal, End of Demobilization. I have no regrets and would do it all over again to save Canada from enemies.
My first wife was Ellen nee Tauper and together we raised two children, Kevin and Kathy. Ellen was from Stewiacke and passed away in 1980. In 1983 I married Ruth nee Stecker who also has two children , Phyllis and David. Together we have 11 grandchildren. My civilian trade was woodworking and carpentry. I built kitchen cabinets, houses, and even a church in the United States. I was a bookkeeper at a lumber company in Stewiacke. I love fishing and hunting, walking, playing cards, dancing, horses, and playing the guitar. I was a great friend with Hank Snow and my grandfather used to work for Alexander Graham Bell in Brambrie. I still walk with the cane that belonged to my grandfather. I am a Life Member at Colchester N.S. Branch No. 26 Royal Canadian Legion and I am also a member of a German club in Malden, Mass.
Donalds War Chronology:
July 1942 Bridge Coy. Formed at Camp Borden, Ontario
July 28 1943 Arrived in England
Aug 1 1944 Landed on Normandy Beach Head, France
Aug 7 1944 Has 1st operational detail in France
Sep 6 1944 Is attached to Br. 2nd. Army
Sep 10 1944 Is First Cdn. Unit to enter Brussels
Sep 15 1944 Enters Holland for the first time
Sep 29 1944 Returns to 1st Cdn Army
Oct –Nov 1944 Engaged in clearing Scheldt South Bank of Maas R
Feb 9 1945 Jumped off to help in clearing West Bank of Rhine
Mar 23 1945 The Rhine is Crossed
Apr 1 1945 The whole Coy. Crosses Rhine
May 8 1945 The War ends and Coy was located at Bad Zwischenhahn, Germany
Aug 6 1945 The Bridge Coy. is Disbanded