John M. Macdonald
- Born May 20, 1921
- Service: October, 1942 to October, 1945
- 79th Division
- 311th Field Artillery Battalion, Battery B
Read about John Macdonald's experiences during World War Two
by John Montgomery Macdonald
A chronicle of memories and events before and during World War Two - 1921 to 1945
(excerpt from "The War As I Knew It")
"A couple of things come immediately to mind about my times in combat during the war. While certain memories are still very clear as are the sights, sounds and smells of war, much of what happened was routine and repetitive. Many moments were spent behind the wheel of a truck on the move, digging fox holes, or setting up our guns in preparation for firing missions which often didn’t happen. But when things got hot they got very hot!
Secondly, in thinking about where I was at any point in time and what was going on in a larger sense was very difficult. History provides detailed maps and documents the strategy of battles and entire campaigns across broad fronts often in extreme detail but this was not my perspective. My war was always right in front of me surrounded by fields, woods, inside ravaged buildings, and always through difficult terrain. Each episode and each action took place as a local event with little understanding of what was going on outside my immediate area. This was true throughout the war and even relative to the other units associated with the 79th division. For me at least the timelines and locations were blurred and it wasn’t until subsequent reading of historical accounts years later that I realized where I had been and what the “big picture” really was.
I was also fortunate not to experience and relive the traumatic moments of war over and over again in my mind after the war ended. I made a conscious effort to put the war behind me as quickly as possible after it ended and go forward with my life. This was not easy for many men. It wasn’t until over 50 years later that I began to open up and actively talk about some of the events I write about. This coincided with attending reunions of the regiments associated with the 79th division beginning in the 1990’s. My wife Joan and I attended many of these reunions and also made two trips back to France with tour groups. We visited some of the villages and locations from my past in such places as Omaha Beach, La Haye-du-Puit, Mantes-Gassicourt on the Seine, and the Alsace regions near Hatten.
Finally, I have carried on some correspondence with the Mohler family who are current residents of the Blamont area (Lorraine Region, France). I was fortunate to receive a translation of portions of the diary kept by the Mayor of Blamont, France covering the last months of the war before the liberation of Blamont. I enclosed this fascinating correspondence from the diary in the appendix. Blamont was occupied by Germans for over four years before being liberated by the 79th division in November, 1944. One of the tragedies of war is the deprivation and devastation inflicted on civilians and their communities during war time. The people of Blamont suffered much during the war and acutely so during the last weeks of their occupation. " John M. Macdonald, 2012