Spe­cial man, spe­cial recog­ni­tion

Mu­seum ex­hibit pays trib­ute to Mac­Dougall’s con­tri­bu­tion in the Sec­ond World War

The News (New Glasgow) - - PICTOU COUNTY - BY SUEANN MUSICK

Gor­don Mac­Dougall’s con­tri­bu­tions to the Cana­dian mil­i­tary will not go un­no­ticed.

His fam­ily has taken his medals, plaques and other im­por­tant pieces of his ser­vice with the First Spe­cial Ser­vices and do­nated them to the Pic­tou County Mil­i­tary Mu­seum.

“When Dad died, it was in his home and I was trus­tee for it so it was at my house and it was avail­able to anyone,” said Gor­don’s son, Al­lan Mac­Dougall, who viewed the dis­play at the mu­seum with his four other sib­lings. “We de­cided the best thing would be to do­nate to the mu­seum so ev­ery­one could ap­pre­ci­ate another Pic­to­ni­ans ef­forts.”

Mu­seum cu­ra­tor David Avery said Mac­Dougall’s do­na­tion is one of kind for the mu­seum be­cause it does not have mem­o­ra­bilia from another First Spe­cial Forces mem­ber on dis­play.

Mac­Dougall was an ad­ven­tur­ous 18-year-old who lied about his age to en­roll with the Cana­dian mil­i­tary. In 1942, the elite First Spe­cial Forces team was formed and con­sisted of a com­bi­na­tion of sol­diers from the United States and Canada.

“They were com­man­dos,” said Avery. “They are con­sid­ered to­day to be the grand­daddy or the fore­fa­thers of Spe­cial Forces, Green

Beret and Navy Seals. They were trained to be sent into dan­ger­ous places on ex­tremely dan­ger­ous mis­sions. “

Avery said the men were taught spe­cial skills, such as ski­ing by Nor­we­gian in­struc­tors, parachut­ing, rock climb­ing, re­pelling and a lot of hand-to-hand spe­cial train­ing as well as night pa­trols. They were named the Devil’s Brigade and their story was later made into a Hol­ly­wood movie star­ring Wil­liam Holden.

“They ended up in Italy in World War Two in some re­ally tough op­er­a­tions,” Avery said, point­ing out a pic­ture that showed Mac­Dougall wounded dur­ing the Lib­er­a­tion of Rome.

Although they fought side by side on one team, Cana­dian sol­diers re­ceived less money than Amer­i­cans and when Mac­Dougall was wounded, he didn’t re­ceive a Pur­ple Heart, like his Amer­i­can com­rades. How­ever, he was the re­cip­i­ent of a badge from

“They are con­sid­ered to­day to be the grand­daddy or the fore­fa­thers of Spe­cial Forces, Green Beret and Navy Seals. They were trained to be sent into dan­ger­ous places on ex­tremely dan­ger­ous mis­sions. “Mu­seum cu­ra­tor David Avery

the United States rec­og­niz­ing he fought 30 days close com­bat with an en­emy force.

Recog­ni­tion would come later in life for Mac­Dougall who re­ceived a Bronze Medal­lion from the United States Congress for his con­tri­bu­tions in the brigade as well as a Le­gion of Honour medal from the French govern­ment for his ser­vice dur­ing the lib­er­a­tion of France.

The First Spe­cial Ser­vices was dis­banded in 1944 and Mac­Dougall re­turned home to Thor­burn in 1945. Four days af­ter his re­turn to Pic­tou County, he started work in the McBain Coal Mine. He re­mained in Thor­burn his en­tire life where he mar­ried and raised five chil­dren.

SUB­MIT­TED

A photo of Gor­don Mac­Dougall of Thor­burn hold­ing the Bronze Medal­lion he re­ceived from the United States govern­ment. Mac­Dougall re­cently passed away and his chil­dren de­cided to do­nate his medals to the Pic­tou County Mil­i­tary Mu­seum.

SUEANN MUSICK/THE NEWS

Gor­don Mac­Dougall’s fam­ily re­cently do­nated his medals and other pieces of his­tory as­so­ci­ated with the time he served in the First Spe­cial Ser­vices to the Pic­tou County Mil­i­tary Mu­seum. From left, Stephen Mac­Dougall, Linda Mac­Dougall, Toby Mac­Don­ald, Susan Hay­man, mu­seum cu­ra­tor David Avery and Al­lan Mac­Dougall.

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