Perley Cameron was a Bren Gun Carrier (driver) with the North Nova Scotia Highlanders, also known as The North Novas or North Novies.
The following is Perley Cameron’s recounting of his time as a soldier during World War II.
“I was born on March 18, 1920 in Sydney, NS. I was 19 when I joined up in Sydney, and I was with the Cape Breton Highlanders for a year, then I transferred over to the North Nova Scotia Highlanders and finished the rest of the war out with them.
I was in every battle except for one with the North Novies, from D-day right up to when we landed at the Zaider Zee.
I served in England, then we fought through France, Belgium, Holland and Germany. The training we had here for two years in Canada was mostly for discipline, but the really hard training and what prepared us somewhat for the landing on the beaches in Normandy, was in England. It took us about ten days to get to England, and we landed in Liverpool. We were first stationed in Aldershot, which was always a garrison town and we tried from there.
We felt pretty good about the training, we wanted to get into action. That’s why I transferred from the Cape Breton Highlanders to the North Novies, because we figured we were never going to get into action. Little did we know what we were going to face.
On D-day, the thing that bothered me the most was seeing my friends get killed. Most of them were infantry, and I had the hardest time trying not to run them over,that’s what bothered me the most. I had to follow a road,and they’d be laying in the road. I’d have to try and drive around and avoid them. I didn’t want to run over the top of them, even though they were dead.
We were in Hell’s Corner for about three weeks. We were regrouping after an attack on Buron and Authie, and thats where the Germans pounded hell out of us,then surrounded us, and some of us were lucky enough to get back to where the Colonel (Lt.Colonel Petch) was. Thats where we stayed and regrouped,until our second successful attack on Authie.
I came back through in a (Bren) carrier, where there was a tank battle going between our tanks and the German tanks. I ran right up through the middle of them, I was carrying ammunition for our guys. They weren’t bothering with me much, I wasn’t any real threat to them.
The day the war ended, I can’t think of the name of the town right now, but it was some feeling of relief, and I only wanted to get some sleep. I found a place where there was a bed in it, put a pistol under my pillow, jammed a chair under the doorknob and went to sleep. That was something we as soldiers were always looking for, somewhere to sleep.
The ordinary German soldier was just like the Canadians, besides the SS. They were, well, I can’t say what they were. They were thugs, really cruel people. But the German soldier himself,well, we admired them. They were better trained than we were, had far superior weapons than we had. They thought the Canadians were a pretty good. We had to be.
We beat the best soldiers in the world; the Germans.”
The The North Nova Scotia Highlanders landed back in Halifax, NS on Jan. 1, 1945 earning many distinguished battle honours.
Perley Cameron passed away in 2002.
Perley Cameron is the uncle of Sylvan Laker Al Cameron.
-Submitted by Veteran Voices of Canada Founding Director Allan Cameron