Into the fire

Video showcases celebrated local battalion

Darrell Cole
Published on November 6, 2012
Filmmaker Allan Cameron shoots video at Tilly La Campagne, France where his great uncle and North Nova Scotia Highlanders’ member Ernest Glenmore Hill was killed on July 25, 1944. Cameron has just completed a video that follows the unit through the Normandy campaign. 

AMHERST – A project many years in the making, featuring one of this area’s most well known Second World War battalions, is complete.

Allan Cameron, who was in Amherst in 2010 to interview veterans with the North Nova Scotia Highlanders, has completed a project sparked from boyhood conversations with his uncle.

The Fighting North Novies: Into the Fire is about the battalion’s time in Normandy, from landing on the beaches on D-Day to Tilley La Campagne, where his great uncle Ernest Glenmore Hill was killed.

“I was planning on getting the video on my family connection out first, but I thought about it and the fact there are a lot of North Novie veterans out there who want to see this. So instead of focusing on one subject, as far as individuals go, I figured this would be something for all the veterans and their families to see,” Cameron said. “It would sort of be one last hurrah and one last thank you.”

The Alberta filmmaker is working with the First Battalion Nova Scotia Highlanders Association to host a veterans appreciation night in Amherst on Nov. 23 and again in Truro on Nov. 24.

He’s hoping to host the Amherst event at the Col. James Layton Ralston Armoury, the home of the North Nova Scotia Highlanders and from where the battalion departed on its way to war.

“I want this to be a tribute to the veterans. This is something that’s going to put them in the spotlight again,” Cameron said, adding he will be selling copies of the DVD at the showing along with other commemorative items. “This is about raising awareness of what these guys did for us and appreciating what they did. After they see the video they are going to walk out with a bit more kick in their step.”

Cameron said the project was an amazing experience, adding he met some great people and learned a lot about his family’s connection to the historic battalion and the role it played in liberating northwest Europe.

“I met some amazing guys who were so willing to be a part of this once they knew what I was trying to do. It made such a huge difference,” he said. “When I look at these interviews I can do nothing but smile because they were some pretty special guys.”

Cameron’s vision for the project began more than a decade ago after he spoke to his uncle Perley Cameron, a North Nova Scotia Highlander and D-Day veteran, about his experiences during the Second World War. They agreed the veterans’ stories needed to be documented so the young people of today would know what.

“Nothing has really been done on the North Novies in particular. I’m from Nova Scotia, my two uncles were North Novies and I felt it was time that something was done while we still have some of these guys with us who can actually sit down with us and watch this. We want them to know they weren’t forgotten and that we do know and appreciate what they did.

“I grew up hearing about D-Day. I’m a history buff, but to talk to these guys who were there is incredible and so was talking to guys who remember my uncles.”

Over the past several years, Cameron – who has also worked on the Veterans Voices of Canada project – has travelled back and forth to Nova Scotia interviewing veterans about their wartime experiences.

He also travelled to France to retrace the steps of the North Novies from Normandy to Falaise and visited the grave of one of his uncles, who was killed when his Bren gun carrier came under fire from a German tank.

“I met two guys who remembered my great uncle before he was killed. One guy, Roy Walker, who was on the same carrier the day he was killed,” Cameron said. “My great uncle was his Bren gunner. I stayed with him for a few days and he told me the whole story of how he was killed.”