Family sets up drive-by service for WW II veteran in Seabright

·3 min read

Driving down the Peggys Cove Road on Wednesday, cars honked, people waved and even pulled over to sign a postcard for a Second World War veteran who lives on the street in Seabright, N.S.

Malcolm (Mac) Smith, 99, waved from his window as they passed by, smiling and proudly wearing his medals on his chest. He said he would have liked to show off one of them — the French Legion of Honour — at the Seabright Legion ceremony.

While the COVID-19 pandemic put restrictions on Remembrance Day ceremonies this year, Smith's family decided to find a way for the community to say thank you.

"I like it. People are beginning to know what I've done and where I was and before I was just a veteran," said Smith, who was pleased people were honking their horns to pay tribute to him.

Emma Davie/CBC
Emma Davie/CBC

At the edge of the driveway, Smith's daughter, Vicki Smith, set up a blown-up picture of her dad and a sign asking people to wave or stop and sign a postcard. There was a table set up with cards and hand sanitizer.

"It's probably going to be his last Remembrance Day, because he'll be 100 in December, so I just wanted to do something special for him," said his daughter. "It's been a little crazy actually."

Smith joined the Canadian Armed Forces in Halifax and was sent to Petawawa, Ont., for almost a year of training. Then, he was told he had 30 days leave before he would be sent overseas.

During the Second World War, Smith served with the 5th Anti-Tank Regiment, 4th Canadian Armoured Division.

Smith would have landed in France on D-Day, but his ship was too far back on the English Channel, his daughter said.

"As he likes to say ... if you had a long plank, you could have walked across the English Channel," she said.

Emma Davie/CBC
Emma Davie/CBC

She said he drove jeeps, trucks and by the end of the war was driving tanks at the front lines.

When it came to driving the tank, Smith said they gave you a course and there was no straying from it.

"If you got shot or killed, that was too bad. But you had to follow that course. If there was a dead soldier in your way, I'm sorry, but you kept going," he said.

"And it gave you a funny feeling, I'm telling you. It could have been me. But it wasn't. Luck, luck, plain luck."

Emma Davie/CBC
Emma Davie/CBC

Smith, who took part in the liberation of Holland, said he was scared during the war. His daughter said he's been known to say, "I left my nerves on the beach in France."

Vicki Smith said the family has been to a Remembrance Day service every year since 2005.

"As the years have gone by, I think last year he was the only World War II Veteran at the Seabright Legion, there were other veterans there, but none from the Second World War," she said.

"It's important that people are remembering this."