No Retreating Footsteps

The story of one of the most famous battalions that took part in the Normandy invasion and fought from there to war’s end in a long series of exciting battles. It begins with the origin of the regiment and training days, then pictures with dramatic detail the armada of landing craft reaching the beaches of France on D-Day, June 6, 1944, as a thousand guns thundered out a devastating barrage from the sea.

The graphic recital tells of the North Novas riding on tanks through Bernieres to a thrilling thrust inland that carried them far ahead of the rest of the Division until they had closed with German forces triple their number in some of the hardest fighting of the first days of the invasion. Two companies were cut off and fought to the bitter end with the enemy all around them. There is a vivid account of the attack on Caen, July 8th, and the truth about the holocaust at Tilly la Campagne on July 25th when the North Novas attacked under artificial moonlight and suffered tragic losses.

There was the nightmare of the Falaise Gap, the long chase, Boulogne, Cap Gris Nez, the deadly polder fighting of the Scheldt, winter raids, water posts, the savage horror of Bienen, forest fighting, Holland, Germany, a hundred and one incidents of attacks and surprises.

The book is filled with touches of human interest that make it different from the average unit history. Here is no routine recounting of battle action as taken from the records but a thrilling story told with authenticity and with the sympathetic understanding of a veteran of trench and open warfare.

(As appears on the inside flap of No Retreating Footsteps‘ dust jacket.)

Copies of No Retreating Footsteps are available at the Nova Scotia Highlanders Regimental Museum for a donation of $60 or more (plus shipping and handling), inside includes an index of soldier’s names mentioned in the book.

The Two Jacks

“So they went back to civilian life and joined hundreds of others in college classes, sank their identity and relegated memories of prison camps and prison trains, Marquis expeditions and North Novas battles, Captain Le Coz and the volatile Mimi, to the realm of things forgotten.”

Thus ends the thrilling account of the almost incredible adventures of the two Canadians — Jack Fairweather and Jack Veness — who enlisted about the same time, met in England, and were both sent as lieutenants to the North Nova Scotia Highlanders. From then on they were almost “twins,” though serving in different companies. Both were in action on D-Day, and after some thrilling fighting were taken prisoner. The story of their experiences as prisoners, their escape to the French Underground, and their fast-moving and breath-taking “expeditions” with the cruel Captain Le Coz, makes fascinating reading.

Each of the men had been Mentioned in Dispatches. Veness had been named a Chevalier of the Order of Leopold II with palm and decorated with the Croix de Guerre 1940 with palms. He had been promoted from lieutenant to captain, and from captain to major within four months. And as he let his thinking go back over the months he marvelled that he was still alive. Fairweather rose from a private soldier in the ranks to Field Officer (Major) in less than three years, and was the youngest major in the entire Canadian army and probably in all the British forces. He too had had death whispering by his side for many months, but time and again emerged scatheless. And now, after several years, the Two Jacks recall their experiences, and they are set down in these fast-moving pages by Will R. Bird, a veteran of the First World War and a storyteller equal to the task.

About the Author: Will R. Bird

Will R. Bird, born in Cumberland County, Nova Scotia, is descended from a long line of Yorkshiremen who first settled in the historic county around Amherst in 1722.

He was educated in Nova Scotia, and then went to Alberta and took up a homestead. He enlisted and served overseas in World War I with the 42nd Royal Highlanders, winning the Military Medal at Mons.

Dr. Bird began his writing career with the Halifax Sunday Leader. He became highly successful as a free lance and in 1931 was sent overseas by Macleans Magazine to cover the old battle front on which the Canadian Corps had served.

In 1933 he joined the staff of the Nova Scotia Government Information Bureau. He is a past National President of the Canadian Authors Association; Chairman of the Historic Sites Advisory Council of Nova Scotia, and a Fellow of the Haliburton Society of the University of King’s College.

In 1949 Mount Allison University, Sackville, N.B.; conferred on him the honorary degree of Litt.D.

His books include: A Century at Chignecto, Here Stays Good Yorkshire, Sunrise for Peter, Judgement Glen, The Passionate Pilgrim, This in Nova Scotia, So Much to Record, No Retreating Footsteps, The Two Jacks and To Love and to Cherish.

Will R. Bird has become one of the outstanding writers of fiction in Canada. In 1945 he shared with Philip Child the Ryerson All-Canada Fiction Award for “Here Stays Good Yorkshire“, and again in 1947 he shared the honour with Edward A. McCourt for “Judgement Glen“.

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