Neil McSween was born in Sydney Mines, NS, but lived in Glace Bay from an early age. Shortly after his mother passed away when he was about 9, he moved to Frenchvale, NS, with his father and only sibling, a brother, Albert. His father later remarried. Neil received his schooling in Glace Bay and in Upper Leitches Creek. After completing Grade 8, he worked on the family farm and in the woods. He was well liked and enjoyed singing country and western songs, especially “Wilf Carter” tunes.
On June 16, 1941, in Sydney, NS, Neil enlisted as a private in the Canadian Army, No. 6 District Depot. He did his basic training in Charlottetown, PEI, and his advanced infantry training in Aldershot, NS. On January 10, 1942, he embarked for overseas and landed in the U.K. on January 19, 1942. Less than a week later, he was transferred to the Cape Breton Highlanders who were training in the U.K. at that time. He sailed for Italy with the battalion in October/November, 1943.
Neil was killed in action with the Cape Breton Highlanders in Italy, on January 17, 1944. It was during an ill-fated assault across the valley of a stream called the Riccio, near Ortona, on the Adriatic Sector of the Italian Front. The battlefield later became known as “The Valley of Death.” Neil was a member of “D” Company which led the attack. He was 24 years old.
Neil McSween is buried in Moro River Canadian War Cemetery, Ortona, Italy. At the time of his death he held the rank of private.
For additional information on Neil McSween, refer to the following online source:
I would like to thank Dan Gouthro for allowing me to borrow and copy the photo of Neil McSween, and for providing background family information. I visited Dan at his home in Frenchvale, NS, in the early 1990's.