Malcolm Francis MacLachlan was born and raised in Great Village, Colchester County, NS, the son of Donald and Alberta (Layton) MacLachlan. After completing school in Great Village, Malcolm attended Acadia University. After the declaration of war, Malcolm enlisted in the army and joined the Cape Breton Highlanders as a young officer. In November, 1941, with the rank of lieutenant, he proceeded overseas with the Cape Breton Highlanders to the U.K., where the battalion trained for almost two years. In October/November, 1943, with a promotion to captain, he went on to Italy with the battalion, where they were to finally see action.
In late May, 1944, the Canadian forces in Italy took part in the fighting to break through the Adolph Hitler Line defences south of Rome. As a part of this action, the Cape Breton Highlanders were involved in the push to enlarge a bridgehead across the Melfa River. For his actions during this battle, Malcolm MacLachlan was later to receive a Military Cross. His citation reads:
“During the crossing of the Melfa River on 25th May, 1944, “B” Company, under the command of Captain (Acting Major) MacLachlan was one of the two forward companies leading the attack. After crossing the river the company came under intense mortar fire, shell fire from enemy self propelled guns, and direct machine gun fire. Major MacLachlan went forward under this fire to each platoon, encouraging and urging his men forward. While doing this he was severely wounded in the chest by shrapnel, but in five minutes time he had his wounds dressed and went forward to his company which he found pinned by the intensity of the enemy mortar and machine gun fire. Realizing the vital necessity of his company taking their objective in order that the two remaining companies of the battalion could pass through, although in great pain and with utter disregard for his own safety, personally led his company on to the objective. Only when the position had been consolidated did he allow himself to be evacuated. The gallantry, determination and leadership of this officer contributed largely to the battalion being successful in taking and consolidating all their objectives.”
After recovering from his wounds, Malcolm returned to the battalion. During the fighting for Coriano Ridge in September, 1944, he was wounded a second time, when a shell exploded nearby. Because of his wounds and length of service, he was allowed a six month leave back to Canada. He left the Cape Breton Highlanders near the end of December, 1944.
After the war, Malcolm married Josephine Allan and they raised three children together. He remained in the Canadian military and rose to the rank of colonel. In 1953, he was awarded the Order of the British Empire. His illustrious military career included command of the Third Battalion Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry in Korea; command of the Second Battalion, the Canadian Guards in Petawawa, Ontario; a member of the directing staff of the British Army Staff College in Camberly, England; Director of Army Personnel at Canadian Army Headquarters; Chief of Staff for Western Army Command; Commander of the Alberta Military Area; Advisor to the Canadian High Commissioner in New Delhi, India; and Director of Intelligence Services, Canadian Forces Headquarters in Ottawa.
Malcolm MacLachlan passed away in British Columbia in May of 2012, at the age of 95.