Star Trek’s Scotty – most of the show’s original fans knew of actor James Doohan’s military service, but if you didn’t know, he was part of the Royal Canadian Artillery Regiment on D-Day, June 6, 1944. Not a pussy actor at all. And no, he was not Scottish, he was of Irish immigrant parents.
Doohan played USS Enterprise engineer “Montgomery Scott” on the original series, and was in the movies later. He was a beloved member of the fictional crew, and died in 2005. He was famous for saying. “Captain, we canna do it” and then saying “aye” and doing it anyway. He always made it happen.
Doohan always showed an aptitude for science and math, so his character wasn’t far from his actual personality.
According to warhistoryonline,
In 1938, he joined the 102nd Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps. The year after saw him with the Royal Canadian Artillery, 14th (Midland) Field Battery of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division.
Doohan did so well he became a Commissioned Lieutenant with the 14th Field Artillery Regiment of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division. In 1940, he was sent to England for further training.
Fast forward to D-Day – the Allied Invasion of France on June 6, 1944. The British, Americans and Canadians were each assigned a portion of France’s Normandy beaches.
Doohan’s regiment was assigned to Juno Beach.
“The sea was rough. We were more afraid of drowning than (we were of) the Germans.” James Doohan
The first Canadians reached Juno Beach at 7:35 AM and were cut down. Fortunately for them, the HMS Ajax had bombed Juno earlier, doing more damage to the coastal defenses than the planes had. After two hours, they had swept aside most of the Germans on their stretch of the beach.
Doohan led his men across the sands and got lucky. Despite the anti-tank mines beneath their feet, none went off, as the men were not heavy enough to activate them. As they made their way to higher ground, Doohan managed to take out two German snipers – his first kills of the war.
There were so many Canadians in the area, that a sentry got trigger happy and shot Doohan…six times – four times in the leg, and one blew off his finger – the other hit him in the chest. Right smack dab in the metal cigarette case he carried for good luck.
He joked that it was “the only time smoking had ever saved a life.”
After recovery, he went on to earn the title ” the craziest pilot in the Canadian Air Force” after flying his plane between two telegraph poles. An action for which he got in big trouble.
After the military, “Scotty” eventually became the USS Enterprise Engineer we all knew. He tried to hide his missing finger whenever possible, but it did show on some scenes form the show. He also was the developer of both Vulcan and Klingon languages for the series.
Thanks for the memories, Mr. Scott.