When thinking about casualties of war, it can be hard to see those involved as real, complex individuals. Too often and too quickly, people become “numbers” in our minds. In an effort to put faces and stories to those who faced war in our community, we wanted to highlight two local veterans: James Edward “Tiny” Small (1901-1982) and Dr. Jim McPhee (1925—)
James Edward “Tiny” Small
Courtesy of Jean Sarjeant, author of Secrets in the Chest: The Life of James Edward “Tiny” Small (available at the Orillia Museum of Art & History)
“James Edward Small grew up in the Orillia area and enlisted in the First World War at the age of 16, lying about his age to be able to serve. In 1920, Small returned to Canada and became a Toronto Police Officer. He stayed with the force until he enlisted in the Second World War in 1939.
Tiny served in England, before leaving for Sicily in 1943, training men from across Canada for the machines and support they would need going into battle. Tiny served actively in Italy until he was wounded in the Cesena area in 1944, returning to Canada in 1945. Some years later, he became Clerk of the Court in Orillia, a Justice of the Peace for the Province of Ontario, and President of Branch 34 of the Orillia Legion.
He was a grandfather of three children, two boys, and a girl. Tiny passed away October 12th, 1982 in Orillia, Ontario and is greatly missed by his family today.”
Dr. Jim Mcphee
Courtesy of Jim Mcphee, The Memory Project, Historica Canada
Jim McPhee, a medical doctor who now resides in Barrie, describes his experience of being shot down over a German oil fabrication plant in 1944:
“The next thing I knew, there were tracer bullets coming from below and behind. And I could see that the tail-planes, the aircraft were disintegrating. […] I suddenly was hit on the side of the head with something. The next thing I knew, I was falling with the sensation of a great rush of wind. My flying suit had come out of my flying boots and was flapping up around my face and I realized that I was in a free-fall, pulled my ripcord and with a very short interval, I landed on top of a roof, rolled off onto a cobblestone courtyard.
I could see I was in a little village in a valley and there was a forest on the side of a hill. And I escaped up into there and hid overnight. For the next week, I wandered around Germany, trying to find my way up to Arnhem [Netherlands][…] I went into a barn for some refuge because I was just about worn out. When I was there, the farmer’s dog alerted the farmer […] and he actually took me into the house […] They fed me a very adequate breakfast which was very welcome and after about an hour, the Wehrmacht, the German Army, showed up and I was escorted into the city of Düsseldorf, into a police station.”
To honour our veterans (both local and from afar), consider attending your local Remembrance Day ceremony on November 11th. The Barrie Remembrance Day Parade commences at 10:00am on Dunlop Street East at Mulcaster and departs for the Cenotaph at Memorial Square at 10:30am. The Orillia Remembrance Day service begins at the cenotaph in front of the Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital at 10:45am and is followed a parade down Mississauga Street to the Orillia Legion. The Innisfil service begins at 10:45am in front of the memorial at Innisfil Town Hall. All ceremonies recognize two minutes of silence at 11:00am.