Jim McPhee- My story, Sentinel article, continued

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Local doctor was shot down over Germany

2010-11-10 / News
By David Anderson

james mcphee in 2010

James McPhee made his experience in the Second World War interesting by just using the English language recently.

McPhee, a retired doctor who served in King City, addressed many of his former patients at King City Seniors’ Centre.

He was born March 18, 1925 in a small rural community of Ophir in the township of Algorna about 40 miles east of Sault Ste. Marie. He spent his first seven years of his education under the rule of the same teacher in a oneroom schoolhouse.

“I don’t want to bore you with the small details so I’ll get to what everyone came here to listen to,” he said jokingly.

With the encouragement of his friends and against the wishes of his parents he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in March 1943.

“I never understood why my parents were so discouraging about it, but when became a parent I knew why,” he commented. “It must not be fun to watch your son or daughter go to war, with the chance they may never come back alive.”

McPhee said in the he went through the usual stream of Manning Depot in the Air Force, eventually being chosen for air crew. He went through the Commonwealth Air Training plan and graduated in early 1944 as an air gunner.

“I went overseas, trained further in England and was posted to 408 Goose Squadron as a tail gunner in October 1944,” he said.

He and his crew who were assigned to destroy an oil fabrication plant in Castrop- Rauxel, Germany Nov. 21, 1944. The aircraft, a Halifax bomber, was shot down.

“I was a prisoner of war from then on until May 8, 1945 (VE Day),” McPhee said, adding that on being discharged, he continued with his civilian life like as if it was never interrupted.

“I was lucky to be alive and to be coming back from the world a lot of my friends overseas didn’t,” he commented.

McPhee returned to Sault Ste. Marie to finish high school.

“I then went to the University of Toronto Medical School and graduated in June 1953,” he said.

He interned for one year at Toronto Western Hospital.

“After that, I was declared ready to make a living,” he chuckled.

From then on, McPhee worked as an associate to Dr. Murray Fisher in Gravenhurst and then came to King City to join Dr. Quentin Hardy in partnership until 1973 when he relocated to Richmond Hill.

“I then retired in 1992, but continued to do holiday relief for doctors in the community,” he commented.

He was also asked to assist in surgical procedures at York Central hospital, so he made himself readily available.

McPhee said he married Norah Scriver after the war in 1949 and is the father to five children, two daughters and three sons who were all raised in King City. As well he is a grandfather and a great grandfather.

“The saddest thing in my life wasn’t the bad things I saw in war though; it was when I lost my eldest daughter to cancer in 1985,” he explained.

McPhee separated from his wife Norah of 24 years in 1973, and married Marilyn Fidler in 1976 that he has been with since.

“I now reside in Barrie, though I no longer participate in my surgical activities since my fall and fracture of my right shoulder,” McPhee said.


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Jim McPhee- My story, Sentinel article, continued