A Veteran remembers ~ Jim’s story

With help from his daughter-in-law Alda, James J. McCulloch shares his story with The Spotlight.

What to do with this coin... The soldiers didn’t get paid much in those days. In this photo Jim and his buddy are trying to figure out what to do with so little money. Catch a bus to town or go have a beer? Jim can’t remember for sure what they did do

James J. McCulloch was born on June 20, 1921 in Sardis, B.C.

He was adopted by Sam and Sara McCulloch, who had also adopted a daughter, Mabel who was 3 years older. Jim likes to tell people he was sold for a $1 because that was the adoption fee back then.

When Jim was two, the family moved to Paddock Wood, Saskatchewan where they pioneered five acres of land. His father cut and cleared the wood, while Jim, his sister and mother burned off the stumps. They ploughed the five acres and started farming.  As a boy, Jim’s job was to catch prairie chickens in the summer and trap rabbits in the winter for meat.  He often tells stories of how he and his dog Bogie would go down to the stream and float boats that he would make out of birch bark—they had little sails and everything.

Jim’s education lasted until about grade 5 when he had to give up school in order to help out on the farm.

When he turned 16, he left home to ride the rails. He wanted to educate himself about other towns and see what the world had to offer. He would hop a train and ride on top of the box car. At night he would tie himself to the train in case he fell asleep—so he wouldn’t fall off.

For the next couple of years he worked various jobs including a lot of farm work and fire fighting in the North Woods.

On June 22, 1940, at the age of 19, Jim joined the service — Prince Albert Saskatchewan.

He served as a Physical Education teacher, military police officer, and a motor cycle dispatch rider taking messages to the front line.

He had to give the higher ups; Sergeants and Lieutenants rides to the front line.

When he was riding into German sniper fire they would make him drive the bike so he would catch the bullets. When they were leaving the front lines and sniper fire was behind them he would have to ride on the back to catch the bullets.

One day while serving in Holland, Jim was riding his motorcycle. He went around a corner just as a building was blown up. The blast blew him off his bike into a ditch, where other soldiers lay dead. He cries when he remembers this day.

After five and a half years, Jim sailed home from the war on the Queen Mary, landing in New York, where a train was waiting to take the soldiers back home to Canada.

Jim’s Theatres of Service included; Canada, Britain, Central Mediterranean Area and Northwest Europe.

He received the 1939-45 Star, Italy Star, France and Germany Star, Defence Medal, Canadian  Volunteer Service Medal with Clasp, and War Medal 1939-45.

During his time in service, Jim contracted Malaria, and still suffers effects from it today. He also ended up with some hearing loss caused by sniper fire and blasts.

In 1950, Jim met and married his wife and they raised three children. Jim went on to drive a bread delivery truck, work as a bartender, painted high poles in Port Alberni at the airport and became a logger for a while. In 1963 he started at the Port of Vancouver as a Longshoreman/Stevedore, where he retired in 1986-87.

Twenty – five years ago, Jim came to the Princeton area to retire. The family bought beautiful acreage along the Similkameen River where he could really enjoy his retirement. He started working the property right away, clearing it just like his father showed him as a boy. He cleared rocks… We all know how many rocks are in the area… Not an easy task. He moved mountains.

He built a three stall barn and fenced two pastures for the horses. He built a greenhouse in honour of his dad Sam and planted a beautiful garden and lawn.

Jim made the property a wonderful place for family to come together.

Thank you to Mr. James J. McCulloch for sharing your story with the Spotlight and our readers. Thank you as well, to Alda McCulloch ~ a most outstanding daughter-in-law.

 

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