Private James Richard Dillon Jr. 

James Dillon Jr. was born in Ontario, Canada to his parents James and Maude Dillon on May 9, 1921.  James Dillon Sr. served during World War 1 with the 42nd Battalion of the Black Watch. The Dillon family was of Irish descent, settling in Canada as their new home.  James was an intelligent and studious young man, he completed four years at a Technical High School, later attending two more years of night school at the Ontario College of Arts.  James was residing at 76 Dixon Avenue in Toronto and working as a Commercial Artist at the time he decided to enlist in the army.

He joined the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals on August 31, 1942, and completed his basic training shortly after and became a fully trained signaler.  It wasn’t long before James heard about a special group of soldiers called Paratroopers and them recruiting only the best men. James put forth his request to transfer to the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion.  He completed all the physical, psychological and aptitude testing successfully and now ready to attend the Parachute School in Fort Benning, Georgia, U.S.A.  James graduated on January 9, 1943, receiving his Parachute wings. James was a very proud paratrooper who then transferred to the Intelligence Section of the Battalion. He was a valuable member of the elite unit, being an experienced Signaller with Intelligence training. On July 23, 1943, James was sent to England to join the Battalion and begin training with the 6th Airborne Division in preparation for the Normandy invasion. It was there, he was placed in the Head Quarters Coy as a Signaller. 

It was June 5, 1944, and time to put all that planning and training into effect. James boarded the Dakota, chalk 271 with 48 Squadron.  James was one of only two 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion members on the aircraft. The intended drop location was Varraville DZ, however they parachuted 8 miles east of the intended DZ, landing near Villers Sur Mer in the early hours of June 6, 1944.  Unfortunately, due to this error, the paratroopers found themselves surrounded by enemy forces and everyone on that plane was taken prisoner and later sent to several POW camps in Germany.  James would spend the remainder of the war at Dulag Luft Wetzler, Germany. 

In 1945, the war was finally over and James was released from the POW camp, where he made his way back to England and then Canada. James survived the war, however had many memories to carry with him for the remainder of his life.  He received the following medals for his service to Canada and abroad, 1939-45 Star, France and Germany Star, Defence Medal, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and clasp and War Medal 1939-45. James returned to civilian life and married his soul mate, Audrey. They had three wonderful children named Wayne, Ronald and Karen.  James and Audrey were married for 62 years before James was taken to the Scarborough General Hospital where he died on November 20, 2007.  If you have read this biography of James Richard Dillon, then you have kept his memory alive. 

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Studio portrait of Pte. Dillon wearing a Parachute Regiment cap badge after being repatriated.
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Medals that belonged to James Dillon senior who served during World War 1 with the 42nd Battalion of the Black Watch.
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Pte. Dillon’s medal entitlement, from left to right, 1939-45 Star, France and Germany Star, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal with bar, Defence Medal and War Medal 1939-45.
Pte. Dillon’s badges he wore while overseas. Courtesy of Ken Joyce.
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Here is a nice die struck British Parachute Regiment cap badge, identical to the one Pte. Dillon is wearing in the studio photograph.
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New Testament that Pte. Dillon would keep with him while he was a POW at Dulag Luft Wetzler, Germany.
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Inside the cover of the New Testament was Pte Dillon's signature and it was stamped by the Germans “Gepruft”
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Pte. Dillon’s German issued ration ticket wallet.
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The inside of Pte. Dillon’s German issued ration ticket wallet.
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Pte. Dillon’s uniform and beret he wore as a POW overseas, front view.
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Pte. Dillon’s uniform and beret he wore as a POW overseas, 3/4 view.
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Pte. Dillon’s uniform and beret he wore as a POW overseas, side view.