Private James Joseph Miklos
James (Jim) Joseph Miklos was born October 10, 1922, in the small village of Montraballa, Hungary. He was the only son and the middle child of Alexander and Elizabeth (nee Kun). He had an older sister Elizabeth and a younger sister Mary.
Jim emigrated to Canada at the age of 5 with his mother and older sister in the summer of 1927. His father arrived two years earlier in 1925 and worked to support himself and to save enough money to pay the way for his family to join him.
Shortly after arriving in Canada, the family settled in New Waterford, Nova Scotia. Jim was very athletic and active in various sports but hockey was by far his favourite. During his youth, if he was not playing sports, he played the violin. Jim’s father needed to get out of the coal mines for health reasons and he moved the family to Brantford ON in 1941. Jim settled in working as a machinist with the Kerr & Goodwin Company in Brantford.
With the possible threat of an invasion on Canada’s east coast, Jim felt a sense of duty and volunteered his service to the Canadian Army. He initially tried to sign up in Sarnia ON but was rejected due to his birthplace being listed as Hungary. Jim wasn’t going to be denied so he went to London and signed up with the Canadian Army on March 15, 1943 and listed his birthplace as New Waterford, Nova Scotia. There wasn’t anything nefarious for his reason in not being truthful about his birthplace, Jim truly felt a sense of duty.
His basic training began in Chatham ON, April 1, 1943 with an army infantry group and then proceeded to advanced training at Camp Ipperwash on the shores of Lake Huron, June 1, 1943. It was here that his skills were honed to qualify as an expert marksman and top marks for estimating distances. Sometime during the month of June, Jim saw a poster recruiting men to become parachutists with Canada’s First Parachute Battalion. Jim along with a couple of others volunteered and transferred to Shilo, Manitoba July 4, 1943 to start training with Canada’s First Parachute Battalion. However, his stay at Shilo was short-lived, because his error in judgement about his birthplace being listed as New Waterford, NS on his application caught up with him. He was returned to Camp Ipperwash later that month. After sufficient interrogation and investigation, the Canadian Army cleared him and he continued training but not as a paratrooper. It was during the return trip, military officials thought, that Jim, being of Hungarian descent could be an asset as a spy. Jim was promised he would be provided with the very best training and be fluent in the Hungarian language. He was given two weeks to consider the offer. The offer was eventually declined and preparations were made to go to the UK. Jim arrived in the UK on December 1, 1943. He arrived at Carter Barracks in Bulford shortly after to resume his training as a paratrooper.
Jim earned his wings with 1CPB, March 15, 1944 and was assigned to “C” Company, 7 Platoon, 2 Section. During his time at Carter Barracks, Jim made a total of 22 training jumps. He loved the thrill of jump, often taking the place of someone who wasn’t able to jump on a particular day. Jim participated in each of the 4 missions the Battalion engaged in but did not drop on D-Day with the majority of the Battalion. He was part of a team of reinforcements deployed on August 7, 1944. That team travelled by ship to Normandy and upon arrival were immediately driven to the front lines with the rest of the Battalion.
Jim’s best friend in the Battalion was Andy McNally. Both were assigned to C Company, 7 Platoon, 2 Section. Their personalities were a perfect blend to form an inseparable bond and become best of friends during their time together at Carter Barracks. The third mission for the Battalion was Operation Varsity, “The Rhine Drop” March 24, 1945. Andy confided to Jim he did not have a good feeling and did not think he would survive the mission. Andy and Jim would jump from the same C-47 but became separated on the descent to the drop zone. After the drop zone was secure Jim went to look for Andy and found his body on the battlefield a short time later. Jim’s best friend was gone. He was just 20 years old. The memory of Andy would last Jim’s lifetime.
Jim returned from active duty with the rest of the Battalion at the end of June 1945 and continued to live in Brantford On. He returned to the Kerr & Goodwin machine shop and earned his certificate as a tool and die maker. In the summer of 1945, Jim’s good friend Mike Balog invited Jim to his daughters' Christening. It was there he introduced Jim to his sister-in-law, Margaret Belovari. After a one-year courtship, they married in Galt (now Cambridge) Ontario at St. Patrick’s church, September 28, 1946. The marriage produced 5 sons, 2 daughters, 9 grandchildren and 13 great-grand-children at the time he passed away
Jim’s hobbies were woodworking, hunting, bowling, golf, skiing and photography. He took his passion for photography to a higher level and started his own business, “J. Miklos Photography” in 1976. He became a member of the professional photographer’s association. His skill with the camera won him many awards at local shows and was the official photographer with some local sports teams. Jim was not the type of person to sit idle when he retired. He took up downhill skiing at the age of 65 when he retired from American Can in 1987 and continued to ski into his early 80’s.
Jim enjoyed the company of his airborne brotherhood and attended many of the Battalion’s annual reunions. A couple of notable reunions he attended were the 30th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy, France and the 65th anniversary at Ex-Coelis Mountain at Siffleur Falls, Alberta. Jim attended the final reunion at the Hamilton Heritage War Museum in 2011. Jim also stayed in touch with several fellow paratroopers that lived in the Brantford area.
Jim remarked numerous times how lucky he was to survive the war. He proudly attended Remembrance Day services at the local Cenotaph to remember all those, including his best friend Andy who paid the ultimate sacrifice fighting for our freedom. In January 2018, Jim was bestowed France’s highest civilian honour with the Legion of Honour medal for his part in the liberation of France during the summer of 1944.
Jim was a two-time cancer survivor. Lymphoma reoccurred in January 2019. He passed away peacefully with family at his side on March 10, 2019. He had been married to the love of his life Margaret, for more than 73 years. His ashes are interred at Holy Cross Cemetery. Brantford. If you have read the biography of James Joseph Miklos, then you have kept his memory alive.
Photographs and information courtesy of Gerry Miklos.
Private Miklos would have carried a Sten submachine gun overseas, similar to this one shown below. The Sten can be found in several models, the one pictured here is a Sten MKV, produced for the Paratroopers. It was an inexpensive firearm to produce, costing less than $10.00 per unit. It chambered a 9mm cartridge with a firing rate of 550 rounds per minute and an effective range of 100 yards. Also shown is a magazine pouch or bandolier that allowed a soldier to carry an additional 30 round magazines. Courtesy of Collectors Source.