Born in Chatham, ON. on 9/11/1918, the son of Claude James and Florence May (nee Wright, later Lapointe) Fisher of R.R.#3 Dresden, ON.
James enlisted 4/03/1941 age 22 yrs., at London, ON. with the 1st Hussars. James did his Basic Training at London, ON. He sailed for England aboard the S.S. Aronsay. His overseas training at Aldershot, Gosport Hove etc. He served in the UK and in Europe, landing on D-Day, 6/06/1944, on Juno Beach, he would see combat in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany. As reported in the Chatham this Week of 14/11/2012, speaking to the Chatham Rotary on 7 November he began by saying,“It’s not about me, it’s about thousands of other guys who were there.”
He talked about his training leading up to D-Day that was “intense and you never knew where you were going or whether it was going to be the real invasion or just another exercise. We were always prepared to land”. Finally word from their Captain who said, “This is it boys. This is real”.
He would be involved in one action or another for nearly a year as he and his crew traveled across north-western Europe. Crossing the Rhine river on a Baily bridge (a temporary bridge) while under heavy German artillery fire, hoping the bridge would carry their tank and that the bridge wouldn’t be hit by a shell. Once across the next worry was booby traps and mines which the Germans used very effectively. “Everything you looked at, you had to be suspicious. Is that a mine? Is that a trip wire?”
Night time was also dangerous for tanks as the enemy would use flares to light up the countyside and a tank made a great target. The tanks would hide among the tree where possible and if no trees were handy they would back into a house, leaving three sides standing and leave the same way in the morning. James ended his war at Godensholt, Germany.
Listed as next of kin reported as Mrs. J. Lapointe of R. R. # 3 Dresden, ON. James arrived from overseas on S. S. “Louis Pasteur” CDN 1/09/45. CDN 8/09/45. The CDN 28/12/45 reported that James had arrived in New York city aboard the Queen Elizabeth and not the Louis Pasteur He was given an Honourable Discharge from the Hussars 12/02/1946. In a talk to the Rotary Club of Chatham in November of 2012 James related the following: he recalled arriving at the train station in Chatham with $25 in his pocket, “It was nothing for someone who had sacrificed so much, but he considered fortunate because so many never made it back at all” . On a grey November day he walking down King Street; “It was one of the loneliest moments of my life.” He said people didn’t understand about the way I felt. Fisher went on to say that he had “a very difficult three or four years when I got home.”CTW.
But like the other veteran’s that made it through the war and arrived back in Chatham and Kent County, he built a life with his English ‘war-bride’ Mary and their two daughters Margaret and Virginia.
In 1980 it was reported that James was living at 38 Glenwood Dr., Chatham, ON.
In his closing remarks James pointedly said, “We need to quit glamourizing war. Period. War is a terrible thing. It is indescribable”. A sentiment held by many who served at the ‘sharp end’ of combat.
The war caught up to James yet again. On 10 Nov. 2014 the French government awarded Corporal James Edward Fisher the rank of Knight of the French National Order of the Legion of Honour for his contribution in the liberation of France. A letter from Phillippe Zeller, France’s ambassador to Canada wrote: “It is awarded in recognition of your professional involvement in the liberation of our country. Through you, France remembers the sacrifice of all of your compatriots who came to liberate French soil, often losing their lives in the process.”
James, quite like most veterans remarked: “I never expected any honour at all really. You don’t fight a war expecting recognition. You just hope to God that you make it through. A lot of my buddies didn’t.” James did suffer some scars and lost some of his hearing but he stressed he was lucky.
(Legion of Honour)
C.V.S.M. with Clasp, France & Germany Star, 1939-1945 Medal
IODE-CM(P), CDN (1/09/45, 9/09/45, 10/09/45, 11/11/14), NB, CTW (14/11/2012), IODE-IS (Px9), Margaret Fisher (daughter), First Hussars Association Anniversary 2006 info sheet