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Updated: 22 September, 2017

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Want to learn Bagpipes or Drums?
Lessons are available.
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Moss Park Armoury
130 Queen Street East
Tuesday Evenings

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Pte James Small on the right, WWI


James Edward Small was born January 23, 1901 in Oil Springs, Ontario. He attended Dufferin Public School in Toronto and later in Ardtrea near Orillia until 1916.

On August 3rd 1916, James joined the No. 2 Special Service Coy of the 182nd Overseas Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF). He attested that he was born January 22, 1899. His service records indicate that he was paid from August 19,1916 to May 8, 1917 when he was discharged as being “medically Unfit.” A notation was made stating he was “too small and not fully developed.” He was 5’4 ½” tall.


Drummer James Small Third from right, WWI


On May 8, 1917, the same day he was discharged from the 182nd CEF, James joined the 19th Battalion CDF – 48th Highlanders of Canada, CEF in Toronto. This time he attests that his name is James Peter Small, born January 22, 1899. On this day, his height is recorded as 5’ 3 ¾”. He service records indicates he was paid from May 9, 1917 until May 24, 1919. He was shipped to England in March of 1918, and left for France on June 23, 1918. He returned home to Canada as a private on the SS Caronia on May 14, 1919 and was discharged on May 24, 1919 in Toronto.


DM Small, Arass France, 1936


After WWI James remained with Canadian Reserves force in the 48th Highlanders of Canada, becoming Drum Major of the Pipes and Drums in 1932 to 1937. As Drum Major he travelled with the band to New Brunswick in August 1934 to celebrate the province of New Brunswick’s birthday celebrations. In 1936, he was Drum Major in Chicago for the World’s Fair and at the Vimy Ridge, France for celebrations at he Vimy Ridge Memorial dedication. After the celebrations in France he was invited to a reception at Buckingham Palace in England where he met the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, Prince Henry and Lady Alice Montagu-Douglas-Scott.

In 1921 James joined the Toronto Police Department and served 18 years eventually becoming an acting detective.


Sergeant James Small, WWII


On September 4, 1939, he enlisted with the permanent force and was soon made the first newly created rank of Platoon Sergeant Major. James was embarked for England in November 1939. He later landed in Brest France on June 11, 1940 and returned to England June 18, 1940.

In January of 1941, a former 48th Highlanders Commanding Officer Colonel Bill Darling, then with the 4th Princess Louise Dragoon Guards, requested that James Small be transferred to the Dragoons as acting Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM). He consequently served in Italy until he was wounded near Ortona in 1944. He was made full RSM in May 1941.

James returned to Canada in February of 1945 and after a period in hospital he returned to duty with the Toronto Police Department. He retired to the City of Orillia and became the Justice of the Peace for the city of Orillia as well as being the clerk, 6th Division Court for the Province of Ontario.

James was a life member of the 48th Highlanders of Canada Sergeant’s and Warrant Officer’s Mess and the Metropolitan Toronto Police Association.

James married Elizabeth (Betty) Simonds. They had a daughter Jean Elizabeth. James Passes away October 12, 1982 and is buried in the Orillia Cemetery, Orillia Ontario.


Drum Major behind the King at dedication of the Vimy Memorial, 1936