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Local veteran to represent Canada at D-Day 60th anniversary

On Hitler, Jim Macdonald is blunt.

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"Hitler was a f…ing idiot," the 84-year-old World War II veteran said as he sat down to a Coke in the Pemberton Legion Hall.

"I used to listen to him on the radio talking and he was nuts, I still can’t believe the Germans fell for it."

Despite the topic of conversation, Macdonald is a picture of what it means to be happy in retirement.

It’s the kind of happiness one would expect from a man who survived hell and now lives in one of the most beautiful places in the world.

"I hope you didn’t want me to bring my uniform," he inquires.

No, the uniform wasn’t necessary but the man and his story was.

Ordinarily Macdonald’s comments might seem brash, but his recollections are refreshingly candid and important, because on May 31 he is going to represent Canada in Europe at the 60 th anniversary celebrations of the D-Day landings.

Macdonald was awarded this opportunity through his association with the Pemberton Legion Hall and the generosity of the Pemberton people, who raised more than $10,000 in less than a two months to get him to France.

Macdonald conceded the war was an exciting time in his life but he said that nothing could compare to the buzz he got when he found out he was going back to France.

"This time right now is the most exciting time of my life," he said.

"It’s very humbling to see what Pemberton did for me, just unbelievable really."

Macdonald wasn’t sure if he would meet any of his old comrades in France because many of them are not able to travel.

"I do keep in touch with my old radar unit and I don’t think any of them will be going but I’m still hoping I’ll bump into somebody I know because that would really be the icing on cake.

"Regardless, it will be a sentimental time because I’ll be thinking of all my buddies."

Macdonald’s career in the armed forces started soon after the Second World War began when he volunteered, aged just 21, and joined the 1 st Canadian Radio Location Unit in Toronto.

He left for England in March 1941 on a converted troop ship called the Empress of Canada.

"That was a lousy trip. There were people in there jammed to the lofts, it was hard to move and it took us 11 days to reach Britain," Macdonald recalled.

He then spent several years trying to stop bombers from obliterating targets around the U.K.

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