Jack McFarland served with the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry during WWII. He is remembered fondly by other members of the community of the city of Hamilton.
McFarland joined the RHLI in 1936 at the young age of 15. He was one of the 582 servicemen who fought in Dieppe, France, in the 1942 raids on that strategic French port. The number of fatalities there totalled 197, and McFarland was one of the 174 men who were captured by the Germans as prisoners.
McFarland was wounded and required medical assistance, but his wounds were not dressed until his arrival in Rouen. German air force medics gave him a tetanus shot. On the 70th anniversary of the raid McFarland was interviewed by The Memory Project about his experiences as a prisoner of war. “I thought they were doing bayonet practice; they put a long needle right through our clothing into our stomach and gave us a shot of tetanus, anti-tetanus I guess…. I was a month in Rouen and then, believe it or not, by a hospital train to Landsdorf. I was then taken to Lazarett, which is the hospital in the prison camp and I was there for several weeks. They treated me there. I had no complaints. A British doctor once told me, he said, ‘You must have had a darned good German doctor’, he said, ‘or I would have taken that arm off the minute I saw it’.”
McFarland made a full recovery from his injuries and even signed up to serve as a sergeant in the Pacific theatre within the six-month period that followed his release and repatriation in January 1945.
In the years following the war, McFarland again served in the RHLI as a Regimental Sergeant Major and also joined the Hamilton Police as a constable until he retired in 1984 at the rank of staff sergeant.
Most poignantly, one of McFarland’s greatest post-war achievements was when, as an active member of the Hamilton’s Veteran’s Committee, he led the committee which campaigned and succeeded to persuade the city to build the Dieppe Memorial on the Hamilton Beach Strip.
McFarland spent 60 years serving his life to his community, and in 2015 the city of Hamilton awarded him its highest honour by inducting him into the Hamilton Gallery of Distinction.
He will also be remembered as an active member of several veterans’ organizations including the RHLI Association, which honoured him for his efforts in 2007 with a Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation.
One of McFarland’s many honours also includes his induction as a Knight into the Order of the French Legion of Honour.