World War II veteran honored in Toronto on 100th birthday

TORONTO – For many years, Jack Paley did not talk much about his military past.

The World War II veteran, who turned 100 on Thursday, is part of an elite British group – the Special Aviation Service (SAS). In downtown Toronto, at the historic Royal Canadian Military Academy, there was a procession dedicated to Paley to mark his monumental birthday.

“I did it—how, I don’t know,” Paley said humorously. “I’m the same as always.”

Paley, with his wife of 70 years by his side, was presented with a cake that proudly acknowledges his role in the SAS, a secret group that, until recently, even his children knew little about.

Paley’s daughter Anne Ison said: “I used to think he was a spy – because it was very secret and so we didn’t hear much about it. “The last few years have been eye-opening, modest.”

SAS was born in the North African desert, where a young British officer in 1941 named David Stirling created a force of commandos – small groups of soldiers that could parachute behind enemy lines and say generally destructive.

Their motto: who dares wins.

Alan Bell, a former Special Air Service executive, told CTV News: “A lot of the work they do is still confidential because the nature of the work is assassinating German officers and all that stuff like that. so.

Famously, Hitler ordered that soldiers like those in the SAS be executed if caught.

“Oh, they shot them on the spot, yes,” said Paley.

However, Paley, born in England, bravely participated and carried out daring operations behind the front lines in Italy and France.

“We had to train the Maquis – the French resistance – with different types of weapons,” he said.

Paley now lives in Markham, Ont., and is only the third SAS member to turn 100 years old.

To this day, he remains humble about his contribution and is honored to be recognized by other veterinarians.

“Yes, that’s just one of those things,” he said.

With files from Alexandra Mae Jones of


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