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Did Jams Herriot Go to War? What Happened to Him?

Did James Herriot Go to War? PBS Masterpieces’ All Creatures Great and Small features a marriage proposal from veterinarian James Herriot to his longtime crush, but the looming possibility of war unnerves viewers.

In 1939, the year World War II began, the author from Sunderland, England graduated from veterinary school.

So far, the show has depicted his years from 1939 to 1941 working at a rural vet clinic and how he gave up a good position in Glasgow to remain in the community so he could be near Helen (real name Joan Danbury). Now, viewers are concerned he may depart.

Who Was James Herriot?

James Alfred Wight OBE FRCVS, commonly known as James Herriot (3 October 1916 – 23 February 1995), was a British veterinary surgeon and author.

Born in Sunderland, Wight graduated from Glasgow Veterinary College in 1939 and returned to England to practice veterinary medicine in Yorkshire for nearly 50 years.

He is most known for authoring a series of eight books set in the 1930s–1950s Yorkshire Dales about veterinary practice, animals, and their owners, the first of which was released in 1970 under the title If Only They Could Talk. Over the decades, around 60 million copies of the book series have been sold.

Did James Herriot Go to War
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Did James Herriot Go to War?

During World War II, the cities where James was born and raised, Sunderland and Glasgow, were devastated. Helen detects James’s urge to fight and begs him not to leave, saying, “Come on, James, you told me you’d be honest with me.”

James is conflicted but says he wants to help “The only sensible response is to attempt to stop it. Who am I if I don’t push myself forward? I am simply aware that I cannot forgive myself if I do nothing.”

All Creatures Great and Small is based on actual events. We do not yet know if James will leave for war on the show, but he did so in reality. However, there is more to the story.

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What Happened to James Herriot in the War?

In reality, James was a gentleman who cared for animals and had just proposed to the woman he loved. Despite the fact that his veterinary license protected him from conscription, he opted to join the British Royal Air Force upon hearing the news of the bombings. He was one of the first students in his class to fly solo.

In the big scheme of things, it may have been fortunate for James that he was found unsuitable to fly combat aircraft in July 1943, following delicate surgery, leading to his discharge in November of the same year.

James did serve in the air force, but he never saw action and was allowed to return to his wife, with whom he spent the remainder of his life.

He worked as a veterinarian until his retirement in 1980, after which he focused on his creative endeavors. After the Luftwaffe devastated his hometown, he joined the military.

Did James Herriot Go to War
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James continued to write and published a book in 1992, just a few years prior to his passing. He enjoyed a wonderful life with Joan and died in 1995 at the age of 78 following a four-year battle with prostate cancer. Joan subsequently followed him in 1999.

Wight had a following, but eschewed celebrity, stating as much in the past “It has no effect on me at all. It is not my universe.

I would not be content there. Even if I had a million pounds, I wouldn’t stop becoming a veterinarian. I have an excessive affection for animals.”

Read More – What Happened To Jason Derulo? Where Did He Go?

Frequently Asked Questions

How True Are the James Herriot Stories?

Jim Wight, a veterinarian like his father, writes that ninety percent of the stories are based on actual instances, even if they are occasionally borrowed from other veterinarians (including Jim).

Was Helen the Wife of James Herriot?

As many fans are aware, the adventures of James Herriot were originally written by the real-life veteran Alf Wight under a pen name. In reality, Alf Wight married Joan Catherine Anderson Danbury, whose name was transformed into Helen Alderson in the novels.

How Many Children Did James Herriot Actually Have?

He married Joan Catherine Anderson Danbury on 5 November 1941. James Alexander (Jim), born in 1943, also became a veterinarian and was a partner in the practice, and Rosemary (Rosie), born in 1947, became a general practitioner physician.


James Herriot, a British veterinary surgeon, and author, went to war during World War II despite his veterinary license protecting him from conscription. He was one of the first students in his class to fly solo.

James Herriot was found unsuitable to fly combat aircraft in 1943, leading to his discharge in November of the same year. He married Joan Catherine Anderson Danbury in 1941 and had three children.

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