See the "Polar Bear" insignia|
Even my dad’s own personal wartime experiences did not make the war any more real to me. His family home in Knightswood,
My dad then went on to say that it had always been his wish and deep desire to make a visit to Hugh’s grave in
From information I had read prior to our visit to
Photo of temporary grave marker received in a letter to Hugh’s mother from the War Office dated 21 May 1948.
I remember in late 1999 while the planning the trip to
During our journey through
After my return to
After a process of application via the British Ministry of Defence, I fortunate to receive Hugh's military records. From those I learned the following ~
In August 2006 during some related internet research, I discovered by chance a book written by Patrick Delaforce ~ “The Polar Bears Monty’s Left Flank”, a book which is completely dedicated to the World War II actions of the 49th Infantry Division. Without delay from an online book store, I ordered a copy. With its arrival, I discovered in the acknowledgements section the name Harry Conn of the 49th Infantry Division Polar Bear Association in
Member Mrs. Millicent Booth, widow of Eddie Booth, RE, phoned me this morning. It seems that Eddie knew Hugh very well and Millicent would love to contact you and pass on everything she knows.
As if that wasn't pretty good news, it suddenly got even better. My Editor's cap glowed and my pen shook when she told me she is in possession of a leather "Military Housewife" embossed with Hugh's name and details! I can already see the article in June’s PBN.
Almost immediately I called Hugh’s sister Jean who still lives at 599 Duke Street, the original home of her grandparents, the location of her parent’s marriage in January 1917 and where both she in 1920 and Hugh in 1917 were born. Jean’s reaction to this update was similar to my own; she was absolutely thrilled and excited. She also clearly remembered the existence of Hugh’s Military Housewife and was delighted about its rediscovery after so many years.
Of the three friends only Eddie, Serial No. 2067466 was fortunate to survive the war. George, Serial No.1916609 was killed on 20 August 1944 aged 28 and is buried at Banneville-La-Campagne War Cemetery, France. From the CWGC web-site, I found that he was the son of Samuel and Helene Rumph and husband to Beatrice.
“On the 20th of August we had our first casualty. George Rumph took the Col. In his Jeep to a bridging site. They had been at the site for a while when the
“……..After the excitement with the Yanks we returned to the unit, only to find that in our absence some RASC blokes had parked five three ton lorries nose to tail in the lane. They had not bothered to camouflage them at all. A jerry tank had arrived on the scene, spotted the five lorries, put a shell in the first lorry and one in the rear lorry, then hit the three in the centre. He must have spotted our two vehicles and put a shell in the engine compartment. Unfortunately Jock had taken cover under the engine and was killed instantly. The powers that be decided that we were in the wrong position and we had to move. This meant that we had to leave Jock behind. His body was collected by burial squads and is now interred in
..... Unfortunately the five RASC vehicles were parked on an open stretch of lane and there had been no attempt at camouflage at all. Had they not attracted the Jerries attention I doubt if he would have spotted our two vehicles…….”
Throughout all my research into Hugh, I have been fortunate to come in contact with various sources of information, one of those is author and historian Guido Van Wassenhove. Guido has written a book “Wuustwezel and Loenhout in World War Two” (Wuustwezel en Loenhout in de tweede wereldoorlog)” describing the war activities in his home town of
“…………The name of Lance Corporal Hugh Wright did arouse my interest.
A German Panzer (Jagdpanther) had crossed the British lines. The Jagdpanther drove along Baan (coming from the direction of the
On its way he shot three grenades at the church tower where three men of the Signals observed the area, especially the area of Stone Bridge (the road from Wuustwezel towards Loenhout) to direct the division artillery. The third shot from the tank killed them all.
This account is similarly described on page 192 of the book “The Polar Bears Monty’s Left Flank” by Patrick Delaforce.
Wuustwezel ~ The Polar Bear monument is
at location 1|
Hugh was killed at the location marked 2
“Where the car turns into the street is the location where Hugh was killed”|
“From this location the German Jagdpanther shot at
the trucks at the end of the street”|
Frederick Sidney Houghton, Serial No. 2146504 the other Royal Engineer killed at the same time as Hugh was aged 24 and came from Sunderland, County of Durham. He was the son of Frederick Percy and Louie Houghton and husband to Jean. He too was buried in
Here the German counter attack was halted 21~22 October 1944 by
The 49 West Riding Infantry Division
Wuustwezel to our liberators 21 October 1984
After Hugh’s death Eddie Booth managed to recover his Military Housewife. Made from fine soft leather the housewife incorporates the Royal Engineer crest embossed in full colour on the front. Penned below the crest is Hugh’s hand written name and service number. The contents of the housewife remain as they were at the time of his death. Those include a number of sewing needles, thread, spare buttons, safety pins and a length of cotton ribbon. Hugh’s sister Jean told me that the housewife was given to him as a present by his girlfriend Jessie Stevenson.
It was with much fulfillment and gratification for Millicent that she would finally complete Eddie’s decades long desire and wish to return the unique memento of Hugh, the Military Housewife back to his family. She initially offered to send it directly to me in Canada; but I decided that it first must go home to 599 Duke Street in Dennistoun, Scotland, from where it had originally left in May 1944. It was important gesture for the housewife to be reunited with the Hugh’s home, the sandstone tenement which has now been in the family for over 110 years, a place which has played host and spectator to five generations of my family who had crossed its threshold.
At the time of my April 2000 trip to
|Hugh with his sister Jean in Aberdeen 1940|
|The Order of Service dated 6 November 1949 for the dedication of the War Memorial|
|Page from Leopoldsburg |
|Grave Registration Report Form|
|Grave Concentration Report Form|
|Grave Concentration Report Form|
Remembered 100 years on
The Lost Voices of WWII RAF/RCAF Greenwood
The Lost Voices of WWI Middleton and District
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth ..
One of many, remembered today …
WWII RAF Ferry Command, Newfoundland
Remembrance Day 2016 ~ Halifax
Remembrance Day 2017 ~ Lunenburg
Remembrance Day 2019 ~ Bridgewater
Remembrance Day 2020 ~ Bridgewater