Hugh Michael McCormack

Sergeant Hugh Michael McCormack, G22831
Chatham, New Brunswick 
The North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment 

Hugh Michael McCormack was born on 29 June  1921 and was raised in Chatham, New Brunswick, with his Roman Catholic family. His father, John, died 5 months after he was born and his mother, Mary, 5 years later. Both of his parents died at the age of 42. Hugh had 2 brothers, Daniel and Joseph, and three sisters, Muriel, Isabelle, and Frances. He had a fair complexion with blue eyes and light brown hair, but was only 5 feet 8 1/2inches. Being a well-educated boy at the time, Hugh had completed his education up to grade ten and completed a commercial course at St. Thomas College. He learned to read and speak fluently in English. He finished his schooling at the age of 17 and completed a year of working at a garage before entering the military at the age of 18 on 8 June 1940. When he enlisted and went through his medical check his vision was 20/20 and hearing 20/20 as well and he was free of diseases. He enlisted in Chatham, New Brunswick and was taken on with the New Brunswick North Shore Regiment, A company, 1st battalion. In this A Company he was a sergeant.  McCormack and his fellow soldiers sailed out of Halifax on 18 July 1941 and disembarked in Liverpool on 24 July 1941.

There are many stories of the North Shore Regiment itself and I liked reading about the adventures and mis-adventures of the men that made up the regiment.  For example, the North Shore Regiment was operating under the spiritual guidance of Major R.A. Hickey at the time that they arrived in camp in Woodstock. The troops were always out late at night visiting with people and so, they would have to forge the river to avoid going through the gates where the night guards would be waiting for them, ready to report to Major Hickey the next morning. The major also had a nine month old St. Bernard who lived with him on camp who loved absolutely everyone. As the shallowest part of the river was near the Major`s tent, if the soldier sneaking in happened to trip over something the great dog would wake and howl, alerting every one of the late night arrival. Major Hickey also would arrange nights for the men where they would get a large tent, some fiddlers and an old piano and they would have nights of dancing at the camp. He also rose the spirits of the soldiers by creating a baseball team, which some of the soldiers would even cancel their weekend leave just to watch their friends play a game.

When the battalion was moved from Woodstock to Sussex they knew that no longer were they the big shots in town, they were just like everyone else here. Sussex was an army town so no matter where you went, you weren’t special, you were just the usual. In order to make the North Shores feel some sort of specialness, the brigadier met them at the train station to look them over and welcome them to the town.

Hugh Michael McCormack died on 6 June  1944 in battle on Juno Beach, Normandy, France. The North Shore Regiment had orders to go to and secure covering positions to the beach exits around the village of Saint Aubin.  The following description in the North Shore Regiment war diary describes the landing as follows: “A and B companies touched down at 0810 hours. Crossing the beach itself only a few casualties occurred but Lt. M.M. Keith and several of his platoon became casualties in houses that were booby trapped. These houses were along the beach.”   By 0948 hours A company had reached its beachhead objective suffering 29 casualties in the action.

For B Company the challenge was in destroying the German strongpoint at Saint Aubin which was not neutralized by either navy or aerial bombardment meaning that the infantry would have to do this task themselves.  Regardless of this resistance nest B Company was successful in clearing out the village which allowed D Company to press inland.  D Company lost 16 soldiers in their action to reach their beachhead objective.  While D Company pressed inland B Company, in coordination with the tanks from the Fort Garry Horse, successfully destroyed the German defensive position on the Atlantic wall at Saint Aubin and shortly before noon the beach area in front the coastal village was cleared.  These exits, once under control of the NSR were to to be exploited by the engineers. Much like B Company, C Company struggled to neutralize German defensive positions inland near the village of Tailleville.  Confronted by numerous tunnels that housed the enemy as well as sniper fire harassing the NSR men the town was eventually taken when a troop of tanks worked with the men to destroy German defensive positions.

At the same time they would be moving inland to Douvres-la-Delivrande to the radar stations west of it.  While they had suffered at St. Aubin and Tailleville, they had to take the two fortified radar stations west of Douvres-la-Delivrande out of enemy hands. But when they got there their efforts were futile as the German defenses were stronger than they had thought. As the battalion chaplain wrote, “It was like blowing soap bubbles against Gibraltar”. By 4:30pm they had managed to get the radar stations cleared and some of the battalion was given orders to contain them but then the job got pushed off to the 51st Division (Highlands). In order to secure the stronghold it took 4 hours of fighting. On 6  June 1944 the North Shore Regiment suffered 125 casualties.

Written by: A student at Smiths Falls District Collegiate Institute in Smiths Falls, Ontario, Canada.
Rédigé par : un élève de Smiths Falls District Collegiate Institute, Smiths Falls, Ontario, Canada.

REMEMBER TODAY, REMEMBER ALWAYS.

THIS TRIBUTE PROFILE CONTAINS AVAILABLE BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION ON ONE OF THE CANADIANS WHO DIED ON JUNO BEACH ON 6 JUNE 1944. THE PROFILE ALSO RECOGNIZES THE INDIVIDUAL OR ORGANIZATION WHO GENEROUSLY SPONSORED THIS SOLDIER, AND INCLUDES A MESSAGE OF THANKS AND REMEMBRANCE FOR THEIR SACRIFICE. THIS INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE IN THE SOLDIER’S NATIVE TONGUE AND HAS BEEN COMPILED BY THE LEST WE FORGET PROGRAM AND, IN SOME CASES, THROUGH THE GENEROSITY OF INDIVIDUALS CONNECTED WITH THE SOLDIERS. DUE TO THE INCONSISTENCY OF HISTORICAL RECORDS AND THE SPARSE AVAILABILITY OF FIRST-HAND WITNESSES, WE KNOW MORE ABOUT SOME THAN OTHERS. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO CONTRIBUTE ANY MATERIAL OR HELP IN OUR EFFORTS TO PRESENT THE BIOGRAPHIES IN BOTH FRENCH AND ENGLISH, PLEASE CONTACT: JBCA@JUNOBEACH.ORG.

CE PORTRAIT CONTIENT DES INFORMATIONS BIOGRAPHIQUES RELATIVES À L’UN DES CANADIENS QUI SONT MORTS SUR LA PLAGE JUNO, LE 6 JUIN 1944. IL PORTE ÉGALEMENT MENTION DE LA PERSONNE OU DE L’ORGANISATION QUI A GÉNÉREUSEMENT PARRAINÉ CE SOLDAT, AINSI QU’UN MESSAGE DE REMERCIEMENT EN SOUVENIR DE SON SACRIFICE. CES INFORMATIONS SONT DISPONIBLES DANS LA LANGUE MATERNELLE DU SOLDAT ET ONT ÉTÉ COMPILÉES PAR LE PROGRAMME LEST WE FORGET ET, DANS CERTAINS CAS, GRÂCE À LA GÉNÉROSITÉ DES PERSONNES LIÉES AUX SOLDATS. EN RAISON DE LA DISPARITÉ DES DOCUMENTS HISTORIQUES ET DES RARES TÉMOINS DE L’ÉPOQUE, NOUS NE DISPOSONS PAS DE LA MÊME QUANTITÉ D’INFORMATION SUR TOUS LES SOLDATS. SI VOUS SOUHAITEZ COMPLÉTER NOTRE DOCUMENTATION OU NOUS AIDER DANS NOS EFFORTS POUR PRÉSENTER LES BIOGRAPHIES EN FRANÇAIS ET EN ANGLAIS, MERCI DE CONTACTER : JBCA@JUNOBEACH.ORG.