Patterson, Hugh

Hugh Patterson was born December 30, 1921 in Seneca Township, just outside Caledonia, Ontario.  He grew up on a farm:  there was plenty of food as Hugh remembers, but money was tight in the days of the Great Depression.  Hugh worked on the farm when he was young, but as he put it “milking those cows” made him realize that he didn’t want to be a farmer.  Hugh finished school after Grade 12 and by then he was working at a number of jobs and had joined the militia.  He also started doing war work in 1939, working in shell and aircraft factories in Welland and Brantford.  But Hugh’s time to join up would eventually come, and when it did he reported to the Horse Palace, and then Orillia and Kingston for basic and advanced training.  Along the way Hugh was selected for the Royal Canadian Signals Corps, initially as a wireless operator; Hugh did not like it though, so he was made a despatch rider (DR).  After training was complete Hugh headed overseas on the Queen Elizabeth, and for the next 2 years or so he remained in England, going on schemes and seeing the country where he could.  Then June 1944 came along:  D-Day.  Hugh and the Signallers went over several days after June 6, seeing action in some of Normandy’s key battles, including Carpiquet and Falaise.  Hugh advanced with the Canadian army, along the coastal route in France, and onto Belgium and Holland.  During the Battle of the Scheldt, Hugh was in a motorcycle accident, but he was able to recover without incident, even though he left against medical advice!  He rejoined the regiment and from there they spent the winter in Nijmegen, moving into Germany with the springtime.  When the war ended Hugh spent some time in Germany in the army of occupation before heading back to Britain and then to Canada.  Once home, he returned to the farm for a period, later becoming an electrical contractor; he also married and raised a family, always staying in the Caledonia area.  He thus found his way in the rhythms of postwar Canadian life, all the while staying connected to the ideals of remembrance and community.  Hugh Patterson was interviewed by Scott Masters in August 2022, at his home in Caledonia, Ontario.