Great War 100 Reads

Commemorating the centenary of the First World War in books

Monday Monuments and Memorials – Private Norman Hughes, Christ Church Cathedral, Vancouver

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Every soldier tells a story. Norman Vincent Hughes was born in New Westminster, British Columbia on 17 November 1897, the only son of J Henry and Mary (Thompson) Hughes. In 1914, he entered the arts program at the University of British Columbia. He attested in March 1916 at age 18, enlisting with the BC Company of the 19th Western Universities Battalion. He sailed from Halifax and arrived in England in November 1916. He arrived in France Feb 1917, seeing battle at Vimy Ridge and Lens.

On 2 May 1917, he was on sentry duty near Arras when he was wounded in the back by machine gun fire. The injury caused paraplegia below umbilical level, but mental facilities normal. His condition deteriorated to “dangerously ill” at No. 10 Stationary Hospital (St Omer). He was transferred to Exeter on 16 May, where he died of wounds on 1 June 1917, age 19.

According to the UBC yearbook, “Norman Hughes was of a quiet disposition, and made a conscientious and energetic soldier. He was at all times a credit to his friends, his home town and his battalion.”

Hughes is remembered in a memorial window in Christ Church Cathedral, corner of West Georgia and Burrard Streets, Vancouver. “They forsook all and followed him. In loving memory of Pte Norman Vincent Hughes. Born Nov 17th 1897. At rest June 1st 1917. Exeter Eng.” From the Cathedral’s brochure on its stained glass:

Jesus is shown with hands outstretched, calling his first disciples, Andrew and Simon Peter. They are emerging from the waters of the Sea of Galilee with a catch of fish, reminding us that disciples were called to be ‘fishers of men’. Saint Peter is robed in blue and brown, signs of truth and renunciation of the world. Saint Andrew is robed in violet; love and truth.

The window was designed by F Louis Tait, Vancouver.

Author: greatwar100reads

Canadian crusader for equality and justice. Connoisseur and creator of the written word. Commemorating the centenary of the First World War in books and monuments. Read more at

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