War Museum acquires letters of Second World War combat cameraman

June 3, 2015

Ottawa, Ontario, June 3, 2015 — Sergeant Hugh McCaughey saw the Second World War through the lens of a 16 mm movie camera. A combat cameraman with the Canadian Film and Photo Unit, he accompanied troops in England, France, Holland and Germany, and shot footage that gave Allied citizens an ongoing picture of the war in Europe.

The Canadian War Museum has recently acquired 215 of Sgt. McCaughey’s letters home, as well as diaries, shooting logs and photographs documenting his life as a frontline filmmaker. Among other events, the diaries record his work in England filming German prisoners of war and returning British and Canadian casualties following the D-Day invasion of June 6, 1944.

“This collection of letters provides remarkable insight into the lives and work of war photographers and filmmakers — particularly Sgt. McCaughey,” said Mark O’Neill, President and CEO of the Canadian War Museum and the Canadian Museum of History. “It shows how, in the face of unimaginable danger, these men simply did their jobs, recording the war from a Canadian perspective.”

The Canadian Film and Photo Unit (CFPU) was established in 1941 as part of the Army Public Relations Branch. From 1943 on, the unit’s cameramen accompanied troops into battle, filming scenes of action, liberation, visits by dignitaries and soldiers’ everyday lives. After shooting, the cans of film were flown to Britain, processed, screened by censors and newsreel-makers, and dispatched by air to Canada. In addition to being used in commercial newsreels and short feature films, footage shot by the CFPU was edited into a weekly Canadian Army Newsreel for screening to Canadian troops.

Sgt. McCaughey enlisted in the CFPU in 1942 and served until the war’s end, when he returned to his job as a camera salesman in Vancouver. His collection of wartime materials was donated to the War Museum by his son, Bruce McCaughey. The letters and artifacts will remain in our collection and be used for research and in future exhibitions.

The Canadian War Museum is Canada’s national museum of military history. Its mission is to promote public understanding of Canada’s military history in its personal, national and international dimensions.


Media contacts:

Yasmine Mingay
Director, Public Affairs
Canadian War Museum
Telephone: 819-776-8608

Avra Gibbs Lamey
Senior Communications and Media Relations Officer, Canadian War Museum
Telephone: 819-776-8607

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