Photo of Hugh McDermott. His photograph album is held in the archives at the
National Army Museum.
Hugh Kenneth McDermott was born in Cambridge on 3 December 1895 and had been involved with school cadets while at Cambridge High School from 1908 to 1910, and then as a Senior Cadet from 1912 to 1913 while he was working as a bank clerk at the Bank of New Zealand in Kaponga.
At the outbreak of World War One, Hugh McDermott was completing Territorial service with the 16th Waikato Regiment and eager to enlist, lied about his age, saying he was 21 when in fact he was only 19.
Hugh enlisted on 23 October 1915 and after three months training at Trentham and Featherston Camps, embarked from Wellington on 8 January 1916 with the Otago Mounted Rifles. Upon reaching Egypt, he quickly transferred to the Wellington Infantry Regiment on 11 March 1916, and proceeded to France on the Knight of the Garter on 9 April 1916.
On 14 August 1916, Hugh McDermott was wounded in action, possibly when patrolling or completing a night raid. He was transferred to the No. 8 Stationary Hospital in Wimereaux and then the No. 1 Convalescent Depot in Boulogne.
In early September, Hugh was transferred to the NZ Base Depot in Etaples for training and administration work before returning to his unit on 5 February 1917.
Hugh McDermott saw further action at the front including the battles at Messines and Passchendaele and following some leave in Paris in February 1918, he was back at the front, involved in the 'final push' against the Germans.
On 16 September 1918, Hugh was once again admitted to hospital in France with trench fever, and he was then sent by ambulance train to Le Treport and then on to England.
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