Lawrence Hugh MCCABE [1916-1941]
Lawrence Hugh McCabe was born on 14th July 1916 in Finchley, Middlesex, the son of Edward John, a master tailer, and Hilda Nixon McCabe. He was educated at Pennell House in Eastbourne College in 1930.
According to the school records: “Though not especially gifted, he was a particularly conscientious hard-worker, and after getting his School Certificate he specialised in geography. A keen and proficient games player, he obtained 2nd XV colours and became Captain of both Boxing and Gym. More than that, his sterling character won him the position of School Prefect and Head of his House. Leaving in July 1935, McCabe proceeded to Peterhouse, Cambridge, where he read Geography and became fascinated by exploration. He was the mainstay of the Wayfarers Club and was the organiser and leader of the Cambridge University Spitzbergen Expedition of 1938. He returned to Cambridge for another year as a research student, publishing a small treatise on his work in Spitzbergen and editing the film taken there. In July 1939 he accepted a post in the Colonial Survey Service in Kenya, but the war stopped his departure and he was sent to the Hong Kong Survey Department [as a Land Surveyor] instead. Arriving in Hong Kong in March 1940, he hardly had time to start his work and he was soon a Gunner in the Defence Corps [HKVDC, No 1 Battery]. For over a year after the Japanese invasion he was missing and presumed a prisoner of war, but news eventually came through that he was killed in action on Christmas Day 1941 [aged 25].”
He has no known grave but was likely killed in the garden of Bungalow C (now Bungalow 5) as his section, commanded by Second Lieutenant Hugh Muir, was fighting there in the morning of the 25th, and there were no survivors from his section. He is remembered at Sai Wan Military Cemetery as well as Peterhouse College, Cambridge. In 1950, the Norwegian government named a mountain in Svalbard after him – McCabefjellet – in recognition of his 1938 expedition. According to his school, we hated war and cruety, but when it came to defending all he cared for, he gave his all without hesitation or reserve.
There is a kneeling stool in St Stephen's Chapel, Stanley and it is inscribed 'In Memoriam Hugh McCabe Xmas 1941'. The fine workmanship of the stool indicates it was made after the war, but how it came to be in the Chapel remains a mystery. Perhaps it was donated to the Chapel by his family, being the closest place where he died.