Regina D-Day veteran, longtime business owner Hague dies at 99

·3 min read

Harold Hague, a Navy veteran of the Second World War’s D-Day battle in northern France and a longtime-owner of Loggie’s Shoes in downtown Regina, died Thursday night of liver cancer. He was 99 years old.

Born in Earl Grey north of Regina in 1921, Hague was a signalman among a flotilla of seven Canadian minesweeper ships tasked with finding and destroying underwater German mines at Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944.

Amid heavy shelling, the drowning deaths of his fellow soldiers and two destroyed minesweepers, he survived the decisive battle, managing to see his 23rd birthday a week later.

“I was just happy to be alive,” he told the Leader-Post a few years back while participating in a film about D-Day.

“We were looking forward to that 100th birthday,” his wife Jan said Friday morning.

Her husband’s death came quickly.

“He went into hospital about 10 days ago. He had fallen twice within a few hours, so I wanted him to go get tested to see if there was something causing this.

“As a result of an ultrasound they found a large mass on his liver, which we didn't know about,” she said through tears.

After the war ended, Hague returned to Regina and took a job at local staple Loggie’s, eventually becoming a partner and then an owner in 1978.

In a short documentary about the store’s closure in 2014, he said, “the store was my life, my blood and my heart; it was everything. It was the reason for my life."

Had it not been for Loggie’s, he likely wouldn’t have met Jan, who grew up in Ontario.

“I met him in Toronto … he would come buy things for his shoe store, and that's how we met,” she said. “He wrote me to say ‘thank you’ for my service and it just went on from there."

"It was just an instant connection with each other ... you couldn't help but like him." Jan moved to Regina to be with him in 1979.

His fellow Canadian forces members said he was a gentleman.

Retried Brig.-Gen. Cliff Walker commended Hague for his work on the board of governors with the Commissionaires south Saskatchewan division.

“He spent 47 ½ years on the board trying to help his fellow veterans," Walker said. “(Harold) had a grounding and a sense of understanding of what he had gone through; he was able to avoid some of the nightmares and the PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).”

Retired Army Col. Randy Brooks, an Afghanistan War veteran who served with the Royal Regina Rifles, said Hague was often mentoring younger forces members, even if they weren’t with the Navy.

The danger of the minesweepers' work wasn’t lost on Brooks, who has deep knowledge of the D-Day invasion.

“They were trained to just get on with the job … come hell or high water, and it was both,” he said.

Hague’s military and business service earned him numerous awards throughout his life. Among them are the Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation Award, the Lieutenant Governor’s Military Service Medal and the Regina Chamber of Commerce Paragon lifetime achievement award.

Harold's son Kelly said there won't be a service for him, in light of COVID-19 restrictions. He asked that any donations be made in his dad's name to the Royal Canadian Legion.

eradford@postmedia.com

Evan Radford, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Regina Leader-Post, The Leader-Post