Callum, John M. (605th)

John-M.-CallumJohn M. Callum

Biography:  John Mitchell Callum was born on December 30, 1908, in Lunenburg, Massachusetts.  He was the son George S. Callum and Elizabeth M. Smith and attended grammer school in Unity, New Hampshire. He left school to work so his siblings could continue their education.  He found work with the town of Unity, as part of their road maintenance crew, keeping the town’s streets in good condition. 

Service Time: John entered the service on February 25, 1942, at Fort Devens, Massachusetts and was sent to Fort Bragg, in North Carolina, for basic training. He was ultimately assigned to B Company of the 605th Tank Destroyer Battalion.  John returned home briefly from Ft. Custer, Michigan, to marry Roberta Ruth Walker, on July 24, 1942.  She was born in Claremont, NH and was the daughter of Willard Hiram Walker and Adelaide Coombs Gay.  Two days later, John was back with the unit and transferred to Camp Hood, Texas.

They shipped out on the Queen Mary, en route to Scotland, arriving in December of 1944. They then sailed to Le Havre, France, and entered battle near Tevern, Germany. The 605th crossed the Roer River in February, 1945, and joined the drive to the Rhine.  In March, they were deployed to the Remagen Bridgehead and then withdrawn a few days later to support British Forces in Belgium.  Later that month, they crossed the Rhine at Xanten and participated in the reduction of the Ruhr Pocket in April, finally crossing the Elbe at Bleckede.  John received credit for both the unit’s campaigns of Rhineland and Central Europe.  He sailed home aboard the Queen Elizabeth and left the service at the rank of Technician 5th Grade.


John returned to the U.S. and found work as an auto mechanic. He later worked for the Joy Manufacturing Company in Claremont, NH, as a press brake operator.  He retired after 22 years with the company and then worked as a cemetery sexton in Unity, NH.  In his spare time, he enjoyed reading, gardening and travel with a special interest in history.  He was a charter member in the Unity Historical Society as well as a member of the VFW and The Grange organization.

In addition to building their home, John and Roberta started a family, having three sons, John Jr., James, Terry, and a daughter, Claudia. John passed away on March 24, 1988, and was buried in the Hope Hill Cemetery in North Charlestown, NH. 

I want to thank John’s wife, Roberta, for supplying the information and photos for this tribute.  I also want to thank Matthew Lynn for his assistance.