Major John Mahony's VC Donated to Canadian War Museum

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    Major John Mahony's VC Donated to Canadian War Museum

    Post by Battalion Colours on Sat Sep 18, 2010 1:30 pm

    http://www.lfpress.com/news/london/2010/07/05/14618361.html




    Maj. John Mahony shakes hands with King George VI before the monarch presented him with the Victoria Cross, above, in Italy in 1944. (Special to QMI Agency)


    His muffins, the soldier told his two daughters, won him the Victoria Cross.

    “My father enjoyed making muffins for us on the weekends,” daughter Louise Mahony recalled.

    “When we asked about the Victoria Cross, he told us that the muffins he made were so good that he sent a batch to the Queen. She loved them so much that she awarded him the Victoria Cross.”

    The two sisters were young at the time.

    “This seemed reasonable to us,” Louise said, “as they were very good muffins.”

    The real story of the London soldier is, of course, much different.

    Injured, and under heavy artillery and infantry fire, Maj. John Keefer Mahony led a small force into the breach in Italy in 1944 and won a key battle in the army’s effort to destroy the Hitler Line.

    With the same understated manner as his explanation for the award, Mahony’s family quietly and recently donated his Victoria Cross to the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.

    “It was just the right thing to do,” said Louise Mahony, an Oakridge resident.

    Last year, amid controversy and concern over the loss of Canadian heritage, the museum spent almost $300,000 in an auction to save one Victoria Cross from leaving the country.

    But the Mahony family had no intention of making money off their father’s medal.

    “We felt that my father’s Victoria Cross should be donated to the Canadian War Museum so future generations would understand the sacrifices many men and women, including my father, made during wartime,” Louise Mahony said.

    “We know that this is what our father would have wanted.”

    John Mahony was born in British Columbia in 1911. He became a reporter with the Vancouver Province but enlisted when the Second World War broke out.

    On May 24, 1944, Maj. Mahony was ordered to establish a bridgehead across the River Melfa with A Company of the Westminster Regiment.

    On the other side of the river stood enemy tanks, self-propelled mortars and machine gun-wielding infantry.

    Mahony led his men across the river. They managed to dig some shallow pits for their weapons. For the next several hours, they not only withstood two counterattacks, but knocked out several self-propelling guns and a tank.

    When some of his men were pinned down by machine gun fire, “Major Mahony crawled forward to their position, and by throwing smoke grenades, succeeded in extricating the section from its position with the loss of only one man,” The London Gazette reported in July 1944.

    “The enemy perceived that this officer was the soul of the defence and consequently fired at him constantly with all weapons, from rifle to 88 mm guns,” The Gazette reported.

    Mahony ignored the fire and refused treatment for wounds to his leg and head until the entire regiment made it across the river and established the bridgehead.

    After the war, Mahony stayed in the Canadian army, serving in a number of leadership roles in London, at the Pentagon, and in Edmonton.

    He retired in 1962 and moved back to London, where he had continued a life of service. He became executive director for Junior Achievement in London. Ill health forced him to retire in 1974.

    He died in 1990.

    True to form, the family did not have a military funeral.

    “My father was a very private person,” Louise Mahony said.

    “We think he would have wanted it this way.”

    Wouter
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    Re: Major John Mahony's VC Donated to Canadian War Museum

    Post by Wouter on Thu Sep 23, 2010 8:15 am

    Thanks for posting, interesting read.

      Current date/time is Wed Dec 07, 2016 1:14 pm