Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1943, Corporal Joseph Frederick McMahon, 7th Battalion, the Cheshire Regiment, was killed in action in Italy.
On the afternoon of the day of his death, his company was at Macchiagodena in the province of Isernia in south central Italy. They came under heavy mortar fire, sustaining many casualties. A woman who lived in the town, which is high in the Apennines mountains, remembered her home being used as a command post by both the British and German armies. She also remembered that particular day and her son passed on her memory: “It seems that the Germans had positioned themselves higher up on the mountain where our town is located. The British advanced from the town of St. Elena which is south east of Macchiagodena. At this point the Germans were retreating and fighting a rearguard action. We don't know if [Corporal McMahon’s unit] attacked the Germans' or stumbled on them. My mother believes that they were ambushed and in the ensuing fight 12 British soldiers were killed. The dead were buried near where they fell and stayed there until May of 1945, at which point they were disinterred and taken to be reburied elsewhere.”
Corporal McMahon, who had earned the Africa Star for his service earlier in the war, lies buried in the Cassino War Cemetery. On his headstone are the words: “Sleep on, dear son in your silent grave, your life for us you nobly gave. Mam.”
Joseph, from Chester, was 24 years old.