Tag Archives: Tennessee

In the Footsteps of the Valiant (Volume Three)

There must have been many people out there who thought that we were not going to publish any more volumes about the Old Nottinghamians of all ages who sacrificed their lives in the cause of freedom between 1939-1948.

But, while Covid-19 seized the world in its deadly grip, our work continued, albeit at a slower pace. And all those efforts have now ended with the publication of the third volume, detailing 24 of the High School’s casualties in World War II. Don’t think, incidentally, that we were running out of steam and had nothing to say. All five volumes have been deliberately constructed to contain the same amount of material as all of the others. And that material is all of the same quality.

This volume, therefore, portrays the families of these valiant young men, their houses, their years at school with Masters very different from those of today, their boyhood hobbies, their sporting triumphs and where they worked as young adults and the jobs they had. And all this is spiced with countless tales of the living Nottingham of yesteryear, a city so different from that of today. And as I have said before, “No tale is left untold. No anecdote is ignored.” Here are the teachers that many of them knew;

And as well, of course, you will find all the details of the conflicts in which they fought and how they met their deaths, the details of which were for the most part completely unknown until I carried out my groundbreaking research.

These were men who died on the Lancastria in the biggest naval disaster in British history or in the Channel Dash or in the Battle of the East coast when the Esk, the Express and the Ivanhoe all struck mines. Some died flying in Handley Page Hampdens, or Fairy Barracudas, or Hawker Hurricanes, or Avro Lancasters or Grumman Wildcats or even a North American O-47B. One casualty was murdered by a German agent who sabotaged the single engine of his army observation aircraft. One was shot by the occupant of a Japanese staff car who was attempting to run the gauntlet of “A” Company’s roadblock. One was the only son of the owner of a huge business that supported a small local town, employing thousands. When the owner retired, the factory had to close. He had no son to replace him. His son lay in a cemetery in Hanover after his aircraft was shot down. Thousands of jobs were lost. And all because of a few cannon shells from a German nightfighter. The work of a few split seconds.

They died in the Bay of Biscay, the Channel, the North Sea, Ceylon, Eire, Germany, Ijsselstein, Kuching, Normandy, Singapore, Tennessee. None of them knew that they were going to die for our freedoms. And certainly none of them knew where or when.

But they gave their lives without hesitation. And they do not deserve to be forgotten. That is why this book exists, and so does Volume One, and Volume Two and in due course, so will Volumes Four and Five.

We should never forget this little boy (right), playing the part of Madame Rémy, and killed in Normandy not long after D-Day:

We should not forget this rugby player, either, killed in a collision with a Vickers Wellington bomber.

We should not forget this young member of the Officers Training Corps (front row, on the left). A mid-upper gunner, he was killed in his Lancaster as he bombed Kassel, the home of at least one satellite camp of Dachau concentration camp:

We should not forget this young miscreant, either, mentioned in the Prefects’ Book for “Saturday, October 20th 1934. “Fletcher was beaten – well beaten.” By June 23rd 1944, though, he was dead, killed with twelve others when two Lancasters collided above their Lincolnshire base. He wanted to have a chicken farm after the war. Not a lot to ask for, but he didn’t get it:

We should not forget the Captain of the School, killed when HMS Express hit a German mine:

We should not forget the son of the US Consul in Nottingham, the highest ranked Old Nottinghamian killed in the war:

And we should not forget any of the others, wherever they may turn up. Killed by the Japanese in Singapore :

Killed in a road block firefight in Burma:

And this little boy, still years from being shot down on his 66th operational flight  by Helmut Rose, in his Bf109, German ace and holder of the Iron Cross First Class. And yes, that is the little boy’s Hawker Hurricane:

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The First XV player, proud of his fancy jacket:

A young man tricked into having to dress up as a young woman in “Twelfth Night”:

Two years later, getting a part  as “Jean, a veritable Hercules….a convincing rural chauffeur”, in “Dr Knock”. Except that all of your friends think that you have got the part of the village idiot:

And a very frightened village idiot at that.

 

Please note:

All three of the titles published in this series so far are on sale with both Amazon and Lulu.  All royalties will be given to two British forces charities, and if this is important to you, you will prefer to buy from Lulu. This will generate a lot more revenue.

For example,

If Volume 3 is bought through Amazon at full price, the charities will get £1.23 from each sale.
If Volume 3 is bought through Lulu, that rises to £9.48.

Incidentally, if you see the price of the book quoted in dollars, don’t worry. The people at Lulu periodically correct it to pounds sterling, but it then seems to revert to dollars after a few days, although nobody seems to know why.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Aviation, Bomber Command, cricket, Football, History, military, Nottingham, The High School, the Japanese, Writing

The Incredible Story of Frank Mahin, Volume III, 1921-1942

I have previously written three articles about Frank Mahin. The first recounted how he had carved his name on a stone fireplace in the High School:

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The second article had a title very similar to this present one, but it was called The Incredible Story of Frank Mahin, Volume I, 1887-1909.

After that, I wrote the next one in the series, imaginatively entitled The Incredible Story of Frank Mahin, Volume II, 1908-1920.

And now, Dear Reader, The Incredible Story of Frank Mahin, Volume III, 1921-1942:

A survivor of the horrors of the Great War, Frank Cadle Mahin immediately resumed his formal military studies.  By 1925, and now promoted to Major Mahin, Frank was a “distinguished graduate” of the Command and General Staff School . He was graduated from the Army War College in 1929 and then became acting Inspector-General of the Panama Canal Department:

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I do not know if Frank was available to attend the 25th annual reunion of the Class of 1909 at his old “Alma Mater”, Harvard University in June 1934. Hopefully, if he did, Frank was not there to renew his friendship with Ernst Hanfstaengl, the Harvard graduate, personal friend of Adolf Hitler and the man who took his book, “Mein Kampf”, to the top of the German bestseller lists. According to Wikipedia, Ernst Hanfsteangl also:

“helped to finance the publication of the NSDA’s official newspaper, the Völkischer Beobachter. Adolf Hitler himself was the godfather of Hanfstaengl’s son Egon. Hanfstaengl wrote both Brownshirt and Hitler Youth marches patterned after his Harvard football songs and, he later claimed, devised the chant “Sieg Heil”.”

In 1923, just over ten years before the reunion of the Class of 1909, after the failure of the Beer Hall Putsch, a wounded Adolf Hitler had fled to “Putzi” Hanfstaengl’s house in Uffing, a village a short distance outside Munich. Supposedly, Mrs Hanfstaengl managed to dissuade Adolf from committing suicide, when the police came to arrest him. (What a difference that might have made to the world!).

As you might imagine, at Harvard in 1934, there was a certain kerfuffle about this gentleman and his anti-Semitic views, and here are two websites where you can read about these events. Meanwhile, here’s “Putzi” chatting to a couple of his pals about the games in the next round of the German Soccer Cup. “Putzi”, on the left, is happy to play as goalkeeper, Adolf demands to be team captain as his inalienable right and new team signing Hermann Göring promises to lose fifty kilos and play up front, probably on the extreme right:

Bundesarchiv_Bild_102-14080,_Berlin,_Hitler,_Göring_und_Hanfstaengl

In 1937, Frank was placed in command of the 3rd Infantry Division, nicknamed the “Rock of the Marne”, soldiers who were later, in November 1942, to land with General Patton’s task force on the coast of Morocco:

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They eventually overwhelmed the French Vichy defenders, in a highly contested amphibious landing, French fascist traitors v the Americans!
In 1939 Frank organized the 60th Infantry Regiment, the “Go Devils”, commanding them until October 1941, when he was promoted to Brigadier General:

60_IR_Coat_Of_Arms

The “Danville Bee” newspaper in Virginia carried a report of army war games played on June 6th 1941:

WAR GAMES
BRAGG DIX UNITS MOVE INTO BATTLE
Red Forces of South Pitted Against Outnumbered Northern Blues
By JOHN DAFFRON BOWLING GREEN
June.  A 14 mile no man’s land in northeastern Carolina soaked only by rain and reddened by of the north and south (sic) moved into bloodless battle today. At war technically since 5 p.m. yesterday when Second Army Corps Headquarters gave the word, the red forces of the south from Fort Bragg North Carolina pitted their motorized might against the three and a half to one superiority in manpower of the northern blue from Fort Dix New Jersey. There were 75 observers from the General Staff in Washington alone who with many other officers from the 28th and 29th divisions and the Second Army Corps staff moved out onto the battleground to watch the new army perform in modern manner. Planes of the 119th  Observation Squadron from Newark New Jersey scouted the camouflaged position of the Ninth Division southerners In the woodland five miles east of here while flying observers from Bragg based at Richmond droned over the men of the north encamped around Rappahannock Academy Virginia. Northern planes were based at the Quantico Marine Base Virginia. As the units jockeyed for position and closed the separating gap over ground rich in Confederate war lore only one major factor separated the impending battle for Garand and Springfield rifles held blanks in their cartridge clips and the artillery loads were not capped by shells. The khaki clad southern forces wearing red arm bands were under command of Colonel F. C. Mahin. They included the 60th Infantry Battalion Company of the Ninth Medical, one platoon of Company C, 15th Engineers, one section of the Ninth Signal Corps and the second squadron of the Third Horse Cavalry from Fort Myer leant to the Ninth Division for the maneuvers. Northern forces under command of Major General C R Powell comprised the entire 44th Division. They wore blue fatigue uniforms for battle dress. They slogged over terrain made muddy and heavy by several days of sporadic rain. Ironically they moved through woodland blackened by the fires that swept Caroline county forests during the prolonged drought which was broken only last week.”

Frank became a Major General after assuming command of the 33rd Division, nicknamed the “Illinois Division” or the “Prairie Division” at Camp Forrest, Tennessee in May 1942:

33rd_Infantry_Division_SSI_svg

Before his appointment, he had been assistant commander of the 45th Division, called “The Thunderbirds” at Camp Berkley in Texas:

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Sadly, on July 24, 1942, the apparently very capable Frank Cadle Mahin and two Army flyers were killed near Waynesboro, Tennessee in the crash of their Army observation plane, a North American O-47, Serial number 37-337. The official report said that the casualties perished as a result of a forced landing caused by engine failure. This explanation bears out the researches carried out by Frank’s wife, Mauree Pickering Mahin (see below).  Here is a North American O-47B of the 112th Observation Squadron, Ohio National Guard. It is preserved in the National Museum of the United States Air Force:

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This is an O-47B painted for the army manoeuvres of June 1941, detailed in the report of the “Danville Bee” newspaper above. The insignia on the fuselage shows that the aircraft was hastily painted as a member of “red force”:

220px-North_American_O-47B_1941

The fatal crash was reported as faraway as Perth, Western Australia, in their local newspaper, “The West Australian“:

newspaper

Frank’s death was also reported on the front pages of local newspapers:

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Mrs. Walter Brewer, wife of the Wayne County Sheriff, said:

“The plane struck a tree five miles west of here, but did not burn”.

The three occupants were en route from Tullahoma to Fort Sill, Oklahoma. An Army official identified the two others killed as the pilot, Second Lieutenant Robert F. Turk of Wichita, Kansas, and a second passenger, Sergeant John Camerford of Alamo, Texas, both attached to the 127th Observation Squadron, nicknamed the “Jayhawks”, at Tullahoma:

127th_Observation_Squadron_-_Emblem

The 127th was a non-flying squadron operating the Distributed Common Ground System.
Frank’s wife, Mauree Pickering Mahin tells the harrowing tale in her autobiographical “Life in the American Army from the Frontier Days to Army Distaff Hall” :

“I had just fallen asleep when a knock came at the door and I saw Anna and Ernest come in so I knew something was wrong when I looked at their faces! I asked “Is it Dad?” and they both nodded “yes”. “Is he dead?” and again came the same reply. After a few minutes I said: “I think it’s better this way, as it is the way he would want to go; your dad was too intense a man to stand being incapacitated. Did it happen at Fort Sale?” Then Ernest spoke up: “No, Mother it happened at 10.30 this morning, in the mountains near Waynesboro, Tennessee.”

Mauree did her own research about the circumstances of the crash:

“The falling plane was seen by a man traveling on the road nearby, and he knew the terrain around there and was afraid the plane could not land safely any place, so he rushed to the scene and found all three occupants dead. He very quickly notified the Waynesboro Police and they notified the Camp Forrest Air Base. Then the Police immediately came out and picked up the three bodies and sent them on to Camp Forrest.

“And why did the Air Force cancel the Major’s promise to Dad that he would send Dad in his official four engine plane? No adequate explanation was given, and only a two engine plane was supplied. Dad’s chauffer remarked afterwards, that the engines sounded so terrible that he did not think the plane would ever get off the ground!”

Relatively few Old Nottinghamians have ever been murdered, and even fewer have perished as the result of a treasonous act:

“Not too long after that there was another similar accident from there, and an investigation revealed that one of the men who worked on both of those planes admitted he had done something to the engines of both of those planes, thus this was a real case of sabotage!”

I have not been able to trace what was done to this evil saboteur, but in most countries during time of war, the penalty would automatically have been death.

A memorial service was held for Frank at Camp Forrest, Tennessee on Saturday, July 25th, and then the family left for Washington later that afternoon. The interment in the National Cemetery at Arlington was on Tuesday, July 29th.

double grave xxxxxx

Major General Mahin is buried side by side with his son Colonel Frank Cadle Mahin Junior, a graduate of the West Point Class of 1944. The Major General is also commemorated in the Memorial Church at Harvard University. There is a list of the Harvard men who died in World War II, carved in stone on the wall at the right side of the church when facing the altar. There are ten columns. Frank has some very famous colleagues in this list, and it is very difficult to believe that he did not know them, given what must have been their common interest in all things military, and the fact that he, like them, was studying Law.
Since the High School was to abandon football at Christmas 1914, by his tragic death, Frank therefore became the only High School footballer to die during the Second World War. He is the only Old Nottinghamian to be awarded the Purple Heart and the only one to be interred in the National Cemetery at Arlington. I would also argue that Major General Mahin is the highest ranked Old Nottinghamian of all time.
His wife, Mauree, wrote this fitting epitaph:

“Thus ended thirty two years of faithful service given by a true soldier to his country. No soldier could have had a greater devotion to duty than did your Dad, and no matter where that duty called him he responded instantly. He died “with his boots on” which is exactly what he wanted to do!!

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Incidentally, I believe that Mahin’s surname was pronounced “Marr-hin”. Certainly at West Point his son was often teased by his fellow cadets who all called him “Ma-Heen”.

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Filed under Aviation, Criminology, History, Nottingham, The High School