Capt F H Mahony

Captain Frederick Henry MAHONY – 1st Battalion

Died of Wounds:  22 October 1914         Age:  40                               Burial: Bethune Town Cemetery             Grave: I.A.3.              Mentioned in Despatches:  14th January 1915

Personal: Frederick was born at Lucknow, Bengal, India, on 24th August 1874, the oldest son of Major Frederick Henry Mahony, late of York and Lancaster Regiment, for some years Adjutant of the Royal Military School of Music, Kneller Hall, Hounslow, and Mrs Elizabeth Mary Mahony (née Cahill).

He had 3 younger siblings, William Albert Francis (b. in Lucknow, January 1876, died 12th November 1876), Charlotte Emma (b. Bengal, India, February 1877), Mabel Alice (b. July 1878 in Dahjeeling India) and Charles Albert Francis (b. Gwalior, India, in November 1881, died in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, August 1883).

The 1891 Census (RG 12/1027) shows Frederick shows Frederick, his parents and surviving siblings, living at Kneller Hall (The Royal Military School of Music), Whitton, Twickenham. In 1901 he was out of the Country serving with his Regiment in South Africa.

Frederick married Ethel Cicely Paterson at St. Mary Abbots, Kensington, on 12th July, 1905, and they lived at Holland Park, London W1. They had two children, Cynthia Patricia, born 14 March 1909, and Frederick Henry Patrick, born 11 February 1911, who applied for the ‘1914 Star‘ in respect of their late father, on 18th January 1919.

By the 1911 Census Frederick (now a Captain) was back in India stationed in the Regimental Barracks of 2nd Battalion Cheshire Regiment, The Ridge, Jubbulpore, India. (RG 14/34980) His wife and two children had remained in England, living with Ethel’s father, John, at 42 Holland Park, Kensington.

In June quarter 1918 Frederick’s widow, Ethel, remarried Francis Edward Bliss, in London, and moved to Montecito, Santa Barbara, California, U S A, leaving Southampton on S.S. Aquitania on 4th March 1919. In August 1919 she received Frederick’s ‘War Gratuity’ of £45 (equivalent to about £2,000 today – 2020).

N.B. Ethel and Francis Bliss had one child, Enid, born in 1919. Francis had three children with his first wife, Agnes Kennard (née Davis), who died in 1895. Their oldest child was the celebrated composer, Sir Arthur Edward Drummond Bliss. Ethel died, in Santa Barbara, on 19th September 1968.

Military Service:  Frederick’s obituary in “De Ruvigny’s Roll Of Honour 1914-1924” states that in 1892 he enlisted in the York and Lancaster Regiment (right) and served for five years in the ranks. He was gazetted 2nd Lieutenant to the 1st Cheshires, 24th August 1898, promoted Lieutenant on 2nd June 1900, and Captain on 10th February 1906.

He served in the South African War (Boer War) and took part in the operations in the Orange Free State, February to May 1900, attached to the A.S.C., including actions at Dreifontein, Vet River, (5-6 May), and Zand River. He was in the Transvaal, May to June, including actions near Johannesburg, Pretoria and Diamond Hill (11-12 June), and in the Transvaal, East of Pretoria, July to November, including action at Belfast (26-27 August). For this he received the Queen’s South Africa Medal with five clasps.

He was employed with the West African Frontier Force, 28 November 1900 to 9th July 1904, first in Northern Nigeria, during operations against the Emir of Yola. He gained the 1901 King’s South Africa Medal (with clasp), and subsequently in Southern Nigeria with the Aro Expedition 1901-2 (clasp).

From 8th January 1906 to 31st March, 1908, Frederick was Adjutant of the Durham Light Infantry Volunteers, and of the Territorial Battalion, from 1st April 1908 to January 1909.

Frederick was not part of the original contingent of the 1st Battalion that left for France in August 1914 and in view of his age, 40, it is likely he was a Reservist at the outbreak of War, as the 2nd Battalion did not arrive back in England until December.

His Medal Index Card shows he entered France on 25th September and the War Diary show that on 16th October he “took over command of Battalion and brought up 2/Lieuts Napier, May, Woodhead, Carr, Anderson and 248 reinforcements“.

During this time he led a successful bayonet charge under very heavy artillery fire, and showed excellent coolness and courage, and was complimented by General Count Gleichen on the excellent work of his Battalion.

Captain Mahony was listed as a ‘wounded‘ in the War Diary on 21st October following the action at Violaines, near La Bassée, and he died of his wounds in Hospital the following day. (Crookenden, p.28, states he was “mortally wounded” on the 21st.)

It was reported that while on his way to give orders to some men in the trenches, he was mortally wounded by a bullet from a German sniper, who fired at him from a cottage window, over 1,000 yards distant, the bullet striking him in the shoulder and penetrating to the lungs.

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Frederick was removed to the Clearing (114) Hospital at Bethune, where he died a couple of hours after his arrival. Before starting on his fatal journey to the trenches he had been asked, “Why not send a man with the message?” to which he replied, “I won’t ask a man to do what I won’t do myself.

He was one of the 16 Officers and other ranks Mentioned in Field Marshall French’s Despatch of 14th January 1915 (Source: ‘London Gazette Issue 29072, 16 February 1915. Page 1662‘). He had been strongly recommended for the D.S.O. by General Count Gleichen and according to information received by his relatives from the War Office this honour would have been duly awarded him had he lived.

the Bethune Town Cemetery page to read more about where Captain Mahony was buried. He is also commemorated on his parents’ grave in Putney, London.

 

Captain Mahony’s full entry in “The Bond of Sacrifice. (A two volume work detailing biographies of Officers who had died from August 1914 until June 1915.)

The section of the Bond of Sacrifice for Captain Mahony detailing his death also states that “he was rescued from the fighting line… by Sgt. Shubotham …. who earned the VC for his courageous act.” 

The strange story of Sergeant 10208 Rowland Shubotham and his Victoria Cross has been research by the author and others over a number of years.

a detailed account of the research over his entitlement to the Victoria Cross

Rowland was born in the June quarter 1880 at Millwich, Staffordshire, the son of Roland (initially a Farmer of 13 acres, later a Gardner) and Mary Anne (née Angle) Shubotham.

In 1891 they were living at 17 Gorse Street, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire (Census RG 12/2149). Rowland had two older brothers, William and Jesse, (1881 Census RG 11/2693) an older sister, Mary Anne (married James Holt, 1 June 1903), a younger sister, Hannah Jane, and a younger brother, David.

The 1901 Census (RG13/2610) shows the family living at 21 Occupation Street, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire. Rowland was employed as a “Paper Printer. In 1911 Census (RG 14/6129) he was a serving Soldier, but resident in H. M. Prison, Romsey Road, Winchester.

Before joining the Cheshires it seems Rowland had been in the Welch Regiment as there are 2 Courts Martial referenced, one in April 1909 at Pembroke Dock and another in March 1911 in Cairo.

Sargeant 10208 Shubotham (from his Service number) appears to have enlisted into the 1st Battalion around September/October 1913. His Medal Index Card shows that he entered France on 28th November 1914, so was probably one of the reinforcements of 64 N.C.O.s & men under 2/Lt. Vance who joined the Battalion at Bailleul on 6th December 1914.

Unfortunately, his Medal Index Card also reports that he subsequently deserted and his War and Victory Medals were not to be issued. His 1914-15 Star was returned in 1922. There is no mention on the MIC about a VC. The medal ribbon of right chest is suggestive of the Belgian Croix de Guerre, plus one other.

He doesn’t appear in the online search facility at the NA website for the VC index. Rowland died in Exeter in the June quarter 1943. However, the ‘War Illustrated’ (6th February 1915, p. 608) printed the photo of Sgt Rowland Shubotham with the caption”.. of The Cheshire Regiment, was awarded the VC for conspicuous bravery in rescuing a wounded Officer from the firing line“.

How did he win the VC? Well, in his own words, “The British were making an attack at La Bassée. One of our officers, Captain Marley [sic], was leading his company to the attack when he was struck by a bullet and disabled. I at once ran some 200 or 300 yards under a heavy fire and reached the Captain’s side.

I lay flat on the ground and commenced to crawl out of the danger zone with the Captain clinging to my feet. We reached a place of safety, but unfortunately the gallant Captain succumbed to his injuries 3 hours later.

There is no Captain “Marley“, but obviously refers to Captain Mahony. However, the most telling issue would seem to be that Rowland’s MIC gives his date of entry into France as 28 November 1914. Captain Mahony died from his wounds on 22 October, i.e. over a month earlier.

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