A Special Kind of Man

Ivar Lindström belonged to the ’A’ Company of the Westminster Regiment (Motor). The Company was under the command of Major John K. Mahony who seem to have been a great character. After the Melfa River Crossing (when Ivar was killed) Mahony was decorated – he received the highest award you can get as a British or Commonwealth soldier, the Victoria Cross. In 1944 Major Mahony was only 33 years old.

Early in the action Major Mahony was wounded in the head and twice in the leg, but he refused medical aid and continued to direct the defence of the bridgehead. The Germans saw that this officer was the “soul of the defence” and consequently made him their particular target.

Mahony1

Organized Social Activities
After almost two complete years of training in places all across Canada, the Westminster Regiment sailed from Halifax, Nova Scotia to arrive in the Talvera Barracks of England in November 1941. In September 1943, under conditions of great secrecy, the “Westies” embarked on ships that they were told were sailing for Ireland. The reality was that the Regiment was going to Italy. Most of the time of the war the Regiment was actually not in battles, just preparing and training. During the years in England Major Mahony, according to the war diary, also seem to have been an important person socially organizing dinner parties, sports activities/competitions and film evenings for soldiers and officers to keep the spirits up.

Mahony2

Led the Company Across the River
During the battle at the Melfa River Major Mahony personally led his Company down to and across the river, being with the leading section. Although the crossing was made in full view of and under heavy fire from machine-gun posts on the right rear and left front, he personally directed each section into its proper position on the West bank. The crossing was made and a small bridgehead was established on ground where it was only possible to dig shallow weapon pits.

Former Journalist
Before Major Mahony joined the army he seems to have been working as a journalist with the Vancouver Province. He remained in the army until 1962 and retired to London, Ontario where he engaged in youth work. At his own request, he was buried without a military funeral in 1990.

There is a lot written about Major Mahony. Just Google his name if you want to learn more about him.

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