The feature Page
Peter Maher MM
2nd Battalion and 15th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers
Ace Reporter Tommy Hussey (from the LF
Yesterday we said goodbye to Peter Maher MM 15th July 2015
who deid 4th July
a true Lancashire Fusilier Hero
These are the words spoken by Peter's Grandson at the funeral
Thanks so much for coming along to celebrate Peter's life today.
I just wanted to get up and say a few words about what Grandad meant to me.
About 4 weeks ago, I got off the phone to him after what was a pretty standard catch up. I knew he wasn't long out of hospital but he was still his usual upbeat self.
Probably just a couple of weeks later I got an email from my mum, unfortunately this was to let me know that granddad had been unwell and things weren't looking too good. So, I decided it was time for me to head home, planned my flights and got prepared to come and say goodbye.
Unfortunately, I didn't make it in time, and I missed the opportunity to tell granddad how much he meant to me, so today getting up here in front of a wonderful array of family, friends and wellwishers and being able to be here for my family means so much!
So what was granddad like?
As far back as I can remember every greeting I ever received was the same 'hiya mate' he'd say, always absolutely positive and welcoming no matter how he was feeling.
I think granddads enthusiasm was the reason why we became so close and we always had a great time together. He always seemed genuinely interested in everything I did.
I've got many fond memories of time spent with granddad. I used to go down to the caravan park at the weekends and have a great time. I remember once there was a fire in one of the nearby caravans and we saved a dog so I'm officially a hero, not quite on the same level as granddad but I'll claim it.
We used to enjoy heading into Burnley. First we'd go to the market and get a bag of tripe which I still can't believe I used to eat and then we'd head down to the Con-club for a drink where he'd take great pride introducing me to his pals. Over the years I also got the opportunity to take the same pride introducing him to my friends who he would continue to ask me about for years to come.
As I grew up we started to exchange stories, I'd tell him what I'd been up to in the Navy and he'd share stories about his latest trip to Malta or Benidorm. I used to tell him allsorts, he never judged just laughed along and saw it as an opportunity for some fun - so when we took some friends out to Malta in 1998, he took great pleasure introducing us to the local nightlife and a particular local entertainer. The entertainer sat herself (and I use the term herself very loosely), yeah so anyway.......... sat herself on my friends lap, undid a few of his shirt buttons and rubbed her massive hands on his chest, my friend looked like a deer stuck in the headlights. I'll never forget granddads laughing that night and we spoke about it often for years to come.
So this is the man I knew and all I can really say is I'll really miss how open and honest I was able to be with him. He was one of my best mates and we really spent some great times together. I think everyone here who had the pleasure of knowing him will have some great memories too.
One thing granddad didn't like was saying goodbye so I'm not going to.
I'll just finish by saying thanks for being a great mate granddad and I'll catch you later mate. Peter Firth Grandson
The Feature Page
On Sunday the 25th June 2011, we were seated at the Cenotaph in Blackpool, waiting for the service to begin.
Tommy Hussey spotted a lone primrose hackle across the far side of the garden and went over to see if we knew the wearer, who was seated in a wheelchair.
It was a very fortunate decision, as the gentleman turned out to be one of our WW2 2nd Bn heroes, S/Sgt Peter Maher MM.
He also told us who was Frank Jeffersons no2 on the PIAT something that has been a mystery for sometime as everyone said the PIAT could not be loaded
by one man that man was 3449103 Sylvan Desmond Buckley MM who got the MM from an earlier action
The Tommy Hussey Interview
Name 3449543 C/Sgt Peter Joseph Maher
2nd Bn Lancashire Fusiliers
Peter's leather ID tag
Peter Maher Veteran Colour Sergeant MM
Peter Maher who lived in Clitheroe now in the Blesma
Home in Blackpool and during World War Two obtained the rank of Colour
Sergeant and earned the Military Medal. Service Number 3449543. Joined
D Company 2nd Battalion The Lancashire Fusiliers having enlisted on 1st
February 1939 at the age of 16 at the recruiting office, Westgate, Burnley.
Went first to Wellington Barracks, Bury Depot. After several weeks training
then moved to join the 2nd Battalion at Meeane Barracks, Colchester. Whilst
on leave in August all troops were contacted by radio message that all
leave was cancelled and to report to their nearest depot.
2nd Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers.
Awarded the Military Medal in the Suppliment to the London Gazette of 10 May 1945 (for ITALY).
The official recommendation reads: - "On the night of 24/25 October 1944, Sergeant Maher was Platoon Sergeant of 18 Platoon, "D" Company, 2nd Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers. The Company was leading the battalion attack on Point 380, Mount Spaduro feature, and 18 Platoon was leading the attack. When near the objective, they came under heavy machine gun fire at 20 yards range, the platoon commander and six men were wounded. The attack faltered, but Sergeant Maher at once rushed forward, rallied the men and charged towards the objective, continually urging his men to keep close to the barrage. Shortly afterwards the postion was counter-attacked and Sergeant Maher was wounded but continued to lead his men with great initiative and determination until the attack was smashed. Throughout, Sergeant Maher showed a fine disregard for his own safety and his personal example of initiative was an inspiration to all who saw him, and contributed largely to the success of the battalion operation".
The Burnley Express of 3 February 1945 reported: -
Mrs. Rachel Maher, of 110, Airdrie Crescent, Burnley,
first knew of her son, Sergt. Peter Maher, having gained the Military
Medal when she noticed the letters M.M. after his name on the address
of one of his letters. All he says about his award is "I didn't do
anything spectacular to win it."
Report by Barbara Parker (nee Mason) daughter of Mucky Mason DCM 2nd Bn LF.
7th December 2011
CONVERSATION WITH PETER MAHER MM
OF THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS
7TH DECEMBER 2011
Peter remembered my father very well although they were not in the same Company. Peter was in D Company with Major Henshaw in charge and dad was in S Company. He remarked how dad always had a smile and was a very polite Sergeant. He remembered that dad had been with a Captain Bellinke, an Intelligence Officer, when the building they were in was blown up and a piece of glass from one of the windows lodged in his throat killing him.
The Lancashire Fusiliers were stationed in Gnund, Austria just over the Italian Border and at Hermagor, Austria. He related the story of the Cossacks who were returned, in trains, to the Russians after the war for taking the German side. General Day denied that this ever happened but Peter remembered that the Cossacks were from the Ukraine and they suffered very badly. My father told me in the past that one Cossack had committed suicide in front of him when ordered onto the train and Peter confirmed that to his knowledge one train had ten suicides during the journey to deliver them to the Russian Sector in Austria (as it was split after the war). This particular train was stopped and everyone had to get out to be counted and the bodies of the ten suicides were laid alongside the living for counting. The Lancashire Fusiliers were told they were prisoners of war. Peter remembers that once Cossacks lined up and refused to get on one train and the Lancashire Fusiliers had to fix bayonets and order them to board. Women and children were not excluded from this and Peter remembers a sorry procession of them being herded onto the trains carrying crosses and saying prayers. On one occasion, there were some rations set ready for the train and Peter was told the travellers wouldnt need them but he insisted they were loaded although he never knew if they received any of them. Peter remembers telling Kevin Hill that they could be accused of war crimes for what they were doing but he told Peter You are in charge of this and turned his back on him. Peter thought it as bad as the holocaust.
Peter went back to Italy in 2005 but did not enjoy his trip as he found it too emotional he told me it was a mistake. In Cassino war cemetery the soldiers are laid in their graves to face their country of origin.
Peter elaborated on the story of his billeting in horse boxes at Newbury Race Course during training with the 5th Battalion. It was mid-winter and they lit fires with coke to try to keep warm. Being an ex-miner, Peter knew of the dangers of the fumes from coke so he made sure their horse box was well ventilated but three soldiers died from the fumes in the other boxes.
Peter reminded me of my father and made me laugh when he told me about his MM. He said he had got £25 for it. I gasped and said you havent sold it? No he said you got that when you were awarded the medal. He thought dad would have received £75 for his DCM. I asked him why his medal was sent to him and he said he didnt want to travel back to England to receive it as his was posted to Austria with his wife. My father had not wanted to go to the Palace as he thought the King would know nothing of what happened and it was his mother who insisted they all went.
Peter had recently had a nasty fall and was going to
a BLESMA house for a break. He would be returning home on 18th January
and I was to ring him again after that date.