No.1163 Private Herbert McMahon
Private McMahon's father, Herbert McMahon, married Ellen Conway in 1890 (5664/1890), and they had four children:
- Mary McMahon, born at Eaglehawk in 1891
- Herbert Bernard McMahon, born at Eaglehawk in 1894
- Veronica McMahon, born at Eaglehawk in 1894
- Benedict McMahon, born at Eaglehawk in 1897
His father was a Miner, and in 1903 the family lived at Pegleg Road, Eaglehawk, Bendigo.
In June 1905 his father placed an advertisement in the local newspaper, offering odds that his son ‘Bertie’ (then aged 9 years) could beat a James Martin in dancing the ‘Hornpipe’.
Bendigo Independent 20 June 1905, p.3.
Bertie’s father died at the Bendigo Hospital in February 1911. He was only 27 years of age, and had been suffering with consumption, a wasting disease, pulmonary tuberculosis, for over 8 months. Bendigo Independent 8 Feb 1911, p.2. and
Bendigo Independent 10 February 1911, p.5.
In 1914, when he enlisted, his mother was living at Rowan Street, Bendigo.
On 11 September 1914, Herbert McMahon enlisted in the A.I.F. at Melbourne. He stated that he was then 21 years and 3 months of age. Referring to his birth year registration, he may have been one year younger.
After his initial training at Broadmeadows, he was appointed to the 1st Reinforcements for the 6th Battalion. They embarked at Melbourne on 22 December 1914, and sailed for Egypt per H.M.A.T. A32, Themistocles. (He appeared in the embarkation roll as No.1163, Private Herbert McMahon, Labourer, of Rowan Street, Bendigo.)
As part of a reorganisation of the A.I.F. forces in Egypt, Private McMahon was transferred from the 6th Battalion to the 7th Battalion on 3 April 1915. His unit was then at the Mena Camp, about 10 miles from Cairo.
The 7th Battalion embarked from Alexandria on 5 April 1915 and sailed to the island of Lemnos, where the practiced for a future amphibious landing. Members of the Battalion were carried by four ships; H.S. Galeka, Norlain, H.M.A.T. A46 Clan McGillivray and H.M.A.T. A47 Mashobra.
At 4 am on the morning of 25 April 1915 (Anzac Day) the ships carrying the 7th Battalion anchored of Gabba Tepe. Beginning at 5:30am, they were towed ashore in small boats to Anzac Cove, where they helped to establish a beach-head. Men from the various Battalions were quickly mixed up in the confusion, and the 7th Battalion casualty figures for the first day were estimated at 400 killed, wounded or missing.
It was on this first day that Private McMahon was wounded in action. He received a contusion of the spine, which occurs when the spinal cord is bruised, often causing inflammation and bleeding from blood vessels near the injury site.
After being evacuated from the beach he was returned to Egypt, where he was admitted to the 15th General Hospital at Alexandria on the 30 April 1915.
Due to an administrative error Private McMahon was declared as missing on 10 June 1915, and his mother was formally advised. She wrote back to the Defence Department on 22June 1915, stating that she had received a letter from her son, saying that he was recovering in hospital from wounds.
In need of more specialised care, Private McMahon was transferred to England on the 14 July 1915. He was evacuated there by the Hospital Ship Goorkha.
There is a gap in the service history of Private McMahon until the following year, when on 12 January 1916, he marched in to Abbey Wood, in England. This was the site of the Australian Intermediate Depot, and was located on the eastern edge of London. Australian soldiers, deemed to be fit enough, would spend time there, before returning to active service.
After spending a short time at Abbey Wood, Private McMahon was transferred to the Weymouth Base Depot, where he became a member of the No. 33 Draft.
On 28 May 1916, he embarked with the No.33 Draft to France to join British Expeditionary Force (B.E.F.). He arrived at the 1st Australian Divisional Base Depot at Etaples in France on the following day, and remained there until 16 June 1916, when he marched out to join his unit.
Private McMahon re-joined the 7th Battalion at Sailly in France on 17 June 1916. Several days later they moved to Neuve-Eglise, where they were employed in laying out communications cables, before moving into the front line at Grande-Munque.
From 22-25 July 1916, his unit was part of the assault on Pozieres by the 1st and 3rd Infantry Brigades. It was during this action that Private McMahon was wounded for the second time.
On 25 July 1916, he was treated by the 2nd Australian Field Ambulance for shell shock. They transferred him to the 6th General Hospital at Rouen on the following day, and he was again transferred back to the 25th Stationary Hospital at Rouen on 28 July 1916. His condition was described as not yet determined (N.Y.D.)
After a period of treatment, he was transferred to the Convalescent Camp at Rouen on the 17 August 1916. One week later, on the 23 August 1916, Private McMahon marched in to the Australian Divisional Base Depot (A.D.B.D.) at Etaples.
After one week at the depot, on 30 August 1916, he was admitted to the 20th General Hospital at Camiers, suffering with scabies. He was discharged back to duty after one day of treatment.
Two weeks later, on 14 September 1916, he was admitted to 26th General Hospital at Etaples again suffering with a skin disease.
After receiving initial treatment, he was evacuated to England on 16 September 1916, where he was admitted to the Edmonton Military Hospital suffering with eczema (slight)
By the end of October 1916 he had recovered sufficiently to be discharged from hospital on leave; to the 5th Overseas Furlough Depot.
On 4 November 1916, he was admitted to 1st Australian Auxiliary Hospital at Harefield, where he was diagnosed with heart trouble. On 14 November 1916 Private McMahon marched in to the No. 2 Commonwealth Depot at Weymouth from Hospital.
He reported sick again on 17 January 1917, and he was admitted to 1st Australian Auxiliary Hospital at Harefield. His condition was N.Y.D. (not yet diagnosed). Treatment continued until 5 February 1917, when he was discharged from hospital, on leave.
One week later, on 12 February 1917, Private McMahon was admitted to the 1st Australian Auxiliary Hospital at Harefield, suffering with a bladder condition. After being treated for two weeks, he was discharged from hospital on 17 February 1917, and he marched in to No.2 Commonwealth Depot at Weymouth.
Just two days later, on 19 February 1917 he was admitted to the V.D. Isolation at No.2 Commonwealth Depot, Weymouth. He was discharged from isolation on 6 March 1917, and it was decided that he should be returned to Australia.
On 4 May 1917, Private McMahon embarked for return to Australia on H.M.A.T. Themistocles. He disembarked at Melbourne on 2 July 1917, and was discharged from A.I.F. at Melbourne on 9 August 1917 as medically unfit. The reason was the earlier injury to his back and contusion of his spine.
On 22 January 1919, Private H.P. McMahon was one of 14 returned servicemen who were presented with Werribee Gold Medals, at a function held in the local Mechanic’s Institute.
Werribee Shire Banner, 23 January 1919, p. 2.
Herbert Bernard P McMahon’s life can then be followed by referring to the Electoral Rolls:
- In 1919 he was living at Danks Street in Albert Park, and worked as a dancer. A talent he had before his enlistment.
- By 1924 he had moved to Perrins Street in South Melbourne, and worked as a dance teacher. His mother also shared the same address.
- In 1925 they moved to 131 Cobden St, South Melbourne, and his profession changed to labourer. Between 1927 and 1928 they were at 7 Service Crescent, in South Melbourne.
- In 1930, Herbert Bernard Patrick McMahon married Phyllis Johnson in Victoria. (1930/7702)* His address in 1934 was 3 Wolseley Street, Emerald Hill.
- Between 1943 and 1954, Herbert Bernard McMahon and Phyllis McMahon lived at 176 Hanna Street, in South Melbourne.
Herbert Bernard McMahon died at the Repatriation Hospital at Heidelberg in 1954, aged 61 years. (Certificate No.4236/1954)
His death notice was published in The Age, 30 April 1954, p. 12. It states Herbert (Paddy) McMahon of 176 Hanna Street, South Melbourne, died on 29 April 1954 at Heidelberg Repat. He was the beloved husband of Phyllis, and loving father of Kevin, Patricia and Shirley.
Medals and Entitlements:
- 1914/15 Star - No.6236
- British War Medal – No.5811
- Victory Medal – No.5758
Name on the Werribee Shire Oak Board: McMAHON, H
Name first appeared in the Roll of Honor, Werribee Shire Banner, 13 February 1919, p.3 as “McMahon, H. of Mount Cotterell”
Private McMahon’s connection to Werribee and Mt Cotterell is through his sister Vera (Veronica) McMahon. She married Walter Murray of Bambra Park, Mt Cotterell in 1915, and possibly moved into the Werribee District.
The Bendigo Independent of 16 October 1915, p.8.
* Marriage Index, Victoria 1921-1942 CD
Unit War Diary
Pioneer Index 1837-1888 CD
Federation Index 1889-1901 CD
Edwardian Index 1902-1913 CD
Great War Index 1914-1920 CD
Marriage Index 1921-1942 CD