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Warrant Officer Frederick Mahoney 976750

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posted on 2024-06-05, 18:59 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

Warrant Officer, 161 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (Service Number: 976750)

Frederick 'Fred' Mahoney was born in Cardiff on 10 Apr 1917, the youngest of nine children born to Bartholomew Mahoney, a dock labourer, originally from Ballincollig, County Cork, Ireland, and Jane Mahoney née McGivern, also originally from County Cork, Ireland. The Mahoney family lived at 85 Bedford Street, Roath.

Fred attended St Peter's School before moving on to St Illtyd College. In 1939, Frederick was working as a club barman. He joined the RAF reservists between 1939 and 1941 and qualified as an Air Gunner in Aug 1941 and an Instructor in Nov 1943. He was stationed in various airfields, including the Middle East. Fred married Catherine (Kitty) Theresa McConnell at St Peter's RC Church in Cardiff in January 1944. He served as a Warrant Officer with 161 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

He was killed on 5 Mar 1945, aged 27, when flying as an air gunner, one of seven crew in a Stirling Bomber from Tempsford, Bedfordshire. Stirling IV LK312 took off at 23.34 on 4 Mar 1945 from Tempsford on SOE Special Operation Tablejam 209 and headed for Denmark on a secret mission, possibly dropping arms to the resistance. It was shot down by a Kriegsmarine Flak ship and crashed into the Limfjord off Livo Island. Frederick's body was found washed ashore on 21 May 1945.

My aunt was unaware of the operational duties Fred was involved in during his last months of active service with the RAF. When he died, she was denied any information regarding his final mission other than that he was on a mission dropping leaflets. She died not finding out that he flew SOE operations dropping arms to the resistance.

From the information passed down from my mum, the family would listen to the radio, and the broadcaster would say how many planes went out on a mission and how many returned. That day, no planes were reported as going out on any missions, so it was a mystery what happened that day.

My sister has Frederick's flying logbook. She looked up Tempsford Airfield as these records are now available online and discovered operational Tablejam. We have been told not even the locals were aware of the activities that took place at Tempsford as it was top secret. The missions from RAF Tempsford were so secret that it would have been a court martial offence for my uncle to have ever told anyone about what he was doing, and many widows of Tempsford aircrew died never knowing just how brave their husbands had been. This was a very emotional discovery.

I contacted Bob Body, who is the chair of the Tempsford Association. Twice a year, there is a gathering of Family and Friends of the Aircrew/SOE at Tempsford Airfield in Bedfordshire. In November, they hold the service of remembrance in the Gibraltar barn followed by lunch.

In 2013, my sister and I had the privilege to attend the remembrance service, where a wreath was laid on behalf of our Aunty Catherine.

In 2015, we were invited to attend the 75th Anniversary lunch of SOE operations in Baker Street, London. When you hear the stories from the Pilots, Aircrew, and SOE agents, you realise how dangerous their work was.

In 1993, we visited Fred's grave at Logstor General Cemetery, Denmark. At the time, we did not know about Tempsford Airfield. It was 20 years later that we discovered the reason why he is buried in Logstor. According to the website RAF flights over Denmark, he was buried with full military honours.

There are plaques at the National Arboretum in Staffordshire and St Clement Danes Church in London to the brave servicemen from the 138/161 squadrons. I have a CD of the duties sortie or flights 1944/45 at Tempsford airfield provided by Bob Body.


Item list and details

Photos of Fred

Person the story/items relate to

Warrant Officer Frederick Mahoney 976750

Person who shared the story/items

Mary Daubney

Relationship between the subject of the story and its contributor

My Aunty Catherine husband (my mother's sister).

Type of submission

Shared online via the Their Finest Hour project website.

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