Sgt. Michael J. Mahoney
United States Army (1943-1944)
Michael J. "Jimmy" Mahoney was born on
January 30, 1926 to parents Michael and Margaret Mahoney of 1226 Oakridge Street.
He had one brother, Thomas, and two sisters, Anna Marie and Eleanor. Michael attended
Resurrection Elementary School, where he was Class President in 1934, and completed
three years at South Hills High School, graduating early in January 1943. Following
in the footsteps of his father, an Army veteran of World War I, at age seventeen
Michael enlisted in the United States Army on February 13, 1943.
After boot camp Private Mahoney was assigned
as a replacement in the 60th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division of the U.S.
First Army. The 9th Division had already seen action in North Africa and was based
in Tunisia awaiting the start of the Sicily Campaign. The 60th Regiment were
nicknamed the "Go Devils."
THE BATTLE FOR SICILY
Private Mahoney and the 60th Regiment landed
in Sicily near the town of Enna on July 24 to support the 1st Infantry Division
during the battle for Troina, where the Germans had been putting up a stubborn
resistance. The Regiment teamed up with the 4th Tabour of Guorns (knife-wielding
irregular Moroccan troops) who had distinguished themselves fighting with the French
Army in Tunisia.
Together they flanked Troina along a ridgeline
to the North which forced German artillery north east of the city to withdraw, and
thus leaving the Germans in Troina vulnerable. The Germans withdrew with the 9th
Infantry Division in hot pursuit.
After the fall of Troina. the enemy began a
phased withdrawal from Sicily. Village after village fell to the pursuing Allies,
but not without difficulties. Impeding their progress were demolitions, mined roads,
blown bridges, craters and the dreaded "Schu-Mines". These mines would send off a
load of metal up to waste height and explode. Infantry men were frequently forced
to leave the road to tread over volcanic rock.
Members of the 9th Division move through narrow
streets and coastal hills during the advance.
During the pursuit along the coast, rear-guard
troops put up stiff resistance in cities like Floresta and Basico before yielding to
the might of the 60th Regiment. Another flanking attack near the town of Randazzo
forced the Germans from a last key island stronghold.
That was the final Sicilian engagement for the
regiment. A short period of rest, recreation and re-training followed. Then, in
November 1943, Pvt. Mahoney and the "Go Devils" were back at sea, this time heading
for England to begin more extensive training to prepare for the upcoming Invasion of
Normandy. It was during this time that Michael Mahoney was promoted to
THE BATTLES FOR CHERBOURG
The 9th Division did not take part in the
D-Day Invasion itself. The "Go Devils" of the 60th Regiment instead landed on Utah
Beach on June 10 and assembled with the Division near Chef Du Pont along the Merderet
River. Plans were for the 9th Division to take part in the battle to cross the Cotentin
Peninsula and cut off the Germans in the Cherbourg area.
On June 13, Corporal Mahoney and the 60th
Regiment crossed the Merderet and took up places on the front line previously occupied
by the 90th Infantry Division. The following day, along with the 82nd Airborne on their
left, they were committed in a westward advance towards the town of Ste. Colombe along
the Douve River.
Map showing the 60th Regiment advance to Ste.
Columbe on June 14-16, 1944
The initial objective of the 60th Regiment was
Renouf. From there it was to advance northwest to the high ground west of Orglandes.
After the advance started, the 60th Regiment men were immediately under rifle, mortar,
and artillery fire and movement was slow. By mid-afternoon the two lead companies had
pushed up the road to Renouf, and by dark the line had reached the Valognes–Pont L’Abbe
Shortly before midnight on June 14, General Nelson
Eddy, commander of the 9th Division, ordered the Go Devils to resume their attack at 0500
the next day and push on vigorously. Reports were that enemy reinforcements from the
German 265th Division were moving up. This was confirmed when units of the 894th and
895th Regiments were identified by the neighboring 82nd Airborne.
THE THRUST TO THE DOUVE
The morning attack began, as scheduled, on June 15
and ran into the last determined resistance offered by the enemy east of the Douve River.
Shortly after the attack started, sixteen tanks were reported moving south from Orglandes.
Bazookas and 57mm Anti-Tank guns knocked out three Panzer III’s, forcing the rest to
Soldiers of the 9th Division on the attack
while crossing the Contentin Peninsula towards the Douve River.
By 0900 the 60th Regiment had advanced
approximately 500 yards beyond the Orglandes–Bonneville road when it was met by a
determined German counterattack with four tanks and an estimated battalion of infantry.
The 60th was thrown back 500 yards to the road. The Go Devils struck back and regained
half the lost ground.
The German units then began a fighting withdrawal
aimed at establishing an east-west defensive line across the peninsula. The enemy began
delaying the westward advancing units with small groups and taking advantage of good
defensive ground. To keep the enemy from reinforcing and organizing a better coordinated
defense, it became essential to push to the Douve River line quickly. The regimental
objective changed from Orglandes to Ste. Columbe.
Early on the 16th the regiment resumed its
advance and by late-morning had captured the town of Reigneville. The Germans were now
beating a hasty retreat to new positions west of the Douve River and General Eddy
ordered the regiment to push hard for Ste. Columbe. By the end of the day, the town
had been captured along with intact bridges and a bridgehead established on the western
SEALING OFF THE PENINSULA
The Regiment was now tasked with taking the
vital high ground to the east of St. Pierre d'Artheglise. Hill 145 and Hill 133 were
the last natural strongholds on which the Germans could make a stand west of the Douve
in their attempt to keep the peninsula from being completely cut off. Taking these
hills would come at a stiff price for the Americans.
Map showing the 60th Regiment advance to cut off
the Cotentin Peninsula on July 17-18, 1944.
On June 17 the 60th Regiment moved out from its
bridgehead at Ste. Colombe. The enemy had evacuated Nehou and the columns moved down the
Nehou–Barneville highway without encountering any resistance except from small straggler
units. The regiment managed to capture an entire enemy field artillery battalion
along the way.
The Regiment continued to make quick progress
towards its objective, taking the towns of Blandamour, St. Jacque de Nehou and Le Voldacie,
in the process cutting off vital north-south roads. By mid-afternoon, General Eddy issued
orders to go all out to reach the coast at Barneville-sur-mer and Carteret.
GERMAN RESISTANCE CRUMBLES
St Pierre d'Artheglise, along with hills 145 and
133 were secured and the rush towards the coast began. This final thrust was not without
a few determined counterattacks by the Germans. One large column of enemy vehicles trying
to break through the regimental line towards the hills was stopped in its tracks by
accurate artillery fire.
American howitzers destroyed thirty-five
German vehicles (including trucks, half-tracks, cars, and a tank), ten guns, and
numerous machine guns and mortars, as well as wagons, trailers, motorcycles, caissons,
bicycles, and horses. Other enemy columns were stopped and destroyed at road blocks
north of Le Voldacie.
Soldiers of the U.S. 9th Division moved quickly
to seal off the Cotentin Peninsula and isolate the city of Cherbourg.
The most serious threat occured north of St.
Jacques-de-Nehou. The Germans crossed the Seye River in strength and a breakthrough
appeared imminent. Here, the enemy managed to get within machine pistol range and
there was close-quarter fighting. Some units were forced to withdraw. However, by the
morning of June 18 the situation was restored and the Germans driven back across the
Seye. The enemy suffered a total of 310 casualties, including 250 dead and sixty
Other small enemy counterattacks were repulsed
along the coastal road at Barneville-sur-mer. By the evening of June 18, the 9th Division
had succeeded in sealing off the Contentin Peninsula. For Brookline's Corporal Michael
Mahoney and the 60th Infantry Regiment, the final battle for the northern coastal port of Cherbourg was about to begin.
The "Go Devils" wasted no time in shifting their
effort to the north. Within 24 hours the whole US VII Corps was moving towards Cherbourg.
While the other regiments of the 9th Division moved towards the city, the 60th Regiment
traveled northwest to clear the area around Cape La Hague. Most German troops had fallen
back into the defensive position around the city, so the regiment moved quickly against
only token resistance.
The 60th Regiment moved quickly to secure the
northwest corner of the Cotentin Peninsula in late-June.
Inside the Cherbourg defensive perimeter, German
Lt. General Karl-Wilhelm von Schlieben had 21,000 tired and disorganized defenders from
various units. The enemy resisted Allied assaults and bombardments until June 29, when
von Schlieben officially surrendered the harbor fortifications and arsenal. By July 1,
all enemy resistance was ended, but not before the harbor was thoroughly destroyed by
On June 28, after hearing about pending court
martial proceedings resulting from the imminent harbor surrender, General Friedrich
Dollmann, commander the German Seventh Army, died from a heart attack.
Rumors were that it was a suicide by poisoning.
HOLDING THE LINE
With the Cotentin Peninsula now in Allied hands,
the 9th Division had accomplished its objective and was entitled to some rest. During
the first week in July, Corporal Mahoney and the 60th Regiment camped at Les Pieux,
where they received hot food and showers. The men had time to write letters home as well
as reflect on what they had experienced. During this brief rest period, Cpl. Michael
Mahoney was promoted to Technical Sergeant (T4C).
In Normandy, the Germans had not yet given
up on hopes of driving the Allies back. On July 8, Lt. General Fritz Bayerlein,
commander of elite Panzer Lehr Division, received marching orders from Field Marshall
Erwin Rommell and moved forward at once towards the front.
Though poor roads and incessant strafing by
Allied planes hampered their advance, on the night of July 10 the division was in
position to attack. General Bayerlein planned to attack along with two additional
regimental combat teams, the 2nd SS Panzer Division "Das Reich" and the 17th SS
Panzergrenadier Division "Gotz von Berlichingen."
Grenadiers of the elite German Panzer Lehr
At the same time, on July 9, the 60th Regiment
moved out from near the village of Carentan. The following few days were spent advancing
south through Normandy, directly into the path of the oncoming German attack.
According to veterans of the regiment, this began one of the strangest periods the men
had experienced to date.
From this point on, the enemy troops they faced
were composed of SS and fanatical elements of Panzer Lehr and the 3rd Parachute Division.
The fighting became very intense and few Germans would submit to capture. As a
consequence practically no prisoners were taken.
The morning of July 18 had elements of the 60th
Infantry Regiment's "Go Devils" dug in on the high ground overlooking the St. Lo-Perriers
road. Orders from headquarters were to advance no further beyond this point and allow for
other American units to make consolidated attack on the strategic town of
The 9th Division was now a veteran unit, but it
was not a division full of veterans. Casualties changed its makeup every day, and to date
the Division had lost 2,359 men since landing in France. Replacements came in large
numbers as the wounded left. So far the division had received over 2,000 new members,
the equivalent of swapping out an infantry regiment.
BREAKOUT FROM NORMANDY
The 9th Division was in place and, with a rebuilt
strength of manpower, ready to begin Operation Cobra, an all-out attack combining infantry and armor to push the Germans out of
Normandy. The operation was set to begin on July 25, after a massive bombardment by
U.S. B-17s. At the designated time 3,000 Allied planes bombed enemy positions in front
of the Allied lines and beyond. Smoke and dust drifted back over the lines. Later planes
accidentally bombed some friendly troops. The 47th Regiment got hit hard as did
the 30th Division.
Despite these setbacks, the Americans moved foward
once the bombing ceased and initially found no opposition at all. The defenders were either
dead or in no condition to resist. The 60th Regiment moved down off of the hill overlooking
the St. Lo-Periers road. They quickly cleared the high ground west of the road and the town
Resistance soon stiffened as the Germans committed
their reserves in an effort to stop the Allied push. However, by noon on July 27, the
Seventh Army front had completely collapsed and the breakout commenced. Sgt. Mahoney and
the "Go Devils" quickly moved towards their next objective, Coutances, free from any
Soldiers of the 9th Division getting a moment to
eat (left) and advancing through the city of Avranches.
While units of the VII Corps, including the 9th
Division, cleared the towns south of St. Lo against sporadic German resistance, General
Patton's Third Army passed through Avranches and fanned out in all directions. Meanwhile,
the Germans massed several divisions, including the 2nd Panzer, 2nd SS Panzer, 116h Panzer,
17th SS Panzergrenadier, part of the 1st SS Panzer, and several other units for a major
counterattack through Mortain towards the coast.
Had Operation Luttich succeeded, it would have cut off the entire Third Army.
Shortly after midnight on August 7, the Germans
attacked. They ran straight into the 30th Infantry Division at Mortain, who heroically
held out against overwhelming odds. While the beleagured and vastly outnumbered 30th
Division resisted the onslaught, Allied air power rained death and destruction down
upon the massed German units.
While the defiant Germans continued to press
their assault, Sgt. Michael Mahoney and the 9th Division's "Go Devils" were one of several
independant units sent south to Mortain to aid in the relief of the trapped division. By
August 13 the German offensive had failed and a general withdrawal ensued.
This German retreat quickly turned into a flight
for their lives as the Allied pincers closed in upon the battered divisions of the Seventh
Army, turning the tables and instead trapping them inside the Falaise Pocket. The 60th Infantry Regiment quickly turned eastward to aid in the closure
and clearing of the pocket.
Once the German Army in France had been defeated
the race to the east was on. The 9th Division crossed the Marne River on August 28 and
continued pushing on. Next came crossings of the Aisne, and the Seine Rivers in a matter
of a couple days. Soon the 60th Regiment entered Belgium and crossed the Meuse
Happy residents with soldiers of the 60th Regiment
after the liberation of the town of Awan–Aywaille, Belgium.
It was during this rush to the east that Sgt.
Michael Mahoney received his first Purple Heart. His wounding was listed in the
Pittsburgh Press on September 5, 1944. It was not serious, and after a short
convalescence, he was back with his unit pushing through Belgium towards the German
The "Go Devils" continued through Belgium,
liberating one town after another while the Germans continued their retreat into Germany.
The closer the Division came to the German Fatherland, however, the more determined the
resistance they encountered. On September 10, the 60th Regiment began an attack across
the Our River. Once across, they occupied the town of Eupen near the German
German booby traps and snipers were deadly obstacles
as troops moved through Belgium
THE HUERTGEN FOREST
Two days later, the 9th Division crossed the
border into Germany at Roetgen. Their mission was to penetrate the Siegfried Line and
seize road junctions in the area between Monschau to the south and Duren to the north.
Three days after the attack started, men of the 60th Regiment pushed through the
line near Hofen. The first part of the attack was successful.
However, well organized German resistance halted
the advance of the 9th Division men at these positions, and the rapid advance that
started in Normandy almost two months earlier, abruptly ended there. Hard and brutal
fighting for small objectives was about to start. The Battle of the Hurtgen Forest had begun.
Soldiers of the 9th Division enter the Huertgen
Forest in September 1944.
By September 17th, the Hofen position of the
Siegfried Line was being patrolled by the 60th Regiment. After the Siegfried Line was
breached the Allied drive continued toward the Roer River. The 60th Regiment was tasked
to capture the high ground to the southeast, including the towns of Hofen and
It was before the towns of Hofen and Alzen in
Germany that Sgt. Mahoney was seriously wounded. He was evacuated to the rear
and sent to an emergency medical unit for treatment. On September 23, 1944, Brookline's
Michael J. "Jimmy" Mahoney, a seasoned combat veteran but still only eighteen years of
age, succumbed to his wounds.
"GO DEVILS" FIGHT ON
After Sgt. Mahoney's death, the 9th Division
continued the bitter and bloody struggle struggle in the Huertegen Forest. After that
battle, the 60th Regiment fell back to the Monschau area where its efforts helped repulse
the last major German offensive in the snow and bitter cold of the Battle of the Bulge.
During the ensuing Allied advance into Germany,
the "Go Devils" captured the Schwammanuel Dam on the Roer River. Continuing south, the
regiment was one of the first to cross the Rhine River at Remagen. After expanding that
bridgehead, the regiment raced northeast, where they helped seal and destroy the Ruhr
Continuing northeast, the 60th Regiment advanced
toward the Harz Mountains. After relieving the 3rd Armored Division, the regiment held
that line until VE day and met up with Russian soldiers soon after. The 60th Infantry
was inactivated in November 1946 while on occupation duty in Germany.
FINAL RESTING PLACE
As for Brookline's Technical Sergeant Michael J.
"Jimmy" Mahoney of 1226 Oakridge Street, a Bronze Star recipient and holder of two Purple
Hearts, his parents were notified of his death in early-November, 1944. Another young man
from the neighborhood had made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom and liberty, and another
Gold Star appeared in the window of a Brookline home.
After the war, Gerald's body was permanently
interred in Plot B, Row 11, Grave 10 Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery and Memorial in Hombourg, Belgium. He shares the same burial location
as another fallen Brookline soldier, Lt. Gerald. B. Fagan, who as
civilians lived only a block or so away from each other.
On January 17, 1947, Michael J. Mahoney's parents,
Michael and Margaret, received the following letter from the Office of the Quartermaster
General of the U.S. Army, signed by Brigadier General G.A. Horkan of the Quartermaster
Corps along with a photo showing the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery:
Enclosed herewith is a picture of the United
States Military Cemetery Henri-Chapelle, Belgium, in which your son, the late Technical
Sergeant Michael J. Mahoney, is buried.
It is my sincere hope that you mey gain some
solace from this view of the surroundings in which your loved one rests. As you can see,
this is a place of simple dignity, neat and well cared for. Here, assured of continuous
care, now rest the remains of a few of those heroic dead who fell together in the service
of our country.
This cemetery will be maintained as a temporary
resting place until, in accordance with the wishes of the next of kin, all remains are
either placed in permanent American cemeteries overseas or returned to the homeland for
NOTE: The cemetery at Henri-Chappelle in Belgium is
now a permanent American cemetery.
Jimmy Mahoney's father Michael, U.S. Army,
* Thanks Margie Cronin for
the picture of Uncle Jimmy and notes on his early life. *
* Written by Clint Burton:
April 9, 2018 *
Listed below are
many of the sons of Brookline who gave their
lives to preserve freedom and contain aggression during
World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died.
Rather, we should thank God that such men lived.”
General George S. Patton
World War I
Cronin, Raymond P.
The World War I Memorial -
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World War II
Alm William H.
Arensberg, Roy T.
Brickley, Edward G.
Bruni, Lawrence A.
Capogreca, James J.
Copeland, Clarence R.
Cullison, Thomas J.
Dempsey, Howard F.
Dempsey, Walter F.
Diegelman, Edward R. Jr
Dornetto, Frank P.
Fagan, Gerald B.
Falk, Harold E.
Fehring, Robert M.
Hynes, Richard E.
Jackson, Robert E.
Kestler, Paul C.
Mahoney, Michael J.
Majestic, Arthur B.
Mayberry, Alexander G.
McCann, Robert F.
McFarland, Hugh R.
Miller, William J.
Napier, Edward J.
Nicholson, John D.
O'Day, John R.
Orient, Andrew D.
Pisiecki, Raymond A.
Reeves, Alfred M.
Reitmeyer, John P.
Rhing, Vern M.
Shannon, Harry C.
Shannon, Jack E.
Simpson, James D.
Vierling, Howard F.
Wagner, Ralph G.
Wentz, Walter L. Jr