Second Lieutenant Arthur Edwin McMahon



Arthur Edwin McMahon was born on 28 June 1891 at Milford, County Donegal, the fourth of six children of miller James McMahon and his wife Mary Taggart McMahon (nee Meneely). Educated at Milford Secondary School, by 1911 he was living with his parents, four brothers and an aunt at The Mills, Milford, and working as a miller.

McMahon enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Letterkenny on 23 February 1912 (No.675 – later Corps of Hussars No.71067). He was promoted to lance corporal on 8 April 1913. He embarked for France with A Squadron on 17 August 1914, seeing action on the retreat from Mons and advance to the Aisne. He was promoted to acting corporal on 14 December 1914 and sergeant on 1 October 1915.

On 23 May 1915 at St Omer he was admonished for "neglect of duty as NCO in charge of a room", and again at Blendeques on 25 November 1915 for "disobedience of Garrison Orders".

McMahon remained with A Squadron until February 1918, when the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment was dismounted and converted to a cyclist regiment. McMahon had applied for a commission in the cavalry on 1 February. He left France for the UK on 27 February and after a period of leave, on 11 April reported for duty at No.2 Cavalry Cadet School at Kildare.

After six months of training McMahon was assessed as having a good standard of education, military knowledge, and command and leadership. His scores in the various tests were:

Foot drill good; rifle good; sword very good; shoeing very fair; musketry very good; engineering 84/100; Hotchkiss good; gas 84/100; bayonet good; revolver 88/200; topography 50/60, 72/100; organisation 59/70; military law 65/80; tactics 70/100; stable management 64/100.

McMahon was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant and on 19 October 1918 and posted to the 2nd Reserve Regiment of Cavalry.

He relinquished his commission on completion of his service on 27 February 1919.

After the war he returned to work as a millowner in Milford. On 12 January 1927 he married school-mistress Annie Beatrice O'Neill at Kilmacrenan Parish Church, County Donegal. He died at Milford on 19 October 1988.

In the 1980s a historian, Niall McGinley, interviewed McMahon about his war experiences:

The nearest Arthur McMahon got to the Mons battle was when a scout on top of a corn stack told him of the scenes of battle. ...

Unfortunately his memory of the war is now vague, but the recollection of the terrible sights and sounds still moves him: "It would bring a tear to your eye", he often repeats."

After demobilisation he was agent for a Belfast firm that bought flax. When the bottom fell out of the market in the early twenties he joined his brothers in the garge business which became well known throughout the country; his brother John had joined the air-force during the war so he was a mechanical genius. Probably the first Ferguson tractor in Donegal was supplied by them to a woman in Innis Eoin in 1947.


Two of McMahon's brothers, John Doak McMahon and William James McMahon, also served in the war with the North Irish Horse.


Image and the transcript above from Niall McGinley, Donegal, Ireland and the First World War.