[Or at least one of his last letters – I have seen no others]
It’s probably coincidence that as Mahon leaves the 10th Division, the 5th Royal Irish Regiment – the divisional pioneers, are sent to the front line, despite having worked most days and nights up to this point. From the diaries I suspect he was caught up in the bombs that were being thrown down at the troops – some of whom, having run out, had none to throw back. He fell, along with dozens of others in his battalion between 14.30 and 18:30. He left a wife and four children. With another child on the way, she struggled and failed to get any of his effects from the war office, not realising the way that he had died.
Monday July 5th 1915 8 pm. [Basingstoke]
My Dearest Old Girl,
I have no official news for you, but I think I can tell you as a definite fact that I shan’t be able to get home to you this week.
We have today been served out with our thin clothes and new shirts, towels, kitbags, and two pair socks from Lady Granard. It is expected that we entrain from here on Thursday for Avonmouth, Bristol and remain there for 3 weeks at a rest camp before embarking for India. But sweetheart our destination is absolutely unknown to anyone and so I take no notice of the rumours myself, knowing that what has to be, will be. But I believe it is to be a fact that we are going to a rest camp and are getting our final leave from there.
Don’t however write to Bristol, rather address as above and leave it to follow me, as it undoubtedly will. We were warned today that we were, from yesterday, soldiering under real active service conditions and any offence would be severely dealt with. We also had our Field Payment books served out. I am shewn as free from debt but the credit side is not filled in.
I have as usual made my will in your favour in the space provided for that job but I don’t think it will be needed. But don’t forget old girl from yesterday I am on [active] service and you are entitled to Full pension for yourself and kiddies if anything should happen to me and don’t forget you have a powerful friend in R_____ to see that you get it.
We also were each served out with our Dressings for wounds and a phial of iodine for immediately making a wound antiseptic. This last is also the gift of Lady Granard and we got a small packet containing 3 packets of woodbine. Labelled ‘from friends in Ireland who are proud of you.’
What makes me certain that we are not yet going to any war is the fact that kitbags which were taken from us in Longford, have now been served out again, new ones too. In any case as you saw by that newspaper cutting I enclosed we are now attached to the General’s Headquarters as Pioneers and find all the guards, picquets and fatigues for Headquarters and our regiment will never do any fighting. Only in case at the direst need and of course any man would be willing (and anxious to do his bit then)
Of course haven’t heard from you today mate but I hope tomorrow and I will write again every day to let you know how things are going and keep you up to date with our movements. Keep smiling Dear, I am alright and cheerful, hope things at home are going alright and that you are all well,
Love to you all, your loving husband