Saturday, May 19, 2007

Sergeant Pat McGuinness, 7th Queen's Own Hussars

The above photograph shows Sergeant Pat McGuinness, 7th Queen's Own Hussars.
It was taken on 4 February 1944 at Netanya, Middle East (Palestine).
In 2007 this photograph of Sergeant Pat McGuinness was sent to me by Mrs Monica Dalby to pass on to Pat's family in Whitehaven, Cumbria on behalf of her Dad, Sergeant Eddie 'Taffy' Morgan. 'Taffy' had served with Pat in the 7th QOH in the Middle East and Italy during WW2. Pat's relatives have hardly any photographs of him so 'Taffy' and Monica sending this photograph means they now have something else to remember him. Pat McGuinness, who saw wartime service firstly with the 5th Battalion (T.A.) The Border Regiment and then the 7th Queen's Own Hussars (Royal Armoured Corps). Pat McGuinness lost his life on 17 July 1944 during the Battle for Ancona, Italy. He is buried in the Ancona War Graves Cemetery [Grave reference: Plot No IV. H. 19].

Eddie and Monica managed to get in touch with me via my local newspaper 'The Whitehaven News' after they came across one of the stories I had posted to the BBC "People's War" website which included another photograph of Pat taken at Netanya

Subsequently, I have been able to speak to 'Taffy' on the telephone. Taffy has also spoken to one of Pat's daughter's Mrs Frances McAlone about her father, which was much appreciated. Taffy's daughter, Monica, has kindly written down his memories about the action at Ancona in which Pat lost his life and has given permission that it can be included in this article. To read this account, please click on 'Comments' below.

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Blogger ritsonvaljos said...


1. Eddie Morgan's memories of Pat McGuinness as written by his daughter Monica Dalby:

"I printed out Frances' story and took it over for Mum and Dad to read. It brought back many sad memories for them both. Mum was in London all during the war and has memories of families being bombed with the resulting deaths and injuries and of the dreaded telegrams arriving with their awful news. Dad was very moved. As he said, when they were on the front line they couldn't afford to grieve over every death so they didn't stop to think about the impact the deaths were having
at home.

Dad only knew Mac or Marra (he was known by both nicknames) from when he joined the 7th Hussars. He must have made an impact very quickly with the new regiment because, as I said before, he was very highly thought of by his compatriots. Dad says he was full of entertaining stories of all the things he had done before the war.

On the day Marra was shot the regiment was advancing. Two tank troops were leading and Dad's was in reserve so he didn't witness Marra's death but it was the most important thing that happened that day and was much talked about - with grief and anger. Two hills had been taken from the Germans that day and the CO decided to push on to take a third. The tanks were operating without infantry support so the CO ordered an officer from the leading tank troop to get out and have a
look over the top at the next hill to pinpoint German positions. The officer was frightened and ordered Marra to get out and do it. He did so and was shot in the heart by a sniper. (The officer concerned was transferred very rapidly to another regiment. After Marra's death he was in as much danger from the regiment as he was from the Germans).

The sniper was captured later on in the day. It was common practice to shoot snipers on capture - they were hated and feared by the ordinary soldiers - but this one was only a boy of 16 and the men couldn't do it so he was sent to a POW camp. Feelings were very high but the tanks continued to advance to take the
next hill. After a real battering, a group of about 30 Germans surrendered and were coming out into the open with their hands up when a machine gun on one of the tanks started firing. The troop had an Italian, George, with them and he had opened fire on the Germans. The tank sergeant only managed to stop him by twisting the belt of bullets so the gun jammed. By the time that happened, 18 of the Germans were dead. George said "Eighteen Germans for our sergeant - that's about

As the front line moved on, the regiment had a burial squad following on who buried the dead and made a record of the individual and a map reference of the grave. All this information was passed on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission who then collected the bodies and reburied them with all due honours in the war cemeteries"

2. The term 'Marra'
The word 'Marra' is commonly used greeting between very close friends in West Cumbria. A close approximation to the term 'Marra' are the terms 'pal', 'buddy' or 'mate'. But it is really deeper than that. Pat will have greeted his army pals with the term 'marra' and they in turn have given Pat that nickname. Being known by that name speaks volumes. Pat's brother, Corporal Jim McGuinness MM, who served in the 6th Airborne Division in WW2 was also known as 'Marra' McGuinness by his army mates.
Having known other members of the McGuinness family, they are the kind of people you can rely upon in any situation. Pat was obviously someone held in the highest regard by officers and men alike: a true 'marra' of the highest calibre.

Saturday, 19 May, 2007  
Blogger Tomcann said...

I recall a discussion we had on this death near Ancona as i contended that the 7th QOH were over on the US 5th Army front. - they were of course, but the 7QOH had been seconded to the Polish Corps for the battles in the Ancona region at the East coast.
They also took part in the massed charge of two brigades of tanks prior to the capture of Ancona which Kesselring took to be a change in tactics for 8th army !
As it was the next charge was the B.C Dragoons of the 5th Canadian Armoured Div at Tuvallu, followed by the Seaforths of Canada and 145th Regt RAC from Pieve to Cattolica in the Gothic Line - two brigades might have made all the difference at that time !

Monday, 21 May, 2007  

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