On The War Memorial Trail…..Family Memories

September 7, 2020.  It’s a great honour for Pieter to meet the families of the WW1 and WW2 soldiers that he is researching.  When he met Edith McMahon at a presentation given in 2018, Pieter learned that she was the sister of one of the men listed on the Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton Legion, and the sister-in-law of another. 

While the stories of her brother, George ‘Preston’ SMITH, and her brother-in-law, George Martin MCMAHON, have already been told, Pieter was delighted to learn that Edith and her family have never forgotten these men.

CIMG1229 Jul 26 2018 Edith McMahon and Pieter

Pieter Valkenburg and Edith McMahon in 2018.  (Photo credit:  Daria Valkenburg)

Edith meets her future husband….

McMahon’s brother, Joseph Pope McMahon, served in the Royal Canadian Air Force.  Edith explained that she met her future husband on the train to Borden (now Borden-Carleton) as he was coming back home from the war in 1945.  Edith’s sister Noreen married in Kinkora in 1945 and Edith was the bridesmaid, the reason for her being on the train.

CIMG1200 Pope McMahon

Joseph ‘Pope’ McMahon.  (Photo: E. McMahon family collection)

George and Pope McMahon have a reunion in England ….

A few months before George McMahon drowned in a canal in Amsterdam in August 1945, he had met with his brother Pope in England. The Charlottetown Guardian reported on this meeting in their May 26, 1945 edition:

Newspaper article with frame

Article about the reunion of George and Pope McMahon in England in 1945. (Source: The Charlottetown Guardian, May 25, 1945 edition, page 11)

Unlike his younger brother, George McMahon was married, to Margaret Kathleen Greenan, and was a father.  His youngest child, Georgie, was born in November 1945, after his death.  His wife never remarried and returned to the Island with her children.

CIMG1210 George McMahon and wife

George and Margaret Kathleen McMahon.  (Photo: E. McMahon family collection)

Preston Smith was never forgotten by his family ….

Edith’s brother, George ‘Preston’ Smith, was the batman for Major Otty CORBETT, his commanding officer in the North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment, and died in a tragic mishap.

George Preston Smith (2)

George ‘Preston’ Smith. (Photo courtesy of Canadian Virtual War Memorial)

Shortly before he died in Belgium in 1944, he’d sent a photo of a Belgian girl, Marie, that he’d met while on leave in Ghent.  On the back of the photo, he’d written: “This is Marie.  What do you think of her, 19 years old and full of sunshine.  She would be nice to take back to Canada, eh?  I can see you and her trying to talk to one another. Preston” For all these years the family has wondered who Marie was and if she ever learned that Preston had died.


Photo of ‘Marie’ sent to Preston Smith’s mother shortly before his death. (Photo: E. McMahon family collection)

In 1969, the Smith siblings had a reunion and decided to ‘photoshop’ Preston into the photo. 

CIMG1213 Smith siblings with George Preston photoshopped in

1969 Smith family reunion photo. Preston was ‘photoshopped’ into the photo and is standing at the far left.  (Photo: E. McMahon family collection)

Thank you to Edith McMahon for sharing these stories. To read the previous postings on George Martin McMahon and George ‘Preston’ Smith, see:

If anyone can provide more information on George Martin McMahon, George ‘Preston Smith’, or any of the other Canadian soldiers from WW2 who are buried in The Netherlands, please email Pieter at dariadv@yahoo.ca or comment on the blog. 

© Daria Valkenburg