William Hayward Mahaney
The two regiments, see Tedcastle, numbered about a thousand men. They did not stay at ‘Oud-Poelgeest’ at the same time. After the first day, the 90th Battery stayed in Leiden and the 54th moved, with a part of the 2nd Battery to Aalsmeer. Other units were frequently at other locations. However, the head quarters stayed permanently at ‘Oud-Poelgeest’.
Units sometimes complained about work pressure: ‘duties and more duties’ and in some occasions, there were not enough men to execute the job. Their jobs of these soldiers, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel R.R. Bishop, commander of the 2nd Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment was not an easy one. They had to search for German supplies: weapons, vehicles, fuel, food, etc. Surveillance was mandatory in order to protect them against foot-starved Dutch citizens, but also against their own Canadian personnel. Excellent German Luger pistols and binoculars were in great demand, not to mention the liquor. In the meantime, German soldiers had to be taken in custody and send to Germany under surveillance. On top of this, the area to be covered ranged from Woerden until the coast and from the ports of Amsterdam until Rotterdam, southe of the Maas.
Commander Bishop travelled if needed in the Piper ‘Grasshopper’ that had served as ‘Air Observation Post’ during the war. The plane was also deployed for delivery of mail a few times a week. The current hockey-fiels at the Hofbrouckerlaan served as airstrip.
The men who barely had rested in the final months of the war enjoyed leave in small groups. Mostly, they went to England, Brussel or Paris for ten – later twelve – days, but Canada was too far away at the moment.
Canadians ay Oud-Poelgeest.
In the meantime, victory parades were organized in Leiden, The Hague and Rottedam. For each occasion, vehicles were repainted in olive green. In short, Cnadian never saw a dull moment.
That explains why only 23 Canadians were able to attend when the citizens of Oegstgeest offered a tribute by a reportedly choir of thousand singers, that had rehearsed for some days. Unfortunately, this was regarded as a bit disappointing, but the Canadians were simply too busy for such events. However, in order to make this event a memorial ons, a Canadian general attended the meeting. The commander of Canadian artillery in Europe, general W.S.Ziegler DSO accepted the flowers and the gratitudes.
Generaal Ziegler accepts the vocal tribute of the citizens of Oegstgeest.
To some extent, he Canadians intermingled with the local population. Calvinists joined the services at the ‘St. Paulus Reform Church’.On 12 May, the church was full of servicemen: ‘order of service as laid down by 1st Cdn Army for the King’s Day of Prayer’.It should be noted, that at that occasion the ‘Church Parade’ was compulsory.At other occasion, there were less men. Once, commander Bishop held a reading.
Especially girls from Oegstgeest were popular for the Canadians. Their War Diary tells about ‘friendly young females’. Jan Wolkers enviously wrote that Dutch boys had no chance with girls, among them many nurses of the in Oegstgeest located Diaconessenhuis.
On of the consequences were veneral diseases. In order to prevent this, the Canadian command announced, that these diseases could be cured well, but treament should last 3 months. As a consequence, soldiers with veneral diseases should need to wait for at least 3 months before repatriation should be possible. The benign effects of this policy are unknown.
Canadian presence at ‘Oud-Poelgeest’ lasted for one and a half month. On 11 June, 1st Anti-Tank Regiment moved to Bilthoven. The 2nd Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment brought their guns to Nijmegen ‘to be turned in’ en departed on 23 June to ‘Huis ter Heide’.
Canadian guns leave Oegstgeest via the Leidsestraatweg.
|Death of Mahaney
In the meantime, apart from Tedcatle, another gunner died from an accident. On 30 May, William Hayward Mahaney, 51th Battery, 1st Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery, drowned at 11 PM in ‘the canal near camp’. Apparently, this is the ‘Haarlemmertrekvaart’.
He was a son of Hayward and Isabel Mahaney. He left behind his wife, Mary Ann, and two children in the Scottish Kiltarlity, Inverness-shire. He was a fine soldier, since Ortona in Italy driver of a kitchen waggon and well-liked by his comrades.
On 31 May 1945 an honorary peloton fired three rounds above the grave of the last allied soldier to be buried at the ‘Groene Kerkje’.
Right: Tombstone of William Hayward Mahaney
From the War Diary of the 1st Anti-Tank Regiment, 31 May 1945.