Wilfred Joseph Mahagan J11280

January 19, 1923 - June 7, 1944

Wilfred Joseph Mahagan Wilfred Joseph Mahagan

440 Squadron

Wilfred Joseph Mahagan was the only child of William and Eileen Mahagan of Port Colborne, Ontario. The family attended St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church. Wilfred was a chemist making cement at Canada Cement Co. He wanted to return to school, but if school did not work out, he would become a salesman after the war.

When he enlisted with the RCAF in July 1941, he noted his sports of choice were swimming and bowling. He wrote that he was a patrol leader and troop leader in Boy Scouts. He was the president and two successive years treasurer of his fraternity, the secretary of two school organizations and was the assistant cub-master in Cubs. He listed Spencer Tracey as his favourite actor, Johnson McCully his favourite author and Shubert was his favourite musician. He liked photography and model aircraft building. He was assessed as a 'good type of Canadian lad -- keen to be a pilot. Should prove satisfactory with training. Fairly fit. Good physique. Aggressive, confident, cheerful, intelligent."

By May 1943, he was at Dartmouth, NS with the rank of F/O. He stood 5'11" tall and weighed 165 pounds. He had brown hair and brown eyes, with a small scar of his left cheek.

In December 1943, he was sent overseas.

On June 7, 1944, Typhoon MN307, piloted by F.L W J. Mahagan, of No. 440 RCAF Squadron failed to return from a Ramrod operation in the area south of Caen. At approximately 0810 hours, one of the pilots in the same formation saw F/Lt Mahagan's aircraft receive a direct hit by flak, go down in flames and explode near the ground. F/L Mahagan was not seen to bale out. In a letter to Mrs. Mahagan shortly after the fatal crash, S/L Pentland called him 'Wilf'.

A poignant letter written to His Excellency, the Canadian Ambassador, by the Mayor of Noyers-Bocage explained what happened to Mahagan as well as the effects of war on his community. Please see the link below to the Canadian Virtual War Memorial for the letter.

On April 12, 1946, an investigation and findings were reported by F.L Masse. "During my sweep of the canton of Viller-Bocage, I was informed by the Mayor of Noyers-Bocage of two crashes in his fields. On visiting the crash of Typhoon MN307, I saw a jumbled up heap of wreckage but not trace of the engine, this stated to be deeply buried in the ground. I was able to obtain the aircraft number from pieces of wreckage and from a cannon. This was MN307. The cannon number was D.18134. I was informed that the pilot is buried in the communal cemetery of Noyers Bocage. I visited the cemetery and there I saw two graves. The one was marked "Canadian Airman, Mahagan". The rear grave is stated to be that of an unknown Canadian or British soldier. During my investigation of this crash, I spoke to Madame Alice Avoies, the wife of the mayor. She informed me that she was in the field next to the one in which the aircraft crashed. She saw the pilot jump from his falling aircraft at the height of the trees. Members of the SS who were in the area immediately rushed to the scene and shot the pilot through the head. Madame Avoies is positive the pilot was still alive though badly injuried when shot. Monsieur Avoies, the Mayor, then added that the body of the dead airman was left laying at the scene of the outrage for 24 hours, permission to bury him having been refused. The SS went away and the next day, the dead airman was buried in the communal cemetery. There is no grave number. Among the articles removed from the SS was a gold ring with a black stone bearing the initials 'M'. May I please be informed of the correct particulars of the pilot in order that the cross be correctly marked as I am of the opinion that this is the grave of the pilot of the aircraft of MN307. The other aircraft which crashed in an adjacent field was Spitfire NH324, subject of a separate report, eg. XF697."

Mahagan's parents requested their son's uniform be donated, but the rest of Wilfred's belongings were to be sent home to them.


  • Canadian Virtual War Memorial with more details of Mahagan's death
  • Noyers-Bocage Old Churchyard
  • Grave photo