WWI: Patrick J. Donohue of Bolomore

In 1906, 17 year old Patrick Donohue from Bolomore, Rathcoole, a farmer’s son, one of nine children, arrived in Lawrence, Massachusetts, looking for work. He probably never imagining that a few years later he would be hailed a hero in France, earning a Purple Heart and a Silver Star.

Paddy, as he was known, was a Mill Worker in Lawrence, enlisted in the United States Army in 1917 to fight in World War I. He was assigned to Company G, 328th Infantry, 82nd All American Division. After training, he was sent to Europe in May 1918. On October 8th, 1918, he was one of 17 American soldiers that were tasked with taking out German machine gun nests near Châtel-Chéhéry on the French-German border. Hugely outnumbered by the Germans, they broke through the German line took a large number of prisoners, but then came under huge gun fire and suffered casualties, Donoghue also being wounded, but they still managed to take out the machine gunners, causing the Germans to withdraw, allowing the Allies to get behind the German lines.

G Company was known to the public because of the 1941 movie, Sergeant York, starring Garry Cooper (see the movie clips below). Sgt.  York got the credit and Gary Cooper got the Academy Award. But as we know, one man alone was not responsible for the German defeat. Private Patrick Paddy J. Donohue of Lawrence was one of the unsung heroes of that battle.

 

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Upon his return to Lawrence he was uncomfortable speaking of the battle. Upon his death, in 1962, he was buried in Bellevue Cemetery in Lawrence and his medals were sent to his sister Jane in Ireland.

On October 4th 2008 the French government unveiled a monument listing the names of Donohue and the other members of his unit at a 90th anniversary of the Battle of Argonne. “Private Patrick Donohue, Lawrence, Massachusetts ” is the 12th name inscribed on the stone.  [more on Commemoration Day on SgtYorkDiscovery.com]

Patricia Waters, a grand niece of Patrick Donohue, is working towards getting local recognition for her great uncle  in Lawrence. She recalls sitting a bench in Campagnone Common, listening to him speak about his family and the old country. Ms. Waters quoted in a 1999 Eagle Tribune article said” You know, the amazing part to me of all these recounts of battle is that these soldiers were young men, really young adults, facing unbelievably difficult situations, defending themselves and this country. I think we as a nation often forget that the servicemen who defend and represent us are probably just out of their teens and if they are unfortunate and are wounded, will have to live the rest of their lives with terrible scars on their bodies and perhaps their minds.”

[from: Donohue ~ Local Hero at Argonne]

The plaque at the site of the Battle of Argonnes, unveiled in 2008 at which lists Paddy Donoghue

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Affidavit by Patrick Donohue

Private Patrick (1,910,305) Donohue, Company G, 328th Infantry, being duly sworn, made the following affidavit at at Frettes France, 6 Febuary 1919, of the battle near Châtel-Chéhéry on 8 Octonber 1918 ( National Personnel Records Centre) :

On the 8th day of October, 1918, I was a member  of Corporal Cutting’s squad in G Company, 328th Infantry. When we were sent under acting-Sergeant Bernard Early to clean out the machine guns on our left, I was following behind Corporal Cutting. I saw  two Red Cross Germans, and when they started to run, we fired at them. One of them stopped and gave  himself up. We followed after the other German,  and about twenty paces from where we had first  sighted these two Red Cross Germans, we ran into a bunch of Germans all together in an underbrush on the slope of the hill. When we appeared Germans came running out of the brush and machine-gun  trenches in every direction. There seemed to be about  one hundred of these Germans. Some of them held up their hands and shouted “Kamerad” and gave themselves up. A few shots were fired at us and a few men on our side fired back. After this, all the Germans in sight stopped firing and came in around us, having thrown down their arms and equipment. Before we could line them up in column and move them out, German machine gunners, whom we had not seen before this, commenced firing down the hill at our men. This fire came mostly from opposite our own right flank. We had six men killed and three wounded in a very short time.
During all this shooting, I was guarding the mass of Germans taken prisoners and devoted my attention to watching them. When we first came in on the Germans, I fired a shot at them before they surrendered. Afterwards, I was busy guarding the prisoners and did not shoot. From where I stood, I could only see Privates Wills, Saccania, and Sok. They were also guarding prisoners, as I was doing. Later, when we were moving the prisoners out of the woods, I saw Private Moreau, but I do not know where he was or what he was doing during the fight. Them men I have mentioned above were all members of Corporal Cutting’s squad, and our squad had each fired at least one shot when we first saw the Germans and before Corporal Cutting told us to stop shooting.
I was wounded slightly on the shoulder at the first-aid station, to which I helped Corporal Early, and continued on duty until that night when the doctor evacuated me.

This statememt was read to Private Dibihue after being taken, and he stated that same was correct.
I certify that the above is statement made by Private Patrick (1,910m305) Donohue, Company G, 328th Infantry, to which he made oath before me.
G. Edward Buxton, Jr., Major, Inf., U.S.A., Division Historical Officer
[from His Own Life Story And War Diary][2][SERGEANT YORK AND HIS PEOPLE]

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… The ferocious storm of bullets was now chopping through the brush. Only York and seven privates had escaped being hit by the initial burst. George Wills, who had been following Cutting, had dropped to the ground and edged closer to some German prisoners. “I knew that my only chance was to keep them together,” he remembered, “and also to keep them between me and the Germans who were shooting. ” Wills kept his rifle trained on the nearest prisoners.
Michael Saccina had also dropped beside some Germans, using them as a shield. He didn’t dare to turn and fire back.
Privates Joe Konotski, Theodore Sok, Thomas Johnson, and Patrick Donohue were hugging the ground too, keeping their prisoners covered. Meanwhile, off to the side, Percy Beardsley, who had trailed behind York all morning, ducked behind a tree. Dead Americans lay sprawled on either side of him and he couldn’t get his gun to operate. “It looked pretty hopeless for us,” he said.
Fifteen paces away, on the extreme left, at the bottom of the steep slope scoured by enemy fire…


York had already killed twenty-one Germans. He had fired twenty shots.

The death of the lieutenant and his men had demoralized the Germans, and their machine-gun fire began to slacken. The lull allowed York to check something: all during the fight he had sensed someone firing at him from behind, where the prisoners were. He turned to see the German major, an empty revolver in hand. He had missed with every shot.

The major—who, it turned out, had once worked in Chicago—approached York. “English?” he asked.
“No, not English.”
“What?”
“American.”
“Good Lord,” the major said. “If you don’t shoot any more, I’ll make them surrender.”

He blew a whistle. Down from the slope came the machine-gun crews, throwing off their belts and arms.

As everyone got to his feet, York called out to the surviving Americans to search the prisoners and form them up. There were ninety. Dazed, Early staggered up to him: “York, I’m shot, and shot bad. What’ll I do?” York told Donohue to help Early and sent them to the rear of the column. Cutting said he was badly hurt also; York saw that all the buttons on his uniform had been shot off and his helmet had been hit. He told him to go back, too … [American Heritage]

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‘Gallantry in action’ – War hero’s Silver Star returned to family

LAWRENCE — The story of Patrick J. Donohue’s valor has twice been lost to history.

The first occurred after he and 16 other Army privates and corporals returned to the United States at the end of World War I in 1918 after winning a skirmish that helped turn the tide in the Battle of the Argonne. Vastly outnumbered, Donohue and the others attacked a German machine gun nest, took 132 prisoners and opened a path for the 328th Infantry into Germany from France.

For decades, all the glory went to Alvin York, who was then a corporal.

Newspapers credited York for a single-handed attack against the machine gunners. The Army awarded him the Distinguished Service Cross and promoted him to the rank of sergeant. Congress awarded him its Medal of Honor. Hollywood made a movie — “Sergeant York,” starring Gary Cooper — glorifying York’s one-man charge into the machine gun nest, helping for decades to seal the myth that he did it alone.

York led the charge, but 16 others — including Donohue, then a 28-year-old Lawrence mill worker — followed him into the machine gun nest, a fact that history now recognizes thanks mostly to a group of their descendants who organized a group called “The Other 16” and fought their own battle to set history straight.

Six of the other 16 were killed in the attack, several were wounded, including Donohue.

For his wounds, Donohue was awarded a Purple Heart. For his valor, he was awarded the Silver Star.

That’s where history loses Donohue — or at least the record of his heroism — a second time.

Donohue died alone in his room in a Common Street boarding house on Feb. 8, 1962, and was buried in the military section of Bellevue Cemetery on a north edge of the city. A nephew, Andrew, retrieved his Purple Heart and Silver Star and said he would send them to a sister still living in the family’s native Ireland, according to Donohue’s grandniece, Patricia Waters, a lifelong Lawrence resident.

Whether the sister, Jennie Donohue, ever got the medals isn’t known, but it’s unlikely. They went missing.

Fifty-four years after Donohue’s death, a retail assistant at ReStore, a thrift shop operated by Habitat for Humanity on Andover Street, opened the drawer of a dresser that had been dropped off by an anonymous donor.

Donohue’s Silver Star was inside.

“I pulled it out and turned to Alice (Pincus, a volunteer) and said, ‘I think this is important,’” Margot Loomis, the retail assistant, said Friday. “I don’t know much about the military. Purple Hearts. Gold Stars. Whatever it was. It just struck me as something important.”

Only the Silver Star, with Donohue’s name inscribed on the back, was in the drawer. The Purple Heart remains missing.

The discovery launched a hopeful but uncertain search for Donohue’s descendants. The search was aided by the fact that attached to the leather case containing the Silver Star was an undated newspaper clipping detailing the historic assault on the machine gun nest in the French countryside 99 years earlier, and affirming that all 17 men, including Donohue, were part of it.

Pincus works part time in the Andover Town Clerk’s office and knows the town’s director of veterans services, Michael Burke. The hunt for Donohue’s family started with him.

Pincus gave the medal to Burke, who gave it to an aide and asked him to search Internet sites such as Ancestry.com for clues. A day or two later, the aide gave Burke a list of possibilities.

Pat Waters — her maiden name is Donohue — was the first person he called.

“She immediately came in,” said Burke, a retired Army major. “She was adamant to say, ‘I was named after him!’ I smiled ear-to-ear when I reached her and I knew the medal was going to go back to her 100 years later. I’m glad we actually closed the door for her. This is irreplaceable. A medal such as a Silver Star, you can’t put a price tag on that.”

Donohue returned to Lawrence after the war and went back to his mill job, possibly at the Bolta rubber plant at a site on Canal Street now occupied by Jackson Lumber, Waters said. She suspects he was mustard-gassed during the war and suffered from what today is called post-traumatic stress disorder. He never talked about the war, had a girlfriend named Lillian for a while, and gradually became a recluse.

“He’d come visit us, but most of time, he spent by himself,” Waters said. “He’d come here to (Campagnone) Common. He’d smoke his pipe and he’d meet people.”

“We’d come down here and we’d meet him in the Common,” Waters said about the visits she and her mother would make to her great-uncle. “Maybe my mother would bring some sandwiches or a couple of boiled eggs or something, and they’d sit and talk.”

Waters said if she tried to ask her great-uncle about the war, her mother would cut her off.

“‘We don’t talk about that,’” she said her mother, Mary Rita Donohue, would tell her. “We’d talk about family matters, the old country. Things like that. But we’d never discuss the service.”

She said Warner Bros., the company that produced the movie “Sergeant York,” sent Donohue $500, a suit and a plane ticket to California in an effort to get him to serve as a consultant on the movie.

“He kept the money and he kept the suit, but he wouldn’t fly out,” Waters said. “He was afraid of flying — honest to God.”

The movie was released in 1941 and won Cooper an Academy Award for best actor. Critics dismissed it as propaganda glamorizing war in an effort to get the United States to enter World War II.

“There were just 16 of them,” Waters said, recalling her uncle’s role in the pivotal skirmish in which they were massively outnumbered, in a battle that helped end the First World War. “There were 16 other soldiers with York, who held those Germans captive all that time. Only 16 guys. And they were young guys. Kids, really.”

The Silver Star, now back with Donohue’s family three generations removed, recognizes that. Besides Donohue’s name, the medal bears the simple inscription “For gallantry in action.”

Waters suspects that Donohue’s nephew, Andrew, never sent the medal to the family in Ireland as he said he would. She suspects that whoever cleared out his house in Andover after he and then his wife, Helen, died, brought the dresser to ReStore, unaware that inside was a Silver Star commemorating Donohue’s role in one of World War I’s most historic and pivotal battles.

“Somebody cared for this over time,” Waters said, turning the gleaming Silver Star over in her hand to show the inscriptions. “Look how nice it is.” [Daily News (2016)]

Geoffrey Donahue, Patricia Waters, and Dan Donahue, all cousins, hold the Silver Star awarded to Army Pvt. Patrick Donohue, their great-uncle

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Marriage of TIMOTHY DONOGHUE of Gortavehy and MARY BARRETT of BUOLIMORE on 6 March 1878 in Derrinagree Church

Birth of PATRICK DONOHUE on 4th January 1888 to Timothy Donohue and Mary Barrett of Bolomore (note: his headstone says 8th January 1888)

1901 Census: Residents of a house 12 in Boolymore (Rathcool, Cork):

Surname Forename Age Sex Relation to head Religion
Donoghue Timothy 51 Male Head of Family Roman Catholic
Donoghue Marianne 48 Female Wife Roman Catholic
Donoghue Edmond 19 Male Son Roman Catholic
Donoghue Michael 16 Male Son Roman Catholic
Donoghue Richard 14 Male Son Roman Catholic
Donoghue Patrick 12 Male Son Roman Catholic
Donoghue Jane 11 Female Daughter Roman Catholic
Donoghue Timothy 9 Male Son Roman Catholic
Barrett Mary 82 Female Mother in Law Roman Catholic
Barrett Mary Kate 13 Female Niece Roman Catholic
Barrett Jane 12 Female Niece Roman Catholic
Barrett Edmond 10 Male Nephew Roman Catholic

Children missing from the 1901 census (there were 9 children in total):
John Donohue b. 1879
Andrew Donohue b.6th July 1882
James Donohue b.13th Feb 1889 (a twin to Jane?or is this an incorrect transcription of the baptism?)

1911 Census: Residents of a house 23 in Boolymore (Rathcool, Cork)9 children born, 8 alive; only Edmond, Jane and Timothy at home now.

1910 Census: Residence: Lodger at, 8th Street, Manhattan Ward 22, New York, New York; Occupation: Subway Guard

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Transportation from NY to war in Europe
Patrick J Donohue – Bolomore WWI transport list 1918-05-19 on the Hororata from Brooklyn – Casual Detatchment 82nd Division.

Army #: 1910305

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US National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers

Enlisted: Oct 5, 1917 Laurence Mass
Rank: Col (?)
Company & Reg:G 328 Inf
Discharge: June 4 1919, Devens Massachusetts
Cause of Discharge: Demobilised
Disabilities when admitted to the home: Varicose Veins, left leg … (illegible) deafness …
Place: Togus, Kennebec County, Maine
Born: Ireland
Age: 48
Height 5-2 /12
Complexion: Ruddy
Eyes: Brown
Hair: Brown
Read and write: yes
Religion: Catholic
Occupation: Labourer
residence: Laurence, Mass
Married: Single
Nearest relative: Bro, 28 Bloomfield St, Laurence, Mass
Date of Admission: Dec 5, 1932, Adm & Home
Date of Discharge: 24 July 1933

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Donohue Square is located at the intersection of Mill and Methuen Streets in Lawrence, Massachusetts. It is dedicated to Private Patrick J. Donohue who served in Company G of the 328th Infantry, 82nd Division (All American) during World War I. Private Donohue was one of a group of seventeen soldiers, including the famous Sargent Alvin York, who were assigned to take down a nest of enemy machine guns holding up their regiment’s advance in Argonne Forest. The Germans withdrew after 25 Germans were killed, 132 captured, and 35 machine guns silenced. [map]

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Back in 2011, Keith Waters sent us this message, looking for relatives of Patrick’s sister Jane.

“I am trying to find a gentleman named John Daley, I believe. His wife would go by the name “Jenny” or Mary Jane (nee Donohue). She would be the aunt of Patrick J. Donohue, World War I hero and recipient of the US Army Silver Star and Purple Heart medals. I am trying to track down the owner of those medals and retrieve them for myself and his extended family back in the town in Massachusetts that he emigrated to and died in. My great-grandmother, Mary Rita Donohue, was his godchild. Please direct me in whatever may help me in my quest. Thank you for your time. God Bless. <email>

The silver star medal has returned, but researching official records, Jane (b.1891) married Patrick Cremin, from Currirague (less than a mile from the homeplace in Bolomore) in 1927,  but he died in 1953.
I wonder where John Daley comes in. did he and Jane marry after 1953?
Would anyone know and be willing to help?

 

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