Leinster Leader, February 8th 1947
Honours for Newbridge Man
Killed in Flying Accident
The French government have posthumously award the Legion de Honnoeur and Croix de Guerre to Acting Wing Commander William Christopher Maher, D.F.C., A.F.M. who was killed in a flying accident over Sylt, Germany on 25th July of last year. Wing Commander Maher was a member of the well-known Newbridge family and had many friends and acquaintances in the district, and his tragic death in July (after a magnificent active service record) was widely regretted.
The deceased officer is survived by his wife and four children, at present residing in England. Mrs. Maher received the French awards at the investiture at the Institute Francais, London, on January 15th. The presentation was made by the French Ambassador, Mon. Rene Massigli, K.B.E. Wing Commander Maher was awarded his D.F.C. in July 1946, in recognition of gallantry and devotion to duty in the execution of air operations. He had taken part in a large number of air sorties when commanding Squadron No. 107, R.A.F. It was while leading the former Squadron in an attack on enemy E Boat sheds at Ijmuiden on March 26, 1944 that he displayed the great courage and determination which earned him the D.F.C. Intense and accurate anti-aircraft fire was encountered by the attacking formation on that occasion, and Wing Commander Maher received a shrapnel injury. Despite his injury the Formation Leader pressed home the attack on the target. His courage, skill and enthusiasm went a long way towards making the raid a successful one and set to his Squadron an inspiring example.
Acting Commander Maher enlisted as an aircraft apprentice in 1923 and was later trained for pilot. At the outbreak of the war he was commissioned and in February 1944, was promoted to the rank of Wing Commander. Commanding in turn the 88th and 107th Squadrons, he later led the No. 342 Group, “Lorraine”. It was for his magnificent work in conjunction with the “Lorraine” Force that he was signally honoured by the French government. The late Wing Commander was extremely popular with the officers and men of his Squadron, and his courage and devotion to duty excited their greatest admiration. He took a deep interest in athletics and other active sports. A fine hockey player, he participated in an international trial match at Londonbridge Road, Dublin, some years ago. He also played for R.A.F. (Representative) and County Warwick. A lover of the sport of the roped arena-and no mean boxer himself-he represented R.A.F. at his weight and was a “Wakefield Trophy” holder. He also won many cups, medals and trophies. Spared after the unending dangers of the six-year horror which claimed so many of his fellow flyers, the death of Commander Maher, caused by the crashing of his “Mosquito” aircraft, came as a shattering blow to his wife and family. The severity of their loss will be lessened by these well-merited awards-enduring and cherished monuments to the memory of a life of courageous devotion to duty and ideals.