On this day 75 years ago at 3pm, Winston Churchill announced that the war in Europe had come to an end. The celebrations that followed are well documented but the thought of those who were not there to join in would always be remembered and so it continues to this day.
Having researched my family tree for a number of years now I’d like to think I know where most McGaffins fit into this massive tree. The other day I was searching the Commonwealth War Graves database and I notice two McGaffins who had died during WW2 in 1943 within six months of each other. I’d never heard of these two young men before so naturally my curiosity only grew all the more in an attempt to learn more about them. Without further hesitation I would like to introduce you to these two young men!
The first name was that of a Terrance McGaffin of the SS Marcella who died 13th March 1943 aged 23. He was the son of James (salesman) and Isabella McGaffin (nee Hall) b. 29th October 1919, there was an older brother John born 10th October1917. The SS Marcella was part of a convoy sailing 190 miles west of Cape Finisterre when they were attacked by a German U-Boat at 05.30 hours. In total four ships were torpedoed, 43 men aboard the SS Marcella were killed in the attack.
Terrance’s paternal grandparents were Hugh McGaffin, son of Alexander McGaffin, and Grace Galbraith, daughter of John Galbraith. He had one uncle John McGaffin, who also served in the Merchant Navy during WW1, as well two aunts called Mabel and Florence.
The second name I spotted was a Private John Charles McGaffin of the 2/28 Battalion Australian Imperial Force, Service Number WX17869 who had died 17th September 1943 aged38. His father was Charles McGaffin, Engineer, and Emma Scott. Further Research revealed that John was born in July 1905, he was one of five children; his siblings being Robert Alexander, Margaret Elsie, Lorna Jean and Annie. His paternal grandparents were Alexander McGaffin, son of Joseph McGaffin, and Elizabeth McGaw, daughter of James McGaw.
John is buried in the Lae War Cemetery, Reference D.C.4, in Papa New Guinea. There are 2,381 casualties buried in that cemetery, more than three hundred Australian soldiers, sailors and airmen served in the capture of Lea campaign but have no known grave.
These two may have a connection with my own tree but then again they may not! It was still interesting to explore their story and make these young men more than just names engraved in stone.
Age shall not weary them, Nor the years condem
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them