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Staff Sergeant James Harold McMahon

  • Unit: 90th Infantry Division, 357th Infantry Regiment, Company C
  • Date of Birth: May 30, 1914
  • Entered the Military: April 30, 1942
  • Date of Death: June 12, 1944
  • Hometown: Algona, Iowa
  • Place of Death: near Orglandes, France
  • Award(s): Bronze Star, Purple Heart
  • Cemetery: Plot H, Row 4, Grave 21. Normandy American Cemetery, Colleville-sur-Mer, France
Contributed by Jacob Eden
Mentored by Mr. Brian Connick
Algona High School

Early Life

James Harold McMahon was born to George and Mabel McMahon in Putnam County, Missouri on May 30, 1914. His family eventually moved to Algona, Iowa.

The 1920 U.S. Federal Census records revealed that McMahon lived with his widowed father and his paternal grandparents, W.P and Rebecca McMahon, in Appanoose County, Iowa. McMahon and his two older brothers worked in a coal mine to help support the family.

The 1930 U.S. federal census shows George, remarried to a woman named Christina, living with their blended family of six children in Kossuth County, Iowa. George and Christina worked as farm laborers.

Ten years later, James is living with his family, working as a trucker for a produce company. Later that year, on September 22, 1940, he married Beulah Richardson, a nurse.

Military Experience

In 1942, at the age of 28, McMahon joined the U.S. Army. He was assigned to the 90th Infantry Division, which trained in England in the spring of 1944.

Landing on Utah Beach

McMahon landed on Utah Beach on June 8, 1944 and advanced inland. Over the next few days, Company C of the 357th Infantry Regiment fought through the Norman hedgerows.

On June 10, 1944, the 357th Infantry Regiment passed through elements of the 82nd Airborne Division to protect the right flank of the division while attempting to seize and hold the crossing of the Doeve River. Most of the action during this time was in an area near Gourbesville, Amfreville, and Orglandes.

The After Action Report from June 11,1944 stated that heavy artillery was directed at enemy positions to aid the advance. Sniper fire was also reported in the area near Amfreville along with reports of enemy patrols working behind lines in force.

During an attack on June 12, the 357th Infantry Regiment had two tanks destroyed by a hidden German gun. Around 4:00 p.m., an attack was launched in the direction of Orglandes. When an enemy tank approached, a small group of men were dispatched to deal with the tank.

On June 12, the 357th Infantry Regiment suffered 145 casualties. Ron Ammons, son of Jack Ammons, a fellow soldier who knew McMahon, reported that McMahon was killed by the concussion of a shell in the fight. He was awarded a Bronze Star for his actions on the day that he died.


James H. McMahon was interred in Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, France.


Primary Sources

Black, Rich. Newspaper clippings and interview, February 2012.

Iowa. Appanoose County. 1920 U.S. Federal Census.

Iowa. Kossuth County. 1930 U.S. Federal Census.

Iowa. Kossuth County. 1940 U.S. Federal Census.

James H. McMahan [sic] and Beulah May Alger. Marriage Record, September 22, 1940. Iowa, Marriage Records, 1880-1940.

James H. McMahon, Individual Deceased Personnel File, Department of the Army.

James H. McMahon. Iowa, World War II Bonus Case Files for Beneficiaries, 1947-1959.

James H. McMahon. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947.

Jones, Glenn. Personal interview with author, April 2012.

“Memorial Service For Sgt. James H. McMahon Sunday.” The Algona Upper Des Moines [Algona, Iowa], August 1, 1944. (9084825).

“Report Algona Soldier Killed.” Globe-Gazette [Mason City, Iowa], July 6, 1944. (391322179).

Secondary Sources

Ammons, Ron. Email message to authors, 2012.

“Beulah Mae Richardson Obituary.” May 2011. Accessed May 17, 2020.–Mae-Richardson/obituary-services/.

“James H. McMahon.” American Battle Monuments Commission. Accessed May 17, 2020.

Utah Beach to Cherbourg. Washington, D.C.: Center of Military History, 1990.