Courageous war-time heroine recognised with Blue Plaque

Courageous war-time heroine recognised with Blue Plaque

An Ashton-in-Makerfield born woman who went on to courageously and selflessly aid the resistance in France during the Second World War has been recognised with a blue plaque in her birth town.

Mary O’Shaughnessy, who hid stranded servicemen and helped to return injured airmen back to the UK, was recognised with a Blue Plaque at Ashton Library on Thursday, 25 May.

She moved to France some time after the 1921 Census and remained there when the Nazis invaded and occupied France.

While in France working as a governess for a French family in Angers, Mary was asked by a local doctor if she would go to a local hospital to support a wounded RAF man whose life she went on to save when it became clear that the Nazis intended to arrest any allied military personnel who were treated at the hospital.

Councillor Chris Ready, portfolio holder for communities at Wigan Council, said: “Mary O’Shaughnessy was a heroine, and her bravery shines through when you hear her fascinating story.

“Her actions will never be forgotten, and we’re proud that we are able to recognise her contribution and significance through our Blue Plaque scheme.”

In March 1944, after increasing attention from the Gestapo, Mary was arrested and interrogated for 10 days. Giving nothing away to her captors, she was sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp and later the Uckermark Youth Camp.

Mary survived the terrible ordeal and was rescued by the Swedish Red Cross in April 1945, before giving evidence at the Hamburg Ravensbruck trials in 1946, and the Nuremberg trials.

In recognition of her service, she was made an honorary member of the Royal Air Forces Escaping Society for the work she carried out.

Find out more about Wigan Council’s Blue Plaque scheme.

Posted on Thursday 25th May 2023

© Wigan Council