PVT John P. Donohue
30th Division, 119th Infantry, Co. G
KIA 19 November 1944; near Eygelshoven, Germany
Buried at Margraten, Netherlands
"We left one dank morning, for our objective to take;
My dad, John Patrick Donohue was, as his grieving buddy wrote in a poem, "A Guy from New York." He was born in 1912 and came of age just in time for the Great Depression. He was the youngest of
four surviving siblings, including brothers, Joe and Edward and sister Catherine (Kitty). And he, too, was an "orphan" having lost his mother when he was a baby. But he was lovingly raised by his
maiden aunt, Kate, sister of his father Joseph Patrick, who was an iron worker on the skyscrapers of New York City. I don't know much about his childhood except that he was an alter boy, and that
his vacations were spent with his maternal relatives in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, as were mine.
I remember him mostly through photos and letters, since I had just turned three when he was inducted into the Army at age 32 in March, 1944 at Camp Upton, NY. Although I do have a memory of a soldier
with a duffle bag, smiling over his shoulder as he descended the stairwell of an apartment building. By that time he had been married for seven years to my Italian-American mother, Josephine Santgiacomo,
aka Joan by her Irish in-laws. They were married in secret for a while because their respective families depended on them to live at home and contribute their income (remember the Depression). When I
arrived in December, 1940 they had their own apartment in The Bronx and he was a salesman for the Ward Baking Company. And a good salesman, I am sure, because he was by all accounts blessed with a fair
amount of Irish charm and good humor.
After training at Camp Blanding, Florida and a short leave home, his replacement unit sailed for Europe in early September, 1944. From his letters and from the poem by Phil Doherty, we know that they
moved quickly through England, France, Belgium and Holland, until he was assigned to the 30th Div., 119th Inf. in early November. He wasn't in the fighting too long until as Phil's poem reads . . .
it was soon after breakfast, but we weren't late.
Believe it or not, we were anxious to go.
But I guess that's because we didn't know.
A 'Jerry 88' found its mark;
and let me tell you, it broke my heart."
-- His loving daughter, Kathleen Donohue Mayerski --
I am so lucky to be able to "know" him through his letters and pre-war photos. I know he was bright, and fun, and considerate and loving. I know he took comfort from his religion and from his family
and friends, and I know he missed his wife and his little Kathleen. I have the sweet letter he sent me with his hand-drawn soldier cartoons from "Your Johnny Doughboy." He always made light of his
circumstances as when bivouacking in farm fields . . . "the worst that could happen to me is that I might slip in some cow plop." Or . . . "If you would want to see an amazing sight you can imagine
watching a crap game in which French and Belgian francs and English pounds are used, all having a different monetary value. It really runs into higher mathematics." But, also . . . "I can hear the
Big noise in the distance, and that's where I like it, in the distance."
When he was killed, it was a devastating blow to his family and to my mother. My other memory is a vision of her lying on the bed crying with a telegram in her hand. She never remarried but she picked
herself up and moved us away from the old neighborhood, where she and I were staying with Aunt Kate while he was gone and worked hard and managed to give me the best of everything. She was both mother
and father to me, and friend and guide, and unwavering supporter. He would have been proud of her. She finally rejoined her true love in 2006 at age 91.
I am so thankful to AWON for giving me a way to preserve the memory of John Patrick Donohue and to honor the sacrifice he made, along with so many other of our fathers.