Courageous Wigan war-time heroine honoured with blue plaque

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A Wigan-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 the town of her birth.

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.

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

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A Wigan Council Blue Plaque was unveiled for Mary O'Shaughnessy at Ashton-in-Makerfield Library.  The new Mayor of Wigan borough Coun Kevin Anderson was in attendance.A Wigan Council Blue Plaque was unveiled for Mary O'Shaughnessy at Ashton-in-Makerfield Library.  The new Mayor of Wigan borough Coun Kevin Anderson was in attendance.
A Wigan Council Blue Plaque was unveiled for Mary O'Shaughnessy at Ashton-in-Makerfield Library. The new Mayor of Wigan borough Coun Kevin Anderson was in attendance.

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.

Coun 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.

Babs Hennessy chair of The Mary O'Shaughnessy Society addresses the unveilingBabs Hennessy chair of The Mary O'Shaughnessy Society addresses the unveiling
Babs Hennessy chair of The Mary O'Shaughnessy Society addresses the unveiling

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.