Maguire, John L

John L. Maguire  was born on August 18 1921 to William and Agnes Maguire who lived in Philadelphia. John was one of two children.

John attended the Roxborough High School and later found employment in Chestnut Hill. His father passed away, and his mother remarried and moved with her family to Phoenixville.

John enlisted in the Navy on August 27, 1942. After basic training, he received advanced training as a gunners mate. And was assigned to serve on board the USS PC-1261, one of 352 PC-461 Class of Patrol Craft. The ship was launched at the Leatham D. Smith Shipbuilding at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin on February 28, 1943. The ship displaced 280 tons, was 175 feet long, crewed by 59 men, and could make 20 knots. It was armed with one 3 inch gun, a 40-millimeter, and three 20-millimeter guns.
John’s ship was sent to Europe to participate in the Normandy Landings on June 6, 1944 – the Liberation of Europe. The PC-1261 was designated as a control vessel or Red Beach landing area on Utah Beach. Control vessels were to lead the landing craft to the proper beach, at the proper time.

On the morning of June 6th, PC 1261 led the first wave of landing craft into the beach but the crafts were sailing slower then usual because of the heavy seas. When they reached 5,000 yards from the beach (about 2 ½ miles) enemy shore batteries opened fire. The first shells landed as close as 30 yards from PC-1261, meaning they had found the range and the next shells would probably find their targets. But the Control vessel could not deviate, it had to keep the Landing Craft on a steady course.

The next barrage of shells from the shore battery did in fact find their mark. A large caliber shell hit PC-1261 on the starboard (right side) aft of midships. The order was not given to abandon ship, as there was hope of saving the ship. After 2 minutes, the PC rolled 90 degrees, and they abandoned ship. The survivors could not be picked up for a couple of hours, as the landing craft and ships headed for the beach could not stop, the men in the water cheered the landing craft as they headed past them for the beach.

PC-1261 was the first ship sunk on D-Day, 58 minutes before H-Hour.

Gunner’s Third Class Mate John Levering Maguire was Killed In Action on June 6, 1944, during the Normandy Landings, the Liberation of Europe. John was buried with full military honors at the Normandy American Cemetery, Colleville-sur-Mer, France.


Research by Don Wambold, WCMSC