Born and raised in Belfast, Northern Ireland, John McMahon joined the Royal Air Force at age 19 and was shot down on his first Lancaster bombing mission on February 2, 1943, at age 21. Of the seven-man crew, only McMahon survived. Briefly harboured by a Dutch family, he was captured by German soldiers and sent to Stalag VIIIB in eastern Germany. In the winter of early 1945 he was among the 40,000 prisoners of war who were sent on a 400-mile 'Death March' across frozen land as Russian forces moved west into Germany. After the war he married in 1952 and moved to Canada where he worked as a salesman for Kraft Foods. Forty years after the war he set about finding the German Nightfighter pilot, Walter Streib, who shot him down and the Dutch family who tried to give him shelter and who saved his name on a piece of paper in the hope that he would return some day. His memoir of his war-time ordeals, friendships, compassion and determination to survive is Almost A Lifetime (Oolichan, 1995). Having retired, he and his wife resided on Saltspring Island at the time of publication. 0-88982-14-7

[BCBW 2004] "War"