William Joseph Maher (Service No. 2410)
(1890 - 1977)

William Joseph Maher was born in 1890 at Brunswick to Bernard Joseph Maher and Margaret Maher nee Fox. He was the sixth child born to the couple and seven years older than his younger brother Bernard who also enlisted into the AIF two years later.

The family had moved into the Laverton area in 1912 and initially Bernard Joseph Maher worked as a commercial traveller before establishing a business in the small town. The Maher’s became prominent members of Laverton and the Werribee district when Bernard Joseph was successfully elected to the Werribee Shire Council in 1914 representing the East Riding and served on the Shire council for approximately 15 years.

William Maher applied to enlist into the AIF but was initially rejected because of the condition of his teeth. As the need for more men increased, this problem seemed to have been overlooked and at the age of 25 years William was accepted on the 15 July 1915. Having completed his training at Broadmeadows by the 30 August 1915 Private Maher was appointed to the 24th Infantry Battalion and embarked from Melbourne on 29 September aboard the RMS Osterley with the 5th Reinforcements for the 24th Infantry Battalion. They sailed for Egypt and were taken on strength with the 24th Battalion at Tel-el-Kebir on 10 January 1916.

On 20 March 1916 the battalion embarked at Alexandria in three ships and six days later they were at new billets at Rebecq in Belgium where they underwent further training for the Western Front. The battalion saw action at Fleurbaix (April 1916), L’Hallobeau (May 1916), Erquinghem and Rue Morle (June 1916). Private Maher and the 24th then took part in a major offensive around Pozières and Mouquet Farm in July and August of 1916.

On 2 August 1916 the battalion were resting in the Sausage Valley and fatigue parties were carrying supplies to the front line. It was while performing these duties that Private Maher was injured when he received a gunshot wound to his left hand. He was treated by the 3rd Casualty Clearing Station and then sent to the 4th General Hospital at Rouen for three weeks. After a week at the 6th Convalescent Depot at Rouen he returned to the 24th Battalion on 29 August 1916. The 24th had just come out of the line at Mouquet Farm and were resting at Bonneville.

By October 1916 the battalion was in the Ypres area working on the roads and the railway lines between their times in the frontline trenches. During an action in the Montauban area on 24 December 1916 Private Maher was wounded for a second time.  He received a gunshot wound to the side of his face and was treated initially by the 5th Australian Field Ambulance and the Casualty Clearing Station before being admitted to the 10th General Hospital at Rouen. Here he received further treatment and spent some time convalescing.

24th Battalion in a trench at Somme

Before William could return to his battalion he was admitted to the 26th General Hospital at Etaples on 16 January 1917 suffering from an infection and was passed to the 25th General Hospital for a month of treatment before being evacuated to England. Here he was diagnosed with having impetigo and remained in hospital for a further two months before being transferred to the 2nd Auxiliary Hospital at Southall in Middlesex on 12 April 1917. Unfortunately, William suffered further from his injuries and remained under hospital care until July 1917 and did not return to his battalion.

On 21 July 1917 Private Maher embarked for Australia aboard the hospital ship Euripides and he arrived home on 18 September 1917.  One month later on 24 October 1917 he was discharged from the AIF

Effective from his date of discharge William Joseph Maher was granted an incapacity pension of 30 shillings per fortnight. The Laverton community held a grand welcome home event on 14 October 1919 when 14 local volunteers were presented with inscribed medals.  Private William Joseph Maher and his brother Sapper Bernard William Maher were both recipients

Records show that William Maher remained in the Laverton area between 1919 and 1931 and that he worked there as a labourer.  In 1923 he married Irene Marjorie Baines and the couple later moved to 35 Church Street in Abbotsford. They continued to live in the Abbotsford and Richmond area where William worked at various companies and jobs finally working for the local council during the 1960’s. William Joseph Maher died on 20 January 1977 aged 87 years and is buried in the Melbourne Cemetery.

References:

  1. ancestry.com.au
  2. Werribee Shire Banner, 29 September 1927, p.3.
  3. Werribee Shire Banner, 6 August 1914, p.2.
  4. Werribee Shire Banner, 31 August 1916, p.3.
  5. Werribee Shire Banner, 15 April 1937, p.3.
  6. Werribee Shire Banner, 7 July 1921, p.2.
  7. Werribee Shire Banner, 23 October 1919, p.2.
  8. Werribee Shire Banner, 22 July 1915, p.3.
  9. https://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/SearchNRetrieve/Interface/ViewImage.aspx?B=8211810

Research by: Graeme Reilly (ALHS)