Private Richard Kelliher VC

Richard Kelliher. 126836 Richard Kelliher

Date of birth: 1 September 1910
Place of birth: Ballybranagh, near Tralee, County Kerry, Ireland
Date of death: 28 January 1963
Place of death: Repatriation General Hospital, Heidelberg, Melbourne, VIC

Richard Kelliher was born in Ireland and migrated to Australia in 1929. He was a labourer in Brisbane before enlisting in 1941. Sent to the Middle East, he transferred to the 2/25th after the Syrian campaign. The battalion returned to Australia the following year, then took part in the fighting in the Owen Stanley Range and at Gona. Kelliher spent the first half of 1943 in hospital with malaria, before returning to Papua.

A month later, 13 September 1943 near Nadzab, New Guinea, Kelliher was involved in fighting near Heath's plantation. When several of his platoon, including a section leader, became casualties, Kelliher, on his own initiative, raced forward hurling grenades, killing some of the enemy until forced back. Then he seized a Bren gun, ran to within a short distance, and silenced the enemy in the post. His final action was to rescue the wounded corporal, saving his life.

Kelliher returned to Australia, still suffering spells of malaria, and was discharged in 1945. He took up work as a gardener in Melbourne.

Kelliher was awarded the Victoria Cross, service medals for the Second World War and the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal.

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