The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (1246) Private Michael Maher, 17th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Place Middle East: Ottoman Empire, Turkey, Dardanelles, Gallipoli
Accession Number AWM2016.2.210
Collection type Film
Object type Last Post film
Physical description 16:9
Maker Australian War Memorial
Place made Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Campbell
Date made 28 July 2016
Access Open
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918
Copyright Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
Creative Commons License This item is licensed under CC BY-NC
Copying Provisions Copy provided for personal non-commercial use

The Last Post Ceremony is presented in the Commemorative area of the Australian War Memorial each day. The ceremony commemorates more than 102,000 Australians who have given their lives in war and other operations and whose names are recorded on the Roll of Honour. At each ceremony the story behind one of the names on the Roll of Honour is told. Hosted by Richard Cruise, the story for this day was on (1246) Private Michael Maher, 17th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

1246 Private Michael Maher, 17th Battalion, AIF
KIA 30 November 1915
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 28 July 2016

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Michael Maher.

Michael Maher was born in Taralga, New South Wales, in 1876. He was the son of Martin and Mary Maher, well-known members of the local community who worked and owned a property called “The Meadows”. Michael attended St Joseph’s Convent School in Taralga, and worked as a labourer. His father died while Michael was still a young child, and the latter grew up to be described as “a man of splendid physique and robust constitution”.

In 1899 Michael’s brother John enlisted for service with the first New South Wales Contingent to the Boer War. Michael followed in 1900. Although John saw considerable action, Michael arrived in South Africa too late to see any active service.

Back in Australia, Maher worked on the railways, but left his position to begin wheat farming. He spent a considerable amount of time working in and around the Wyalong district. In March 1915 he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force, and before he left his friends in Wyalong gathered to give him a farewell social. Although he dropped in to say goodbye to his mother before enlisting, he did not tell her he was going to war.

Maher was posted to the 17th Battalion, and after a brief period of training in Australia he was sent to Egypt and then to join the fight on Gallipoli. Records are vague, but he probably arrived with the 17th Battalion in August 1915, just in time to participate in the last action of the August Offensive, the attack on Hill 60. From that time on the battalion played a defensive role, garrisoning positions such as Pope’s Hill and Quinn’s Post.

After August the major offensives were over, but the battlefields of Gallipoli were still dangerous places to be. On 30 November Private Maher was hit by rifle fire in the right leg. He was evacuated from the front line but died of his wounds at the 5th Field Ambulance station. Aged 39, he was buried in nearby Shrapnel Valley Cemetery.

When news of Maher’s death reached Australia it came as a great shock to his mother and sisters.

His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, among more than 60,000 Australians who died while serving in the First World War.

This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Private Michael Maher, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Dr Meleah Hampton
Historian, Military History Section

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