The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (NX117049) Private Noel Daniel Maher, 2/10th Australian Infantry Battalion, Second World War.

Description

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 Craig Berelle, the story for this day was on (NX117049) Private Noel Daniel Maher, 2/10th Australian Infantry Battalion, Second World War.

Speech transcript

NX117049 Private Noel Daniel Maher, 2/10th Australian Infantry Battalion
KIA 27 January 1944

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Noel Daniel Maher.

Noel Maher was born in Mullumbimby, in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales on 16 December 1923, the son of Daniel and Sophie Maher. Noel had six siblings Mary, William, Patrick, Mercia, Veronica and Paul.

Noel spent his early years at Mullumbimby, growing up in a house on Station Street, next door to his cousins. His maternal grandfather, dairy farmer Bill Hilan, had built three houses in a row on Station Street for three of his married daughters and their families.

During the Depression, Noel’s father Daniel Maher worked as a labourer on the railways. In 1937 Dan Maher was offered a fulltime job as a fettler based at Chakola near Cooma. The Maher family moved from the warm, lush New South Wales north coast, to the bleak plains of the Monaro in the state’s south. The family later moved to Wollongong.

As a teenager Noel was employed as a clerk in the office of a local garage in Cooma when he was called-up for the Militia on 9 September 1941. On enlisting in the army, his year of birth was given as 1922 rather than 1923 so he was not yet 18 years old when he enlisted.

He served as a trooper in the 7th Light Horse, a motorised light horse unit raised with men from the Canberra–Goulbourn district. In September 1942, Maher volunteered for the Australian Imperial Force and was among 120 men from the regiment who were transferred to Queensland’s 11th Motor Regiment.

The 11th Motor Regiment spent much of 1943 based in Gympie, training and carrying out various exercises. In early July, a large draft of ten officers and 360 other ranks were transferred to the veteran 7th Division’s 2/10th Battalion, then at Ravenshoe on the Atherton Tableland.

A South Australian unit, the 2/10th Battalion had served during the siege of Tobruk in the Middle East in 1941 before moving to Papua in 1942, fighting first at Milne Bay and then in the bloody beachhead battles of Buna and Sanananda in December 1942 and January 1943. According to the 2/10th Battalion’s unit historian, the infantrymen christened the Queenslanders and New South Welshmen the “Forty Thousand Horsemen”.

In August 1943, the 2/10th Battalion returned to Papua, initially stationed in Port Moresby.

From September, units from the 7th Division were heavily committed to the Allied offensive in New Guinea, capturing Lae and moving into the Markham and Ramu Valleys. On New Year’s Day 1944, the 2/10th Battalion began moving by air to Dumpu. The battalion took up positions on the narrow razorback ridges of the Ramu Valley.

The 2/10th Battalion spent most of January patrolling and becoming acclimatised to the conditions and terrain. During this time, the Australian forces planned to take the feature known as Shaggy Ridge and clear the surrounding territory. The feature was taken, but in later fighting, on 27 January, Maher was killed as his platoon observed a Japanese position consisting of pillboxes and trenches.

By the time the area was cleared on 1 February, it had cost the battalion 16 men killed or died of wounds, and 27 wounded.

Noel Maher was 20 years old.

Today, his remains lie buried in Lae war cemetery in New Guinea.

He is one of six men from the Canberra region remembered on the 2/10th Battalion Memorial Cairn in Eddison Park, Woden.

He is also commemorated here, on the Roll of Honour on my left, along with almost 40,000 Australians who died while serving in the Second 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 Noel Daniel Maher, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.


  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (NX117049) Private Noel Daniel Maher, 2/10th Australian Infantry Battalion, Second World War. (video)