Biography

Birth date: 01 September 1910
Birth place: Ireland: Munster, County Cork, Ballybranagh
Death date: 28 January 1963
Death place: Australia: Victoria, Melbourne, Heidelberg
Final rank: Private
Service number: QX20656 - Second World War, 1939-1945
Unit: 2/25th Australian Infantry Battalion

Richard Kelliher (1910-1963) 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 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.

Rolls and Awards

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Victoria Cross

  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945

Honours and Awards : Victoria Cross

  • Unit: 2/25th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945

Collection Items

Photograph

044647

TOBRUK, LIBYA, 1953. GROUP PORTRAIT OF FIVE VICTORIA CROSS WINNERS, MEMBERS OF THE AUSTRALIAN AND NEW ZEALAND CORONATION CONTINGENT IN FRONT OF CORPORAL JACK EDMONDSON'S GRAVE IN THE TOBRUK WAR CEMETERY. THEY ARE FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: PRIVATE (PTE) FRANK JOHN PARTRIDGE, PTE E. KENNA, SERGEANT (SGT)...

044647

044652

Three members of the Australian Army who were awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery in the Pacific Theatre and who were in Australia's Victory Contingent to Britain after the war. From the left they are Privates Frank John Partridge, Richard Kelliher and Sergeant Reginald Rattey.

044652

044653

Three members of the Australian Army who were awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery in the Pacific Theatre. From the left they are Sergeant Reginald Rattey, Privates Frank John Partridge and Richard Kelliher. (Donor R. Rattey)

044653

044654

TWO VICTORIA CROSS WINNERS; FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: PTE R. KELLIHER, VC AND SGT R.R. RATTEY, VC.(LENT BY R.R. RATTEY).

044654

030414

Colombo, Ceylon. 1953. NX376 Brigadier D. A. Whitehead, CBE, DSO, MC, ED, Commanding Officer, Australia and New Zealand Coronation Contingent, photographed in his cabin aboard the aircraft carrier HMAS Sydney with five Victoria Cross winners in WW2. They are: Sergeant R. R. Rattey, VC (1); Private...

030414

030424

Tobruk, Libya. 25 April 1953. Group portrait of five Victoria Cross winners, members of the Australian and New Zealand Coronation Contingent, in the Tobruk War Cemetery, during their brief stay while on their way to England to attend the coronation of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. They are, left...

030424

062619

PORT MORESBY, PAPUA, NEW GUINEA. 1943-12-30. QX20656 PRIVATE R. KELLIHER VC, A MEMBER OF THE 2/25TH AUSTRALIAN INFANTRY BATTALION, 7TH AUSTRALIAN DIVISION, WHO GAINED HIS AWARD FOR CONSPICIOUS GALLANTRY IN NEW GUINEA, PHOTOGRAPHED IN BED AT THE 2/5TH AUSTRALIAN GENERAL HOSPITAL.

062619

062620

PORT MORESBY, PAPUA, NEW GUINEA. 1943-12-30. NX97542 PRIVATE R. COPPIN (LEFT) CONGRATULATING QX20656 PRIVATE R. KELLIHER VC, A COMRADE OF THE 2/25TH AUSTRALIAN INFANTRY BATTALION, 7TH AUSTRALIAN DIVISION, ON HIS AWARD, WHILE THEY ARE BOTH PATIENTS AT THE 2/5TH AUSTRALIAN GENERAL HOSPITAL.

062620

069814

NADZAB- LAE, NEW GUINEA, 1954-08. A PLAQUE ERECTED ON THE TRACK BETWEEN NADZAB AND LAE BY THE AUSTRALIAN BATTLEFIELDS MEMORIAL COMMITTEE UNDER A SCHEME INITIATED BY THE AUSTRALIAN MILITARY FORCES TO COMMEMORATE IMPORTANT ENGAGEMENTS BY ARMY UNITS ON THE SITE WHERE THE ENGAGEMENT TOOK PLACE AND IN...

069814

126835

WATSONIA, VIC. 1946-04-18. QX500601 PRIVATE R. KELLIHER VC READING THE NEWSPAPER OUTSIDE HIS HUT.

126835

126836

WATSONIA, VIC. 1946-04-18. THE THREE VC'S WHO WILL MARCH IN THE LONDON VICTORY MARCH, BEFORE EMBARKING ON HMAS SHROPSHIRE EN ROUTE TO ENGLAND. LEFT TO RIGHT: N454409 FRANK JOHN PARTRIDGE; NX208102 SERGEANT R. R. RATTEY, QX500601 PRIVATE R. KELLIHER.

126836

131284

ROYAL PARK CAMP, VIC. 1946-09-06. QX20656 PRIVATE RICHARD KELLIHER VC, 2/25TH BATTALION, AIF. PRIVATE KELLIHER WAS AWARDED THE VICTORIA CROSS FOR BRAVERY AT HEATH PLANTATION NEAR LAE, NEW GUINEA, ON 1943-09-13.

131284

131284A

ROYAL PARK CAMP, VICTORIA, 1946-09-06. PRIVATE R. KELLIHER, VC, QX20656, 2/25TH BATTALION, AIF. PRIVATE KELLIHER WAS AWARDED THE VICTORIA CROSS FOR BRAVERY AT HEATH PLANTATION NEAR LAE, NEW GUINEA, ON 1943-09-13. (PHOTOGRAPH CROPPED FROM 131284.)

131284A

131285

ROYAL PARK CAMP, VIC. 1946-09-06. QX20656 PRIVATE RICHARD KELLIHER VC, 2/25TH BATTALION. PRIVATE KELLIHER WAS AWARDED THE VICTORIA CROSS FOR BRAVERY AT HEATH PLANTATION NEAR LAE, NEW GUINEA, ON 1943-09-13.

131285

131288

ROYAL PARK CAMP, VIC. 1946-09-06. QX20656 PRIVATE RICHARD KELLIHER VC, 2/25TH BATTALION (CENTRE FRONT). PRIVATE KELLIHER WAS AWARDED THE VICTORIA CROSS FOR BRAVERY AT HEATH PLANTATION NEAR LAE, NEW GUINEA, ON 1943-09-13. HE IS SURROUNDED BY OTHER MEMBERS OF THE VICTORY CONTINGENT UNIT.

131288

P00099.001

PROBABLY CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA, C. 1946-06. THREE VICTORIA CROSS WINNERS, PART OF HEADQUARTERS LONDON VICTORY MARCH CONTINGENT WHO LEFT SYDNEY ON HMAS SHROPSHIRE ON 1946-04-11 FOR LONDON. LEFT TO RIGHT WITH THE RANK THEY HELD AT THE TIME THEY WON THEIR AWARDS: PRIVATE RICHARD H. KELLIHER 2/25TH...

P00099.001

P08489.001

Outdoor portrait of King George VI pausing to talk to Australian Victoria Cross winners, from left: NX700426 Frank Partridge VC; QX500601 Private Richard Kelliher VC and NX700427 Sergeant Reg Rattey VC. The men had travelled to England as members of the Australian Victory Contingent of 250 to...

P08489.001

Art

Kelliher, V.C.

Depicting QX20656 Private Richard Kelliher, VC, throwing grenades in the action that gained him the Victoria Cross at Nadzab, New Guinea. A sketch for a painting drawn from an account by Captain Whitaker, owner of the plantation, and from a visit to the spot where Captain Whitaker alleged Kelliher...

ART25999

Richard Kelliher, V.C

Depicting QX20656 Private Richard Kelliher, VC, throwing grenades in the action that gained him the Victoria Cross at Nadzab, New Guinea. A sketch for a painting drawn from an account by Captain Whitaker, owner of the plantation, and from a visit to the spot where Captain Whitaker alleged Kelliher...

ART26000

Kelliher, V.C

Depicting QX20656 Private Richard Kelliher, VC, throwing grenades in the action that gained him the Victoria Cross at Nadzab, New Guinea. A sketch for a painting drawn from an account by Captain Whitaker, owner of the plantation, and from a visit to the spot where Captain Whitaker alleged Kelliher...

ART26001

Kelliher, V.C. (Private Richard Kelliher)

Depicting QX20656 Private Richard Kelliher, VC, throwing grenades in the action that gained him the Victoria Cross at Nadzab, New Guinea. A sketch for a painting drawn from an account by Captain Whitaker, owner of the plantation, and from a visit to the spot where Captain Whitaker alleged Kelliher...

ART26002

Timeline

Date of birth 1910-09-01
Date of honour or award 1943-09-13 Awarded the Victoria Cross for action at Nadzab, New Guinea whilst serving with 2/25 Battalion, 25 Brigade, 7 Division as a Private.
Date of death 1963-01-28