No.3082 Driver Michael Delaney
Michael Patrick Delaney was born in 1894 to Michael Delaney Snr. and Eliza Jane Pollard at Werribee. The birth was subsequently registered at Williamstown. His parents had met and married at Kapunda, in South Australia, and the town's name was later given to one of the local family homes in Werribee.
The 1903 Electoral Roll records that the Delaney family were at that time, living and working on the Metropolitan Farm at Werribee. Michael Snr. was employed there as a farm labourer.
Young Michael's siblings were:
- Anastalia (Annie or Stasia) May Delaney born 1890 - Brunswick (Mrs Mornement)
- Henry Joseph Delaney born 1891 Kapunda, South Australia. (K.I.A.)
- Edward (Edmond) James Delaney born 1892 - Hotham East. (K.I.A.)
- John Delaney born 1896 - Werribee
- William Delaney born 1898 - Werribee
- Martin David Leo Delaney born 1902 - Werribee
- Mary Delaney (Mrs Preston)
- Nance Delaney
Before the outbreak of war, Michael Jnr. lived on the Metro Farm at Werribee, where his father worked.
He had attempted to enlist in the A.I.F. immediately after war broke out, but was rejected because of the condition of his teeth. Michael was able to have that condition treated, and subsequently enlisted in the A.I.F. at Seymour on 4 November 1915. From there he was sent to the Broadmeadows Camp for basic training. After three weeks he graduated, and on 25 November 1915, he was appointed as a Gunner to the 22nd Battalion, 7th Reinforcements.
[On his enlistment papers, he has dropped his middle name of "Patrick"].
The H.M.A.T. A73, Commonwealth sailed from Melbourne on 26 November 1915, and carried the 22nd Battalion's 7th Reinforcements, "D" Company to Egypt for further training. Strangely Michael's name is omitted from the Embarkation Roll, but his Service Record suggests that he was on board.
On 23 February 1916, Gunner Delaney was taken on strength with the 57th Battalion at Tel-el-Kebir, Egypt. Prior to that, he had been with the 6th Training Battalion at Zeitoun near Cairo.
The 57th Battalion was just being formed with 50% of men from the 5th Battalion, and the remainder were reinforcements from the Training Camps at Zeitoun. The Battalion set up their first camp at Tel-el-Kebir on 23 February, which was the same day that Michael Delaney joined them. Training was interrupted with numerous men being transferred to other new units, which were being formed, and by about 100 soldiers contracting the mumps.
On 15 March 1916, the Brigade was put on a 'territorial basis'. Men were allotted according to the district scheme of the corresponding Battalions in Victoria. This task was completed by 29 March, and the Division was then ordered to move to Ferry Post on the Suez Canal.
As a part of this restructure, Gunner Delaney was transferred, and taken on strength with the 58th Battalion at Tel-el-Kebir.
Training and restructure continued, and on 17 March 1916, 70 other ranks were transferred to the 5th Division Artillery. This meant that Michael Delaney was taken on strength with the 14 Field Artillery Brigade (F.A.B.), and was posted to the 53 Battery at Tel-el-Kebir.
Fifth Division in Egypt, in March 1916, included:
The 14th Field Artillery Brigade with 16 eighteen pounder guns.
- 53rd, 54th, 55th and 56th Field Artillery Batteries
- 14th Brigade Ammunition Column (B.A.C.)
On 18 April 1916, Gunner Delaney was transferred internally within the Brigade, to a position with the 14th Brigade Ammunition Column at Moascar. He remained there until 25 May 1916, when he was transferred back to the 5th Division Artillery Company at Tel-el-Kebir. On his return he was re-mustered from a Gunner to a Driver.
Almost one month later, on 20 June 1916, he was ordered to embark at Alexandria, per H.M.T. Huntsend, and join the B.E.F. in Europe. After a voyage of ten days, they disembarked at Marseilles on 30 June 1916.
No Unit War Diary remains for the 5th D.A.C. for the month of June 1916, so it is not possible to trace Michael's movements in that time. In July 1916, he was fighting in the Lupinette area of Northern France, when his brother Edward Delaney, No 1777 was killed on 3 July 1916, near Armentieres.
His Unit's War Diary for the months of August, September and October simply list their location as being "In the Field". In November 1916, they were in action around Fricourt and Roberg in Northern France, and in December 1916 and January 1917 they were based at Albert.
On 20 January 1916, (while he was with the 5th D.A.C. D.O., in France) Michael was hospitalised with influenza. Requiring further treatment, he embarked for England on 28 January, per the Hospital Ship Warilda, and was subsequently admitted to the 1st London General Hospital TF (1st Lon Gen. Hosp) at Camberwell in England.
During his period of convalescence, another of his brothers, Henry Joseph Delaney, No.5671) was killed on 21 April 1917, at the Somme in France.
While waiting to return to the front, Michael was next admitted to the 1st Australian Dermatological Hospital (1st A.D. Hosp) at Bulford on 23 April 1917, suffering with V.D. He required treatment for this condition for seven months, from April 1917 to 28 October 1917, when he was eventually classified as "A3". This meant that he was now fit for an overseas training camp. These were used to harden soldiers prior to them re-joining their units overseas. He was then sent to the Larkhill Base on the Salisbury Plains, which held the Royal School of Artillery’s Training Camp. After spending two weeks there, he proceeded back to France, via Southampton.
On 4 December 1917, Driver Delaney was taken on strength with the 13th Field Artillery Brigade, and posted to the 51st Battery at Messines. The Brigade remained there until 20 December 1917, when they were relieved by the 1st Australian Field Artillery Brigade.
Two days after returning to the front line - on 6 December 1917 - Michael's sister Anestasia wrote a very strong and emotional letter to General Birdwood, explaining the family situation, especially the failing health of their mother. She asked that her brother be granted special leave to come home and see his ailing mother. A copy of this letter is on Michael's service record.
[There were special provisions to allow service men to be exempt from further military service, and these were applied in this case. The General Officer Commanding the A.I.F. approved Michael's return to Australia on 15 February 1918.]
While arrangements were taking place to allow for his return, Michael's Brigade were relieved on the front line. Beginning on 21 December 1917, the 13th Field Artillery Brigade marched for two days on cold slippery roads (via Doulieu and Nerck St Levin) to their new base at Montcavrel. They spent the whole month of January 1918 at their camp training and exercising, and on 31 January, they marched back to the front. They were back in their lines at Messines by 7 February 1918.
On 22 February 1918, Driver Delaney embarked from France to return home to Australia for discharge. The grounds for his discharge were "...on account of two of his brothers having been killed, and he himself as having been seriously ill".
After arriving in London, Michael excused himself from duty for three days (absent without leave from 28 February to 1 March 1918), and for this he was punished with three days loss of pay. He was then with the No 2 Commonwealth Depot Weymouth, awaiting a passage home. Michael eventually sailed per A30 Borda on 5 April 1918, and his family were notified of his imminent arrival on 20 April 1918.
On his return to Australia, Michael applied for War Service leave, and this was granted on 4 June 1918. His address at that time was 245 William Street, Melbourne.
Michael was welcomed home with a large celebration, held in the hall at the Werribee Metropolitan Farm on 8 June 1918. Both he and his father addressed the enthusiastic crowd, and the party was reported in detail in the Independent (Footscray), 15 June 1918, p.3.
One week later, on 13 June 1918, he was formally discharged from the 3rd Military District in Melbourne.
He was then one of thirteen soldiers who were presented with a Werribee Gold Medal by the chairman of the Returned Soldier’s Committee at a ceremony in the Mechanics Hall on 29 August 1918, These functions always attracted a full house.
Werribee Shire Banner, 5 September 1918, p.3.
In the post war years, Michael Delaney continued to live in the Werribee district. The 1922 Electoral Roll records that Michael and other members of the Delaney family living at Manly Road in Werribee. They were all working as labourers.
When Michael's father (Michael Snr.) died in 1924, the family were living in the family home in Irrigation Road, Werribee. A short time later they moved to Market Road.
Michael Delaney married Helena Hodge at St Francis’ Church in Melbourne on 29 July 1924. She was the only daughter of Mr and Mrs J A Hodge of Werribee.
Werribee Shire Banner, 14 August 1924, p.3.
During the 1920's Michael Delaney was an active sportsman, playing cricket and football with the Metro Farm teams. In 1924 he was the team Captain of the I.N.F. football team.
Werribee Shire Banner, 10 July 1924, p.6.
Between 1925 and 1954, Michael and Helena Delaney made their home in Greaves Street Werribee, and he continued working as a labourer. His mother lived in the family home Kapunda, on Market Road, Werribee.
Between the years 1963 and 1972, Michael Delaney and Helena were at 13 Pyke Street Werribee. He had by this time become a Rubber Worker.
Michael Delaney (Snr) died October 1924.
Werribee Shire Banner, 23 October 1924, p.2.
Michael's brother, Martin Delaney, died on 24 January 1928.
Werribee Shire Banner, 2 February 1928, p.2.
Michael's sister, Nance Delaney, died on 21 June 1929.
Werribee Shire Banner, 27 June 1929, p.2.
Michael's sister, Mary Delaney, married Rayner Preston on 1 March 1930.
Werribee Shire Banner, 24 April 1930, p.5.
Michael's mother, Elizabeth Jane Delaney, died in May 1931.
Werribee Shire Banner, 28 May 1931, p.2.
Michael Delaney died at Werribee in 1976, aged 82 years, and was buried in the local cemetery.
The name "Delaney, M." first appeared in the Roll of Honor, Werribee Shire Banner, 22 July 1915, p.3.
A.D. Hosp – Australian Dermatological Hospital at Bulford, England.
A3 - Fit for overseas training camp, to which transferred for hardening, prior to re-joining unit overseas
B1A4 - Fit for overseas training camp when passed dentally fit
B.A.C. Brigade Ammunition Column.
B.E.F. British Expeditionary Force (Western Front)
D.A.C. Division Ammunition Column or Division Artillery Column.
F.A.B. Field Artillery Brigade
G.O.C. General Officer Commanding
VD20 - Gonorrhoea
"Ferry Post" was a military Headquarters on the Suez Canal, in the Great War.
Medals & Entitlements:
- None recorded
CD Federation Index – Victoria 1889-1901
Unit War Diaries