No.69296 Private Francis Xavier Maher
Francis Xavier Maher was born at Footscray in 1900 to James Maher and Margaret Simpson. His parents had married at Geelong in 1894, and had three children:
- Aloysius William Simpson Maher - born 1896 at Footscray. (A.I.F. No.1794)
- Eileen Mary Mercia Maher - born 1898 at Footscray.
- Francis Xavier Maher - born 1900 at Footscray. (A.I.F. No. 69296)
Francis and the Maher family appear to have spent their early years in the Footscray area, and then his father disappears from the record. In 1904, his mother Margaret Maher married George Withycombe Willoughby at Bairnsdale. He worked there as a Railway ganger. (Victoria Certificate 1904/2987)
The new family remained in the country, and in 1906 they were living at Watchem in the Wimmera district. In 1912 George Withycombe and Margaret Willoughby were living at Dimboola Road, Horsham, and in the following year, they moved back to Melbourne, and lived at 20 Alexander Street in Footscray.
Before enlisting in the A.I.F., Francis had spent four years in his school’s Cadet Corp – the 17th Brigade, 65th Battalion (Footscray), "A" coy.
At the age of 18 years, Francis Xavier Maher swore is oath of enlistment at Footscray on 5 June 1918. He was then sent to the Recruit Training Battalion at the Broadmeadows Camp for initial training, which he completed on 12 September 1918. From there, he was appointed as a Private with the 1st Battalion.
On 25 September 1918, he was posted to the 17th Reinforcements G.S.(Victoria) and moved to Sydney. It was there that he embarked on 2 November 1918, per H.M.T. Medic, as a member of the 17th Victorian General Service Reinforcements (G.S.R.).
Just nine days after sailing the Armistice was declared, and his war was over. Their ship turned around and disembarked its passengers at Sydney on 12 December 1918.
After returning to Melbourne, Private Maher was discharged from the No.3 Military District on 28 December 1918.
Like other members of his family, Francis Maher joined the Victorian Railways after returning to civilian life.
He subsequently became involved with a group of "undesirable" characters, and was arrested by the police after stealing clothing at Drung Drung in western Victoria in October 1921. At a hearing in the Horsham Police Court, his good character while in the Army was considered, and he was released into the care of his elder brother, who had come from Melbourne, looking for him.
The Horsham Times, 25 October 1921, p.3.
Between 1924 and 1930 Francis lived at Footscray North and worked as a labourer.
Then, around early 1930, Francis Maher had moved to Bendigo, and was living at Orphanage Road, Spring Gully. He was involved in two serious traffic incidents at that time. On 8 February 1930 he was driving a truck towards Bendigo when it swerved and hit a light pole. As a result, he received lacerations to the head, and shock.
The Age, 8 February 1930, p.23.
In December of the same year, while been taking a lorry load of pigs to Melbourne, his truck collapsed at Sunbury and he required treatment for his lacerations at the Melbourne Hospital.
The Age, 20 December 1930, p.12.
In 1932, Francis Xavier Maher married Irene Matilda Pilcher (Cert VIC 1932/788) and they remained in the Bendigo area until about 1940. The Victorian Electoral Rolls suggest that they then separated, and Francis moved to Melbourne.
He wrote to the Army in 1940 from his home at 48 Railway Place, Newmarket in Melbourne, requesting a copy of his military discharge papers. Apparently the originals had been burnt in a house fire. He needed them when he applied to re-join the Victorian Railways.
From 1941 his address was Duke Street, Richmond in Melbourne, where he lived with Hannah Maher, until his death in 1969.
Francis Xavier Maher died at Box Hill in Melbourne on 24 June 1969 (Cert 1969/13888), and was buried at the New Cheltenham Cemetery, Cheltenham.
Medals and Entitlements:
- British War Medal
Name on the Werribee Shire Oak Board is: "Maher, F.X."
The name "Maher, F.X., West Footscray" first appeared in the Roll of Honor, Werribee Shire Banner, 20 February, 1919, p.1.
A photo of his headstone is at:
Unit War Diary
National Archives of Australia
Pioneer Index 1837-1888 CD
Federation Index 1889-1901 CD
Edwardian Index 1902-1913 CD
Great War Index 1914-1920 CD
Marriage Index 1921-1942 CD