No.1794 Private Aloysius William Simpson Maher
Aloysius William Simpson Maher was born at Footscray in 1896 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.
- Eileen Mary Mercia Maher - born 1898 at Footscray.
- Francis Xavier Maher - born 1900 at Footscray. (A.I.F. No. 69296)
Aloysius 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 then 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.
In 1913, the young Aloysius Maher was working in the Victorian Railways, where he was employed as a Porter at the Spotswood Station. While there, he was involved in an incident by preventing passengers from boarding a moving train. For his efforts, he was assaulted, and the assailants were subsequently prosecuted in court.
Independent (Footscray), 10 May 1913, p.2.
On 3 July 1913, at the age of 17 years, Aloysius Maher then enlisted in the Australian Navy as a "boy", for a term of seven years. He was allocated a service number of 3238, and went to H.M.A.S. Cerberus * as an Ordinary Seaman 2nd Class. He remained there completing his initial training, until 30 September 1913.
He then went to sea on H.M.A.S. Protector ** for one month until the 31st October 1913, when he returned to H.M.A.S. Cerberus for further training. During this term he was made up to an Ordinary Seaman, and then on 5 March 1914 he was posted to H.M.A.S. Encounter *** where he served for about 15 months, until 4 June 1915. Then, while his ship was undergoing a re-fit at Sydney, he deserted ship and abandoned the Navy.
Hiding the fact that he was a deserter from the Australian Navy, Aloysius William Simpson Maher applied to enlist in the Australian Infantry Forces (A.I.F.) on 31 May 1915. He swore his oath at Melbourne on 3 June 1915, and was sent to the Seymour Camp for basic training. Two weeks later, on 18 June 1915, he was appointed to the 6th Infantry Brigade, 22nd Infantry Battalion, 2nd Reinforcements.
One month later, on 16 July 1915, the 2nd Reinforcements embarked from Melbourne per HMAT A64 Demosthenes, and sailed for Egypt, where he joined the 22nd Battalion.
On 27 August 1915, Private Maher was transferred from the 22nd Battalion to the 21st Battalion, just before they deployed to Gallipoli. The ship carrying them to the Peninsula, H.M.T. Southland, was torpedoed near the island of Lemnos, and had to be beached and abandoned. Forty men were killed. H.M.T. Transylvania then took them to Mudros Island where they transferred to H.M.T. Abassien. The 21st Infantry Battalion finally landed at Gallipoli on 7 September 1915, and they remained there until the withdrawal in December 1915.
The 21st Battalion arrived in Egypt in June 1915, and deployed to Gallipoli in late August 1915. They landed at Anzac on 7 September 1915, and remained until the evacuation in December 1915.
The 22nd Battalion deployed to Gallipoli in the first week of September 1915. They remained on the Peninsula until the final evacuation in December 1915, when they were withdrawn to Egypt and brought back up to strength.
Following the withdrawal of the Anzac Forces from Gallipoli, Private Maher disembarked at Alexandria in Egypt on 7 January 1916 and went to Tel-el-Kebir Camp. After a period of training, the Battalion moved to Ferry Post in the Suez Canal area.
It was here that Private Maher was charged and found guilty of committing a series of military offenses. These included:
- Absent without Leave from 9 a.m. on 13 February 1916 to 8 p.m. on 15 February 1916.
- Breaking camp while under open arrest on 17 February 1916. For this action he was awarded 14 days Number 2 Field Punishment, and forfeiture of 17 days pay.
- For being absent from a night march on 1 March 1916, he was awarded 3 days Number 2 Field Punishment. (This meant that he was placed in fetters and handcuffs, but was not attached to a fixed object.)
- For using insubordinate language to his superior officer on the afternoon of 30 January 1916, he was sentenced to 112 days in detention. This was later commuted to 90 days Field Punishment Number 2. Private Maher had been ordered on to parade by Lieutenant F Sale and refused. He said "It is no good to me without a hat, and I do not mind a Court Martial."
- On 22 March 1916, Private Maher was confined in the Camp Detention Compound for 11 days.
These actions caused his Section Commander and his Battalion Commander to recommend that he be returned to Australia, as his services were no longer required. This was endorsed by The General Officer Commanding the 2nd ANZAC Force.
On 9 June 1916, Private Maher was handed over to Officer in Charge of the escort for return to Australia. They then embarked at Suez per H.M.T. Itonus on the following day. His record marked “Services no longer required.”
After arriving back in Melbourne, Private Maher was discharged from the A.I.F., on 18 July 1916, as his services were no longer required.
Two months later, Aloysius Maher seems to have had a change of attitude, when on 19 September 1916, he re-enlisted in the A.I.F. Permanent Guard at Melbourne, with a provision for Home Service only. His application was supported by Brigadier General R. Williams who was the Acting Commandant of the 3rd Military District at Melbourne. There still appeared to be an incompatibility with service life, as five months later, on 14 February 1917 he was again discharged as "Service no longer required”. While his service record was annotated that the reason was his discharge was “Not due to misconduct”, there had been continued breaches of discipline: -
- On 2 October 1916 Private Maher was found to absent without leave at Port Melbourne while on Embarkation Guard Duty. This resulted in a Severe Reprimand.
- On 21 October 1916 Private Maher failed to perform Guard Duty at the Domain Camp on two consecutive days. He was fined 5 shillings and forfeited 2 days’ pay.
- On 8 November 1916 he wore civilian boots while on Guard Duty at the Domain Camp. Another severe reprimand followed.
According to the Electoral Rolls, Aloysius Maher returned to his mother’s house at Williamstown Road in Footscray in 1919, and had re-joined the Victorian Railways.
In 1920 he submitted an application for a War Service Gratuity, but there is no record if it was approved.
Aloysius Maher married Winifred Mary Neville in Victoria, in 1920 and they set up home at 26 Dover Street in Flemington until 1924. He was then working as a Fireman with the Railways.
On 4 July 1922, former Ordinary Seaman A W T Maher asked the Navy for a free discharge for his offence of desertion back in 1915.
In 1924 his wife and two children appear to have left home. Aloysius Maher was the sole resident at Dover Street in Flemington, while his wife was then registered at Hervey Street in Elmore.
Aloysius William Simpson Maher died on 24 November 1927, aged 33 years. His wife and 2 children were living at Bridgewater near Loddon. This information was from a letter written by his wife, and placed in his service record.
His place of burial cannot be located at this time.
Medals and Entitlements:
His record is marked as
"Not entitled to any medals."
Name on the Werribee Shire Oak Board: "MAHER, A.W."
The name "Maher, A.W., West Footscray" first appeared in the Roll of Honor, Werribee Shire Banner, 13 February 1919, p.3.
The following is a slightly incorrect website report of his death: "Aloysius William Simpson Maher was born in 1896. He was born to Maher James Maher and Margaret Simpson Maher, and was an only child. He died in 1927 in Castlemaine, Australia at 31 years old."
* H.M.A.S. Cerberus was a Coastal Defence Turret Ship, which spent most of her operational service within Port Phillip Bay in Victoria. In 1926 she was scuttled as a breakwater off Black Rock in Victoria.
** H.M.A.S. Protecter was a training ship in the Royal Australian Navy. In October 1913, when Ordinary Seaman Maher was on board as a crewman, the ship was used as a tender to the colonial turret ship HMAS Cerberus, berthed at Williamstown, Victoria.
*** H.M.A.S. Encounter was Australia’s first cruiser, and between the years 1912 and 1914 she was employed in training this countries growing Navy. After the outbreak of war in 1914, she sailed north where she captured the German steamer Zambezi. In September 1914 she was part of the force that captured German New Guinea. Her next duties were patrolling the seas in the Fiji and Samoa area, until she returned to Sydney for a refit. It was during these works that Ordinary Seaman Maher deserted on 4 June 1915.
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