No.3348 Trooper Bernard Maher
Bernard Maher was born in 1897 at Brunswick to Bernard Joseph Maher and Margaret Fox. His parents had married at Tallarook in 1882, and their ten children were:
- Mary Maher - born 1881 at Melbourne, died 1882 at Hotham West
- Catherine Maher - born 1883 at Hotham
- Ina Marguretta Maher - born 1885 at Flemington, died 1907 at South Melbourne
- John Vincent Maher - born 1886 at Melbourne, died 1886 at Hotham West
- Ellen Maher - born 1887 at Melbourne
- William Joseph Maher - born 1890 at Brunswick (A.I.F. No.2410)
- Thomas Francis Maher - born 1892 at Brunswick
- Elsie Maher - born 1894 at Brunswick
- Bernard Maher - born 1897 at Brunswick (A.I.F. No.3348)
- Florence Maher - born 1901 at Brunswick
According to his mother’s obituary, Werribee Shire Banner, 29 September 1927, p.3, the early years of the Maher family began at North Melbourne, where her husband (Mr B. J. Maher) worked as a wood merchant. Mr Maher then became a police constable, an insurance agent, and a commercial traveller, before moving to Laverton in 1912.
The electoral rolls record that in 1905, Bernard's parents were operating a hotel at 369 City Road, South Melbourne. In 1909 they had moved to 691 High Street in Armadale, and his father was then working as a traveller. In 1912 the family moved to Laverton permanently, and B J Maher still worked as a traveller.
In August 1914, Mr B. J. Maher nominated for a seat on the Werribee Shire Council. He was then described as being both a shrewd businessman and a farmer.
Werribee Shire Banner, 6 August 1914, p.2.
He subsequently won his seat on the Shire. Two years later, in August 1916, he was unanimously elected as Shire President.
Werribee Shire Banner, 31 August 1916, p.3.
He continued serving as a Werribee Shire Councillor until 1928. His death in 1937 and his obituary was reported in the local newspaper.
Werribee Shire Banner, 15 April 1937, p.3.
The family property, "Laverton Park" at Laverton, was sold in 1921.
Werribee Shire Banner, 7 July 1921, p.2.
Young Bernard Meyer had previous Militia experience, prior to his enlisting for service in the A.I.F. He had served with:
- Army Cadets, 18th Brigade, 69th Battalion, Williamstown (“D” Company at Werribee), and
- 29th (Port Phillip) Australian Light Horse.
At the age of 19 years and three months, Bernard Maher swore his oath and enlisted in the A.I.F. at Melbourne on 17 February 1917. He had completed his medical at Geelong one week earlier. Bernard was first sent to the Recruits' Battalion at Royal Park, and remained there until 11 April 1917 when he was appointed as a Private. He then moved to the Broadmeadows Camp for further training until 21 May 1917, and then completed his initial training at the Seymour Camp on 24 May 1917. From there he was appointed as a Trooper to the Australian Light Horse.
On 22 June 1917, Trooper Bernard Maher embarked from Melbourne per A17 H.M.A.T. Port Lincoln as a member of the 3rd Light Horse Brigade, 8th Light Horse Regiment’s, 28th Reinforcements, and sailed for Egypt. They disembarked at Suez on 5 August 1918 and were immediately sent to the Isolation Camp at Moascar for one month. (This was usually a precautionary measure to ensure diseases such as measles were not introduced into the community by men arriving from Australia). On 19 September 1917, Trooper Maher was transferred to the 8th Light Horse Regiment, who were stationed on the front line at Tel-el-Fara in Palestine.
At this stage of the war, the 3rd Light Horse Brigade (including the 8th Australian Light Horse Regiment) participated in the capture of Gaza from the Turkish forces. It involved a wide outflanking move via Beersheba, which began on 31 October 1917 and successfully concluded with the fall of Gaza on 7 November 1917. The Turkish position in southern Palestine then collapsed.
Immediately after this campaign, Trooper Bernard Maher was admitted to hospital, suffering with lumbago (lower back pain). He was treated by the 74th Casualty Clearing Station at Rafa, before being transferred to the 14th Australian General Hospital at Abbassia in Cairo for further treatment. By 9 December 1917 he had recovered, and was discharged to the 3rd Light Horse Training Regiment Moascar.
On 3 January 1918, Trooper Maher was transferred back to the 8th Light Horse Regiment, who were then located at Belah in the Gaza Strip. They remained there for several months, before they were moved to Selmeh. It was here that the 8th Light Horse Regiment participated in a successful attack on Es-Salt, commencing on 30 April 1918.
In May 1918, the regiment relocated to Wadi-el-Auja, and in June of 1918 they were moved to Solomons Pools.
The important Battle of Abu Tellul began on 14 July 1918 . On the 16 July 1918, the 8th Light Horse Regiment were relocated to Mussallabeh to defend the heights on the edge of the Judean Hills. Here they came under enemy shelling every day from Turkish and German forces. There was only light enemy shelling on 23 July 1918, and just two men were injured. One was Trooper B Maher who required evacuation, while the other man was able to remain on duty.
Bernard Maher had received a serious shell wound to his right thigh, and was treated by the 3rd Light Horse Field Ambulance, the 24th Stationary Hospital (British) at Kantara, and the 31st General Hospital at Abbassia in Cairo. He remained there until 3 November 1918, when he was discharged to the Australian Convalescence Camp at Helouan.
He was at Helouan when the Armistice was signed on 11 November 1918, and remained there until early December 1918 when he was discharged to duty. On 9 December 1918, he marched in to the 3rd Light Horse Training Regiment at Moascar, and remained there until 4 March 1919, when he rejoined the 8th Light Horse Regiment who were also at Moascar in Ismailia.
The regiment then relocated to Minet-el-Gamh, where they were utilised in protecting the railway and telegraph lines between Benha and Zagazig. These facilities were constantly being attacked by local tribesmen, and daily patrols were necessary.
Following disturbances by the natives at Zagazig on 14 May 1919, the regiment relocated their camp to that city and continued their protection duties, before returning to Moascar in early June 1919. At the end of June, their embarkation details had been finalised, and they moved to Kantara.
The 8th Light Horse Regiment embarked at Kantara per H.M.A.T. Malta on 3 July 1919 and sailed for Colombo. They arrived there on 15 July 1919, and most of the men were allowed shore leave, and visited the historic city of Kandy. Their ship arrived off Fremantle Harbour on 29 July 1919, and the unit diary records that the night was bitterly cold, after just having left the tropics.
Their ship docked at Port Melbourne on 7 August 1919, and the men were then taken to Victoria Barracks, before being reunited with their families. Their unit war diary concludes with the following line – "So with a 'Good-bye, Jack' or a 'Good-bye Tom' we pick up our kits and once more set off Home to re-enter civil life, but to ever have with us the memory of the GOOD OLD EIGHTH".
Trooper Bernard was subsequently discharged from the 3rd Military District on 4 October 1919 as medically unfit.
According to the Electoral Rolls, Bernard lived at Laverton Park in Laverton after leaving the military. He remained there until 1925, and was employed as a labourer.
Former Trooper B. Maher was presented with a Shire of Werribee Gold Medal at a function held in the Mechanic’s Hall in December 1919. The Werribee Shire Banner included his name as "Trooper B. Maher, 8th Light Horse, A.I.F., wounded in Jordon Valley, Palestine."
Werribee Shire Banner, 11 December 1919, p.2.
The family moved to 84 Lydia Street at Blyth in 1931-37, and Bernard Maher was working as a postal employee. Between 1942 and 1954 they lived at 15 Jarvie Street, Blyth, after which time their names disappear off the electoral rolls.
They had had at least two children:
- Sylvia Maher and
- Bernard Maher - born 1927, died 1939.
On 26 July 1939 their son Bernard died at the Children’s Hospital, aged 12.
The Age, 27 July 1939. p.1.
Bernard Maher died on 26 November 1966, and Kenneth Searle Maher was nominated as his executor. (A.I.F. Service file)
Medals and Entitlements:
- British War Medal
- Victory Medal
His name appears on the Werribee Shire Oak Board as "MAHER, B."
The name "Maher, B. from Laverton" first appeared in the Roll of Honor, Werribee Shire Banner, 8 March 1917, p.1.
At a meeting of the Werribee Shire Council on 26 June 1915, a motion was moved by Cr Beasley, and seconded by Cr Maher (Bernard Maher’s father), that in view of the number of recruits leaving the shire to fight in the war, a "Roll of Honor should be established in the council chambers. The motion was passed.
Werribee Shire Banner, 1 July 1915, p.3.
* Marriage Index Victoria 1921-1942 CD
Unit War Diary
AIF Service Record
National Archives of Australia
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Federation Index 1889-1901 CD
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Great War Index 1914-1920 CD
Marriage Index 1921-1942 CD