Courtesy of Florence and Keith Smith
Trooper John Thomas Maher
Pakenham & District War Memorial
Born: 29 July 1896 - Buchan, Victoria
Enlisted: 14 June 1915 aged 21*
Unit: 8th Light Horse, 7th Reinforcement (SERN: 1049)
Served: Egypt Palestine
Died: 17 October 1970 - Tower Hill, Victoria
Known in the family as “Jack”, John enlisted on 14 June 1915, making him the second of the Maher brothers to do so. At the time, he working as a labourer around Benalla in northern Victoria and claimed to be nearly 22 years old (1). Jack was assigned to the 8th Light Horse, 7th Reinforcement at Broadmeadows Army Camp. He appears to have served with the Light Horse at Gallipoli, before returning to Egypt (2). Being part of the 8th Light Horse, Jack remained in the Middle East, while many other Australian units were redeployed to the Western Front. In August 1917, he was detached from the Light Horse to serve with the 166 Company Royal Engineers at the Railway Construction Camp at Kantara. Jack later served again with the Light Horse in Palestine, where he contracted malaria (3).
Jack arrived back in Australia in August 1919, and was welcomed home to Pakenham with a social gathering at his parents’ home (4). With around 20 other soldiers, Jack was then officially welcomed home to Pakenham and presented with a gold medallion in October 1919 (5). and was discharged from the Army on 28 March 1920. He had served a total of 1,746 days with the Army, including 1,413 days overseas (6). Jack was living at Warrong, near Warrnambool Victoria when he claimed his war medals in 1921 (7). He married Lillian Jones. Jack served in the Army again during WWII (SERN V22043) with the 22 Employment Company and attained the rank of Sergeant (8). His WWII service included a period in New Guinea, where he lost his WWI medals somewhere between Port Moresby and Lae (9). In the 1960s, Jack and Lillian were living at Hawkesdale, near Koroit. Jack died on 17 October 1970 and is buried at Tower Hill near Warrnambool Victoria.
* From Jack’s date of birth, he appears to have been nearly 19 when he enlisted.
The assistance of Jack’s niece, Florence Smith and great-nephew Keith Smith is gratefully acknowledged.
(1) NAA B2455 MAHER John Thomas. According to Jack’s attestation paper, he underwent his initial medical examination in Benalla on 14 June 1915, before being re-examined in Melbourne on 16 June.
(2) (6) (7) & (9) NAA B2455 MAHER John Thomas
(3) Pakenham Gazette 25/10/1918, p. 2
(4) Pakenham Gazette 15/8/1919 p. 2
(5) Pakenham Gazette 17/10/1919 p. 3
(8) WWII Nominal Roll - www.ww2roll.gov.au