honor role

Fahey, John

H2813 DSO MID Major Chaplain 11th Bn.

Born 3 October 1883 at Rossmore, County Tipperary RC. He was ordained in Italy and arrived at Perth, Western Australia in 1907 and over the next nine years served the parishes of York, Pinjarra and Yarloop. Father John Fahey enlisted in the AIF on 8 September 1914 naming as next of kin his father, Michael Fahey, Rossmore, Ireland. Captain Fahey embarked at Fremantle on 2 November with the 11th Battalion per A11 Ascanius. At Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 he defied orders remain on the ship and joined the first wave of Australian troops landing at Anzac Cove where he was kept busy blessing the dead and dying and it was reported in the Perth Sunday Times that he took command of a unit when the officers were killed and led the men into battle. A serious illness hospitalised him at Malta and then at Gibraltar. He rejoined the 11th Battalion in France in February 1916. For his devotion to duty and bravery under fire at Gallipoli he was made a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order and Mentioned in Despatches. The Military HQ in Melbourne had to assure one correspondent that it was not a Victoria Cross. In a letter of 14th February 1918 he requested a return to Australia and permission to resign his commission. More than three years service was taking its toll, he wrote ‘I am feeling the strain consequent upon the length of service.’ Senior Chaplain Thomas King, when endorsing his application, praised Fahey’s devotion to duty, ‘We hold his work in the A.I.F. as memorable indeed.’ He returned to Australia on the Hospital Ship A62 Wandilla and his biographer, Ruth Marchant James OAM, describes his arrival at Fremantle and the enthusiasm of the veterans who packed the reception at His Majesty’s Theatre and the notable speakers who praised his service to Australian troops. When Father Fahey rose to respond he received a standing ovation and the applause was deafening. His was the response of a humble man, ‘Who am I that I should receive a public reception? Only a chaplain attached to an army.’ The Western Australian Branch of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League (later the RSL) was formed in 1916 and such was Fahey’s popularity that he was elected the State President for 1918. Two years later, Fahey was serving God at St Mary’s Church the Star of the Sea at Cottesloe. Country appointments followed and he returned to Cottesloe in 1939 and remained there until his death in 1959, a popular priest and a keen golfer. A small inscribed stone at the southwestern corner of the church yard is a sadly neglected memorial to one of the heroes of WW1. Award and Service medals and awards: DSO, MID, 1914-1915 Star, BWM and VM. It is sad that the WW1 Honour Roll of the Roman Catholic men of the district who served in WW1 and displayed with pride in Fahey’s term as priest, could not be found at the Star of the Sea Church, Church Hall or stored on site. Ref: Ruth Marchant James, ‘Major John Fahey DSO: War Chaplain and Hero’. In Early Days Journal of the Royal Western Australian Historical Society, Vol 13, pt 1 2007, pages 109-123.