Service Numbers: QX20656, QX500601
Enlisted: 21 February 1941
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 2nd/25th Infantry Battalion
Born: Ballybranagh, near Tralee, County Kerry, Ireland, 1 September 1910
Home Town: New Farm, Brisbane, Queensland
Schooling: Technical college, Tralee, Ireland
Occupation: Farm Labourer
Died: Cerebral Thrombosis , Heidelberg Repatriation General Hospital, Victoria, Australia, 28 January 1963, aged 52 years
Cemetery: Springvale Botanical Cemetery, Melbourne
Memorials: Campbell Private Richard Kelliher V.C. Memorial Park, Keith Payne VC Memorial Park, Kokoda Track Memorial Rose Garden, North Bondi War Memorial
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World War 2 Service

21 Feb 1941: Involvement QX20656
21 Feb 1941: Enlisted
21 Feb 1941: Enlisted Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Private, QX500601, 2nd/25th Infantry Battalion
27 Mar 1946: Involvement QX500601
13 Sep 1946: Discharged
13 Sep 1946: Discharged Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Private, QX500601, 2nd/25th Infantry Battalion

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Biography contributed by Robert Kearney

Kelliher, Richard (1910–1963)
by Richard E. Reid

Richard Kelliher, soldier and gardener, was born on 1 September 1910 at Ballybranagh, near Tralee, County Kerry, Ireland, son of Michael Kelliher, labourer, and his wife Mary Anne, née Talbot. Dick attended technical college at Tralee and worked as a mechanic in his brother's garage. In 1929 he emigrated to Brisbane with his 15-year-old sister Norah. She later said that, although he was good natured and 'not a very big fellow', he 'wouldn't take it if anyone were nasty'. During the Depression he worked at a variety of jobs: he was sacristan at St Stephen's Cathedral before moving to the country where he was employed as a farmhand. Sickness dogged him, and he contracted typhoid and meningitis.

Enlisting in the Australian Imperial Force on 21 February 1941, Kelliher sailed for the Middle East and was assigned to the 2nd/25th Battalion in October. He performed garrison duties in Syria and returned to Australia in March 1942. Six months later he was with his unit in Papua, helping to drive the Japanese from Ioribaiwa to Gona. Back home from January 1943, he was admitted to hospital with malaria in June. He was again sent to Papua in August. Next month he was based at Nadzab, New Guinea, whence the 2nd/25th advanced towards Lae.

On 13 September, near Heath's plantation, Kelliher's platoon came under heavy fire from a concealed Japanese machine-gun post. Five men were killed and three wounded, among them the section leader Corporal Billy Richards. On his own initiative, Kelliher dashed towards the post, hurled two grenades at the enemy and killed some of them, but was forced back to his own lines. Seizing a Bren-gun, he ran to within 30 yards (27 m) of the machine-gun nest and silenced it with accurate shooting. He then crawled out under enemy rifle-fire and dragged Richards to safety, probably saving his life. Kelliher was awarded the Victoria Cross.

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