John FAHEY DSO, MID

FAHEY, John

Service Number: Chaplain
Enlisted: 8 September 1914, Perth, Western Australia
Last Rank: Captain (Chaplain 4th Class AIF)
Last Unit: Australian Army Chaplains' Department
Born: Glenough, Tipperary, Ireland, 2 October 1883
Home Town: Kalgoorlie, Kalgoorlie/Boulder, Western Australia
Schooling: Mount Melleray, Brignole Sale Seminary Genoa Italy
Occupation: Priest (R.C.)
Died: Natural causes, Subiaco, Western Australia, 28 April 1959, aged 75 years
Cemetery: Karrakatta Cemetery & Crematorium, Perth, W.A.
Roman Catholic Section DC Grave 0110A
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World War 1 Service

8 Sep 1914: Enlisted AIF WW1, Captain (Chaplain 4th Class AIF) , Australian Army Chaplains' Department, Perth, Western Australia
26 Oct 1914: Involvement AIF WW1, Captain (Chaplain 4th Class AIF) , Australian Army Chaplains' Department, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
26 Oct 1914: Embarked AIF WW1, Captain (Chaplain 4th Class AIF) , Australian Army Chaplains' Department, HMAT Ascanius, Fremantle
28 May 1918: Discharged AIF WW1, Captain (Chaplain 4th Class AIF) , SN Chaplain, Australian Army Chaplains' Department

Chaplain John Fahey on Gallipoli

From: Gallipoli, 1915

Writing on 16th May 1915, Chaplain John Fahey, attached 11th Battalion Australian Infantry, described the effects of shrapnel; nowhere was safe from Turkish artillery except their dug-outs.

“Shrapnel is horrible. A person can form no idea of what it is like until he has actually experienced it. It explodes with a fearful noise, and literally ploughs the ground. It makes strong men quail. I have seen men come in untouched, but complete idiots, nerve-wrecked from the effects of shrapnel fire. Then, the wounds it makes are awful. I have seen some horrible things these three weeks — men torn and mangled in the most cruel manner. I have not said Mass since we came here, as my vestments have not yet arrived; and, moreover, it is not safe in the small place we occupy to gather men together in close formation, as a shrapnel [shell] might cause immense damage. Nowhere is safe, except in a dug-out; for the whole place is within range of the Turkish artillery, and they know all the ranges perfectly. Every man has his own dug-out, and the place looks like a rabbit warren. Part of our artillery is landed, and was hauled up the steep hill with drag-ropes, as there are no road, and horses could hardly climb it.

“The Engineers have done wonders, making jetties, trenches entanglements, and the place will soon be fit for vehicular traffic. All stores, water, ammunition, etc., have so far to be carried by the men or on mules. I am now with the 11th, just behind the firing line, and as I write this the bullets and shrapnel are continually screaming over my head. Now and the the word is passed along for stretcher-bearers, and I know that some poor fellow is hit, so I go along to see who he is. Dr. Brennan [1] is still with us. He is a wonder. He is a hero. He has done marvellous work and exposed himself continually to danger. If ever I get back, I shall tell you all about him.” [2]

[1] Captain Edward Thomas Brennan, Australian Army Medical Corps, attached 11th Battalion Australian Infantry.

[2] 'Advocate' (Melbourne, Victoria), 7th August 1915.

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Biography

Born 02 October 1883 at Glenough, Tipperary, Ireland
Son of Michael FAHEY and Catherine nee RYAN
Of Rossmere Co. Tipperary, Ireland
Resided Kalgoorlie, WA
Aged 31 years
Enlisted 08 September 1914 for Continuous Service
Embarked 26 October 1914 per 'HMAT Ascanius' from Fremantle, WA
​Pay rate of 19s 0d after embarkation
Served in Egypt, Gallipoli and on the Western Front
Awarded Distinguished Service Order 14 January 1916
Mentioned in despatches 28 January 1916
Returned to Australia 16 March 1918 per 'Kanowna'
Died 28 April 1959 at Subiaco, WA
Buired Karrakatta Cemetery Roman Catholic Section DC Grave 0110A

 

"John Fahey (1883-1959), Catholic priest and military chaplain, was born on 3 October 1883 at Glenough, Tipperary, Ireland, son of Michael Fahey, farmer, and his wife, Catherine, née Ryan. Educated by the Cistercians at Mount Melleray and at the Brignole Sale Seminary, Genoa, Italy, he was ordained priest in May 1907. Leaving almost immediately for the Australian mission he worked briefly in Perth at the cathedral and was then appointed to the parish of York and of Yarloop-Pinjarra in the south-east. Fahey was a manly type of priest well suited to the timberworkers he served. He was an excellent sportsman, a fine shot and lived a rough unconventional life. Bush experience provided him with an excellent preparation for the Australian Imperial Force which he joined on 8 September 1914 as a chaplain, 4th class (captain). He was assigned to the 11th Battalion.

Fahey reached Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 and although chaplains were ordered not to disembark because every available space was reserved for combatants, he disregarded this, asserting his duty to go with his men. His work, consoling the wounded, burying the dead and encouraging the living, was widely appreciated and he became a very popular figure; he typified the active, robust priesthood so admired in Australia. From Gallipoli he wrote that he 'was shot twice through my overcoat without the skin being touched. I had a book shot out of my hands, the jam tin I was eating out of was shot through'. Evacuated sick in July, he resumed duty in September and remained at Gallipoli until 7 November. He was mentioned in dispatches and awarded the Distinguished Service Order for 'gallantry under fire'.

Rejoining the 11th Battalion in March 1916 Fahey left for France in April. Here a new battle experience awaited him; to the horrors of Gallipoli were added the might of heavy artillery. 'For an hour or so', he wrote, 'shells of all calibres, mostly high explosive, simply rain on a small sector of the front … It is appalling, it is diabolical, and it is wonderful how anyone escapes'. He remained in France until 14 November 1917, becoming the longest-serving front-line chaplain of any denomination, although he only won promotion to chaplain 3rd class (major). He left for Australia on 16 March 1918. Against his wishes, he was fêted on his return to Perth. War service had aroused in him a deep admiration for Australian soldiers: he explained that 'the more I knew them the more I loved and admired them … Their bravery has been written in deeds that will live to the end of the world'.

Fahey was stationed at Cottesloe in 1919-32, at Kellerberrin in 1932-36 and at various Perth parishes in 1936-39, after which he was parish priest at Cottesloe until his death. He was a faithful pastor, kept up his A.I.F. and sporting contacts and occupied a number of minor diocesan positions. He died at the St John of God Hospital, Subiaco, on 28 April 1959 and was buried in Karrakatta cemetery. About 2000 people attended his funeral." - SOURCE (adb.anu.edu.au)

 

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