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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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McSharry, Terence Patrick (1880–1918)

by Merrilyn Lincoln

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (MUP), 1986

Terence Patrick McSharry (1880-1918), by W. B. McInnes

Terence Patrick McSharry (1880-1918), by W. B. McInnes

Australian War Memorial, ART06344

Terence Patrick McSharry (1880-1918), soldier, was born on 9 August 1880 at Curracuringa, Townsville, Queensland, son of Irish-born Matthew McSharry, contractor, later accountant, and his Queensland-born wife Margaret, née Pottinger. Known as 'Jockey Jim' within the family, for his love of horses, after attending Christian Brothers' St Joseph's College, Gregory Terrace, Brisbane, Terry was a bookkeeper in Brisbane in 1903-08, joined the Metropolitan Water and Sewerage Board, and was a surveyor by 1912. That year, on 25 March, he was commissioned in the Australian Intelligence Corps and in February 1914 was appointed a staff officer (Queensland District).

Enlisting in the Australian Imperial Force on 21 August 1914, McSharry was commissioned lieutenant in the 2nd Light Horse Regiment and embarked on 24 September. The regiment landed at Gallipoli on 12 May 1915. He was permanent post adjutant and works' officer at Quinn's Post, where during the critical Turkish break-in of 29 May, although senior officers were present, it was McSharry who, 'with his thorough knowledge of the post and eminent coolness and decision, most fully grasped and controlled the situation'. Early in the attack, rallying men with the call 'Come on, Australia!', he led a party which halted infiltrating enemy with crude 'jam-tin' bombs. He received a bullet through his 'Irish hat with the little brim', an example of the irregularities of the Anzac uniform—most of its brim was cut off. For his 'exceptional bravery and resource', especially in this action and that of 4 June, he was awarded the Military Cross. He had been promoted captain and transferred as adjutant to the 15th Battalion in June.

In Egypt McSharry was promoted major in January 1916 and in June sailed with the battalion to France. He was promoted temporary lieutenant-colonel and took command of the 15th on 30 August.

McSharry was one of the notable A.I.F. battalion commanders in France. To Charles Bean 'there was no wiser head in the force'. Except when detached to temporarily command the 4th Brigade from 13 to 25 July 1918, he led his battalion for almost two years, an exceptionally long period. He commanded it in the battles of Stormy Trench (January-February 1917), 1st Bullecourt (April), Messines (June), Polygon Wood (September) and in 1918 at Hamel. Four times mentioned in dispatches, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order in June 1917 and was appointed C.M.G. in June 1918. While helping a wounded man to shelter in a bombardment at Vaire-sous-Corbie, on the Somme, McSharry was mortally wounded and died on 6 August 1918. He was buried near Corbie. He was posthumously awarded a Bar to the D.S.O.

McSharry was remembered as 'a lovable comrade … a gallant and intellectual soldier … cheery and energetic'. With hair parted in the middle, and an upturned nose, he was short, described by the battalion historian as 'of jockey weight … with a small voice with more than its share of biting sarcasm if matters did not go his way … Outspoken to a degree of bluntness that at times was most alarming, intermingled … with a caustic wit … There are hundreds of stories relating to his contempt for danger … he could tell and appreciate a good joke'. He was unmarried. A portrait by William McInnes is held by the Australian War Memorial.

Select Bibliography

  • C. E. W. Bean, The Story of Anzac (Syd, 1921, 1924)
  • C. E. W. Bean, The A.I.F. in France, 1916-18 (Syd, 1929, 1933, 1937, 1942)
  • T. P. Chataway, History of the 15th Battalion A.I.F. (Brisb, 1948)
  • Queenslander, 14 Aug 1920
  • private information.

Citation details

Merrilyn Lincoln, 'McSharry, Terence Patrick (1880–1918)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1986, accessed online 27 September 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (MUP), 1986

View the front pages for Volume 10

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2020

Terence Patrick McSharry (1880-1918), by W. B. McInnes

Terence Patrick McSharry (1880-1918), by W. B. McInnes

Australian War Memorial, ART06344