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Keatinge, Maurice Barber (1887–1952)

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (MUP), 1983

Maurice Barber Bevan Keatinge (1887-1952), soldier, was born on 8 October 1887 in South Brisbane, son of Eldred Pottinger Keatinge, master mariner, and his wife Julia Maria, née Willis. After attending Brisbane Grammar School, he studied mechanical engineering at Sydney Technical College. He was later an associate member of the Institution of Engineers, Australia, his career as a civil engineer centreing on railway construction. He also pursued a strong military interest. Commissioned second lieutenant in the Australian Garrison Artillery (New South Wales) on 26 October 1905, he was promoted lieutenant in January 1908 and captain in November 1909 and served as adjutant in 1910-11. On 23 April 1912 at St John's Church of England, Ashfield, Sydney, he married Myra Christina Cameron; they had a son and daughter.

Keatinge joined the Australian Imperial Force as lieutenant in December 1915 and, promoted captain the following February, embarked in June for Europe with the 3rd Pioneer Battalion. His service in France and Belgium included special railway construction work in March-April 1917. On 6 September 1918 near Tincourt he made a personal reconnaissance and led a successful attack on wooded and waterlogged ground heavily defended by machine-guns and snipers. Next month he was appointed major and on 1 February 1919 was awarded the Military Cross for his 'conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty'. At Tincourt, his citation reads, he 'set an example of coolness and disregard of danger at a critical time'.

After his return to Australia in July 1919 Keatinge published a History of the 3rd Australian Pioneer Battalion (1922) and resumed his A.M.F. career. From November 1923 to June 1925 he was staff officer, 1st Heavy Brigade, Australian Garrison Artillery, before commanding the 1st Medium Brigade; he was promoted lieutenant-colonel in 1927. As temporary colonel he took charge of the 2nd Divisional Artillery in 1932-35 and then the 1st Divisional Artillery until 1938 when he was appointed temporary brigadier commanding the 8th Australian Infantry Brigade. He was an outstanding artillery leader, quietly efficient, with a fine understanding of gunnery. Of medium height, dark, his voice finely modulated, he displayed courtesy, tenacity and a sense of humour. He sat on the District Inventions Board and was for many years a devoted member of the United Service Institution of New South Wales.

Keatinge had always placed training in the forefront of a regiment's programme and during World War II he held various training commands; in 1942 he was seconded to the A.I.F. to take charge of the New South Wales lines of communication training depots. He joined the reserve of officers in 1944 and retired in 1950. From about 1946 Keatinge worked for the New South Wales branch of the Commonwealth Department of Works and Housing. At his death in London from rupture of the aorta on 23 December 1952 he was an executive officer (plant and material) at Australia House.

Select Bibliography

  • W. Perry, ‘Brigadier M. B. B. Keatinge, M.C., V.D.’, United Service Quarterly, Apr 1953.

Citation details

'Keatinge, Maurice Barber (1887–1952)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 22 June 2021.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (MUP), 1983

View the front pages for Volume 9

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