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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Maguire, James Bernard (1895–1951)

by Peter Burness

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

James Maguire, by John Longstaff, 1929

James Maguire, by John Longstaff, 1929

Australian War Memorial

James Bernard Maguire (1895-1951), soldier, was born on 18 August 1895 at Killesher, Fermanagh, Ireland, son of Terrence Maguire, farmer, and his wife Cassie, née Credden. He came to Australia, probably when 14, and was cared for by an uncle. He completed his schooling in Sydney.

Maguire was working as a drapery salesman when he joined the Australian Imperial Force at Randwick on 21 August 1914; he embarked for Egypt in October as a private in the 4th Battalion. He landed at Gallipoli with the battalion on 25 April 1915 and fought there until he was admitted to hospital and evacuated to Malta on 20 October. From there he was sent to England.

The 4th Battalion was serving in France when Maguire rejoined it as a sergeant in August 1916. He distinguished himself next year on 15 April in an action near Demicourt. In command of one of the battalion's posts, which was attacked by a strong enemy force and surrounded, Maguire 'kept his head and by his courage and devotion to duty set such a fine example that few of the enemy escaped' and the attack was repulsed. He was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. At Bullecourt, on 10 May 1917, he was wounded.

Next year at Merris Maguire won a Bar to his D.C.M.: in an attack on enemy positions on the night of 9-10 July 1918, he led a party against a machine-gun post that was harassing his platoon. The gun and two prisoners were captured. Later that night he led a fighting patrol against an enemy party which was forming up to attack; the Germans withdrew under heavy grenade and rifle-fire. His divisional commander reported that 'throughout the action he displayed great courage under very trying circumstances and his personal example was of great value to his platoon'.

Sergeant Maguire returned to Australia with other selected '1914 men' in November and was discharged on 23 January 1919. He established a grocery business at Rushcutters Bay, Sydney. On 17 April 1920 he married Kathleen Lurline May O'Neill at St Mary's Cathedral; this marriage was dissolved on 20 December 1938 and on 28 February 1940 he married Constance Ann Manley at the Sydney Registrar General's Office.

During World War II Maguire enlisted in the Australian Military Forces on 8 July 1940 and was posted to the Small Arms School at Randwick. Too old for overseas service, he became an instructor with the 5th Infantry Training Battalion and, later, the 1st Australian Machine-gun Training Battalion. He attained the rank of warrant officer, class II, before discharge on 27 October 1945.

After the war Maguire was employed as a clerk for a manufacturing company. He died on 13 August 1951 at Sydney Hospital from a cerebral haemorrhage after injuries 'feloniously inflicted' at the Gallipoli Legion Club two days earlier. His wife and four sons from his first marriage survived him. After a service at All Hallows Catholic Church, Five Dock, he was buried in Northern Suburbs cemetery. His portrait by John Longstaff is in the Australian War Memorial.

Select Bibliography

  • C. E. W. Bean, The A.I.F. in France, 1918 (Syd, 1942)
  • file 749/61/28 (Australian War Memorial)
  • private information.

Citation details

Peter Burness, 'Maguire, James Bernard (1895–1951)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1986, accessed online 24 November 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

James Maguire, by John Longstaff, 1929

James Maguire, by John Longstaff, 1929

Australian War Memorial