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Kenneth George Mosher (1913–1990)

by D. F. Branagan

This article was published:

Kenneth George Mosher (1913-1990), geologist, public servant and military officer, was born on 30 October 1913 at Mascot, Sydney, eldest of three children of Sydney-born parents Charles Mosher, sheet-metal worker, and his wife Alice Louise, née McLean. Ken was educated at Daceyville Public School, Sydney Boys’ High School and the University of Sydney (B.Sc., 1935). On graduation he was employed by the geological survey branch, Department of Mines, New South Wales, as field assistant to E. J. Kenny, (Sir) Harold Raggatt, Charles Mulholland and Jack Rayner. He was also secretary of the fuel research committee. On 6 April 1940 he married Imelda Agnes Henderson, an office clerk, at St Thomas’s Church of England, North Sydney.

An enthusiastic member of the Sydney University Regiment, Citizen Military Forces, from 1931, Mosher was commissioned as a lieutenant in 1939. On 1 July 1940 he was appointed to the Australian Imperial Force and arrived in Singapore with the 2/18th Battalion in February 1941; he was promoted to captain a year later. After the Allied forces capitulated, he was imprisoned in Singapore then in Borneo at Sandakan and Kuching. He was demobilised in Australia in December 1945. Resuming with the CMF, he commanded the SUR in 1957-61 and was appointed OBE in 1959 for his services. In October 1963 he retired as a colonel.

After World War II Mosher had returned to the geological survey branch until, frustrated with the chances of promotion, in 1949 he moved to the Department of Mines, South Australia, as senior geologist for coal and uranium. In 1950 he became geologist for the Commonwealth-New South Wales Joint Coal Board. A systematic person, he set up an impressive coal exploration program that included testing methods and recording information for the industry. The design (with B. Vitnell and M. G. Lees) of the triple-tube core barrel, which preserved even fragile coal samples in a ‘split’ inner tube, ensured almost 100 per cent core recovery during drilling and improved the accuracy of assessments of coal reserves, particularly for the development of open-cut mining. Mosher encouraged the creation of coalfield site power stations. Coal authorities in other States adopted his methods. When Japanese coal buyers first visited Australia in the late 1950s he overcame his misgivings that stemmed from the war to ensure that the Australian coal industry was well served, but he avoided any private contact with them. In 1962 Mosher moved into private industry as consultant coal geologist for Rio Tinto Mining Co. (Conzinc Riotinto) of Australia Ltd. He formed his own company, Mosher & Associates, in 1975.

A member of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy from 1949, Mosher chaired (1969-70) the Sydney branch and was elected an honorary fellow in 1986. He was a foundation member of the Geological Society of Australia and in 1967-78 its honorary administrative officer. Involved in the Boy Scouts’ Association for sixty years, after holding many senior positions he became an honorary commissioner.

Like most prisoners of war, Mosher had received little or no counselling on his release and suffered from periods of depression. Although he had an impish sense of humour his daughter saw him as ‘a street angel and house devil’. The calmness of his wife was invaluable. He was appointed AM in 1984. Survived by his wife and their daughter and son, he died on 18 February 1990 at Collaroy and was cremated.

Select Bibliography

  • A. B. Lilley, Sydney University Regiment (1974)
  • AusIMM Bulletin, Dec 1987, p 10, Apr 1990, p 54
  • Advances in the Study of the Sydney Basin, Proceedings of the Symposium, 1999, p 39
  • B2458, item 278999 (National Archives of Australia)
  • private information and personal knowledge.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

D. F. Branagan, 'Mosher, Kenneth George (1913–1990)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2012, accessed online 21 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 18, (Melbourne University Press), 2012

View the front pages for Volume 18

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