On the day of the RMS Leinster disaster he was employed as a Fireman. After the explosion he reached a life raft which also held 44 year old Louisa Toppin and her 13 year old daughter Dorothy. At one stage Dorothy was swept off the raft and William Maher dived into the sea and pulled her back on to the raft.
This act of bravery was recognised in January 1919 when Louisa Toppin wrote to the Lord Chancellor describing the event. Maher was referred by the Board of Trade to the Royal Humane Society who presented him with their Silver Medal in September 1919. In addition, Dorothy Toppin presented William Maher with a watch in appreciation for saving her life.
Drawing below from the book “Torpedoed! The RMS Leinster Disaster,” this contemporary drawing imagines the sinking of the RMS Leinster. Permission source given by Philip Lecane.
Text reproduced with the kind permission of the RMS Leinster team at https://www.rmsleinster.com/
Thanks also to artist Paul Francis for allowing the use of his 'street art' image depicting the rescue of 13 year old Dorothy Toppin by William Maher which can be seen opposite the Maritime Museum, Haigh Terrace, Dún Laoghaire and for his 'Leinster Sinking' artwork.