Major Michael Daniel (Max) Maloney BEM
15 August 1942 - 25 June 2013
Michael Maloney, known as Max throughout his working life, was born in Stepney, east London. The house where he was born was bomb-blasted in 1944. His mother’s health had been badly affected by the Blitz. He was 12 when his father, unable to join the army due to paralysis of one arm, and who worked as a cloth porter, died. With no friends or relatives able to look after them, he and his younger brother came under the care of the London County Council’s social welfare department; later they were looked after by foster parents.
In 1958 Max joined the Home Counties Brigade as a boy soldier, undergoing basic training in Canterbury and becoming Junior Drummer Maloney. Blessed with a strong musical aptitude he won the Best Bugle Competition in 1960. The Army would be his surrogate family and he loved and treasured his Army life.
When he came of age he took the Queen’s Shilling agreeing to serve in the British Army and joined the 1st Battalion, The Queen’s Royal Surrey Regiment at Colchester. He then served in Aden and Hong Kong and in 1962 and was promoted to Corporal. In Munster he was promoted to Drum Sergeant and then spent an eighteen month tour as a regimental recruiter.
In 1968 he joined the 1st Battalion, The Queen’s Regiment in Bahrain, where he was quickly promoted to and became the youngest Drum Major, taking over on the Glorious First of June. His Commanding Officer told him that as Drum Major he was in the entertainment business. It was the start of a remarkable five years serving in Belfast, Berlin, Londonderry, Canada and Bulford. He was known as the Formidable Drum Major and commanded one of the largest, smartest, finest drum platoons in the Army, which he led with panache and in which he took enormous pride.
By 1972 however, when Maloney accompanied the 1st Queen’s to Belfast, drum majors were judged more on their military skill than their musicality.
His platoon patrolled openly during the day; and at night engaged the IRA and were exposed to constant danger. One man escaped death by inches when a sniper’s bullet removed the tip of his ear. Yet Max’s courage resilience and lively sense of humour kept up the spirits of his men. His sustained leadership and bravery were recognised in 1973 by the award of a BEM for gallantry.
Yet it was on public duties back in London that he was most in his element. Marching to and from Buckingham Palace and St James’s Palace, he repeatedly threw the staff in the air. The tourists loved it, but their enthusiasm was not always shared by the brass hats at HQ London District.
From 1976 to 1979 Max was the charismatic and much respected Regimental Sergeant Major of the 6th/7th (Volunteer) Battalion, The Queen’s Regiment. He embraced The Territorial ethos and made a lasting contribution to the success and style of the Battalion.
Maloney was commissioned in 1979. Promoted to Major in 1981, he commanded HQ Company 3rd Battalion in Dover and Germany before retiring from the Army in 1987. The following year he was made a Freeman of the City of London.
For several years Max was the administrative officer at the Royal Society of Chemistry. In retirement he lived happily in Oxfordshire, telling friends who came to visit that he had found his paradise on earth. Later he moved back to London. He read and travelled widely and enjoyed opera and singing songs with his partner from World War One and Two.
For the last 31 years, Michael’s partner was Gregory Yapp, who looked after him devotedly, nursing him through some serious illnesses, including dementia, in the last phase of his life.