James O’Brien

August 4, 2015

O’BRIEN, James- – – SPC 1912-1914

DoB:- – 30 July 1896, Colac, VIC

Father:- – James O’Brien

Mother:- – Johanna, nee Quinn

James was a boarder at St Patrick’s with his brother William Patrick (SPC 1906). William also enlisted and was killed in action at Gallipoli.

Service No:- 465

Rank:- – Private, later Second Lieutenant

Unit:- – 21st Battalion

James O’Brien enlisted on 27 January, 1915. He was 21 years and seven months old, five feet, seven and a half inches tall, with a dark complexion, grey eyes and black hair. He was a single man, whose occupation was tailor.

Private O’Brien left Australia around mid-1915, proceeding via Egypt to Gallipoli, where he landed in late August. By the end of November he was suffering from acute appendicitis, and had to be evacuated via hospital ship to Egypt for treatment. By March 1916, O’Brien joined the British Expeditionary Forces (BEF) and proceeded to Marseilles.

In France, O’Brien was wounded in action on 26 August 1916, sustaining a gunshot wound to his left forearm. He was admitted to the Casualty Clearing Station (CCS) at Havre, then transferred to the Mater Hospital in Belfast, Ireland on 3 September. After two months of treatment, he was transferred back to Harefield Hospital in England.

James must have been quite well recovered by the early months of the new year, as his record shows that he was frequently reported Absent Without Leave (AWL) from December 1916 through to late March 1917. He was shipped out to France on 28 March, rejoining his unit in the field. He was also promoted Sergeant on 20 July 1917, and further promoted to the rank of Second Lieutenant on 3 November.

O’Brien attended Gas School in Belgium, and then Artillery School in January 1918, after which he was granted leave for two weeks in early March. He returned to his unit at the Front on 18 March 1918. Four days later on 22 March, Second Lieutenant James O’Brien was killed in action. He was 22 years old.

The statement of the Commanding Officer noted -“

– -‘-¦ Killed at about 3.20 on the 22 March 1918. Wounded and partially buried by a minenwerfer [mine launcher short range mortar] explosion and killed by a revolver bullet from a German raider -¦’

James O’Brien was buried at the Berks Cemetery Extension, Belgium.