Reginald ‘Reg’ Joseph O’Sullivan

August 4, 2015

O’SULLIVAN, Reginald -‘Reg’ Joseph- – – – SPC ?

DoB:- – c1886, Beechworth, VIC

Father:- – Cornelius Joseph O’Sullivan

Mother:- – Mary Jane, nee McGrath

The College Annual of 1916-1917 reported that –

-‘Sgt, R J O’Sullivan, an old pupil, entered SPC about 1900, where he had a successful college career. He enlisted in June 1915, and was engaged at the famous battle of the Somme. Sergt McLelland, in a letter to Reg’s father, puts in brief the events which led up to his obtaining the DCM. The letter we publish herewith: –

You were asking about a Sgt O’Sullivan in our Company. Well, he was here up till a few days ago. He is attached to another Battalion now, but in the same Brigade. He has got his Commission, and my word, he deserves it. He has also received a DCM for bravery. A short time ago we made a charge, and held the trenches for about nine hours when the Germans counter attacked, and we had to retire. An officer and Sergt O’Sullivan were there till the last, and then brought a machine-gun back to our front line, and turned it on the Germans. The Sergeant wasn’t satisfied with that, but he goes out and brings in three wounded men. He is indeed a brave man, and well deserves his DCM.’

Service No:- 1323

Rank:- – Sergeant

Unit:- – 31st Battalion

Reg O’Sullivan enlisted on 24 June 1915 aged 29 years and four months. He was five feet, 11 and a quatrer inches tall, with a fresh complexion, hazel eyes and black hair. He was a single man, whose occupation was accountant.

He left Australia for overseas service late in 1915, travelling via Egypt on to France. He was involved in action in July 1916 in France which led to his being recommended by the Brigadier General Commanding the 8th Infantry Brigade for the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM):

-‘-¦ At PETILLON on the 19th/20th July 1916, this NCO reported to the 31st Battalion Commander in the German main trench with 30 men as reinforcements. No Officer reported with them, and Sergeant O’Sullivan was posted with his men in the main trench on the left flank to link up with the 32nd Battalion. This NCO behaved in a cool determined manner, gave great assistance in consolidating the position, and held the ground assigned him till daylight. The Commanding Officer of the 31st Battalion drew special attention to the gallantry displayed by this NCO -¦’

Sergeant O’Sullivan was awarded the DCM on 28 August 1916.

He was promoted to the rank of Company Sergeant Major in France on 25 July 1916. The following month he was attached to the 31st Battalion.

He was promoted further to Company 2nd Lieutenant on 16 August 1916. Over the next 14 months he went back to England on several occasions to attend courses of instruction. In October 1917, he proceeded back to France and was attached to the 31st Battalion.

In November, Lieutenant O’Sullivan was the subject of the General Court Martial, held at Desvres in France, on 22 November:

Charge:- When on active service, -‘Drunkenness’ in that he, at Wulverghem on 21.11.17, having been warned for duty on the line, was drunk.

Plea:- – Not Guilty.

Finding:- Guilty.

Sentence:- To be dismissed from His Majesty’s Service, 22.12.17.

Confirmed:- by Field Marshall Sir Douglas Haig on 17.1.18.

Ex-Lieutenant O’Sullivan was returned to Australia aboard the Dunvegan Castle on 13 March 1918, and dismissed from the service.

Reginald Joseph O’Sullivan died in the Melbourne suburb of Malvern on 1 January 1936. His death certificate revealed that Reg had married twice -“ his first marriage was to Mabel Finnan in about 1923, when Reg was 37 years old. They had one son born around 1926. His second marriage was to Diana Fisher in 1928, when Reg was 42 years old. This marriage produced no children.

The cause of death on the certificate states was acute gastritis and cirrhosis of the liver, leading to heart failure. Reg was 49 years old when he died. He was buried at Burwood Cemetery, in Victoria.