Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Hugh O'Brien enlisted 7 October 1915

100 years ago today my Great Uncle Hugh O'Brien enlisted in Brisbane aged 23 years and 3 months.  He joined the 13th Reinforcements, 9th Battalion.  I've posted about Hugh before.  

It seems Hugh was not really suited to a soldiers life .... but he was not alone in that.  

He embarked from Brisbane on 3 January 1916 on HMAT Kyarra.  The ship must have stopped in Sri Lanka (then called Ceylon) as in Colombo on 28 January 1916 Hugh was charged with 1) Drunkenness and with 2) Leaving his picquet without orders from his superior officer.  (I think picquet means guard duty).  His punishment was 96 hours detention.

Then on 27 June 1916 he was court martialled in the field (National Archives of Australia file A471,8207). He was charged with When on Active Service Drunkenness. The offence took place on 21 June 1916 in the Field near Sailly (France) about 10:30pm. 

He was definitely not alone for the 9th battalion unit diary for 21 June 1916 says "we are averaging 2 cases of drunkenness each day.  All such are sent up for court martial.  Liquor can be purchased by men in every billet and the sale is very hard to control".   

The evidence presented informs us that Hugh belonged to No 16 Platoon of D Company who were temporarily attached to A Company. He was found guilty and sentenced to 45 days Field Punishment No 1 - described by the Australian war memorial website as consisting of heavy labouring duties, possibly being restrained in handcuffs or fetters, and being tied to a post or wheel. I think he also forfeited 52 days pay for the time of the field punishment plus 7 days awaiting trial.   

Sadly he didn't get to complete his punishment as he was killed on 23 July 1916.  

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Richard O'Brien Gallipoli 25 April 2015

On 25 April 1915 Richard O'Brien (introduced in Richard O'Brien enlisted 19 September 1914) with C Company of the 15th Battalion was aboard HMT Seeang Bee anchored opposite the disembarkation point at 4pm.   His company was with the balance of troops from Seang Bee which landed at Anzac Cover at 9 am on 26 April 1915.  Under Captain Quinn (after whom Quinn's Post was named) C Company and one platoon of B Company were ordered to support the right of the 3rd Brigade.

Richard O'Brien's file shows that only 2 days later he suffered a gun shot wound to the shoulder on 28 April 1915.   He was taken to hospital ship Gascon and then to Shibin-El-Kem hospital near Cairo, Egypt.

His file shows that his father was notified 'wounded in action at the Dardanelles'.

Richard rejoined his battalion on 13 June 1915 and had plenty of war ahead of him.

Meanwhile on 5 May 1915 the C Company was in bivouac with the rest of the 15th Battalion at Monash Valley.  The battalion was then involved in the attack at Quinn's Post.  The enemy counter attacked.

10 May 1915
Heavy casualties to the number of 160 killed and wounded were suffered by our battalion during the withdrawal of our troops to the original position.

14 May 1915
In addition to the officers the following are the other ranks casualties to date: killed 108, missing 103, sick 23, wounded 296, unaccounted for nil.

Sources:  Unit war diary AWM4 23/32/6 - April 1915, AWM4 23/32/7 - May 1915, WW1 service file