Saturday, April 23, 2016

Anzac Day 1916 - Richard O'Brien & Hugh O'Brien

For Anzac Day 2016 I thought I'd see where  Richard O'Brien (a 15th battalion Gallipoli veteran) & brother Hugh O'Brien (enlisted in October 1915 in the 9th Battalion) were 100 years ago for Anzac Day, 25 April 1916.

Hugh O'Brien 
According to the 9th battalion war diary and the Australian War Memorial case study

The battalion left Egypt on 26 March 1916 (just over 1 month after arriving from Australia) and arrived in France (Marseille) on 2 April 1916. Its first billets were at Strazeele, Merris and Meteren, which were reached on 5 April 1916. It spent 2 weeks there. The first experience of the front line for the 9th Battalion on the Western Front was at Rouge de Bout, a very quiet sector.

On 25 April 1916 the first Anzac Day celebration was held. The 9th Battalion’s war diary for the day read: Generals Plumer, Walker, White inspected Battalion. General Maclagan spoke to men emphasising this the anniversary of Anzac after which General Plummer (the 2nd Army Commander) spoke. Company sports were held during afternoon, £50 in prize money distributed from Regimental funds.

Richard O'Brien 
He transferred from the 15th Battalion to the newly formed 11th Australian Field Artillery Brigade 41st Battery in March 1916.  April & May 1916 seem to have been spent at Tel-el-Kebir camp in Egypt doing artillery training.  Whilst the brigade's war diary makes no reference to Anzac Day it is likely Richard participated in the camp service and sports day.

Where were they in 1916?
I also thought it would be interesting to see where Richard & Hugh spent the first half of 1916 & whether they may have had the chance to cross paths.  The maps below shows there was a period when they were near each other in Egypt (though not in the same camp) and perhaps in France. Whether they saw each other we don't know but I like to think so.

Richard O'Brien & Hugh O'Brien Egypt & France 1916

A closer look at Egypt - both in camp near the Suez
Richard & Hugh Egypt 1916 - a closer look
 A closer look at France - not so far from each other in mid June 1916 before the 9th headed to Pozieres.
Richard & Hugh France 1916 - a closer look

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