O'CONNOR, Michael

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Enlistment Address

Collie NSW

Service Number

1637

Unit

45th Battalion,

Comment

Tooraweenah Kookaburra

Fate

RTA 8.4.1917

Information

 Private Michael  O’Connor was a 28 year old farmer when he and his brother, Patrick,  enlisted with the Tooraweenah Recruitment March The medical examination described him as 5’ 4 1/2” tall, 165 lbs (74.8kgs), chest expansion 36”-40”, fair complexion, blue eyes, brown hair, religion Roman Catholic and no distinguishing marks. His father had died in 1913 so his mother Carolyn was his next of kin.

Michael kept a diary while he was away, recording short observations of the people he met and the places he saw. They trained at Bathurst, drilling and playng cricket against St Stanislaus school  ‘got beat by 26 runs’. They had final leave at home and ‘had a good send off at Collie’. They left Bathurst on April 13 by train,  ‘had a bonser march through Bathurst and then embarked for Egypt on the ‘Ceramic’ on April 14, 1916.’ They went ashore at Columbo, Ceylon, now Sri Lanka. ‘Very pretty sight… had a real good time….plenty beer…a fine place.’ A soldier died at Colombo and they buried him at sea.

He liked the Suez Canal,’passed by some big camps, thousands of troops and camels, splendid sights, saw a seaplane.’ Took train to Tel el Kebir, arrived 10.30pm. had a pretty rough time, hot winds had to cart our stuff on vans and pull them ourselves.’ The introduction to Egypt was not good.

After training in Egypt they embarked at Alexandria on the ‘Francona’ and arrived at Plymouth on June 16, 1916. Michael attended training for Non-Commissioned Officers (NCO). They left for France on September 9, 1916 and joined the 45th Battalion, on September 20, 1916 in Belgium. They faced a cold, wet winter in Belgium and the Somme. Michael was sick and was sent to hospital on December 22, 1916. His mother was notified that he was ‘dangerously ill’. In February his condition was ‘improving’ and by March he was ‘progressing favourably’. On March 3, 1917 Michael was admitted to Beaufort Military Hospital at Bristol with Spinal Meningitis. Michael was returned to Australia on April 8, 1917 on the Hospital Ship ‘Barambah’.

He was discharged on July 26, 1917.

Private Michael O’Connor was issued the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. Michael died March 30, 1961