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William Robert O'Brien

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William Robert O'Brien portrait "To Dad from Bob" (kindly provided by the serviceman) - This image may be subject to copyright

William Robert O'Brien portrait "To Dad from Bob" (kindly provided by the serviceman) - This image m …

Identity

  • Title
  • Forenames
    William Robert AWMM
  • Surname
    O'Brien AWMM
  • Ingoa
  • Also known as
    Bob O'Brien AWMM
  • Service number
    623985 AWMM
  • Gender
    Male AWMM
  • Iwi
  • Hapū
  • Waka
  • Rohe
  • Religion

Civilian life

About birth

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  • Birth
    14 February 1922 AWMM AWMM
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Birth notes
  • Address before enlistment
    Pre 1 July 1940 AWMM Whatawhata Road, Frankton Junction, New Zealand AWMM
  • Post war occupation
  • Next of kin on embarkation
    Mr W.P. O'Brien (father), Whatawhata Road, Frankton Junction, New Zealand AWMM
  • Relationship status
    Pre 1 July 1943 AWMM Single AWMM

Service

Wars and conflicts

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Military decorations

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  • Medals and Awards
    Military Cross (MC) AWMM
    3 August 1944 AWMM
    'Lieutenant O'Brien was detailed for liaison duties with forward elements of the Battalion during the battle of Cassino. On the night 18/19 March, 1944, he commanded a carrier party which scaled the heights of Point 193 om Monte Cassino and successfully delivered supplies to a Company of the Battalion almost completely isolated on Point 202. On the night 19/20 March he went forward into Cassino to contact the forward Companies and to endeavour to endeavour to reach the Company, now completely isolated on Point 202, as soon as our troops had made contact with it. As the latter task proved impossible, he returned to Cassino on subsequent nights until 23rd March in an effort to get through. His duties on all these occasions involved considerable personal danger and hardship, but they were carried out with a cheerful disregard for danger and a ready devotion to duty which contributed greatly to the co-ordination of the Battalion's operations.'. (Source: The National Archives. Recommendation for Award for OBrien, William Robert. (Ref. WO 373/7/90). Military Cross. AWMM

Training and Enlistment

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Prisoner of war

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  • Capture details
  • Days interned
  • Liberation date
  • Liberation Repatriation
  • POW liberation details
  • POW serial number

Medical history

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  • Medical notes
    • Medical, WWII AWMM
      Lumbar AWMM
    • Medical, WWII AWMM
      Amoebic AWMM
    • Hospital Diseases , Wounds, WWII AWMM
      Admitted to 2GH & 3GH AWMM
    • Hospital Diseases , Wounds, WWII AWMM
      Wounded 29 July 1944 when the Jeep he was in detonated a mine near Castellare, Italy AWMM

Last known rank

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Biographical information

Biographical information

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  • Husband of Glorya; father of Angela, Garth, Shelley, Jeremy.

    Joined Territorials at 16 years.

    Was a Corporal when entered Narrow Neck Camp 1 July 1940. After three months he was promoted to W.O.2.

    In March 1941 he travelled to Australia with the Advance party to train as N.C.O. for the 1st NZ Ind Company.

    Promoted to Corporal , arriving back in August 1941 unit was disbanded and he returned to his original unit and took up his old rank of Warrant Officer Class 2; he then went immediately to Officers' Training Unit and was promoted to Temporary 2nd Lieutenant in October 1941.

    He continued on in the Army until July 1943 when he left NZ for the Middle East still as a Temporary 2nd Lieutenant and joined the 24th Infantry Battalion

    He was awarded the Military Cross at Cassino

    Wounded on 29 July 1944, arrived back in NZ August 1945

    Discharged Grade 3 December 1945

    Cenotaph record initially prepared with the serviceman in 1998

    Lt W. R. O'Brien, MC; Ohaupo; born NZ 14 Feb 1922; motor mechanic; wounded 29 Jul 1944. (Source: Burdon, R.M. 24 Battalion. p.231.)

    'In accordance with general strategy, 24 Battalion headquarters moved from north to south of Route 6 early on the night of 23 March, and later A and B Companies were relieved by a company of the 5th Buffs. D Company remained behind in Cassino for the time being. Reliefs were complicated and dangerous operations, only to be undertaken at night. In some cases our men and the enemy occupied adjoining houses, and nothing was easier than to lose one's way in the darkness amid the tumble of ruined buildings. Yet, although troop movements in and out of Cassino on its eastern side were sufficiently hazardous, it seemed possible that even greater danger and difficulty might attend the withdrawal of C Company, still isolated on Point 202.
    O'Brien had made nightly attempts to get through with more rations, but this having proved impossible, Reynolds' men were threatened with a shortage of food. Attempts were made to drop supplies by parachute, but although some ammunition was obtained in this way, most of the foodstuffs fell too far away and too near enemy positions to be picked up. Two packages containing chocolate and ‘K’ rations were gathered in on 22 March, but otherwise no food reached C Company by parachute till the day before final withdrawal. For his conduct while commanding an anti-tank gun crew within the bomb line and leading ration parties to forward positions, this officer received the MC as an immediate award.' (Source: Burdon, R.M. 24 Battalion. p. 242.) AWMM
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Death

About death

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  • Death
    29 July 2011 AWMM
    Age 89 AWMM
    HamiltonWaikato AWMM
  • Date of death
  • Age at death
  • Place of death
  • Cause of death
  • Death notes
  • Cemetery
    Cremated AWMM
  • Cemetery name
  • Grave reference
  • Obituary
    Obituary: Newsletter of 24 NZ Infantry Battalion Association Inc. November/December 2011, p.12.

    Death notice: New Zealand Herald, 1 August 2011 AWMM
  • Memorial name
  • Memorial reference

Memorials

Memorial

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  • Memorial name

Roll of Honour

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Sources

Sources

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  • External links
    • Burdon, R. (1959). 24 Battalion. Wellington, Dept. of Internal Affairs, War History Branch.
      http://www.nzetc.org/tm/scholarly/tei-WH2-24Ba.html
      Sources Used
    • New Zealand Herald, 6 June 1944, p.6
      http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/paperspast?a=d&cl=search&d=NZH19440606.2.30
      Further Reference
    • 'The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the following awards in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in Italy.' (London Gazette, 3 August 1944, p.3605.). Military Cross.
      http://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/36637/supplement/3605
      Further Reference
    • 'Lieutenant O'Brien was detailed for liaison duties with forward elements of the Battalion during the battle of Cassino. On the night 18/19 March, 1944, he commanded a carrier party which scaled the heights of Point 193 om Monte Cassino and successfully delivered supplies to a Company of the Battalion almost completely isolated on Point 202. On the night 19/20 March he went forward into Cassino to contact the forward Companies and to endeavour to endeavour to reach the Company, now completely isolated on Point 202, as soon as our troops had made contact with it. As the latter task proved impossible, he returned to Cassino on subsequent nights until 23rd March in an effort to get through. His duties on all these occasions involved considerable personal danger and hardship, but they were carried out with a cheerful disregard for danger and a ready devotion to duty which contributed greatly to the co-ordination of the Battalion's operations.'. (Source: The National Archives. Recommendation for Award for OBrien, William Robert. (Ref. WO 373/7/90). Military Cross.
      http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/SearchUI/Details?uri=D7350718
      Further Reference
  • Documents
    • The Weekly News AWMM
      The Weekly News 1944 AWMM
    • Burdon, R. (1959). 24 Battalion. Wellington, N.Z.: Department of Internal Affairs, War History Branch. AWMM
      Military Service Record AWMM
    • Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force. (1945). Nominal Roll Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force No. 12 (Embarkations from 1st July, 1943 to 31st December, 1943). Wellington, N.Z.: Govt. Printer. AWMM
      WW2 12: WW2 145 AWMM
    • Burdon, R. (1959). 24 Battalion. Wellington, N.Z.: Department of Internal Affairs, War History Branch. AWMM
      Burdon, R. (1959). p. 231, 240, 242, 272 AWMM
    • Fortune, G. & Bebich, M. (2008). Citizenship and remembrance : a history of the 24 NZ Infantry Battalion Association. Auckland, N.Z.: Polygraphia. AWMM
    • 24 N.Z. Infantry Battalion Association [newsletter]. Auckland, N.Z.: The Association. AWMM
      24th N.Z. Infantry Battalion Association newsletter. November 2011, Issue 163 AWMM
    • 24 N.Z. Infantry Battalion Association [newsletter]. Auckland, N.Z.: The Association. AWMM
      Obituary: Newsletter of 24 NZ Infantry Battalion Association Inc. November/December 2011, p.12. AWMM
    • The New Zealand Herald AWMM
      Death notice: New Zealand Herald, 1 August 2011 AWMM
    • Burdon, R. (1959). 24 Battalion. Wellington, N.Z.: Department of Internal Affairs, War History Branch. AWMM
      pp.231, 240, 242, 272. AWMM
    • Information kindly provided by family AWMM

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