Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Thomas Bernard O'Connor - Raetihi War Memorial

Thomas O'Connor was a farmer at Raetihi before embarking with the 5th Reinforcements, Wellington Mounted Rifles on 13 June 1915.  He saw plenty of action at Gallipoli as well as on the Western Front and he no doubt lost many friends during this time, no more so than at Passchendaele on 12 October 1917.  It was at this battle that he won his Miltary Medal, citation below.

London Gazette, 28 January 1918, p1406, Rec No 1718: Near Passchendaele on 12th October 1917. For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He led a section after it's Officer had been wounded and worked untiringly regardless of his life to engage machine guns and snipers.

After seeing so much action his luck ran out on 18 July 1918 when he died of his wounds.  It was reported that he was hit by a shell just before he was due to go to England to qualify for his commission.  Thomas was 23 years old and is buried at Bagneux British Cemetery, Gezaincourt, Somme, France.

Below is an account of Thomas's service and death:

Free Lance, Volume XVIII, Issue 949, 19 September 1918, Page 4

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