Henry Edward O'Neill

First Name: 
Henry
Middle Name: 
Edward
Last Name: 
O'Neill
Alternate Spelling: 
Doc, Harry, Henry Edward Oneill
Date of Birth: 
Tuesday, May 10, 1892
Mother's Name: 
Ann O'Neill (nee Staunton)
Father's Name: 
Edward O'Neill
Date Enlisted: 
Sunday, August 29, 1915
Rank at Enlistment: 
Private
Unit: 
17th Battalion
Company: 
8th Reinforcements
Service: 
Infantry
Awards: 
British War Medal
Victory Medal
Place of Death: 
Wollongong
Details: 

Henry Edward O’Neill, born on May 10 1892 at Mt Keira to Edward O’Neill and Ann Staunton (nee), enlisted on August 29 1915. Prior to his enlistment, he worked as a driver. He joined the 17th Battalion and was known as “Doc” which can be seen in his diary and letters.

He sent and received letters from his girlfriend at the time, Myrtle while on service.

Doc also kept a diary which depicted an insight into his time at the front and in the trenches.

“[Foe] shelled on April 19th while doing Engineers fatigue, I have the hottest time I ever wish to experience. Shells bursting all round us not 20 yards away, but we get out of it luckily by crouching in a deep sap. I duck under a seat in the sap at the first explosion and there we are praying & …, while 40 odd shells burst round us. After it’s calm, I am pulled up by Major Travers for not saluting him when on the way to […] It’s the last straw, & I feel like roaring, but don’t. Back into the trenches on the same night…”

“We are all ordered into a cellar, but only 3 shells come over. One artillery man has his head blown off outside the hospital, & a lot of gravestones are shattered in the church yard. That night we are treated to a [light] attack of weeping gas. Go on by car.”

Doc returned to Australia on December 18, 1918 and subsequently married Beatrice Blenkinsopp (nee); together they had five children. Altogether, he served for three years and 219 days and was abroad for three years and 55 days. He lived at Church St, Wollongong until his death in 1964.

Doc received the British War and Victory medals for his service.

In the photo, he is seated on the left.

NB. This image has been shared by Wollongong City Gallery following the War and Remembrance project (October 2003 – January 2004).

The purpose of the project was to acknowledge the contributions of Illawarra residents in various wars, conflicts and peacekeeping missions from the Boer War to the present day.

If anyone has any information or additional photographs of these soldiers and nurses, please contact us.

Images

Black and white picture of a scanned page extract from diary.
Sepia photograph of soliders in uniform featuring Henry Edward O'Neill.

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