Profile

O'NEILL, Jeremiah Bartholomew
(Service number 27350)

Aliases Birth registered as Jeremiah NEIL.
First Rank Private Last Rank Private

Birth

Date 20 July 1889 Place of Birth Macroom, County Cork, Ireland

Enlistment Information

Date 31 May 1916 Age 26 years 10 months
Address at Enlistment C/o J. Gaffney, Temuka
Occupation Farm hand
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin J. B. D. O'NEILL (father), Rahalisk, Ballinagree, Macroom, County Cork, Ireland; Mrs M. HEALY (friend), Shaw Street, Temuka
Religion Roman Catholic
Medical Information Height 5 feet 3 inches. Weight 148 lbs. Chest measurement 33-35 inches. Complexion fair. Eyes blue. Hair dark. Sight - right eye 5/5, left eye 5/7.5. Hearing good. Colour vision normal. Limbs well formed. Full and perfect movement of all joints. Chest well formed. Heart and lungs normal. Teeth very bad. No illnesses. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated. Good bodily and mental health. No slight defects. No fits.

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation New Zealand Expeditionary Force
Unit, Squadron, or Ship 17th Reinforcements, J Company
Date 25 September 1916
Transport Devon
Embarked From Wellington Destination Devonport, England
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With Canterbury Infantry Regiment, 3rd Battalion

Military Awards

Campaigns Western European
Service Medals British War Medal; Victory Medal
Military Awards

Award Circumstances and Date

No information

Prisoner of War Information

Date of Capture
Where Captured and by Whom
Actions Prior to Capture
PoW Serial Number
PoW Camps
Days Interned
Liberation Date

Discharge

Date Reason

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

7 June 1917 - gunshot wound (slight) to left arm; admitted to Field Ambulance, 11th Casualty Clearing Station, No. 3 Australian General Hospital at Abbeville, France

Post-war Occupations

Death

Date 29 September 1917 Age 28 years
Place of Death In the field, Ypres, Belgium
Cause Killed in action
Notices
Memorial or Cemetery Nine Elms British Cemetery, Poperinge, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium
Memorial Reference II. D. 6.
New Zealand Memorials Timaru memorial Wall; Temuka RSA Roll of Honour; Temuka War Memorial; St Joseph's Church, Temuka; Seadown War Memorial (J. O'Neill)

Biographical Notes

Jeremiah Bartholomew O'Neill was the son of J. B. D. (Bartholomew, Batt) and Mary (née Healy) O'Neill, of Rahalisk, Ballinagree, Macroom, County Cork, Ireland. Born on 20 July 1889, at Macroom, County Cork, Ireland, he came to New Zealand in 1911, leaving from London, England, on 15 September 1911 with the Shaw, Savill & Albion Company on the “Athenic” and arriving at Wellington on 1 November, single and a farm labourer. M. Healy (per Labour Department, Christchurch) nominated his nephew Jeremiah B. O’Neill in 1910-1911 for immigration. In 1901 Jeremiah Neill was a scholar at home at Rahalisk, with his parents and siblings. In 1911 when he was no longer there, his elderly grandfather, Patrick Healy, was living with the family. By 1914 he was a labourer for J. Gaffaney at Seadown.

Jeremiah B. O’Neill registered on 11 May 1916 at the Timaru Defence Office, and enlisted on 31 May 1916. At the time he was working as a farm hand for J. Gaffaney, Temuka. His nominated next of kin was his father, Mr J. B. D. O'Neill, Rahalisk, Ballinagree, Macroom, Cork, Ireland; he also gave Mrs M. Healy, a friend, of Shaw Street, Temuka, South Canterbury. Jeremiah, who was a nephew of Mr Maurice Healy, Shaw Street, Temuka, may well have been the best man at the wedding of Maurice and Mary Scannell on 9 July 1913 at St Joseph’s Church, Temuka. With the South Canterbury quota of the 17th Reinforcements, he left Timaru by the second north-going express on 31 May 1916. The men were entertained at dinner in the Stafford Tea Rooms by the lady members of the South Canterbury War Relief Society, before assembling at the Drill Hall to be farewelled by the Mayor and others.

While on final leave in August 1916, Privates O’Neill and McKenna were guests at an evening in the Seadown schoolroom. Mr S. Cain, presiding, said that the two men were going to sacrifice all that was near and dear to them to keep the gaps [in the ranks] filled. He had not known Private O’Neill for long but “he was sure that he could not be anything but good, or he would not have been in Gaffney Bros. employ for so long a time.” Both men thanked the people for their gifts of soldiers’ toilet outfits. Musical items and dancing filled the evening. Refreshments were supplied and the singing of God Save the King and Auld Lang Syne brought the evening to a close.

He embarked with the 17th Reinforcements of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, on 25 September 1916, per the “Devon’, from Wellington, and destined for Devonport, England. On 8 December he proceeded overseas from Sling Camp (Bulford, England). Engaged with the Canterbury Infantry Regiment, he was one of a large number from all regiments who were wounded on 7 June 1917 in France. His uncle, Mr M. Healy, Temuka, received a cable to this effect. J. B. O’Neill’s was not a severe case. He had suffered a gunshot wound (slight) to his left arm and was admitted to the Field Ambulance then to the 11th Casualty Clearing Station, and subsequently to the No. 3 Australian General Hospital at Abbeville, France, before being transferred to the Base Depot in France and joining his battalion in late July. The next newspaper notification came by way of Casualty List No. 694 published on 19 October 1917, his being one of about 230 deaths recorded thereon. Again his uncle received advice, on 18 October - this time the news was that his nephew had been killed in action. Private Jeremiah Bartholomew O’Neill, No. 27350, was killed in action on 29 September 1917 at Ypres, Belgium, aged 28 years. He was buried in the Nine Elms British Cemetery, Poperinge, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium, this cemetery having been opened in September 1917 in preparation for the 1917 Battle of Ypres.

The Rev. James McCaw, Presbyterian minister at Lower Hutt, and Mrs McCaw toured the war zone and military cemetery region of France and Belgium in late 1920. They visited the graves of their son and other relatives. In the numerous cemeteries they visited they tarried as long as time would allow and stood beside the graves of many New Zealand men whose names they recorded. Among those men so remembered was 273 Pte. J. B. O’Neill, 3rd C.I.B., 29/9/17, in the Poperinge, Nine Elms Cemetery. Everywhere the graves were in good order, under the care of competent English gardeners or under the special charge of villagers, who were keeping them bright with fresh flowers. On 1st November (All Saints’ Day) pilgrimages were made to the cemeteries and all the graves were remembered.

Jeremiah was regarded as a steady, hard-working, reliable young man in the Temuka district, and he was well liked by all who knew him. He had worked on various farms in the district, including Seadown it appears, and for Mrs Gaffaney at Arowhenua for about three years prior to enlistment. Jeremiah Bartholomew O’Neill signed a will on 23 August 1916 at Trentham Military Camp, the witness being Leo J. Daly, Chaplain to the Forces. He bequeathed the whole of his estate to his mother, Mrs Mary O’Neill, Rahalisk, Ballinagree, Macroom, Co Cork, Ireland – £173.1.8. in the Post Office Savings Bank and £20 Funeral Benefit. The British War Medal and Victory Medal were sent to his father, Mr J. B. D. O’Neill, Rahalisk, Ballinagree, Macroom, Co Cork, Ireland. He was also eligible for the memorial plaque. His nephew, Jerome Healy, served in World War II.

His name is inscribed on the Timaru Memorial Wall, Temuka RSA Roll of Honour, Temuka War Memorial, St Joseph’s Church Temuka Memorial, and on the Seadown War Memorial. “O’Neill J. B., Pvt.” was included in the original list of names to be inscribed on the Temuka Memorial. In August 1922 the Temuka Borough memorial was unveiled before a very large gathering in the domain, including Temuka Territorials and Cadets, Temuka and Geraldine returned soldiers, the Temuka Pipe Band, the Salvation Army Band, the children of the district schools, national and local dignitaries, and local folk. Opening proceedings, the Mayor said “We regret that this occasion has arisen, but having done so we must look back with pride at the actions of those who rose to the call of the Motherland, which was in peril. Many of those brave boys who left these shores did not return, and we have erected this memorial to their memory, . . .” Following hymns and scripture readings, His Excellency the Governor-General formally unveiled the monument and the local M.P. read out the names inscribed thereon.

The St Joseph’s Church, Temuka, Memorial, an “exceedingly beautiful” monument to the memory of those who had fallen in the war, was unveiled after a Memorial Service on 25 April 1922. During the service appropriate music was provided by the choir and an excellent address was delivered by the Rev. Dr. Kennedy. The name of Jeremiah O’Neill was heard on Anzac Day, 1927. A Requiem Mass was celebrated at St Joseph’s Church, Temuka. The celebrant preached a very stirring sermon based on the Book of Wisdom (Chapter III, Verses 2-5). He pointed out that the Gallipoli campaign and later “gigantic episodes” would remain for all time a wonderful symbol of the age-old courage of men. He reminded the lads present that the enormous sacrifices made by the soldiers of New Zealand and other parts of the Empire were helping them to have brighter and better lives, and that all should render thanks to God, who had delivered them out of the hands of the enemy. They had gathered to commemorate the landing at Gallipoli and also to set aside the day to show their deep and grateful acknowledgement of the services of the men who had fought and died for them on other fields of the great battle-front. “The light of immortality that flashed from the abandoned tomb of the risen Christ lingers on in every mound of Flanders mud and clay, the gullies of Gallipoli, the sands of Palestine and Egypt, on the quiet churchyards in English villages and on God’s acres in New Zealand.. . . . And to-day, before God’s altar, we remember them with the love we bore them and the pride we shall have in them,” he concluded. Before the Dead March was played by the organist, the names were read of those from the Temuka parish who had died “on the field of honour” – among them that of Jeremiah O’Neill.

The name of J. O’Neill is engraved on a brass shield, mounted on an oaken honours board, which was unveiled in a ceremony at the Seadown School in August 1920. A large gathering of Seadown residents and visitors from neighbouring districts took part in the unveiling and the accompanying musical service, which concluded with the sounding of the “Last Post”.

Sources

Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [08 October 2013]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ ref. AABK 18805 W5549 0088590) [03 June 2016]; CWGC [09 October 2013]; New Zealand Tablet, 7 August 1913, Timaru Herald, 12 & 31 May 1916, 21 August 1916, 28 June 1917, 19 October 1917 [x 2], 21 August 1920?, Temuka Leader, 3 March 1917, 20 October 1917, 24 August 1920, 1 December 1921, 26 April 1922, 12 August 1922, 26 April 1927, Otago Daily Times, 22 June 1917, Waikato Times, 22 June 1917, Evening Post, 22 June 1917, Press, 28 June 1917, Dominion, 4 July 1917, North Otago Times, 19 October 1917, Sun, 19 October 1917, New Zealand Times, 19 October 1917, Evening Post, 1 January 1921, (Papers Past) [16 November 2013; 03 August 2014; 16 September 2014; 24 October 2014, 02 June 2016; 18 & 20 October 2017]; New Zealand Electoral Rolls (ancestry.com.au); Probate record (Archives NZ/FamilySearch) [24 April 2016]; 1901 & 1911 Ireland census returns (National Archives Ireland per ancestry.com.au) [18 October 2017]; Immigration Department - general inwards correspondence (Archives NZ) [03 June 2016]; Passenger list (Archives NZ/FamilySearch) [19 October 2017]; Passenger list (ancestry.com.au) [20 October 2017]; Civil registrations Ireland (per ancestry.com.au) [21 October 2017]

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

Currently Assigned to

TS

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