Profile

GEANEY, Daniel Patrick
(Service number 26/993)

Aliases Dan
First Rank Rifleman Last Rank Rifleman

Birth

Date 18 July 1886 Place of Birth Timaru, New Zealand

Enlistment Information

Date 11 October 1915 Age 29 years
Address at Enlistment Inchbonnie
Occupation Bushman
Previous Military Experience Brunnerton Volunteers - disbanded
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Humphrey GEANEY (father), Brunnerton, West Coast
Religion Roman Catholic
Medical Information Height 5 feet 11 inches. Weight 149 lbs. Chest measurement 35½-38½ inches. Complexion dark. Eyes blue. Hair dark. Sight - both eyes D - 6/6. Hearing good. Colour vision normal. Limbs well formed. Full & perfect movement of all joints. Chest well formed. Heart & lungs normal. Teeth fair. No illnesses. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated. good bodily & mental health, No slight defects. No fits. Fit for Field Force.

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation New Zealand Rifle Brigade
Unit, Squadron, or Ship 4th Battalion, C Company
Date 5 February 1916
Transport Ulimaroa or Mokoia or Navua
Embarked From Wellington Destination Suez, Egypt
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With New Zealand Rifle Brigade, 4th Battalion

Military Awards

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

Award Circumstances and Date

Continuous good work in patrolling for the 4th Battalion, 3rd New Zealand (Rifle) Brigade. On the night of the 12th and 13th July, while on patrol duty, he brought an officer and a sergeant, who were wounded,back to our trenches. On the night of July 14/15th during a raid by a party from the 4th Battalion, 3rd New Zealand (Rifle) Brigade, he saw a party of Germans leave their trenches, and he crawled forward and threw six bombs at them, driving them back. On his way back to report, he was seriously wounded. 28 July 1916

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

15 July 1916 gunshot wounds to head & hips, France; admitted No 13 General Hospital, Boulogne; 21 July embarked Hospita Ship St Denis for England; admitted Mile End Military Hospital, Camberwell, with gunshot wounds to neck & jaw - dangerously ill.

Post-war Occupations

Death

Date 27 July 1916 Age 30 years
Place of Death 1st General Hospital, Camberwell, London, England
Cause Died of wounds (to neck & jaw)
Notices
Memorial or Cemetery Nunhead (All Saints) Cemetery, London, England
Memorial Reference 52. 33511 C
New Zealand Memorials Greymouth War Memorial

Biographical Notes

Daniel Patrick Geaney, known as Dan, was born on 18 July 1886 at Timaru, the youngest son of Humphrey and Catherine (née O'Brien) Geaney; and was baptised Catholic on 15 August 1886 at Timaru. His parents came from Victoria, Australia, in about 1885, and had two more children – Daniel and Martha. Two of his older Australian-born siblings received some education at Fairview near Timaru, but the family had moved to Brunnerton on the West Coast before Dan reached school age. He was educated at the Convent School, Brunnerton, and the Marist Brothers’ School, Greymouth. Dan was obviously an active and articulate young man. At the Brunner Rifles firing for “the rifle and rug” in October 1903, Pvt D. Geaney finished with one of the best score, being ranked sixth. In 1908 D. Geaney was a member of the Brunner Draughts Club which easily defeated the Blackball Club in a friendly game. He also contributed a song in the entertainment afterwards. Dan’s younger sister, Martha, married on 24 November 1908 at Brunnerton, his immediately older brother James the best man. It appears that James was one of the three brothers who served in World War I, one who also lost his life, although no conclusive records have been found. James was indeed, recorded at home with his parents in 1905, a carpenter, but holding an absent voter’s permit. In the early 1910s Dan was given to writing to the newspaper on matters political and/or religious. Dan Geaney was partially run over by the travelling bench at the Inchbonnie sawmill on 31 August 1911. Fortunately, his injuries were not as serious as first thought, and, with medical attention, he made favourable progress.

Dan enlisted on 11 October 1915, aged 29 years. Single and Roman Catholic, he nominated his father, Humphrey Geaney, Brunnerton, West Coast, as next-of-kin. Daniel himself, was a bushman at Inchbonnie, where he had been recorded as a millman in 1911. He was a well-built man and, no doubt, fit and strong. He was 5 feet 11 inches tall, weighed 149 pounds, and had a chest measurement of 35½-38½ inches. His complexion was dark, eyes blue, and hair dark. His sight, hearing and colour vision were all normal; his limbs, joints, heart and lungs all good; his teeth only fair. Vaccinated and free of all diseases and defects, he was assessed as “Fit for Field Force”. He had previously served with the Brunnerton Volunteers, until the force disbanded. With fifty or so other men, he left Greymouth on 11 October, by the s.s. Mapourika, to join the Trentham Rifle Brigade. They were publicly farewelled at the Drill Shed at 8 o’clock in the evening and left by the steamer an hour later.

Rifleman Geaney embarked with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade on 5 February 1916 at Wellington per the “Navua”, and disembarked on 15 March at Suez. From there he went to France three weeks later. A cable in July 1916 brought the news that Rifleman D. P. Geaney had been wounded on 15 July and admitted to hospital. He had suffered gunshot wounds to his head and hips, in France, and was admitted to No 13 General Hospital at Boulogne. Transported to England on the Hospital Ship St Denis on 21 July, he was admitted to Mile End Military Hospital, Camberwell, dangerously ill from the gunshot wounds, specifically to his neck and jaw. At this time three boys in the family of Mr and Mrs Geaney were, or had been, in the trenches “somewhere in France”, fighting for their King and country.

The 4th Battalion launched a successful raid on the enemy trenches on the night of 14/15 July. Much of the success of the undertaking was due to the excellent work of the scouts and patrols, among them Rifleman D. P. Geaney. On the night prior to the raid, the patrol of which Geaney was a member was fired upon and an officer and a sergeant were wounded. “These, after almost superhuman effort, he succeeded in bringing in to our lines. Again, on the night of the raid, Geaney was again scouting on the left of the party, when he observed a number of Germans leave their trench and endeavour to work round our flank, but he attacked these single-handed and bombed them back. Unfortunately, on the return of our raiders Geaney was seriously wounded. Sergeant Martin, who saw him fall, bound up his wounds under heavy fire and brought him safely into our lines.” [The Official History of the NZ Rifle Brigade].

Rifleman Daniel Patrick Geaney died on 27 July 1916, at the First London General Hospital, England, aged 30 years and 9 days. He had succumbed to the serious wounds he received in action in France. Two of the three brothers were at the time still in the trenches fighting. He was buried in Nunhead (All Saints) Cemetery, London. “The deceased was a splendid stamp of a man, well known and highly respected, and was a sawmiller by occupation, having been engaged at various mills along the Otira line. He has two brothers serving at the Front.” (Greymouth Evening Star. 31 July 1916). The sympathy of the community was conveyed to his parents in their sad loss. Soon after Mr and Mrs H. Geaney gratefully acknowledged the numerous messages of sympathy extended to them. Not long before his death, Dan and J. Geaney, from Otira line, had each received parcels valued at £2 6s 11d from the Moana Patriotic Fund. At a function to bid farewell to some soldiers, the Chairman of the Otira Line Soldiers’ Clothing Fund paid great tribute to the patriotism of the residents of the Otira Line, especially in the sawmilling districts from Baxter’s Siding to Inchbonnie. There had been a very high percentage of enlistments from this district, 61 recruits having left and six giving their lives, one of them Dan Geaney. “The Geaney family, of Brunner, have sent three sons, two of whom left from this district.” “Two brothers of the deceased [Daniel] are at the front – one in France and the other in Egypt.” [New Zealand Tablet, 7 September 1916].

On 6 June 1916, Geaney had written to his younger sister, describing vividly early days in the trenches. “I have just finished my first relief in the trenches and passed the ordeal safely. The particular sector of the front we occupy is a comparatively quiet one, that is to say, there is not much offensive fighting or attacking done. . . . . . . But, of course, it cannot last for ever, and a general ‘smack up,’—or what the Huns call a ‘straafe’ —may start any time, in which case it will be war in real earnest, . . . . . . I see Jerry [brother] very often. The company he is in relieves mine in the trenches, and both are in the same brigade. He is under similar conditions to mine. All the West Coast talen are in easy touch with one another . . . . . . Of course in an attack the position would be reversed, and a fellow would need to have a considerable amount of luck to come out unscathed. . . . . . Meanwhile we are having a real good time — plenty of food, clothes and rest, and not too much work. After coming out of the trenches we go through a big bath house. Go in one end, strip off everything, wash ourselves in disinfected warm water and come out the other dressed in new, or at least clean, clothing. No matter how dirty you become in the trenches you are made quite new again. . . . . . . The civil population hereabouts take life rather seriously, which is not to be wondered at . . . . . . The districts we passed through in the train are really entrancing. Green fields, nothing but green fields and beautiful towns, the inhabitants of which wear a perpetual smile, rippling into laughter, on the smallest provocation. They remind me, by their general manner of Irish people. I believe they are Irish, only they speak the French language. Everywhere are manifestations of their religious fervour, while their churches inside are simply magnificent. . . . . . . it is a crime what the Huns do with any that are within range. But it doesn’t matter much after all. It will all be made good again some day.”

Lieut. T. E. Y. Seddon communicated with the West Coasters on 11 August 1916 - “There is not a great deal of news since I last wrote. Poor Dan Geaney is reported to have died in the hospital in London. Jerry, his brother, is with me, and we cannot find any trace of Dan, so I wrote to Sir Thomas Mackenzie to-day. You would be surprised if you knew how little is known by one unit about what goes on in another. In fact, one company doesn’t know what happens in the neighbouring company’s lines. Any news one gets in the trenches is unreliable somehow. . . . . . I am just off to the trenches. Adieu.” Lieut. T. E. Y. Seddon, M.P., also communicated with Mr Humphrey Geaney, in connection with the death of his son, Rifleman Dan P. Geaney. Lieut. Seddon. in view of reports that the deceased soldier was not killed, wrote to the High Commissioner’s Office in London and received the following reply, dated August 17th, from Sir Thomas. Mackenzie (High Commissioner): — “I have your letter of the 11th inst, and find out, upon inquiry, that unfortunately No. 26/993, Rifleman D. P. Geaney, died of wounds on July 7th, in the First London General Hospital, Camberwell, London.” In a letter to the deceased's mother, dated August 29th, Lieut. Seddon wrote: “Accept my deepest sympathy in the loss of your dear son. Dan. When I heard he was wounded I tried to find him, but heard he had been sent to England. I asked Sir Thomas Mackenzie to find out, and I am sending his letter, and also your son Jerry’s. The latter has been very upset. I made inquiries several times about Dan and always got the very best reports. He did excellent work for the Rifle Brigade and his loss will be severely felt by his comrades. To you and Mr. Geaney I send my sympathy.”

D. P. Geaney was awarded the Military Medal on 28 July 1916, the day after his death. The citation read – “Continuous good work in patrolling for the 4th Battalion, 3rd New Zealand (Rifle) Brigade. On the night of the 12th and 13th July, while on patrol duty, he brought an officer and a sergeant, who were wounded, back to our trenches. On the night of July 14/15th during a raid by a party from the 4th Battalion, 3rd New Zealand (Rifle) Brigade, he saw a party of Germans leave their trenches, and he crawled forward and threw six bombs at them, driving them back. On his way back to report, he was seriously wounded.” 14 August 1916. The military medal was a new decoration instituted by Royal Warrant on 25 March 1916, for acts of bravery in the field.

[Greymouth Evening Star. 3 October 1916] “When full details are available it will probably be found that the following letter, written by Sergeant Robert Simmers, to his mother at Dannevirke, refers to what happened at the time when, for his conspicuous bravery, the late Private Denis [sic] Geaney, of Brunner, was awarded the Military Cross, Sergeant Simmers gives the story in these words: “The other night I took out a fighting patrol into ‘No Man’s Land’ and had quite an experience. We went out, firstly, to look for a wounded man, and after that to fight any Germans we saw. I believe the enemy used the wounded man as a decoy, for he (the enemy) had a large party waiting for us in the grass and thistles. To cut a short story shorter, he lobbed a score of bombs amongst us, and we could not see where they came from. Five of us remained and found the wounded man - and after three hours’ waiting, with machinegun fire going on over and round us, stretcher-bearers arrived. The five of us were mentioned in despatches.” The following were the five men referred to: Sergeant Simmers, Dannevirke; Sergeant Brister, Christchurch; Bombardier Kuhtz, Palmerston North; Gunner Millar, Shannon; Private J.[sic] D. Geaney, Brunner (since reported died of wounds). Private Geaney is a son of Mr. and Mrs Humphrey Geaney, of Brunner, who have two other sons in the firing line in France. The death of their son has been a tremendous shock to them, but the knowledge that he not only did his duty to his King and country but also displayed such conspicuous bravery that he was awarded the Military Cross, will no doubt help to assuage the grief they feel at the loss of their beloved one.” [Sergeant Robert Simmers, MM, also had South Canterbury connections.]

Mrs Geaney was invited to go to Christchurch, expenses paid, to receive her son’s Military Medal. She duly accepted the invitation. The presentation, however, took place at Greymouth. The Territorials and Senior Cadets were to muster at the Drill Hall to assist in the presentation in April 1917, but, in the event, the Minister of Defence presented the medal on the balcony of Revington’s Hotel, Greymouth, as a large crowd gathered. It was with mixed feeling, said Sir James, that one came there that night to present the medal to the mother of a gallant lad who had lost his life while serving his King and country, and, he might add, his parents. He was very sorry that the brave lad was not permitted to return and be with them that night to have the medal pinned on him. But he saw in the brave lad's death, hope arising from the fact of his gallantry and devotion to duty. . . . . . . The lad's mother was there to receive the medal and she would cherish it all her life. The people would recognise what had been done by the young man. . . . . . . He did not wish to keep the people too long and he would hand to Mrs. Geaney the medal won by her son, Private Geaney, who had performed such gallant service for his King and country. He was sure that Mrs. Geaney would be proud to remember that her son was the brave son of a brave mother. . . . . . Sir James Allen then read a letter which he had received from Mrs. Geaney thanking him for the distinction. Three cheers were heartily given for the Minister, on the motion of the Mayor, followed by three cheers for the late Private Geaney. A few days after, Mrs Geaney was at the Anzac Day public service at Greymouth. The service opened with the National Anthem, followed by the well-known hymn “0 God our Help in Ages Past, our hope for years to come.” Prayer was offered and the 90th Psalm read before addresses, the proceedings concluding with the singing of “Abide with Me” and the National Anthem. The residents of Otira Line presented a memorial cot in honour of the late D. P, Geaney to the Grey River Hospital in August 1917. A brass plaque was attached, on which were to be inscribed the names of all soldiers from Otira Line who fell in battle. In May 1920 Mrs Geaney and two other mothers had the honour to be presented to his Royal Highness at Greymouth.

Dan’s father, mother and sisters inserted an In Memoriam notice in the Greymouth Evenuing Star of 27 July 1918 –

Bravely he fought for his country’s cause,

Nobly in honour he died.

E’en though our hearts with sorrow are pierced,

We think of him still with pride.

Far from his home his body is laid,

He sleeps in a soldier’s grave;

But God has taken his precious soul,

The soul that he died to save.

Earlier in July 1918, Mr and Mrs Geaney, of Greymouth, had received the following:— “Dear Friend,-Just a line to let you know that in connection with the Pilgrimage on Anzac Day to the graves of New Zealand soldiers buried in the country, Mrs Sharp and another Australian lady (Miss Naylor) visited Nunhead cemetery, near London. There we also found the resting place of your loved one and several other New Zealanders who have made the supreme sacrifice. On these graves also we placed floral tributes and planted some pansies. Similar action, was, I know, taken in other centres, and I am hopeful that next year all New Zealand graves in the United Kingdom will be specially visited on Anzac Day. With kind regards, yours sincerely, A. T. Sharp, organiser, Anzac Day Pilgrimage.” A photograph of Miss Naylor visiting the graves, from the collection of Mr Alfred Thomas Sharp, is held by the Australian War Memorial. [See attached record.]

Mrs Geaney, who was an ardent worker for patriotic purposes, died in 1925, survived by her husband and one son (Jeremiah) and one daughter (Martha). “Two sons were killed during the war.” Mrs Geaney bequeathed her estate to her two children, Jeremiah Geaney and Martha Paine. When Mr Humphrey Geaney died in 1933, he was survived by two sons and one daughter (Press, 24 May 1933), so there is a discrepancy. Yet, his death certificate records only one son living (59 years, Jeremiah) and one daughter (45 years, Martha). Mr Geaney had taken an active part in the rescue work at the time of the Brunner mine disaster in 1893.

Daniel Patrick Geaney’s medals - British War Medal and Victory Medal – were sent to his mother, Mrs H. Geaney; the plaque and scroll to his father, Mr Humphrey Geaney. A photo of Rifleman D. P. Geaney, Brunnerton, was printed in the New Zealand Tablet of 7 September 1916. There was also a photo in the Auckland Weekly News, 31 August 1916, p. 46. His brother Jeremiah Geaney, who served in World War I, is believed to be the first man wounded by gas. Who was the third brother who served and lost his life? James? [Information provided by relative, 4 July 2019.] Three Geaney second cousins – Francis, Timothy Christopher and Raymond Daniel – also served with the New Zealand Forces in the war. The name of D. P. Geaney is recorded on the Greymouth War Memorial, alongside the plaque inscribed “Remember with thanksgiving the true and faithful men who in the years of the Great War 1914-1918 went forth for God and Right.”

Sources

Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [15 August 2016]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ Ref. AABK 18805 W5539 0043792) [16 August 2016]; CWGC [15 August 2016]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [15 August 2016]; NZ Electoral Rolls (ancestry.com.au) [15 August 2016]; Greymouth Evening Star, 16 October 1903, 8 September 1908, 7 December 1908, 24 May 1910, 2 July 1910, 1 August 1911, 5 September 1911, 2 December 1911, 30 September 1915, 8 October 1915, 29 & 31 July 1916, 2, 8, 10 & 23 August 1916, 2, 3 & 28 October 1916, 19, 20 & 25 April 1917, 10 May 1917, 15 August 1917, 27 July 1918, 14 May 1920, Grey River Argus, 1 & 9 October 1915, 25 & 31 July 1916, 1 August 1916, 16, 19 & 20 April 1917, Evening Post, 29 July 1916, Press, 31 July 1916, 24 November 1925, 24 May 1933, North Otago Times, 1 August 1916, Otago Witness, 9 August 1916, New Zealand Tablet, 7 September 1916 (incl. photo), New Zealand Herald, 22 & 23 September 1916, Otago Daily Times, 24 October 1916, Star, 7 November 1916, Timaru Herald, 8 November 1916, Colonist, 13 February 1917, Feilding Star, 22 February 1917, Waimate Daily Advertiser, 20 April 1917, New Zealand Times, 20 July 1918 (Papers Past) [15, 16, 17, 19 & 21 August 2016; 21 May 2018; 03 July 2019]; Christchurch Catholic Diocese Baptisms Index CD (held by South Canterbury Branch NZSG) [2016]; Reference to The Official History of the NZ Rifle Brigade, Part 1. – In the Trenches [04 July 2018]; Greymouth War Memorial images (New Zealand History) [03/07/2019]

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC brnach NZSG

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TS

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