Profile

DRISCOLL, Thomas Michael
(Service number 64783)

Aliases
First Rank Private Last Rank

Birth

Date 7 October 1889 Place of Birth Seadown, Canterbury

Enlistment Information

Date 28 August 1917 Age 27 years
Address at Enlistment Motoua, via Shannon
Occupation Flax cutter
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Mr T. DRISCOLL (father), Seadown, Temuka
Religion Roman Catholic
Medical Information Height 5 feet 7½ inches. Weight 168 lbs. Chest measurement 36-39 inches. Complexion ruddy. Eyes hazel. Hair dark brown. Sight - both eyes 6/6. Hearing & colour vision both normal. Limbs well formed. Full & perfect movement of all joints. Chest well formed. Heart & lungs normal. Trivial illnesses. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. No vaccination mark. Good bodily & mental health. No slight defects. No fits. Small scar front of right shin. Scar of burn . . . . right shoulder. A.

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation
Unit, Squadron, or Ship
Date
Transport
Embarked From Destination
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With

Military Awards

Campaigns
Service Medals
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

Post-war Occupations

Flax worker; labourer

Death

Date 15 May 1962 Age 72 years
Place of Death Rotorua
Cause
Notices
Memorial or Cemetery Rotorua Cemetery
Memorial Reference Block 8, Section B, Plot 46
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Thomas Michael Driscoll was born on 7 October 1889 at Seadown, the son of Timothy and Honorah (Norah, née Irwin) Driscoll, both of whom came from County Kerry, Ireland. He was baptised Roman Catholic on 14 October 1889 at Temuka. The family name is variously spelt Driscoll and O’Driscoll. Thomas and his brothers and sisters were educated at Seadown School. At the annual school picnic and prize distribution in 1897, Thomas received a prize for Standard I. In mid April 1908 Thomas may well be the T. Driscoll who turned out for the Temuka fourth grade football team to play against Celtic. T. Driscoll was in the selection mix for the Athletics football team at the beginning of the Temuka 1909 season. The two local clubs were to appear in their club colours for a series of grading matches.

It appears that Thomas Driscoll got into some strife as a young man in Wellington. On 5 January 1914 at the Wellington Court, 24 year old New Zealand born Thomas Driscoll, a labourer, was tried for “vagrancy and consorting”. His complexion was dark, his hair black and his eyes brown. He had a large burn scar on his upper right arm. Thomas and his brother, Joseph (probably Brian Joseph), along with two others, were deemed to be idle and disorderly in that they habitually consorted with reputed prostitutes. Thomas was sentenced to three months imprisonment, from which he was discharged on 4 April. Thomas may have already seen the inside of the courthouse before this occasion.

Initially Thomas Driscoll was listed on the Reserve Roll – maybe as both Thomas and Thomas Michael. There also on the Manawatu district Reserve Roll was Joseph Driscoll, probably Thomas’ brother (Brian Joseph). Thomas Michael Driscoll’s name was drawn in the ballot and he enlisted on 28 August 1917, aged 27 years, with the rank of Private, and was transferred to the Army Service Corps (Supply) in October. At that time he was a flax-cutter working at Koputoroa. He gave his address at Moutoa via Shannon, having been drawn in the ballot and called up while at Moutoa, and named his father, Mr T. Driscoll, Seadown, Temuka, as his next-of kin. Roman Catholic and single, he had a ruddy complexion, hazel eyes and dark brown hair. He stood at 5 feet 7½ inches, weighed 168 pounds and had a chest expansion of 36-39 inches. His sight, hearing, colour vision, limbs, heart and lungs were all good, and he had had only trivial illnesses. He had a small scar on front of right shin and a burn scar on right shoulder, but no vaccination mark. On his attestation form answered Yes, he had been imprisoned at Wellington in January 1914.

It was not long before he was at odds with the authorities. In October 1917, 64783 Pte T. M. Driscoll, Trentham details, was one of six soldiers found guilty by District Court Martial of disobeying lawful commands given by their superior officers. They were sentenced to two years imprisonment with hard labour. This offence also was recorded in the Police Gazette, where he was described as of dark complexion, with black hair, brown eyes and a medium nose; he was 5 feet 6½ inches tall and had a burn scar on his right upper arm. Thomas Driscoll had refused to take issue of kit on 31 August 1917, for which he was awarded 28 days detention. Further refusal a month later resulted in the 2 years hard labour sentence and forfeiture of 17 days pay. A footnote was recorded in the Court Martial Proceedings – “This man is not a Conscientious Objector, but objects to having anything to do with Military Work.” Notes in his file read – Not a CO (Conscientious Objector) but objects to war work; to camp under escort. ‘This man is a Roman Catholic, he did not appeal but states in his Court-Martial that he has conscientious objections, he also states that he does not believe in any set Church.’ (AWMM) Thomas was discharged from Invercargill gaol after serving eighteen months, on 16 April 1919. But there were consequences.

Just over a week after Cabinet authorised publication of the list of military defaulters (men who evaded service), the Manawatu Herald carried the following article on 24 May 1919, other newspapers reporting in similar vein -

MILITARY DEFAULTERS.

DISTRICT LIST.

In pursuance of section 8 of the Expeditionary Forces Amendment Act, 1918, the Minister of Defence has had prepared and has now published in the Gazette [14 May 1919] the list of military defaulters, and he declares such list to be the Military Defaulters’ List under that Act. Men whose names appear on the list are subject to various disqualifications and penalties, such as deprivation of civil rights for 10 years from December 10th, 1918; being employed by the Crown; being elected for Parliament or local bodies; and being enrolled as electors. They are prohibited from returning to New Zealand for 10 years if away, or from changing their names, and are liable to 12 months’ imprisonment for committing any breach of the foregoing provisions. Any man whose name appears in error on the list may appeal to a Magistrate within three months of its publication, to have it removed. The list altogether contains 2600 names. Those of the men in the Manawatu district are as follow: — . . . . . Driscoll, Thomas M., flax cutter, Shannon. . . . .

Thomas Michael Driscoll is listed in the New Zealand History records of New Zealanders who resisted the First World War both as an imprisoned conscientious objector and as a military defaulter (1919). The men on the defaulters’ list had their civil rights restored in September 1927, more than a year earlier than originally intended. By 1935 Thomas was again employed as a flax worker at Paiaki Mill, Koputaroa in the Manawatu district. From the 1940s he resided in Wellington and worked as a labourer.

Thomas’ second sister, Mary, died in November 1918; a brother, Timothy, died in 1922. His mother died in 1926 and his father in 1927. All four, and Patrick and William, are buried together in the Temuka Cemetery. Thomas Michael Driscoll died on 15 May 1962 at Rotorua, but late of Wellington, aged 72 years. He was buried in Rotorua Cemetery. Letters of Administration of his estate were granted on 5 June 1963. His brother Joseph (John Joseph) Driscoll swore an affidavit. It was stated that Thomas was survived by four brothers – Matthew of Dunsandel, pensioner, aged 74; James aged 70, believed to be residing outside the Dominion – in North Queensland, and his address was unknown; Brian aged 77, but who had since died at Silverstream; and (John) Joseph aged 60; and by two sisters – Catherine Boyle of Napier, pensioner, aged 78; and Elizabeth Webb aged 65, of Timaru, wife of Seddon David Webb, formerly a gardener. Matthew, Joseph, Catherine and Elizabeth consented to administration by The Guardian Trust and Executors Company. Four brothers and one sister had predeceased Thomas – Patrick, Timothy, William, Michael, and Mary. All of them died without having ever been married and without issue. The estate, effects and credits of the deceased Thomas were estimated to under the value of £4,100.0s.0d.

The application for administration of the estate of his brother Brian confirmed the family structure and the fates of the twelve siblings. The case of Brian Joseph Driscoll who died on 28 July 1962 was also sworn by the youngest of the family, John Joseph Driscoll (known as Joseph), of Christchurch, aged 61 years, in February 1964. He stated that, besides himself, there were two surviving brothers – Matthew Driscoll, a 75 year old pensioner of Dunsandel; and James Patrick Joseph Driscoll, of care Mission Bay Post Office, via El Ariah, North Queensland, aged 72 years, retired. There were also two sisters – Catherine Boyle, of 3 Seddon Street, Marowa, Napier, pensioner, aged 79 years; and Elizabeth Webb, aged 65 years, of 39a Rhodes Street, Timaru, wife of Seddon David Waddell Webb, formerly a gardener. He stated further that five other brothers had predeceased Brian Joseph – namely, Patrick, Timothy Joseph, William John Joseph, Michael John and Thomas, and one sister had predeceased him – Mary Agnes. The surviving siblings consented to the grant in writing. James Patrick Joseph Driscoll, also referred to as James Driscoll, provided signed formal consent with a covering letter. The five surviving siblings only were entitled to share in the estate.

Two of his Thomas’ brothers served in World War I - James Patrick Joseph Driscoll and Matthew Richard Driscoll. Two other brothers were called up – Joseph, a flax-cutter at Shannon (believed to be Brian Joseph), and William Driscoll, a labourer at Temuka.

Sources

Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [29 June 2018]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ ref. AABK 18805 W5537 0035518) [06 October 2016]; Timaru Herald, 27 December 1897, 2 December 1918, Temuka Leader, 5 May 1908, 17 April 1909, Dominion, 6 January 1914, New Zealand Times, 6 January 2018, 27 October 1917, Evening Star, 27 June 1914, Horowhenua Chronicle, 15 March 1917, Waimate Daily Advertiser, 30 October 1917, Feilding Star, 27 October 1917, Press, 27 October 1917, Evening Post, 22 May 1919, Manawatu Times, 23 May 1919, Manawatu Herald, 24 May 1919 (Papers Past) [28 August 2016; 07 October 2016; 29 June 2018; 04 July 2018; 05 August 2018]; School Admission records (South Canterbury Branch NZSG) [28 August 2016]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [28 August 2016]; NZ Electoral Rolls (ancestry.com.au) [28 August 2016; June 2018]; Baptism Record (Christchurch Catholic Diocese Baptism Index CD, held by S C Branch NZSG) [27 June 2018]; Probate record & records for family (Archives NZ/FamilySearch) [27, 28, 29 & 30 June 2018]; Rotorua Cemetery burial record (Rotorua Lakes Council [June 2018]; NZ Police Gazette & The New Zealand Gazette entries (ancestry.co.au) [June 2018]; New Zealand History ('Imprisoned conscientious objectors, 1916-1920', URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/war/the-military-objectors-list, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 1-Aug-2016; 'Military defaulters list, 1919', URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/war/military-defaulters-list, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 21-Sep-2017) [07 October 2016]

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

Currently Assigned to

TS

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