O'BOYLE, Joseph Michael
(Service number 25/1006)
|First Rank||Rifleman||Last Rank||Rifleman|
|Date||22 June 1885||Place of Birth||Doyleston, Canterbury, New Zealand|
|Date||14 October 1915||Age||30|
|Address at Enlistment||C/o P. O. Albury, Sth Canterbury, New Zealand|
|Previous Military Experience|
|Next of Kin||J. O'Boyle (father), Doyleston, Ellesmere, New Zealand|
|Medical Information||5 foot 6 1/2 inches tall, weight 140 lbs (64 kgs), chest 33-35 1/2 inches, fair complexion, brown hair, grey eyes, teeth fairly good and loss of end of little finger on left hand|
|Served with||NZ Armed Forces||Served in||Army|
|Body on Embarkation||New Zealand Rifle Brigade|
|Unit, Squadron, or Ship||3rd Battalion, C Company|
|Date||5 February 1916|
|Transport||Ulimaroa or Mokoia or Navua|
|Embarked From||Wellington, New Zealand||Destination||Suez, Egypt|
|Other Units Served With|
|Last Unit Served With||New Zealand Rifle Brigade|
|Campaigns||Egypt & Western Europe|
|Service Medals||British War Medal; Victory Medal|
Award Circumstances and Date
Prisoner of War Information
|Date of Capture|
|Where Captured and by Whom|
|Actions Prior to Capture|
|PoW Serial Number|
|Date||26 December 1918||Reason||No longer physically fit for war service on account of illness contracted on active service|
Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses
1 October1916 - wounded in neck - minor back with unit 4 October. 23 June 1917 - slightly wounded - remained with unit. 26 January 1918 - sick, admitted to NZ Field Ambulance, transferred to 63 Casuualty Clearing Sation 2 February; transferred to No 2 Australian General Hospital 6 February, transferred to England 8 transferred and admitted to No 4 London General Hospital, transferred to Hornchurch 26 February, 22 March sent to Comd Depot Codford Camp.
|Date||1 May 1934||Age||48|
|Place of Death||Awatere Valley, Blenheim, New Zealand|
|Notices||Dept of Internal Affairs 9 May 1934|
|Memorial or Cemetery||Omaka Cemetery, Blenheim|
|Memorial Reference||RSA Curve, Block F, Plot 2|
|New Zealand Memorials|
Joseph was born at Doyleston on 22 June 1885, the fifth of six sons and three daughters of James (1839-1931) and Mary Ann (nee Clarke, 1845-1929) O’Boyle. His father James was born at Ballymead, Co Antrim, Ireland and his mother Mary was born in Dublin, Ireland, but they married in New Zealand in 1873. Joseph received his primary education at the Leeston Catholic Day School and possibly later attended the Marist Brothers School in Christchurch.
When he enlisted on 14 October 1915 Joseph was working as a farm labourer for D. England at Albury, South Canterbury, and gave his address as care of V. Howes, Albury. He nominated his father James O’Boyle of Doyleston, Ellesmere, as his next of kin, and he was described as being 5 foot 6 ½ inches tall, weighing 140 pounds (64 kgs), chest measuring 33 – 35 ½ inches, of a fair complexion, grey eyes, brown hair and having fairly good teeth. He was also missing the end of his little finger on his left hand. Posted to the NZ Rifle Brigade (NZRB), he left for Suez, Egypt, with C Company, 3rd Battalion on 5 February 1916 from Wellington aboard the Ulumaroa, Mokoia or Navua. Further training followed in Egypt until he left for France from Alexandria on 7 April 1916.
The NZRB was sent to the Hazebrouek area in Flanders where they underwent three months extensive training in trench warfare. Here they were issued with their gas masks and tin helmets prior to being sent to the quiet area of Armentieres to experience actual battle conditions before moving south to the Somme battlefields and their first large scale action on the Western Front. On 1 October 1916 Joseph was wounded in the neck but was back with his unit by 4 October. The Battle of the Somme was New Zealand’s first major engagement on the Western Front and remains its mostly costly. It took a huge toll on the 18,000 members of the New Zealand Division who were involved. More than one in nine of the New Zealanders who fought on the Somme were killed, and about one in three were wounded.
Later, during the battle of Messines on 23 June 1917, Joseph was again slightly wounded but remained with his unit. 12 October 1917 was New Zealand's blackest day. The 2nd and 3rd (Rifle) brigades suffered around 3700 casualties in a disastrous attack on Bellevue Spur, Passchendaele, and about 845 men were left dead or dying. In mid-November they moved into the Polygon Wood section just south of Passchendaele where they faced three months in a mangled landscape, waterlogged and filled with the detritus of war, including dead mules and an underdeveloped trench system. Holding the line in this sector was a trying experience and another failed attack at Polderhoek in December added to their misery. Perhaps unsurprisingly on 26 January 1918 Joseph was sent to NZ Field Ambulance sick, admitted to No 63 Casualty Clearing Station on 2 February and transferred to No 2 Australian General Hospital at Wimereux on 6 February. On 8 February he was embarked to England and admitted to No 4 London General Hospital at Denmark Hill the same day, before being transferred to Hornchurch on 26 February.
Almost two months later on 22 March he was returned to the NZ Command Depot at Codford Camp, and on 21 May he was sent to the NZ Discharge Depot at Torquay, where on 23 May 1918, he was medically boarded and found unfit for further service. Finally he boarded the SS Paparoa at Plymouth on 8 August for his return to New Zealand, arriving home on 10 October. After having served a total of 3 years and 74 days he was discharged from the army on 26 December 1918 as no longer physically fit for war service on account of illness contracted on active service. He was later awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal for his service. In February 1919 at the Doyleston Hall, Joseph along with other local soldiers, were presented with medals of appreciation from the local community. His recuperation was still incomplete though as on 9 July 1919 he was admitted to Hanmer Hospital for treatment for his war related sickness.
Joseph later died at Awatere Valley in Blenheim of heart failure on 1 May 1934, aged 48 years, and is buried in the Omaka Cemetery, Blenheim, in the RSA Curve. Three of his brothers also served during the war: 44143 Rfn John O’Boyle served with the NZRB and was killed in action at Ypres on 1 October 1917; 11715 Pte Patrick James O’Boyle served with the Canterbury Infantry Battalion; and 76162 Pte Thomas O’Boyle served with the NZEF 40th Reinforcements. All their names are on a Roll of Honour Tablet in the Doyleston Memorial Library (now the Ellesmere Historical Society).
Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [July 2017]; New Zealand ANZACs in the Great War 1914-1918 (University of New South Wales) at http://nzef.adfa.edu.au/showPerson?pid=191960; Assorted records at Ancestry.com [July 2017]; 'Recruitung' Timaru Herald 14 July 1915 p2, 'Welcome Home at Doyleston' Ellesmere Guardian 19 February 1919 p2, 'Reported slightly wounded' Marlborough express 7 July 1917 p2, 'Latest casualty list' Auckland Star 21 February 1918 p2, and Uneveiling of Doyleston Library tablet Ellesmere Guardian 18 February 1930 p5, courtesy of Papers Past at https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz; 'Doyleston memorial Library' on New Zea;and History at https://nzhistory.govt.nz/media/photo/doyleston-memorial-library; Marlborough District Council cemetery records at http://www.marlborough.govt.nz/
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Researched and Written by
Ted Hansen, SC branch NZSG
Currently Assigned to
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