O'BRIEN, Patrick
(Service number 38736)

First Rank Private Last Rank Private


Date 7 October 1884 Place of Birth Geraldine

Enlistment Information

Date (1) 7 January 1916; (2) 9 October 1916 Age (1) 31 years 3 months; (2) 32 years
Address at Enlistment C of G.P.O. Auckland
Occupation (1) Horse trainer; (2) Labourer
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin (1) Edward O'BRIEN (father), 28 Salisbury Street, Christchurch; (2) Mrs S. O'BRIEN (mother), 162 Elizabeth Street, St Albans, Christchurch; 187 Salisbury Street, Christchurch
Religion Roman Catholic
Medical Information (1) Height 5 feet 5 inches. Weight 9 stone. Complexion dark. Eyes brown. Hair dark. Sight, hearing & colour vision all normal. Limbs well formed. Full & perfect movement of all joints. Chest well formed. Heart & lungs normal. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Good bodily & mental health. No illnesses. No fits. No marks or scars. Fit. (2) Height 5 feet 5 inches. Weight 9 stone 10 lbs. Chest measurement 31-34 inches. Complexion dark. Eyes brown. Hair dark. Sight - both eyes 6/9. Hearing & colour vision both normal. Limbs well formed. Full & perfect movement of all joints. Chest well formed. Heart & lungs normal. Teeth ? No illnesses. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated. Good bodily & mmental health. no slight defects. No Fits. Fit.

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 22nd Reinforcements, Wellington Infantry Regiment, B Company
Date 16 February 1917
Transport Aparima
Embarked From Destination Plymouth, Devon, England
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With Wellington Regiment

Military Awards

Service Medals British War 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


Date 18 November 1917 Reason No longer physically fit for war service on account of pre-enlistment disability aggravated by Active Service.

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

25 June 1917 admitted to NZ General Hospital at Codford - old injury to spine.

Post-war Occupations

Woolclasser; Jockey


Date 14 October 1973 Age 89 years
Place of Death Hastings
Memorial or Cemetery Hastings Cemetery
Memorial Reference RSA Block, Plot E78
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Patrick O'Brien was the sixth son of Edward and Susan Anna (née McClelland) O'Brien. Edward and Susan, both from Ireland, married in 1875 at Timaru. Patrick was born on 7 October 1884 and baptised Roman Catholic on 2 November following at Geraldine. The initial ‘S’ has been added to his military file, resulting in Patrick S. O’Brien. P. S. O'Brien is printed in some newspapers. He attended Geraldine School where, in early 1892, he received a prize for general excellence in the Preparatory class, No. 2. Perhaps Patrick’s parents were among the very small representation of parents on the occasion. Fortunately there was a large gathering of parents and friends for the annual distribution of prizes in December 1893. Few attendance prizes were awarded, but measles and other sicknesses had attacked the children during the year. The chairman of the Town Board urged the children to be regular in attendance and to “get as much learning as they could while they were young.” “Learn a trade if you possibly can,” was the message of a former schoolmaster to the boys. Patrick O’Brien, in Standard II, was again a prize recipient.

Patrick’s mother was a cripple by December 1903, when it was reported that she could not attend court to defend her husband on a charge of having a cow at large. His parents lived at Geraldine until about 1912 when they moved to Christchurch. Edward O’Brien senior, who died in April 1922 and Susan O’Brien in June 1931, are buried in Bromley Cemetery, Christchurch.

Patrick, like some of his brothers, embarked on a career as a jockey and went away to the North Island. It appears that he rode Kopu to first place in October 1908 at the Hawke’s Bay Jockey Club spring meeting. He got away to a good start and, when others drew near, “the big chestnut colt had only to be shaken up to win by a length and a half.” He was to ride Kopu again in February 1909, this time in the Wanganui Cup. The Hawke’s Bay Metropolitan Committee granted Patrick and his brother Edward a jockey’s licence at the August 1909 meeting. P. S. O’Brien’s licence was granted again in March 1911. In April 1911, at the Waipukurau Jockey Club’s annual meeting he was one of two jockeys involved in an unfortunate accident when their mounts fell. It appeared, when both were unable to rise, that they had sustained serious injuries. The one was soon back on his feet but O’Brien had to be carried in. Both were taken to hospital, but their injuries appeared to be only bad bruises. April was not a good month for P. O’Brien who suffered another injury in 1912, when his horse Rutter fell while being schooled over the hurdles at Ellerslie. The horse struck an obstacle very hard and dislodged his rider. O’Brien was conveyed to the casualty room where, on examination, he was found to have received a severe shaking and a dislocated shoulder. He was then taken to hospital by ambulance. Three weeks later he was able to resume riding work. P. S. O’Brien was granted a jockey’s licence for the 1912-13 season by the Auckland District Committee in August 1912; and in September 1913 he was again granted a jockey’s licence. At the Whangarei Racing Club’s annual meeting in January 1913, P. O’Brien rode Marangai, the favourite, to a win in the Kensington Handicap. On the second day of racing he took Marangai to another win, by over two lengths in the Bushmen’s Purse. The Auckland District Committee cancelled P. O’Brien’s jockey’s licence in May 1914. Come July 1914, and the Wellington Racing Club wrote to the Masterton Racing Club that the licence of P. S. O’Brien had been cancelled. Patrick was, however, in a group of jockeys who were granted three month licences in the Auckland area in October 1914. Perhaps he was the rider of Nat Lupin in a “good exhibition of good, clean cross country” galloping a couple of weeks later. And he was granted a jockey’s licence by the Auckland district committee in January 1915.

Patrick Sylvester O’Brien was a jockey at Hastings, as shown in the 1911 electoral roll; by 1914 he was residing at Ellerslie. Patrick O’Brien (N/N) had voluntarily attested on 7 January 1916 at Auckland, only to be discharged from camp on 27 July as medically unfit. The finding of the Medical Board was that he had a weak knee owing to an old dislocation. The disability was considered permanent. He had given his occupation as a self-employed horse trainer and nominated his father of Christchurch as next-of-kin. Not to be deterred, Patrick S. O’Brien enlisted on 9 October 1916 for the duration of the war. Listing his occupation as labourer and his address as care of the GPO in Auckland, he nominated his mother in Christchurch as next-of-kin. On both occasions he gave his birthdate as three years younger than he was; there seems to be no reason other than perhaps ‘not knowing’. On 17 October Auckland’s military district’s quota for the twenty-second reinforcements were despatched to the training camps. The city section, which included Patrick, was to parade at the Drill Hall for roll-call at 9.30 a.m. before leaving by train. Patrick O’Brien was in good bodily and mental health, although he stood at only 5 feet 5 inches and weighed only 9 stone 10 pounds, as might be expected of a jockey. It was on 16 February 1917 that he embarked at Wellington per the ‘Aparima’ for Plymouth, Devon, England, with the 22nd Reinforcements, Wellington Infantry Regiment, B Company. On 2 May 1917 he disembarked at Devonport and marched into Sling Camp. He went no further, however.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [27 January 2019]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ ref. AABK 18805 W5549 0087439) [25 January 2019], NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ ref. AABK 18805 W5549 0087440) [30 January 2019], NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [27 January 2019]; Hastings Cemetery headstone image & burial record (Hastings District Council) [30 January 2019]; Timaru Herald, 28 January 1892, Temuka Leader, 23 December 1893, 3 December 1903, Hastings Standard, 7 October 1908, 24 February 1909, 7 August 1909, 4 March 1911, 18 April 1911, 7 October 1911, 18 April 1912, New Zealand Times, 18 April 1911, Auckland Star, 18 April 1912, 22 May 1912, 9 August 1912, 10 & 11 January 1913, 15 January 1915, New Zealand Herald, 12 September 1913, 15 May 1914, 17 October 1916, Wairarapa Daily Times, 6 July 1914, Observer, 17 & 31 October 1914, Stratford Evening Post, 10 July 1917, Evening Post, 10 & 27 July 1917, Sun, 22 October 1917, Sun, 28 July 1917, Press, 10 April 1922 (Papers Past) [27, 30 & 31 January 2019; 03 February 2019]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [28 January 2019; 03 February 2019]; Baptism index (Christchurch Catholic Diocese index held by South Canterbury Branch NZSG) [27 January 2019]

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

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