O'CONNELL , Denis Ambrose
(Service number 8/681)

First Rank Lance Corporal Last Rank Private


Date 3 April 1894 Place of Birth Christchurch

Enlistment Information

Date 23 August 1914 Age 20 years 4 months
Address at Enlistment Police Statiion, South Dunedin
Occupation Fitter
Previous Military Experience 4th Otago Regiment - serving
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Patrick O'CONNELL (father), Police Station, Gore
Medical Information

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation Main Body
Unit, Squadron, or Ship Otago Infantry Battalion
Date 16 October 1914
Transport Hawkes Bay or Ruapehu
Embarked From Port Chalmers, Dunedin Destination Suez, Egypt
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With Otago Infantry Regiment, 1st Battalion

Military Awards

Service Medals 1914-1915 Star; 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


Date Reason

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

Post-war Occupations


Date 14 July 1916 Age 22 years
Place of Death Somme, France
Cause Killed in action
Memorial or Cemetery Y Farm Military Cemetery, Bois-Grenier, France
Memorial Reference E. 67
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Denis Ambrose O’Connell was born on 3 April 1894 at Christchurch, the second son of Patrick Denis and Mary Ann (née McSweeney) O’Connell. His father was a sergeant of police and moved about the country. It was in November 1916 that Mr O’Connell was transferred to Waimate. Denis was educated by the Sisters of the Mission at Leeston and by the Christian Brothers at Dunedin. He enlisted on 23 August 1914 at Dunedin as Denis O’Connell, the additional name of Ambrose being notified some time after his death. He was a fitter, residing at the Police Station, South Dunedin. He was then serving with the 4th (Otago) Regiment. He nominated his father as next-of-kin. It appears that Sergeant Patrick O’Connell was at that time relieving at Gore, to where he was transferred inApril 1915. In November 1916, Sergeant O’Connell was moved to Waimate where, it was hoped, the milder climate would be better for his health.

Lance-Corporal O’Connell embarked with the Otago Infantry Battalion of the Main Body, on 16 October 1914 at Port Chalmers, headed for Suez, Egypt. He took part in the landing at Gallipoli. Denis O’Connell was wounded in the hand and knee on 6 September 1915 at Gallipoli. He recovered and rejoined his unit. After the evacuation of Gallipoli, he served on the Western Front.

Private Denis Ambrose was killed in action at the Somme, France on 14 July 1916, aged 22 , Bois-Grenier, France. He was reported missing from 14 July, and the fear that he had been killed was confirmed. Denis O’Connell had been a popular and successful member of St Joseph’s Harriers, Dunedin. His medals – 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal – weer to be sent to his mother, Mrs Mary O’Connell, Police Station, Waimate. She, however, moved to Christchurch. The scroll and plaque had been sent to Mr P. O’Connell, Police Station, Waimate, in 1921 and 1922 respectively.

William O’Connell (47506), a younger brother of Denis Ambrose O’Connell, also served in the war. His older brother, Henry Patrick O’Connell, was called up in 1916. Somme. His youngest brother, Reginald, became a priest, and his two sisters both entered the convent. Ida O’Connell gained proficiency at St Patrick’s School, Waimate in 1917. Gertrude O’Connell, of St Patrick’s Schhol, Waimate, gave gifts to the Lady Liverpool Christmas Fund in 1917 and 1918.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [04 April 2015]; CWGC [04 April 2015]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [04 January 2021]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [07 January 2021]; Mataura Ensign, 21 September 1915, North Otago Times, 9 September 1916Waimate Daily Advertiser, 1 May 1917, 11 August 1917, 25 July 1918 (Papers Past) [09 April 2015; 08 January 2021]

External Links

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

Currently Assigned to

Not assigned.

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