O'CONNELL , William
(Service number 47506)

First Rank Corporal Last Rank


Date 11 June 1896 Place of Birth Telegraphist

Enlistment Information

Date Age
Address at Enlistment Military Camp, Trentham
Previous Military Experience P & T Engineers - exempted
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Mrs Mary O'CONNELL (mother), Waimate, Canterbury
Religion Roman Catholic
Medical Information

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 27th Reinforcements, (First Draft) Specialists Company, Signal Section
Date 12 June 1917
Transport Maunganui
Embarked From Destination Plymouth, Devon, England
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With

Military Awards

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


Date Reason

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

Post-war Occupations



Date 15 March 1969 Age 72 years
Place of Death
Memorial or Cemetery Aramoho Cemetery, Whanganui
Memorial Reference Block B, Row 5
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

William O’Connell was born on 11 June 1896 at Kaiapoi, the third son of Patrick Denis and Mary Ann (née McSweeney) O’Connell. His father was a sergeant of police and moved about the country. William was a telegraphist for the New Zealand Government, his address Military Camp, Trentham, when he enlisted. His nominated next-of-kin was his mother – Mrs Mary O’Connell, Waimate, Canterbury. His father was stationed at Waimate from November 1916 into the mid 1920s. He had moved from Gore to Waimate, where, it was hoped, the milder climate would benefit his health.

Corporal O’Connell embarked with the Signal Section of the Specialists Company on 12 June 1917. Private W. O’Connell, of Waimate, returned from the Front by the ‘Maunganui’, which arrived a Port Chalmers from England on 23 June 1919. He resumed duty on the Waimate telegraph office staff. In October 1922, after some years on the staff of the Waimate Post Office, William was transferred to Feilding. Prior to his departure he was presented with a fountain pen, Loewe pipe and a knife by his co-workers. The Postmaster “spoke of the esteem in which Mr O’Connell was held, not only by members of the staff, but by the general public to whom, he had always been most courteous and obliging. . . . . [He] wished Mr O’Connell a full measure of success wherever he went, accompanied by prosperity and health.” Mr O’Connell expressed thanks for the sentiments expressed and for the gifts. Mr O’Connell was also entertained by a large number of friends in the Orange Hall. “Several speeches were made in which general regret at the departure of Mr O’Connell was expressed but he was assured that he went away from Waimate with the good wishes of the community.” He was presented with a travelling rug and suit ease. ‘For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow’ was sung, and cheers were lustily given when Mr O’Connell accepted the gifts.

William O’Connell married Laura Frances Colman in January 1923 at St Anthony’s church, Martinborough. His brother Cyril was best man. William and Laura lived in various places in the central North Island, moving to Whanganui in the 1940s and retiring there. He died on 15 March 1969, aged 72 years, and was buried at Aramoho Cemetery, Whanganui.

Denis Ambrose O’Connell, an older brother of William, was killed in action in 1916 at the Somme. He had enlisted on the outbreak of war, when his father was at Gore. His oldest brother, Henry Patrick O’Connell, was called up in 1916. 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 January 2021]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [04 January 2021]; Aramoho Cemetery headstone transcription [07 January 2021]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [07 January 2021]; Waimate Daily Advertiser, 1 May 1917, 11 August 1917, 25 July 1918, 16 June 1919, 24 July 1919, Sun, 13 June 1919, Timaru Herald, 16 June 1919, 23 & 30 October 1922, Press, 22 January 1923 (Papers Past) [16 December 2020; 04 & 08 January 2021]

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

Currently Assigned to

Not assigned.

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