O'CONNELL, Bartholomew
(Service number 47177)

First Rank Rifleman Last Rank Rifleman


Date 1 July 1892 Place of Birth Temuka

Enlistment Information

Date 21 February 1917 Age 24 years 7 months
Address at Enlistment Empire Hotel, Temuka
Occupation Labourer
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Miss B. O'CONNELL (sister), care of Holwell, P. O. Box 2, Temuka
Religion Roman Catholic
Medical Information Height 5 feet 6 inches. Complexion ruddy. Eyes grey. Hair brown.

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 26th Reinforcements, G Company
Date 9 June 1917
Transport Willochra
Embarked From Wellington Destination Devonport, England
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With New Zealand Cycle Corps; Rifle Brigade

Military Awards

Campaigns Western European
Service Medals 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 21 July 1919 Reason Termination of period of engagement

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

21 September 1917 - admitted to 3 New Zealand General Hospital at Codford, UK with sprained ankle; 11 October discharged to the Convalescent Depot. 9 April 1918 - admitted to Hospital then transferred to the Convalescent Depot suffering from myalgia. 10 May 1918 - evacuated to Hospital – sick; rejoined unit on 11 May from the Field Ambulance. June 1918 - visit to the Casualty Clearing Station. 23 July 1918 - admitted to Casualty Clearing Station & on 24 July 1918 transferred to 9th General Hospital at Rouen, France, suffering from diarrhoea; 26 July 1918 transferred to 25 Stationary Hospital; 15 August 1918 transferred to 2 Convalescent Depot; 16 August transferred to 11 Convalescent Depot; 2 October 1918 discharged to Base Depot.

Post-war Occupations



Date 30 March 1966 Age 73 years
Place of Death Wellington
Memorial or Cemetery Karori Cemetery
Memorial Reference Soldiers Section, Plot 24 M/5
New Zealand Memorials Seadown Memorial (Returned)

Biographical Notes

Bartholomew O'Connell, known as Bat, was the second son of Irish parents, Patrick and Mary (née Horgan) O'Connell. He was born on 1 July 1892 at Temuka and baptised Roman Catholic at Temuka on 17 July 1892. Both his birth and his baptism were registered as Connell. Like his siblings, he started his education at Seadown School and at the age of ten he transferred to the Kerrytown School. Bartholomew’s mother died in 1907 and his father in 1909. Mr Patrick Connell (O’Connell) met with a fatal accident on 27 June 1909, just one day before his wife’s second anniversary. He was thrown out of a trap when the horse swerved to avoid some sheep. Bartholomew was a labourer residing at Temuka with some of his siblings when he was called up in 1916. He had registered for compulsory military training at Temuka and at the medical examination at Temuka in May 1916 he was rejected as unfit for the Military Forces because of heart trouble. On enlisting, at the age of 24 years 7 months, he gave his address as Empire Hotel, Temuka, and his employer as T. Sugrue, Belfield. He nominated his sister as next-of-kin – Miss B. O’Connell, C/o Mr Holwell, Box 2, Temuka. This was possibly his sister Elizabeth. His name was recorded as Bartholomew James O’Connell, the James crossed out. He was 5 feet 6 inches tall, with a ruddy complexion, grey eyes and brown hair. He was Roman Catholic and single.

Before leaving for Trentham, B. O’Connell and his comrades in the 25th Reinforcements were treated to a great farewell. On 13 February the Temuka, Geraldine and Orari men were given a warm send-off at Temuka. They were treated to afternoon tea – “a bountiful spread”. A few short speeches were delivered. We have got to admit that at the present time our nation is in trouble, and those boys are going to help us out, said the chairman of the Temuka Patriotic Entertainment Committee. They are going to fight side by side with the boys who have gone 12 or 13 months ago, help them to finish the job, and bring them back. We are proud to have such boys able and willing to go. Major Kennedy, who had brought a number of Geraldine boys with him, wished them health and prosperity at the front, and hoped they would be spared to come back again. One of the departing soldiers, who were cheered by about a thousand persons at the railway station, was B. O’Connell. Rifleman Bartholomew O’Connell embarked at Wellington on 9 June 1917 with the 26th Reinforcements. He travelled on the ‘Willochra’ via Cape of Good Hope and Republic of South Africa, arriving at Devonport, England, on 16 August, and marching into camp.

On 21 September 1917 O’Connell was admitted to No. 3 New Zealand General Hospital at Codford in the UK, from Sling, with a sprained ankle, and on 11 October discharged to the Convalescent Depot. He then joined the New Zealand Rifle Brigade at Brocton. It was not until 20 February 1918 that he proceeded overseas. On 9 April 1918 he was again admitted to Hospital then transferred to the Convalescent Depot, this time suffering from myalgia. Later in April he marched in at Etaples, France and in early May was transferred to the New Zealand Cycle Corps. He was posted to his unit on 8 May 1918, only to be evacuated to Hospital – sick – on 10 May; he rejoined his unit on 11 May from the Field Ambulance. On 25 June 1918 he joined his unit yet again, this time from the Casualty Clearing Station, after an “accident”. On 23 July 1918 he was admitted to the Casualty Clearing Station and on 24 July 1918 to the 9th General Hospital at Rouen, France, suffering from diarrhoea; on 26 July 1918 transferred to No. 25 Stationary Hospital; on 15 August 1918 again transferred to No. 2 Convalescent Depot; and on 16 August transferred to No. 11 Convalescent Depot. His had been reported as a not severe case. He was finally discharged to Base Depot on 2 October 1918. He was able to rejoin his unit. Private O’Connell went to the UK on leave on 14 January 1919 and was detained there on 10 February 1919 after leave.

Bartholomew O’Connell had his lapses while overseas. On New Year’s Eve 1917 at Broxton he was absent without leave, the penalty incurred being confined to barracks for three days and forfeiting two days pay. In June 1918 he was fined two shillings and sixpence for drunkenness in the Field. He was not on duty and was to blame, with the subsequent disciplinary action. The case was reported as “Injured”.

B. O’Connell returned home by the ‘Maunganui’, embarking on 17 May 1919 at Liverpool and reaching New Zealand on 23 June 1919. A fairly large number of people gathered at Temuka railway station to greet the returning men, B. O’Connell one of them. The Temuka Juvenile Brass Band was in attendance and the men were driven to the Post Office Square for the official welcome. The Mayor extended a very hearty welcome to the soldiers and said he was proud to greet the boys “who had brought us to where we are to-day”. Three cheers were lustily given, and the men were motored home. Bartholomew O’Connell was discharged on 21 July 1919 after more than two years of service, most of it overseas in Western Europe. He received the British War Medal and Victory Medal in 1924. He continued to work as a labourer and gradually moved north, settling at Island Bay and marrying Margaret Delaney in the early 1940s. He died (as Bartholomew James O’Connell) on 30 March 1966, aged 73 years, and was buried at Karori Cemetery, Wellington. He appointed his wife Margaret as sole executrix and trustee of his Will, which had been drawn up in 1943. Margaret died on 11 June 1974 at Wellington and was buried at Akatarawa Cemetery, Upper Hutt.

Bartholomew’s brother, Patrick O’Connell, who was also living at Birkett Street, Temuka, was called up from the Reservists in 1917, but did not enlist. Bartholomew was a cousin of James O’Connell (23868) who died of wounds in 1917 in France and of James Patrick O’Connell (25/1099) who died in 1918; and also of William Patrick O’Connell and Francis Joseph O’Connell, who both served. Denis O’Connell who was killed in action in 1916 was not the brother of Bartholomew. B. O’Connell is one of the Returned Soldiers whose names are inscribed on an oaken honours board, which was unveiled in a ceremony at the Seadown School in August 1920. A large gathering of Seadown residents and visitors from neighbouring districts took part in the unveiling and the accompanying musical service, which concluded with the sounding of the “Last Post”. Below the names is the inscription: “Their names shall remain for ever, and their glory shall not be blotted out.”


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [08 April 2015]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ Ref. AABK 18805 W5549 0087542) [07 April 2015; 17 December 2020]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs historical records) [04 April 2015]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [04 April 2015]; Karori Cemetery headstone image & burial record (Wellington City Council) [10 April 2015]; School Admission records (South Canterbury Branch NZSG) [04 April 2015]; Baptism index (Catholic Diocese of Christchurch CD held by South Canterbury Branch NZSG); Temuka Leader, 29 June 1909, 15 February 1917, 24 August 1920, Lyttelton Times, 30 June 1909, Timaru Herald, 25 November 1916, 2 October 1917, 7 August 1918, 24 June 1919, 21 August 1920 (Papers Past) [07 April 2015; 9 February 2018; 31 March 2018; 11 December 2020; 27 July 2021]; Probate record (Archives NZ/Family Search) [11 January 2017]

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

Currently Assigned to


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