O'CONNELL, Francis Joseph
(Service number 6/4116)

Aliases Known as Frank. Birth registered as Francis Joseph CONNELL.
First Rank Private Last Rank Private


Date 29 June 1887 Place of Birth Seadown, South Canterbury

Enlistment Information

Date 17 November 1915 Age 28 years 5 months
Address at Enlistment 74 Wilson Street, Timaru
Occupation Bricklayer
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Miss Cecilia O'CONNELL (sister), 30 Matilda Street, Timaru. By October 1916 C/o Miss O'CONNELL, Telephone Exchange, Invercargill
Religion Roman Catholic
Medical Information Height 5 ft 9 in. Weight 147 lbs. Chest measurement 33-37 in. Complexion fair. Eyes blue. Hair auburn. Sight - both eyes 6/6. Hearing good. colour-vision correct. Limbs well formed. Full & perfect movement of all joints.. Chest well formed. Heatt & lungs normal. Teeth fair. No illnesses. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated. Good bodily & mental health. Slight hammer toe but not sufficient to cause rejection. No fits. Vertical scar 2½ in long, middle of front of lower right thigh.

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 19th Reinforcements, Canterbury Infantry Battalion, C Company
Date 4 March 1916
Transport Willochra or Tofua
Embarked From Wellington Destination Suez, Egypt
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With Canterbury Infantry Regiment

Military Awards

Campaigns Egyptian; Egyptian Expeditionary Force; 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 3 April 1918 Reason No longer physically fit for War Service on account of wounds received in Action.

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

1 October 1916 - reported wounded; 4 October 1916 admitted to St Johns Ambulance Hospital at Etaples; 9 October admitted to General Hospital at Birmingham. Bomb wound; 5 December transferred to Convalescent Depot at Hornchurch. 14 April 1917 - admitted to 3 NZ General Hospital at Codford - Lumbago; 25 April transferred to NZ Convalescent Hospital at Hornchurch; 22 May transferred to NZ Convalescent Depot at Codford; 27 May 1917 classified Unfit by Medical Board.

Post-war Occupations



Date 9 March 1968 Age 80 years
Place of Death Riverton
Memorial or Cemetery Riverton Cemetery
Memorial Reference Block D, Plot s 92 & 93
New Zealand Memorials Seadown Memorial (F. O.Connell – Returned)

Biographical Notes

Francis Joseph O’Connell, known as Frank, was the third son of Frank and Hannah (née Butler) O'Connell. He was born (Francis Joseph Connell) on 29 June 1887 at Seadown, South Canterbury, and baptised Roman Catholic at Temuka on 30 December 1887 (Frank Connell). Frank was educated at Seadown School, transferring at some point to St Joseph’s, Kerrytown. At Seadown in 1897, he was awarded a prize for equal in Standard II. The prizes were presented following the picnic, the Hon. W. Hall-Jones being unable to attend on this occasion. And in 1899, Frank was awarded a second-class attendance prize. This time the prizes were presented by the Hon. Mr Twomey following sports and games. At the Kerrytown School concert in November 1904, F. O’Connell played the part of a printer in a comedy, “Suit for Libel, Puff v. Alby”. “The boys went through the comedy with spirit, and appeared well up in their parts.” On leaving school, Frank entered the building trade. F. J. Connell competed with success in the Point Sheffield Handicap, 155 yards, at the Pleasant Point Caledonian Society annual sports in December 1906, winning £3 for his second placing in the final. Mr F. O’Connell served on the Seadown School Committee. In 1913 James’ father died. He hailed from County Kerry and, with two brothers and a sister, was an early settler in South Canterbury. In the early days he was a carrier, then he took up farming at Seadown. Mrs Hannah O’Connell had died in 1909. Frank O’Connell and five mates were fined 10 shillings and costs on 14 September 1915 at the Temuka Magistrate’s Court, for cycling at night without a light.

Private F. J. O’Connell, Timaru, was among the recruits for the Tenth Reinforcements who were despatched from the South Canterbury district to camp at Trentham on 16 November 1915. Frank was a bricklayer, living with siblings at 74 Wilson Street, Timaru, when he enlisted on 17 November 1915. Twenty-eight years old, single and Roman Catholic, he named his sister as next-of-kin – Cecilia O’Connell, of 30 Matilda Street, Timaru. Several of the family had moved to Timaru with their father in the last two years of his life. By October 1916 Cecilia moved to Invercargill with her sister. Francis Joseph O’Connell was 5 feet 9 inches tall, weighed 147 pounds and had a chest measurement of 33-37 inches. He had a fair complexion, blue eyes and auburn hair. His sight, hearing and colour vision were all correct, his limbs and chest well formed, his heart and lungs normal, but his teeth were only fair. He was in good bodily and mental health, vaccinated and free of diseases. He had a slight hammer toe but it was not bad enough for him to be rejected. He also had a vertical scar 2½ inches long, in the middle of the front of his lower right thigh.

Private F. J. O’Connell embarked at Wellington with the Canterbury Infantry Battalion of the 10th Reinforcements on 4 March 1916, and disembarked at Suez, Egypt on 10 April. Three days later he embarked at Port Said for France. It was mid May when he joined the 2nd Battalion Canterbury Rifles in the Field.

It was reported that Private Francis Joseph O’Connell, 6/4116, Canterbury Battalion, was wounded on 1 October 1916, his next-of-kin at Invercargill. On 4 October he was admitted to St Johns Ambulance Hospital at Etaples, and on 9 October admitted to General Hospital at Birmingham. He had suffered a bomb wound. He was transferred to the Convalescent Depot at Hornchurch on 5 December. O’Connell was admitted to 3 NZ General Hospital at Codford on 14 April 1917, this time suffering from lumbago. He was transferred to the NZ Convalescent Hospital at Hornchurch on 25 April and, after leave, to the NZ Convalescent Depot at Codford on 22 May. On 27 May 1917 Private F. J. O’Connell was classified Unfit by the Medical Board. He embarked at Plymouth on 2 November 1917 for the return to New Zealand per the “Tainui”. The 442 invalided and wounded soldiers of Draft No. 130 arrived at Auckland at the beginning of January 1918. “The men have been much benefited by the trip.” [Sun, 3 January 1918]. Both Frank and his brother Jim were in France in July 1917 when their brother William was recommended for a commission on the field. F. J. O’Connell was discharged on 3 April 1918, being no longer physically fit for War Service on account of wounds received in Action. He was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal for his service in Egypt and Western Europe.

After his return to New Zealand, Frank O’Connell settled atOtahuti in Southland and took on farming. In 1919 he was elected to the Otahuti householders’ school committee. Francis Joseph O’Connell married Catherine Flora O’Connor née Fraser on 8 March 1928 at Invercargill. Catherine died in 1946 and Frank on 8 March 1968 at Riverton (of Gropers Bush), aged 80 years. They are buried in the Riverton Cemetery. Francis named his four children in his will (dated 1963) – sons Peter William, James Anthony and Brian Francis, and his daughter – Judith Mary (Mrs Panagiotidis. Hannah Cecilia O’Connell died on 8 September 1934 at Ross, where her youngest brother was postmaster at the time. She was buried at Hokitika.

His brother, James O’Connell, died of wounds on 29 September 1917 in France. Another brother, William Patrick O’Connell (1892-1962), also served overseas. His oldest brother, Denis Frank O’Connell, was a dairy farmer at Dannevirke when he was called up in 1917. A cousin, James Patrick O’Connell, also died from the effects of the war. Bartholomew O’Connell, who also served, was another cousin. F. 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 0087556) [07 April 2015]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [07 April 2015]; School Admission record (South Canterbury Branch NZSG [08 April 2015]; Riverton Cemetery headstone transcription (South Canterbury Branch NZSG microfiche) [08 April 2015]; Riverton Cemetery burial records (Southland District Council) 08 April 2015]; Catholic Diocese of Christchurch baptism index (CD held by South Canterbury Branch NZSG) [10 April 2015; December 2020]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [04 April 2015; 01 January 2021]; Timaru Herald, 27 December 1897, 16 October 1916, 31 July 1917, 21 August 1920, Temuka Leader, 23 December 1899, 19 November 1904, 18 December 1906, 9 June 1907, 6 September 1913,13 November 1915, 24 August 1920, Lyttelton Times, 15 September 1915, Press, 14 October 1916, Ashburton Guardian, 14 October 1916, Sun, 14 October 1916, 3 January 1918, Dominion, 14 October 1916, New Zealand Times, 14 October 1916, 3 January 1918, Southland Times, 16 & 19 October 1916, 30 April 1919, Hokitika Guardian, 10 September 1934 (Papers Past) [07 & 09 April 2015; 09 February 2018; 31 March 2018; 16 December 2020; 01 & 04 January 2021]; Probate Record (Archives NZ) [05 January 2021]

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

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