Profile

GEANEY, Jeremiah
(Service number 6/3707)

Aliases
First Rank Private Last Rank Private

Birth

Date 30 July 1876 Place of Birth Allandale, Victoria, Australia

Enlistment Information

Date 20 October 1915 Age 39 years
Address at Enlistment Brunnerton
Occupation Carpenter
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Mrs GEANEY (mother), Brunnerton
Religion Roman Catholic
Medical Information Height 6 feet 1½ inches. Weight 162 lbs. Chest measurement 36½-39½ inches. Complexion fair. Eyes blue. Hair fair. Sight - both eyes D = 6/6. Hearing good. Colour vision normal. Limbs well formed. Full & perfect movement of all joints. Chest well formed. Heart & lungs normal. Teeth - requires artificial upper teeth. No illnesses. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated. Good bodily & mental health. No slight defects. No fits. Fit for Field Force.

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 9th Reforcements, Canterbury Infantry Battalion, C Company
Date 8 January 1916
Transport Maunganui
Embarked From Wellington Destination Suez, Egypt
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With Canterbury 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

Discharge

Date 3 November 1918 Reason No longer physically fit for War Service (Overage).

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

9 February 1918 wounded - badly gassed - severe case; admitted to Field Ambulance, then to Casualty clearing Station. 12 March 1918 admitted to Military Hospital at Bethnal Green, London.

Post-war Occupations

Miner, labourer

Death

Date 8 July 1957 Age 82 years
Place of Death Westport
Cause
Notices
Memorial or Cemetery Orowaiti Cemetery, Westport
Memorial Reference Section F1, Block 17, Plot 1148
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Jeremiah Geaney was born on 30 July 1876 at Allandale, Victoria, Australia, the eldest surviving son of Humphrey and Catherine (née O'Brien) Geaney. He came to Timaru with his parents came from Victoria, Australia, in about 1885. Prior to that Jeremiah was educated in Victoria, Australia. Here he and his older sister Mary attended Fairview School and the Timaru Catholic School. By 1888 the family had moved to Brunnerton on the West Coast where he probably continued his education at the Convent School, Brunnerton. Very likely he was the J. Geaney who finished 3rd in the Basses section of the West Coast Band contest held in May 1897. Jerry’s younger sister, Martha, married on 24 November 1908 at Brunnerton, his immediately younger brother James the best man. It appears that James was one of the three brothers who served in World War I, he and Daniel Patrick losing their lives, although no conclusive records for James have been found. James was indeed, recorded at home with his parents in 1905, a carpenter, but holding an absent voter’s permit. In March 1910 at the Grey Warden’s Court, an application for an extended claim, dam and water race at Kaimata, was granted to Jeremah Geaney and three others. J. Geaney of Greymouth was one of the many visitors to the New Zealand Pavilion at the Anglo-Japanese Exhibition in London in December 1910. Was this Jeremiah, or rather perhaps his brother James?

Jeremiah Geaney, of Kaimata, Grey Valley, was the victim of theft on 19 December 1914 - £6 in money and one bottle of gold specimens valued at £11. Jerry was visiting Greymouth when he met the culprit and “treated him liberally” with liquor refreshments and cab drives. He had gone to the Union Bank to sell some gold (a little over 2 ounces). He placed the money received in his waistcoat pocket and the silver in his trousers pocket. He also carried a bottle of gold in his vest pocket opposite the money. Geaney met the accused in the dining room at the Empire Hotel and, after dinner, invited him to accompany him in a cab to the cemetery. On the way Geaney treated him to some beers and showed him the bottle of gold. Back in town at a certain house, the accused persuaded Geaney to give him the money to look after, and, at the same time, took the bottle of gold from his pocket. Accused did not meet Geaney before the Otira train left, as stated. Geaney went in search of the man, but when found, the accused denied ever meeting Geaney, whereupon Geaney made a complaint to a detective. Geaney’s evidence was supported by the cabdriver, although he stated that both men were “half stunned” and “merry”. The woman at the house also stated that the accused had taken the money and bottle of gold in spite of Geaney’s protestations. When accused was arrested in Christchurch on 23 December, his mother handed over the bottle of gold specimens he had brought from the Coast. Accused was committed for trial in the Supreme Court at Greymouth, the case being left to a petty jury in March 1915.

It was in October 1915 that Jeremiah Geaney, of Kaimata, left the West Coast for Trentham. The contingent met at the Drill Hall, Greymouth, at 11am on a Monday in mid October, and again at 3pm, before embarking on the “Mapourika”. On enlistment on 20 October 1915, aged39 years, Jeremiah was a carpenter, single and Roman Catholic. He named his mother, Mrs Geaney, Brunnerton, as his next-of-kin. Jerry, too, was at Brunnerton. He was a well-built man, standing at 6 feet 1½ inches, weighing 162 pounds, and with a chest measurement of 36½-39½ inches. His complexion was fair, eyes blue, and hair fair. His sight, hearing and colour vision were all good, as were his limbs, joints, heart and lungs. He required artificial upper teeth. In good bodily and mental health, free of diseases and defects, he was assessed as Fit for Field Force. Private Jeremiah Geaney embarked with the Canterbury Infantry Battalion of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, on 8 January 1916 at Wellington, destined for Suez, Egypt, per the “Maunganui”. On 8 February he disembarked at Suez. He proceeded to France in April after a month at Reserve Camp.

When news came through in July 1916 that Jeremiah’s youngest brother, Daniel Patrick Geaney, was dangerously ill from gunshot wounds to his neck and jaw, it was reported that three boys in the family of Mr and Mrs Geaney were, or had been, in the trenches “somewhere in France”, fighting for their King and country. Dan Geaney died on 27 July 1916, at the First London General Hospital, England. Two of the three brothers were at the time still serving at the Front.” (Greymouth Evening Star. 31 July 1916). Not long before Dan’s death, J. Geaney and Dan Geaney, from Otira line, had each received parcels valued at £2 6s 11d from the Moana Patriotic Fund. At a function to bid farewell to some soldiers, the Chairman of the Otira Line Soldiers’ Clothing Fund paid great tribute to the patriotism of the residents of the Otira Line, especially in the sawmilling districts from Baxter’s Siding to Inchbonnie. There had been a very high percentage of enlistments from this district, 61 recruits having left and six giving their lives, one of them Dan Geaney. “The Geaney family, of Brunner, have sent three sons, two of whom left from this district.” “Two brothers of the deceased [Daniel] are at the front – one in France and the other in Egypt.” [New Zealand Tablet, 7 September 1916]. Jeremiah was the one in France. It was also in July 1916 that Jeremiah forfeited five days pay for absence from a fatigue party while on Active Service.

J. Geaney was detached to Brigade Headquarters workshops at the end of February 1917. In March 1918, the Defence Department reported that Jeremiah Geaney, 6/3707, C.I.TR., had been wounded on 9 February and was in hospital, a severe case. He was badly gassed. He was admitted first to the 3rd New Zealand Field Ambulance, and three days later moved to the Canadian Casulaty Clearing Station. Again at this time, mention was made that three of the family had enlisted, one, Daniel, having paid the supreme sacrifice. Surely the third son was James Geaney? In July the High Commissioner advised Mrs Geaney that her son, Private J. Geaney, who was suffering from gas poisoning at the Military Hospital, Bethnal Green, London, was “doing very well”. He had been admitted to this hospital on 12 March, then transferred to the New Zealand General Hospital at Richmond, before going on leave from the New Zealand Convalescent Hospital at Hornchurch on 29 May. He had been classified as unfit by the Medical Board.

Returning Draft No 187 (“Ionic”) brought home a large number of soldiers in early October 1918, among them J. Geaney, 6/3707, Brunnerton. The West Coasters came by the evening express on 11 October. Jeremiah was assured of a hearty welcome home. Indeed, as of 12 October 1918, Mr and Mrs Geaney, of Brunner, publicly thanked the Mayor, Mr and Mrs Rodgers, Citizens and members of the Band, and their many friends on the Otira line, “for the reception and kindness shown to their son Jeremiah, who returned from the front on Thursday last.” Jeremiah was discharged on 3 November 1918, no longer physically fit for War Service - Overage. Private Geaney had served in Egypt and Western Europe, and was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

The following year Jeremiah Geaney was fined £2, having been charged with being on licensed premises, the Buck’s Head Hotel, Taylorville, on 10 august, during a time prohibited by the Act. A few years later he was fined 5 shillings for a breach of his prohibition order. In September 1919 he transferred a half interest in a block of land at Kopara. And in March 1941 at the Warden’s Court, Greymouth, Jeremiah Geaney and three others surrendered absolutely, dam licence No. 35/1910, the licence which they had been granted in 1910. Jeremiah lived out his days on the West Coast, a miner, farmer and labourer. By 1938 he was a war pensioner living at the Old People’s Home in Greymouth, and from the 1950s at the Hokitika home.

Jeremiah Geaney died on 8 July 1957 at Westport, aged 82 years, and was buried in the Orowaiti Cemetery at Westport. He appointed the Public Trustee the executor and trustee of his Will (signed on 1 August1956). And he bequeathed all his estate to the O’Conor Memorial Institute of Westport, the receipt of the Mother Superior or Secretary or Treasurer being sufficient discharge. His estate consisted of a Post office Savings Bank account, cash, and accrued War Pension, totalling £320. Jeremiah Geaney was well known throughout his life in connection with the various sawmills along the Otira line.

Mrs Geaney, who was an ardent worker for patriotic purposes, died in 1925, survived by her husband and one son (Jeremiah) and one daughter (Martha). “Two sons were killed during the war.” Mrs Geaney bequeathed her estate to her two surviving children, Jeremiah Geaney and Martha Paine. When Mr Humphrey Geaney died in 1933, he was survived by two sons and one daughter (Press, 24 May 1933), so there is a discrepancy. Yet, his death certificate records only one son living (59 years, Jeremiah) and one daughter (45 years, Martha). Mr Geaney had taken an active part in the rescue work at the time of the Brunner mine disaster in 1893. Daniel Patrick Geaney had died of his wounds on 27 July 1916, at the First London General Hospital, England. Who was the other son who lost his life in the war? When, where and how did he die?

Sources

Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [15 August 2016]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ Ref. AABK 18805 W5539 0043794) [16 August 2016]; Timaru Herald, 8 May 1897, Greymouth Evening Star, 7 December 1908, 22 March1910, 31 July 1916, 10 & 23 August 1916, 6, 8 & 9 March 1918, 17 July 1918, 2 & 14 October 1918, 25 August 1919, 17 October 1919, Dominion, 9 December 1910, West Coast Times, 30 December 1914, Grey River Argus, 31 December 1914 [x 2], 5 & 11 March 1915, 15 October 1915, 9 March 1918, 8 & 11 October 1918, Otago Witness, 9 August 1916, Press, 6 & 8 March 1918, 20 January 1925, 24 November 1925, 24 May 1933, 26 March 1941, New Zealand Times, 8 March 1918, Evening Post, 30 September 1918 (Papers Past) [16 & 17 August 2016; 03 & 05 July 2019]; Orowaiti Cemetery burial record (Buller District Council) [15 August 2016]; Orowaiti Cemetery, Westport, headstone transcription (South Canterbury Branch NZSG cemetery records) [15 August 2016]; Probate record (Archives NZ/FamilySearch) [16 August 2016]; School Admission records (South Canterbury Branch NZSG) [15 August 2016]; NZ Electoral Rolls (ancestry.com.au) [17 August 2016]; Victoria, Australia, birth registration (ancestry.com.au) [July 2019]

External Links

Related Documents

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

Currently Assigned to

TS

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