DRISCOLL, Matthew Richard
(Service number 57050)

First Rank Rifleman Last Rank Rifleman


Date 17 April 1889 Place of Birth Timaru

Enlistment Information

Date 30 April 1917 Age 29 years
Address at Enlistment Havelock Hotel, Hastings
Occupation Labourer (Hawkes Bay County Council)
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Mrs DRISCOLL (mother), Pleasant Point, South Canterbury
Religion Roman Catholic
Medical Information Height 5 feet 3 inches. Weight 124 lbs. Chest measurement 32-35½ inches. Complexion dark. Eyes brown. Hair black. Sight - both eyes 6/6. Hearing & colour vision both normal. Limbs well formed. full & perfect movement movement of all joints. Chest well formed. Heart & lungs normal. No illnesses. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. No vaccination mark. Good bodliy & mental health. No slight defects. No fits. Fit. A.

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation New Zealand Rifle Brigade
Unit, Squadron, or Ship Reinforcements J Company
Date 26 July 1917
Transport Ulimaroa
Embarked From Destination Plymouth, Devon, England
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With New Zealand 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 8 February 1919 Reason No longer physically fit for War service on account of Neurasthenia.

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

4 December 1917 wounded - buried by shells; pulled out dazed, pain at back of head, shaky & giddy - shell shock. admitted to hospital & transferred to England

Post-war Occupations



Date 15 July 1976 Age 88 years
Place of Death Ashburton
Memorial or Cemetery Ashburton Cemetery
Memorial Reference RSA, Area 49, Plot 7
New Zealand Memorials Seadown War Memorial (returned)

Biographical Notes

Matthew Richard Driscoll was born on 17 April 1888 at Timaru, the son of Timothy Edward Driscoll and Honorah née Irwin. Both parents were Irish born although Matthew did not know his mother’s name when he enlisted. He was baptised Roman Catholic on 6 May 1888 at Temuka. The family name is variously spelt Driscoll and O’Driscoll. Along with his eight brothers and three sisters Matthew was educated at Seadown School.

Matthew Richard Driscoll was listed on the First Division Reserve Roll, while a labourer residing at Stortford Lodge, Hastings. And he was still a labourer at Stortford Lodge when he was selected by lot for service with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force and accordingly received the call up. He enlisted on 30 April 1917, just after his 29th birthday. He was single, Roman Catholic and working as a labourer for the Hawkes Bay County Council, giving his address as Havelock Hotel, Hastings. Matthew was in good bodily and mental health, and though of quite small build (5 feet 3 inches tall, weighing 124 pounds and with a chest measurement of 32-35½ inches), he was classified Fit A. His complexion was dark, his hair black and eyes brown. Mrs Driscoll, his mother of Pleasant Point, was his nominated next-of-kin.

He was one of the “Rank and File” Hastings men who were notified that they were to proceed to camp on 31 May 1917 with the 30th Reinforcements. He embarked with the 28th Reinforcements New Zealand Rifle Brigade on 26 July 1917, per the Ulimaroa, destined for Plymouth, Devon England, where he disembarked two months later. On 23 October he proceeded overseas from Brocton and joined his battalion at Rouen.

Matthew Richard Driscoll, 57050, New Zealand Rifle Brigade, was wounded in action on 4 December 1917, one of 54 reported wounded in casualty list No 747 issued on 21 December. A later message sent to his mother reported that he was suffering from shell shock. He was first admitted to the No 2 New Zealand Field Ambulance, transferred the following day to No 10 Casualty Clearing Station , and on 6 December to the New Zealand Stationary Hospital, where the wound was classified as shell shock. He was admitted to No 26 General Hospital at Etaples, France, still suffering from shell shock. By late December his was reported as a not severe case, yet in January 1918 he embarked for Brighton, England and was admitted to the City of London Military Hospital at Clapton for a week before moving to the New Zealand Hospital at Brockenhurst. On 8 March 1918 he was to report to Brocton Camp, and subsequently to Torquay. The Medical Board, convened in late December 1917, had determined that his general aspect was apathetic but there were no signs of external injury. Rifleman Driscoll stated that on 3 December 1917 at about 3.30pm in the front trench he was buried completely by shells. He was pulled out in about 10 minutes – was dazed and felt pain at back of head, shaky and giddy. He stated also that he “sleeps badly”. It was certified that he “was in a portion of trench that was heavily shelled and was buried for some minutes. On being dug out he appeared to be badly shaken.” The case was classified “shell shock wound”.

Rifleman Matthew Richard Driscoll – associated with both Pleasant Point and Hastings - was included in the draft of returning soldiers which was expected to arrive per the Maunganui at Wellington on 11 January 1919, after embarking at Liverpool on 21 December 1918. This was a large draft, No 203, of invalided soldiers. A Medical Board assembled on 1 January 1919 on the Maunganui determined that he was suffering from weakness as a result of his disability; progress was satisfactory. His disability was permanent and he was no longer fit for active service or territorial service but fit for civil employment. The board recommended that he be discharged, and that he be considered for a pension, his capacity for earning a full livelihood having been lessened by a quarter, which situation would last for three months.

Rifleman M. R. Driscoll was discharged on 8 February 1919, no longer physically fit for War Service on account of Neurasthenia, as determined by the Medical Board. He had seen service in the Western European campaign, for which he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. A welcome home social was arranged for both Matthew and James O’Driscoll, and two others, for 9 May 1919 in the Seadown School – Gents 2s 6d, Ladies a Basket. For a time after the war Matthew lived at Seadown, and from the mid 1940s he moved around Mid Canterbury – Dromore, Dunsandel, Chertsey. In retirement he resided at Tuarangi Home in Ashburton. Matthew’s second sister, Mary, died in November 1918; a brother, Timothy, died in 1922. His mother died in 1926 and his father in 1927. All four, and Patrick and William, are buried together in the Temuka Cemetery. When Matthew’s youngest brother, (John) Joseph Driscoll applied for administration of the estates of their brothers thomas and Brian, both of whom died in 1962, Matthew was a 74 year old pensioner of Dunsandel and in both instances he consented to the grants.

Matthew Driscoll died on 15 July 1976, at Ashburton, at the good age of 89. He was buried (Presbyterian) in the Ashburton Cemetery, his grave marked by a Services plaque.

The names of M. O’Driscoll and J. O’Driscoll are inscribed on the Seadown district roll of honour. The “massive and beautiful” oaken honours board, which was unveiled in a ceremony at the Seadown School in August 1920, includes in gold the names of returned soldiers. 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”. His brother James Patrick Joseph Driscoll also served in World War I. Another brother, Thomas Michael Driscoll, was a conscientious objector and, after being listed as a military defaulter, was imprisoned. Two other brothers were called up – Joseph, a flax-cutter at Shannon (believed to be Brian Joseph), and William Driscoll, a labourer at Temuka.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [28 August 2016]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ ref. AABK 18805 W5537 0035513) [09 October 2016], Hastings Standard, 17 April 1917, 21 May 191711 January 1919, New Zealand Times, 22 December 1917, Otago Daily Times, 22 December 1917, 2 January 1919, Timaru Herald, 24 December 1917, 7 January 1918, 2 December 1918, 7 May 1919, 21 August 1920, Poverty Bay Herald, 29 December 1917, 31 January 1918, Sun, 1 January 1919 (Papers Past) [28 August 2016; 28 & 29 June 2018; 05 August 2018]; School Admission records (South Canterbury Branch NZSG) [28 August 2016]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [28 August 2016]; Ashburton Cemetery headstone image and burial record (Ashburton District Council) [28 August 2016; 31 March 2017]; Baptism Record (Christchurch Catholic Diocese Baptism Index CD, held by S C Branch NZSG) [27 June 2018]; Probate records for family (Archives NZ/FamilySearch) [27, 28, 29 & 30 June 2018]

External Links

Related Documents

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

Currently Assigned to


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