O'CONNELL , Timothy
(Service number 3/1665)

Aliases Timothy Maurice O'CONNELL at burial
First Rank Private Last Rank Private


Date 1 January 1885 Place of Birth Ballydesmond, County Cork, Ireland

Enlistment Information

Date 16 November 1915 Age 30 years 10 months
Address at Enlistment Mangamahu
Occupation Navvy
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Patrick O'CONNELL (uncle), Pleasant Point, Canterbury; Mrs Maurice O'CONNELL (mother), Kingwilliamstown, County Cork, Ireland
Religion Roman Catholic
Medical Information Height 5 feet 9 inches. Weight 14 stone. Chest measurement 37-41 inches. Complexion medium. Eyes brown. Hair brown. Sight – both eyes 6/60. Hearing & colour vision both normal. Limbs well formed. Full & perfect movement of all joints. Chest well formed. Heart & lungs normal. Teeth good. No illnesses. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccination mark. Good bodily & mental health. No fits. Fit for Ambulance. Not fit for Infantry.

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, New Zealand Medical Corps
Date 15 November 1916
Transport Tahiti or Manganui
Embarked From Destination Plymouth, Devon, England
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With NZ Medical Corps (2nd Field Ambulance)

Military Awards

Campaigns Western European
Service Medals British War Medal; Victory Medal
Military Awards Military Medal (MM)

Award Circumstances and Date

For Acts of Gallantry in the Field on 15 October 1917 – for service with the Field Ambulance of the New Zealand Medical Corps, in connection with the battle for Passchendaele Ridge from October 4 to 25.

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 12 August 1918 Reason No longer physically fit for War Service. Defective Vision.

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

21 February 1918 - admitted to 2nd NZ General Hospital, Walton-on-Thames, England - defective vision

Post-war Occupations



Date 17 February 1969 Age 84 years
Place of Death Auckland
Memorial or Cemetery Waikumete Cemetery, Auckland
Memorial Reference Area M, Row 21, Plot 44
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Timothy O’Connell was born on 1 January 1885 in County Cork, Ireland, the son of Maurice and Mrs O'Connell, of Kingwilliamstown, County Cork. He may well be the Timothy who was a 15 year old scholar at home with his parents, Maurice and Mary, and siblings at Burnt Lane, Cork, in 1901, and again in 1911 when he was a general labourer. A labourer for the Wanganui County Council at Mangamahu, he registered for active service at the defence office and enlisted with the New Zealand Forces on 16 November 1915. He named, as next-of-kin, his uncle, Patrick O’Connell, of Pleasant Point, Canterbury, New Zealand, and his mother, Mrs Maurice O’Connell, of Williamstown, County Cork, Ireland. He was then 30 years 11 months old and Roman Catholic. He stood at 5 feet 9 inches tall, weighed 14 stone, and had a chest measurement of 37-41 inches. His complexion was medium, his eyes and hair were brown. His hearing and colour vision were normal, as were his heart and lungs, his limbs and chest well formed. He had good teeth, had suffered from no illnesses or diseases, was vaccinated and in good bodily and mental health. His sight was, however, very poor, perhaps the reason for the ‘slight defects’ question not being filled out at the medical examination. Surely the reason for his classification as not fit for Infantry, but fit for Ambulance. The Medical Board advised that he was not fit for General Service; that the disability was permanent; that he was fit for service at home.

On 7 September 1916, O’Connell was admitted to Wairarapa Hospital suffering from influenza. On discharge he was granted ten days sick leave. The name and address for advice in case of necessity was P. O. Connell, Pleasant Point, South Canterbury. Thereafter he was posted to Awapuni. Private Timothy O’Connell embarked with the New Zealand Medical Corps on 15 November 1916, destined for Plymouth, Devon. In the event, he disembarked at Devonport. After marching into Sling on 29 January 1917, he proceeded overseas to France on 4 March and joined No. 2 New Zealand Field Ambulance in May.

Private Timothy O’Connell, 3/1766, the man with very defective vision, was awarded the Military Medal, on 31 October 1917, for Acts of Gallantry in the Field on 15 October. This award came for his service with the Field Ambulance of the New Zealand Medical Corps, in connection with the battle for Passchendaele Ridge from 4 to 25 October. On 21 February 1918 he was admitted to the 2nd New Zealand General Hospital at Walton-on-Thames, having gone to England on leave from France, because of his defective vision. There is a discrepancy in the Medical Report at this time – the disability had originated in childhood and in New Zealand. There is nothing to indicate that Timothy was in New Zealand as a child. “Patients sight was defective in childhood and has become steadily worse.” His general condition was good. Classified as unfit by the Medical Board, because of high myopia and defective vision, he left Walton on 20 March and reported at Torquay on 10 April. The Medical Board again noted that his disability was due to causes existing prior to enlistment, that it was constitutional (not hereditary) that it was not aggravated by military duties, that it was permanent, but that he was fit for Civil Employment, and he was not recommended for consideration of a pension. It was recommended that he return to New Zealand for discharge as permanently unfit.

Private O’Connell embarked on 30 May 1918 at Plymouth per the “Mokoia” for the return to New Zealand and arrived on 15 July – Timothy O’Connell, 3/1665, Military Medal, Pleasant Point. He was one of the men who disembarked from Draft No. 169 at Wellington and left by the mail train for Wanganui. On arrival he was granted a week’s sick leave to be spent at Mangamahu, Wanganui. He was discharged on 12 August 1918, being no longer physically fit for war service, on account of his defective vision. After losing his notice of discharge, Timothy O’Connell undertook to refund any payments incurred in the issue of a fresh notice. He was also awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Timothy married Florence Beatrice Asbury in 1925 at Gisborne. Timothy and Florence lived for a few years at Tolaga Bay before moving to Napier. By 1954, Timothy was in Auckland, perhaps close to James mentioned below. In the latter years of his life, Timothy O’Connell resided at the Ranfurly Veterans’ Home in Auckland, where he died on 17 February 1969, aged 85 years. A war pensioner, he was buried at Waikumete Cemetery. While his wife had died in 1943 and been buried in Wakapuaka Cemetery, Nelson, she is remembered on Timothy’s plaque. In 1994 his next-of-kin, it seems, provided details of his full name – Timothy Maurice O’Connell - and the award of the Military Medal, for MM to be etched on to his cemetery plaque. In 1919 Base Records advised O’Connell that the Will, which he had executed while a member of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, had been received from the authorities overseas. There appears to have been no probate on his death. He was survived by three daughters, all born at Tolaga Bay where the family first resided.

When did Timothy come to New Zealand? Was he perhaps the Timothy Connell who was a labourer at Makikihi in 1911 and 1914, along with James Connell a labourer was listed there too in 1911, 1914 and 1928? James O’Connell, who was born in Ireland and may have lived in Auckland for some years, died in 1966 in Auckland at the age of 80. Timothy’s brother James was just a little younger than Timothy. Timothy’s uncle, Patrick O’Connell, was living in the Pleasant Point area from at least 1911. He died at Timaru on 24 March 1931, aged 78 years, and was buried at Timaru. The executors of Patrick’s Will were his nephews, Maurice and John O’Connell, seemingly the sons of John and Honora (née Moore) O’Connell. He remembers these two nephews, and also a nephew Jeremiah O’Connell and another nephew called Maurice O’Connell.

Timothy Maurice O’Connell may have been a relative of Jeremiah and Maurice O’Connell of Pleasant Point, of Bartholomew O’Connell (47177), and John Joseph O’Connell and Daniel O’Connell (sons of John O’Connell and Honorah Moore), of Upper Waitohi. All the families seemed to use the spellings Connell and O’Connell at will.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [11 December 2020]; N Z Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ Ref. AABK 18805 W5549 0087591) [15 December 2020]; Waikumete Cemetery headstone transcription [12 December 2020], Waikumete Cemetery burial record (Auckland Council); Undertaker’s record [12 December 2020]; Wakapuaka Cemetery burial record (Nelson City Council) [17 December 2020]; New Zealand Electoral Rolls ( [12 & 15 December 2020]; 1901 & 1911 census returns Ireland ( [13 December 2020]; Manawatu Standard, 11 November 1915, Otago Daily Times, 19 January 1918, 8 July 1918, Star, 6 July 1918, New Zealand Times, 8 July 1918, Temuka Leader, 9 July 1918, Otago Witness, 10 July 1918 (Papers Past) [13 December 2020]

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

Currently Assigned to


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