The AIF Project

Thomas Joseph O'BRIEN

Regimental number352
Date of birth8 February 1886
Place of birthAlberton, South Australia
SchoolAlberton Public School and Port Adelaide Marist Brothers (Catholic) College, South Australia
ReligionRoman Catholic
OccupationLabourer
AddressQueen Street, Alberton, South Australia
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation30
Next of kinMother, Mrs Agnes O'Brien, Queen Street, Alberton, South Australia
Previous military serviceNil
Enlistment date4 January 1916
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name43rd Battalion, B Company
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/60/1
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Adelaide, South Australia, on board HMAT A19 Afric on 9 June 1916
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll52nd Battalion
Other details from Roll of Honour CircularServed in France.Was wounded on 7th April 1917 but returned to firing line to look for brother who was reported missing. He was twice wounded on 7th June 1917, possibly at Messines, Belgium, and died the same day.
FateDied of wounds 7 June 1917
Place of death or woundingMessines, Belgium
Age at death31
Age at death from cemetery records31
Place of burialNo known grave
Commemoration detailsThe Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial (Panel 29), Belgium

The Menin Gate Memorial (so named because the road led to the town of Menin) was constructed on the site of a gateway in the eastern walls of the old Flemish town of Ypres, Belgium, where hundreds of thousands of allied troops passed on their way to the front, the Ypres salient, the site from April 1915 to the end of the war of some of the fiercest fighting of the war.

The Memorial was conceived as a monument to the 350,000 men of the British Empire who fought in the campaign. Inside the arch, on tablets of Portland stone, are inscribed the names of 56,000 men, including 6,178 Australians, who served in the Ypres campaign and who have no known grave.

The opening of the Menin Gate Memorial on 24 July 1927 so moved the Australian artist Will Longstaff that he painted 'The Menin Gate at Midnight', which portrays a ghostly army of the dead marching past the Menin Gate. The painting now hangs in the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, at the entrance of which are two medieval stone lions presented to the Memorial by the City of Ypres in 1936.

Since the 1930s, with the brief interval of the German occupation in the Second World War, the City of Ypres has conducted a ceremony at the Memorial at dusk each evening to commemorate those who died in the Ypres campaign.

Panel number, Roll of Honour,
  Australian War Memorial
155
Miscellaneous information from
  cemetery records
Parents: Patrick and Agnes O'BRIEN, Queen Street, Alberton, South Australia
Family/military connectionsBrothers: 2467 Lance Corporal James Daniel O'Brien, 48th Bn, killed in action, 11 April 1917; Lt William O'BRIEN, 27th Bn, killed in action, 9 April 1917; Able Seaman David L. O'BRIEN (b. Alberton, 4 April 1896; enl. RAN, 1913; emb. on declaration of war, 4 August 1914; war service: New Guinea, Samoa, North Sea, HMAS 'Australia', 1915-17; discharged, December 1917).
Other details

War service: Western Front

Embarked Adelaide, 9 June 1916; disembarked Marseilles, France, 20 July 1916; proceeded to England. Transferred to 52nd Bn Reinforcements, 9 September 1916.

Proceeded overseas to France, 28 November 1916; taken on strength, 52nd Bn, 14 December 1916.

Wounded in action, 7 April 1917 (shell wound, back and left arm); admitted to 9th General Hospital, Rouen, 19 April 1917; rejoined unit, 23 May 1917.

Died of wounds received in action, 7 June 1917.

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal

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