Topic: Bernard Gabriel Joseph Sarsfield O'Shaughnessy

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Bernard Gabriel Joseph Sarsfield O'Shaughnessy (Service no. 7/2116) was a First World War soldier with links to Halswell.

Bernard Gabriel Joseph Sarsfield O'ShaughnessyBernard Gabriel Joseph Sarsfield O'Shaughnessy (known as Joseph) was born on 24 March, 1895 in Halswell, Canterbury, New Zealand to William O'Shaughnessy and Jane Theresa O'Shaughnessy (nee McDrury). William was secretary of the Hibernian Society and was an employee of Messrs Lonargan & Co. Drapers. Joseph’s parents married on 31 May 1887 and had six children, William Francis (1888), Mary Monica (1889), Agatha Philomena (1891), Russell Patrick (1892), Catherine Theresa (1893), and Bernard Gabriel Joseph Sarsfield (1895). The births of Agatha and Catherine were not registered until 1913.

William O’Shaughnessy was born in 1862 in Gloucester Street, Christchurch. He was the eldest son of Mr William O’Shaughnessy (1823-1891) and Mary Ann O’Shaughnessy. Old William and Mary Ann arrived at Port Lyttelton in New Zealand on 14 December 1861 on the ship Sebastopol. He was a farm labourer at Kildare in Ireland. In New Zealand, he was a farmer in Springfield. Young William married the third daughter of P. McDrury, Co. Roscommon in 31 May 1887 at the Catholic Church in Kaiapoi. William junior was only 33 years old when he died on 25 January 1896 at his residence at 14 Clothier St. in Linwood. He left his wife with six young children. Joseph was 10 months old when his father died.

According to school records, the family moved from Ladbrook to Halswell in January 1897. Monica and Agatha dropped out of school in 1897 and Joseph's school records cannot be found.

Joseph enlisted in the New Zealand army on 20 October 1915 in Christchurch. His medical examination records describe him as 5 feet and 11 inches tall, with blue eyes, fair coloured hair and weighing 154 Ibs. The condition of his teeth was good. Prior to enlistment he was working for his mother as a labourer.

Joseph set off to the war on 8 January 1916 from Wellington, New Zealand on the vessel, Maunganui, arriving in Suez, Egypt on the 12 February 1916. His rank at this time was Trooper with the Canterbury Mounted rifles, 3rd Reinforcements. He was admitted to No.4 Auxiliary Hospital in Heliopolis, Egypt on 28 February 1916 with measles. He spent about three weeks in the hospital. He finally left Alexandria, Egypt for France on 7 April 1916. Joseph was wounded in a gas attack on 7 July 2016. He remained in hospital for another three weeks before returning to his unit in the field on 28 July 2016.

On 25 September 1916 he was promoted to Corporal. Tragically 6 days later Joseph was killed in action on 1 October 1916 in the Somme, Northern France. He is buried at Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, Longueval, France.

Joseph was posthumously awarded the British War medal and the Victory medal. His medals were sent to his mother in Ellesmere, Christchurch on 6 November 1917.

Joseph's mother Jane Theresa applied for payment of the Overseas War Service Gratuity and her application was still under attention on 19 April 1921.

Jane Theresa O'Shaughnessy died on 27 November 1948 at her residence 92 Nayland Street, Sumner, aged 83 years.  She is buried together with her husband William in the Linwood Cemetery.

Bernard Gabriel Joseph Sarsfield O'Shaughnessy is remembered on the Halswell War memorial, the Halswell Hall Roll of Honour, the Caterpillar Valley headstone and also on his parent’s headstone at Linwood cemetery.

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Bernard Gabriel Joseph Sarsfield O'Shaughnessy

First Names:Bernard Gabriel Joseph Sarsfield
Last Name:O'Shaughnessy
Place of Birth:Halswell, Canterbury, New Zealand
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