No. 5063 Lance Corporal Hubert Denis O'Brien
[Listed on Honor Board as O'Brine, H.D.]
Herbert "Bert" Denis O'Brien was born at Port Melbourne in 1887 to John O’Brien and Emily Elle Nelson. He had a younger sister, Louisa Annie O’Brien, who was also born at Port Melbourne, in 1889.
He was a woodworker by trade, and married Catherine Alice Butler at Port Melbourne in 1910. His christian names were recorded as Hubert Denis and this spelling is varied throughout his life. The family appear to have relocated to Alexandra in country Victoria, before their two daughters were born. They were:
- Mary "Molly" Louisa O’Brien born in 1910
- Bertha Alice O’Brien born in 1914
In 1914, Bert worked in the forest around the Alexandra district, and played for the Thornton Football Club.
On 25 September 1915, his wife (Mrs Herbert O’Brien) was accidently killed in a tramway accident on the Clark, Kidd and Co’s, timber mill in the Rubicon Forest near Alexandra. This resulted in his mother-in-law, Mrs Mary J. Butler assuming the role of raising the two children. She was operating a tea shop in Alexandra at this time.
The Argus, 28 September 1915, p.8.
Several months after his wife's death, Hubert left his daughters under the guardianship of his mother-in-law, and joined the A.I.F. On 22 February 1916, he enlisted in Melbourne, and was sent to the Military Camp at Seymour. At the completion of his training he was appointed to the 21st Battalion, 13th Reinforcements.
The 21st Battalion (13th to 18th Reinforcements) embarked from Melbourne on 3 July 1916, per HMAT Ayrshire A33 and sailed directly to Plymouth in England. They disembarked on 2 September 1916 and went to the 6th Training Battalion.
At the completion of their training the reinforcements went to the 2nd Australian Divisional Base Depot (ADBS) at Etaples Camp in France, arriving there on 13 November 1916. Nine days later (22 November 1916) they joined the 21st Battalion at Buire, in France.
On 16 February, Hubert was promoted to Lance Corporal, and just nine days later he was killed in action (25 February 1917) in the trenches near Scott’s Redoubt South Camp, in the Somme. He was one of four men killed by a High Explosive shell, while going out to fatigue duty.
Lance Corporal O’Brien (aged 30) was buried at Sand Bag Barrier, Le Sars, 3 ¾ miles SW of Bapaume, in France.
A report of Hubert’s death was published in The Argus, 27 March 1917, p.5.
A short obituary was published in the Alexandra and Yea Standard and Yarck, Gobur, Thornton and Acheron Express, 23 March 1917, p.2.
Medals & Entitlements:
- British War Medal: Issued 14 April 1923
- Victory Medal: Issued 14 April 1923
- Memorial Plaque: Pending
A war pension was claimed by both of his daughters, until they reached 16 years of age, and was then cancelled. His mother- in-law also received a pension.
On the Werribee Cenotaph his name is mistakenly spelled as O’BRINE, H.D.
On the R.S.L. Honor Board his name is O’Brine, H.D.
Only one person with the surname "O’Brine" served in WW1, and his christian name was Michael. He survived the war and returned to Australia on 24 January 1919.
The Werribee Shire Banner's Roll of Honor did not list his name throughout the war. The name "O’Brine, H. D., West Footscray (K)" only appears in the final list prepared by the Werribee Shire Secretary.
Werribee Shire Banner, 13 February 1919, p.3.
CD – Pioneer Index Victoria 1836 – 1888
CD – Federation Index Victoria 1889 – 1901
CD – Edwardian Index Victoria 1902 - 1913