Friday, 9 January 2015

A Knock Out Blow

 George O'Brien (left) and Walter O'Brien (right)

Saturday 9th January 1915: Sympathy has been expressed from various quarters towards Mr Edwin and Mrs Elizabeth O’Brien of 65 Warwick Road, Luton, who have now lost two of their sons. Twenty year old Private Walter O’Brien was killed on 26th October while serving with the 2nd Battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment.[1] In December their youngest son Seaman George O’Brien, aged just 17, died while serving on HMS St Vincent in the North Sea. The O’Brien’s eldest son Thomas is still serving with the 5th Battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment.

Captain Fisher of HMS St Vincent has written to Thomas Barnard, High Sheriff of Bedfordshire thanking him: “for the trouble you took over poor Mrs O’Brien. That was good work. I have written to Mrs Brigg asking for further news. We have been able to send her something to help her for a bit but it must have been a knock out blow to her. There’s no doubt that our O’Brien heard of his brother’s death and that it preyed on his mind.”

Sapper A. Bond of the Royal Engineers has written a letter of sympathy to Mr and Mrs O’Brien through the Luton News asking the paper to convey his sympathy to them. He says “It is very hard for them, but they will have the consolation of knowing that they gave their lives for a noble cause. I hope their other son will return safely and help to cheer the old people. I have had the misfortune to lose my youngest child (a boy) since I came to the Front." 

Sapper Bond also describes his life at the Front: "I am doing very well so far. I get plenty of hard work along with the others, but, of course, I can’t grumble at that at a time like this. The weather here is the greatest drawback. It has been raining pretty constantly for the past two months. The roads and fields are in a terrible state with mud. All the boys out here take things pretty cheerfully under trying circumstances. They will all be pleased when the Germans have all been knocked out, and we can all return home and make merry.”

Sources: Luton News 31st December 1914 and 14th January 1915; BD1424

[1] Private O’Brien was killed at Beselare, near Ypres where the 2nd Bedfords were in the front line. 

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