News

Larrikin a national hero

Although Trooper Thomas O’Leary was not the most well-behaved soldier, he certainly was a national hero.
Although Trooper Thomas O’Leary was not the most well-behaved soldier, he certainly was a national hero.

A HUNDRED years ago to the day, Anzac troops heading from Egypt to France were ordered by 1st Earl Kitchener to be prepared to help the British infantry with an assault on Turkey.

Three days later on February 19, allied warships shelled the Dardanelles for the first time.

There were no Australians involved yet, but this first attempt to push through the Dardanelles and attack the heart of the Ottoman Empire ultimately lead to the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign.

One local Anzac hero who fought in Egypt was Trooper Thomas O'Leary.

Thomas was born in Sandy Creek near Tiaro in 1882 and spent his early years near Winton in western Queensland as a station hand.

In 1915 he enlisted in the Defence Force and was sent aboard the HMAT (His Majesty's Australian Transport) A1 "Hymettus", to where he was posted in Egypt and surrounding areas in the 3rd and 4th Light Horse Regiments and the 4th Machine Gum Squadron.

According to charge sheets and court martial documents, Trooper O'Leary was a bit of a larrikin.

He fronted his superiors on several AWL (absence without leave) and drinking charges, and called a warrant officer a "gold-toothed bastard or words to that extent".

Although Trooper O'Leary was not the most well-behaved soldier, he certainly was a national hero.

His greatest known moments during the war happened during the charge at Beersheba.

The aim of the charge was to capture a well in the city of Beersheba where the Allies horses could drink.

The city was surrounded by heavily manned trenches, 1000 rifles, nine machine guns, three batteries of artillery and two aircraft.

The mission looked almost impossible, but without the wells the horses would die.

Trooper O'Leary and another Scout Trooper Alfred Healy bolted ahead of the charge and single-handedly captured 30 enemies.

Trooper O'Leary then jumped the trenches and was the first into Beersheba.

For his actions that day, he was awarded the Military Medal for bravery in the field.

He was also recommended for a Victoria Cross, six Distinguished Service Order medals, four Military Cross medals, four Distinguished Conduct Medals and 11 Military Medals.

Trooper O'Leary returned to Bundaberg in Australia in 1919 due to poor health.

After returning home from the war, it is assumed he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and moved away from Bundaberg, his family eventually losing track of his whereabouts.

His medals were presented to his father in 1920 and were dedicated to the Australian War Memorial in Canberra by his great niece.

It wasn't until recently that Trooper O'Leary's body was discovered in an unmarked grave in Townsville.

The Townsville RSL placed an official memorial headstone on his grave and held a dedication service with full military honours.

Topics:  anzac-centenary, bundaberg




Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

'I apologise every day that I am not the person he married'

My battle with postnatal depression...

'My husband lasted 6 weeks as a stay at home dad'

APN Hey Mummy Feature for online - stock images. Katie Dykes being interviewed for the webisodes. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star

FROM the outside, being a stay at home mum looks like a breeze.

THE EXPERT: Stop judging working mothers

SUPER MUMS: Being a working mums comes down to perfecting time management.

"WORKING for money is all right; so is working because you want to.”

Health and nutrition with kids - how do you balance it?

HOW important is health and nutrition in your household?

Smack or no smack - where do you stand?

THE debate is reignited - is smacking acceptable?

Technology and kids: Do you ever cut their wi-fi?

Check out our new video series featuring mums having a chat

10 times cows have made the news in Bundaberg

No Caption

Tragedy, mishaps and milestones with our cattle

Jail for Frenchman who 'brought a knife to a fist fight'

Bundaberg court housePhoto: Zach Hogg / NewsMail

31-year-old handed suspended sentence

Latest deals and offers

Dash Cam of Slip in Snow

Even light snow can be hazardous.

Dash cam shows how easy it is to lose control in even light snow.

Chaos outside Istanbul Airport

Turkish police block the road after an suicide bomb attack at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, Turkey, 28 June 2016. At least 10 people were killed in two separate explosions that hit Ataturk Airport.

Distress as cars escape Istanbul airport after bombing.

Panic inside Istanbul Airport

Turkish police block the road after an suicide bomb attack at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, Turkey, 28 June 2016. At least 10 people were killed in two separate explosions that hit Ataturk Airport.

Dramatic vision from inside Istanbul airport after explosin.

Burnett Heads housing development approved

COUNCIL APPROVED: A Burnett Heads housing development has been approved by Bundaberg Regional Council. Photo Contributed

Councillors approved the development seven votes to four

Three bedroom, 1100sqm block: Is this Qld's cheapest home?

BARGAIN BUY: Is this North Bundaberg property the cheapest home in Queensland?

Becoming a real estate mogul is all about risk and reward