By observing one minute’s silence on 11 November 2020, we pay tribute to the men and women who have served and are still serving in our defence forces and remember those who have died or suffered in conflicts, wars and peacekeeping operations.
A number of Tattersall’s members and members of their families have served with distinction, some paying the ultimate sacrifice, particularly in the First and Second World Wars. I cannot mention all of them here, but it is worthwhile highlighting the service of some of them.
Several members served in both wars. Lieutenant Colonel Blair Anderson Wark VC DSO MID is perhaps the most famous. Blair won a VC for bravery in operations against the Hindenburg Line at Bellicourt in 1918. He re-enlisted in the militia during the Second World War, but died suddenly on a training exercise whilst commanding the 1st Battalion at Puckapanyal in 1941.
Another well known member who served in both wars was Bob Concannon. A peak at his service record puts protests against COVID restrictions into perspective. He served with the 7th Light Horse Regiment,1915-1919 including service on Gallipoli and at Romani. In 1941 Bob re-enlisted to serve as a Captain with HQ 8 Division in Malaya. He was captured by the Japanese and then interned as a POW in Thailand from 1941-1945. Two other members, George Kiernan and Ward Booth were interned with Bob.
The family of member John O’Riordan also saw remarkable service over both wars. John’s brother Captain (Dr) Sydney O’Riordan MC served with the Australian Army Medical Corps in both wars, winning his MC for his gallantry and devotion to duty whilst dealing with casualties in an aid post in France in 1918. He served again from 1941-1942, but died in 1944. Another brother, Flying Officer Clifford O’Riordan, was an air gunner with the famous 460 Squadron, RAAF. He was killed in a flying battle over Germany in 1943. One of John’s sons, Sgt John O’Riordan served with the 1st Papuan Infantry Battalion and he too was killed in action in New Guinea in 1943. Another son, James O’Riordan, survived the war, having served with both the Australian Army and the RAAF between 1942-1945.
Perhaps the most tragic family is that of member Henry Stevenson and his three sons: Frank, Joseph and Charles. Flight Sergeant Frank Stevenson served as a pilot with 450 Squadron, RAAF and was killed in a flying battle over Italy in 1944. Joseph the oldest son, was also a Flight Sergeant, serving as an air gunner with 24 Squadron, RAAF. He was killed in a flying battle over the Timor Sea in 1945. Henry’s middle son Charles served as a Gunner with the 2/5th Australian Field Regiment, RAA. His date of death is recorded as November 1947 in DVA’s Nominal Roll for the Second World War, but we could not determine a cause of death.
You can share who you are remembering on social media using the hashtag #WeRememberThem
For a couple of months now I’ve been digitising the magazines of Tattersall’s Club, Sydney (I’m a member). They let me take the scanner and a lot of magazines home during the Covid19 lockdown.
Recently, I’ve been working my way through the Second World War issues and on Friday 24 April 2020 I came across the February 1944 magazine that had a short article about the remarkable O’Riordan family from Sydney, two of whom were Tattersall’s Club members. I dug these details of their service mostly out of various online databases and archives from the Australian War Memorial.
Four members of the O’Riordan family served in both the First and Second World Wars. All are related to Tattersall’s Club member John O’Riordan :
John’s brother Dr Sydney Michael O’Riordan, MC served as a Captain and then Major with the Australian Army Medical Corps (AAMC) in the First World War. He was awarded his MC in 1918 for:
conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. During then later stages of an advance, when the infantry were under heavy fire, he established his aid post in an advanced position, and dealt very rapidly with the casualties. His initiative and coolness under heavy fire were an inspiration to all who came in contact with him.
He was serving as a Captain attached to the 13th Infantry Battalion in France. He again served as a Major with the AAMC in the Second World War between July 1941 and February 1942, attached to the 3rd Infantry Battalion. He died at Redfern in 1944.
Another brother of John, 403397 Flying Offr. Clifford Timothy O’Riordan was an Air Gunner with No 460 Squadron*, RAAF was killed in a flying battle over Germany on 30 July 1943. He is commemorated in the Becklingen War Cemetery, Luneburg, Germany and his name can be found on panel 108 of the Roll of Honour at the Australia War Memorial (AWM), Canberra. His name will be projected onto the exterior of the Hall of Memory on 12 May 2020 at 2:41am and on 3 August 2020 at 2:55am. He was a Tattersall’s Club member and had been admitted to the NSW Bar before enlisting in 1941. His own war diaries are held by the AWM and they’ve now been digitised. You can read a description of those diaries and also view or download them via this link: https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C89812
One of John’s sons, NX113095 Sgt. John Michael O’Riordan served with the 1st Papuan Infantry Battalion, Australian Army. He was killed in action in New Guinea on 25 November 1943. John’s name is located on panel 76 of the Roll of Honour at the AWM. His name will be projected onto the exterior of the Hall of Memory on 2 June 2020 at 12:42am and on 2 August 2020 at 2:34am.
Another son was NX87133 Gunner James Clifford O’Riordan who served in the Army from February 1942 until December 1943, after which he transferred to the RAAF where he served as a 443862 Flight Sgt J.C. O’Riordan until October 1945.
I reckon that is very sad but also truly remarkable for the one family.
* Some hours after initially posting this I realised that 460 Squadron, RAAF was familiar to me. It was first formed as a heavy bomber unit in 1941 and is commemorated at the Australian War Memorial by the famous Avro Lancaster bomber “G for George”. 460 Squadron flew as part of RAF Bomber Command and was a multi-national unit with most of its personnel being Australian. It flew the most sorties of any Australian bomber squadron in the RAF bombing campaign against Germany and Italy, but lost 188 aircraft and suffered 1,018 combat deaths, 588 of whom were Australian. RAF Bomber Command represented only two percent of total Australian enlistments during the Second World War, but accounted for 4,136 fatalities (3,486 killed in action and 650 in training accidents of approximately 10,000 RAAF personnel who served with Bomber Command). RAF Bomber Command sustained Australia’s highest casualty rates in the Second World War.