Born: 24 April 1878

Died: 10 August 1963

A station manager who had served in the South African War and who enlisted in AIF on 16 September 1914. He was appointed a Second Lieutenant on 4 October and embarked for Egypt with the 6th Australian Light Horse Regiment (ALH) on 21 December 1914 and arrived on 1 February 1915.

The 6th ALH landed at Gallipoli on 20 May 1915. On 18 October he took command of its A Squadron. He was evacuated to hospital in Egypt on 1 December 1915 suffering from rheumatism, the after effects of dysentery that he had contracted in September.

He rejoined his unit in Egypt on 26 February 1916. Following suffering sunstroke in May 1916 which aggravated the after effects of the dysentery and rheumatism, he received medical treatment and convalesced in Egypt and then England until November. On his return to Egypt, he was attached to the 2nd Australian Light Horse Training Regiment (LHTR) until he rejoined the 6th ALH on 11 January 1917.

Between 1 October 1917 and 10 January 1918 he commanded the 2nd LHTR after which he rejoined the 6th ALH in Palestine. On 27 March he led his Squadron in a combined attack on Amman that was unsuccessful. He was recommended for, but did not receive, a Distinguished Service Order. The recommendation was as follows:

"During the attack on Amman on March 27th 1918 Major O'Brien was in command of a squadron operating on the left flank of the ICC (Imperial Camel Corps) Brigade. After he had advanced some distance the enemy counter-attacked the 7th LH Regt (sic) on his left and occupied some sangars from which they enfiladed him a murderous MG (machine gun) fire. In a while Sqdn (sic) suffered almost 50% of casualties. On receiving orders to withdraw Major O'Brien made his way to his leading troop and under very heavy MG fire withdrew his Sqdn taking all his wounded with him. Again on 28th March he was sent in on the extreme left to assist in the withdrawal of the 7th LH Regt and the remainder of the 6th Regt. This duty he fulfilled in a highly efficient manner. For the manner in which he carried out his duties on these occasions I consider him well worthy of Reward."

In June he was evacuated to hospital with a recurrence of his previous illness and as result it was decided that he should return to Australia. He embarked on 3 August 1918 and arrived on 6 September then his appointment in the AIF was terminated on 16 December 1918. [JSB]

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