Michael Richard (Mick) O'CONNELL

O'CONNELL, Michael Richard

Service Numbers: SX25230, SX25230 , S57109
Enlisted: 18 July 1942
Last Rank: Gunner
Last Unit: 2nd/4th Field Regiment
Born: North Adelaide, South Australia, 14 November 1917
Home Town: Tumby Bay, Tumby Bay, South Australia
Schooling: Coffin Bay & Tumby Bay State Schools
Occupation: Labourer, linesman, truck driver, caretaker
Died: Heart Disease, Tumby Bay, South Australia, 5 February 1964, aged 46 years
Cemetery: Tumby Bay Cemetery
Memorials: Tumby Bay RSL Portrait Memorials
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World War 2 Service

18 Jul 1942: Enlisted Private, SX25230
18 Jul 1942: Enlisted Puckapunyal, VIC
18 Jul 1942: Enlisted Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Private, SX25230
19 Jul 1942: Involvement Gunner, S57109, 2nd/4th Field Regiment
21 Jan 1946: Discharged Gunner, SX25230 , 2nd/4th Field Regiment

Dad's Story

Michael Richard O'Connell was born 14 November 1917 in North Adelaide . The youngest son of Michael & Florence O'Connell (nee Paul) with 2 older brothers & 2 children who died in infancy.
Mick began school in Coffin Bay & then transferred to Tumby Bay School when the family moved to Yallunda station, which was owned by the Mortlock Family. He left school at Grade 7 after gaining his Qualifying Certificate.
He worked in the Tumby Bay Post Office until he was 16 . Then did some farm work & wheat lumping. He was later employed by the Port Lincoln Council & the the Tumby Bay Council although he listed his occupation as labourer & wheat carter employed by W. Butterfield & W.A. Carr. Also worked for his uncle --Arthur Paul on the farm just out of Tumby Bay where he lived --married Sylvia Winckel.

On December 31, 1941, he enlisted in the Army-( C.M.F. #S57109) & transferred to 2/4 A.I.F.--#SX25230 & was posted to Puckapunyal, Victoria initially to 9 Australian Motor Co. on 18 July 1942.
He then transferred to 2/4 A.I.F Royal Australian Artillery on 10 October 1942 & was posted to Gympie at the rank of Gunner.
He undertook training there for some months before embarking for New Guinea.
His unit was then equipped with 25 pounder guns & was one of the few airmobile artillery units in New Guinea.
They fought along the Kokada Trail at Nadzab, at Dumpu and along the coast to Lae. His rank was now Gr 2 Signaller.
His unit then returned to Australia before embarking on the General Anderson for Moratoi, where he undertook training for amphibious landings.
On July 1 1945 he embarked on Landing Craft Motorised (L.C.M.) for the amphibious landing at Balikpapan (Borneo).
He had measles in 1942, Malaria in 1943, Was wounded in 1944. The malaria followed him into civilian life.
He was discharged in 1946 and returned to Tumby Bay.
His records show he was a Private, Trooper, Signaller Grade 2, & Gunner. In 2/4, 2/6 A.G.H, 2/6 Fd Rgt RO, 2/12, A.I.F.,& 2/46.
He worked as a linesman for the P.M.G. in Tumby Bay & then as a truck Driver for Ron Carter transport until the business was sold. He then worked for his brother at Whyalla's Norrie Avenue Service Station.
After being diagnosed with a heart condition, he took a job as Caretaker/Cleaner at the Tumby Bay Memorial Hall where he worked until his death.

Mick was a great sportsman. From horse riding in his youth to Australian Rules Football where he played for Tumby Bay & became a Life Member of that club.
He played Cricket for Tumby Bay's Ramblers Cricket Club where he was secretary for many years and also President for a term.He enjoyed Association cricket & attended the Country Cricket Carnival in Adelaide.
He was also keen on table tennis, billiards, darts, golf & was a keen rifle shooter & hunter.
He was secretary of the Tumby Bay Jockey & Turf Club for many years.
He also served as President, Vice President and secretary to the Tumby Bay R.S.L Club and was Vice President when the Club house was opened in 1953.
Always a loyal Member attending the Anzac March in Adelaide whenever possible & also the local celebrations. He was keen on Duck Hunting & Spotlighting but gave that up after an accident where he was shot in the right arm. This necessitated a long stay in Adelaide for operations and skin grafts. He lost the use of 2 fingers on his right hand but trained himself to write with his left hand-- his signature being very close to his original one. Has always played Golf left-handed, so that was no worries!! He made himself an arm guard to wear while playing cricket.

He contracted a heart condition which meant he should have given up work but continued until he died suddenly while at work on 5 February 1964 aged 46 years leaving his wife Sylvia ( still living at the time of writing this--aged 94 years 6 mos), children Patricia, Geoffrey & Faye and 2 grandsons.

Mick was the first person to have his cortege leave from the "new" RSL building after his funeral service.
He is buried at Tumby Bay.

Patricia Young (daughter) November 2014)

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Biography contributed by Geoffrey Stewart

Mick was born on 14 November 1917 at North Adelaide to Michael O’Connell and Florence O’Connell (nee Paul, a well known name in Tumby Bay).  There were 5 children in the family but 2 died in infancy, leaving 3 boys.  His dad worked in the railways in Adelaide, but the family then moved to Martindale Hall to work for the Mortlock family and then to Coffin Bay.  In 1929 the family moved to Tumby Bay to work at Yallunda Station (also Mortlock’s).

Mick started school at Coffin Bay and then transferred to Tumby Bay when the family moved.  He left school at Grade 7 and took employ in the Tumby Bay Post Office until he was 16 years old, then took on “wheat lumping” – a job that would develop any lad!  After that he was employed by the Port Lincoln Council and later by the Tumby Bay Council; he remained in this employ until he enlisted.

In 1937 he met Sylvia Winckel, a Port Neill girl, who worked in the Tumby Bay Hotel – there were a total of 8 girls working at the hotel at this time.  Mick would come over of an evening and help Sylvia dry the dishes.  From this, romance blossomed and the couple was married on 3 March 1939 – just as well there were no dish washing machines in those days!  They rented their uncle’s house out near the silos.  There were 3 children in the family, 2 girls and a boy.

On 31 December 1941 he enlisted in the Army (Citizen Military Forces) in Adelaide.  He transferred to the AIF and was posted to Puckapunyal (Vic) initially to 9 Australian Motor Company on 18 July 1942 and then transferred to 2/4 Australian Field Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery on 10 October 1942 and was posted to Gympie with the rank of Gunner.  He undertook training here for several months before embarking for New Guinea.  His unit was then equipped with 25 pounder guns and was one of the few airmobile artillery units in New Guinea.  They fought along the Kokoda Track at Nadzab, at Dumpu and along the coast to Lae.

His unit then returned to Australia before embarking on the “General Anderson” for Moratai where he undertook training for amphibious landings.  On 1 July 1945 he embarked on a Landing Craft Motorised, for the amphibious assault landing at Balikpapan (Borneo).  On 14 August 1945 the Japanese surrendered and the rush was on to return home.

In 1946 he took his discharge from the Army and returned to Tumby to find that his wife had moved from the house near the silos and bought a house in Church Street; this became the family home. 

He worked in the PMG for a few years before being employed by Ron Carter Transport as a driver; he remained in this job until the sale of the business.  He then returned to the Tumby Bay Council and worked with the Council until his sudden death at work in 1964.

He was a keen sportsman, having played both football and cricket for Tumby Bay.  He was a life member of the Tumby Bay Football Club and President of the Cricket Club.  He also played table tennis, billiards and darts and was secretary of the Tumby Bay Turf Racing Club for several years.  His interest in rifle shooting and hunting almost cost him his life when a shot gun discharged accidentally, severely wounding him in the right arm.

Mick was the first person to have his cortege leave from the “new” RSL building after his funeral service.  He is buried in the Tumby Bay Cemetery.

He was President and a stalwart of the Tumby Bay Sub Branch of the RSL.

Medals and Decorations

1939-45 Star                                                                          

Pacific Star                                                                             

Defence Medal                                                                     

War Medal 1939-45                                                               

Australian Service Medal 1939-45