Leonard ("Mick") O'BRIEN

O'BRIEN, Leonard

Service Number: NX85704
Enlisted: 26 January 1942
Last Rank: Lance Corporal
Last Unit: 2nd/17th Infantry Battalion
Born: Gippsland, New South Wales, Australia, 4 October 1906
Home Town: Sydney, City of Sydney, New South Wales
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Not yet discovered
Died: Presumed Dead, Jivevaneng, New Guinea, 16 October 1943, aged 37 years
Cemetery: Lae War Cemetery
Lae memorial reference: Panel 3.
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Lae Memorial
Show Relationships

World War 2 Service

3 Sep 1939: Involvement Lance Corporal, NX85704
26 Jan 1942: Enlisted NX85704
26 Jan 1942: Enlisted Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Lance Corporal, NX85704, 2nd/17th Infantry Battalion
16 Oct 1943: Involvement Lance Corporal, NX85704, 2nd/17th Infantry Battalion, New Guinea - Huon Peninsula / Markham and Ramu Valley /Finisterre Ranges Campaigns

Help us honour Leonard O'Brien's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by Jeffrey Crisdale

"Mystery surrounds the disappearance of L/Cpl "Mick" O'Brien who commanded a small patrol on 16 Oct from Lt Pollock's 18 Pl, D Coy which aimed to destroy an MG post that harrassed Bn HQ. Pte S. V. Turnbull, who was forward scout of the patrol told the story:

"The patrol consisted of L/Cpl 'Mick' O'Brien, Gordon Kibby, 'Ocker' Ryan, Col Nash, 'Jimmy' O'Neill, Jack Blair and myself.

Mick hadn't gone 10 yards before he kicked a booby trap. Although none of us was hurt, it was the beginning of our bad luck. I was leading scout and rifle bomber about 15 yds in front of Mick when I came to a suitable position to fire the grenades. I halted the section and called Mick up to discuss where he would have me fire them.

We were about 20 yds in front of the section, spread in a slight curve in the track. Mick was lying on his left side supporting his head on his elbow and I was kneelingabout a foot away from him. As we talked briefly we were fired on from about 10 yds slightly left of our front and I took cover in a clump of cane about 5 yds behind us. Only about a dozen shots had been fired when I unintentionally blocked the fire of the rest of the section. Mick said 'help me Sid, I've been hit in the stomach'. I saw four Japs running back to where I thought was the post we set out to destroy and I fired several shots and probably hit one, who gave a lurch.

After the Japs had disappeared I went to Mick but seeing out of the corner of my eye that someone was hit behind us, I asked Mick if he could walk. He said he thought so and I got him out of his equipment and to his feet. He seemed all right so I went back to see how the rest were.

I found that Col Nash and 'Ocker' Ryan had been killed. We decided to get them back but the Japs had other ideas. They came at us from another direction, so we decided the best thing to do was to get to cover and try to pick up Mick, who we thought was going back on a track which led to our positions. The Jap continued to fire at us and a number of other shots were heard, probably fired at Mick. We decided to get back and make a larger patrol to get the boy's bodies out but due to the failing light this did not eventuate. So ended a patrol when I lost three of the best mates I ever had." 

[Source publication: "A History of 2/17 Australian Infantry Battalion 1940-45"]