Percy Clarence O’Hara

Percy Clarence O’Hara was born at Whanganui on the 16th of June 1895 to William and Agnes O’Hara and was the youngest of six children, having three brothers and two sisters. O’Hara was a second-generation New Zealander, with his father William, born in Greytown in 1856, and his mother Agnes was born at Nelson in 1857[1].

O’Hara’s father, who was a grocer at Whanganui, died at the age of 49 in 1907. O’Hara completed school to at least Standard Four. On the declaration of war in 1914, O’Hara was self-employed as a Commission Agent [2]. O’Hara was also a member of the Queen Alexandra Band of Whanganui [3].

O'HaraPC AWN 10-5-1917

23/1457 Sergeant Percy Clarence O’Hara, NZAOC. Auckland Weekly News/Public Domain

O’Hara voluntary enlisted into E Company of the 8th Reinforcements at Trentham Camp on the 24th of August 1915. Transferred into the New Zealand Rifle Brigade Headquarters on the 24th of September 1915, O’Hara embarked for Overseas service on the 13th of November 1915, arriving at Suez on the 21st of December 1915[4].

Remaining with the NZRB Headquarters at Zeitoun, O’Hara transferred for duty with the Army Ordnance Corps personnel on the 21st of December 1915. Posted to A Company of the 1st Battalion on the 27th of January 1916, O’Hara was seconded for duty back to the Brigade Headquarters and promoted to Sergeant on the 15th of February 1916[5].

Formally transferred into the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps on its formation in February 1916, O’Hara was seconded for duty with the 1st battalion of the NZRB on the 26th of February 1916[6].

O’Hara embarked for France from Alexandra on the 6th of April 1916. Soon after arrival in France, O’Hara was detached to the Ordnance Stores on the 20th of April 1916. Few details of O’Hara’s activities over the next few months exist. The NZ Division was committed to the Armentieres and Sailly sectors from May 1916 to February 1917 with the NZRB undergoing a reorganisation in January 1917. There is little doubt that with his Ordnance role within the NZRB, O’Hara was well employed with the administrative functions required to maintain a fighting force in the field [7].

On the 4th of April 1917, while still serving with the Headquarters of the 3rd NZ Rifle Brigade, O’Hara was admitted into No 2 New Zealand Field Ambulance. Transferred to No 2 Casualty Clearing Station on the 8th of April 1917, O’Hara passed away because of Bronchopneumonia at 8.25am on the morning of 11 April 1917[8][9][10].

O’Hara was interred at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery at Bailleul, Nord, France [11].


Gravestone of P.C O’Hara. Bailleul, Nord, France. Courtesy of Raymond Kareko

Tragically O’Hara family would be struck with tragedy twice. In 1918 O’Hara’s brother Claude Nelson O’Hara was called up for service, and while training as part of the 48th reinforcements, Claude O’Hara was struck down with Influenza and passed away at Featherston Camp on the 16th of November 1918[12].

Copyright © Robert McKie 2018


[1] “Percy Clarence O’Hara,”

[2] “Personnel Records “Percy Clarence O’Hara”,” (Wellington: Archives New Zealand, Archive Reference AABK 18805 W5549 0088063).

[3] “Local and General,” Wanganui Herald, Volume LI, Issue 15316, 3 September 1917.

[4] “Personnel Records “Percy Clarence O’Hara”.”

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Lieutenant-Colonel W. S. Austin DSO, New Zealand Rifle Brigade (Naval & Military Press, 2007).

[8] “Hospital Progress Report,” New Zealand Times, Volume XLII, Issue 9635, 16 April 1917.

[9] “Personnel Records “Percy Clarence O’Hara”.”

[10] “Death., Wanganui Herald, Volume Li, Issue 15200, 21 April 1917,”

[11] “Percy Clarence O’Hara,”’hara,-percy-clarence/.

[12] “Personnel Record ‘Claude Nelson O’Hara’,” (Wellington: New Zealand Archives, Reference: AABK 18805 W5549 0088050).

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