Hugh Brian 'Hughie' O'Donnell was born on September 1st, 1898 in Boulder, Western Australia, the day before Kitchener took Omdurman in the Sudan. His parents were John 'Jack' and Lilly Elizabeth O'Donnell [nee Dreyer], who both originated from South Australia, married in New South Wales, then settled in Western Australia. He was still a lad in High School when he enlisted at Helena Valley, Western Australia on November 12th, 1914 at the age of 16 and a month, whilst his army age put him 3 years senior, he was allotted serial number 1393
Private Hughie O'Donnell
His name he used to enlist was Hughie O'Donnell and he trained for a few months in Western Australia, and was assigned to the 11th Battalion, 2nd Reinforcements. He embarked from Fremantle on H.M.A.T A50 'Itonus' on February 22nd, 1915, only 16 and 7 months. His reinforcement officers consisted of...
Captain Dixon Hearder
Lieutenant Charles Arthur Pearson Gostelow, later awarded an M.C.
He trained in Egypt with his reinforcements, a notable member of the reinforcement is Albert Facey, who later wrote an autobiography albeit the authenticity is in question.
After training in Egypt, he was sent to join his Battalion on Gallipoli. He arrived on the Peninsula and joined 'C' Company, 11th Battalion on May 7th, 1915 near Bolton's Ridge. His Company Commander was one Captain Raymond Leane, who later became a Brigadier General and a decorated soldier. He had a mate on the peninsula, named Private David Harold Crisp who came from the same town. As some boys, he was probably raring for some action, which would come on May 12th and would also be his fate. He was killed whilst under fire, specifically a Turkish shell landed nearby, mortally wounding him. He managed to bring out a few words before he died. Captain Leane wrote to his mother,
Dear Mrs O’Donnell,
It is with extreme regret that I have to confirm the report you have no doubt received of the death of your son, Private H. O’Donnell, who was killed under fire on May 19[sic]. He joined my company from reinforcements on May 8 and, although I did not know him long, he impressed me as a lad who would fearlessly do his duty. The enemy attacked our position in large numbers on the 19th and it was during this engagement that your son was struck by a shell which exploded near him. He lived but a few minutes and his last words were addressed to Private Crisp also from Kanowna. We buried him in our lines graveyard at the back of the trenches and a small wooden cross marks his last resting place. During the short time he was with us, he made himself extremely popular both with the officers and men of the company and they all join with me in extending our heartfelt sympathy to you in your sad loss.
May god comfort you
Captain Raymond L Leane [on] June 2 1915
It states that he was killed on the 12th in his records, but Captain Leane states it was on the 19th. I am assuming that Captain Leane put the wrong date in the letter. His body was moved to Victoria Gully and buried on the same day that he was killed. His mother wrote an inscription in his gravestone in his memory. It reads "He sleeps where Anzac heroes came to do and die"
He was only 16 and 8 months when he was killed.
He is listed in Paul Byrnes book 'Lost Boys'
Edited by tankengine888