The Soldier's Details

Surname:
O’Neil
First Name:
Leslie
Nick Name:
Les
Rank:
Private
Regimental #:
WX5222
Classification:
Driver
Company:
‘ B’ Company
Enlisted:
26.07.1940
DOB:
15.12.1908
Place of Birth:
Kalgoorlie, Western Australia
Father's Name:
David O'Neil
Mothers's Name:
Annie Edith O’Neil (nee Sharpe)
Religion:
Church of England
Pre-war Occupation:
Driver
Memorial:
Epitaph, Labuan Memorial, Panel 19, Age 36.
Singapore:
Selarang Camp Changi, A.G.H. Roberts Barracks Changi, Selarang Barracks Changi
Force:
‘E’ Force Borneo
POW#:
1/8885 & 1852
Cause of Death:
Acute Gastroenteritis
Place of Death:
Sandakan No. 1 Camp
Date of Death:
16.12.1944

General Description

at back F Dorrington back row: J Gregory, L O'neil, E Teasdale, A Newel, R Hindle front: R Haldane, M Hunter, T James, F Hinds, D Parker
at back F Dorrington
back row: J Gregory, L O’Neill, E Teasdale, A Newel, R Hindle
front: R Haldane, M Hunter, T James, F Hinds, D Parker

 

Grandfather of Les – (also) David O’Neil moved with his family to Western Australian goldfields before 1900.  David O’Neil (Snr) was working in mining around Kadina, SA.

David (Snr) was husband to Mary (nee Monaghan).  He died Sept 1920.

Below:  Mary O’Neil (nee Monaghan), Grandmother to Les, died following year in 1921.

 

David O’Neil father of Les was born in Port Pirie about 1881 to parents David O’Neil (Snr) and Mary Monagham.  David (Njr) served in WW1 with 11th Battalion.  Sevice No. 1811 David O’Neil joined 4th reinforcements 11th Battalion, embarking on 19 April 1915 leaving his wife Edith and young children in Perth and was discharged in 1919.

David O’Neil died in November 1941 aged 61 years.   Edith died in 1961 and both parents are buried at Karrakatta Cemetery.

 

 

Above the tragic death in 1916 of young Eric O’Neil aged 3 years.  At this time Edith was alone with her husband David away fighting in France.  Les had a sister Edith Verna born 1904 and they were residing at Victoria Park, having moved from Kalgoorlie.

The 1931 Electoral Roll has Les residing with his parents at 31 Merriwa Street, Hollywood.  Both Les and his father David working as labourers.

In 1936 Les was at Kurnalpi, Kanowa, Kalgoorlie.  Kurnalpi was discovered as an alluvial mine in 1894.  It is located 95 km north east of Kalgoorlie. Les was continuing the O’Neil family interest in mining.

Les enlisted AIF July 1940, later joining 2/4th’s ‘B’ Coy as a Driver.  It was during Nov 1941 when 2/4th was training SA and NT when his father died.

 

As a POW in Singapore Les was selected to work in Borneo with ‘E’ Force which sailed 2 March 1943.

Soldier contracted disease on 12.12.1944 and died 16 Dec 1944.   Death Certificate was signed by Lieutenant Yamamato Katsuki.  Read further about ‘E’ Force Borneo.

Also please see map Sandakan March and photos of men.

 

 

 

O’NEIL, Private, LESLIE, WX5222, A.I.F. 2/4 M.G. Bn., Australian Infantry. 16 December 1944. Age 36. Son of David and Annie Edith O’Neil, of Mundaring, Western Australia. Panel 19.

Labuan Memorial, Malaysia.

 

WA. Paybook photograph, taken on enlistment, of WX5222 Private Leslie O’Neil, 2/​4th Machine Gun Battalion, Australian Infantry. He was one of over 2000 Allied prisoners of war (POW) held in the Sandakan POW camp in north Borneo, having been transferred there from Singapore as a part of E Force. The 500 Australian and 500 British POW’s who made up E Force, left Changi on 28 March 1943, on board the S.S. DeKlerk arriving at Berhala Island (adjacent to Sandakan Harbour) on 15 April 1943. The POW’s were held there until 5 June, when they were taken by barge to Sandakan. The next day they were transferred to the 8 Mile Camp, which was about half a mile from the B Force compound. Private O’Neil, aged 36, died as a prisoner of the Japanese on 16 December 1944. He was the son of David and Annie Edith O’Neil, of Mundaring, WA. He is commemorated on the Labuan Memorial Panel 19. (Photograph copied from AWM232, items 4 and 5. Personal information from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Database.)

 After the end of 1944 life at Sandakan took a huge change. In the next months of 1945 until the end of war in August, the POWs of Sandakan would perish under horrific circumstances.  In January, 1945 the Sandakan – Ranau marches began.

Camp Locations:

  • Roberts Barracks Changi - Singapore
  • Selarang Camp Changi - Singapore
  • Sandakan - Borneo ***
  • Lintang Officers Camp, Kuching - Sarawak
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