The Soldier's Details

Surname:
O’Neill
First Name:
William Darcy
Nick Name:
Bill
Rank:
Private
Regimental #:
WX8828
Classification:
Technical Storeman
Company:
'B' Company Headquarters
Enlisted:
23.10.1940
Discharged:
12.10.1943
DOB:
25.04.1902
Place of Birth:
Fremantle, Western Australia
Father's Name:
Joseph O'Neill
Mothers's Name:
Emma Jane Percy
Religion:
Church of England
Pre-war Occupation:
Mine Manager
Java:
Attached to 2/3rd Machine Gun Battalion. Evacuated sick to the hospital ship Wu Sui which departed Tanjong Priok, Batavia approximately 20/2/1942.
Return Details 1945:
Wu Sui which departed Tanjong Priok, Batavia approximately 20.2.1942. Soldier was admitted to the 12th Australian General Hospital Colomo. Discharged from hospital on 12.10.1943 on his return to Melbourne ex-HMT Stirling Castle.

General Description

Bill was one of about 90 2/4th men who was found to be AWOL when ‘Aquitania’ sailed from Fremantle on 16th January 1942.  This group sailed a few weeks later initially to planned to Singapore but as it was realised the island was about to fall to Japan, the group were taken to Java.

Read further about AWOL at Fremantle.

Attached to 2/3rd Machine Gun Battalion. It is believed O’Neill had  a serious hand injury. Evacuated to hospital ship Wui Sui which departed Tanjong Priok, Batavia approx. 20 February 1942. Soldier was admitted to 12th Australian General Hospital, Colombo. Discharged from Hospital on 12/10/1943 and returned to Melbourne ex-HMT Stirling Castle.

Read further about ‘Wui Sui’ and evacuation to Colombo.

 

One could say Bill O’Neill was a very lucky man!!

Bill was one of (93) 2/4th machine gunners who jumped ship at Fremantle and failed to re-board ‘Aquitania’ the morning of 16th January 1942. (Five of these men did not continue their journey overseas for reasons of age or health).  On 30th January 1942 the remaining (83) machine gunners were transported to Fremantle where they boarded ‘SS Marella’  which was part a small Convoy “MS 3” departing for Java.  It was intended the machine gunners be put ashore at Java and tranship for the onward passage to Singapore.

Instead these (83) men disembarked at Tanjong Priok on 13th February 1942 where they then found themselves as reinforcements for Java.  Following the landing in Java of Australian troops from HMT ‘Orcades’ on 19 February 1942, the 2/4th reinforcements joined either the 2/3rd Machine Gun Btn or 2/2 Pioneer Battalion.

On the 10th and 11th February, a number of injured soldiers had been evacuated from Singapore on Hospital Ships to Java where they were transferred to other Hospital Ships heading for Colombo.

It is believed Bill O’Neill suffered a serious hand injury.   He was evacuated to Hospital Ship ‘Wu Sui’ which departed Tanjong Priok, Batavia approximately 20th February 1942 for Colombo. The evacuees remained in Colombo at 12th Australian General Hospital awaiting suitable transport back to Australia.

On 14 March 1942, Bill was one of 800 troops who sailed from Colombo on HMT ‘Stirling Castle‘ directly to Melbourne.

Read further about Tanjong Priok

 

O'Neill

 

Bill was one of 3 sons and 3 or 4 daughters born to Joseph and Emma O’Neill.  Joseph and Emma came from South Australia seeking work at the Kalgoorlie mines.  As you can see above, one of Bill’s sisters made an officially-recorded enquiry about his well-being.

Bill married Elizabeth Annie Killick in Fremantle in 1921.

Bill O”Neill transferred with the Police Force from Kalgoorlie to Perth where they lived in Subiaco.

Bill and his wife had endured a terrible tragedy in 1927 when their only child, Darcy William O’Neill aged 5 years was killed. Darcy and his mother were passengers in a motor bike pillion driven by Bill O’Neill. At a Subiaco intersection the bike was hit by a vehicle and Darcy was killed instantly.

Family members suggest Bill O’Neil never overcame the death of his son.  Sadly the marriage also floundered and the couple separated but did not divorce.

 

Darcy William
Darcy William

 

During the 1930’s Bill and his de-facto wife Nellie Gossage had a family of three daughters.  Nellie Gossage is sister to George John Gossage WX9062.

Bill O’Neill was about 38 years old when he enlisted in 1940.   He was a Police Constable who had worked in several locations, however believed to be stationed in Kalgoorlie prior to enlisting.

It is also believed he returned to his former life with the Police Force, initially residing in Kalgoorlie with Nell after the war. During this time the couple had another two daughters.

Please read about Nell Gossage’s brother George Gossage.

Nell and O’Neill separated.

When his first wife died Bill O’Neill married in 1968 to Naomi Ada Emily Ruth Hicks who was a mother of 12 children and very sadly did not maintain contact with Nell and his daughters.

He died 17 January 1985.

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