A good Great War 1918 ‘Somme’ M.M. awarded to Private F. B. O’Donnell, 3rd Australian Infantry Battalion, Australian Imperial Force, for the capture of 4 machine guns and 45 prisoners during the attack near Hargicourt, 18 September 1918
Single; Military Medal, G.V.R. impressed to 6802 Pte F. B. O’Donnell 3/Aust. Inf.
M.M. London Gazette 17 June 1919. The original recommendation states:
‘For conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty at Hargicourt on 18th September 1918. With his Platoon Sergeant and Section Leader, Pte. O’Donnell under heavy machine fire rushed an enemy machine gun and helped to capture four machine guns and 45 prisoners. He killed the crews of two of the guns. Prior to this action he single handed captured a small enemy post and a garrison of eight. He did excellent work throughout and set a fine example of determination and fearlessness.’
The following additional detail is given in the Official History of Australia in the War 1914-1918, Vol. VI:
‘Lieut. Lord, to advance quickly, split his platoon into two, half led by Sgt. McMillan. Half way up the northern slope of the spur the left stopped by machine gunners in a knot of trenches. Leggett’s platoon on the north side of the valley was sniping across at these when it saw three Australians coming from the south towards the nest of guns. They were Sgt. McMillan and two of his men (L/Cpl Bradford and Pte F. B. O’Donnell). Following closely on the barrage, they had seen a machine gun firing on the troops on the left, and they hurried to work round into the trench full of Germans, putting on a bold face on their surprise they hurled their bombs. The whole trench-full surrendered, whereupon all the other Germans in the valley fled to the rear.’
Francis Bernard O’Donnell was born in Haymarket, Sydney in 1888. He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force at Liverpool, New South Wales, 6 November 1916. O’Donnell was subject to court martial on two separate occasions - firstly for striking a superior officer, 23 April 1917, and latterly for fighting and drunkenness in the field, 11 June 1918.
O’Donnell served with the 3rd Battalion Australian Infantry Battalion in the French theatre of war from October 1917. He was awarded the M.M. for his gallantry near Hargicourt, Somme, 18 September 1918 (Sergeant McMillan’s D.C.M. was sold in these rooms in February 2019). On the latter date the Battalion War Diary records losses of 1 officer and 7 other ranks killed, 5 officers and 71 other ranks killed, whilst giving 60 Germans killed, approximately 200 captured, along with 22 guns and 20 machine guns captured during the attack. O’Donnell returned to Australia in May 1919.
Very Fine $2350
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