Diamond War Memorial Project

Second Lieutenant Sidney Joseph Vincent O’Brien

5th Battalion Royal Munster Fusiliers (attached 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Rifles). Regimental Number ----
Born: ---- Died: 1917-06-07 Aged: 25 Enlisted: ------

Name recorded on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial. Name also commemorated on the Diamond War Memorial.

Son of Andrew Stafford O’Brien (Customs and Excise) and Edith Blois O’Brien, 23, Bond’s Hill, Waterside, Londonderry.

Well known in sporting circles in the North West, Second Lieutenant O’Brien was gazetted to a commission in the Royal Munster Fusiliers, from Trinity College O.T.C., and was afterwards attached to the Royal Irish Rifles. He was struck by a shell, and died in a few minutes. He was buried near where he fell, and a cross erected.
Messines, a village and a ridge in West Flanders, Belgium, where Second Lieutenant O’Brien met his death, was situated 10 km (6 mi) south of Ypres. The place was the site of a major battle of World War I, fought on June 7 to 15, 1917. The ridge and village were held by the German army. The British army attacked the ridge, under which its sappers had dug 20 mines several months before. One mine was destroyed before the battle, but the British exploded the others at the beginning of the battle, which was accompanied by a huge artillery barrage. Infantry and 40 tanks then attacked. At the end of the battle the British had advanced about 5 km (3 mi) and straightened out a bulge in their front line. The battlefield was recaptured by the Germans and held for five months in 1918.
Second Lieutenant O’Brien had been at the Front for six months. His commanding officer wrote – ‘It was very hard luck that he should have been called away after getting through the attack itself, in which he did remarkably fine work. We all regret his death deeply, and shall miss him very much, for he at all times displayed the most remarkable coolness and courage.’ Captain McKeown wrote – ‘I hope it will be some comfort to you to know that your brave son led his platoon skilfully and fearlessly in the attack, and that he had gained the position of the German line he set out to conquer.’