Des O'Connor

Desmond Patrick O'Connor

Military Service    |    Post-service    |    NZPFOCA and other organisations

Military Service

pre-WW2   |    Wartime in NZ (1)   |    Active Service   |    Wartime in NZ (2)   |    post-WW2


Served in the Timaru Boys' High School Cadets & then for a couple of years [until early 1939] in the Territorial Force - 15 MG (Vickers) Platoon, D Sp. Coy. 1 Bn. Canterbury Regt. [Platoon Cmdr Lt HA Purcell; C.O. LtCol HK Kippenberger]. Resigned from the P & T Dept to enlist in the Regular Army at Timaru & joined 20 Wing, Royal NZ Artillery at Trentham on 22 March 1939.

Wartime in NZ (l)

Posted to the 4th Examination Bty at Fort Dorset on the eve of WW2 & after some months transferred to the Field Cadre. Seconded to the 4th Reinforcements, 2NZEF at Papakura Camp in October 1940 & posted to lst Section, 4th Reinforcements - then withdrawn (being underage) & posted to the Artillery Training Depot as an instructor in the rank of Gnr. Posted to 5th Reinforcements in January 1941 in the rank of Bdr (temp) [co-opted as a Saturday afternoon drill instructor to the Ladies Auxiliary Red Cross Transport Corps in the quadrangle of the Seddon Memorial Technical College].

Wartime - On Active Service

To 4 Fd Regt

Embarked on the 'Nieuw Amsterdam' at Wellington & sailed for the Middle East on 07 April 1941 via Sydney, Perth & Singapore. At Singapore transferred to the 'Acquitania' prior to sailing to Colombo & Suez for disembarkation & transfer to Helwan Camp in Egypt. Posted to B Troop, 25 Bty [then "X" Bty; then 46 Bty], 4th NZ Field Regt NZA at Maadi Camp near Cairo in May 1941. From then on, served on the 25 pounder gun on every day of every engagement in which the Regiment took part in North Africa until the last shot was fired at Enfidaville in Tunisia on 13 May 1943. Then followed the long trek back to Maadi & Cairo, arriving on 01 June 1943. Sailed on the 'Letitia' [the post-war 'Captain Cook'] from Alexandria in Egypt to Italy [Taranto] on 18 October 1943. Served as a 25 Pdr Gun Sgt on every day of every engagement in which the 4th Field Regt took part in Italy until early November 1944 - when posted to Base Camp, Bari as an Asst Instr Gunnery. Sailed from Taranto to Port Said in February 1945 & returned to Maadi Camp. In March 1945, sailed from Egypt with Tongariro Replacement Draft on board the 'Highland Princess' bound for NZ via Aden, Bombay & Hobart.

Wartime in NZ (2)

Disembarked at Lyttleton on 19 April 1945, then rail to Timaru on leave. Reposted to RNZA at Fort Dorset on 24 July 1945 as Cadre NCO in the rank of Sgt.


Between 1946 & 1949

In charge of dismantling radio/radar installations & the camp site at Sinclair Head - member of the Wellington Bomb Disposal Unit - technical storeman, 9.2" gun installations at Wrights Hill. And after a 'Q' Course at Trentham, appointed RQMS & Barrack Warden, 10 Coast Regt & Base Camp, Fort Dorset. Seconded in 1949 to the Army Stores Audit Section, Army HQ - [CMD audits] - followed by permanent transfer & change of corps to Infantry. When ASAS civilianised at the end of 1954, posted to The Army Schools, Waiouru Camp, in January 1955, as a 'Q' instructor at the School of Administration and in 1957 to HQ Waiouru Camp as Chief Clerk. Posted to HQ Area 7, Napier as Chief Clerk in 1959.

'Peacetime' - On Active Service

In 1962 transferred to Burnham Camp as RQMS of 1 Bn, RNZIR. In November 1963 left Christchurch by RNZAF DC 6 for Singapore & by Bristol Freighter to Malacca (Terendak Camp). Early in 1965, during the Indonesian Confrontation, flew from Singapore to Kuching by Britannia to relieve the QM at Battalion Base Camp, Simanggang in North Borneo. Later flew by RAF Whirlwind helicopter to 'A' Coy's position at Lubok Antu, near the border with Indonesia. Next day travelled alone (except for an Iban motorman) by longboat down the Batang Ai river as far as Engkilili & then by road to base at Simanggang. After returning to Malaya from Borneo - at Battalion parade on 11 November 1965 - presented with the Meritorious Service Medal by the Comdr, Commonwealth Brigade, Brig. TDH McMeekin OBE. Later that month left Malaysia by air for NZ - Bristol Freighter to Singapore - RNZAF Hercules via Port Moresby to Whenuapai. Posted as Chief Clerk, 3 NZEF, Buckle St, Wellington in December 1965. Retired on superannuation on 26 February, 1966.

Post-Service Employment

First post-Army civilian job was Company Accountant, Receiving & Delivery Services Ltd, in Wellington. Then followed Purchasing Officer for the Tourist Hotel Corporation & Office Manager with UEB before joining in partnership with Derick Watson & Associates, Investment Consultants. On 08 February 1971 appointed Wellington Regional Manager of the Dominion Mutual Securities Retirement Trust Fund. Moved to Auckland in 1975 & managed the DMS Property Portfolio prior to joining the Auckland Regional Authority as Senior Records Clerk. Resigned in 1977 to travel overseas and, on returning to NZ later that year, was persuaded to rejoin. Left the ARA to retire on 13 January 1981 but continued to engage in a variety of part-time employment for some years.

Involvement in The NZPFOCA & Other Organisations

(a). The NZ Permanent Force Old Comrades' Association Inc.

HQ Located at Wellington - committee member from 1969 to 1975.
(Temp. Secy-Treas. on death of Jeff Stagg in 1971).
President - 1972 to 1975.
HQ Transferred to Auckland - committee member from 1977 to ....
Honorary Treasurer - 1977-98.
President - 1998-99

(b). Others

Secretary/Treasurer, Waiouru School Committee - 1957 to 1959
Vice-president, Taihape & District Association of School Committees - 1958/59.
Member, Ruapehu College Board of Governors - 1957 to 1959.
Treasurer, Terendak Camp 'Nuffield Trust' Golf Club (Malaysia) - 1964/65.
Member, Opera Technic committee, Wellington - 1968 to 1975
Vice-president (1973 to 1975).
Member, Wellington committee, 4th NZ Field Regt Assn. - 1950 to 1975.
Member, Auckland Artillery Ball Committee - 1975/76
Member, Auckland committee, 4th NZ Field Regt Assn. - 1976 to .....
Member, Societa Dante Alighieri committee - 1980 to 1996
President (1994 to 1996).
Member, Auckland Committee, The NZ Opera Society - 1981 to 1995.
Chairman (1990 to 1995).
Planner, Promoter & Leader of Opera & Scenic tours of Europe - annually since 1994

See also:
X Battery
4 Field Regiment
Des's photo of a premature
Des's articles:

NZ Coastal Artillery Regiments of World War 2