Occupation: Grocery Assistant
George O’Shea was born 5 December 1889 at Wakefield, the son of Thomas and Mary O’Shea (nee Mahoney). The family was Roman Catholic. He is known to have at least three siblings; Katherine Ann, Eileen Francis and Mary Agnes as their marriages are recorded in St Mary’s Church register.
He was working at Pongaroa as a grocer’s assistant when war broke out. He enlisted in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force on 17 August 1914, with the Wellington Infantry Battalion, as a private, army serial no. 10/95 and departed with the Main Body on 16 October 1914.
He served in the Balkan theatre of war in the Gallipoli campaign in 1915. He was encamped at Zeitoun near Cairo and was absent without leave twice on 9 January and 8 March, for which he earned himself detention and had his pay docked.
He was wounded on 25 May and then wounded a second time on 9 August. He was sent to the British Red Cross Hospital later that month. He was discharged to Alexandria to convalesce in October. After he rejoined his battalion he was again hospitalized.
He contracted meningitis and died of the illness on 11 January 1916 at No.4 Auxiliary Hospital at Cairo. George was buried in Cairo War Memorial Cemetery.
The Nelson Provincial Museum holds a framed portrait of George wearing an Indian turban. According to an inscription written on the reverse of a photograph he borrowed the turban from a soldier in the bed adjacent his to have the photograph taken and he died the very next day of his illness.
The inscription records his death as “13th January 1916” which differs from his military records. As well, his birth date is inscribed as “5th December 1888” but his military record states his birth year as 1889. Unfortunately his birth was not listed in the index of the St Mary’s Catholic church, in the Wakefield Registry Office records, 1875-1956, nor entered in the Nelson Provincial Museum indexes of the Colonist or Nelson Evening Mail newspaper births, deaths and marriages. His Cenotaph database record gives his age as 28 at the time of death in 1916.
He was posthumously awarded the 1914-1915 Star, the British War and the Victory medals.