Today is the centenary of the actions near Pozières in France that saw Western Australian Irish-born infantryman Martin O’Meara receive a Victoria Cross. His actions are often associated with the 16th Battalion’s advance between Pozières and Mouquet Farm from 9-12 August 1916, but O’Meara was involved from 8 August onwards when parts of the 16th Battalion were under the operational control of the 15th Battalion.
On 8 August 1916, at 6.00pm, the 16th Battalion’s A Company under Captain Ross Harwood moved off to support the 15th Battalion. The 15th Battalion was to mount an attack the line from the Brind’s Road (or Ovillers-Courcellete Road) trench line towards the 5th Avenue/Ration Trench/Park Lane trench system to the northwest of Pozières in the direction of Mouquet Farm, a distance of around 200 metres) that evening following an artillery barrage.
At 10.40pm on 8 August, the battalion headquarters received a message from the 4th Brigade headquarters asking about the position of A Company, and the battalion replied that A Company was under the control of the 15th Battalion in K Trench (which ran north-south to the west of Pozières) and that D Company was ready to move at short notice if required.
Martin O’Meara was working alongside the 16th Battalion’s A Company in support of the 15th Battalion overnight, as Captain Ross Harwood, commanding the 16th Battalion’s A Company, observed that:
On the night of the 8/9th I saw No.3970 Pte. O’Meara, M., out into “No Man’s Land” where it was being severely shelled and remove wounded men to places of safety where he rendered first aid and thence subsequently he assisted to carry them down to the Dressing Station. I personally saw him remove not less than 6 men mostly of the 15th Battalion A.I.F. and the Suffolk Battalion. One of the wounded whom I saw him remove in this is Lieut Fogarty of the 15th Battalion A.I.F.
My new biography of Martin O’Meara VC is now available for purchase. It provides a comprehensive account of his life, from a lad in County Tipperary, through his time in Australia, his wartime service, his time in Perth after the war, to his sad death in a mental hospital in Perth, Western Australia, in 1935.
Click here for more information on the book.