5RAR Historical Archive

A 5RAR Member's Link to WW1

Owen Cooney O'Mara

Owen Cooney O'Mara


Owen's Grandfather, James O'Mara, arrived in Australia on 12th July 1837 aboard the ‘Heber‘ with 216 other Convicts. James was put to work at Victoria Barracks and Circular Quay and obtained his ticket of leave in 1845 . He married in 1848 and had 11 children. The seven O’Mara’s who enlisted for WW1 were his Grandsons.

O’Mara Brothers and Cousins.

  • Owen Cooney O’Mara - 4614 – 45th Battalion - KIA, 7th August 1916.
  • William Joseph O’Mara - 5647 – 18th Battalion – My Grandfather. WIA Twice.
  • John (aka Jack) O’Mara - 2229 -- 10th FA Brigade AIF - WIA.
  • James Philip O’Mara - 1608 - Severely wounded. Died, June 20th 1920.
  • Thomas O’Mara - 2653 - 7th Light Horse - suffered with Malaria.
  • Stephen Arthur O’Mara - 53841 – Graves Registration Det. France.
  • Stanislaus O’Mara - 2621 - 39th Battalion - WIA.

Owen Cooney O’Mara was my Grandfather's Brother. Owen was KIA on the night of 7th August 1916 in the Battle for Pozieres. A direct hit from German Artillery killed him and three of his cobbers instantly. They were buried together, where they fell, with just the one cross for the four of them. Red Cross records advise that Sgt. James Peel Wise buried them the following morning. This was exactly 12 months to the day that Owen enlisted back in Cootamundra NSW on Saturday 7th August 1915.

Owen wrote his last two letters from the trenches in July 1916. In reading the first of his letters he was at pains to put his parents mind at rest as to his safety and wellbeing. He even suggests that should they ever be advised of him being wounded to “Treat it Lightly”. He mentions cousin Jack who was raised by his parents after the death of his mother’s twin sister. I’m sure that Jack was considered as a son by Michael & Ellen, they no doubt worried about their three boys at War.

However, the tone of his second letter changes. It seems to me that he felt the odds were stacked against him ever returning to Sunny Australia. He gives a very descriptive account of “ bullets and fragments of shells . Battery after battery, belching out deadly metal “…..

Sadly, Owen’s last two letters were not received by his parents Michael & Ellen until after they were advised of his death. His Letters were published in the Gundagai Independent on 21st September 1916 and I would like to share them with you.

Owen O'Mara's last letter s to his family before being killed
Bill O'Mara

Bill O'Mara
B Company 2nd Tour

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