Roath Virtual War Memorial: O

MELVIN EDWARD O’BRIEN

Able Seaman, Royal Navy, H.M.S. Cromarty (Service Number: D/SSX 24305)

Melvin Edward O’Brien was born in Cardiff on 14 Mar 1920 to Stanley Thomas O’Brien, an engineer, originally from London and Florence May O’Brien nee Bonfield from Cardiff. When his parents married his father Stanley was serving as a sergeant in the Royal Army Medical Corps in Cardiff Intermediate School on Newport Road which had been converted into a hospital for injured soldiers. In 1922 the family were living at 113 Cyfarthfa Street so probably the address Melvin was born. His mother Florence had already lost a brother in WWI and was to lose her father in the WWII blitz in nearby Crofts Street.  Melvin joined the navy aged 16 before the start of WWII.  He served on HMS Drake and then the minesweeper HMS Cromarty. He died on 23 October 1943 aged 22 when HMS Cromarty hit a mine and sank the waters between Sardinia and Corsica in the Mediterranean. The last contact the family had of Melvin was when his elder brother, Douglas, met him quite by accident in Tripoli a little while before his ship went down. He is remembered on the Plymouth Naval Memorial (Panel 79, Column 3).  Commonwealth War graves Commission record.

Melvin Edward O'Brien

MICHAEL O’NEIL

Driver, Royal Army Service Corps (Service Number T/231570)

Michael O’Neil was born on 28 Nov 1909 to Edward O’Neil, a wharf labourer, from Cardiff and Catherine ‘Kate’ O’Neil née Connolly originally from Skibbereen, Co Cork, Ireland. In 1911 the O’Neil family were living in 25 Planet Street, Adamsdown and in 1939 at 30 Glenroy Street, Roath.  Michael attended St Illtyd’s school between 1923 and 1928. In 1939 he is working as an insurance agent and marries Dorothy Eleanor Balmer, a company secretary, in Cardiff and they live at 10 Four Elms Road, Roath . He joins the Royal Army Service Corps as a driver but is dies in what is now Israel on 8 Nov 1941 aged 31. He is buried at the Ramleh War Cemetery in Israel (plot S20).  He is remembered on the St Illtyd’s School War Memorial plaque now restored and in St Alban’s church.  Commonwealth War Graves Commission record.


WILLIAM HENRY ORCHARD

Private, 1st Battalion, Welsh Regiment (Service Number: 38191)

Private William Henry Orchard headstone SalonikaWilliam Henry Orchard was born in Cardiff around 1868. He married Florence Ann Greening at St John the Baptist church on 17 Jun 1899.  At that time he was living at 65 Cathays terrace and working as a labourer. The wedding certificate indicates that his father was William Orchard, a sailor.    In the 1901 census they are living at 69 Coburn St, Cathays with their newly born daughter Enid.  He was a member of the Cathays Conservative Club as well as a members of the Workers Union.  In 1911 they are living at 19 Lionel Road, Canton and William was working as a timber merchant.  By this time they have four children and go on to have a fifth in 1913.  He served with the 1st Battalion Welsh Regiment.  He died of illness in hospital in Salonika on 29 Jan 1916 aged 45.  He is buried at the Salonika Lembet Road Military Cemetery. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission record records their address as being 32 Harriet Street, Cathays. There is a possibility he is the William Orchard named on the Bethany Baptist church war memorial.


THOMAS WILLIAM ORCHARD

Private, 11th Battalion, Welsh Regiment (Service Number: 14802)

Thomas William Orchard headstoneThomas William Orchard was born in Cardiff in 1874 to William Orchard, a ship’s fireman, and Elizabeth Jane Orchard née Davies, both originally from Cardiff. He grew up in central Cardiff in the Wharton Street area (Baker’s Row and Green Gardens) and then at 12 Ruperra Street. He worked as a glass and china warehouseman.  In Apr 1915 he married Maria Wilkins in Cardiff.  He served with the 11th battalion Welsh Regiment but he died of dysentery on 17 Sep 1916 aged 42 in Salonika, Greece.  He is buried at the Salonika Lambet Road Military Cemetery.  He may be the William Orchard remembered on the Bethany Baptist church war memorial plaque.  Commonwealth War Graves Commission record.