Private O’Brien was in the army before the Great War, having joined in 1908 and served for three years with the colours and six years in the reserves. He worked for fourteen months as a joiner’s labourer in the Co-operative Wholesale Society before being called up on 4 August 1914 and being sent to France around a week later. The Co-operative News reported that he was killed in the Battle of Hill 60 in Flanders. He was 32 years old at the time of his death and left a widow and child.
Co-operative News, 12 June 1915, page 795.
WWI co-operative voices
This post is part of ‘WWI co-operative voices’ which shares the stories of co-operative workers and members during the conflict. In order to mark the centenary of the WWI, the Rochdale Pioneers Museum is staging an exhibition entitled ‘From shop floor to front line’ and the accounts of these soldiers, shop workers and conscientious objectors will run alongside it. They are tales of death, duty and of those who chose not to fight.
Through ‘WWI co-operative voices’ we will be releasing new posts about these individuals throughout the duration of the exhibition (due to open mid-May 2015 and run until May 2016). Read about the co-operative movement’s involvement in a war that shook the world by selecting a name from the column on the left. You can also follow us on social media for regular updates.
Follow us on Twitter and search #CoopWWI
We wish to thank the Heritage Lottery Fund for supporting the ‘From shop floor to front line’ exhibition and project.