O’BRIEN, James Francis

Sapper 6986167 90th Field Company, Royal Engineers.

Died Sunday 9th July 1944 (Age 28)

At Rest: Bayeux War Cemetery, Calvados, France
Grave Ref.: II. D. 15


 Information supplied by Mrs Margery Heathcote, formerly Mrs Margery O’Brien who now lives in Skegness:

James (Jim) was born 19 July 1915, the youngest of seven children – two brothers and four sisters. One of his brothers later settled in Birmingham. His parents were Vincent and Bridget O’Brien, who lived in Malahide, on the outskirts of Dublin. Vincent lived on the coast, and took people on his boat to the golf club.

Jim came to Jacksdale on a contract to James Oakes. He returned home in September 1939, at the outbreak of war, but came back in 1940. He lived at Edward Avenue, Jacksdale, and his hobbies were fishing and rowing.

Jim married Margery Bland, youngest daughter of Mr and Mrs George Bland of Station House, Jacksdale, on 31 May 1941 at St Mary’s Church, Westwood, Nottinghamshire. The wedding reception was held at the bride’s home. The bride’s father was a farmer, and rented the station house, as there was no stationmaster on the LNER line. Margery was a schoolteacher before her marriage- she and Jim met whilst he was lodging near her home. Jim was called up in May

1942. He had one 48-hour leave when he was stationed in Northern Ireland, but Margery says he never talked about the Army when on leave, wanting to forget about it.

On Sunday 9th July 1944 Jim O’Brien was killed in action, aged 28, and is buried in the Bayeux War Cemetery in Calvados, France. Bayeux was one of the first towns to be liberated from the Germans in June 1944.

Sadly Jim, who was involved with the cleanup operation after liberation, was killed whilst trying to neutralize an enemy mine.

The Eastwood & Kimberley Advertiser carried the following story:

On Saturday, Mrs. J. F. O’Brien, of Edward Avenue, Jacksdale, received the sad news of the death of her husband, Mr. James Francis O’Brien, who was serving with the Royal Engineers in Normandy. Major L. G. Robinson, who informed Mrs. O’Brien that her husband was engaged in neutralizing enemy mines when some defect caused the mine to explode, conveyed the news to her. The Major says he lies buried in the shadow of the church of the village. Sapper O’Brien, who is a native of Dublin, married Miss Marjorie Bland, youngest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George Bland, of Station House, Jacksdale. He leaves one daughter, Eileen, aged 17 months.”

Although none of James’ family was able to attend the wedding due to transport problems during wartime, Margery visited them a number of times after his death. Margery later moved to Nottingham to live, and her daughter became a teacher there. Eileen married, and had one son and adopted a daughter, and now teaches English to foreign students in Vancouver. She moved to Canada because her architect husband got work there.


O'BRIEN J F (Resized)