12/809 Private John McGeehan – Auckland Infantry Regiment

John McGeehan was born in Thames on 17th August 1885[i] the eldest of nine children born to Mary (nee Muldoon)
and John McGeehan[ii] of Paeroa.

On outbreak of war John’s younger brother Bernard was first of the brothers
to enlist going into  camp of 11th August 1914 and sailing as 1/715 Private
McGeehan[iii], Samoa Advanced Party for the occupation of German Samoa.
John entered camp on 13th August 1914 as part of the 16th Waikato Company,
Auckland Infantry Regiment.  Private McGeehan is listed as a Linesman working
for the Hamilton Branch of the Post and Telegraph Department. Also entering
camp was John’s younger brother Thomas Manus McGeehan. The brothers
Private John and Sergeant Thomas McGeehan[iv] left with the Main Body for
service overseas.

                                                                              12/809 Private John McGeehan
The Auckland Regiment was one of the first New Zealand units to land at ANZAC
Cove but Private McGeehan first saw action on 8th May 1915 at the Helles landings.
Private McGeehan then served at ANZAC Cove before being wounded in early June
1915. It is possible that Private McGeehan was wounded while the Auckland
Regiment was defending Quinn’s Post.

                                                                                                                View from Quinn's Post of Turkish trenches
                                                                                                  within bombing range.

                                                                                                  Private McGeehan arrived in Cairo and was admitted to                                                                                                                          hospital on 27th June 1915 suffering from concussion and                                                                                                                      piles.  Private McGeehan was reported on 15th July 1915 as                                                                                                                   still suffering concussion and his condition was reviewed resulting in                                                                                                   him being invalided back to New Zealand ‘for a change’ leaving on                                                                                                       the Tahiti, 7th August 1915. Also returning to New Zealand was his                                                                                                       brother Sergeant Thomas McGeehan who had been wounded at Gallipoli with a bullet in the arm.

The Ohinemuri Gazette reported 15th September 1915[v] that:

                ‘It is anticipated that Privates Thos M McGeehan and John McGeehan returning soldiers,
                 will arrive in Paeroa by express tomorrow.’

The visit was short as the Ohinemuir Gazette reported in the same issue that:

               'Sergeant M McGreehan and Corporal J McGreehan left by express for Hamilton where
               they will spend a few days prior to going into the convalescent home at Rotorua.
               The former is suffering a slight paralysis in the arm as a result of a bullet wound received
               a fortnight after landing, while his brother is suffering from shell shock after two months
               fighting in Gallipoli.'

While in Rotorua Hospital, Private John McGreehan was, on 25th September 1915,  ‘discharged as medically unfit for active service.’ While John was discharged from the NZEF he remained in care as a military patient in Rotorua through to at least late 1919.

John McGeehan married Teresa O’Brien on 28th April 1920.

John McGeehan never fully recovered from the shell shock and was admitted to Porirua Mental Hospital in the early
1920’s dying at the institute on 20th August 1926 the coroner’s report simply noting ‘general paralysis of the insane[vi].’ 

The New Zealand Herald carried a simple notice[vii]:

                     McGeehan:- On August 20, at Wellington, John,
                     beloved husband of Teresa, and eldest son of
                     Margaret and the late John McGeehan, of Paeroa
                     (16th Waikato, Main Body).

The Auckland Regiment: NZETC
Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files
Onward Project
Porirua City Council cemetery register

12/809 Private John McGeehan: Onward Project
Grave – Simon Strombom (who restored the grave) 

[i]     Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 12/809 Private John McGeehan
[ii]    McGeehan website: My Heritage
[iii]   Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 1/715 Private Bernard  McGeehan
[iv]   Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 12/589 Sergeant Thomas Manus McGeehan
[v]    Back from Gallipoli, 15th September 1915, Ohinemuri Gazette
[vi]   Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 12/809 Private John McGeehan
[vii]  Roll of Honour, 24th August 1926, NZ Herald
John McGeehan's grave Porirua Cemetery