SAPPER VINCENT O'SULLIVAN
AUSTRALIAN TUNNELLING CORPS
11TH AUGUST 1918 AGE 40
BURIED: HERSIN COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION , PAS DE CALAIS, FRANCE
There's something rather moving about this inscription. Vincent O'Sullivan had no family; the best the War Graves Commission could come up with was that he was a 'native of Ireland'. And no family included no wife.
So where did the inscription come from? It was written by Mr S.J. Millane, Brown Hill, Kalgoorlie, Western Australia. And who was he? We only know who he was because it was Millane who filled in O'Sullivan's form for the Roll of Honour of Australia and in the section that asks for the form-fillers relationship to the soldier he has written, "friend and partner". In this context he would have meant partner in business, and what was the business - prospecting. Otherwise all Millane knew about his friend was that he was "about 40 years" and that he had served in the Boer War having enlisted in Ireland.
It's what Millane says that is so touching; this burly prospector - I am imaging things here - refers to O'Sullivan as his sadly missed true friend and describes him as 'a white man'. By this he does not mean a man with a white skin but a man who was good company, decent and trustworthy - a good bloke.
Vincent O'Sullivan, who described himself on enlistment as a miner, served as many miners did in the Australian Tunnelling Corps. Here they laid cables and dug saps, trenches, dug-outs and mines. There is no record of what happened on 11 August 1918 but three miners from the 3rd Australian Tunnellers died that day and were buried in Hersin Communal Cemetery Extension.