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John Patrick McGlinn (1869–1946)

by R. Sutton

This article was published:

John Patrick McGlinn (1869-1946), soldier and electrical engineer, was born on 11 April 1869 in Sydney, son of John Joseph McGlinn, gun-maker, and his wife Bridget Bergin, née O'Connor, both from Tipperary, Ireland. He attended St John's School, West Maitland, becoming a junior telegrapher in the New South Wales Postmaster General's Department on 29 January 1883. With the telegraph branch he worked at Tamworth, Bathurst, Wagga Wagga and West Maitland.

On 27 November 1893 McGlinn was commissioned second lieutenant in the 4th Infantry Regiment, New South Wales Military Forces, and in 1898 was promoted lieutenant. In the South African War he served as adjutant, 1st New South Wales Mounted Rifles, which disembarked in Cape Town in February 1900. Promoted captain, he was awarded the Queen's South Africa Medal with six clasps: Cape Colony, Driefontein, Johannesburg, Diamond Hill, Wittebergen, and South Africa 1901. In March 1901 the regiment returned home.

After Federation McGlinn was transferred to the Commonwealth Public Service, resuming work with the P.M.G. at West Maitland, and on 10 July married Olivia Paton at Bathurst. He was promoted captain in the Australian Military Forces in 1905, brigade major, 1st Infantry Brigade, next year and lieutenant-colonel in 1911; he was awarded the Colonial Auxiliary Forces Long Service Medal and Officers' Decoration.

In September 1914 Colonel John Monash selected McGlinn, then a P.M.G. lines engineer, as brigade major, 4th Infantry Brigade, Australian Imperial Force. During training in Egypt in March 1915 Monash described him as 'a tower of strength on the administrative side' who took 'a great burden of detail off my shoulders'. The portly pair became very close friends.

After landing on Gallipoli the 4th Brigade suffered very heavy casualties. In May Monash wrote: 'McGlinn is … calm, cool, collected and a man of sound judgement. He works late and early and nothing is too much trouble for him'. During Monash's absence on leave McGlinn temporarily commanded the brigade from 17 October to 8 November while out of the line. On 17 December, during the evacuation of Gallipoli, he took out 800 men from 4th Brigade without loss. He was twice mentioned in dispatches and was appointed C.M.G.

On 12 March 1916 McGlinn became assistant adjutant and quartermaster general on 5th Division Headquarters, and after training in Egypt the division reached Armentières, France, in June. On 25 June it relieved the 4th Division and in the battle of Fromelles on 19/20 July suffered 5000 casualties. During operations up to October McGlinn and his staff effectively maintained resupply of the division from the railhead at Bac St Maur. In October the division moved to Flers and Gueudecourt on the Somme and on 9 November he was evacuated ill; he did not return to the division. In November he was mentioned in dispatches again.

McGlinn was appointed commandant of No.4 A.I.F. Depot at Codford, England, in April 1917 and in October commandant of No.2 A.I.F. Depot at Weymouth. He was promoted colonel on 8 December. On 17 March 1918 he was promoted temporary brigadier general and became deputy adjutant and quartermaster general on Headquarters, A.I.F. Depots, in England. In January 1919 he was appointed C.B.E. From September 1919 to January 1920 he was liaison officer in England for the Department of Repatriation and Demobilisation. He was president of a court martial in November 1919 which acquitted the Australian Catholic chaplain, Father O'Donnell. Returning to Sydney in March 1920, in July he was transferred to the unattached list as honorary brigadier general.

At Monash's instigation, McGlinn was appointed a commissioner of the Commonwealth Public Service Board in June 1923, having become deputy State engineer (lines) in the P.M.G. He retired on 10 March 1930. Later he was chairman of the Commonwealth (A.I.F.) Canteens Trust Fund, the Sir Samuel McCaughey A.I.F. Bequest and the Sir John Monash Memorial Fund. In 1935-42 he was a member of the State War Council of Victoria. He died on 7 July 1946 and after a requiem Mass at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Kew, was buried with full military honours in St Kilda cemetery. His wife, two sons and a daughter survived him. His younger son Eric Paton, a lieutenant in the 2/29th Battalion, A.I.F., was a prisoner of war on the Burma Railway.

McGlinn was a citizen force staff officer with exceptional skills and a devotion to the service overall, to the troops whom he served and, most of all, to Monash, whom he regarded as a 'national possession'.

Select Bibliography

  • Australian Defence Department, Official Records of the Australian Military Contingents to the War in South Africa, P. L. Murray ed (Melb, 1911)
  • A. D. Ellis, Story of the Fifth Division (Lond, c1920)
  • C. E. W. Bean, The Story of Anzac (Syd, 1921, 1924), and The A.I.F. in France, 1916 (Syd, 1929)
  • T. A. White, The Fighting Thirteenth (Syd, 1924)
  • G. Serle, John Monash (Melb, 1982)
  • London Gazette, 5 Nov 1915, 2 June, 11 July 1916, 2 Jan 1917, 31 Dec 1918
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 25, 29 Nov, 1, 2 Dec 1919, 9 May 1921
  • Age (Melbourne), 8 July 1946
  • McGlinn collection, 3/DRL/632 (Australian War Memorial)
  • private information.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

R. Sutton, 'McGlinn, John Patrick (1869–1946)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1986, accessed online 26 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (Melbourne University Press), 1986

View the front pages for Volume 10

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


11 April, 1869
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


7 July, 1946 (aged 77)
Victoria, Australia

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