Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Patrick Joseph Francis O'Shea (1892–1952)

by Stephen Garton

This article was published:

Patrick Joseph Francis O'Shea (1892-1952), soldier and medical practitioner, was born on 14 March 1892 at Ultimo, Sydney, fourth child of Daniel O'Shea, publican, and his wife Margaret, née O'Leary, both Irish born. He was educated at St Joseph's College, Hunters Hill, and the University of Sydney (M.B., 1916; Ch.M., 1921) and in 1916 became a resident medical officer at Sydney Hospital.

On 6 September 1916 O'Shea was commissioned as a captain in the Australian Army Medical Corps, Australian Imperial Force, and in November embarked for England. After attachment to medical camps at Parkhouse, Lark Hill and Durrington, he served in France from 4 April 1917 with the 2nd Australian General Hospital, the 2nd Australian Field Ambulance, the 56th Casualty Clearing Station and the 8th Battalion before being gassed on 28 October near Passchendaele, Belgium. He was awarded the Military Cross for organizing stretcher-bearers under heavy shell-fire on 19 November near Ypres. A week later he again showed conspicuous gallantry in organizing stretchers and attending the wounded in shell-holes while under heavy fire and received a Bar to his M.C.

On 18 March 1918 O'Shea was gassed again near Ypres and was evacuated to England. He resumed duty on 12 June with the 2nd A.G.H. at Wimereux, France, and on 21 June was appointed regimental medical officer to the 8th Battalion. On 23 August, near Chuignes, he dressed the wounded on the spot at the 'hottest' part of the front line and carried many men back to the casualty stations under heavy fire. He worked continuously for three days, attending to the wounded, and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and mentioned in dispatches. He embarked for Australia in April 1919 and his A.I.F. appointment ended in July.

On demobilization O'Shea became senior resident surgeon at St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney. His war injuries, however, prevented him from continuing in this position. He resigned in 1920 to go into private practice at Burwood, but spent most of the next eight years convalescing in a tuberculosis sanatorium at Leura. He married Shirley Sybil Robinson, a nurse, at St Canice's Catholic Church, Darlinghurst, on 2 March 1921; they had two children.

O'Shea's experiences while convalescing led to an interest in psychiatric problems. In addition to the physical problems due to the effects of gas he developed a common form of war neurosis resulting in speech loss for six months. By 1928 he had regained his health sufficiently to apply for a position in the Department of Mental Hospitals of New South Wales and on 13 June he was appointed as a medical officer at Bloomfield Hospital, Orange; in 1932 he became senior medical officer there. The climate at Orange and his wife's careful nursing improved his health and on 30 October 1936 he was appointed as deputy medical superintendent at Gladesville Mental Hospital, Sydney.

In June 1944 O'Shea's wife died and next year he resigned his post at Gladesville to go into private psychiatric practice in Macquarie Street, Sydney. He was often called to provide expert testimony in criminal trials. On 24 October 1946 he married Cora Naylor Sheridan at St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney; they had no children.

Patrick O'Shea was a short, stocky man with thick grey hair, a round cheery face and glasses. His favourite interests were golf, cricket and Rugby League football. His war experiences, however, were never far from his thoughts. At his sixtieth birthday party he stated how fortunate he was as most of his A.I.F. friends had failed to reach that age. Six months later he contracted tubercular meningitis and died on 8 November 1952 in Concord Repatriation Hospital. He was buried in Northern Suburbs cemetery with Catholic rites. His wife, a son and a daughter survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • A. G. Butler (ed), Official History of the Australian Army Medical Services in the War 1914-18, vols 1, 2 (Melb, 1930, Canb, 1940)
  • card index: personnel, AIF, 1914-18 (Australian War Memorial)
  • private information.

Citation details

Stephen Garton, 'O'Shea, Patrick Joseph Francis (1892–1952)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1988, accessed online 1 March 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (Melbourne University Press), 1988

View the front pages for Volume 11

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


14 March, 1892
Ultimo, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


8 November, 1952 (aged 60)
Concord, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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