Brigadier Joseph Patrick O'Brien-Twohig, C.B.E., D.S.O. (33116)
Commanded the 7th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment from August 1942 to November 1942.
Joseph Patrick O'Brien-Twohig was born on 30th May 1905 at Cork, Ireland.

He completed his education at Trinity College, Dublin prior to being called to the Bar, King’s Inn, Dublin in 1926. But was commissioned into the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, with whom he was advanced to Lieutenant on the 29th August 1929, soon after which he was attached to the R.W.A.F.F. as Adjutant to the 2nd Gold Coast Regiment, a post he held until July 1935.

On the 14th May 1936 he transferred from the K.O.Y.L.I. to the West Yorkshire Regiment in the rank of Captain. He was appointed Adjutant of the 5th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment on the 28th November 1937. He served with the 5th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment in Palestine.

On the 23rd September 1938 he transferred from the West Yorkshire Regiment to the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Having been advanced to Acting Major soon after the outbreak of the Second World War, and been mentioned in despatches (London Gazette 20th December 1940) for his services in the B.E.F.

Brig. J. P. O’Brien-Twohig
(awaiting photo)

He was appointed a Lieutenant-Colonel in 1942 and commanded the 7th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment from the 15th August 1942 to 14th November 1942.

He was promoted to the substantive rank of Major on the 29th August 1943.

He the took command of the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, and served with great distinction in the invasion of Sicily and Italy 1943-44. For his gallantry he was awarded the D.S.O. and Bar. He was wounded by an enemy shell in January 1944.

After recovering from his wounds, he was advanced to Temporary Brigadier and given command of the 183 Infantry Brigade ( Adriatic Brigade), which he commanded from 5th June 1945 to 31st August 1945. And it was for his good work in this capacity, while acting in support of the Yugoslav partisans, that he was awarded the C.B.E. (London Gazette 13th December 1945) and a “mention-in-despatches”.

He was promoted to substantive rank of Lieut.-Colonel on the 1st May 1946.

He was granted acting rank of Major-General for the period 13th December 1946 to 12th January 1947 (inclusive).

Post-war, he collected his third “mention-in-despatches” (London Gazette 7th January 1949) for Palestine, commanded the 2nd Parachute Brigade 1947-48 and the 28th Infantry Brigade in the following year until completing his service in Command on the 1st May 1949.

He was promoted to substantive rank of Colonel on the 11th April 1949.

He retired from the regular army on the 21st November 1950 and was granted the honorary rank of Brigadier. He then joined the Regular Army Reserve of Officers (R.A.R.O).

From 1952-54, he was Deputy Inspector-General of the Malayan Home Guard.

He finally retired from the Army on the 3rd May 1963.

After settling down he was appointed as Managing Director of the London and Kano Trading Company.

He died in August 1973.

C.B.E. (London Gazette 13 December 1945) The original recommendation states:

"For eight months Brigadier O’Brien-Twohig commanded the Adriatic Brigade with outstanding success in Vis, Greece and Montenegro. His forceful personality contributed largely to the maintenance of peace in the Peloponnese until a few weeks before the arrival of troops of 3 Corps. The success of the later operation in Montenegro in which he commanded a strong force of artillery and Commandos in support of the Yugoslav partisans was largely due to him. His untiring personal efforts and determination overcame much of the obstinacy and obstruction of the partisans and gained him their respect and co-operation in spite of the anti-British policy which was then in evidence. He made a magnificent personal contribution to the outcome of the war in the Balkans."

D.S.O. (London Gazette 21 October 1943)
‘In recognition of gallant and distinguished services in Sicily.’

The original recommendation states:
"On the afternoon of 18 July 1943, the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers were ordered to capture a new bridgehead over the River Simeto. After firing the bridge was secured and three companies had passed over it by nightfall.

The Germans, realising the danger of this threat to their flank, then began to reinforce strongly. All through the night the enemy mortar and machine-gun fire increased in intensity, and at dawn a determined counter-attack, supported by tanks, was pushed against the bridge while the infantry attempted to cross the river and outflank the Inniskillings. The weight of the attack drove the Inniskillings back over the bridge and three of the four Company Commanders were either killed or wounded.

In these difficult circumstances the gallantry and leadership of Lieutenant-Colonel O’Brien-Twohig were outstanding and entirely saved what might have developed into a very critical situation. Moving about with complete disregard of the intense enemy fire he was always at the place where the threat was greatest, encouraging and inspiring his men by his own coolness and determination. He personally reorganised his men into new positions as they fell back over the river and established so strong a line that the attack was halted and no German ever succeeded in placing a foot on the bridge.

A counter-attack by our own tanks and infantry was now launched and this, combined with the fierce resistance of the Inniskillings, decided the Germans to withdraw. Lieutenant-Colonel O’Brien-Twohig did not know of our counter-attack or that the enemy had withdrawn, but noticing a lull in the enemy firing and realising the great importance of again securing the bridge, he went forward alone to reconnoitre and, finding the bridge clear, at once pushed his men forward across it to retake the position, which thereafter remained firmly in our hands.

There is no doubt that the final success of the operation was very largely due to the conduct of Lieutenant-Colonel O’Brien-Twohig, whose courage, determination and leadership accorded with the highest standards of the Service and inspired all who saw him."

Bar to D.S.O. London Gazette 27 June 1944:
‘In recognition of gallant and distinguished services in Italy.’

The original recommendation states:
"On the night of 17-18 January 1944, the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel J. P. O’Brien-Twohig, were ordered to force a crossing of the River Garigliano and to capture the east end of the Minturno ridge. The operation involved crossing the river in assault boats, traversing a broad expanse of plain held by machine-gun posts and finally taking the ridge itself, which was very steep and woody, protected by deeply dug entrenchments and covered by extensive minefields.

When the first company of the Inniskillings was crossing the river an unlucky burst of shellfire holed all the boats except one, which later sank, and caused numerous casualties.Almost at the same time another salvo fell in the Battalion assembly area, while a third destroyed the reserve boats. Undismayed by these set-backs Lieutenant-Colonel O’Brien-Twohig led his battalion to another crossing a mile lower down the river, getting them across in the boats of another battalion and having his two leading companies on the start line in time to advance behind the barrage. In spite of heavy casualties, the Inniskillings stormed the ridge and captured their objectives. A counter-attack drove them off one of them but Lieutenant-Colonel O’Brien-Twohig personally re-organised them on the remaining high ground which he held firmly until he was able to organise a further attack which finally routed the enemy.

Throughout this long and difficult action Lieutenant-Colonel O’Brien-Twohig gave an inspiring example of gallantry and leadership. With complete disregard of danger he personally organised and encouraged his men and produced a complete recovery from a succession of setbacks which might well have proved fatal to the success of the operation.

During the advance a shell fell beside him, killing two officers and four signallers. Although painfully wounded and considerably shaken, he refused all offers of assistance and evacuation and insisted on continuing to command and lead his men.

The successful completion of the task was very largely due to his personal example and encouragement and he gave an outstanding example of courage and leadership at a time when such qualities were most urgently required."

Medals of Brigadier Joseph Patrick O'Brien-Twohig

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, C.B.E. (Military) Commander’s 2nd type neck badge, silver-gilt and enamel; Distinguished Service Order, G.VI.R. 1st issue, silver-gilt and enamel, with Second Award Bar, the reverse of the suspension bar officially dated ‘1943’ and the reverse of the Bar ‘1944’; General Service 1918-62, 2 clasps, Palestine, Palestine 1945-48, with M.I.D. oak leaf (Capt. J.P. O’Brien Twohig, W. York. R.); 1939-45 Star; Italy Star; Defence and War Medals, M.I.D. oak leaf; Jubilee Medal 1935.

His medals were sold at Auction for £9200 on the 22 Sep 06 (Ron Penhall Collection) by Dix Noonan Webb, London.