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The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/McDonnell, Lieut-Col. Thomas

< The Dictionary of Australasian Biography

McDonnell, Lieut-Col. Thomas, N.Z.C., the eldest son of Commander Thomas McDonnell, R.N., of Porte Ferry, Cassel, Ireland, was born in 1832 at the Straits of Bernadin, Philippine Islands. He went to New Zealand about 1840, and received a commission in August 1863 as sub-inspector in the Colonial Defence force. Served in the flying column at Dury, Burt's Farm, Manku, and Queen's Redoubt. Volunteered with Major Von Tempskey in the reconnaissance of Paparata, where they had a narrow escape from the enemy, for which service he was thanked in general orders by General Sir Duncan Cameron. Accompanied the Thames expedition under Brigadier-General Carey. Was present at the taking of Rangiaohia on Feb. 4th, 1864, and in the action fought on the following day. Received his captaincy for distinguished service in 1864, and was appointed resident magistrate for Upper Waikato. Was sent to the east coast in command of the Arawa tribes, where he encountered the enemy in several engagements and was wounded. Promoted brevet-major for services in the field in July 1865, and command of the native contingent on the West Coast. Played a prominent part in the capture of the Wereroa Pa, and accompanied the forces in the relief of Pipiriki the following day. Joined the expeditionary force sent to Opotiki, where he defeated the Hau-Haus and captured Kiorikino Pa, inflicting heavy loss on the enemy. Was in command of the Waimana force in pursuit of Kereopa and also captured Te Pua. Having been recalled to Wanganui he served with General Sir Trevor Chute, taking part in the actions of Moturoa and Pulche, where he was again wounded. Was made lieutenant-colonel for special services in the field in 1867, and was at the taking of Ketemarae and Keteonetea under Colonel Butler, 57th Regiment. While protecting the Patea district he defeated the Ngatiruanui tribes at Pokaikai, Pungarehu, Ketemarae, Waibi, Te Umu, Keteonetea, Ahipaipa, and other places. Again was sent to the East Coast, where he inflicted a heavy defeat on the Waikatos at Rotorua. Recalled to Patea en route for Hokitika with a force to quell a Fenian outbreak there. In July 1868 received his commission as Inspector of Armed Constabulary. Attacked and burnt Te Ngutu-o-te-Manu. At the second fight in the forest he was defeated, but succeeded in saving his column and the wounded, though having to sustain the whole force of the enemy. He was again wounded, and served against Titokowaru at Tauranga-Ika and Karaka flats. In July 1869 he assumed command of the forces against Te Kooti in the Taupo and Uriwera country, and defeated him at Tokanu, and stormed his stronghold Te Porere, killing many of his men, and continued the pursuit to Patatere and Opotiki. For these services he repeatedly received the thanks of the Governor in Council, of the Ministers of the day, and of Sir Duncan Cameron and Sir Trevor Chute, who on two separate occasions recommended him for the New Zealand Cross. In 1866 Colonel McDonnell married Miss Rose Von Dardebyyn, who died in 1869. He married secondly, in 1870, the third daughter of Thomas East Lomax, of Coutts' Bank, London, and niece of Mr. Justice Cole, of Algoa Bay.