"O'DONNELL, HUGH, Captain, was born 9 February 1858, at Jubbulpore, Central Provinces, India, son of John Walter O'Donnell, CE, PWD, and Rosabella O'Donnell. He was educated privately in Germany; at Streatham School, and at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, and began his military career 30 January 1878, as an Ensign in the 1st Battalion 8th King's Regiment In the following year he volunteered for active service in the Zulu War, and joined the 24th Regiment. He received the South African Medal and clasp, and received a letter of thanks from the War Office through the Quartermaster-General from HRH Commanding-in-Chief: "For a sketch made by order of OC detachment of 24th Regiment of the track taken by the fugitives from Isandlwhana, 1879, from which information was gained". In July 1880, he entered the Bengal Staff Corps, and was posted to the 44th Gurkha Rifles, and was successively Quartermaster and Adjutant of that regiment, In August 1886, he received orders to raise a Police Levy for service in Burma, and in January 1887, was appointed Commandant of Military Police for Upper Burma, and held this appointment from then to 1891. He was with the Mogoung Field Force, 1887-88, and commanded it (under Brigadier General G B Wolseley, CB), 1888-89, for which he received mention in Despatches and the thanks of the Government of India; and was in the Tonhon Expedition of 1889-90, and with the Wuntho Field Force, 1891. He was mentioned in Despatches by Sir George White, KCB, VC: "For his conduct while in command of the Column operating against the rebellious Kachin tribes round and beyond Mogoung; "received the Burmese Medal with three clasps, and was created a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order [London Gazette, 12 November 1889]: "Hugh O'Donnell, Captain, Bengal Staff Corps. In recognition of services during operations in Burma". In 1892 he rejoined his old regiment, the 44th Gurkha Rifles, as Major and Second in Command. In 1899 he was transferred, as Commandant of the 42nd Gurkha Rifles. In 1904 he returned to his old regiment, the 44th Gurkha Rifles, now renamed the 6th Gurkha Rifles, as Commandant, and was granted a year's extension and appointed AAG, 1st Peshawar Division, then AAG for musketry to the Northern Army from 1907 to 1910. At the end of that period he again got another extension for a year, and was appointed Colonel on the Staff; and later Brigadier General Commanding Bannu Brigade, North-West Frontier, January 1911, receiving in the same year the commendation of the Commander-in-Chief on his successful operations against the Britiani Khels, and later against the Hathi Khels. He was Brigade Commander, January 1912, Major General, Bannu Brigade, April 1912. He received a letter signifying the full approval from the Commander-in-Chief of the operations of the Bannu Movable Column in the Tochi Valley in April 1913. At the Coronation Durbar at Delhi he commanded the 20th Brigade, and was invested with the CB at the Durbar by the King in person. In 1913 he was made Colonel, 6th Gurkha Rifles. In the Great War he commanded the Bannu Movable Column in the field in successful operations against Khostwal tribesmen, and at Spina Khaisora the enemy was driven over the frontier. After these operations the Viceroy and Commander-in-Chief commended the able manner in which they were carried out by General O'Donnell. Three weeks later, in February 1915, General O'Donnell was suddenly taken ill, from exposure in very inclement weather while with the Column. He, was put on sick leave, arriving in England in April 1916. Although he greatly improved in health, he never became fit for active service, and failed to be accepted when he offered to work in any capacity during the War. His death occurred unexpectedly in December 1917, while on a visit to friends at Cromhall, Gloucestershire. He was buried at Halton, Lancashire. He had a strong and commanding personality, and his profession was his supreme interest in life. He was an enthusiast at cricket, a fine tennis and billiard player, also a photographer in his spare time. He married, in 1894, Susan, daughter of T G Garnett, JP, of Shefferlands, Halton, Lancashire. She and their only son died in 1908.
Source: DSO recipients (VC and DSO Book)"