Lt. Col H.J.R. O'Brien was born in Nainital, India in 1906 where his father worked as a civil engineer. Educated at Bedford Public School, he entered Sandhurst and was commissioned in 1927 as a 2nd Lt in the Royal Scots Fusiliers. Seconded to the 10th Baluch regt of the Indian Army. He saw active service in the Mahmond campaigning in the early 1930's. During the second world war, he served with the Royal Indian Army Service Corps. His last nine months of his Army career were with CRIASC, HQ South Burma, Rangoon. Discharged with the rank of Lt. Col on Indian Independence he returned to Ireland in 1948.