Born into a military family in India, Arthur O’Bree attended the Royal Naval School in Mottingham in Kent before joining the Metropolitan Police. He also played in club cricket in the London area (then as Lieutenant Oppenheim) before securing a new position with the Glamorgan Constabulary. He joined Cardiff CC and appeared for the Cardiff and District XI against Sammy Woods XI at the Arms Park in June 1910.
Constable Oppenheim subsequently secured a post as Inspector of Weights and Measures in Port Talbot and played for Briton Ferry Town as well as the Gentlemen of Glamorgan, before joining the Welsh Regiment in 1914 and rising to the rank of Colonel.
After the Great War, he returned to Cardiff following a posting to Maindy Barracks, and it was around this time that he changed his surname to O’Bree. He rejoined the Cardiff club and from mid-June onwards was a regular face in the Glamorgan XI during their final summer as a Minor County. The highlight for the Colonel that summer was 116 against Monmouthshire at Briton Ferry with newspaper reports describing his “free range of hitting besides a series of powerful drives through the covers and mid-off.”
There were high expectations of Arthur as a middle-order batsman when he secured leave from the Welsh Regiment to appear for Glamorgan in their first batch of Championship fixtures during 1921. His best years were behind him, and the 36 year-old not surprisingly found the step up into first-class cricket quite a challenge and despite plenty of opportunities he failed to register a half-century in 34 innings .
He retired from county cricket at the end of the 1923 season, but maintained his involvement with Glamorgan by appearing in Club and Ground matches until 1930, besides serving on the county committee. He continued to serve with the Welch Regiment until 1924, before becoming a steel merchant based in the Swansea area. Indeed, by the time the National Register was taken in 1939 Arthur, his wife, son and daughter were living in Newton Road, Mumbles in a substantial property looking out over the delights of Langland Bay.
On the outbreak of the Second World War Arthur became an officer in the Administrative and Special Duties Branch of the RAF Voluntary Reserve and flew to South Africa as an instructor and senior officer of No.22 Training School near Johannesburg. However, during 1943 he aggravated a lung condition and died during December in a military hospital of chronic bronchitus, emphysema and cardiac failure.
O’BREE, Arthur Edwin Oppenheim
Born – Poona, India, 31st May, 1886.
Died – Maccauvlei Military Hospital, Vereeniging, South Africa, 27th December, 1943.
Minor County: 116 v Monmouthshire at Briton Ferry, 1920.
First-class: 42* v Worcestershire at Arms Park, 1922.