British troops on the Western Front launch an attack on the Ancre, capturing Munich Trench near Beaumont Hamel. The British raid continues for two months, until 13 March. Operations on the Ancre January–March 1917
British troops occupy Hai in Mesopotamia
Shore-based Turkish artillery bombards the Royal Navy seaplane-carrier Ben-my-Chree, at anchor in the Greek island of Kastelorizo. The crew is ordered to abandon ship forty minutes into the attack, with five men sustaining injuries. The bombardment continues for five hours, until the vessel lists and sinks in shallow water. Later in the day, the captain and the chief engineer return to the ship to rescue the ship’s mascots, a cat and dog which had survived the attack. On 12 August 1915 Ben-my-Chree became part of aviation history, being the platform for the first ship-launched airborne torpedo attack on a ship.
Stern view of HMS Ben-my-Chree, showing aircraft hangars. Image courtesy Imperial War Museum.
Lennox Ross Owen Douglas returns to Orange after two years’ war service. The young law clerk was invalided home from the war due to epilepsy. Personal
Russian troops on the Eastern Front continue their progress south of Lake Babit
British troops continue to advance to the north-east of Kut-al-Amara in Mesopotamia
Allied governments send a joint reply to US President Wilson’s Peace Note, stating their peace terms and demanding “restoration, reparation, indemnities” from Germany. A special note from the Belgian Government accompanies the reply, stating that Belgium places itself in Allied hands.
Turkish prisoners captured by the Anzac Mounted Division at Rafa, Sinai, January 1917. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.
Units of the Desert Column including the Anzac Mounted Division, the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade, the Imperial Camel Corps Brigade, the 5th Mounted Yeomanry Brigade and 7th Light Car Patrol capture the 3,000-strong Ottoman Army garrison at El Magruntein (also known as Rafa or Rafah). Allied forces sustain 486 casualties, including 71 dead; the Turks 368, 200 of whom are killed. 1,434 Turks are taken prisoner; the remainder withdraw into Palestine.
British troops on the Western Front take trenches east of Beaumont Hamel in Ancre
Russian soldiers on the Eastern Front advance between Tirul marsh and the River Aa, as the enemy crosses the River Putna north and south-east of Focsani
British troops under the command of Sir Frederick Maude launch an artillery attack at Khadairi Bend on the Tigris River, north-east of Kut-al-Amara. The Battle of Khadairi Bend would last almost three weeks and was a prelude to the Second Battle of Kut.
Private Samuel Payne from Newcastle becomes the first Australian prisoner of war from Germany to be exchanged. Wounded during the Battle of Fleurbaix, Payne was captured by German soldiers and transported to Douai in northern France, where the lower part of his injured leg was amputated. He says he was generally treated well and that his only unpleasant experience was being spat whilst in hospital. An Australian Prisoner From Germany
After sunset, under the cover of darkness, mounted units of the Desert Column of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force ride out of El Arish in preparation to attack the Ottoman Army garrison on the Sinai-Palestine border.
Prince Nikolai Dmitriyevich Golitsyn succeeds Alexander Fyodorovitch Trepov as Prime Minister of Russia
Prince Nikolai Dmitriyevich Golitsyn, 1912. Image in public domain.
Heavy fighting occurs on the Eastern Front between the Carpathian Mountains and Focsani; enemy forces advance in the Susitsa valley and near Odobesti. as Russian troops launch a counter-offensive between Focsani and Fundeni, recovering lost ground near Obilesti.
British airmen on the Western Front conduct a daylight raid south-east of Arras
Sidney John Fogarty was born in Orange in 1896, the youngest of thirteen children. His parents were Thomas Joseph Fogarty and Alice Mary Hodges. Sidney’s father, Thomas, was a pioneer of the coal industry in NSW, who later operated butcheries in several towns, including Weston, Forbes, Parkes, Warialda and Gloucester. When Sidney was a boy the family moved from Orange to Bathurst, where Thomas opened a butchery.
Sidney was educated at the Patrician Brothers’ School where he served four years in the cadets and militia. In March 1911 14 year old Sid won an award at the Blayney Show for the best exercise book in the school exhibits.
Following his education Sidney went to work for the coachbuilder William Gornall in Russell Street, Bathurst. For the three years prior to his enlistment in August 1915 Sid was employed by AS Low and Co as a cabinetmaker.
Sidney enlisted for service at Lithgow on 3 August 1915. He entered Liverpool training camp and returned to Bathurst in October to farewell his family and friends prior to embarkation.
Private Fogarty embarked HMAT A14 Euripides in Sydney on 2 November 1915 for overseas service. He was taken on strength with the 18th Battalion, 6th Reinforcement, in Egypt in February 1916. Early the following month he was admitted to the 4th Auxiliary Hospital in Cairo with mumps.
On 19 March 1916 Sidney embarked at Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force in Marseilles. On 14 November Sid was engaged in battle near Butte de Warlencourt on the Somme when he was shot. He was subsequently reported as wounded and missing.
It was not until 13 December 1916 that the Army contacted Sidney’s mother. Mrs Fogarty was advised that her son had been wounded, but that:
It is not stated as being serious and in the absence of further reports it is to be assumed that all wounded are progressing satisfactorily. It should be understood that if no later advice is received this Department has no further information to give.
I take the liberty of writing a few lines to you to ascertain why the police has called on me to ask me the following questions. Namely, had I received my son’s deferred pay and several other questions. They have notified me to put in for a pension. I understood that no one would be asked questions like those unless the soldier was dead. I have not been advised that my son was dead. I was advised on 13 December 1916 that he was wounded on 14 November and then I got a second report to say he was wounded and missing and they seem to be treating my boy as killed…So Sir, I am very much worried about my son. Will you kindly advise me what has become of my Darling boy as I am a broken hearted mother.
On 15 May 1917 an inquiry determined that Sidney had been killed in action on 14 November 1916. However, a further five months would pass until Mrs Fogarty was advised of her son’s death. To compound Alice’s suffering, her husband, Thomas, passed away in July 1917.
It was not until January 1918 that Alice Fogarty received her son’s personal effects: a shaving brush, a mitten, one housewife, three handkerchiefs, and some letters.
According to his service records Private Fogarty was buried on 1 March 1917 in the vicinity of “The Maze” and “Blue Cut” near Baupaume. His final resting place is Warlencourt British Cemetery in France.
Sidney John Fogarty is commemorated on panel number 172 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.
Sidney’s cousin John Thomas Fearish also served in WWI; he died of wounds near Zonnebeke in Belgium on 20 October 1917. Sidney’s brothers William and Thomas served in the Boer War in South Africa in 1902.
To commemorate the first anniversary of Sidney’s death his family inserted the following tribute in the Coffs Harbour Advocate:
His country called and honor bade him go
To battle ‘gainst a grim and deadly foe.
He helped to bring Australia into fame
To build for her a never dying name.
Foremost was he in thickest strife—
For home and country he laid down his life.