Sidney John Fogarty
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.
On 6 April 1917 Alice Fogarty wrote to the Officer in Charge at the Base Records Office:
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.