24th June 1917. Ypres, Belgium. Gunner 112913 John Hogan of the Royal Garrison Artillery, loses his life when a shell explodes near to his position at 9.30 am. John is quickly buried behind the guns and later his body is moved the short distance to Ferme-Olivier Cemetery in Elverdinghe, the cemetery was at the time being used by Field Ambulances to transfer the wounded. For John however this was to be his final resting place.
John had only been overseas in France and Belgium for 7 weeks, now he had become another casualty of this horrific war. Many of those who died have been forgotten to history, yet they all had their story. Over the years researchers have brought many of these stories to light. and though sadly some will never be found, by telling the stories of their comrades we can honour them all, keep them remembered, and never forget what they did.
John Hogan has his story and it is recorded, I made sure of that for he is my Great Grandfather. You can read about his wife and children, his work and discover that John had a ticket out of the war yet chose to return to it. Today is 95 years to the day since John died, he is not forgotten.
John's headstone at Ferme-Olivier Cemetery in Elverdinghe. On 4th February 2012 we visited his grave.
John was born in Dublin in 1884 and moved across to Liverpool before he was 7 years old. He was brought up in the Scotland road area of the city. On the 2nd of November 1908, John Hogan married Mary Flaherty at St Josephs Church in the Scotland road area of Liverpool. They set up home at 14 St George Terrace,Comus street. Times where hard but they found work, John as a Pressman and Mary as a bag mender at the nearby docks. In 1910 their first son John was born, followed 2 years later on 1st August 1912 by my Grandfather Bernard. A third son Thomas came along in 1915.
John joined the Militia with Lancashire Fusiliers and on 2 September 1914 he joined up full time for war service. He became part of the 4th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers as private 4436, and was posted for war training at Barrow. On 28 January 1915 While at Barrow John received a crush injury to his right foot, which after hospitalisation warranted his discharge under Kings Regulations as being "no longer physically fit for war service". In consequence he was discharged on the 20th October 1915, having served 1year and 49 days with the Colours. That of course should have been the end of John's war service, but while drinking with a friend in a public house he made the decision, no matter how rashly, to try his luck again. His friend decided to enlist also, but was turned away as unfit.
By May 1916 conscription was in full swing, but by voluntary enlisting into a unit of your own choice, and by omitting to tell them you had served in the Militia/Special Reserve infantry prior to 1914, then you would lengthen your odds to survive, as by this time it would be well known that being in the infantry had a low rate of survival. John re-enlisted into the Royal Garrison Artillery as a Gunner in June 1916. His was a voluntary enlisted as opposed to conscription, plus he left out the fact that he had previous service in both the 5th(Militia)Bn,L.F. and the 4th(E.R.)Bn, L.F., as well as seriously injuring his foot to the point of discharge a year earlier.
Now under Kings Regulations his enlistment into the RGA was actually "fraudulent", as he seems to have failed to declare all of this to the recruiter, and had he survived it's possible that he would have had to forfeit his medals because of this, although he would have eventually got them back in the 1920's pardon by H.M. the King. John was posted to the R.G.A on 31 July 1916 and on 7 November 1916 he became part of the 285th Siege Battery, who he served with until 27 February 1917 when he joined up with the 299th Siege Battery. He arrived in France with the 299th on 5 April 1917.
The above photograph shows John and Mary Hogan with their three boys. John is the child standing at the back, Thomas is the baby and my grandfather Bernard is at the front holding his fathers hand. It looks like it could be for the christening of baby Thomas. As John did not join the RGA until 1916, I would assume he is wearing the uniform of the Lancashire Fusiliers.
John was noted on his service records as being 5 feet 8 inches tall with a chest measurement of 36 inches. He had the bust of a woman tattooed on the inside of his right wrist. His wife Mary also had this tattooed on her arm so they must have had them done together. A nice sign of their affection for each other.
In March 1917 Mary gave birth to a daughter Winifred. A photograph of the baby was taken and sent in a letter to John, but sadly John died before it arrived John was killed in action at Ypres. He never got to see his Daughter. John is buried at Ferme-Olivier Cemetery in Belgium. His daughter Winifred visited the grave of the father she never knew when she was in her 80`s. Ford cemetery in Liverpool has a grave for Mary`s family, The Flaherty`s. On the bottom of the headstone is the inscription. "also Gunner John Hogan, R.G.A. Brother-in-Law of the above. Who was killed in action in France, June 24, 1917 aged 32 years" ( so I guess Mary never knew he was buried in Belgium ) It is very moving that they wanted his name put on the headstone.
Mary was a widow at the age of 33 with four children to bring up. she managed to keep them clothed and fed. It is said that Mary never accepted John`s death and did not forgive him for joining up. She never remarried. Mary never owned a TV set, but would listen to the radio and keep herself up to date on all the latest news and even read the stockmarkets. She passed away in 1978 at the age of 94.
John Hogan's grave. The Everton badge? My father died in 2006 and he was a big Everton fan, one of the flowers for his funeral was in the shape of the Everton badge and this badge here was attached. The flowers went on my dads grave then we put them alongside the Dixie Dean statue at Everton's football ground and I removed the badge. In 2007 we visited my Grandfathers grave in Italy, he was killed during WW2, he was my dads father and the son of John above. Grandad was an Evertonian and we put the badge on his grave in Italy before bringing it back home. It was my intention that if I visited John in Belgium then I would place it here and leave it here which I did. I have no idea if John supported Everton but football does not matter as the badge is just my link between my Hogan men.
http://hoganfam.weebly.com/ Hogan Family Website
liverpoolremembrance.weebly.com/belgiumypres.html Belgium Trip and John's Grave