Michael BERGIN MC

Poppy

BERGIN, Michael

Service Number: 808
Enlisted: 13 May 1915, Anzac Cove, Turkey
Last Rank: Major (Chaplain 3rd Class AIF)
Last Unit: Australian Army Chaplains' Department
Born: St. Kieran, Ireland, 1879
Home Town: Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria
Schooling: Jesuit College, Mungret, Limerick
Occupation: School Teacher (Holy Family College, Cairo)
Died: Died of wounds, Zonnebekke, Belgium, 12 October 1917
Cemetery: Reninghelst Churchyard Extension
Grave No 1
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

10 May 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Captain (Chaplain 4th Class AIF) , SN 808, Australian Army Chaplains' Department, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
10 May 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Captain (Chaplain 4th Class AIF) , Australian Army Chaplains' Department, HMAT Ulysses, Melbourne
12 May 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Captain (Chaplain 4th Class AIF) , 5th Light Horse Regiment, 'ANZAC' / Gallipoli
13 May 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Captain (Chaplain 4th Class AIF) , Australian Army Chaplains' Department, Anzac Cove, Turkey
12 Oct 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Major (Chaplain 3rd Class AIF), Australian Army Chaplains' Department, 1st Passchendaele

Chaplain Michael Bergin

From Irish Regiments of World War

Chaplain Michael Bergin, 51st Battalion from Tipperary, Ireland. He was a 35 year old school teacher at the Holy Family College, Fagala, Cairo, Egypt when he was accepted into the 3rd Light Horse Regiment as a Chaplain 4th Class on 13th May 1915. While serving with the 5th Light Horse Regiment at Gallipoli, he was taken ill in September and evacuated to England for medical treatment. On recovering, he returned to Egypt in December 1915 and transferred to the 51st Battalion. He proceeded to France in June 1916 and although attached to the 51st Battalion, ministered to men of the whole 13th Brigade. He spent a lot of time with soldiers in the front line and was killed by a shell on 12th October 1917 near Broodseinde Ridge, Belgium. Chaplain Bergin is buried in the Reninghelst Churchyard Extension, Belgium and was posthumously awarded a Military Cross for distinguished service in the field.

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Chaplain Michael Bergin

Michael Bergin (1879-1917), Jesuit priest and military chaplain, was born in August 1879 at Fancroft, Tipperary, Ireland, son of Michael Bergin, mill-owner, and his wife Mary, née Hill. Educated at the local convent school and the Jesuit College at Mungret, Limerick, he entered the Jesuit noviceship at Tullabeg in September 1897. Two years later he was sent to the Syrian mission where English-speakers were needed; he felt the break from home and country very keenly but became absorbed in his missionary work and the exotic customs of the local peoples. After learning Arabic and French he studied philosophy at Ghazir, and in October 1904 began teaching at the Jesuit College in Beirut.

In 1907 Bergin was sent to Hastings, England, to complete his theology studies and was ordained priest on 24 August 1910. After a short time at home he returned to Hastings for further study and then gave missions and retreats in the south of England. He returned to the Middle East in January 1914 and was in charge of Catholic schools near Damascus until the outbreak of World War I; along with other foreigners in Syria, he was then imprisoned and later expelled by the Turkish government. By the time he reached the French Jesuit College in Cairo in January 1915 the first Australian troops had arrived in Egypt, and Bergin offered to assist the Catholic military chaplains. Though still a civilian, he was dressed by the men in the uniform of a private in the Australian Imperial Force and when the 5th Light Horse Brigade left for Gallipoli he went with it. Sharing the hardships of the troops, he acted as priest and stretcher-bearer until his official appointment as chaplain came through on 13 May 1915. He remained at Anzac until September when he was evacuated to the United Kingdom with enteric fever.

Bergin's arrival home in khaki, complete with emu feather in his slouch-hat, caused a sensation among his family and friends. Though tired and weak after his illness, he was anxious to get back to his troops for Christmas. He returned to Lemnos but was pronounced unfit and confined to serving in hospitals and hospital-ships. Evacuated to Alexandria in January 1916, he worked in camps and hospitals in Egypt and in April joined the 51st Battalion, A.I.F., at Tel-el-Kebir. He accompanied it to France and served as a chaplain in all its actions in 1916-17; these included the battles of Pozières and Mouquet Farm, the advance on the Hindenburg Line and the battle of Messines. He was killed at Passchendaele on 11 October 1917 when a heavy shell burst near the aid-post where he was working. He was buried in the village churchyard at Renninghelst, Belgium.

Bergin was awarded the Military Cross posthumously. The citation praised his unostentatious but magnificent zeal and courage. Though he had never seen Australia he was deeply admired by thousands of Australian soldiers, one of whom referred to him as 'a man made great through the complete subordination of self'.

http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/bergin-michael-5217

Although Chaplain-Captain Father Bergin,S.J., whose death was announced in last week's 'Catholic Press,'' was never in Australia, few of our chaplains at the front could have worked more bravely or more unselfishly for our men. and probably not one esteemed them more highly. Particulars of his death have not yet come to hand, but. when they do we may rest assured that they will be worthy of his life. Like his confrere, Father William Doyle, S.J., also of the Irish Province, he lived holily and he died nobly. The late Father Bergin, who was born in County Tipperary, Ireland, spent several years in the Jesuit College, Mungret, near Limerick, and whilst a student there took out his University degree in the Royal University of Ireland. From the college he passed to the Jesuit novitiate at Tullabeg, and subsequently completed his philosophical and theological course in n French house of studies. ]t was during this period that he learned of the great spiritual harvest that lay awaiting zealous workers in the East. Filled with zeal, and desirous of choosing the harder fields of labour in the vineyard of the Master, he volunteered for and was sent to the mission in Syria, he left it only when compelled to do so at the outbreak of the war by reason of the in road of the Turks. From Beyrout, where he had been stationed, Father Bergin proceeded to Egypt. There it was that he first met and learned of the needs of the Australian troops. Just at the time there was a great dearth of Catholic chaplains, whilst the men in Gallipoli and in the various hospitals sadly needed priests. With permission of his superiors. Father Bergin volunteered his services to the military authorities. The spot was far distant from headquarters in Melbourne. A large number of Australian troops were starting for Gallipoli without a priest, and sooner than allow them to be deprived of the consolations of religion. Father Bergin joined as a stretcher-bearer, and from the start did magnificent 'work amongst the men. From Gallipoli he accompanied his unit first to Egypt; and subsequently to France and Belgium, and for more than two years he worked heroically for the brigade. Father Bergin was in the best sense of the word a priest of God. He was absolutely fearless in facing danger, and was always to be found amongst the men, visiting them individually when they were enjoying a brief space of comparative rest in the billets, or tending them at the regimental aid post, and in his daily round of the trenches when they were in the firing line. He was, and deserved to be, a universal favourite, both with officers and men. Indeed, if was remarkable how men of every rank and creed looked up to and respected Father Bergin. Ready to help anyone and everyone, he carefully avoided the limelight. and though he performed plenty a deed worthy of the highest recognition, so far as we know no decoration has been awarded to the heroic priest.The following appreciation from a non-Catholic major, who knew Father Berlin well: Without disparaging the work of the other padres, he stood out as being always at his post. He did the work of the stretcher-bearers; he tended the living, and he buried the dead. In Egypt, through some reason, he was fora considerable time without a horse, and I have known him to walk over the sands of the desert under a burning sun for five or six miles to hold a ceremony. Father Bergin would be fasting for Mass on these occasions. He was also with the troops at Lemnos and Gallipoli. He won the admiration of all who know him. I am deeply grieved to learn of his death. 'Father Bergin was 38 years of age at the time of his death. — RIP

The Catholic Press Thursday 29 November 1917 page 18

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Biography

The Catholic Press Thursday 29 November 1917 page 18

Although Chaplain-Captain Father Bergin,S.J., whose death was announced in last week's 'Catholic Press,'' was never in Australia, few of our chaplains at the front could have worked more bravely or more unselfishly for our men. and probably not one esteemed them more highly. Particulars of his death have not yet come to hand, but. when they do we may rest assured that they will be worthy of his life. Like his confrere, Father William Doyle, S.J., also of the Irish Province, he lived holily and he died nobly. The late Father Bergin, who was born in County Tipperary, Ireland, spent several years in the Jesuit College, Mungret, near Limerick, and whilst a student there took out his University degree in the Royal University of Ireland. From the college he passed to the Jesuit novitiate at Tullabeg, and subsequently completed his philosophical and theological course in an French house of studies. It was during this period that he learned of the great spiritual harvest that lay awaiting zealous workers in the East. Filled with zeal, and desirous of choosing the harder fields of labour in the vineyard of the Master, he volunteered for and was sent to the mission in Syria, he left it only when compelled to do so at the outbreak of the war by reason of the in road of the Turks. From Beyrout, where he had been stationed, Father Bergin proceeded to Egypt. There it was that he first met and learned of the needs of the Australian troops. Just at the time there was a great dearth of Catholic chaplains, whilst the men in Gallipoli and in the various hospitals sadly needed priests. With permission of his superiors. Father Bergin volunteered his services to the military authorities. The spot was far distant from headquarters in Melbourne. A large number of Australian troops were starting for Gallipoli without a priest, and sooner than allow them to be deprived of the consolations of religion. Father Bergin joined as a stretcher-bearer, and from the start did magnificent 'work amongst the men'. From Gallipoli he accompanied his unit first to Egypt; and subsequently to France and Belgium, and for more than two years he worked heroically for the brigade. Father Bergin was in the best sense of the word a priest of God. He was absolutely fearless in facing danger, and was always to be found amongst the men, visiting them individually when they were enjoying a brief space of comparative rest in the billets, or tending them at the regimental aid post, and in his daily round of the trenches when they were in the firing line. He was, and deserved to be, a universal favourite, both with officers and men. Indeed, it was remarkable how men of every rank and creed looked up to and respected Father Bergin. Ready to help anyone and everyone, he carefully avoided the limelight. and though he performed plenty a deed worthy of the highest recognition, so far as we know no decoration has been awarded to the heroic priest. The following appreciation from a non-Catholic major, who knew Father Bergin well: Without disparaging the work of the other padres, he stood out as being always at his post. He did the work of the stretcher-bearers; he tended the living, and he buried the dead. In Egypt, through some reason, he was for a considerable time without a horse, and I have known him to walk over the sands of the desert under a burning sun for five or six miles to hold a ceremony. Father Bergin would be fasting for Mass on these occasions. He was also with the troops at Lemnos and Gallipoli. He won the admiration of all who know him. I am deeply grieved to learn of his death. 'Father Bergin was 38 years of age at the time of his death. — RIP

 

Son of Mrs. BERGIN of Fancroft, Roscrea, Ireland

Awarded Military Cross posthumously- see link lower left side of this page

The citation praised his unostentatious but magnificent zeal and courage. Though he had never seen Australia he was deeply admired by thousands of Australian soldiers, one of whom referred to him as 'a man made great through the complete subordination of self'.

"818 Father Michael Bergin, Chaplain 4th Class, of Melbourne, Vic (originally of Fagala, Cairo, Egypt), aged 35 years. Bergin is listed on the AIF embarkation Roll as having left from Melbourne aboard HMAT Ulysses on 10 May 1915. However his service record indicates he was in Cairo at the time of the landing of Gallipoli and was one of the very few and perhaps the only man to be attested at Anzac Cove. He was attached to the 5th Light Horse Regiment on Gallipoli on 12 May 1915, and served with that unit until 5 September 1915, when he was evacuated to Egypt and then to England suffering from enteric fever. He returned to the Middle East on 27 January 1916 and was appointed Chaplain to the 51st Battalion on 26 March 1916 at Tel el Kebir, Egypt. He proceeded with this unit to France on 5 June 1916. Father Bergin was posthumously awarded the Military Cross (MC) on 1 January 1918 for 'distinguished service in the field'. He was killed in action on 12 October 1917, at Zonnebeke, Belgium." 

 

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