Hilton George FLANAGAN

FLANAGAN, Hilton George

Service Numbers: 3314, N78824
Enlisted: 15 July 1915, 11th Reinforcements, Liverpool, N.S.W.
Last Rank: Sergeant
Last Unit: 1st Movement Control Group
Born: Bathurst, New South Wales, 24 May 1897
Home Town: Bathurst, Bathurst Regional, New South Wales
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Shop assistant
Died: Natural causes, Bathurst, New South Wales, 5 June 1957, aged 60 years
Cemetery: Bathurst General Cemetery
CofE (Old), Row 2, Sect B, Plot 10.
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World War 1 Service

15 Jul 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 3314, 1st Infantry Battalion, 11th Reinforcements, Liverpool, N.S.W.
5 Oct 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 3314, 1st Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
5 Oct 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 3314, 1st Infantry Battalion, HMAT Themistocles, Sydney
20 Jul 1916: Wounded AIF WW1, Private, SN 3314, 1st Infantry Battalion, Fromelles (Fleurbaix), GSW (leg and fractured right forearm)
23 Jul 1917: Transferred AIF WW1, Private, Australian Army Medical Corps , Unfit for General Service, Fit for Home Service. 1st A.D.H. - 1st Australian Dermatological Hospital.
25 Aug 1919: Discharged AIF WW1, Private, SN 3314, Australian Army Medical Corps , 1st A.D.H.

World War 2 Service

5 Sep 1940: Enlisted Citizen Military Forces (CMF) / Militia - WW2, Private, SN N78824, Bathurst, New South Wales
26 Mar 1946: Discharged Citizen Military Forces (CMF) / Militia - WW2, Sergeant, SN N78824, 1st Movement Control Group, Sergeant, 1st A.M.C. Group.

Help us honour Hilton George Flanagan's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by Karen Standen

Hilton George Flanagan was the eldest son of Arthur and Rose Flanagan. He was 18 years old when he enlisted in the A.I.F.. Hilton had already embarked when a poignant photograph of him farewelling his grandmother, who had “reared him from an infant”, was published in the Sydney Mail on the 20th October 1915. He wrote regularly to his family and snippets of these letters were often published in either, the National Advocate or Bathurst Times, newspapers.

Having just arrived in Egypt, Hilton wrote from Heliopolis on the 7 November 1915, describing how “it contains some of the most beautiful buildings you could wish to see. They are all white, and have no verandahs”. He also gave his initial impression of Cairo as “the dirtiest city in the world.” - National Advocate, 8 January 1916 (nla.gov.au).

In March 1916, Hilton embarked for France. Just days before his 19th birthday, he wrote to his aunt, “We have been in France some months, and it is not a bad place to be in, except when it rains, and then we are up to our knees in mud. We had a three days' trip in the train, and the scenery was beautiful. We have been in the trenches, but are now out, having a spell, or refresher. After we were in the trenches a few days Fritz found out that the Australians were there, and they put up a notice 'Advance Australia — if you can.' Then they started to coo-ee. They had a hard try to sing "Advance Australia," but could not come anywhere near it. It was just as well we did not know any German, but the boys did their best in prime Australian!” - The Bathurst Times, 28 June 1916 (nla.gov.au).

On the 20th July, Hilton was lucky to survive German shelling. In early August, the army advised both his father in Leichhardt and his grandmother in Bathurst, that he had been wounded. Unbeknownst to the army and possibly Hilton, his grandmother had passed away in May. It was a further two weeks before the family were informed that Hilton was in hospital, with a severe fracture to his arm. Hilton’s aunt wrote asking for more details however it wasn’t until a letter from Hilton himself arrived in October, that they learnt the true nature of his injuries and the circumstances behind them.

“I am still alive and kicking, although I have been in hell. I got buried at Pozieres by a shell, and as no one would read a burial service they dug me out...I had a heavy load on me. I tried my best to get my head out, but I could only use my left arm. My right arm was underneath me and broken in three places, my legs were pinned down with timber, and I could not move them at all... My right leg is broken. I tell you I gave up hope of getting out alive, but I could hear the shovels at work and felt the load getting lighter. At last my head was pulled out. I was soon on a stretcher and off to the dressing station; then in the ambulance to the clearance station (underwent an operation there); next day I was off in the train to Etaples; was there a fortnight, and then I went to England. I am having a real good time here, although in bed. The Sister in charge told me I will not go back to the firing line again.” - National Advocate, 18 October 1916 (nla.gov.au).

In another letter a few months later, Hilton was a little more upbeat, “I am getting in O.K. again. My right leg is about an inch shorter than the other, and I walk about like a goose—you know that wobble, my arm is getting on well but I cannot get the palm of my hand to face upward (like holding it out to receive pay) the arm is bent a little and I think that is the cause. I don't think I will be any use for active service again.” - National Advocate, 28 December 1916 (nla.gov.au).

In January 1917, the papers reported that Hilton had returned to duty. The army medical board had assessed him as unfit for general service but fit for home service. Transferred to the 1st A.D.H. (1st Australian Dermatological Hospital) mid year, Hilton continued to serve in the AIF until his return to Australia in 1919, as part of the nursing staff onboard the HT Soudan.

Discharged on the 25 August 1919, Hilton returned to his pre-war job with Edward Fay and Co., in Sydney. It was here he met his wife to be, Eva Coningsby. They eventually settled in Bathurst.

At the outbreak of WW2, Hilton enlisted again. His WW1 injuries limited him to home service, however his contributions to the war effort were no less valuable. Sergeant Hilton Flanagan was discharged from the Australian Army for a second time on the 26th March 1946. He passed away 11 years later, aged 60, in his beloved hometown of Bathurst.