Thomas Percival (Percy) HAGAN


HAGAN, Thomas Percival

Service Number: Officer
Enlisted: 30 September 1915, Adelaide, South Australia
Last Rank: Lieutenant
Last Unit: 32nd Infantry Battalion
Born: Birkenhead, South Australia, 21 June 1894
Home Town: Semaphore, Port Adelaide Enfield, South Australia
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Customs Clerk
Died: Killed In Action, Fromelles, France, 19 July 1916, aged 22 years
Cemetery: VC Corner Cemetery and Memorial, Fromelles, France
No known grave - (possibly buried in Pheasant Wood mass grave)
Memorials: Adelaide National War Memorial, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Exeter Semaphore Uniting Church (fmly Wesleyan) Roll of Honour, Peterhead Glanville School Roll of Honor, Port Adelaide St Paul's Church Memorial Alcove, Semaphore Roll of Honor
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World War 1 Service

30 Sep 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, SN Officer, Adelaide, South Australia
18 Nov 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, 32nd Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
18 Nov 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, 32nd Infantry Battalion, HMAT Geelong, Adelaide
21 Mar 1916: Promoted AIF WW1, Lieutenant, 32nd Infantry Battalion
19 Jul 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant, 32nd Infantry Battalion, Fromelles (Fleurbaix)
Date unknown: Involvement 32nd Infantry Battalion

Help us honour Thomas Percival Hagan's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by Julianne Ryan

born: 21 June 1894 in Birkenhead, South Australia
(SA Birth record: 1842 - 1906 Book: 545 Page: 86 District: PtA.)

Father Thomas Page HAGAN and
Mother Edith Alice Hagan (nee LOVEDAY)  b. 2/5/1873 Salisbury, SA - d. 9/4/1921

He lived with his parents at Woolnough Road, Exeter, Semaphore, SA prior to enlisting.

Uncle in service:
Private (Signaller) 371 Sydney Alexander LOVEDAY - 27th Infantry Battalion
27/01/1915  enlisted into WWI at Keswick, SA
31/05/1915  embarked Outer Harbour, SA onboard HMAT A2 Geelong
                   as a Private with 27th Battalion, C Company
04/09/1915  embarked Alexandria to join Mediterranean Expeditionary Forces in Gallipoli
09/08/1917  permanently detached to 2nd Division Signal Company in France
16/09/1917  rejoined 27th Infantry Battalion, France
20/09/1917  killed in action at the Battle of Menin Road, Belgium
No known grave
His name is commemorated on:
- Panel 23 at The Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium

Previous service:
4 years in the Senior Cadets
3 1/4 years with the Citizen Force

Percy  was selected to attend two months' training at Duntroon Military College.

Described on enlisting as 21 years 3 months old; single; 5' 9" tall;

Hagan had achieved Grade VI Class Standard when he submitted his Application for a Commission in the Australian Imperial Force and gained promotion to Lieutenant on 21/3/1916 after qualifying for his first appointment as 2nd Lieutenant on the 2/3/1915.

8/8/1914      Enlisted into WWI
                   'B' Coy, 32nd Battalion, as a 2nd Lieutenant

Thomas Percival Hagan applied for a Commission in the AIF on 30/9/1915,
having previously been involved in the military.

18/12/1915  2nd Lieutenant Hagan disembarked ex HMAT “Geelong”, into Suez

17/6/1916    promoted to Lieutenant, before embarking to join the
                   British Expeditionary Forces (BEF) in Alexandria
23/6/1916    disembarked ex "Transylvania" at Marseilles, France

before being reported MISSING on 20/7/1916
- a fact which was reported to 2nd Army G.H.Q. on the following day.

Previously relegated Regimental No.: Z329, Hagan was said to have been killed re-crossing No-Man's-Land during the retirement of his battalion. This event occurred about 4:00am on the 20th - instant, according to the Adjutant, 32nd Battalion for Commanding Officer, and resulted from the inability of the 5th Division to make sufficient gains to hold newly - won ground which made the 32nd Battalion vulnerable to counter - attack by the Germans. It was suggested at the time that he became a casualty opposite Cellar Farm Avenue, near Fluerbaix.

There is no doubt Lieutenant Hagan reached the German line as documents contained in Percy’s Australian Red Cross Society Wounded and Missing Enquiry Bureau file, [1DRL/0428] attest to this.

Lieutenant C. B. Thomas, 32, C, 5th A.D.B.D. at Etaples on the 4/8/1916 reported:-
“I knew Lt Hagan, he was in ‘B’ Coy and I saw him fall on the morning of July 20th at Fleur Baix.”

Lieutenant Thomas advised the authorities:-
“We had just made an extensive attack and I saw him as we were returning between the 2nd and 1st lines of German trenches.”   Hagan was “hit by a machine gun and by the way he fell I think it must have struck his heart as his legs absolutely collapsed.”
From what Thomas indicated after he looked at Hagan, one of Percy’s men went over to see if he was still alive; but he did not stop, as the unit was “so hotly engaged.”

1577 Private T. J. Thomas of the 32nd Battalion reported on 12/8/1916
(while convalescing at Harefield Hospital in the UK):-
"that he saw Hagan in the third line of German trenches, having been wounded on the night of July 19. The unit had met strong resistance from the German defence and suffered many casualties when the enemy mounted a strong counter-attack on the remnants of the battalion which had taken positions in what Lindsay described as “the German support trenches in the area behind the old German front line.”

472 Private J. F. Davis, 8 M.G.C. (formerly 32nd B. VIII) reported on the 24/8/1916:-
“I know Mr. Hagan; he was in B. VIII and his name was Percy . . . I saw him lying dead in No-Man’s-Land, S. of Armentieres, on 20/7/1916. I passed right by him and am quite sure that he was dead. He was hit in the left side of the head.”

According to Private Davis this happened:- 
“as we retired and the Germans advanced right up to our lines. There was only one Mr. Hagan in the regiment and I knew his brother who is in the Naval Reserve in South Australia.”
Enquiries were made but no trace of Percy Hagan was found in Germany so eventually Base Records, Victoria Barracks, Melbourne, Victoria, informed his mother and therefore his family about the circumstances of his demise and also wrote to F. A. Hagan, Naval Staff Office, Largs Bay, South Australia, who was officially and specifically notified of his brother’s death.

The melée which resulted when the 15th Brigade attack failed was horrific. Having already reached the German support trenches the 31st and 32nd battalions found themselves besieged and at risk of encirclement. Indeed, it is quite likely that after having already survived strong counter-attacks by the enemy and defective artillery support, Lieutenant Hagan died trying to fight his way out of the German trenches in the early hours of the morning of the 20th, when the enemy began to infiltrate down their old front-line trenches behind the advanced trenches of the Australians.


Lieutenant Thomas Percival Hagan. Percy Hagan served with the 32nd Battalion AIF and was presumed by his family to have been lost in No-Man’s-Land in front of the trenches from which the 8th Brigade was required to launch their attack on the German line during the Battle of Fromelles. Scrutiny of the Australian Red Cross and Missing Enquiry Bureau files however tell a more complete story. Having helped the 32nd Battalion, which was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel D. M. R. Coghill, temporarily secure the Australian’s left flank by gaining possession of part of the opposing German position, Hagan fell in a hail of machine gun bullets while trying to extricate himself from territory previously held by the enemy.

Lieutenant Hagan was never recovered, and although he is not listed among the dead recorded by the German burial party after the attack, it is possible he is buried in the mass grave at Pheasant Wood like many of his 5th Division comrades. Patrick Lindsay in Fromelles: The Story of Australia’s Darkest Day lists 45 members of the 32nd Battalion in his Appendix II - The Missing Diggers of Fromelles. Not counting the 14th and 15th brigades, there are 19 from the 29th Battalion, 22 from the 30th Battalion and 16 from the 31st Battalion with 1 from the 8th Field Company Engineers, also listed for the 8th Brigade by the author.

Lt Hagan was reported missing in action on 20 July 1916 after the Battle of Fromelles. Subsequently, he was determined to have been killed in action on that date. He was aged 22 years.

Lt Hagan has no known grave.

His name is commemorated on :-
- Panel 4A at the VC Corner Australian Cemetery and Memorial, Fromelles, France
- Panel 120 at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, ACT

Medals:      1914 - 15 Star;  British War Medal and Victory Medal

Sourced and submitted by Julianne T Ryan.  22/1/2015.  Lest we forget.