On the night of Monday, May 1, 1916, Victoria Parade’s College Hall was “taxed to its utmost”.
According to an unnamed correspondent for the Catholic newspaper The Tribune, a large number of old boys had gathered to celebrate their annual smoke social, whose guests included military camp chaplains Rev. Fathers Clack, O’Brien and O’Collins.
Also there were former schoolboys not long returned from the battlefields of Europe – Sergeant-Major O’Donnell, Captain Boyle and Major Frank Hogan.
Captain Boyle and Major Hogan, who were there at Anzac Cove, were singled out for special acknowledgement by the President of the OPA Mr. FE O’Connell.
The aforementioned events appeared in The Tribune on the following Thursday, May 4. One hundred and five years later, on the strength of that article and in the lead-up to Anzac Day, this correspondent saw fit to find out what became of the soldiers, specifically Maj. Hogan.
Francis Vincent Hogan, the son of John and Clarissa (‘Clare’) (nee Death) Hogan, was born in the inner city suburb of Brunswick on September 17, 1888. According to Br. Naughtin’s tome The Parade Story, Francis completed his schooling at Parade in 1900. But Francis stated in his enlistment papers that he completed his matriculation at the ‘Old Bluestone Pile’, which would suggest 1904 or thereabouts as his final year.
Joining the 2nd Infantry Brigade and later transferring to the 6th Battalion, Francis joined fellow soldiers aboard the troop ship Hororata as it set sail from Melbourne to Alexandria on October 19, 1914. Six months later, he would find himself at Gallipoli.
Wrongly reported as killed in action on April 26, 1915, Maj. Hogan was later brought to the notice of the Army Corps Commander at the Dardanelles “for having performed various acts of conspicuous gallantry or valuable service during the period from 25th April to 5th of May”.
Three days later, on May 8, Francis was hit in the knee by a flying bullet. The wound precipitated his hospitalization in Alexandria and left him with limited movement according to the Medical Board. To quote the board’s findings, the knee “can only be flexed 60 degrees” and Francis “can walk 2-3 miles but holds the knee rigid”.
On March 6, 1916, Captain JHF Pain, then headquartered in Savoy House in the Strand, was directed by the commanding officer to arrange for the invalided Francis’s repatriation to Australia.
On April 11, Francis disembarked the Sydney-bound steamship Sonoma in the company of the Victoria Cross winner Major Frederick Harold Tubb of Longwood, the latter returning to a hero’s welcome.
Major Tubb, a member of the 17th Battalion, was awarded the VC for gallantry displayed at Lone Pine on the morning of August 9, 1915.
Having survived a ferocious bombing along a sap barricaded with sandbags (which either killed or severely wounded most of the defenders), Major Tubb shot three Turks with his revolver and provided covering fire while the barricade was rebuilt.
Major Tubb was himself injured in the head, cheek and stomach, and an emergency appendectomy left him with an incision hernia, which resulted in him also being invalided to Australia. But he would later return to battle – only to lose his life at Polygon Wood on September 20, 1917
Joining Francis as he hobbled down the gangway from the Sonoma was Colleen Mary Ryan - the future Mrs Hogan - with whom he had crossed paths on that voyage just three weeks previous. Clearly this was love at first sight, as Francis proposed to Colleen as the ship entered Sydney Heads on the Monday night before the Sonoma dropped anchor.
On his subsequent return to Melbourne, Francis lived with his father, mother, and sister at Blanche Terrace – a semi-detached double storey Victorian dwelling around the bend from the old Lemon Tree Hotel at 261 Rathdowne Street, Carlton.
On August 19, 1916, at Melbourne’s St. Francis Church, Francis exchanged marital vows with Colleen, whose family owned and managed the noted Wallandool Estate in Henty, New South Wales.
It is presumed that husband and wife subsequently set up home digs on the estate. But tragically, Francis's and Colleen's years together would be all too few.
In December 1922, the Hogans returned to Melbourne on a fleeting visit. The couple checked in at the old Occidental Hotel on the north eastern corner of Collins and Exhibition streets where the Reserve Bank’s Victorian office now stands.
On Wednesday, December 27, 1922, just two days after he had reunited with his old wartime cobbers for Christmas, Francis stumbled down the steps of the Occidental and hit his head on the floor below. He was ferried by ambulance to the nearby Sisters of Charity’s Mount Saint Evin’s Private Hospital at 51 Victoria Parade (ironically up the road from his old school), but died there soon after.
The following afternoon, Francis Vincent Hogan was laid to rest in the Roman Catholic section (compartment Q, grave 470) of the Melbourne General Cemetery, joining his grandmother and father who both predeceased him.
Below is an unknown friend’s tribute to a great Old Paradian, as it appeared in The Herald some 98 years ago.
Lest we Forget.
A MEN’S MAN
The late Major F. V. Hogan
To his last long rest went today Major. Francis Vincent Hogan, of the 6th Battalion Australian Imperial Forces, an engaging personality – a men’s man, cheerful, vivid and vigorous— suddenly cut off, and mourned by all who knew him.
The late Major Hogan’s interest in defence dates back to the old militia days, when he gave freely of his spare time in preparing for the Great Adventure. Enlisted in the A.I.F., he commanded one of the companies of the 6th Battalion. Through the red hall of “the Landing”, he passed unscathed, but at Cape Helles he was not so fortunate. Wounds received there ended his active service, and compelled his return to Australia. As machine-gun instructor in the Seymour camp, and, later, as Intelligence Officer of the 3rd Military District, Major Hogan proved his value.
The charmed life at Gallipoli closed yesterday as the result of a simple accident. A mis-step on a staircase of three stairs, a fall, cerebral injuries, and, soon, the end. Major Hogan, with his wife, spent Christmas in company of some of his Gallipoli comrades. Today they buried him in the Melbourne General Cemetery, the funeral leaving 14 Deakin Street, St Kilda, at 3 o’clock.
“Wiley” will be well remembered In business circles in Melbourne as an auctioneer, associated with his father. Like so many of his kin, he had a keen, arresting wit. A story told of him just after “the Landing” is characteristic. Distressed and dejected at losing so many of his men, so many dear and valued comrades, he felt terribly down and out, when he noticed one of his non-coms., a stalwart “lad”, brooding with the intensity of the mourning Celt. The atmosphere must be changed. He turned, wrathfully, upon his subordinate with: “What the hell are you laughing at?”. The grieving non-com. flamed with resentment at the unwarranted implication, but, in an instant, he caught the sense of his commander’s explosion and said: “Might as well laugh; it’s a damned silly world, anyhow”, and the battered remnants of the command “took hold” again.
Major Hogan has passed, but the spirit of the man lives after him – it is the spirit of a virile, fervid people - an irrepressible urge to do your best and smile, smile, smile.