Walter John Hagan (MM)
Serial No. 466
Walter John Hagan (MM) - Information
Walter John Hagan was born in Campbelltown on the 14th of February 1892. He was one of at least four children of farmers John and Mary Ann Hagan. After attending Campbelltown Public School, he found work as a labourer. At the age of 23, he decided to enlist in the AIF on the 3rd of January 1916, signing up in Campbelltown. This event inspired his younger brother, William, whom enlisted the following year.
Walter left Sydney Harbour on the Beltana on the 13th of May 1916 and arrived at Devonport, England in July. After further training, he proceeded to the frontlines in France on the 22nd of November 1916, as a Runner with the 36th Battalion. In 1917, his unit was moved to the Ypres Sector in Belgium, where they took part in their first major operation, the Battle of Messines on the 7th of June. Following on from this success, they then participated in the devastating Third Battle of Ypres, fighting in the mud around Passchendaele Ridge on the 12th of October. The following day, Walter was reported as missing in action.
On the 1st of February 1918, while he was still unaccounted for, Walter was awarded the Military Medal for conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty. Meanwhile back in Campbelltown, the Hagans continued to wait for news. It finally came, six months after Walter was reported MIA. On the 4th of April 1918, a Court of Enquiry investigated the matter, with army authorities interviewing men from his unit. They concluded that Walter was killed in action on the 12th October 1917 at Passchendaele Ridge. One such report of Walter’s death was given by Captain R. A. Goldrick Commanding Officer of “B” Coy, 36th Battalion which went as follows:
We were in action at Passchendaele on the 12/10/17 near the Cemetery. Hagan was my Runner. I had just asked him to take a message, and he replied “Very Good, Sir,” when he fell shot by a machine gun bullet.
To make matters worse, in 1921, the Hagans were informed that the Graves Services Unit could not find any trace of Walter’s resting place. The whereabouts of his body is still sadly unknown. Walter’s name is recorded on the Menin Gate Memorial in Ieper (Ypres) Belgium.