Place of Birth: Canso, NS
Mother's Name: Catherine 'Kate' Horne
Father's Name: John Fogarty
Date of Enlistment: February 11, 1915 at Halifax, NS
Regimental Number: 68223
Force: Canadian Expeditionary Force (Infantry)
Name of Unit: 25th Battalion
Location of service: England. Belgium & France
Occupation at Enlistment: Ironworker
Marital Status at Enlistment: Single
Next of Kin: Mr. John Fogarty, Hazel Hill PO, Canso, NS (father)
|Sgt. James Alexander Fogarty|
The 22nd Battalion, Quebec's famous 'Van Doos' regiment, accompanied the 25th on the trans-Atlantic voyage. The Saxonia docked at Plymouth in the early hours of May 29, its passengers travelling by train to East Sandling later that day. Both units were assigned to the 2nd Division's 5th Brigade, along with New Brunswick's 26th and Montreal's 24th (Victoria Rifles of Canada) Battalions. Three and a half months of intense military training followed as the recruits prepared for service at the front.
After several days' preparation, James followed the 25th into the trenches of Kemmel sector, near Heuvelland, Belgium for his first combat experience on the evening of September 22. The men immediately set about improving the front line trenches. It was only a few days before the battalion recorded its first fatality. On September 25, a sniper was killed and three 'other ranks' (OR) wounded in gunfire exchanges. Three days later, the battalion was relieved, bringing its first 'tour' to an end.
When James returned to the line on October 4, he and his comrades endured a heavy artillery bombardment that killed one and wounded 14 OR. The most notable event of the second tour occurred on October 8, when the Germans detonated two mines adjacent to the battalion's front line, "entirely destroying the trench, leaving a crater 65 x 35 feet and 25 feet deep" in one location. Despite its lack of experience, the unit's war diary proudly observed that "the battalion behaved nobly under fire" over a six-day stretch in the trenches.
The 25th served in the Kemmel sector south of Ypres throughout the autumn and winter of 1915-16. One notable event took place on October 27, when His Majesty King George V and Edward, Prince of Wales visited Loker, where the battalion was training at the time. The 25th provided "a guard of honour" while its remaining personnel lined the streets as the special guests passed through the Belgian village.
The following day, it was back to the front, where the "trenches [were] in [a] dreadful state" due to wet weather. November's cooler temperatures brought some relief, freezing the oozing mud. Winter also ushered in a lull in fighting as men on both sides endured the snow and cold. Activity gradually increased in March, resuming in full force the following month. James's service in the line must have drawn the attention of his superiors, as he was promoted to Lance Corporal on January 24, 1916, the first of several promotions.
On April 1, 1916, the 25th moved into billets at Berthorn for its first extended break since arriving in Belgium. James was one of several soldiers granted eight days' leave in the field, a welcome break from the front. The battalion returned to the trenches on April 12, where two days later a party of 200 German soldiers attacked its line. While the assault was repelled, it came at a cost - 18 OR killed and 42 wounded in addition to 2 officers hospitalized with 'shell shock'. The battalion was relieved later that night.
|'C' Coy., 25th Battalion - Halifax Armouries.|
James was promoted to Corporal on July 8, 1916. As summer drew to a close, he was temporarily attached to the 5th Field Company, Canadian Engineers on August 31, returning to the 25th on October 7. During his absence, the battalion relocated to the Somme region of France, fighting at Courcelette (September 15) and Regina Trench (September 28), two battles that took a major toll on its personnel.
At the time of James's return, the 25th was camped at Berteaucourt les Dames. The battalion relocated to Bully on October 15 for further training before returning to the line on October 21. A period of relative "quiet" allowed the men to focus on trench repair in preparation for a second winter in the line. Other than occasional exchanges of sniper and trench mortar fire, there was no significant action over the next several months. On December 16, 1916, James was promoted to Sergeant, further acknowledgement of his leadership ability and performance in uniform.
In December, a potentially tragic incident interrupted James's service at the front. He was admitted to hospital on December 27, 1916 suffering from a gunshot wound to his right upper arm and breast. Initial assessments described his condition as "serious", stating that his injuries "could" impede a return to duty. A subsequent military investigation described the circumstances in which James was wounded:
"Injured on December 26, 1916 at Bully Grenay while proceeding on duty as Sergeant of 5th Brigade Wiring Party. Sergeant Fogarty was not in any way to blame for the accident…. Just previous to leaving for [the] trenches, Lt. D. Anderson, 25th Canadian Battalion, was inspecting his revolver. In attempting to 'break' the revolver to make sure it was loaded[,] he apparently pressed the trigger, a shot being fired. Sergeant Fogarty[,] who was standing by[,] was wounded by the shot."
James was transferred to a 'Special Hospital' at Busnes, France for further treatment before being admitted to 8th Stationary Hospital, Wimereux on January 12, 1917. A second assessment described his injuries as "trivial" and concluded that they would not interfere with a return to duty. James was discharged five days later and spent one month at Canadian Base Details, Boulogne before rejoining the 25th in the field on February 26.
|25th Battalion cap badge.|
On April 8, the 25th moved to the assembly area, advancing to its assigned 'jumping off point' at 8:00 pm that evening. At precisely 5:30 am the following morning, James and his platoon left their trenches under cover of barrage fire as part of the Canadian Corps' famous attack on Vimy Ridge. The 25th's objective was a location known as 'Turks Graben', a trench at the ridge's summit stretching a distance of 750 yards, from Bois des Bonval to the village of Les Tilleuls.
The battalion's war diary provided a concise summary of the day's events:
"Considerable machine gun fire was encountered all the way, but the enemy artillery fire was directed on the trenches we had vacated and did not interfere with the advance. After hard fighting with enemy machine gun posts and bombing posts, 2 hours and 10 minutes after zero, the battalion successfully entered, cleared and consolidated the captured positions."
The 25th held the newly captured trench as part of a new front line until the 13th Brigade passed through later in the day, capturing a German position in beyond its location. Its casualties were considerable: Major James Arnold DeLancey, the officer commanding the attack, was killed, 5 officers wounded and an additional two remained at duty despite their wounds. 43 OR were killed, 4 died of wounds, 105 were wounded and 90 missing by day's end.
Sgt. James Fogarty's actions on the battlefield at Vimy earned him the Military Medal "for conspicuous gallantry". The details of his actions are described on his medal card:
"His courage, resource [sic] and devotion to duty were most marked. He personally led sections of bombers at enemy Machine Gun and Bombing posts, although under heavy fire at all times. His personal example was instrumental in overcoming all checks to the advance of his platoon."
The battalion remained in the trenches at Turko Graben for three days before being relieved. James's service at the front, however, was once again interrupted when he reported to a field ambulance station on April 11 suffering from 'PUO' - a 'fever of unknown origin'. He was admitted to 7th Convalescent Depot, Boulogne on April 16 and spent the remainder of the month in care before being discharged. On May 31, he was officially 'reinstated' as Class A - fit for service - and rejoined the 25th in the field on June 7.
By that time, the battalion was camped at Gouy-Servins, where it spent the remainder of the month training before returning to the front line near Lens on July 3. The 25th's trenches were heavily shelled during a three-day tour, resulting in 11 OR killed, 33 wounded, and 7 remaining at duty while injured. The unit served in this sector for two weeks before retiring to Bouvigny for another period of rest and training.
|D Coy., 25th Battalion (location unknown).|
For unknown reasons, James was transferred to the Canadian Corps Reinforcement Camp on September 15, spending one month there before rejoining the 25th at Chelers on October 17. The battalion had recently returned to the line at Neuville St. Vaast, its trench strength having recovered to 25 officers and 628 OR. The men spent the next two weeks training before returning to Belgium on November 4.
The following day, the 25th moved into Brigade Support at Potijze, enduring considerable artillery shelling as the Canadian Corps prepared to attack Passchendaele. At 6:00 am November 6, a massive artillery barrage marked the beginning of fighting and continued until midday. James and his comrades remained in support positions throughout the day, carrying water and rations to units in the front lines and sustaining only 'light' casualties.
At 5:30 pm November 7, the 25th relieved the 26th Battalion in the front trenches as German artillery heavily shelled the support lines. Its position consisted of "a series of disconnected posts in 'shell holes' " that the men worked to connect into a solid line. The battalion was relieved on the night of November 8/9 and retired to billets at Potijze. Two days later, James's unit left Belgium for a second time, arriving at Winnipeg Camp, Neuville St. Vaast on November 17. Having endured the mud of Passchendaele, the men enjoyed a welcome bath and provided nightly working parties in the front line.
The 25th served in the Mericourt sector throughout the following month as it prepared for its third winter in the trenches. On December 20, the unit retired to billets at Enquin les Mines for a period of rest and training. Five days later, "all ranks enjoyed a special Christmas dinner in the afternoon". Training extended into the New Year, when the battalion relocated to Villers au Bois on January 18, 1918 before returning to support trenches the following day.
The battalion war diary described the circumstances in the line: "Owing to… recent heavy rains the trenches were found in poor condition". The men focused on improving the facilities, as there was little combat activity. Later that month, the 25th endured several days of intermittent artillery and gas shelling. Otherwise, the situation was quiet as both sides endured yet another winter in the trenches.
|Postcard of trenches near Zillebeke, Belgium.|
Whatever the circumstances, James was carried by stretcher to # 57 Casualty Clearing Station, where he was diagnosed with a fractured fibula. Evacuated by train after two days, he was admitted to No. 4 General Hospital, Dannes, near Camiers, France on February 3. Six days later, James crossed the English Channel, arriving at Horton Company of London Military Hospital, Epsom on February 10.
Doctors noted an entrance scar on the outside and exit scar on the inside of James's left leg. He was unable to walk, spending two months at Horton recovering from a compound fracture of the fibula.
On April 6, James was transferred to the Military Convalescent Hospital, Epsom, where medical records provide further details on his condition. The upper third of his left fibula was "not quite healed" and his leg was swollen from the sole of his left foot to the base of his toes. Therapists applied mild electrical current to the area, noting that "contraction [was] slow on account of swelling".
After one month's treatment, James was able to put weight on his foot. However, his leg was still not fully healed as he experienced stiffness and soreness in his left calf muscle. On May 13, doctors reported that the ligament was completely healed, but James was still unable to put weight on his toes, forcing him to walk 'heel first'. Subsequent records indicate that his condition was "improving" with application of regular massage treatment.
It gradually became apparent that James's days as a soldier had come to an end. Any amount of walking resulted in swelling, particularly around his left ankle. He continued to experience numbness in the back part of the sole and outer part of the dorsum of his left foot. He walked with a limp and flexion of the foot was only "1/4 complete". Medical personnel concluded that he was no longer fit for active duty but could carry out "base duty", predicting full recovery from his injury in six months.
James was discharged from Convalescent Hospital on August 21, at which time he received a 12-day furlough. Ten days later, he was officially awarded the Belgian Croix de Guerre, in recognition of his outstanding military service and the gunshot wound that ended his service at the front. Upon returning from furlough, James was assigned to the Canadian Depot at Buxton, where he awaited orders to return to Canada.
|Sgt. James Alexander Fogarty's Croix de Guerre Medal.|
Military staff accepted the medical board's recommendation. After 3 years and 9 months' service with the 25th Battalion, Sergeant James Alexander Fogarty was discharged on November 18, 1918. Official documents described his character as 'Very Good', a reflection of his exemplary service throughout his time in uniform.
In 1943, James's health began to deteriorate. He retired in January, having suffered from chronic bronchitis for several years. By May, he was receiving treatment for additional health problems. He died suddenly on July 18, 1945, the result of a heart attack. Two days later, his funeral was held at St. Peter's Church, Dartmouth, the same location where he had married his beloved wife. Following the service, James Alexander Fogarty was laid to rest in Mount Hermon Cemetery, Dartmouth.
McDonald, F. B. & Gardiner, John J.. The Twenty-Fifth Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force - Nova Scotia's Famous Regiment in World War One. City Printers Ltd., Sydney, NS: 1983.
Regimental Record of Sergeant James Alexander Fogarty, # 68223. Library & Archives Canada, Ottawa: RG 150, Accession 1992-93/155, Box 3165 - 20. Attestation papers available online.
Photographs of Sgt. James Alexander Fogarty and his Croix de Guerre medal courtesy of grandchildren Colleen Fogarty (Lower Sackville, NS) and Terry Fogarty (North Sydney, NS).