RFA West Lancs Bdes
681721 GNR/SIG. F. A. HAGERTY. R.F.A.
Francis Andrew (Frank) Hagerty was born in Bootle in the first quarter of 1887. His father was Patrick Hagerty (b. 1852 in Glinealy, Co. Wicklow, Ireland), a dock labourer. Patrick came to Liverpool with his brothers in the mid 1870s. Here he met his future wife, Maria Otillie (Othelia) Johanesen (b. 1862 in Oslo, Norway). According to a family anecdote, Maria was a bit of a tom boy and loved to go on a fishing boat (from Oslo) with her brother - or friend. They got into trouble in a gale and were blown into Lerwick in the Hebrides. She never went home. She was in "service" as a young woman in Scotland. By 1881, she was working for a Swedish Lutheran minister in Bootle and she and Patrick were married in St James Roman Catholic church in Bootle in 1885. They had 14 children, though two died in infancy. The children were: Margaret Mary (b. 1885), then Frank, then Thomas Arthur (b. 1889), John Patrick (b. 1890), Anna Christina (b. 1893), Marie Kathleen (b. 1895), Alfred Michael (b. 1897), Mary Magdalen (b. 1901), James Alexander (b. 1903), Ellen (b. 1905), Walter (b. 1906), and Joseph Eric (b. 1908). In 1911, the family (all 14 of them) was living at 8 Spenser Street, Bootle. Frank was an assistant steward (waiter) on the RMS Empress of Britain.
Frank enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery on 8 November 1915. He was assigned service number 681721 and initially posted to 286 Brigade, probably “D” Battery, as a Gunner. While still in training, on 22 January 1916, Frank married Mary Jane Schofield (b. 1892 in Bootle). The couple lived at 1a Lily Road, Litherland. Frank landed in France with 286 Brigade (and 57th Division) on 7 February 1917 and served with them in the defence of Armentières and later that year in the Second Battle of Passchendaele. It’s possible that Frank was wounded at Passchendaele, as he returned home to England arriving on 1 November 1917. In June 1918, Frank was sent for training as a Signaller, and was designated in his new role a month later and he returned to France on 28 July 1918, but he did not return to 286Bde. When he arrived in France he was posted first to 4th Division DAC (Divisional Ammunition Column) and then to 134th Battery in 32nd Brigade. While Frank was at home he had had leave in Liverpool and when he went back to France Mary Jane was pregnant. Their daughter, Maria Rita, was born on 29 September 1918. Frank probably never knew that he was a father.
32nd Brigade came under orders of 4th Division. In August and September 1918, 4th Division was engaged in the advance in Flanders, in operations in the Lys valley to retake ground lost the previous April. Frank was wounded in action and died at Quéant on 11 October 1918. He was 31 years old.
Service Number: 681721
Date of Death: 11/10/1918
Service/Regiment: Royal Field Artillery, 134th Bty. 32nd Bde.
Cemetery/memorial reference: D. 31.
Cemetery: QUEANT COMMUNAL CEMETERY BRITISH EXTENSION
Mary Jane never remarried. She died in Sefton in October 1985, aged 93.
Frank’s brother Thomas Arthur Hagerty emigrated to Canada in 1912 and then served with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. His records exist but I am unable to access them. He survived the War and died in Vancouver in 1952.
Another brother, Alfred Michael Hagerty served in the King’s (Liverpool Regiment). He was 43480 PTE. A. M. HAGERTY. K.L.R. Alfred served in the 17th Battalion, then the 16th Battalion, and ended the War in 1st/6th Battalion. 17th Bn was one of the Liverpool ‘pals’ battalions; 16th Bn was a reserve Battalion. Alfred didn’t go abroad before 1916 so it seems likely that he saw most of his service with 1/6Bn. 1/6th (Rifle) Battalion came under orders of 165th Brigade in 55th (West Lancashire) Division. Alfred survived the War. In 1922, he married Gertrude Jessie Kennedy. He died in 1972.