The McTaggart Brothers displayed outstanding devotion to duty with their participation in the Great War of 1914-1918. The boys widowed father Thomas McTaggart had re-located from Victoria with his 4 sons, in the 1890’s.. The Family’s penchant for bravery was upheld on many occasions by the boys, during battles at Gallipoli and on the Western Front.The War Service Histories of the McTaggart boys are summarized in date of Enlistment order, as follows :-
( 1 ) – John ” Jack ” McTAGGART ( Service No. 458 ) – 11th Battalion & 3rd Machine Gun Squadron
John was 27 years of age and working in Railway Construction from 13 Mile Preston WA, when he enlisted at Blackboy Hill Camp WA on 21 August 1914. He was posted to the 11th Battalion to undergo training at Blackboy Hill, until he embarked from Fremantle on 2 November 1914, bound for Alexandria Egypt.
John experienced the harsh desert conditions of Egypt during further training at the Overseas Base Depot, until being hospitalized at Mena House Hospital Cairo on 19 January 1915. He underwent successful surgery to have his appendix removed, and after recovery, rejoined the 11th Battalion in late February 1915. However, in early April 1915, John suffered further illness, requiring hospitilization at the First Stationary Hospital , before transfer to the First General Hospital at Heliopolis Egypt. When declared fit , John was discharged for duty and rejoined his Battalion at the front on the Gallipoli Peninsula on 7 May 1915.
He had survived unscathed at Gallipoli until 6 August 1915 when he was struck down by a gunshot wound to his right shoulder. After earyl attention from the Field Ambulance Officers, John was evacuated from the Peninsula by Hospital Ship for treatment at the First Australian General Hospital Luna Park, Heliopolis Egypt. Following 6 weeks of recovery and convalescence, the Army Doctors declared John as being “Unfit for Service”, so he was directed to embark for Australia on 31 October 1915. The No. 8 General Hospital at Fremantle WA became his second home , as he underwent rehabilitation from his shoulder wound. On 17 April 1916, the Medical Board advised that he was finally well enough to be discharged from Hospital.
Despite the traumas he had experienced in his War Service to this time, instead of returning to civilian life, John was re-attested and resumed Army Duty . He was attached for duty at Blackboy Hill, initially with the 51st Battalion 5th Reinforcements, then transferred to the 11th Battalion 22nd Reinforcements. On 11 January 1917, he arrived at Larkhill Camp Salisbury Plain England , then subsequently transferred to the 3rd Training Battalion at Durrington. Despite an early hospitilization in England suffering from Bronchitis, John successfully completed qualification at a Machine Gun Training Course at Grantham in early May 1917.
On 8 July 1917, John proceeded Overseas to join the 3rd Machine Gun Company at Ribemont France. From 6 August, he spent 2 weeks in the 58th Scottish General Hospital St. Omer France suffering with Trench Fever, before being discharged to rejoin his unit on 20 August 1917. During heavy battle at Passchendaele Ridge, Belgium on 5 October 1917, John had his Machine Gun blown up by a direct hit from a shell. Immediate shell concussion ( Shell Shock ) impacted John, who was evacuated to Hospital at Etaples , then transferred to Calais. Due to the nature of his injury, John was evacuated to the 4th London General Hospital at Denmark Hill England, then to Grove Lane School Hospital Camberwell, then to the Australian Aux Hospital Dartford, before convalescence at the Monte Video Hospital in Weymouth.
John did not make sufficient recovery from the effects of the Shell Shock, so was not considered for detachment to any further action at the Front. He embarked from Weymouth England on 6 April 1918, bound for Australia on the vessel ” Osterly “.
John McTaggart was Discharged from Army Service on 22 April 1918, with his final Medical Board Examination declaring him as being Medically Unfit.
( 2 ) – Thomas Norman McTAGGART ( Service No. 1995 ) – 11th Battalion
Thomas was 25 years of age and working as a Labourer at Wagin WA, when he enlisted for Service at Blackboy Hill WA on 27 January 1915. On 1 February 1915 Thomas was allotted to undertake training with the 11th Battalion 5th Reinforcements at Blackboy Hill Camp. He embarked from Fremantle on 26 April 1915 on the vessel ” Hororata”, bound for Alexandria Egypt.
From 20 May 1915, Thomas was located at the Overseas Training Base in Egypt ,whilst physically preparing for pending action. He departed Alexandria Egypt with the Mediterranean Expeditionary Forces and joined the 11th Battalion at the front on the Gallipoli Peninsula on 16 June 1915.
Sadly, on 6 August 1915, Thomas fell victim to Gunshot Wounds which inflicted a Compound Fracture to his lower jaw, as well as damage to a forearm and leg. Initial evaluation and treatment was performed at the First Australian Casualty Clearing Station Gallipoli, before evacuation by Hospital Ship. He was rendered further Medical Treatment at the 1st Australian General Hospital Heliopolis Egypt ,where the decision was made to return him to Australia.
On 17 September 1915, Thomas embarked from Alexandria Egypt on the vessel ” Beltana “, bound for Fremantle.
Thomas Norman McTaggart was discharged from Army Service on 2 July 1916, following Medical Board determination at No. 8 General Hospital Fremantle WA, of his being ” Medically Unfit “.
( 3 ) – George Stewart McTAGGART DCM – ( Service No. 1504 ) – 28th Battalion
George was 22 years of age and working as a Miner in Kalgoorlie WA when he enlistred for Military Service on 28 February 1915. He was allotted to the 28th Battalion 1st Reinfocements, soon proving his mettle, which was confirmed with his appointment as Sergeant on 29 May 1915.
He embarked from Fremantle on 5 June 1915 on the vessel ” Geelong “, bound for Alexandria Egypt, where he was stationed at the Overseas Training Base. George was transferred to ” D ” Company 28th Battalion on 18 August 1915, when he reverted to rank of Private, at his own request. In early September 1915, he embarked Alexandria with the Mediterranean Expeditionary Forces bound for the Gallipoli Peninsula.
George served continuously at Gallipoli, being recognized for his leadership potential, with appointments to Lance Corporal, Lance Sergeant and promotion to Sergeant, prior to late November 1915. He disembarked at Alexandria on 10 January 1916, after his honourable service on the Gallipoli Peninsula.
In March 1916, George qualified as a First Class Instructor at a Machine Gun Course conducted at Zeitoun Egypt. Within days he had disembarked at Marseilles France for action on the Western Front. He was swiftly promoted to the rank of Second Lieutenant whilst in the field in France. George was awarded the prestigious DISTINGUISHED CONDUCT MEDAL ,for his part in the attack on Pozieres Ridge in early August 1916. Details of his Commanding Officer’s Recommendation are :- ” During the attack on POZIERES RIDGE on 4th/5th August 1916 being told to reinforce the front line, he stayed there for 36 Hours under very heavy artillery fire, and when his Officer was wounded, assumed Command and performed excellent work. He held on when he had only 2 men per gun left, and while there, was successful in capturing 14 prisoners in front of most advanced captured positions “.
In late October 1916, George took ill and was admitted to the 7th Stationary Hospital Boulogne France, then transferred to the 39th General Hospital Havre. He was not to rejoin his unit at the front until mid-December 1916. Shorthly after his return to the front , after illness, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant.
During late January 1917, George was admitted to the 14th General Hospital Wimereux France, suffering from an attack of Colitis. The seriousness of his condition necessitated his evacuation to England , where he was admitted to the 3rd London General Hospital Wandsworth. This severely debilitating illness caused his delayed return to the 28th Battalion, at the front in France, until early May 1917.
In late August 1917, George was appointed to be the Lewis Gun Officer for the 28th Battalion in France. In early October 1917, he was detached to Training Battalions in Rollestone England and did not return to the 28th Battalion in France until early July 1918. In late July 1918, he was appointed Temporary Captain whilst commanding the Company in the field in France.
Tragically, George suffered very severe Shell Wounds to his feet and legs near Villers-Bretonneux France on 9 August 1918. He died the same day as a result of these wounds received in action.
George Stewart McTaggart DCM is buried within the grounds of the Villers-Brettoneux Cemetery on the Western Front in France.
( 4 )- Gordon Ronald McTAGGART – ( Service No. 336 )- 4th Machine Gun Company
Gordon was 19 years of age and working as a Farmer at Yabberup WA, when he enlisted in the AIF on 8 February 1916. He was allotted to the 11th Battalion for initial training at Blackboy Hill Camp and subsequently transferred to the 4th Machine Gun Company in mid July 1916. Gordon embarked from Fremantle on the vessel ” Miltiades ” on 7 August 1916, bound for England.
He was originally based at the No. 3 training camp at Parkhouse England, but soon after arrival , Gordon came down with illness ( Suspected Bronchitis ) which affected him for almost 5 Months. He was hospitalized at the Belton Park Hospital, however during this period he did spend approximately 1 month at the Machine Gun Training Depot Grantham. From early March 1917 he returned to spend almost 12 months at the Australian Machine Gun Training Depot at Grantham.
On 19 February 1918, Gordon was transferred to the No. 2 Command Depot, Weymouth England. Three weeks later, he embarked from England on the vessel ” Kenilworth Castle ” for return to Australia.
Gordon Ronald McTaggart was discharged from active service on 23 June 1918, his service file noted that his early release was caused by the effects of Bronchitis.