Charles Ernest Bagot

Premier’s Anzac Spirit School Prize

By Tharun Rameshbabu, Aberfoyle Park High School

CHARLES ERNEST BAGOT 19th August 1914 - 9th November 1915 Adelaide, South Australia 3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment B Squadron

Charles Ernest Bagot 19th August 1914 – 9th November 1915 Adelaide, South Australia 3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment B Squadron

I am thoroughly convinced that my understanding and assumption of Anzac Spirit may diversify but this report is exclusively authored by me. In this report I elected Charles Ernest Bagot as my research subject and so after subsequent investigation I am convinced that he sincerely portrayed the Anzac Spirit.

The Anzac Spirit

There was once a time when Australia was a new country. Many societies passionately believed Australia was inferior even a surprising majority of Australia doubted Australia’s genuine potential. Many were disinterested in Australia because the Federation of Australia was only established 14 years prior to this event. However, the country was extremely divided. Many hilariously questioned what Australia had to offer to the war but when the time came one renowned word best describes the situation flawlessly, Anzac.

 

The Anzac spirit is often misunderstood as only a yearly commemoration for the soldiers who served at Gallipoli. Anzac spirit is falsely mistaken by the amount of medals and certificates a war veteran has received. Miniature collectables and alternative war memorabilia should not determine if a person possesses Anzac Spirit. Would you really visualize that the men rushed into battle with a desire for a prize to honor their achievement? NO!

 

“They waited neither for orders nor for the boats to reach the beach, but springing out into the sea, they waded ashore, and, forming some sort of rough line, rushed straight on the flashes of the enemy’ rifles”

-Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett, British War Correspondent, 8th May 1915

 

No man desired rewards during their arrival at Gaba Tepe (now known as Anzac cove). These heroes didn’t doubt their choice even if it meant they die during this battle. These men were possessed with Anzac spirit. This spirit influenced an entire army to fight for their empire. The same spirit also thrilled women all over Australia to assist the men on the frontlines in whatever way.  The Anzac spirit is similar to a glimpse of light. A small taste of victory that inspired a newborn nation to strive for success.  Each of the 416 809 men who died at Gallipoli did not desire recognition for their discomfort, endurance and tenacity.  This to me is the true Anzac spirit, an instinct that has inspired generations of Australians and lives with us.

 The life of Charles Ernest Bagot

Private Charles Ernest Bagot was born on the 26th of December 1896 in Oodnadatta, South Australia along with his twin sister Almerta Annie Bagot. He was the eldest son of Charles Mulcra Bagot and Ada Annie nee Westmacott.  The family resided in Oodnadatta where Charles successfully passed all of his Junior, Senior and Higher Public Examinations. The Bagot family then later moved to College Park, Adelaide after his father passed away.

 

After his migration to Adelaide, Charles Bagot was a dedicated student at St. Peter’s College. He also had an interest in Australian Rules football, and represented St. Peter’s College in the intercollegiate Australian Rules football matches during the 1912/13 seasons. In addition to his remarkable sporting dexterity, he was also chosen as captain for the St. Peter’s Colleges’ rowing team. Later that year, at the age of 17, he was one of the few privileged to row in the first crew at Henley-on Yarra in 1912. He then later progressed to higher education at the University of Adelaide where he enrolled at The Engineering School. On the 19th of August 1914, Charles Ernest Bagot enlisted for the War under the 3rd Light Horse Regiment.

The Gallipoli Campaign

When trench warfare on the Western Front in late 1914 began to drift towards a never-ending stalemate, the British War Council proposed a battle strategy that striking Germany’s allies, Austria, Hungary and Turkey could result in an eventual defeat for Germany. Originally, the invasion of Turkey was outlined as a naval operation and was assigned to the Royal Navy. However, after numerous failed attempts to force submarines through the Dardanelles, the British Cabinet settled on an agreement that land forces could be utilised. A combined international force was assembled under the command of British General Sir Ian Hamilton, and a three-pronged landing was planned to eliminate the Turkish defenders from the straits. Once the straits were conquered, it was believed the threat of the fleet’s canons would influence mass panic within the Turkish Cabinet, which would most likely encourage Turkey’s surrender in the war.

 

ANZAC Cove from sea – Australian War Memorial

ANZAC Cove from sea – Australian War Memorial Gallipoli – Unknown Photograph May 1915 Source: http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C02032/

 

On the morning of 25 April 1915, the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps landed north of Gaba Tepe while the British forces landed at Cape Helles on the Gallipoli Peninsula.  The intent of these two landings was to conquer the Turkish forts commanding the narrow straits.

 

The Gallipoli campaign was documented as one of the most heroic but costly failures during World War 1 and by December 1915 plans were created to evacuate the forces that were still engaging in combat from Gallipoli. The evacuation of Anzac and Suvla forces began on 19th of December with the last British troops leaving by 8th January 1916. The entire operation evacuated more than 142 000 men.

 

26,000 ANZACs were sent to Gallipoli, which consisted of 1,006 officers and 25,104 other ranks. Sadly, 362 officers and 7,779 men were killed in action, died of wounds, victimised by various diseases or like Charles Ernest Bagot who was buried at sea. Although only nine Victoria Crosses were awarded to soldiers in Australian units, 26,000 brave, courageous men and women are still commemorated for their commitment and sacrifice.

 

The Gallipoli Campaign was deemed a military failure in terms of the loss of life suffered, but the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps were heroes. Australia had only become an independent Federation 14 years prior to their participation in the event, and Gallipoli was the inaugural event that brought all the colonies and the people of Australia into one nation. The Gallipoli campaign is recognised as the event that defines Australia as a country and is without a doubt an iconic and memorable achievement.

Charles Ernest Bagot’s service at Gallipoli

On the 22nd October 1914, Charles Ernest Bagot departed Adelaide on board the HMAT (His Majesty’s Australian Transports) A17 Port Lincoln at the age of 20. At time of his enlistment Charles Bagot was an athletic and capable young adult. He then proceeded to join the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force. Charles was trained in Egypt and later arrived at Gallipoli shores on the 9th of May 1915.

 

On the 3rd of July 1915 Charles was admitted to a hospital at Monash Valley, Gallipoli. During his time at the hospital it was discovered that he had contracted a severe case of influenza, which eventually lead to his relocation to the No 2 Stationary hospital on the same day. Charles was discharged and declared fit for battle on the 17th of July, 1915.

 

On the 4th of August 1915 Charles Bagot was admitted to the No 1 General hospital due to diarrhoea. After a week of care at the General hospital he was relocated but this time to the No 3 Auxiliary Hospital on the 10th of August 1915. During his time at the hospital he suffered serious illness and later that month he was invalided to Egypt but with phenomenal fortitude he requested to be transported back to Gallipoli to serve his country. Charles Bagot was then reunited with his unit on Destroyer Hill, Gallipoli on the 24th of August 1915.

On the 9th of November 1915, Charles Ernest Bagot suffered a gunshot to his abdomen. He was immediately admitted to a hospital. Charles was admitted to the 13th Casualty Clearing station. They tried to transport him to the nearest base hospital that had vacant beds but unfortunately it was too late for Charles Ernest Bagot because he died of wounds at sea on the 9th of November 1915.  His body was buried of at sea by P. Stidston on the H.S Neuralia, 6 miles off Anzac Cove.

Charles Ernest Bagot’s Anzac Spirit

Charles Bagot portrayed unimaginable discipline and an inconceivable devotion to serve his country. Charles’ alacrity to reconcile with his unit assisted his recovery in hospital multiple times. When a man is usually invalided to Egypt and declared unfit for warfare, a remarkable percentage of men would celebrate their survival but Charles Ernest Bagot was no common man. Charles was an ANZAC. Charles Ernest Bagot challenged the official declaration of his invalidation and vigorously requested his immediate return to Gallipoli.

 

Before the war, Charles was hardly an adult who had just recently enrolled into an engineering school at the University of Adelaide. Charles was an ordinary youthful man with great academic success and the privilege to attend University, which was considered a very big accomplishment during the early 20th century and despite all this Charles still elected to enlist for the war.

 

One can only fantasize about Charles’ mental stability. During Charles’ time at Gallipoli he encountered numerous days where he was fatigued and provoked after endless days of trench warfare. Charles was also frustrated when he was rendered incapable and was left on a hospital bed. Despite three hospital admissions, witnessing bloodshed during battle and also tolerating incalculable combat anxieties, Charles Bagot refused to discontinue his service and paid the ultimate price for the birth of his nation. This is the true Anzac Spirit.

 

Impact left on South Australia

The impact on Australia after the Gallipoli campaign was extravagant. Large numbers of people died and South Australian communities acknowledged their losses. Almost every individual in the state had lost someone they had known.  Much of the Australian economy, government and society in general was transformed in World War I. Women had to replace men in the workforce, but were not paid reasonably.

 

However, much legislation and acts were made in parliament, such as the War Pensions Act and the War Census Act. Nonetheless, the impact of the war only became much more apparent when the soldiers returned, with many losses for a country with a relatively small population.

 

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