Diamond War Memorial Project

2nd Lieutenant Robert Albert (Alfey) Bogle

10th/12th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers Regimental Number ----
Born: ---- Died: 1917-08-10 Aged: 30 Enlisted: ------

Name recorded on Christ Church (Church of Ireland), Londonderry, World War 1 Memorial, and was listed on the City of Derry Presbyterian Working Men's Institute, Diamond, Londonderry, Great War Roll of Honour. Name also commemorated on Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium, and on the Diamond War Memorial.

Son of William Bogle (possibly died on June 16, 1925, and interred in Muff Burying Ground), 7, Princes Street, Londonderry. Brother of Samuel Bogle, Carlisle Road, Londonderry (possibly died, as the result of an accident, on June 21, 1924, and interred in Muff Family Burying Ground).

Second Lieutenant Bogle was a member of Provincial Grand Master's (Masonic) Lodge, No.52, Londonderry.

He was for many years a prominent figure in athletic circles in the North West, and was a sub-sanitary officer in the employment of the Londonderry Corporation. He immediately joined the Ulster Division on its formation at the outbreak of the Great War, being early promoted to the rank of sergeant. He went to France with the division in September 1915.

Around November/December 1915, Bogle wrote an interesting letter to Mr D. Fletcher, executive sanitary officer, describing his initial encounter with the Germans, and trench conditions ? We had almost a month dodging about here in different parts before we got our first experience of the Germans. We were put into the first line trenches with an English regiment for instruction in trench warfare, and afterwards we had a section of trenches to ourselves. I remember well how I was shook up (I was asleep in the dugout) and told to take my section and relieve the Englishmen in a sap. It was a wet, dark, miserable night: a strong wind was driving the rain into our faces. How cold we all were as we felt our way along the winding trench. After handing over to me his instructions, the N.C.O. in charge told me the story of the famous black dog that is so well known in this part of the fighting line. This dog, it appears, always accompanies the enemy patrols and acts as a sort of scout for them when their parties are out on an expedition in the 'No Man's Land' between the trenches. It is, of course, credited with extraordinary sagacity, and, despite dozens of claims made by alert sentries to have laid it out, it turns up with aggravating persistence at intervals. Naturally I kept a very sharp lookout on that night, but saw nothing of this strange dog. That night impressed me very much: the crack of the snipers' rifles broke the stillness now and again as they carried on their everlasting duel, the utter darkness, then a whisper from the waiting man. 'Sentry over on the left has heard something suspicious amongst the wires on his front.' I go over there, hear the sentry's report, listen, and strain my eyes in the direction pointed out. Just then a rocket shoots up from the German trenches and bursts into a ball of light, rendering everything as clear as day for a few seconds, then fades away rapidly, leaving the darkness blacker than before. I am satisfied it may possibly have been rats the sentry heard, and perhaps his nerves have been a little upset, for no human being can be seen in the vicinity of those wires. I return to my post, and ponder why shouldn't a sentry's nerves be a little unstrung on such a night. Down on the right, about sixty yards away, by a little clump of bushes, lie the decomposed bodies of three Germans, one an officer, shot one night by a patrol from the regiment lying next us. The enemy had never made any attempt to take away these bodies or to bury them. I wondered why, for I knew had the corpses been British they would not have lain two hours after dark. I afterwards learned that 'Old Fritz' (The English Tommies' term for the Germans) had placed powerful bombs on top of the remains, so that any souvenir-hunting British soldier would be blown to fragments if he touched them. How glad I felt when the dawn appeared and the time for my section's relief drew near, when I could go to the dugout for twelve hours' rest. In the section of trenches defended by my company were a number of dugouts, some of them spacious enough to hold quite twenty men; others accommodated as little as ten. Each of these dugouts had its name inscribed on a piece of biscuit box, placed in a conspicuous position above it. One rejoiced in the very suggestive title, 'Fleabite Lodge.' The next one was known as 'Vermin Villa.' Others were 'Rats' Home' and 'Mouse Mansion.' A few more were recognised by such high-sounding names as 'Hotel Metropole,' 'Mount Royal,' and 'Grand Hotel.' The dugouts are dry and have plenty of straw in them, so that the men can sleep more or less comfortably, chiefly less, though, I dare say, in time one could get used to such little discomfort as, say, a rat suddenly executing a few steps of a dance on your face or starting a miniature landslide from the roof over your unconscious head. And the mice are such cheeky little beggars! They have developed quite a habit of losing their foothold, falling down on top of you, then scurrying away with excited squeakings as if in glee at your discomfiture and your startled attempts of self defence. I dare say new hands in the trenches feel rather glad than otherwise when a sharp voice is heard. 'Now, then, time the other section on duty was relieved.'

Alfey Bogle saw considerable active service, taking part in the great Somme push on July 1, 1916, when he was wounded. He was afterwards attached to the 12th Battalion of the Royal Inniskillings at Finner, where he received his commission from the cadet corps several months before his death. He then returned to France, and was posted to his old battalion. In football circles he, for many years, acted as a halfback for Institute. He very keenly felt the death in action of his chum, Second Lieutenant Wesley Maultsaid, who was prominently identified with him in the football field.

Second-Lieutenant Bogle distinguished himself in the regimental, brigade, and divisional boxing tournaments, winning several championships. The outcome of one such championship was recorded by a sergeant in the 10th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, who, in a letter written to his parents in Londonderry around May 1916, recounted a Bogle victory in a boxing tournament at the Front for the championships of the 109th Brigade of the Ulster Division. 'In the heavy-weights,' the writer related, 'Sergeant Bogle, of the Derry Battalion, knocked Johnston, of the Y.C.V.'s, so much about that he gave in in the second round. This was the man who was to have met Sergeant Bogle in the final of the divisional boxing championship at Seaford, but the match was cancelled owing to the division moving. In the final Bogle easily accounted for Private Jeffries, of the machine gun section, who gave up in the second round also, throwing another championship to our battalion! You can see that the 10th are holding up Derry's good name at sports.'

Major R.S. Knox, D.S.O., Derry Volunteers, writing to Mr William Bogle, Alfey Bogle's father, on the death of his son, said ? 'I cannot tell you how much it is regretted in the battalion. He had endeared himself to every rank by his quiet, unassuming manner, and no promotion to commissioned rank was more popular. I can assure you you have the sincere sympathy of everyone in the battalion. It is small consolation, but you would, I am sure, be proud to know that he died leading his platoon in our front line, in trenches which had been taken from the Germans a few days before.'

Reverend J. G. Paton, C.F., in a letter to Mr Bogle, stated that Second-Lieutenant Bogle was killed by a shell in the front line. 'We were given a difficult job to do last week,' continued Mr Paton, 'perhaps the most difficult we have ever had to do, and our fellows responded to the call as nobly as ever, though at terrible cost to themselves. I did not know your son till he came back as an officer, but since then we have always been firm friends, and I admired him for his kindly, happy disposition, his great physical strength, and his courage. He made a fine officer, and his fellow-officers and men had perfect confidence in him. He was killed in one of the heaviest bombardments we have suffered for some time, and both officers and men send you and yours their heartfelt sympathy in your loss. Lieutenant Bogle died facing the foe in the cause of liberty, freedom, and home, which was so dear to his heart. We all sorrow for you and with you, and it should help you to know how we all respected and honoured your son, and how deeply we feel his loss.'

At a meeting of the Londonderry Corporation, held on Monday, August 20, 1917, Councillor Logue proposed a vote of condolence with the relatives of Second Lieutenant Bogle, a sub-sanitary officer of the Corporation. Second Lieutenant Bogle, he said, had been highly thought of by the ratepayers, and the working classes in particular.

Councillor McGuinness, in seconding, said Second Lieutenant Bogle had been a most conscientious and trustworthy official.

The resolution was passed in silence, the members standing.

The name of Robert Albert Bogle was read out during a memorial service held, on Sunday, November 4, 1917, for the members of Christ Church (Church of Ireland), Londonderry, who had given their lives in battle during the previous year.

On the second anniversary of the death of 2nd Lieutenant Bogle, his father, brothers and sisters placed the following in memoriam lines in a Londonderry newspaper:

 

'In the bloom of life death claimed him,

In the pride of his manhood days;

None knew him but to love him,

None mentioned his name but with praise.'

 

Samuel, Robert Albert and Jeannie Bogle, 7, Princes Street, signed the Ulster Solemn League and Covenant (September 1912) pledging resistance to Home Rule for Ireland.