b. 26/04/1888 Adelaide, Australia. d. 12/11/1979 Perth, Australia.
DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 12/04/1918 off the Dover coast, Kent.
Arthur Gerald Bagot (1888-1979) was born in Adelaide, South Australia on 26th April 1888. He was the eldest son of six born to Christopher Michael Bagot, a sheep station owner, and Eleanor Mary (nee Hawker). His mother originally hailed from Largs Bay, South Australia. He was also the first cousin of Lanoe George Hawker, who would receive the Victoria Cross during the Great War as an air ace. Bagot (like his five brothers) was educated at St Peter’s School in Adelaide, and at Geelong Grammar School in Corio from 1903-1907. He was a Sergeant in the Cadets and a Prefect. In 1907, the family emigrated to Canada where they settled in Vancouver, living there until 1925. Bagot then spent the next 30 years moving backwards and forwards between Canada and Australia.
Bagot enlisted with the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR) whilst living in Canada in 1916 and sailed for England in September that year. Subsequently, he served with distinction in the Motor Launch Division of the Dover Patrol until 1919-20.
On 12th April 1918, off the coast of Dover, Kent, there was an explosion in the engine room of ML356 and the forward tanks burst into flames. Some of the crew were blown overboard, and the remainder were driven aft by the flames and then taken off in a skiff. By this time flames were billowing from the aft cabin hatch and there was much burning petrol on the surface of the water. Seeing that the fire was now close to a depth charge, Bagot and another officer jumped into a dinghy, rowed to the wreck, got on board and removed the depth charge, thus preventing an explosion that might have caused serious loss of life among the crowds of English and French sailors on the quay. Bagot was awarded the Albert Medal (LG, 20th August 1918) for his actions. Lieutenant Keith Robin Hoare DSO and Bar was also awarded the Albert Medal for this action. Hoare died in 1959 and therefore was not eligible to exchange his AM for a GC.
Arthur would also be awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for gallantry in naval actions against the enemy-held ports of Zeebrugge and Ostend while serving on ML283 and was also mentioned in despatches. This was an action which saw several Victoria Crosses also awarded. He then became Temporary Lieutenant on HMS Attentive III moving on to become Commander in August 1919.
After demobilisation, Bagot returned to Canada, remaining there until 1952, when he returned to South Australia. Soon after this, he settled on a farming property north of Perth in Western Australia. He lived there until his retirement in 1962. He had married in 1938 to Noel Irene Harris, and they had no children. She had been his housekeeper, and originally came from Devon, England. He had also served part time during the Second World War for the Volunteer Defence Corps of the Australian Military Forces. He was discharged in 1945 with the rank of Captain.
In 1971, Bagot chose to exchange his Albert Medal for a George Cross. His George Cross had to be posted to Australia as he was too unwell to travel to the UK for the investiture. He was invested with the George Cross by the Governor General of Australia, Sir Paul Hasluck, on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II.
Bagot would hold the George Cross for eight years until his death, aged 91, on 21st November 1979 in Perth, Western Australia. He was cremated at Karrakatta Crematorium and his ashes interred with those of his wife (who passed away in 1979) in North Road Cemetery in Adelaide. Bagot’s Albert Medal was presented at his request to Geelong Grammar School where it has pride of place in the Michael Collins Persse Archives Centre. Bagot’s GC, DSC, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19 with Mentioned in Despatches oakleaf, and 1977 Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal are held privately having been sold at auction for AUS$20,000. They were then placed on display at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: AUSTRALIAN WAR MEMORIAL, CANBERRA.
BURIAL PLACE: NORTH ROAD CHURCH OF ENGLAND CEMETERY, ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA.
Thomas Stewart – Image of the Bagot GC Medal Group at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.