People - Thomas Edward Joseph Cogan

Gunner - A.I.F. 17 Anti Tank Battery

Born: 3 September 1918  Perth, Western Australia, Australia.  Died: 1 July 1942.

Son of Michael Patrick and Maria Ann Cogan of North Perth, Western Australia.

Thomas (Tom) Cogan was born in Perth on the 3rd September 1918. He had two older brothers, both of whom were in the war and survived, and an older sister. He was the youngest child, a happy, outgoing boy with a great sense of humour. At school he was involved in all sports, especially rowing, in which he was coxon for many years.

Tom travelled to Melbourne and was working there in a department store when he decided to enlist. He wrote to his parents on the 31st July 1939 from Caulfield Military Camp, Victoria:-

Flo [his sister] of course has told you the news of my enlistment in the A.I.F. I had considered it for about two months and I decided it was my duty and the right thing to do.

He was then sent to Bathurst and writes home from there in 1940, 'The camp here is quite good apart from the freezing cold'. Then on leave in Sydney:-

Sydney is certainly a wonderful city. The Bridge and Harbour are wonderful. The traffic is a bit sudden after Melbourne. Cosmopolitan is not the word for King's Cross. Everything and anything goes there.

He was finally posted to Rabaul, New Guinea, and he writes how excited the boys were to at last be seeing 'action'.

Rabaul. 13th January 1942. During the first air raid here, I was having my morning shave and after consideration eventually moved quick smart at a rate hitherto unknown to myself and others. Owing to censorship I can not elaborate on proceedings here as much as I'd like to, except to assure you all I am safe and sound. I was on duty both Xmas and New Year, but we had a very pleasant time. The army turned on turkey and ham, which was most enjoyable and plum pudding and cream. We also had a bottle of Fosters.

Flo, his sister, must have asked about the air raid shelter, because also in this letter he writes 'in answer to your query of Air Raid shelter, put it near the Jack [Jacaranda] tree and you'll be safe sis.' Not long after this letter he was captured and of course on the 1st July 1942 it is presumed that the worst happened.

Tom's parents received a letter on the 26th October 1945 from Major G. Matheson expressing his profound sympathy on the death of their son.

His [Tom's] morale was always high, thus setting an example to those who were inclined to be down. I was fortunate in being able to see him nearly every day and his cheerful outlook on the life there was a tonic to many.

It was two years before his parents received a telegram saying that Tom was almost certainly dead. It must have been an incredibly sad time as for so long they had still been writing, praying and hoping.

R.I.P. Dear Tom.

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© Elizabeth Huggett 2003

Eric Cutler, Ben Tipp, Thomas Cogan, Bathurst 1940

Eric Cutler, Ben Tipp, Thomas Cogan, Bathurst 1940

Tom Cogan (front right) and group, Albury 1941

Tom Cogan (front right) and group, Albury 1941

Thomas Cogan on leave in Perth 16 August 1941

Thomas Cogan on leave in Perth 16 August 1941

Tom Cogan (right) and mate, Rabaul 1942 in front of volcano

Tom Cogan (right) and mate, Rabaul 1942 in front of volcano

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Created by Joanne and Jenny Evans, July 2002. Updated 29 May 2011