Major Oliver 'Trooper Bluegum' Hogue

Date of birth: 29 April 1880
Place of birth: Sydney, NSW
Date of death: 03 March 1919
Place of death: London, England

Oliver 'Trooper Bluegum' Hogue

Oliver Hogue, a journalist, achieved recognition for his writing under the pseudonym "Trooper Bluegum" during the First World War. He was born on 29 April 1880 in Sydney and was educated at Forest Lodge Public School. Despite growing up in Sydney, his ability at sports and his skill as a horseman led Hogue to consider himself a bushman and, after completing school, he cycled thousands of miles along Australia's east coast. He worked as a commercial traveller before gaining employment with the Sydney Morning Herald in 1907.

When the First World War began, Hogue enlisted as a trooper in the 6th Light Horse Regiment, having tried and failed to become Australia's official correspondent to the war. He was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in November 1914 and served on Gallipoli for five months before being evacuated to England with enteric fever. In May 1915 he was promoted to lieutenant and appointed orderly officer to Colonel Granville Ryrie. He was recognised as a loyal and enthusiastic officer unafraid of front-line service, and he was a regular writer to both his family and his former employer, the Herald.

His contributions to the Herald were published as the books, Love letters of an Anzac and Trooper Bluegum at the Dardanelles, in 1916. Having recovered from his fever, Hogue rejoined his unit, then in the Sinai, in early 1916 and fought in the battle of Romani later that year. On 1 November 1916 he transferred to the Imperial Camel Corps and was promoted to captain in July 1917. He fought in some of the desert war's most well-known battles, including Magdhaba, Rafa and Gaza.

Like many Australians serving in the Middle East, he sweltered through the summer of 1918 in the Jordan Valley, a place so unpleasant that few Arabs remained there during the hot season. With camels no longer required in the fight against Turkey, the cameliers were given horses and became cavalrymen. Hogue was promoted to major in July 1918. He was involved in the fighting at Damascus and at the Barada Gorge where thousands of retreating Turks were killed in September 1918.

Having survived the worst of the fighting in Sinai and Palestine, Hogue died of influenza in London on 3 March 1919. His final book, The cameliers was published after his death and he has been credited with contributing to the view that war in the Middle East was a relatively light-hearted affair compared to the unrelenting carnage of the Western Front.

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