John Doogan

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John Doogan
John Doogan.jpg
BornMarch 1853
Aughrim, County Galway, Ireland
Died24 January 1940 (aged 86)
Folkestone, Kent, England
Shorncliffe Military Cemetery, Folkestone, Kent
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branchFlag of the British Army.svg British Army
RankPrivate, later Sergeant
Unit1st King's Dragoon Guards
Battles/warsFirst Boer War World War I
AwardsVictoria Cross (UK) ribbon.png Victoria Cross

John Doogan (Irish: Seán Ó Dubhagáin; March 1853 in Aughrim, County Galway – 24 January 1940 in Folkestone, Kent) was an Irish recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.


He was 27 years old, and a private in the 1st Dragoon Guards (The King's), British Army during the First Boer War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.

On 28 January 1881 at the Battle of Laing's Nek, South Africa, during the charge of the mounted men, Private Doogan saw that Major William Vesey Brownlow, KDG, had had his horse shot from under him and was dismounted among the Boers. Doogan rode up and, in spite of being severely wounded himself, dismounted and insisted on Major Brownlow taking his horse, receiving another wound while doing so.[1]

Brownlow ultimately rose to the rank of major-general and died in 1926, bequeathing Doogan, his 'former servant', an annuity of £20 a year,[2] (worth around £600 in 2005).

Further service[edit]

Doogan left the army by 1882[3] but he returned to service in World War I as an army recruiter, with the rank of sergeant.[4]

Civilian career[edit]

Doogan was working for the General Post Office as a Mail Driver when he was living at Welshpool, Montgomeryshire, Wales at the 1891 Census. In the 1901 Census he had moved into England when he was employed as a butler when living at Church Cottage, East Shenfield, Berkshire.[5] By the 1911 Census he moved to Shropshire, when he lived at Cause Mountain in the parish of Westbury, occupation 'Army pensioner'[6] and later at Stapeley Hill where he was a farmer between 1926[7] and 1937.[8] He retired from farming to Folkestone, Kent.

Personal life[edit]

Doogan was twice married, but only the first marriage was legal. With his first wife Mary he had ten children (his first child born 1882);[3] two sons of theirs died on active service with the army in World War I. She died in August 1924.[9]

His second marriage, later proved invalid, took place on 16 September 1929 at Welshpool Registry Office to Martha Maria Roberts, who was 39 years his junior and had been employed as his housekeeper following his widowhood. She had previously married at Wrexham, on 8 November 1923, David Philip Roberts, whom she claimed was dead at the time she met Doogan but turned out to be still alive after the later wedding. She stood trial at Shrewsbury Assizes on 20 February 1930, charged with bigamy of which she was found guilty but was leniently bound over in £10, to be forfeit if she was called for trial again, instead of being sentenced to prison (the usual penalty). Doogan, the innocent party, gave evidence as witness, while the estranged legal husband appeared simply to confirm his identity and their own marriage.[10]


He is buried at Shorncliffe Military Cemetery (also known as the Garrison Cemetery) in Folkestone (Plot V. Grave 1054).

Victoria Cross[edit]

His Victoria Cross is displayed at the Queen's Dragoon Guards Regimental Museum in Cardiff Castle, Wales.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "No. 25084". The London Gazette. 14 March 1882. p. 1130.
  2. ^ Cox, David C. (2008). Foul Deeds & Suspicious Deaths in Shrewsbury and Around Shropshire. Wharncliffe Books. pp. 132–133. ISBN 978-1-845630-706.Chapter "Bigamy in Minsterley 1929".
  3. ^ a b Foul Deeds & Suspicious Deaths. p. 134.
  4. ^ Foul Deeds & Suspicious Deaths. p. 136.
  5. ^ Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths. p. 135.
  6. ^ 1911 Census of England and Wales, form on National Archives
  7. ^ Kelly's Directory of Shropshire, 1926. p. 160.Earliest mention. The entry omits his postnominal VC but it is mentioned from editions of the directory from 1929.
  8. ^ Kelly's Directory of Shropshire, 1937. pp. 161 and 413.Last mention of him by the directory in Shropshire.
  9. ^ Foul Deeds & Suspicious Deaths. pp. 134–135.
  10. ^ Foul Deeds & Suspicious Deaths. p. 136.
  11. ^ "Decorations – Medals from Waterloo to the first Boer War". Retrieved 2 January 2016.

Listed in order of publication year

External links[edit]