b. 08/04/1884 Royton, Lancashire. d. 07/10/1943 Oldham, Lancashire.
John Hogan (1884-1943) was born illegitimately at 134 Heyside, Royton, near Oldham, Lancashire on 8th April 1884. His mother was Sarah Hogan, a cotton speed tenter. His father was unknown. Sarah went on to marry Matthew Creagan in 1888 in Oldham and sailed for Boston, USA from Liverpool in August 1895. Sarah was widowed by 1901 and was back in Oldham with three girls from her marriage. John was educated at Waterhead Church Day School and was then employed as a piecer by J Taylor.
John enlisted in 6th Battalion, Manchester Regiment on 5th December 1902 at Ashton under Lyne, and was described as 5ft 3 ½ with blue eyes and dark brown hair. He then enlisted for regular service the following year and from December 1904 was serving in South Africa. He then served in India from 1906 and was promoted to Lance Corporal in 1908 and Corporal in 1911. He returned to England in 1912 and transferred to the Reserve.
He then became a postman in Heyside, Oldham, before he was recalled to service on the outbreak of War. He was promoted to Sergeant on 7th August 1914 and arrived in France on 15th August. On 29th October 1914, near Festubert, France, after their trench had been taken by the Germans, and after two attempts at recapture had failed, they (Hogan with James Leach) voluntarily decided on the afternoon of the same day to recover the trench themselves, and, working from traverse to traverse at close quarters with great bravery, they gradually succeeded in regaining possession, killing eight of the enemy, wounding two, and making sixteen prisoners.
John was wounded in the face by shrapnel on 14th December 1914 and almost lost an eye. He was evacuated to England three days later and recovered in Manchester and Macclesfield. He heard of his award of the Victoria Cross from the matron while he was helping to put up the Christmas decorations on the ward.
John married Margaret Taylor nee Hannon, widow of Robert Garlick Taylor, on 2nd January 1915 in Oldham. Margaret already had three children from her first marriage and two others had died in infancy. John and Margaret had a son, John, born in 1919. John received his VC from King George V at Buckingham Palace on 20th February 1915. He was then transferred into 3rd (Reserve) Battalion on 20th July and 11th Battalion on 20th September 1915 for service in Gallipoli. On 23rd February 1916, he was reduced in rank to Private plus 28 days Field Punishment No 1 for being drunk on active service.
He then returned to France with 11th Battalion on 20th July 1916 and was appointed Unpaid Acting Sergeant in May 1917. He then transferred to 791st Area Employment Company, Labour Corps in September 1917. He completed the War serving with the Royal Fusiliers until being discharged in March 1919. After the war, he struggled to find employment and sold matches on the streets of Manchester. He was also a valet to the variety star, Benny Ross, for a short time. He was a member of the VC Guard at the interment of the Unknown Warrior in 1920. He was also an in-pensioner at the Royal Hospital Chelsea in 1932-1933. He worked in a munitions factory at the beginning of the Second World War in 1939.
John died at 449 Rochdale Road, Oldham on 6th October 1943 and was buried in Chadderton Cemetery, Oldham in the same grave as his wife and her previous husband. In addition to his VC, he was awarded the 1914 Star with Mons clasp, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19 with Mentioned in Despatches oak leaf. He sold his VC a year before his death in 1942 to a collector called Stanley Oldfield for £60. It was resold in 1960 for £15. In August 1967 it was purchased by Mr R Souter from Stockport from JB Hayward’s for £785. Hogan’s family had maintained that the medals had been stolen from his bedside after he died in hospital. Eventually, the row was resolved when in October 1983, Norman Stoller bought the medals for £9,750 and presented them to the Oldham Civic Centre.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: OLDHAM CIVIC CENTRE, OLDHAM, LANCASHIRE.
CHADDERTON CEMETERY, MANCHESTER, LANCASHIRE. RC SECTION, GRAVE D-9/63
A picture from the Oldham News showing a local boy holding John Hogan's VC which is held at the Civic Centre in Oldham.
Two of the relatives of John Hogan VC at the unveiling of his memorial paving stone at the Royton War Memorial
Royal Chelsea Hospital Museum