John Danaher VC

b. 25/06/1860 Limerick, Ireland. d. 09/01/1919 Portsmouth, Hampshire.

John Danaher (or Danagher) (1860-1919) was born on the 25th June 1860 in Limerick, County Limerick, Ireland. He was educated at the Christian Brothers at Edward Street, Limerick, and joined the Connaught Rangers on 25th April 1880. Shortly after his enlistment, he was on the boat for South Africa and the First Boer War. On arrival, he was attached to the Nourse’s (Transvaal) Horse, South African Forces. Within a year of being in South Africa, he would be involved in an action which led to the award of the Victoria Cross.

John Danaher VC

On 16th January 1881, at Elandsfontein, South Africa, Troopers James Murray and John Danagher advanced into the open under a withering fire to rescue two men of the 21st Foot (2nd Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers) named Byrne and Davis, both of whom had been badly wounded. No sooner had Murray started forward than his horse was shot under him, but he continued to advance across the open on foot. The two rescuers reached the men together, and on stooping to lift Byrne’s head Murray was shot through the body, the bullet entering his right side and passing out near the spine. Having received such a serious wound, and realisng the seeming hopelessness of the situation in which they found themselves, Murray ordered Danaher to take his carbine and make good his escape. Murray remained with Byrne, who shortly afterwards died. The Boers then threw themselves upon Murray and Davis and took them prisoners.

Byrne’s body was placed in a bullock’s skin and was conveyed with the two prisoners to the Boer camp which was pitched upon the top of the mountain. Murray afterwards paid tribute to the treatment of the enemy, and to the courtesy of the Boer commandant who permitted them to return to Pretoria under a flag of truce and to take with them the body of Byrne. Five days after Murray and Davis reached Pretoria, Davis died.

Danaher and Murray were gazetted for the Victoria Cross on 14th March 1882, and Danaher was presented with his medal on 23rd August 1882, by the Viceroy Curragh in Ireland. He was also presented with the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal. He was also recommended for meritorious service by General Sir Archibald Hunter. Danaher was discharged from the Army with a pension, married and had six sons. One of his sons died in the Great War serving in Gallipoli in 1915. Another son was a Prisoner of War, and a third was wounded. Danaher lived in later life on the south coast and became licensee of the “Dog and Duck” public house in Fratton Road, Portsmouth. He died there on 9th January 1919, aged 58. He was buried in Milton Cemetery, Portsmouth. His medals are held by the National Army Museum, Chelsea, though not currently on display.






Kevin Brazier – Map of Milton Cemetery.