b. 03/1853 Aughrim, County Galway, Ireland. d. 24/01/1940 Folkestone, Kent.
John Doogan (1853-1940) was born in March 1853 in Aughrim, County Galway, Ireland. Sadly, little is known of his life surrounding his military service. He enlisted with the 1st Dragoon Guards in circa 1873, and was posted to South Africa by 1880, in order to serve in the First Boer War of 1881.
On 28th January 1881, during the Battle of Laing’s Nek, South Africa, Private Doogan was involved in the charge of the mounted men. During the attack, Doogan became aware that Major Brownlow KDG, had had his horse shot from underneath him and had fallen amongst the Boers. Doogan, who was severely wounded at the time, without hesitation, rode up to the fallen Brownlow, dismounted, and insisted that Brownlow took his horse. Doogan was then wounded a second time, whilst assisting Brownlow to mount his horse. Doogan survived his wounds, and was recommended for the award of the Victoria Cross for his actions.
He was gazetted for the VC in the London Gazette on 14th March 1882, and he was presented with his medal in May 1882, whilst serving in Cork, by the Superintendent of Pensions. Not much is known about Doogan following this, only that in later life, he had moved to live in Kent. He died at his home, 5 Folly Road, Folkestone, aged 86 on the 24th January 1940. He was buried with full military honours in Shorncliffe Military Cemetery.
He bequeathed his medals in his will to his family. Shortly after the end or WWII the family presented the Victoria Cross to the colonel of Doogan’s regiment in Cardiff Castle. Not sure where to display the VC, the colonel gave the medal to the sergeant’s mess, where it was placed over the mess bar for a number of years. In 1956, during the VC Centenary Exhibition, Cardiff Castle loaned Doogan’s VC and other medals to the organisers. Shortly afterwards, the regiment was ordered to Malaya and did a tour of duty. When they returned they had forgotten about the loan of the VC. Sometime later, they assumed the medal was lost and several years later, a search began for the medal. In 1997, a Colonel of the 1st Dragoon Guards received a letter from a London bank requesting he pick up two parcels from the bank’s vault addressed to the regiment. On opening the parcels, Doogan’s medals were discovered. They were returned to display in Cardiff Castle after 41 years being in a bank vault.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: QUEENS DRAGOONS MUSEUM., CARDIFF, WALES.
BURIAL PLACE: SHORNCLIFFE MILITARY CEMETERY, FOLKESTONE, KENT.
PLOT V, GRAVE 1054
Steve Davies – the cleaned Doogan VC grave (completed by Steve Davies)
Thomas Stewart – Medal Group at the Queens Dragoon Guards Museum, Cardiff
Kevin Brazier – Cemetery Map
Clive Morris – Image of the reverse of Doogan’s VC.