Another great story from the Oldham archives.
John Hogan: Oldham’s First VC
The event for which John Hogan was awarded the Victoria Cross took place in Festubert, France on 29 October 1914. It involved John Hogan and Lieutenant James Leach, who also received the Victoria Cross. Soon afterwards, in action at Messines, John Hogan received shrapnel wounds to his eyes and face and was repatriated for treatment in Macclesfield General Infirmary. He was there when the award was announced and he gave this interview to a reporter from the Manchester Evening News:
‘In the early morning of October 29 the Germans paid us a surprise visit. Fighting at such close quarters things like this frequently happens. The result was that we were driven out. Two of our men were captured by the Germans. The position was an important one and after two attempts to retake the lost ground we decided at all costs to retake the trenches we had lost. It was dangerous work and at the head of ten men Mr. Leach and I crawled on hands and knees towards the line which we desired to seize. Traversing from trench to trench we covered 100 yards in semi-circular fashion and eventually came upon the Germans who had surprised us in the morning. We not only released the two prisoners they had taken from us but captured 16 of their men, who quietly surrendered.’
‘Was the incident much talked about?” asked our representative.
‘Not a great deal. It did crop up now and then in conversation and the fellows said the men who took part in it would probably hear of it all again. Apart from that nothing was said at all and I heard nothing, indeed I said very little about the matter and it was not until this morning that I received the news that the VC had been awarded to me.’
His Victoria Cross was presented by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 20 February 1915.
So who was John Hogan?
John Hogan was born to Sarah Hogan in Royton, Oldham on 8 April 1884. Four years later she married Matthew Creagan and they had five children, John’s half siblings. In 1895, when John was 11 years old, the Creagans emigrated to America leaving John in Oldham with his maternal grandmother. After Matthew’s death in 1898 Sarah and the children returned to Oldham.
John enlisted in the South Lancashire Regiment on 15 August 1902 but was discharged five weeks later: ‘Not likely to become an efficient soldier.’ On 5 December 1902 he joined the Manchester Regiment and served in South Africa and India before joining the Army Reserve in 1912. For a couple of years he was a postman in Royton. He rejoined the Manchesters when war broke out and was promoted to sergeant.
On 2 January 1915, while he was still on invalidity leave, John married widow Margaret Taylor, née Hannan. John and Margaret had a son, also called John, born 2 October 1919 but sadly Margaret died in 1926. John had difficulties making his way in peacetime and often struggled financially. He died on 6 October 1943 aged 59 years and was buried in Chadderton Cemetery. His Victoria Cross is on display in Oldham Civic Centre.