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John Brogan was born in Walton le Dale in 1876 the only son of William and Margaret Brogan (nee Donnelly), their marriage had taken place in the District in 1875. Sadly, John`s father died towards the end of 1877 and a few months after his death his mother gave birth to a daughter, Margaret Mary Brogan (1878). In 1891 Margaret Brogan, John and his sister Margaret were living at 20 Brook Street in Higher Walton, Margaret`s sister Mary Ann Donnelly was also in residence.

At the age of 18 years and 4 months John joined the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, agreeing to serve a 12 year term (7 years with the Colours and 5 on the Reserve). He was 5`7” tall, weighed 137lbs and had a chest measurement of 33”. John`s mother Margaret of 20 Brook Street, Higher Walton was recorded as his legal next of kin. On the 18th April 1895 he was posted to the 2nd Battalion and then on the 21st October 1896 he was transferred to the 1st Battalion. His service included a period in Ceylon with the 2nd Battalion and then in the South African Campaign with the 1st Battalion. After five years’ service John was transferred to the Reserve on the 8th October 1902 and was later awarded the Queen`s SA Medal and 3 Clasps (Kimberley, Orange Free State and Transvaal) and also the Kings SA Medal and 2 Clasps (S/Africa 1901 and S/Africa 1902). He was finally discharged on the termination of his engagement on the 4th July 1911.

In 1911 John was employed as a labourer and still living at 20 Brook Street with his mother Margaret and Margaret`s married sister Mary Ann Reidy and her three children. Later information suggests that not long after this Census John set up home with an Irish lady, Clara Donnelly, their address being 3 Salter Street in Preston.

After the outbreak of war John attested as a Special Reservist into the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment on the 1st September 1914 and was allocated the service number 3482. The Medical Officer noted that he was now an inch taller standing at 5`8” and was also slightly heavier at 157lbs. John had also acquired two tattoos, a girl on his left forearm and another one on his right forearm. He was unmarried and his occupation was a `plater`. He passed his medical inspection and was posted to the 3rd Battalion at Felixstowe.

A couple of months later on the 22nd November 1914 John sailed to France as one of many reinforcements for the 1st Battalion. Unfortunately John had only been in France for about a month when he developed rheumatic fever and as a result was admitted to hospital at Hazebrouck. He returned to England on the 5th January 1915 via the HS Asturias and later admitted to the General Hospital in Leeds. His service papers note that on the 3rd March 1915 John was posted back to the 3rd Battalion LNL at Felixstowe with the Doctor`s advising `light duties only`.

In the summer of 1915 John`s papers state that he was transferred to the 1st Garrison Battalion, Cheshire Regiment and should have gone out to Gibraltar where they were stationed. However, it seems that he fell ill again and the transfer did not take place and by the 10th September 1915 John was back at home in Preston.

On the 21st September 1915 John passed away but there was initially a question mark over how his death had occurred, the Preston Herald reporting; 

Preston Herald – 25th September 1915

SOLDIER`S DEATH – HE FELT “IN THE ROAD” – Cut his throat when dying

An inquest was held at Preston Infirmary on Thursday evening, on the body of John Brogan (38), 3 Salter Street, a private in the 3rd Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. Clara Donnelly said she had lived with deceased as man and wife for about three years. Prior to the war he was an inside labourer. He came home invalided with asthma and bronchitis in January, having been out in France since October. He had been at Felixstowe until he came home to Preston on September 10th. Dr. Steel saw him several times, the last time being on September 21st. On Tuesday morning she left him for about two or three minutes, and on her return saw him in bed and noticed there was blood on the bed clothes, and a blood stained razor on a small table nearby. She then saw he had a wound in the throat. With the aid of a neighbour (Mrs. Parkinson), she bound up the wound. P.C. Garth arrived soon after, and rendered first aid, Brogan then being taken to the Infirmary, but he died about 8.15 the same night. He had never threatened to commit suicide, and witnesses thought he would never do anything of the kind. He had been low-spirited for a day or two. They were on quite friendly terms.

Mrs. Jane Parkinson, 1 Salter Street, said deceased was a very steady and respectable man. She noticed a change in him when she saw him first thing Tuesday morning. When witness had called in after he had cut his throat, she heard Mrs. Connelly ask him why he had done it, and he said, “I don`t know, I feel in the road”. She got hold of him and said “Oh! Jack, you`re not in the road”.

RESULT OF THE POST MORTEM – Dr. Tindall said he had held a post-mortem on the body and found that the man had died of bronchial pneumonia and heart disease, and did not think the throat cutting had anything to do with his death. The razor had not cut through any important blood vessels or opened the wind pipe, or done any important damage at all. In his opinion death was due to natural causes. P.C. Garth also gave evidence.

The Coroner (Mr. J. Parker) remarked that the general experience was that throat-cutting caused death, but it seemed that in this case, the wound was more or less superficial. The man must have been ailing very badly from bronchial pneumonia and heart disease, and those things, the Doctor said, had caused his death. A verdict of ` death from natural causes` was returned.

Note; “in the road”, a local expression meaning “in the way or a being a burden/nuisance”.

John was later buried in Our Lady and St. Patrick`s Roman Catholic Churchyard in Walton le Dale.


After the war John`s mother Margaret Brogan took receipt of her son`s 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals to which he was entitled.

His name was also later recorded on Our Lady and St. Patrick`s Church War Memorial.

our-lady-and-st-patricks-church-war-memorial our-lady-and-st-patricks-church-war-memorial-panel

Rank: Private
Service No: 3482
Date of Death: 21/09/1915
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 4th Bn.

Janet Davis
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