The Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross

The Victoria Cross
Awarded to Men of Portsmouth
- John Danagher VC -

Headstone on the grave of John Danagher VC
Cemetery Map
Map of Milton Cemetery

Location of Grave:
Milton Cemetery, Portsmouth. Plot M. Row 1. Grave 6.
TROOPER subsequently SERGEANT.
Details of the award:
On 16 January 1881 at Elandsfontein, near Pretoria, South Africa, Trooper Danagher, with a lance-corporal of the Connaught Rangers (Murray J.) advanced for 500 yards under heavy fire from a party of about 60 of the enemy, and brought out of action a private who had been severely wounded.
John Danagher was born in Limerick, Ireland on June 25th, 1860. As a young man he emigrated to South Africa to find work in 1880 where he joined a local militia group, namely Nourse's (Transvaal) Horse and as a member of the South Africa Forces. Little is known of his life from birth to 1881 but the First Boer War was taking place when he won the Victoria Cross with another man, James Murray of Cork, Ireland and was serving at the time with the 2nd Battalion, The Connaught Rangers. It was on January 16th, 1881 at Elandsfontein, near Pretoria, that the action took place in which Danagher and Murray were both to be awarded the medal. The citation appeared in the London Gazette on March 14th of the following year.
It was shortly afterwards that John Danagher transferred and signed on with the 2nd Battalion, The Connaught Rangers with the added bonus of a free ticket back to his home country of Ireland. It was there that the medal was presented to him by His Excellency Earl Spencer K.G., 5th Earl and Viceroy of Ireland, and a member of the same family as Diana, Princess of Wales, at the Curragh Camp in Ireland. At the time of the presentation of his Victoria Cross at the Curragh the Commanding Officer of the Curragh Brigade was Major-General C.C.Fraser VC CB. On the completion of the presentation Private Danagher was called to stand by the Viceroy at the Flagstaff, during the March Past of the whole of the troops at the Curragh and Newbridge.
John served with the Connaught Rangers for twenty-seven years of which nineteen were spent in Egypt and India
John and Bridget Danagher settled in Portsmouth when he retired, as a Sergeant, from the Army in 1908. At first he became the Landlord of The Falcon, a public house which was then next to John Dyer's Emporium at 74 King's Road, in Southsea. It is difficult to determine if he was unsuccessful with the task as within two years he left the premises went to live at 54 Oriel Road, Landport for a while. The opportunity came again to make something of his retirement when, in 1918 he became the Licensee of The Dog and Duck Public House at 115 Fratton Road in Fratton. The Dog and Duck is now (2004) the Nat-West bank and it is noticeable that the bank sign hangs like that of a Public House.
Sadly he was unable to enjoy his retirement as on January 19th, 1919, he died at the Dog and Duck and on the eve of his funeral his body lay overnight in St John's Roman Catholic Cathedral in Edinburgh Road, Portsea. The coffin was described as of polished elm and covered with the Union Flag with his medals pinned on it. On the day of the funeral it was conveyed to the cemetery on an army gun carriage drawn by a pair of horses escorted by an outrider. Four Sergeants of the Connaught Rangers sent from Dover and two Sergeants from the Leinster Regiment acted as pall-bearers. Three volleys were fired over the grave and four Sergeants played the last post. The funeral was conducted by Father Twomey.
Danagher's family consisted of eight sons and one daughter but not all came with him to Portsea Island. His son, John Joseph Danagher served with the Connaught Rangers in World War One and left the Army as a Sergeant-Major. He and his wife Elsie lived at 74, New Road East, Copnor but tragically he died in 1936 as the result of a bus accident on Portsdown Hill and he is buried in Milton Cemetery with his wife Elsie. She died in 1958, aged 59. The grave is close to that of his parents
Bridget, John Danagher's widow died within a week of John Joseph's death at 115 Fratton Road and was buried with her husband and daughter at Milton. Another of his sons Patrick Stephen Danagher died of wounds in action on August 23rd, 1915 at Suvla Bay, Gallipoli while serving as 8545 Sergeant with the 5th Battalion, The Connaught Rangers. He has no known grave and his name is on a memorial in the 7th Field Ambulance Cemetery, Gallipoli. His name also appears on the war memorial plaque in the entrance area of St John's Roman Catholic Cathedral in Edinburgh Road, Portsmouth.