The Irish Brigade web site is delighted to have been contacted by the son of Lieutenant Robert Hogan MM, who served with the London Irish Rifles and the Royal Irish Fusiliers in North Africa and Italy from 1942 to 1945.
Robert had received a field commission at the end of the Tunisian campaign before joining up with the Faughs in September 1943 as they prepared to move onto the Italian mainland.
In his note, Patrick Hogan told us: “My father, who died in 1965, was not one to talk about the war but the little he told me is now put into perspective, not least his sadness at losing comrades in arms, particularly in January and February 1943.
I have his Military Medal, but there is no citation, just a typed note from Buckingham Palace signed ‘George R I’. It is good to confirm the circumstances which had only been alluded to by a wartime friend of my father’s whom I met only once. I also have his Africa Star, Italy Star, 1939-45 Star and War Medal 1939-45.”
In fact we can provide details of Robert Hogan’s actions that resulted in the award of the Military Medal:
“On the 26 Feb ’43 at about 1000 hours, the enemy had captured Stuka Ridge and were in occupation. Troops of F Coy 2 LIR were prisoners or casualties or had retired. The 4.2in mortars and the artillery OP had been over run. Cpl Hogan commander of a 3″ Mortar Det, remained. He went to the 4.2in mortar Det OP and ordered fire down onto the position. This OP was in the middle of the position, thus he was bringing down fire which was likely to kill him in order to restore the situation. He succeeded and survived. His gallantry and cool headed-ness prevented a break-in.”
Patrick goes on to say in his note to us: “On your site is a reference to a Sergeant R Hogan falling at Bou Arada in January 1943. This would tie in with the timeline of my father being out of service until February when he won the MM, by a near suicidal action, following the deaths of many of his colleagues which he learnt about on his return and which I know affected him deeply…. He had three friends from the war, two who told me he had saved their lives..the first of these was a Colin Gunner from Coventry…”
In fact, Colin Gunner had referred to Robert Hogan in his memoirs, ‘Front of the Line’: “A different kettle of fish was Bob Hogan from London, who although nominally a lieutenant leading a platoon, commanded more authority and respect than any other subaltern. He was much older than all the others of that rank, wore a Military Medal and had been commissioned in the field in Africa. The air of a sergeant still clung to him but I noticed that time and again, the eyes of the old hands turned to him for confirmation of an order. As for me, I followed him blind.”
A most remarkable testimonial indeed for a most remarkable soldier.
Faugh a Ballagh.