A third commemorative paving slab dedicated to the Plymouth and Devonport-born soldiers who received the Victoria Cross for their courage during World War I was unveiled on the Hoe earlier today.
The slab is in memory of George William St George Grogan, VC, CB, CMG, DSO & Bar (1 September 1875-3 January 1962) and is located near the Plymouth War Memorial, at the junction of Citadel Road and Lockyer Street.
Grogan was born in Devonport to a military family. His father would go on to command ‘The Black Watch’ during the South African, or Second Boer War (1899-1902). His mother was the daughter of the departing Admiral-Superintendent at the Naval Dockyard.
Grogan served in the Worcestershire Regiment, first as a Major with the British Expeditionary Force in September 1914, rising to Brigadier-General in April 1917. He was wounded in action in early 1915, but returned to serve with great distinction and bravery at the Somme and Passchendaele. He had already received a number of honours before he took part in the action that would award him the Victoria Cross.
During an intense period of fighting at the Third Battle of the Aisne from 26-28 May 1918, he showed “…most conspicuous bravery and leadership…” inspiring his men in the defence of a hill at Jonchery in north eastern France.
Grogan’s military career continued until 1926. From 1939-45 he then served as Honorary Colonel of the Worcestershire Regiment. He died on 3 January 1962 in Berkshire.
Nicola Moyle, Head of Heritage, Art and Film said: “George Grogan showed great courage during his time serving in France during the First World War. It was an honour for the city to pay tribute to him today and reveal yet another commemorative slab in memory of someone who had connections to Plymouth and such a long and distinguished military career.”
The Worcestershire Regiment is an antecedent of today’s Mercian Regiment. Junior leaders and soldiers from the First Battalion, based at Bulford, took part in the unveiling ceremony which was led by Lord Mayor, Councillor Sam Davey and attended by a number of George Grogan’s descendants.
Major Andy Ryan, Officer Commanding C (Kohima) Company, said, “Maintaining a link with those who have soldiered before us is of great importance. It serves to illustrate the standard of professionalism that can be achieved in difficult circumstances with both humanity and humility. The courage, determination and leadership shown by George Grogan is an inspiration to us all and that spirit is carried forward in the Mercian Regiment.”
Plymouth will have a total of four commemorative VC slabs by the end of 2018. It unveiled the first in 2015 in memory of Sergeant Alfred Joseph Richards who served at Gallipoli. The second slab was unveiled in April 2018 in memory of Captain John James Crowe who served on the western front. The final slab will be unveiled in honour of Brigadier Sir Arnold Horace Santo Waters on 3 November.
The commemorative slabs are part of a national initiative from the Department for Communities and Local Government to honour Victoria Cross recipients from the First World War. The slabs are being laid in the birth places of all those awarded the Victoria Cross during the conflict.