Tuesday 23 January 2018

Lt Colonel Cadogan-Rawlinson

Roger John Edward Cadogan was born on 24 August 1898 at Bath in the county of Somerset. His parents were John Hebert Cadogan (1866-1912) and Alice Rawlinson (1873-1951). In 1931 Roger Cadogan changed his name by Deed Poll to Cadogan-Rawlinson adopting both his parent's surnames.
In December 1941, he was a Lt-Colonel and commanded the 5th Battalion of the 7th Rajput Regiment in Hong Kong. When the war started his battalion was on the right flank of the Gin Drinkers Line. His battalion formed a rearguard during the subsequent evacuation of the Mainland Brigade under fire. Once back on Hong Kong Island,  his battalion was given the difficult task of defending the heavily bombarded northeast shore and manning the pillboxes along that stretch of shoreline from North Point to Shau Kei Wan. It was on this stretch of the Island shoreline that the Japanese made their landings on the night of 18 December 1941. The Rajput defenders were outnumbered by ten to one as more than 8,000 Japanese troops including six infantry battalions landed in his battalion sector. His Battalion HQ had been located at Tai Koo Police Station. He and his staff officers were pushed back up Mount Parker Road. Cadogan-Rawlinson ascended Mount Butler and then turned westwards on the ridge path hoping to reach Jardines Lookout (JLO) and then drop down to Tai Hang where his reserve company had been based. He hoped to reassemble what was left of his battalion.  However, by dawn on 19 December, he found the Japanese advancing up the north face of Jardines Lookout and blocking his route to Tai Hang. After helping to deploy a platoon of Winnipeg Grenadiers who were manning the col between JLO and Mount Butler, he headed south on a trail that led to Stanley Gap Road (now known as Tai Tam Reservoir Road). He went past the abandoned batteries on Stanley Gap Road and down to Gauge Basin which was being held by what was left of No 1 Platoon from No. 1 Coy HKVDC and the Coy HQ of No. 1 Coy, commanded by Captain Harry Penn. There were also two 3.7-inch howitzer batteries still in action at and around Gauge Basin. He then proceeded down to the lower reservoir and the Tai Tam X-Roads. 

At Bridge Hill shelters, situated near the X-Roads, he put a call through to Brigadier Wallis, the commander of East Infantry Brigade. Wallis had previously commanded the 5th Battalion of the 7th Rajput Regiment before being promoted to Brigadier. Cadogan-Rawlinson had taken over command of the battalion only a few months earlier when following the arrival of 2,000 Canadian troops a decision had been made to reorganise the infantry into two brigades. Wallis knew Cadogan-Rawlinson well having served together for many years in the same Indian Army regiment. Wallis had decided to withdraw his brigade to the Stanley Perimeter as he faced a very real prospect of all troops in the eastern sector being cut off by the rapidly advancing Japanese who were already firing into his HQ area at Tai Tam Gap. He asked Cadogan-Rawlinson and his group of staff officers, orderlies, and stragglers that had been picked up along the way, to hold the dam and the X-Roads until he could get his brigade and supporting artillery personnel safely across the dam. Later Cadogan-Rawlinson was relieved by a Canadian platoon and Cadogan-Rawlinson was brought back to Aberdeen by motor torpedo boat (MTB) and then by truck to Wan Chai where he re-took command of what was left of his depleted battalion. 

I knew about his battle exploits in Hong Kong, but little about his personal life and career. What happened to him after the war I wondered. An internet search revealed little about his life, but I did find that at the age of seventeen he obtained the Royal Aero Club Certificate. He had trained on a Caudron biplane, and alongside his certificate was a photograph of a very young and smartly dressed Roger Cadogan.


Seventeen-year-old Roger Cadogan

Caudron biplane

I saw a reference to his having served in the Royal Flying Corps. Prior to 1917, it was a requirement that a pilot had to have obtained a Royal Aero Club Flying Certificate before he could be granted a commission in the Royal Flying Corps or the Royal Naval Air Service. It is not clear how long he stayed in the Royal Flying Corp or why he later transferred to the infantry. In 1917 he is listed as a subaltern (2nd Lt) in the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry (DCLI).  In 1918 he fought with the 2nd Battalion DCLI at Salonica on the Macedonian Front. He remained with the regiment after the war ended, and in 1922 is listed as a Lieutenant before being promoted to Captain in December 1922. At some stage, he transferred to the British Indian Army most likely in the late 1920s. In 1935 he was serving as a Major with the 7th Rajput Regiment. He continued in the rank of Major until 1941 when he became Lt-Colonel in command of the 5th Battalion in Hong Kong following the promotion of Cedric Wallis to Brigadier.

Lt-Col Roger Cadogan-Rawlinson as an  infantry officer in WW1 (Source: IWM)

After liberation in 1945, Cadogan-Rawlinson returned to Britain. He retired from the Army aged forty-seven, in 1947 on grounds of ill-health, no doubt as a result of three and half years of brutal incarceration in a Japanese POW camp. He passed away, aged only fifty-six, in April 1954, in Ulverston, in the Lake District of Cumbria. He died of a heart attack while fishing. 

In 1929,  he appeared on the electoral roll with the same address that he had provided on the Royal Aero Club certificate in 1915. The address being Evelyn Mansions, London. This is a large, red brick, late Victorian or Edwardian mansion block that still exists, off Victoria Street in the City of Westminster. It must have been his mother's address, as an Alice Millers Cadogan was registered at the same address. She died aged seventy-eight in 1951, only a few years before her son died so prematurely.

He married Moya McGreevy McDowell in 1929.  A passenger manifest (Bombay to Plymouth) in 1932, records him travelling with his wife Moya and one-year-old child (Kenneth). He and Moya had two sons, Kenneth Roger Brook (1931-2008) and Christopher Robert (1936-2010). Cadogan-Rawlinson's address in 1931/32 is given as High Duddon, in Broughton-in-Furness (near Ulverston). There is a Duddon Hall complete with a gatehouse, which may have been his ancestral home. After this blog article was published this was confirmed by Catherine Smith, who found my blog on Cadogan-Rawlinson whilst researching the artist George Romney (1734-1802). She kindly wrote advising:
"Roger was a direct descendant of the famous artist. His grandfather, William Sawrey Rawlinson, inherited Duddon Hall (formerly Duddon Grove) in 1860 from Rev. George Millers, a minor canon of Ely Cathedral. Rev. Millers was the nephew of George Romney and his wife Mary. The inheritance came with the proviso that William Rawlinson’s family bear the name Millers in addition to their own surname. Hence Roger’s mother was Alice Millers-Rawlinson. Duddon Hall is a Grade II listed building. The Hall fell into disrepair after the Second World War, but was restored in the 1980s, and is now divided into apartments."
It was probably during or after WW2 that the family moved out of Duddon Hall and moved to a nearby house called High Duddon, a Victorian country house. In 1986 the house name was changed to Dower House. The house remains today, and the current owners have lived there for 25 years, and run a charming lake-land guest house from the property. They recalled the two sons, Ken and Christopher, visiting at various times when they were in the area.

Roger Cadogan-Rawlinson married secondly to Mary Jane Easton, the daughter of the publican who ran the King's Arms at Broughton-in-Furness. They had one child Martyn Lloyd Cadogan-Rawlinson, born in 1946. At this stage, I have liitle information as to what happened to Moya, or when he married Mary Easton, but presumably the second marriage was in 1945 after his return to UK. 

In 1947, India became independent and there must have been a large number of former British Indian Army officers who were out of a job. These officers, like Cadogan-Rawlinson,  had spent their entire career with the Indian Army. They spoke the languages of their men. Leave was infrequent, and many no doubt looked forward to retiring at the end of their military careers, to a peaceful home in the English countryside, but I suspect that as they strolled the quintessential village green, in the long shadows of those summer evenings, that they sometimes dreamt of the flash of a sabre, of the heat and the dust of the North-West Frontier, and of battles fought long and arduous and half a world away.  


Catherine Smith
Rozanne Nichols

1 comment:

  1. A most interesting and informative piece, Phil. I notice he settled in the beautiful Lake District - as you say, a long way from the North West frontier - and from Hong Kong!