Douglas or Dougie was called at school was a fine scholar and talented sportsman. His school reports highlight a young man of outstanding character: prefect, top scholar, talented gymnast and lightweight boxing champion; in 1911 he was school Dux. Douglas completed a law degree at Victoria University College before deciding to sign up for the army for the experience of traveling. He was accepted for military service, at the second attempt, in early 1916. He was commissioned as an officer.
Fighting and failing
Sadly he died as a 24 year old in the Canterbury Infantry Regiment during a successful attack that he lead on Gravenstafel Spur on 4 October 1917.
He was described by a fellow officer that he showed ‘great dash and initiative’ in leading his men against an enemy machine-gun post in a farm building. He was killed ‘just as the position was practically taken'. Dougie was for commissioned as an officer at first but moved his way up the ranks, he made it to second Lieutenant.
Dougie was buried in the Dochy Farm Cemetery. The surrounding landscape today is a far cry from the wasteland of 1917. Back then it was a barren muddy landscape, littered by shell holes that quickly filled with water and became graves for many men.
Written by George Gempton 9TW