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10674 Private John McDougall 1st Battalion

10674 Private John McDougall 1st BattalionJohn McDougall was born in Preston in 1896 the son of Dougall McDougall and Margaret Ann Oddie. Margaret Ann already had a daughter Maggie (1882) prior to her marriage to Dougall at St. Thomas`s Church in Preston on the 12th August 1888. The couple went on to have a further eight children but sadly only five of them survived; Harriet Jane (1889), Peter (1890-1891), Herbert (1891-1892), Walter (1893), Thomas (1894), Henry (1895-1896), John (1896)* and Mary Sophia (1899).

Dougall and Mary Ann were both working in a cotton mill in 1891 and living at 208 Brook Street with their two daughters, Maggie aged 8 and Harriet aged 2. By 1901 the family, having increased in size had moved to 27 Parker Street. John`s parents were still employed in a cotton mill and eighteen year old Maggie had joined them, whilst Harriet, Walter, Thomas, John and Mary all attended school.

At some point between 1901 and 1911 most of the McDougall family left Preston and went to live at Fell Brow in Longridge. The family in Longridge consisted of Dougall and Margaret Ann, eighteen year old Walter, fourteen year old John and twelve year old Mary and they were all cotton mill workers. The eldest daughter Maggie had married Edmund Foxcroft Littlefair in 1910 and John`s sister Harriet was living with Maggie, Edmund and their baby son Henry in Barlow Street in Preston. John`s older brother Thomas had also remained in Preston and was working as a cotton spinner while boarding with the Waters family in Stanhope Street.

After war was declared John joined the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and was issued with the service number 10674. Unfortunately his papers have not survived so precise information is not available. John disembarked in France on the 22nd September 1914 as one of many reinforcements for the 1st Battalion.

Exactly three months later John was posted missing after the 1st Battalion had been involved in action at Givenchy on the 22nd December 1914. The total number of casualties on this date was 89 men killed and 320 wounded or missing. Read an account of the action here

The news that he was missing would eventually reach John`s family back in Longridge but it would have been a number of weeks if not months before confirmation arrived that he was a prisoner of war.

Although the excellent Red Cross POW records have information on many men who had been taken prisoner, none appear to exist for John McDougall. However, it does seem that John remained a prisoner for the duration of the war and unlike many of the men he was very fortunate to survive and eventually return home.

In 1919 a Preston Guardian newspaper reporter interviewed John about his experiences as a prisoner at the hands of the enemy. The piece was entitled “HUN CRUELTIES”

LONGRIDGE WAR PRISONER`S STORY

“Pte J McDougall LNL Regiment who lives in Fleming Square, Longridge was taken prisoner by the Germans during the first Battle of La Bassee on 22 December, 1914. This week he related to a Preston Guardian representative some of his experiences during his long captivity. He was interned in Wittenburg Camp, and sometime after his arrival a particularly virulent form of typhus broke out – no surprising matter in view of the conditions prevailing in the camp. There were 15,000 prisoners including 500 Englishmen. When the epidemic made its appearance the medical staff at the camp with typical Teutonic cowardice, deserted the place, and though the guards remained on duty they never ventured into the camp itself. Without any competent persons to combat the plague, practically the whole of the people in the camp were attacked, and thousands died. Six British Officers who had been captured worked day and night to check the ravages of the disease – and three of them died as a result of their heroism. The dead had to be buried hurriedly, and in many cases it was not possible to keep a record of all who died.

While this horror was at its height German Officers amused themselves by throwing pieces of bread over the compound wires and watching the starving men scramble and fight for it. Private McDougall expresses the opinion that but for the action of the British Officers the camp would have been almost wiped out with the disease. He himself was a victim, and though he recovered he was terribly emaciated and weak. A symptom of the illness was deafness and on one occasion he had not heard the alarm sound for prisoners to keep in their bunks, and when he and a comrade stepped out five rounds were fired off at them, fortunately without effect.

A marble monument bearing the names of the English prisoners who succumbed to the typhus was erected at a cost of 2,000 marks, the whole of the sum being subscribed by the prisoners out of the few coppers per week they were paid as wages.

On one occasion he lay helpless in bed suffering from pneumonia when a German guard came to him and told him he was not sick but shirking. He ordered McDougall to get up and go out to his work and when the helpless prisoner failed in the effort to raise himself the guard struck him a violent blow with the butt of his rifle. The Hun dragged McDougall from his bed, again struck him with the rifle, and when he realised the helplessness of his victim, walked away and left him lying on the floor. Russian prisoners had to put him into bed again.

A Private named Dugdale from Blackburn, whilst suffering from influenza was given light work by the medical officer but the guards put him on the heaviest labour and increased the hours of work. He had not fully recovered from a wound in the back, and it was a favourite trick of the guard to hit this prisoner violently with the flat of his bayonet over the old wound. On the slightest provocation the threat of shooting was issued.

During the whole of the period of captivity food was scarce and bad. The usual ration was a few pieces of boiled turnip and a portion of the liquor and one tenth of a black loaf. Alternately there was a meal soup which the prisoners called sand soups and another soup had as its principal constituent an evil smelling shell fish, the name of which was not ascertained.

Private McDougall attempted to escape on four occasions but was recaptured and sent to solitary confinement. Whilst under punishment a small thin piece of black bread – about three inches square and a drop of water was the only food issued. At another period he developed further illness and on February 22nd last year (1918) was sent to Alten Grabow, with his category card stamped “unfit for work”. On arrival at this camp, despite their apparent sickness they were forced to fell trees. The torments of Wittenburg were continued here and the treatment resulted in McDougall`s companion losing his reason.

When McDougall was 18 years of age he weighed 9st 1lb and whilst at Wittenburg he was reduced to 7st 2lb. He is still suffering from the effects of the treatment he received. The photograph reproduced (top of page) was taken when Private McDougall was recovering from an attack of pneumonia”.

After the war John McDougall was awarded the 1914 Star with Clasp together with the British War and Victory Medals in recognition of his services for his country.

In 1923 John married Edith Barker in Preston and the couple went on to have their own family. John McDougall died in 1970 and Edith in 1989.10674 Private John McDougall 1st Battalion 2

201090 Private Walter McDougall 2/4th Battalion

201090 Private Walter McDougall 2-4th BattalionWalter McDougall enlisted into the 4th (Territorial) Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment on the 24th November 1914 agreeing to serve a term of 4 years. His home address at the time was 5a Moss Street in Preston. At his medical inspection it was noted that he was 5`6” tall and he was said to be in good physical condition. He passed his medical inspection and was initially allotted the service number 3373 which would later become 201090.

Walter was then posted to “C” Company of the 2/4th Battalion and he signed his agreement to serve abroad on the 18th May 1915 while the Battalion was in training at New Oxted.

He sailed from Southampton to Le Havre with the 2/4th Battalion on the 7th February 1917 arriving at Le Havre in the early morning of the following day, the Battalion coming under the command of the 170th Brigade in 57th (2nd West Lancashire) Division.

Walter`s papers show that he was wounded (shell shock) on the 11th June 1917 but just two days later he had re-joined his Battalion in the field. On the 31st July 1917 he was awarded 28 days Field Punishment No.1 for the offence of “having been in possession of whisky”.

Sadly, Walter died on the 12th September 1917 when the Battalion was in the trenches in the Armentieres area.

Walter was later buried in Erquinghem-Lys Churchyard Extension and his mother had the following words inscribed at the foot of his headstone;

“GOD BE WITH YOU TILL WE MEET AGAIN”

Margaret Ann McDougall took receipt of her sons British War and Victory Medals to which he was entitled and she would also have received his Memorial Plaque and Scroll in recognition of his service and sacrifice for his country.

Walter is also remembered on the War Memorial Plaque inside St. Lawrence`s Church in Longridge.St. Lawrence`s Church in Longridge panel

Rank: Private
Service No: 201090
Date of Death: 12/09/1917
Age: 24
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 2nd/4th
Cemetery: ERQUINGHEM-LYS CHURCHYARD EXTENSION

Author’s Note: Photographs of John Mc Dougall taken in his later years and Walter McDougall have been reproduced with the kind permission of Bill Elleray a relative of the brothers.

Janet Davis

Janet Davis

Janet Davis has been researching her family history for many years and through this she discovered many relatives who served in WW1. This interest then led Janet to do many walking the battlefield tours with her husband. In April 2013 she discovered this website and volunteered to help. Janet believes that there are lots of stories still to be told, most of them very sad but at the same time they are a fascinating insight into the men, their families, what they did and where they came from.
Janet Davis

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4 Responses to The McDougall Brothers of Longridge

  1. Bill Elleray says:

    Janet, thank you for your effort and work of carrying out this research. Pte J McDougall left many descendants, I’ll pass-on the link to these pages and your website. I’m sure they will be thankful for your work.
    Bill

    • Janet Davis says:

      Many thanks for your kind comments Bill they are very much appreciated and thank you once again for allowing us to use the additional photos.

      Kind regards
      Janet

  2. Yvonne Forrest says:

    Thank you Janet for all your research. I have passed this on to our cousins via Facebook. We knew our Grandad had been captured, but did not know anything of what he had suffered. Yvonne Forrest

  3. Sean Boyle says:

    Janet, thank you for your informative article. I came across it while searching for information about my 3rd cousin William Elleray. I am descended from Peter McDougall, Dougald McDougall’s father. My mother was Catherine Macdougall.

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