Heritage Guide to The Geelong College

Search the Guide

To find information in this Guide please select one of the green coloured options.

To Select a Page Group when displayed, right click and select 'Open'.

Copyright Conditions Apply.

DOUGALL, Norman S MC (1887-1917) +

DOUGALL, Norman S MC (1887-1917)

Norman Dougall (Pegasus Aug 1917 p25.)

Norman Dougall (Pegasus Aug 1917 p25.)

Norman Dougall was enrolled at Geelong College from 26 July 1898 until 1902. He was Cox of the 1st Rowing VIII in his last year. He was born in Melbourne on 1 January 1887, the son of William Dougall and Mary nee Mitchell. After leaving School he worked in business until his enlistment in the AIF on 14 January 1915.

Paul MacPherson who is reseaching Australian Rules football players in Sydney on behalf of the NSW Australian Football Historical Society contributed the following details about Norman Dougall's activities prior to his enlistment. 'Although we were unable to find out when he moved from Victoria to Sydney he was certainly playing football for the East Sydney club in 1910-13 and his father was living in Sydney during the war period. The Mail reports that Dougall was a 'sterling player'. The Referee of 15 May 1915 notes that Dougall was transferred in his work from Sydney to Perth in 1914 and it was in Western Australia that he enlisted in the AIF'.

Norman Dougall embarked from Fremantle with the 11th Battalion (3rd Reinforcement Group) on HMAT A50 Itonus on 22 December 1915. With the doubling of the AIF in Egypt he was promoted Lieutenant and transferred to 10 Battalion. Early in 1916 he went with his unit to France, where he was awarded the Military Cross at Lagnicourt, gazetted 18 June 1917, the citation read:
‘Near Louverval on the morning of 15th April 1917, Lt Dougall greatly distinguished himself during a strong attack launched against our lines by the enemy. After the posts in his immediate front had been wiped out, he organised and led forward a counter attack with conspicuous bravery and skill, driving back the enemy and undoubtedly saving the situation in this vicinity. He attacked a force of about seventy with his platoon of thirty. His action caused considerable loss to the enemy and stemmed the onslaught. ’

Bean wrote in the Official History of his service there:
'Their tough resistance, however, had enabled a rough line to be formed farther back connecting the supports. To this were brought up shortly after daybreak, the two supporting companies of the 10th (South Australia). Two of their platoons, under Lieutenants Dougall and Wendt, were at once used by Hemingway for dislodging the part of the enemy which had nested itself in the old trench in his front, the attempt being covered by a Lewis gun from the flank. The Germans immediately retired, some surrendering, others running back to the rim of the hill formerly held by the Australian posts. There and in the gullies, for the time being, they held on. The support line of the
11th and its immediate reserves had repelled the attack without overstrain.'

Lieutenant Dougall served until his death at Bullecourt on 6 May 1917. which Bean again described: 'But soon after the disappearance of the flame-throwers the shaken men of the 11th and 12th rallied. Captains Hallahan, Hemingway, and Burgess of the 11th,and Lt Lehmann,were wounded in the fighting, and Lieutenants Dougall and Wendt of the 10th and Daniel of the 11th killed. CSM Fowles of the 11th led the attack along the trench in OG1, men of the 3rd Machine Gun Company and 3rd Light Trench Mortar Battery fighting among the infantry, bombing or working Lewis guns. Lt MacNeil of the Stokes mortars ran forward in the open beside the trench, pelting the Germans with bombs, and then picking up an abandoned Lewis gun he shot at them until the gun was damaged by an enemy bullet. Major Darnell also launched a bombing attack from OG2 down cross-trench 'F' against their flank.'

The circumstances of the award of Norman Dougall’s Military Cross are contained in a letter printed in Pegasus of December 1917:
‘His platoon was sent forward to support the right flank of A Company of the 11th; with forty men he was holding a frontage of 400 yards in disconnected posts. The Huns came at them in great force, and although they stopped them by their fire, about 200 of them got to within 200 yards, and started to dig in. Knowing that no help could come from the rear for a considerable time, Norman saw that he must strike at them first. In broad daylight he walked along that 400 yards and warned every man what he wanted him to do. He was sniped at the whole time, but his pace never altered from a walk. Afterwards he came back to the centre of his position and gave the signal, and they charged (at a walk). They went as if on parade, a straight line, every bayonet at the high port. As soon as they realised what was on, some Huns bolted, some came towards them with hands up, and they established themselves in the trench which the Huns had been digging. His Commanding Officer recommended him for the Victoria Cross, but he was awarded the Military Cross. Poor boy, he never knew he received it, but I know he cared nothing for rewards. Doing his duty was enough for him.’

John Laffin in Guide to Australian Battlefields of the Western Front 1916-1918 wrote:
‘Two of the Diggers buried here (Vaulx Australian Field Ambulance Cemetery), Lt Norman Dougall MC and 2nd Lt Kenneth Wendt1, both of the 10th Battalion, had been prominent at Boursies on 15 April when they led an attack to dislodge a party of Germans who had set up a dangerous post within the Australian line. Both were killed at Bullecourt on 6 May (1917). Wendt, a student, was only 18.’

Lt Norman Dougall was buried at Vaulx Australian Field Ambulance Cemetery - Grave B.18. His Commanding Officer wrote that ‘a finer, braver, or more honourable officer and gentleman never wore the King’s uniform’.

According to his AWM Honour Roll particulars, his brother, Lt William Dougall served in the AIF, and was awarded the Military Cross, although there are no records supporting this on the AWM Nominal or Embarkation Rolls. It is believed however, that Andrew William Dougall (1884-1941) may have enlisted under the name, James Davidson, and served throughout World War I under that name. James Davidson was indeed awarded the Military Cross during World War I. After his return to Australia he appears to have continued using that name until his death in South Australia in 1941.

Norman Dougall’s nephew, Pilot Officer George Alan Dougall (the son of William and Louise Mary Dougall, of Turramurra, NSW), 3 Squadron, RAAF, was killed during the Second World War on 15 July 1942 while serving in the Middle East. His name is commemorated on the Alamein Memorial, which forms the entrance to Alamein War Cemetery. The Air Forces panels commemorate more than 3,000 airmen of the Commonwealth who died in the campaigns in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Greece, Crete and the Aegean, Ethiopia, Eritrea and the Somalilands, the Sudan, East Africa, Aden and Madagascar, who have no known grave.

1 2nd Lt Kenneth Koeppen Wendt, the son of Herman Koeppen and Jane Wendt, of St Peters, South Australia, was killed on 6th May 1917.

A documentary made in 2019, World War I: Behind the Lines, explores the underground refuges in Naors, showing N Dougall NSW 1916 written on the wall of a cave.

Sources: Based on an edited extract from Geelong Collegians at the Great War compiled by James Affleck. pp30-33 (citing C E W Bean, The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-18: Vol IV The AIF in France 1917; Commonwealth War Graves Commission; John Laffin, Guide to Australian Battlefields of the Western Front 1916-1918; Photo Pegasus August 1917 p25); Paul MacPherson 8 January 2015; D. North 2019.
© The Geelong College. Unless otherwise attributed, The Geelong College asserts its creative and commercial rights over all images and text used in this publication. No images or text material may be copied, reproduced or published without the written authorisation of The College.