18th Canadian Infantry Battalion (Western Ontario)
Canadian Expeditionary Force
Middlesex, United Kingdom, England
Barlin Communal Cemetery, France
Thomas Dougall was born in Middlesex, England, on 11 November 1897. He was the fourth of Robert and Amy Dougall’s seven children.
Dougall immigrated to Canada in June 1913, at the age of 15, and settled in Guelph, Ontario. A farm labourer, he enlisted in the 18th Canadian Infantry Battalion (Western Ontario) on 24 October 1914 in Guelph. Although his attestation paper states that he was 18 years old, he was in fact only 16. Interestingly, his attestation paper has the correct date of birth.
On 18 April 1915, Dougall sailed to England with his unit from Halifax, Nova Scotia, on SS Grampian. They arrived in England on 29 April 1915, and the battalion proceeded to Folkestone, Kent, for further training and final preparations for service in France. While in Folkestone, Dougall forfeited seven days’ pay for being away from the barracks without leave.
Dougall embarked for France with the 18th Battalion on 14 September 1915, arriving the following day. In late May 1916, he was hospitalized for a week with a sprained knee. Soon after returning to duty, he was appointed acting corporal for a month (July 1916). Demonstrating his leadership skills, Dougall was commissioned as a temporary lieutenant on 17 February 1917. Some three months later, the President of France awarded Dougall the French Médaille militaire for “distinguished services during the course of the campaign”.
On 17 August 1917, Dougall was wounded in the head, arms, back and spine by a shell, during the Battle of Hill 70. He died two days later at No. 6 Casualty Clearing Station. In recording Dougall’s death in the 18th Battalion’s war diary, the unit war diarist stated, “[Dougall’s] courage and energy had been a great source of pride in the Battalion and his work had been of greatest value, not only to the Battalion, but also to Brigade and Division.” An examination of the war diary indicates that these were not simple platitudes. In the days preceding his death, for example, Dougall had led numerous scouting missions and raids across No Man’s Land. According to the war diary, during those missions, he had gathered important intelligence about German positions and captured a number of prisoners. It was not the first time he had performed such feats.
Dougall’s skill and bravery were recognized on 26 September 1917, when he was posthumously awarded the Military Cross.
Thomas Dougall is buried in Barlin Communal Cemetery, in France.
“For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He made two valuable daylight reconnaissances into houses in No Man's Land and discovered machine gun emplacements, dug-outs and tunnels, as well as two trench mortar emplacements, upon which he was able to direct our artillery fire with great success on returning to our lines.”
– London Gazette, 8 January 1918, Supplement 30466