Henry Edward Manning Douglas

QSA, 1914-15 Star, BWM, VM,
1911 Coronation Medal, 1937 Coronation Medal,
Croix de Guerre avec Palme (France),
Order of Red Cross,
Order of St Sava (Serbia)

Henry Edward Manning Douglas
Original source unknown

Henry Edward Manning Douglas, son of George Alexander and Elizabeth Douglas, was born on 11 July 1875 in Gillingham, Kent. (GRO Reference: Sept 1875 Medway 2a 482). He had eight known older siblings: Anne Jane, William, George Alexander, Julia Mary, Elizabeth Frances, Ellen Louisa, James Joseph and Charles Francis, as well as a younger sister Margaret Lloyd.

Four years before he was born, his father was employed as a Prison Warden in HM Chatham Prison. The family's address was "F9 Wardens Drive, Convict Prison". Ten years later Henry's father George had been promoted to Chief Warden in HM Woking Prison where he lived with his family in "21 Prison Street". On the 1871 and 1881 census returns, Henry's parents and eldest sister Anne Jane places of birth were given as Ireland, and the rest of the family's as Gillingham Kent. After being educated in Edinburgh, Henry took the Scottish triple qualification in 1898.

On 28 July 1899 Henry, aged 24, enlisted in to the Royal Army Medical Corps as a Lieutenant. By the 11 October 1899 the Second Boer War between the British and the descendants of the Dutch settlers, the Boers, had started. Their 'argument' was mainly over the rights of British settlers in the Transvaal Republic. At dawn on 11 December 1899, at what would become known as the Battle of Magersfontein, British troops attempted to capture a Boer position in order to relieve the diamond-mining town of Kimberley. It was here that Henry, who was wounded himself, acted with great bravery and advanced on to the open plain to attend to the wounds of Major Robinson, Captain W. E. Gordon of the Gordon Highlanders, and many other wounded men under a hail of bullets. In total, 120 British soldiers were killed and 690 wounded. For his bravery, Henry was awarded the Victoria Cross (VC), which was instituted, by Queen Victoria, on 29 January 1856 as the highest award that can be awarded to any member of the British and Commonwealth forces for "gallantry in the face of the enemy".

British Medical Journal - 6 April 1901
British Medical Journal - 6 April 1901

In addition to this, he was mentioned in despatches, received the Distinguished Service Order (DSO), and the Queen's Medal with two clasps.

The following appeared in the London Gazette on 29 March 1901:
"Henry Edward Manning Douglas, Lieutenant, Royal Army Medical Corps. On the 11th December 1899, during the action at Magersfontein, Lieutenant Douglas showed great gallantry and devotion, under a very severe fire, in advancing in the open and attending to Captain Gordon, Gordon Highlanders, who was wounded, and also attending to Major Robinson and other wounded men under a fearful fire. Many similar acts of devotion and gallantry were performed by Lieutenant Douglas on the same day".
After the Second Boer War ended with a British victory on 31 May 1902, Henry, on his return to England, did duty for a while at St George's Barracks, London. He was promoted to Captain on 27 July 1903 before leaving for active service in East Africa with General Egerton's command in Somaliland [1903-1904] and at the Battle of Jalahalli in India [1904-1908].

After this last battle it would seem that Henry decided to have a break from his military life and, as part of a group of thirty-six men lead by Robert Sterling Clark (1877-1956), took part in a sixteen-month expedition to North China. (Robert and his brother Stephen were heirs to the Singer Sewing Machine Company that had been started by their grandfather Edward Clark). Henry, who was described as a doctor and meteorologist, joined Robert Sterling Clark, Nathaniel Haviland Cobb (an artist from Vermont), George A. Grant (a translator and general manager), Arthur de Carle Sowerby (a naturalist), Hazrat Ali (a surveyor) and 30 labourers in September 1908 for the start of a scientific expedition that covered nearly 2000 miles (3200km) travelling westward from in the city of Taiyuan to Lanzhou and back again. The team travelled mainly on horses and mules collecting on their way zoological and botanical specimens while recording meteorological data and mapping this then uncharted huge area of China. An image of Henry and the other members of the Clark expedition to Yulin Shaanxi Province is held in the Smithsonian Institution Archives.

A complete documented account of their journey was published in 1912 Through Shen-kan: The Account of the Clark Expedition in North China, 1908-9 (London and Leipzig: T. Fisher Unwin 1912)

Henry was aged 35 and a resident in the Royal Army Medical College, Grosvenor Road Westminster when the 1911 census was taken. He was later that year promoted to Major.

Henry returned to the battlefields in the Serbo-Turkish War of 1912-1913 and with the Greek forces in the Serbo-Bulgarian War of 1913 in which he received the Serbian Red Cross and the Order of the Samaritan.

On 1 March 1915 he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and on 1 January 1918 to Brevet Colonel. Henry was also a "Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George", as well as receiving the Croix de Guerre with palms, and the Serbian Order of St. Sava as reported in the London Gazette.

British Medical Journal - 5 February 1916
British Medical Journal - 5 February 1916

From 1926 to 1929, Henry was a Consultant at the Royal Army Medical College Millbank London. During this time, on 27 March 1926, he received promotion to the rank of Colonel.

Three years later, on 12 October 1929, he was promoted to the rank of Major General, and became the Deputy Director of Medical Services at Southern Command in India.

Aged 60, Henry retired from the Army on 13 October 1933. His retirement was short-lived and three years later he died on 14 February 1939 at St Andrews House Droitwich Worcestershire (GRO Reference: Mar 1939 Droitwich 6c 253). He was buried three days after his death in Epsom cemetery in the same grave, H132A, as his late brother, George Alexander Douglas, who had died on 23rd October 1927 in the City of London Mental Hospital, Stone Dartmouth, Kent. Their headstone reads:

Henry's grave in Epsom Cemetery
Henry's inscription in Epsom Cemetery
Henry's grave in Epsom Cemetery
Images courtesy of Clive Gilbert © 2011

(R.A.M.C.) C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O.
BORN JULY 11TH 1875,
DIED FEBY 14TH 1939.
DIED OCTR 23RD 1927.

There is also a plaque at the foot of the grave that reads:


Their sister, Margaret Lloyd Davey was the wife of Alfred John W Davey, of 21 St Martins Avenue Epsom Surrey. She had purchased the grave space for George on 25 October 1927 when she was living at Low Wood Banstead Road Ewell Surrey. No marriage records have been found for either brother, so presumably their sister Margaret was their next of kin, hence their burial in Epsom cemetery.

The following obituary was published on 25 February 1939 in the British Medical Journal :

British Medical Journal - 25 February 1939
British Medical Journal - 25 February 1939

Numerous articles have stated, or quoted, that Henry Edward Manning Douglas was the son of "George Alexander Douglas of Kingston Jamaica" and this is even inscribed on Henry and his brother George's headstone in Epsom cemetery. I have not found any official documentation to support these statements. From the two censuses that I found, their father George Alexander Douglas was enumerated as coming from Ireland, with no mention of Kingston Jamaica.

Commemoration plaque for Lt Douglas in the RAMC Memorial Grove at the National Memorial Arboretum
Commemoration plaque for Lt Douglas in the RAMC Memorial Grove at the
National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire
Images courtesy of Clive Gilbert © 2011

Henry's Medals the RAMC Museum Keogh Barracks Mychett - Click to enlarge.
Henry's Medals the RAMC Museum Keogh Barracks Mychett - Click to enlarge.
Image courtesy of Clive Gilbert © 2011

British Medical Journal
This article was researched and written by Hazel Ballan ©2011

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