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Royal Engineers


Lieutenant Colonel Edward De Santis
2016.  All Rights Reserved.


       Unless otherwise noted, the details supplied in this narrative were extracted primarily from copies of the officer's service papers (Army Form B199A) obtained from the Ministry of Defence

 and the Army Personnel Centre in Glasgow, Scotland. [1]   Much information also has been derived from Internet sources and from the History of the Corps of Royal Engineers and from the

 histories of the divisions in which Douglas served during the Great War.  An excellent source of information about Douglas’s service in the Great War and a publication in which he is specifically

 mentioned is a book by Major Stuart Love, D.S.O., M.C., R.E. entitled History of the 520th (Field) Company, R.E. (T.F.) Formerly Known as the 2/3rd London (Field) Company, R.E.

 (T.F.), 1914-1918. War
, Narratives Publishing Co., London, 1919.  Major Love commanded the company from the 12th of December 1915. 

Major Stuart Love, D.S.O., M.C., R.E.


 William Douglas (? – 1893), Grandfather of Quentin Douglas

            The family tree of Quentin Douglas is shown in Appendix 1.  His grandfather, William Douglas was born in Scotland and in 1837 he went to London while in his early twenties and began a business in Lowndes Street in 1841 as an upholsterer. [2]   In 1851 William Douglas provided services to the surveyor for the Commissioners for the Great Exhibition.  The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations or The Great Exhibition, sometimes referred to as the Crystal Palace Exhibition in reference to the temporary structure in which it was held, was an international exhibition that took place in Hyde Park, London, from 1 May to 11 October 1851. It was the first in a series of World's Fair exhibitions of culture and industry that became popular in the 19th century and was a much anticipated event. The Great Exhibition was organized by Henry Cole and Prince Albert, consort of the reigning monarch, Queen Victoria. It was attended by numerous notable figures of the time, including Charles Darwin, Samuel Colt, members of the Orléanist Royal Family and the writers Charlotte Brontë, Charles Dickens, Lewis Carroll, George Eliot and Alfred Tennyson. [3]  

            By 1858 William Douglas described himself as an auctioneer and house- and estate agent and in 1859 he declared himself to be a builder instead of an upholsterer in the London Post Office Directory with a “Hans Town works” off Sloane Street as well as his Lowndes Street Office. [4]   In October of 1859 a very lucrative proposal was made to Douglas when Prince Albert toyed with the idea that Douglas should be encouraged to build a hall for the removal to South Kensington of the “Smithfield shows” of the Agricultural Society, for which the requirement to build houses only in that area would be waived.  Unfortunately for Douglas nothing came of the Prince’s idea.  However, in December of 1860 the Prince approved Douglas’s plan for a layout of terrace-houses at Queensberry Place with the provision that he widen the road that he was proposing in his plan. [5]

            It would appear that William Douglas dabbled in the building business while he continued in his primary business of upholsterer.  In fact, in 1861, Douglas still declared himself to be an upholsterer with forty employees.  His private residence was then in Fulham, but he later moved to Barnes. [1]  

            In 1862 Douglas got back into the building trade by constructing an abortive road joining Queensberry Place to Queen’s Gate.  The Commissioner’s surveyor, a Mr. Hunt, found William Douglas troublesome stating that he was “the only Tenant on the Commissioners' Estate who treats all my expostulations with defiance and contempt.” Douglas seems to have gone to work rather leisurely, perhaps because of the depressing prospect of the Great Exhibition building opposite his project. In Queensberry Place (which he named after a mountain of his native Dumfriesshire) Douglas was finishing his first four houses early in 1862: north of Queensberry Mews West and Queensberry Way he received leases of newly covered-in house-sites in 1863–5 (east side) and 1867–8 (west side), and south of that crossing he received leases in 1869. [6]   In 1862 William’s second son John Douglas, the father of Quentin Douglas, was born.

            From 1869 to 1889 William Douglas continued his work in the building trade constructing houses in the Queen’s Gate and Queensberry Place area of London.  The bricks for these houses came from his own brickworks, which was located near Southend and which he had barged up the Thames to Chelsea.  William Douglas had been joined in the business by his eldest son, also named William, and was about to retire when in 1876 his son William died, aged only about thirty-two.  Obliged to continue in the business William Douglas senior never really succeeded in adapting himself to the changing building requirements of the time. [7]

            In 1878 William Douglas occupied the corner house at 57 Cromwell Road as his office and his daughter recalled in the 1950’s how the fast horses that he chose for his yellow and black carriage brought him from their big house at Barnes to the office building in a quarter of an hour. [8]

            William Douglas continued in the building trade until 1888 when he was adjudicated bankrupt.  He was then working as a builder in Chelsea.  The Official Receiver accepted that Douglas had kept books as usually was done in the building trade but Douglas said that he maintained no running profit and loss account.  He stated that “from time to time he drew conclusions in his own mind as to the value of his property, but there was no formal balance sheet made out.”  Douglas attributed his failure simply to the depreciation in the value of his house property from about 1878, and the burden of his mortgage payments.  His liabilities to his principal creditors amount to £657,156. [9]

John Douglas (1862-1928), Father of Quentin Douglas

            John Douglas had been born in 1862 and in 1889 he got into the building business in London much like his father William.  William Douglas died in 1893 but the family connection with Kensington continued.  John took over the builder’s yard in Chelsea and set up an office in 1888 at No. 12 Exhibition Road where a builder’s and estate agent’s business was carried on under his name until 1939.  He built some of the last residences in Queen’s Gate and was, in fact, the contractor employed to reface and alter some of his father’s houses.  In his later years he lived with his family at 12 Woodville Gardens in Barnes, Surrey and became a Kensington Borough Councillor.

            John and his wife Edith (1866-?) had three children; Elsie (1890-?), Quentin (1892-1974) and Phillipa (1900-?).

Quentin Douglas, the Early Years (1892-1914)

            Quentin Douglas was born on the 22nd of April 1892 to his parents John and Edith Douglas of Earls Court, London, S.W. [10]   Quentin was baptized at Holy Trinity Church in the town of Barnes, County of Surrey by Vicar George L. Story. 


Figure 1.  Holy Trinity Church, Barnes, Surrey.


The abode of the Douglas family at the time of Quentin’s baptism was 12 Woodville Gardens in Barnes.  John Douglas’s trade at the time of the baptism was listed as Carpenter; however, in the 1891 Census his profession is listed as Surveyor and Estate Agent. [11]   Table 1 below is the entry for the family of John Douglas in the 1891 Census of England and Wales showing his family members at that time and his domestic servants.

Table 1.  The 1891 Census of England and Wales


Relation to Head of Family

 Marital Status


Profession or Occupation

Where Born

John Douglas




Surveyor and Estate Agent


Edith Douglas






Elsie Douglas





Surrey, Barnes

Albert Douglas




Builder’s Clerk

London, Fulham

Barbara Hanney




Servant, General


Jane Ann Jones




Servant, Nurse


 John Douglas must have been successful as a Surveyor and Estate Agent, following in the footsteps of his father, as he was able to afford two domestic servants in his household.  It would

 appear that his business had not been burdened at all by the debts of his father William.  In all likelihood he started a business of his own that was not connected to his father’s building business

 except for the yard in Chelsea that must in some way have become free from the burden of William’s debts.

            By 1901 the family of John Quentin had expanded and changed as shown in the 1901 Census of England and Wales.  In this census return the family is shown as living at 33 Castelnau.  Castelnau is a road in Barnes, in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, south west London, approximately 5.1 miles west from Charing Cross on the south side of the River Thames. About 1.1 miles long, it is the main road south from Hammersmith Bridge.  It was originally named Upper Bridge Road.

Table 2.  The 1901 Census of England and Wales



Relation to Head of Family

Marital Status


Profession or Occupation

Where Born

John Douglas




Surveyor and Estate Agent


Edith Douglas






Elsie Douglas





Surrey, Barnes

Phillippa Douglas





Surrey, Banes

Annie Ship






Florence Mary Herbert






 It appears that Mrs. Douglas was the primary influence in the selection of domestic servants for the household (as was probably the case with most British households that could afford servants)

 in that a general domestic servant and a nurse to care for the children were no longer required.  Instead Edith appears to have opted for a cook and a housemaid.  She probably cared for her

 infant daughter Phillippa herself and by this time Quentin had been born, had reached the age of 8 and had been sent off to an expensive boarding school, another indication of the success of

 John Douglas’s business ventures.  The 1901 Census of England and Wales also shows Quentin Douglas as a pupil and boarder in a school in Hythe, Kent, although the name of the school is

 not shown on the census return.

            In September of 1905 Quentin Douglas entered Marlborough College, one of the great public schools, and was a pupil there until June of 1909 when he left after the Easter term.  During 1908 and 1909 Quentin was a Private in the Marlborough College Officers Training Corps, already showing an early interest in military service.

Figure 2.  Marlborough College.

            While Quentin was at Marlborough, his family’s address was listed as 29 Langham Mansions, Earl Court Square, London S.W.5. [12]   After leaving school he returned to his family residence where he became an Apprentice in his father’s building trade business.  The family residence at the time of the 1911 Census of England and Wales was 1 Langham Mansions, Earls Court Square, Kensington, London S.W. 

Table 3.  The 1911 Census of England and Wales



Relation to Head of Family

 Marital Status


Profession or Occupation

Where Born

John Douglas





South Kensington S.W.

Edith Douglas






Elsie Douglas





Barnes, London

Quentin Douglas





Barnes, London

Phillippa Douglas





Barnes, London

May Cox





North Kensington

Florence Cox






             After leaving Marlborough College, Quentin attended Chelsea Polytechnic, or Chelsea College of Science and Technology as it was known in 1909 when he attended.  Chelsea College

of Science and Technology
was established as a College of Advanced Technology on a single site on the corner of Manresa Road and King's Road, Chelsea, London SW3.  The site on

Manresa Road had been earmarked for the college as early as 1890 and was opened as South West Polytechnic in 1895 and became the Chelsea Polytechnic in 1922.  Although Quentin

would have attended the college under its original 1909 title, he entered Chelsea Polytechnic on his Army Form B199A some years after 1922 and used the name of the college as it was then


            During 1909 or perhaps in 1910 Quentin began working for Mr. F.K. Williams, an Associate Member of the Royal Institute of British Architects (A.R.I.B.A.).  In 1912 he left the

employ of Mr. Williams and went to work for a short time as a surveyor with the firm of Parry, Black and Parry.  Not satisfied with working for someone else he started his own building,

surveying and estate development firm shortly before the start of the Great War, following in the footsteps of his father and his grandfather.

3.  THE GREAT WAR, 1914-1918

            Shortly after the Great War started in August of 1914, Quentin felt the need to serve his country.  On the 1st of September 1914 he presented himself at a local recruiting station in London and after a medical examination he enlisted as a Driver in the 4th London Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps (R.A.M.C.), a medical unit of the 47th (2nd London) Division.  It is curious that with his technical background he chose to enlist in a unit of the R.A.M.C. rather than in the Royal Engineers (R.E.).  No explanation for his reason to do this has been uncovered during this research work.  It may be that no vacancy existed in the division’s R.E. field or signal companies at the time that Douglas enlisted so he chose to enlist in the medical unit to ensure that he got into the action as soon as possible.    

            The 4th London Field Ambulance, R.A.M.C. was a unit of the Territorial Force with its headquarters at The School of Ambulance, Brookhill Road, Woolwich and Drill Stations in Dartford and Erith.  The 47th (2nd London) Division was part of the First Line Territorial Force formed in 1908. The division had just arrived for its annual summer camp on Salisbury Plain when war was declared.  Units of the division were at once recalled to their home bases and mobilized for war service. The Division concentrated in the St Albans area for training.  Quentin Douglas’s duties as a Driver would have involved him with horse-drawn rather than mechanized vehicles in the unit. [13]

            Driver Douglas served in the R.A.M.C. from September 1914 until February 1915 when he applied for a commission in the Royal Engineers.  The 47th Division had been alerted for active service in France, so Douglas was given another medical examination on the 7th of November 1914 in preparation for the deployment of the 4th London Field Ambulance to the theatre of the war.  He must have applied for his commission sometime during the month of December 1914 as he was required to be medically examined one more time on the 1st of January 1915 based on his application to receive a commission. 

            His desire to serve in the Royal Engineers was probably driven by his technical educations and his work as a builder and surveyor.  The Royal Engineers were glad to have him as these skills were much needed in the division field companies.  Quentin Douglas was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Engineers Territorial Force on the 27th of February 1915.  Immediately upon commissioning he was assigned to the 2/4th London Field Company with the 60th Division at Nutfield, Surrey.  However, before he could report to this unit he was posted to the 4th London Field Company at the Duke of York’s Headquarters in Chelsea, London S.W., a unit of the 47th (London) Division. 

            The 47th (London) Division proceeded to France on the 15th of March 1915, but 2nd Lieutenant Douglas did not go with them at that time.  His unit, the 4th London Field Company was transferred for a short time to the 60th (London) Division prior to the departure of the 47th Division.  In April of 1915 Douglas was assigned to the 2/3rd London Field Company, a field company of the 47th Division that was still in England. [14]   On the 21st of May 1915 he was given, yet again, another medical examination at Colchester in preparation for his transfer for foreign service in France.  On the 22nd of May 1915 he physically joined the 2/3rd Field Company at Shenley in Hertfordshire. [15]  

            The 2/3rd London Field Company went to France on the 23rd of June 1915 and landed at Le Havre.  It proceeded immediately to join the remainder of the 47th Division.  The Order of Battle of the 47th Division is shown in Appendix 2.  The nominal roll of the company as it went overseas shows the following officers: [16]

Captain H.E.T. Agar, R.E. (Commanding Officer)  

Captain A.F. St. J. Kinsey, R.E. (Second-in-Command)  

Lieutenant R.R. Goulden, R.E. (No. 1 Section)  

2nd Lieutenant M. Brachi, R.E. (No. 2 Section)  

2nd Lieutenant Q. Douglas, R.E. (No. 3 Section)  

2nd Lieutenant B. Briant, R.E. (No. 4 Section)  

The complete nominal roll of the original company including Officers, Non-Commissioned officers and Other Ranks also is included in the Appendix.

            It has been assumed that the nominal roll of officers presented above and as shown in Major Stuart Love’s book lists the section officers in the order of the sections that they commanded.  If this assumption is correct, then Douglas’s section unless otherwise noted, probably would have been operating in the vicinity of the 142nd Brigade of the division. [17]

            Each section of the company consisted of the following:  

Figure 3.  A Typical Section of a Royal Engineers Divisional Field Company.

The other Royal Engineers field companies in the 47th Division were the 517th (3rd London) Field Company and the 518th (4th London) Field Company. [18]

            From the 25th to the 28th of June 1915 the headquarters of Douglas’s company was located at Noeux-les-Mines.  His section was attached to the 4th (London) Field Company for battlefield orientation on the 26th of June and remained attached until the 23rd of August 1915.  This attachment essentially took Douglas and his section out of the front line for almost two months.

            On the 1st of July 1915 the company headquarters was located at Les Brébis and by the 31st of July it was back at Noeux-les-Mines.  While at this location the company worked the construction of trenches and dugouts in a defence line running about a quarter of a mile east of   Sailly-Labourse.  All the section officers were ordered to survey a rear defence line. [19]

The Loos Sector

            In August and September of 1915 the 47th Division was involved in the Battle of Loos.  Company headquarters was located at Les Brébis from the 24th to the 26th of August.  During this period Douglas’s No. 3 Section returned to the control of the 2/3rd London Field Company.  During most of the Battle of Loos the company headquarters remained at Les Brébis and was involved in the construction of trenches and the supervision of the infantry battalions in the construction of defensive positions.  It should be pointed out here that R.E. field companies did not have sufficient personnel to construct long lines of trenches.  They provided technical advice to the infantry battalions regarding the location trenches, methods of excavation, shoring and camouflage.  The infantrymen provided the actual manpower to dig the trenches.

            During the 47th Division’s attack in the Loos Salient on the 25th of September 1915, Douglas’s No. 3 cleared Trench 3.  No. 3 Section marked out, and with 250 men of the 4th Welsh Fusiliers as a digging party, dug to cover depth a new defensive flank from Sap 3 to the German line at the foot of the Double Crassier, a distance of 280 yards; and a green canvas screen also was erected to give concealment for subsequent daylight work in the trench.  On the 27th of September No. 1 and No. 3 Sections moved forward to Loos and were engaged with the construction of keeps and the barricading of roads in the village. [20]   

            The 2/3rd London Field Company spent the winter in the Loos Salient during the period from September 1915 through January 1916.  The company headquarters made numerous moves during this period and these moves are summarized below: [21]

Table 4.  Company Locations and Tasks in the Loos Sector (30 September 1915 to 25 January 1916)  



Tasks Performed


30 September 1915

Company relieved from front line duty to rest and for bridge training.

Bracquemont, near Noeux-les-Mines

6 October 1915

General support of the division.

Bracquemont, near Noeux-les-Mines

9 October 1915

Inspection by Lieutenant General Sir H. Rawlinson, commanding IV Corps

Bracquemont, near Noeux-les-Mines

11 October 1915

No. 3 section commenced work on the front line to clear and connect up trenches at 65 Metre Point.  This work continued until the company move to Philosophie at 1500 hours on the 14th of October.


14 October to 2 November 1915

Forming R.E. dumps, laying out support lines, sign-boarding the trench system, and repairing a well-head (1).


12 November to 13 December 1915

Company relieved from the front line, general training, construction of hangars at Auchel, erection of huts at Lillers, and construction of sentry boxes (2).


14 December 1915

General support line work in C Subsector of The Quarries front (3).


3 January 1916

Company relieved from front-line duty.


7 to 9 January 1916

General support of the division.

Les Brébis

12 to 25 January 1916

No. 3 Section was employed on building an extension to the company horse-lines (4).


(1)   No. 3 Section was engaged for eight days deepening, revetting and traversing Posen and Vendin Alley, which were overlooked by the German lines.  The section also did some front-line wiring.
(2)   During December of 1915, Captain H.E.T. Agar was promoted to the rank of Major and remained in command of the 2/3rd Field Company. [22]
(3)   A full description of company operations during this period is given by Love on pp. 16-18 of the unit history.
(4)   The entire company worked on the consolidation of Harrison’s Crater on the 23 January 1916

             Following the Battle of Loos the work of the 2/3rd Field Company consisted largely of revetting (facing the walls of the trenches with sandbags) and the banquette (placing a raised step

 behind the trench ramparts) of various lines, in laying out and supervising the digging of new lines, in maintaining, draining and improving the communication trenches and in the hazardous and

 disheartening consolidation of Harrison’s Crater.  On the 9th of February 1916 Hart’s Crater was blown under and south of the road running from Loos, between Chalk Quarry and the Copse,

 and the consolidation of that crater also fell to the men of the 2/3rd Field Company.  On the 13th of February 1915 the Germans blew a mine beside Harrison’s Crater, which destroyed all the

 work that the company had done there.  On the 15th of February 1915 the company was relieved in the line by the 23rd Field Company, R.E. of the 1st Division.  The 2/3rd Field Company

 marched to Noeux-les-Mines where the dismounted personnel of the unit entrained for Chocques, and from Chocques they marched to a rest area at Lapugnoy.  The company’s mounted

 troops moved by road via Bethune to Lapugnoy.

Vimy Ridge
The Battle of Vimy Ridge began in February of 1916 and on the 15th of that month Douglas’s company was located at Lapugnoy, moving to Brusnes on the 20th of February.  In support of division operations the company moved frequently during the month of March 1916 to the locations shown below: [23]

Table 5.  Company Locations and Tasks in the Vimy Sector
(15 February 1916 to 16 March 1916)



Tasks Performed


15 February 1916

General field training.

Via Chocques to Busnes

29 February 1916

Pontoon training.


2 March 1916

Rest and general field training.


8 March 1916

In billets for one day.


9 March 1916

Work on the front line under German artillery fire (1)


12 and 13 March 1916

In billets for two days.


14 through 16 March 1916

Company in reserve (2).


       (1)   Douglas’s No. 3 Section worked in an isolated portion of the front line on the right of the 2nd Division trenches.

(2)   While at Villers-au-Bois the company ran a motor and helical chain pump at a deep well next to the village church.  It also constructed an emplacement for a 15-inch howitzer and shelter for its crew.  The company also worked on a light railway to run from Carency Station down the Souchez Valley, through the southern outskirts of Souchez village and then southwards up Zouave Valley to the front.  This work occupied the company for the remainder of the time that it spent in this sector.

             On the 3rd of May 1916 the company was warned to undertake a crater consolidation.  No. 2 Section, temporarily under 2nd Lieutenant Douglas, was entrusted with the important task

 of forming forward crater consolidation dumps at the head of communication trenches near the headquarters of the 1/21st Battalion, The London Regiment.  Four craters were to be blown; No.

 1 Section was allotted the two northern ones and No. 3 Section the two southern craters.  Each section had with it forty men of the 4th Royal Welsh Fusiliers (Pioneers) and a carrying party of

 fifty infantry also was placed at the company’s disposal.  All the troops concerned were in their assembly positions by 1630 hours.  At 1645 hours the four mines were fired, the storming parties

 of the 1/21st rushed and held the far lips of the craters, and an hour’s intense barrage was opened.  At 1845 hours the craters were examined to determine the effects of the mines.  Douglas and

 No. 2 Section were sent for as soon as No. 1 and No. 3 Sections and the Pioneers had their consolidation work definitely allotted and were employed on wiring.  Douglas’s men brought up the

 needed supplies to the units working on the craters. [24]

Figure 4.  The Vimy Ridge Craters.

            2nd Lieutenant Douglas was appointed a Temporary Captain on the 9th of May 1916. [25]   On the 26th of May the company headquarters was moved to La Comté and on the 1st of June 1916 Douglas was promoted to the substantive rank of Lieutenant. [26]   By the 3rd of June the company headquarters had moved to La Thieuloye and from the 12th through the 14th of June the company was located at Aix-Noulette.  On the 20th of June 1916 Lieutenant Douglas was appointed Acting Captain and was made Second-in-Command of the 2/3rd Field Company.  The company spent the majority of the summer at Aix Noulette involved with general engineer field works.

Battle of the Somme

            The 2/3rd Field Company was heavily involved in support of operations of the 47th Division from July into October of 1916.  The company made numerous moves as the British offensive on the Somme was underway.  The company headquarters was located at the following villages during the Battle of the Somme: [27]

Table 6.  Company Locations and Tasks in the  Sector
(16 July 1916 to 4 September 1916)



Tasks Performed


16 July 1916

Digging and draining trenches.

La Comté

28 July 1916

No. 3 Section moved up and started the consolidation of the line held by the 1/15th Battalion, The London Regiment (1).


30 July 1916

In rest area.


1 August 1916

Rest and bridge training.


4 August 1916

In billets.


5 August 1916

General engineer field and pontoon training.


20 August 1916

In billets.

Bethencourt St. Ouen

21 August 1916

In billets.


22 August 1916

In billets.


23 August 1916

Worked on the construction of prisoner of war cages.

Bellevue Farm

4 September 1916

Company minus No. 3 Section moves to Bellevue Farm. No. 3 Section continues work on the POW cages.


9 September 1916

No. 3 Section rejoins the company at Fricourt.


14 September 1916

Constructed a company camp.


15 September1916

Company in reserve while the 47th Division attacked High Wood.  Then took part in general engineer works until 20 September.


20 September 1916

In camp after the 1st Division relieved the 47th Division on the front line.


28 September 1916

The company supports the division in its move to the front line to relieve the 1st Division.

Diagonal Trench

8 October 1916

In support of the attack of the 142nd Brigade on the trench.


9 October 1916

The company is relieved from the front line.

Black Wood

10 to 13 October 1916

Road march to Francieres.


15 October 1916


to Princess Patricia Lines

17 October 1916

Road march via Gode-waervelde and Boeschepe

Dickebusch Huts

20 October 1916

Company headquarters remained here until 12 December(2)


      (1)   This position was southeast of High Wood and about midnight on the 28th of July 1918 it received extremely heavy shelling from 5.9-inch, 8-inch and 11-inch howitzers.  Douglas was not wounded during this shelling.

(2)   Two sections were located at Ypres working on the Hill 60 Subsector.

            On the 26th of November 1916 Quentin Douglas went on leave and while on leave he supposedly was posted to command a field company of the 55th Division Engineers.  During the period of time that Douglas served in the 520th Field Company, unit suffered 33 casualties, killed and wounded.  A list of these casualties is provided below.

Figure 5. Company Casualty List, 520th Field Company, R.E. during the Period that Quentin Douglas Served in the Unit.

             The unit history of the 55th Division lists all of the officers commanding the Royal Engineers Field Companies during the war.  Douglas is not listed as one of them.  He was, in fact,

 assigned to the 55th Division Engineers but not as an officer commanding one of the companies.  The field companies of the 55th Division consisted of the following:

·         419th (1st West Lancashire) Field Company
·         422nd (2/1st West Lancashire) Field Company
·         423rd (2/2nd West Lancashire) Field Company

            Douglas’s service papers show that in fact he was assigned to the 419th Field Company on the 12th of December 1916 with the rank of Acting Major.  His acting rank would seem to indicate that he was the O.C. of the 419th, however in January of 1917 he was sent to attend the Royal Engineers Company Commanders Course in Le Parcq, a town in the Pas-de-Calais department in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France.  If he did command the 419th Field Company it was for a very short while, so short in fact that he is not listed as the O.C. in any official or unofficial documents.  Apparently the Commander Royal Engineers (C.R.E.) of the 55th Division Engineers felt that he required more training to be an O.C., hence his attendance at the course.  It is not known how long the course lasted, but on the 5th of May 1917 Acting Major Douglas was posted to No. 3 Reinforcement Company, R.E. in the 5th Army in France and not back to the 419th Field Company.  In September of 1917 he was posted to the Base Depot at Rouen on the disbandment of No. 3 Reinforcement Company, R.E.  While at Rouen he was attached to the Royal Engineers Training School there.  His specific duties at the training school were not determined during this research.

            At this point in his military service in France and Flanders he began a series of assignments which took him out of the division engineers.  In November of 1917 he was appointed the Corps Light Railway Officer within the R.E. Transportation Establishment and was posted to III Corps. 

            Light railways, sometimes referred to as trench railways represented military adaptation of early 20th century railway technology to the problem of keeping soldiers supplied during the static trench warfare phase of Great War. The large concentrations of soldiers and artillery at the front lines required delivery of enormous quantities of food, ammunition and fortification construction materials where transport facilities had been destroyed. Reconstruction of conventional roads (at that time rarely surfaced) and railways was too slow, and fixed facilities were attractive targets for enemy artillery. Light railways linked the front with standard gauge railway facilities beyond the range of enemy artillery. Empty cars often carried litters returning wounded from the front.  The proper operation of such a light railway system at Corps level became the responsibility of Quentin Douglas from this point on in his active service.

            His stay with III Corps was a short one as he was posted as the Corps Light Railway Officer with the British Cavalry Corps on the 1st of January 1918.  On the 7th of March 1918 he was transferred with the same duties to VII Corps and on the 1st of April 1918 he was given temporary assignment with the Chief Engineer, VII Corps to work on defence systems in the corps area.

            On the 1st of June 1918 Quentin Douglas was appointed to the rank of Acting Major and in August he was relieved of his temporary duty with the Chief Engineer, VII Corps and was posted back to duties as a Corps Light Railway Officer (pro tem), this time in X Corps.  In September he received his last posting as the Corps Light Railway Officer in III Corps and shortly thereafter he returned home from France, probably shortly after the Armistice.

            Acting Major Quentin Douglas was demobilized from the Army at London in January 1919.

4.  THE INTER-WAR YEARS, 1919-1939

            Perhaps because of a lack of work to support himself, Quentin Douglas rejoined the Territorial Army in 1919 after a medical examination at London.  Shortly thereafter he married Edith Dorothy Ingram, the daughter of the Reverend Delaval Shafto Ingram (1840-1920) and Elinor Welldon Ingram (1845-?).  Their marriage was registered in Tonbridge, Kent.  The Reverend Ingram was at the time the Headmaster of Felsted School, a position that he held until the 25th of July 1920 when he died in Tonbridge. [28] , [29]

            On the 14th of April 1920 Quentin Douglas was authorized the 1914-15 Star for his service during the Great War [30] and on the 26th of April 1920 he was promoted to the rank of Captain in the Royal Engineers Territorial Force. [31]   Douglas pursued work in his civilian career until April of 1921 when he was embodied to attend a course at the School of Military Engineering (S.M.E.) at Chatham, Kent.  In May of 1921, following completion of the course at the S.M.E. he was posted to the Defence Force at Wimbledon with the rank of Major.  The nature of the course that he attended at the S.M.E. is unknown.

            Douglas was issued the British War Medal and Victory Medal on the 26th of May 1921.  Although the 1914-15 Star had been authorized to him on the 14th of April 1920 he apparently had not received the medal and had to make a special application for it. [32]  His Medal Index Card shows that at the time of his application for the medal his residence was 29 Langham Mansions, Earl’s Court Square, London S.W.5., a rather luxurious building in an exclusive area of London.  How he came to be able to live is such an exclusive area is not clear.  His financial situation apparently had improved significantly between the time he left the Army in 1919 and 1921.  There may have been some family money involved or he may have had some significant success in his civilian occupation. 

 Figure 6.  Langham Mansions, Earl’s Court Square, London S.W.5


Figure 7.  Map of London Showing the Location of Earl’s Court.

            On the 21st of May 1921 Edith Douglas gave birth to their first son, Alexander “Sandy” Shafto Douglas, in Kensington.  Like his father, Sandy Douglas would attend Marlborough

 College when he came of age. [33]   In the autumn of 1921 Quentin Douglas resigned his commission in the Royal Engineers.  He became a property owner in London and began an active life in

 local politics in Kensington.  This would appear to indicate that his financial situation had markedly improved within a very short period of time.

            From 1921 until 1939 Douglas’s domestic life consisted of his work and travel to numerous places.  His mother-in-law, Elinor Welldon Ingram died in Christchurch, Hampshire on the 3rd of April 1925 and his father, John Douglas, passed away in 1928.  Douglas and Edith moved a couple of times during this period with Electoral Rolls showing their residences as 26 Douglas Mansions on Cromwell Road in London in 1921 and then as Nithwater, Talbot Road in Wembley in 1928. 

            Quentin and Edith appear on the manifest of S.S. Adriatic dated the 4th of May 1929 leaving Liverpool and bound for New York.  Their residence is listed as Wembley and Douglas listed his occupation as Surveyor.  Although they are shown on this manifest their names were struck off as they apparently had a change of travel plans.  They are next listed on the manifest of S.S. Baltic dated the 10th of May 1929 leaving from Liverpool and bound for New York, arriving there on the 27th of May 1929.  There seems to be a problem with this manifest in that their crossing of the Atlantic appears to have taken 18 days!  This problem may be resolved, however, as they also are listed on another manifest for S.S. Baltic [34] dated the 18th of May 1929 that shows them departing Liverpool on this date bound for New York and arriving on the 27th of May, a crossing taking only 10 days.  Again, Douglas listed his occupation as Surveyor and his Wembley address on this manifest.

Figure 8.  S.S. (later R.M.S. Baltic)

            It appears that the Douglas’s trip to the United States in 1929 may have been part holiday and part work.  A manifest for the Port of Niagara Falls, New York shows Quentin Douglas entering Canada from Niagara Falls on the 5th of June 1929.  The manifest indicates that he was unaccompanied and that he intended to stay at the Prince George Hotel in Toronto, Ontario. 

 Figure 9.  The Prince George Hotel, Toronto, Ontario, circa 1910.

            Mrs. Douglas may have remained in New York City for sight-seeing or shopping while Douglas was occupied with some business transaction in Toronto.  There is no indication that she

 joined him in Canada, nor has any information been uncovered to show when they returned to England.

            Quentin Douglas appears to have been fully engaged with managing his own estate property from 1932 until 1939 when World War 2 interrupted his life once again.  In 1934 his son “Sandy” entered Marlborough College (B3 House). [35]  

            In 1935 Douglas began traveling abroad again.  On the 17th of October 1935 he sailed from Liverpool aboard S.S. Tuscania [36] bound for Gibraltar.  He and one other person are listed as the only two passengers on the ship.  On the ship’s manifest Douglas listed his occupation as Surveyor and his residences as Cameron House, 4 Ashburn Place, London S.W.7. 

 Figure 10.  S.S. Tuscania.

             It appears that Douglas stayed in Gibraltar about a month as the ship’s manifest for S.S. California shows that on the 19th of November 1935 Douglas boarded this ship in Gibraltar.

S.S. California had originally sailed from Bombay, India before stopping at Gibraltar.  On the ship’s manifest he again listed his occupation as Surveyor and his residence as still Cameron

 House, 4 Ashburn Place, London S.W.7. 


 Figure 11.  S.S. California.

             In 1936 Douglas’s residence again was 29 Langham Mansions, Earl Court Square, London S.W.5.  He also listed a second address, probably an office address for his business at 18

 Ashburn Place.  In 1938 his son “Sandy” graduated from Marlborough College and in September of that year Quentin Douglas joined the Army Officers Emergency Reserve in London.

WORLD WAR 2, 1939-1946

Quentin Douglas was working in Kensington as a surveyor and as the manager of his own estate when World War 2 broke out in Europe.  Apparently eager to dohis bit in this war as well he

 volunteered for service in the Army Officers Emergency Reserve and underwent a medical examination in London on the 24th of October 1939 to determine if he was fit to serve.  He passed

 the examination and rejoined the Royal Engineers on the 7th of November 1939 with the permanent rank of 2nd Lieutenant and the acting rank of Major.  He was issued Army Number

 P/104880.  On this same date he was attached to the 6th Training Battalion, Royal Engineers at Elgin, Moray, Scotland.  His service records are unclear as to whether he actually was posted to

 Elgin or whether his assignment was changed before he could go to Scotland.  It is also unclear whether this assignment would have been for training or as an officer in the battalion responsible

 for training Other Ranks.

            Upon rejoining the colours Douglas was asked a number of questions that were noted on his Army Form B199A.  When asked if he had any special knowledge or experience he listed the following:

            When Douglas was asked about his “Knowledge of Foreign Countries” he responded as follows on his Army Form B199A:  “Travel, independent, but of a sight-seeing order” and he listed the following countries:
·         U.S.A. (New York and Detroit)
·         Canada (Toronto and Quebec)
·         Norway (Bergen and Oslo)
·         Sweden (Stockholm and Gothenburg)
·         Germany (Kiel)
·         South Western Switzerland
·         Northern France and Belgium (battlefields)
·         Gibraltar
·         Morocco

            Under “Business Qualifications” on his Army Form B199A Douglas listed “Surveyor (Building and Quantities), Dilapidations and Leases.

NOTE: “”Dilapidation” is a term meaning a destructive event to a building, but more particularly used in the plural in English law for the waste committed by the incumbent of an ecclesiastical living: the disrepair for which a tenant is usually liable when he has agreed to give up his premises in good repair.  This work most probably was associated with Douglas’s work as an estate agent.

             The Great War campaign service listed on Quentin Douglas’s Army Form B199A included:

            Two additional items were listed on his Army Form B199A.  First, that he was never wounded on active service and second that he received no gallantry awards and was never mentioned in despatches during the Great War.

            On the 3rd of December Douglas was promoted to the rank of Captain, probably while serving with the 6th Training Battalion, R.E.  His next posting came on the 8th of March 1940 when he was assigned to the 104th Army Troops Company, R.E.  He proceeded overseas to France with the 104th Army Troops Company on the 9th of March 1940.   This unit was part of the British Expeditionary Force (B.E.F.) as it was organized on the 10th of May 1940.  Specifically it was assigned to the B.E.F.  Lines of Communications (L.O.C.) Troops under the command of Major General P. de Fonblanque.  Other Royal Engineers units with the L.O.C. Troops at the time were the following:

106th Army Troops Company

110th Army Troops Company

212th Army Troops Company

218th Army Troops Company

Along with:

4 Road Construction Companies

12 Artisan Works Companies

3 General Construction Companies

1 Map Depot

2 Engineer Stores (Base) Depots

Engineer Base Workshop

Forestry Company (1 section)

Line of Communication Depot

            The 104th Army Troops Company along with other units was responsible for supporting the medical base at Dieppe under the control of the Deputy Director of Works of the B.E.F.  One of the most important tasks that the unit was assigned was to get the L.O.C. troops and reinforcements for the B.E.F. under cover before the winter of 1940/1941.  Here of course it was assumed that the B.E.F. would still be a viable force at that time.  Of course all these plans were changed on the 10th of May 1940 (coincidentally the day after Douglas arrived in France) when the Germans invaded Holland and Belgium.  The Anglo-French troops advanced immediately in accordance with a long prepared plan.  The rest is well-known history.  On the 26th of May 1940 the decision was made to withdraw to the Dunkirk perimeter.  By the morning of the 30th of May the whole of the B.E.F. had withdrawn inside the perimeter defences.  As early as the 22nd of May certain units no longer essential for fighting had begun to be evacuated.  Douglas and the 104th Army Troops Company were some of the last to leave France, arriving back in England on the 19th of June 1940. [37]  

            Here we have the extraordinary tale of an officer, 48 years of age, being sent to France with the B.E.F. at the start of World War 2 when surely there were many younger officers who could have been assigned to this duty.  After serving for four years during the Great War of 1914-1918, Douglas found himself in the precarious position of being overrun, killed or captured by the Germans early in the Second World War and having to take part in the historic and heroic evacuation from Dunkirk.  Despite the dangers confronting the men of the B.E.F. during this period, they were not entitled to the award of the France and Germany Star for their service since this medal only was awarded for individuals who served in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands or Germany and adjacent sea areas between the 6th of June 1944 and the 8th of May 1945. [38]

            During 1940 and into 1943, Alexander Shafto Douglas served with a Home Guard unit, “C” Company, The Chelsea and Kensington Battalion of the Kings Royal Rifle Corps with headquarters in the basement of the Royal School of Mines just the other side of Exhibition Road. [39]

            After his return from Dunkirk, Quentin Douglas was transferred to No. 3 Motor Transport Depot, R.E. at Crewe in Cheshire.  On the 22nd of November 1940, while serving with this unit, he was “re-granted” the rank of Temporary Captain. [40]   He was chosen to attend No. 16 Messing Officers Course on the 12th of August 1941, a course that he successfully completed on the 22nd of August. [41]

            Douglas’s next posting came on the 10th of September 1941 when he was assigned to the office of the Chief Engineer, London District and then further posted to the office of the Commander Royal Engineers (C.R.E.) North London.  With this assignment came another change in rank, this time reverting him to his substantive rank of Lieutenant.  This posting also was the start of a number of assignments that Douglas would have within the Works Establishment of the Royal Engineers.

            On the 5th of January 1942 Douglas was posted to the office of the Chief Engineer, London District and on the 21st of January he was reappointed to the rank of Temporary Captain as a result of his taking on greater responsibilities in the Chief Engineer’s office.  He did not remain long in this position and on the 12th of April 1942 he was posted to the officer of the Commander Royal Engineers in North West London and was appointed as the Deputy Commander Royal Engineers with the rank of Acting Major.  On the 12th of July 1942 Douglas was appointed to the rank of War Service Captain in the Royal Engineers and Temporary Major. [42]  

            Although Douglas has been serving in various staff positions in the Works Establishment since September of 1941, it was decided that he should attend the Staff Officer Royal Engineers (Stores) Course, a course that he began on the 25th of January 1943.  This was a short course, lasting only four days and terminating on the 28th of January.  He then appears to have returned to his duties as Deputy C.R.E. in North West London.

            On the 10th of May 1943 Douglas relinquished his appointment as Deputy C.R.E. and reported to the Royal Engineers Depot in Halifax to join an overseas draft.  Now at the age of 51 he was preparing for yet another assignment abroad during war time.  From Halifax he proceeded overseas for service in India with the Eastern Army in Bengal under the command of Sir George Giffard.  En route to India Douglas disembarked at Durban, South Africa on the 25th of July 1943 for “pay purposes” as stated in his Army Form B199A.  While Quentin Douglas was on his way to India, his son Alexander was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Engineers on the 30th of July 1943. [43]

            Quentin Douglas arrived in Bombay on the 8th of August 1943 and on the 26th of that month he was reassigned from the Eastern Army in Bengal, arriving in Delhi on the 28th of August (see Addendum 1).  For his short period of service in the Eastern Army Douglas was awarded the Burma Star medal.  Qualification for the award of this medal required service in the Burma campaign during the period from 1941 to 1945.  This included service in Burma, Malaya, China or Assam and Bengal between December 1941 and September 1945.

            The day after his arrival in Delhi, Quentin Douglas was posted as an Acting Major and Field Engineer in the Engineer in Chief’s Branch.  On the 21st of September 1943 Alexander Douglas’s commission in the Royal Engineers, which he was granted in July of 1943, was changed with his appointment as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Corps of Signals. [44]   The precise reason for this change of Corps is not known, although it may be assumed that it was the result of Alexander’s educational background in the field of electronics.

            On the 10th of October 1943 Quentin Douglas was appointed a Staff Officer Royal Engineers, Grade II, thus relinquishing his duties as a Field Engineer.  He retained his rank of Acting Major with this new assignment.  Douglas remained in this assignment for just over one year and on the 31st of October 1944 he embarked at Bombay for the return trip home from India.  His service record shows that he returned to the United Kingdom on medical grounds although his specific ailment is not indicated.  Douglas arrived in the U.K. on the 4th of December 1944 and was posted to the Royal Engineers Depot (“ex-overseas”) and was placed on leave awaiting a new assignment.  While on leave he was admitted to hospital for treatment, presumably for the malady that caused him to be sent home from India.  He was discharged from hospital on the 6th of December 1944 and was immediately placed on sick leave pending his recuperation.  He was deemed fit to return to duty on the 15th of January 1945 and on the following day he was posted to the office of the Chief Engineer, Scottish Command (Adjutant General’s Pool) pending a vacancy on the Works Service Establishment in the area.  The vacancy occurred on the 17th of January and Douglas was immediately ordered to report for duty with the Commander Royal Engineers, Galloway Area.  Two days after reporting to the C.R.E., Galloway Douglas was posted as the Deputy C.R.E., Dumfries.  On the 16th of February 1945 he was posted from the position of Deputy C.R.E., Dumfries to the office of the C.R.E., Headquarters Scottish Command for duty as the Acting C.R.E., Galloway.  By this time Quentin Douglas must have felt like a bouncing ball, being posted from one area and one assignment to another, spending very little time in any particular assignment.  Things were not going to improve for him.  On the 6th of March 1945 he was given a medical examination, perhaps to verify that he had recovered from the illness that had sent him home from India, or more likely to prepare him for further overseas service. 

            On the 18th of September 1945 he attended the Deputy C.R.E. course at the School of Military Engineering in Chatham, Kent.  It looked like perhaps he was being groomed for continued postings with the Works Service.  However, on the 23rd of September 1945 he returned to Scotland from the School of Military Engineering with orders alerting him for overseas duty once again. [45]   On the 12th of October 1945 Douglas was posted to the Royal Engineers Depot for overseas draft to the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR).  He proceeded to his new assignment on the 31st of October 1945 for service in North West Germany and was taken on the strength of 50 Reinforcement Holding Unit (50 RHU).  Douglas remained in the Holding Unit until the 18th of December 1945 when he was taken on the strength of 203 Works Section, Royal Engineers.  He reported to his new unit on the 10th of February 1946 when the 203 Works Section was re-designated as 203 DCRE (Construction and Maintenance).  Douglas remained with this unit for about a month and a half when he received orders to return home from Germany on the 28th of May 1946.  In the interim period between receiving his orders to return home and his actual release from military service, Quentin Douglas was assigned to 192 CRE (Construction and Maintenance) in North West Europe.  He disembarked in the United Kingdom on the 20th of June 1946 and was struck off the strength of the BAOR on this same date and placed on Class A leave.  Major Quentin Douglas retained his commission in the Royal Engineers following his release from military service and did not relinquish the commission until the 15th of March 1954.

            The following sections of this narrative summarize the major events in the military life of Major Quentin Douglas from the time of his service in the Great War until his final release from military service following the Second World War.


a.  Promotions:  Quentin Douglas received the promotions and changes in rank during his time in service shown in the table below.  The ups and downs in rank are not indicative of Douglas’s poor performance as an officer, but rather they are the result of the unusual British rank system involved with substantive ranks (that is; permanent ranks), temporary ranks and active ranks.

Date of Promotion or Appointment

Rank or Position

The Great War 1914-1921

27 February 1915

Commissioned 2nd Lieutenant, Royal Engineers Territorial Force.

9 May 1916

Appointed Temporary Captain.

1 June 1916

Promoted to the rank of Lieutenant. [46]

20 June 1916

Appointed Acting Captain and Second-in-Command of the 2/3rd Field Company.

12 December 1916

Appointed Acting Major.

1 April 1918

Reverted to Acting Captain. [47]

1 June 1918

Appointed Acting Major.

26 April 1920

Promoted Captain, R.E. (T.F.)

May 1921

Promoted Major, R.E. (T.F.)

Autumn 1921

Resigns his commission

World War 2

7 November 1939

Rejoins the Royal Engineers as a 2nd Lieutenant with the acting rank of Major.  Army Number: P/104880.

8 March 1940

Appointed Temporary Major.

22 November 1940

Reverts to the rank of Temporary Captain.

10 September 1941

Reverts to the rank of Lieutenant.

21 January 1942

Reappointed to the rank of Temporary Captain.

12 April 1942

Appointed Acting Major.

12 July 1942

Appointed War Service Captain, Royal Engineers and Temporary Major.

29 August 1943

Appointed Acting Major.

  b.      Appointments:  Quentin Douglas received the appointments shown in the table below  during his time in military service.  This table includes his appointments and positions that he held

 during both the Great War of 1914-1918 and during World War 2.

Date of Appointment

Position and Unit

The Great War 1914-1918

1 September 1914

Driver, 4th London Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps

27 February 1915

Section Commander, 2/4th London Field Company, R.E., temporarily posted to the 4th London Field Company, R.E.

22 May 1915

Section Commander, 2/3rd London Field Company, R.E.

20 June 1916

2nd in Command, 2/3rd London Field Company, R.E.

12 December 1916

Acting Officer Commanding, 419th Field Company, R.E.

January 1917

Student at the Royal Engineers Company Commanders Course, Le Parcq, France.

5 May 1917

Replacement Officer, No. 3 Reinforcement Company, R.E.

September 1917

Replacement Officer, Base Depot, Rouen, France, attached to the Royal Engineers Training School.

November 1917

Corps Light Railway Officer, III Corps.

1 January 1918

Corps Light Railway Officer, Cavalry Corps.

7 March 1918

Corps Light Railway Officer, VII Corps.

1 April 1918

Staff Officer, Chief Engineer’s staff, VII Corps.

August 1918

Corps Light Railway Officer, X Corps.

September 1918

Corps Light Railway Officer, III Corps.

World War 2

7 November 1939

6th Training Battalion, Royal Engineers.

8 March 1940

104th Army Troops Company.

7 August 1940

No. 3 Motor Transport Depot, Royal Engineers.

10 September 1941

Office of the C.R.E. North London.

2 January 1942

Office of the Chief Engineer London District (Works Establishment)

12 April 1942

Deputy Commander Royal Engineers, North West London.

10 May 1943

Royal Engineers Depot, Halifax.

14 May 1943

Eastern Army, Bengal, India.

29 August 1943

Field Engineer, Engineer in Chief’s Branch, Delhi, India.

10 October 1943

Staff Officer, Royal Engineers, Grade II, Delhi, India.

17 January 1945

Office of the C.R.E. Galloway Area.

19 January 1945

Deputy C.R.E., Dumfries.

16 February 1945

Acting C.R.E. Galloway.

12 October 1945

R.E. Depot (Overseas Draft for British Army of the Rhine).

31 October 1945

50 Reinforcement Holding Unit, North West Germany.

18 Dec 1945

203 Works Section, Royal Engineers.

10 February 1946

203 DCRE (Construction and Maintenance), Northern Europe.

15 June 1946

192 CRE (Construction and Maintenance), Northern Europe.


 Douglas received the following military training during his time in service:


Course of Training

January 1917

Royal Engineers Company Commanders Course

April 1921

School of Military Engineering.

12-22 August 1941

No. 16 Messing Officers Course.

25-28 January 1943

Staff Officer Royal Engineers (Stores) Course.

18-23 September 1945

Deputy C.R.E. Course, School of Military Engineering.


             Major Douglas received the following medals, awards and decorations during his time in service: [48]

Medal or Award

1914-15 Star:  For service in France and Flanders during the Great War of 1914-1918.

British War Medal:  For service in France and Flanders during the Great War of 1914-1918.

Victory Medal:  For service in France and Flanders during the Great War of 1914-1918.

1939-45 Star: For service in World War 2 (issued on 19 June 1944).

Burma Star: For service in Bengal, India during World War 2 (received while serving with the CRE Galloway area).

Defence Medal: For service in World War 2 (received while serving with the BAOR)

War Medal: For service in World War 2 (issued on 19 October 1948).

Coronation 1953 Medal: For serving as the Mayor of the Royal Borough of Kensington.

The medals shown below are in the author’s collection.  They are mounted with their original ribbons just as Major Douglas wore them.  The medals are, from left to right:

The 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal, 1939-45 Star, Burma Star, Defence Medal, War Medal and 1953 Coronation Medal.

 Figure 12.  The Medals of Major Quentin Douglas, R.E.


 Figure 13.  Medal Index Card for Service in the Great War of 1914-1918.


             Major Quentin Douglas was released from service on the 15th of June 1946.  His total service in both World Wars was reckoned as shown in the tables below:


Period of Service


1 September 1914 – 22 June 1915

France and Flanders

23 June 1915 – January 1919


7 November 1939 – 7 March 1940

France (British Expeditionary Force)

8 March 1940 – 19 June 1940


20 June 1940 – 14 May 1943


15 May 1943 – 3 December 1944


4 December 1944 – 30 October 1945

North West Europe

31 October 1945 – 20 June 1946



Period of Service

Home Service

3 years and 342 days

Service Abroad

6 years and 13 days

Total Service

9 years and 55 days


             In 1945, while Major Douglas was serving in Europe, his son Alexander Shafto Douglas married Doctor Audrey Mary Brasnett Parker. [49]   Alexander and Audrey subsequently had

 two children; Shirley F.W. Douglas (1954 - ) and Andrew Malcolm Murrel Douglas (1956 - ). [50]   Andrew married Janice Christine Smoker [51] in 1988 and they had three children;

 Jonathan Andrew Douglas (born in 1989), Paul Alexander Douglas (born in 1992) and Faith Alexandra Douglas (born in 1995).  All of these grandchildren of Major Douglas were born in

 Southampton, Hampshire.

            Following his release from the Army in 1946, Major Douglas took up residence with his wife Edith at 18a Langham Mansions, Earls Court Square, London S.W.5.  In 1950 their address was listed as Estate Office, 159 Cromwell Road, London S.W.7.  During this year their son Alexander was attending the University of Cambridge where he earned a Master of Arts Degree.  Prior to his earning his Masters Degree he had earned a Bachelor of Science Degree at the University of London.  In 1952 Alexander was working on his PhD at Cambridge and wrote a thesis which focused on human-computer interactions.  In 1952 Alexander Douglas, as a professor of computer science, was credited with creating the first graphical computer game OXO (also known as Noughts and Crosses), a tic-tac-toe computer game on the EDSAC computer at University of Cambridge.

            On the 20th of May 1952 Quentin Douglas was elected Mayor of the Royal Borough of Kensington.  He served two terms from 1952 to 1954 and while in this office he received the Coronation Medal in 1953 when Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne.  During this period he also served as a Justice of the Peace and still resided at the 159 Cromwell Road address. [52]     

            Following his studies at Cambridge, Alexander Douglas worked at Trinity College, Cambridge.  In 1953 he was elected as a Prize Fellow of Trinity College and spent a year at the University of Illinois as an assistant professor.  During that same year he was President of the Institute of Mathematics and Applications (FIMA) at Trinity College.  In 1955 he became the Junior Bursar of the college and in 1957 he worked on the Leeds Pegasus computer at the University of Leeds.

 Figure 14.  A Young Alexander Shafto Douglas.

 NOTE:  No photograph of Major Douglas was found during the research for this narrative.  One might wonder whether there was a resemblance between him and his son.

             From 1957 to 1960 Alexander Douglas served as the Director of the Computer Laboratory at the University of Leeds.  In 1960 he was appointed a member of the Working Party to

 explore the creation of a national system for handling university admission by the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals.  He then entered the commercial field as Technical Director of

 the U.K. subsidiary of C-E-I-R, now known as Scientific Control Systems.  He held this position until 1968.  He left C-E-I-R to initiate European software interests as the chairman of Leasco

 Systems & Research, Ltd.  From 1970 to 1973 Alexander Douglas served as an Adviser to the Parliamentary Selected Committee on Science and Technology and from 1971 to 1974 he

 served as an Adviser to the United Nations Office of Science and Technology and was the President of the International Federation of Information Processing from 1971 to 1975.

            From 1974 to 1981 Alexander Douglas served as a Member of the Defence Scientific Advisory Council and also worked as Professor of Computational Methods at the Monotype Corporation.  He also served as Chairman of the Specialist Information Service of the Government International Council of Computers and Communications.

            Major Douglas appears to have lived out the remaining years of his life in retirement at his London address, probably extremely proud of his son’s accomplishments.  He died on the 3rd of May 1974 at St. George’s Hospital, Westminster, London at the age of 82. 

Figure 15.  The Obituary of Major Douglas Quentin.

NOTE:  The obituary makes no mention of his service during the Great War, service which undoubtedly was much more arduous and dangerous than his service in World War 2.

Had he lived another year he would have been doubly proud of his son Alexander who, on the 15th of June 1985, was decorated for his government service.  The London Gazette of that date included the following citation:

“Professor Alexander Shafto Douglas made an Ordinary Commander of the Civil Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for his services to the Ministry of Defence Scientific Advisory Council.” 

            In 2001, Andrew and Christine Douglas were living at 7 Barrs Wood Road in New Milton, Hampshire. [53]   Major Douglas’s son, Alexander Shafto “Sandy” Douglas, CBE died in his sleep from pneumonia on the 29th of April 2010, age 88 years.  One source lists his place of death as Bournemouth, Dorset. [54]   Another source indicates that he died in New Milton, Hampshire. [55]   His wife Audrey also died in 2010.

Figure 16.  An Elder Alexander Shafto Douglas wearing his CBE.

NOTE: In the photograph above it appears that “Sandy” Douglas is wearing campaign medals from the Second World War.  No specific information regarding his service has been uncovered.    

ADDENDUM 1.  The Eastern Army in Bengal.

The information contained in the addendum was taken from a description of the Eastern Army in Bengal given by Field Marshal The Viscount Slim in his book Defeat Into Victory.  Slim had just returned to India from Burma where he had commanded the Burma Corps, which consisted of the 1st Burma Division and the 17th Indian Division.  His corps had been soundly defeated by the Japanese and has been forced to retreat back into India.  Slim was posted to command 15 India Corps and in June 1942 he describes the condition in the Eastern Army in Bengal, the Army to which Douglas was assigned for the short period from 8 to 26 August 1943.

"The situation in June 1942 was an anxious one, likely at short notice to become critical.  Eastern Army, with its headquarters at Ranchi in Bihar, was responsible to General Headquarters, India, at Delhi, for the internal security  and external defense of all eastern India, which included, of course, the conduct of the war in Burma.  The forces at its disposal were meagre and of necessity spread over a vast area.  In Army Reserve, about Ranchi, were the 70th British Division and 50 Armoured Brigade.  To safeguard the strategic railways and to support the various provincial civil administrations, a number of small garrisons were scattered at great distances from one another.  Forward the army had two corps deployed to hold the Burma frontier (against the Japanese) and to safeguard the Bengal-Orissa coast line.  The IV Corps, with its headquarters at Imphal in Assam, faced the enemy roughly along the northern portion of this frontier.  It contained the newly arrived 23rd Indian Division and what was left of the troops who had come out of Burma in the 17th Indian Division, not yet re-equipped, fever-ridden, and much below strength, but still, wonderful to relate, with fight in them."

This was the situation in the Eastern Army of Bengal in June of 1942, a little more than a year before Douglas was scheduled to report to his new assignment.  Things had improved by August of 1943, but he was still fortunate not to have to remain with the Eastern Army for very long.  

During the approximately two weeks that Douglas was assigned as a Field Engineer with the Eastern Army, the engineer units were involved with improvements to the Lines of Communication from Arakan back to the rear area in the west.  As building materials were in short supply for road construction, the units had to resort to using bricks as the pavement materials for the roads.  This involved the establishment of brick kilns along the routes as the roads advanced.  Bricks were not the ideal solution to their problems since the monsoon rains had softened the roadway subgrades to the point where the bricks would often sink into the underlying soils under the weight of traffic.  This problem was easily solved by just placing more bricks in the areas that had subsided.

Figure 17. Field Marshal William Joseph Slim, 1st Viscount Slim, KG, GCB, GCMG, GCVO, GBE, DSO, MC, KStJ


Army Lists  

  1. The Monthly Army List, April 1915, p. 826a.
  2. The Monthly Army List, June 1919, p. 830c.
  3. The Monthly Army List, December 1920, p. 831.


  1. BLAXLAND, G.  Destination Dunkirk.
  2. ELLIS, Major L.F.  France and Flanders, 1939-1940.          H.M.S.O. Official History, 1953.
  3. KOOP, J.O.  The Story of the 55th (West Lancashire) Division.  Daily Post Primers, Liverpool, 1919.
  4. LOVE, Major S.  History of the 520th (Field) Company, R.E. (T.F.) Formerly Known as the 2/3rd London (Field) Company, R.E. (T.F.), 1914-1918. War Narratives Publishing Co., London, 1919.
  5. Marlborough College Register From 1843-1933.  The Bursar, Marlborough College, Marlborough, 1936.
  6. MAUDE, A.H. (editor).  The 47th (London) Division, 1914-1919.  Amalgamated Press Ltd., London, 1922.
  7. PAKENHAM-WALSH, Major-General R.P.  History of the Corps of Royal Engineers, Volume VIII, 1938-1948.  The Institution of Royal Engineers, Chatham, Kent, 1958.
  8. SLIM, W.  Defeat Into Victory.  David McKay Company, Inc., New York, 1961.

Census Data  

  1. 1891 Census of England and Wales, County of Surrey.  National Archives, Kew, London, Document RG12/624, page 54.
  2. 1901 Census of England and Wales, County of Surrey.  National Archives, Kew, London, Document RG13/679, page 110.
  3. 1901 Census of England, County of Kent.  National Archives, Kew, London, Document RG13/854, page 19.

 Electoral Rolls  

  1. London, 1927 through 1933.
  2. London, 1936.
  3. London, 1939.
  4. London, 1946.
  5. London, 1951 through 1961.

Internet Sources  

  1. Ancestry.com Family Tree Record.
  2. Chelsea Polytechnic.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chelsea_College_of_Science_and_Technology
  3. COLLETT, N.  Internet Medals Online Notes.
  4. Survey of London. http://british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vol38/pp262-307
  5. Barnes, London.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barnes,_London
  6. Eastern Army Bengal India: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Command_%28India%29
  7. Felsted School. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felsted_School
  8. Find My Past:  http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbc/1911rg14/00129/0549/4
  9. Find My Past:  http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=bmd/d/1974/2/az/000287/067
  10. Mayors of Kensington.  http://london.wika.com/wiki/List_of_Mayors_of_Kensington
  11. Sandy Douglas.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandy_Douglas
  12. The Long, Long Trail. www.1914-1918.net/47div.htm
  13. The Long, Long Trail. www.1914-1918.net/55div.htm
  14. War Time Memories Project: The 4th London Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps during the Great War. http://www.wartimememoriesproject.com/greatwar/allied/battalion.php?pid=691#sthash.nOta2YxJ.dpuf

London Gazette  

  1. Supplement to the London Gazette, 30 July 1943, p. 3431.
  2. Supplement to the London Gazette, 21 September 1943, p. 4173.
  3. Supplement to the London Gazette, 15th June 1985, p. B7.

 Miscellaneous Notes  

  1. BENNETT, P.  Email dated 8 April 2016, re: Research Work on Quentin Douglas.
  2. Handwritten Research Notes of the Previous Owner of the Medal Group.
  3. Kensington Central Library, Local Studies Department, email note via Peter Bennett of Charlbury, Oxfordshire, dated 12 April 2016.
  4. Marlborough College Archivist, email note dated 13 April 2016.


NEATE, G.  Neate Militaria & Antiques, Medal List, November/December 2001, Preston St. Mary, Sudbury.

 Official Documents  

  1. Army Form B199A.  Officer’s Record of Service.
  2. Births Registered in April, May, and June 1892 in the England, p. 156.
  3. Baptisms Solemnized in the Parish of Holy Trinity, Barnes in the County of Surrey in the Year 1892, p.75.
  4. Borough of Kensington Results of Election of Borough Councillors, Death of Members of Former Royal Borough of Kensington Council, 22nd May 1974.
  5. Certified Copy of an Entry of Death of Quentin Douglas.  General Register Office, Certificate Number QBDAA 091238, dated 15 April 2016.
  6. Death Registry, April, May and June 1974.
  7. Great War Medal Index Card of Major Quentin Douglas.
  8. Nominal Roll of the Recipients of the Coronation Medal, 1953, United Kingdom Issue.
  9. Marriage Register, January, February and March 1920, p.231.
  10. The Royal Engineers List, 1943, p. xlvii.  R.E. Regular Army Emergency Commission General List.  2nd Lieutenants with date of rank of 7 November 1939 and acting rank of Major.
  11. WO 171/9346.  192 C.R.E. Works.  January to June 1946.  The National Archives, Kew, Public Record


  1. Battle Honours of the Royal Engineers.  The Royal Engineers Journal.  The Institution of Royal Engineers, Chatham, Kent, 1925-1932.
  2. Kensington Post, 10 May 1974: Obituary of Major Quentin Douglas.
  3. SHEPPARD, F.H.W.  Domestic Buildings after 1851: The Italianate Tradition, in Survey of London: Volume 38, South Kensington Museums Area, London 1975, pp. 262-307.  British History Online. 

 Ship and Port Manifests  

  1. S.S. Adriatic, 4 May 1929.
  2. S.S. Baltic, 10 May 1929.
  3. S.S. Baltic, 18 May 1929.
  4. S.S. California, 19 November 1935.
  5. S.S. Tuscania, 17 October 1935.
  6. Port of Niagara Falls, New York, 6 May 1929.

 Telephone Directories  

  1. London, 1951 through 1955.
  2. London, 1958.
  3. London, 1960.
  4. London, 1962-1963.
  5. London, 1967 through 1970.
  6. London, 1971.


[1] Quentin Douglas’s service papers are unusual in that virtually all entries in the papers are handwritten and the entries seem to have been made by numerous people, in fact a rather large number of people.  In addition, many of the entries appear to have been written by Douglas himself, or at least the information was provided by Douglas either from his personal diary or from memory.  Many of the handwritten entries are of such remarkably poor penmanship that it has been difficult to decipher some of the information.

[2] 'Domestic Buildings after 1851: The Italianate Tradition', in Survey of London: Volume 38, South Kensington Museums Area, ed. F H W Sheppard (London, 1975), pp. 262-307. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vol38/pp262-307 [accessed 24 March 2016].

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Exhibition

[4] 'Domestic Buildings after 1851: The Italianate Tradition', in Survey of London: Volume 38, South Kensington Museums Area, ed. F H W Sheppard (London, 1975), pp. 262-307. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vol38/pp262-307 [accessed 24 March 2016].

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Marlborough College Register From 1843-1933.

[11] Record of Baptisms Solemnized in the Parish of Holy Trinity, Barnes, in the County of Surrey in the Year 1892.  The church building was constructed in 1868 and was designed by Thomas Allom, a local architect.  

[12] Marlborough College Register.

[13] Douglas’s service papers do not include the enlistment documents for his service as a Driver in the R.A.M.C.  Mention is made in his Army Form B199A of this service in the ranks, but no records appear to be on file with the Ministry of Defence nor at the National Archives at Kew.

[14] The 2/3rd London Field Company had been raised as part of the 47th (London) Division in October of 1914.

[15]   Maude, A.H and the Monthly Army List, June 1919.

[16] Love, S., p. 87.

[17] This assumption is made based on “normal association” of the field companies with the brigades that they usually would have supported.

[18] The 2/3rd London Field Company eventually would be re-designated as the 520th (London) Field Company.

[19] Love, S., p. 12.

[20] Love, S. p. 14.

[21] Love, S. Various pages in the unit history.

[22] Maude, A.H., P. 237.

[23] Love, S.  Various pages in the unit history.

[24] Love, S., p. 25.

[25] Army Form B199A.

[26] The Monthly Army List, December 1920, p. 831.

[27] Love, S.  Various pages in the unit history.

[28] Boarding School List, St. Leonard, Hythe, RG 13/854.

[29] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felsted_School

[30]   Great War Medal Index Card.

[31]   The Monthly Army List, December 1920, p. 831.  There is an error in this Army List regarding his war service.  His name is shown with no War Service symbol, yet he did see active service in France and Flanders.

[32]   Great War Medal Index Card.

[33] Sandy Douglas.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandy_Douglas

  [34] The "Baltic" was a 23,876 gross ton ship built in 1903 by Harland & Wolff, Belfast for the White Star Line. Her details were - length 709.2ft x beam 75.6ft, two funnels, four masts, twin screw and a speed of 17 knots. There was accommodation for 425-1st, 450-2nd and 2,000-3rd class passengers. Launched on 21/11/1903, she sailed from Liverpool on her maiden voyage to New York on 29/6/1904. In 1909 she rescued survivors of the collision between the "Republic" and the "Florida" off the US coast, in which the "Republic" sank. On 12/12/1918 she commenced her first voyage after the Armistice, from Liverpool to New York and in 1927 her accommodation was altered to carry 393-cabin class, 339-tourist class and 1,150-3rd class passengers. On 17/9/1932 she commenced her last voyage from Liverpool to New York and Liverpool and on 17/2/1933 sailed for Osaka, Japan where she was scrapped.

[35]   Marlborough College Archivist, email note dated 13 April 2016.

[36]   The S.S. Tuscania was a passenger vessel launched on 4 October 1921.  The ship measured 552.3 feet in length and 70.3 feet in breadth with a tonnage of 16,991 gross tons.  The ship had 6 steam turbine engines with twin screws and was capable of a speed of 16 knots.  It was chartered to Cunard in 1926 and was requisitioned as a troop ship by British government in 1941.  The ship was renamed New York in 1955 and laid up in 1959 and scrapped in Onomichi, Japan.

[37] PAKENHAM-WALSH, pp. 20-42.

[38]   I have always believed that this was unjust and did not give sufficient recognition to those men who were caught in the original German onslaught in France in 1940.

[39]   Sandy Douglas.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandy_Douglas

[40]   The term “re-granted” was used in his Army Form B199A.

[41]   Presumably the duty of Messing Officer at that time was similar to the mess officer additional duty assigned to a U.S. Army officer, although in the U.S. Army formal training in this duty was not required.  It was more and overseeing duty to check on the work performed by the unit Mess Sergeant.

[42]   The number of times that Quentin Douglas was promoted, appoint to an acting rank and a temporary rank is most confusing, but appears to be typical of the rank structure of the British Army during World War 2, at least within the Royal Engineers.

[43]   Supplement to the London Gazette, 30 July 1943, page 3431.

[44]   Supplement to the London Gazette, 21 September 1943, page 4173.

[45]   The course results from his attendance at the School of Military Engineering were published on 20 October 1945.  His results were listed as “Not Classified.”  One may assume that these results indicate that he did not complete the course due to his receiving orders to return to Scotland for overseas posting.

[46] The date of Douglas’s promotion to Lieutenant is shown as 1 June 1916 in The Monthly Army List of December 1920, p. 831 and handwritten as July 1916 on his Army Form B199A.  The Army List entry is probably more accurate.

[47]   This reversion to the rank of Acting Captain has been assumed by the author as a result of Douglas’s transfer as a staff officer on temporary assignment with the Chief Engineer, VII Corps.

[48] All of the items listed in the table are in the author's collection.

[49]   BENNETT, P.  Email dated 8 April 2016, re: Research Work on Quentin Douglas.

[50]   Andrew was born in Cambridge and subsequently attended Marlborough College.

[51]   Christine Janice Smoker had been born at Sidcup. Kent in 1957.

[52]   There is an Irene Douglas also listed as living at the Cromwell Road address from 1954 to 1961.

[53]   Andrew and Christine apparently moved from this address as this house was sold on 30 June 2015.

[54]   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandy_Douglas

[55]   Ancestry.com Family Tree Records.