Robert Ewing Douglas, GC

 

Born: 7th April 1906
Died: 10th August 1959, Hackney

Son of James and Euphemia (nee Maclean) Douglas, of Stirlingshire.

Next of kin recorded as brother, C. Douglas.

 

No. 362370, Leading Aircraftsman,  60 Squadron, Royal Air Force; enlisted 1923.


On 13th June 1930 at Kohat on the North West Frontier of India an aeroplane, on patrol with a crew of two and a load of live bombs, stalled shortly after takeoff, crashed and burst into flames. LAC Douglas was the first to arrive at the scene of the crash and found the air gunner lying two yards from the wreckage, his clothes burning fiercely. 
 

LAC Douglas put out the flames with an extinguisher, disentangled part of the gun equipment from the injured man and with the help of another airman, dragged him clear of the aeroplane and got him into an ambulance. He then turned his attention to the pilot who was still inside the burning plane, being fully aware that the aircraft contained live bombs which were likely to explode at any second. 

He had approached to within 12 yards of the wreckage when the first one went off.

RE Douglas served in Second World War. His commission was announced in the London Gazette on 20th December 1940, p.7118: "362379 F/Sergt Robert Ewing Douglas to be Flying Officer (44949) 22.11.40 with seniority 7.11.40."

In the London Gazette on 10th July 1942, p.3041, "R E Douglas (44949) confirmed war.subs. Flying Officer, RAF. 22.11.41."

Final Rank: Flying Officer.  He retired from the RAF in December 1945.

Other Decorations/Medals: R E Douglas was awarded the IGS Medal with clasp "NW Frontier 1930/31" and was mentioned in despatches.

"The KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the Award of the Medal of the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire to the undermentioned:—

For Gallantry.

362370 Leading Aircraftman Robert Ewing Douglas, Royal Air Force.

For conspicuous gallantry displayed in an attempt to save the lives of two fellow airmen at Kohat, India, on the 13th June, 1930.  

An aeroplane proceeding on patrol with a crew of two and a load of live bombs stalled shortly after leaving the ground and crashed on the edge of the aerodrome, immediately bursting into flames.

Leading Aircraftman Douglas, who witnessed the crash, was the first to arrive on the scene of the accident and found the air gunner lying two yards from the wreckage, his clothes burning badly. These flames Douglas quenched with a hand extinguisher, and, after disentangling part of the gun equipment from the injured man's person, dragged him clear of the machine with the assistance of another airman who had arrived on the scene, and, after subduing a renewed burst of flames in his clothing, got him on board the ambulance. 

He then turned his attention to the pilot in the burning machine and had approached to within twelve yards of the wreckage when the first of the bombs exploded. Realising then that there was no hope of the pilot being still alive, he started to get clear and was some thirty yards away when a second bomb exploded.

In advancing so close to the flames this airman took a grave risk as he was fully aware that the aircraft contained live bombs of a powerful type."

(London Gazette - 27 March 1931)

 

Further details on
Flying Officer Robert Ewing Douglas
would be very welcome