Lieutenant Bryce Douglas

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Lieutenant Bryce Douglas (2nd January 1898 - 13th November 1917), an officer in the Indian Army, was the son of the youngest son of Mary Caroline and ‘Physician /Surgeon’ Norman Gladstone Douglas.

A part of the Turkish Empire at the start of the war, Palestine had been invaded by Allied forces during December 1916 and it had taken a year of often ferocious fighting for the Egyptian Expeditionary Force [E.E.F.] to advance on Jerusalem. By November 1917 Sir Edmund Allenby’s E.E.F. had reached a line some five kilometres west of the city. Deliberately spared from any artillery shelling or direct assault fighting for the city had continued until the 8th of December 1917 when all of Jerusalem’s prepared defences had finally been taken by British forces. During that night the city’s Turkish garrison had fled under the cover of darkness and at first light on the 9th of December, the city’s Mayor had arrived at the British line carrying the Turkish Governor’s letter of surrender. Jerusalem had been entered that day, and on the 11th of December Allenby had formally entered the city.

The fighting in Palestine was to continue, however, for a further year until the Turkish land forces had been defeated at the Battle of Megiddo during September 1918 and finally with the capitulation of Turkey on the 31st of October 1918. By the start of the nineteen twenties there had been eight Imperial War Graves Commission Cemeteries located in Palestine containing the graves of ten thousand and six hundred and fifty British and Commonwealth casualties. Amongst them had been; Lieutenant Bryce Douglas.

Born in Scarborough on Sunday the 2nd of January 1898 at No.6 Westfield Terrace [a long vanished row of houses that had once stood where the town’s Odeon Cinema and latterly the Stephen Joseph Theatre is now located], Bryce had been the youngest son of Mary Caroline and ‘Physician /Surgeon’ Norman Gladstone Douglas.

Sadly, soon after Bryce’s arrival, during Wednesday the 2nd of February 1898 his father had taken his own life by shooting himself in the mouth with a Colt revolver, the bullet passing out of the back of the Doctor’s head taking a part of his skull with it. Killed almost instantaneously, A subsequent inquest had concluded that the thirty-two years of age Doctor Douglas had ‘committed suicide whilst temporarily insane’ in the family home at No. Westfield Terrace.

Unfortunately, Very little is known of Bryce Douglas’s life following the death of his father. He had served during the war with the Indian Army as a Second Lieutenant in the 101st Grenadiers, however, by the time of his death at the age of nineteen years, he had been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant and had been attached to a regiment known as the 58th Vaughan’s Rifles [Frontier Force] of the Indian Army that by 1917 had been attached to 234th Brigade of the British 75th Division. Killed in action on the 13th of November 1917 during an attack on a Turkish held village known as Mesmiyeh during Allied operations to secure an important part of the enemy held Jaffa-Jerusalem railway line known as ‘Junction Station’, the remains of Lieutenant Douglas are interred in modern day Israel in Ramleh [now Ramla] War Cemetery, a burial ground that had been begun by Australian forces during 1917.

Situated on the coastal plain of Israel near to the city of Lod, Ramleh [from the Arabic word ‘Raml’ [‘Sand’] War Cemetery contains the graves of over three thousand Commonwealth casualties of the First World War, of which 694 are unidentified [the Cemetery also holds the graves of over a thousand casualties of the Second World War and a number dating from the post war years]. Lieutenant Douglas’s final resting place is located in Section P, Grave 15.

Bryce Douglas’s name had never been included in any of the numerous casualty lists that had appeared in ‘The Scarborough Mercury’ of 1917 onwards, neither had the young officer’s name been included on Scarborough’s Oliver’s Mount War Memorial. However, elsewhere in the town Lieutenant Douglas’s name can be found on a grave marker located in section South Terrace/Grave 14 of Manor Road Cemetery that also contains the names of the infant sister he had never known Marjory Kilmours Douglas, whose remains, according to the inscription on the now weathered stone, had been interred in Scalby Churchyard shortly after her death in 1893, and also the father he had never known whose remains had been interred with his infant daughter during the afternoon of Saturday the 5th of February 1898. Having never remarried Mary Caroline Douglas had eventually passed away at the age of sixty-nine years on Friday the 27th of May 1932 and her funeral had subsequently taken place in Scarborough on the last day of May.

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Last modified: Monday, 25 March 2024