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Private Robert Douglas






Private Robert DouglasRobert was the son of James and Katherine Douglas of Waringstown, who, as a young man, had emigrated to Australia to seek his fortune. His father, James, served with the Royal Irish Rifles. Robert, a tailor, by trade, listed his next of kin as Miss Minny Douglas, his sister. After the First World War started, he heard the call to fight for his country and enlisted at Brisbane, Queensland, into the locally recruited 47th Battalion of the Australia Infantry and was given the number 1892. After his training, he embarked at Brisbane on the HMAT “Clan McGillvray” on 1st May 1916, as the third draft of reinforcements needed by the 47th Battalion, then fighting on the Western Front.

The 47th Battalion arrived in France on 9th June 1916 and, after a brief period of training, Private Robert Douglas entered the trenches for the first time on 3rd July 1916, with his first taste of battle at Pozieres on the Somme. Initially, the 47th Battalion provided working parties to bring up supplies to support the attack by the Australian 2nd Division on 4th August 1916, but a couple of days later it was their turn to defend the ground around Pozieres, which had been captured at such a high cost. Robert Douglas was able to avail of some leave and visited his relatives in Donaghcloney during September 1916.

The 47th Battalion endured two stints in the heavily contested trenches of Pozieres, as well as a period in reserve. After that, the 47th Battalion followed the usual pattern of four days in the Front Line trenches and four days out in rest billets, cleaning kit and equipment, training and sleeping.

Private Robert Douglas was admitted to hospital on 21st January 1917, returning to his Battalion on 12th April 1917, but when his battalion took part in the Battle of Messines on 7th June 1917 he was killed in action, aged 23. He has no known grave, but is buried 750 yards from Messines and is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.



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Last modified: Monday, 25 March 2024