Charles Hotham Montagu Doughty-Wylie VC CB CMG

b. 23/07/1868 Theberton, Suffolk. d. 26/04/1915 Gallipoli, Turkey.


Charles Hotham Montagu Doughty-Wylie (1868-1915), the highest ranking officer to be awarded the VC in the Gallipoli campaign, was born at Theberton Hall, Suffolk on 23rd July 1868, the eldest son of Henry Montagu Doughty, JP and Edith Rebecca (nee Cameron). His father, a retired naval officer, was a barrister and lord of the manor of Theberton.

Charles H M Doughty-Wylie VC CB CMG

Educated at Winchester and Sandhurst, the young Charles Doughty was commissioned as second lieutenant in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers on 21st September 1889. Promoted Lieutenant the following year, he first saw action in the Hazara Expedition of 1891, in which he received his first wound. His next fifteen years of military service reads like a roll call of the British Empire’s colonial conflicts; Chitral on the NW Frontier of India (1895), Crete (1896), the Sudan (1898-1899), South Africa (1900), Tientsin, China (1900) and Somaliland (1903-1904). Along the way, he collected a cluster of campaign medals, a second wound and promotion to the rank of captain in the 2nd Battalion, Royal Welch Fusiliers.

His military career to this point was nothing if not varied. He served as transport officer during the relief of Chitral, was a brigade major with the Egyptian Army during Kitchener’s reconquest of the Sudan, for which he received the Order of the Medjidie, 4th Class, led a mounted infantry unit in the Boer War, where he was wounded during an engagement near Vredefort, and raised and commanded a corps of mounted infantry as part of the China Field Force in the wake of the Boxer Rebellion.

In May 1904, he travelled to India on leave where in Bombay the following month, he married Lilian Oimara Adams Wylie, widow of Lieutenant Henry Adams, Indian Medical Service. After a holiday in the North West Frontier, he returned to his regiment in Agra. In December, he changed his name by deed poll to Doughty-Wylie, and in the following March, the couple returned to England, by way of Baghdad. In September 1906, he was appointed British military vice-consul in Konia, a Turkish province in Asia Minor. Shortly after taking up the post, he was promoted to major. He was present during the Armenian Massacres of 1909, and meet Gertrude Bell while she was engaged in an archaeological dig. They continued to correspond and it is probable they met again in London five years later, but their relationship did not blossom until August 1913 when he visited her family home in Yorkshire.

Promoted consul-general as a reward for his services in Adana, he was posted to Addis Ababa, where he served until 1912. On the outbreak of the Balkan War he and his wife went to Constantinople where he was Director of the Red Cross units and she served as Superintendent of Nursing Staff. He then served as Chairman of the Commission asked to delimit the Greek and Albanian frontier. For this role, he was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB).

When Turkey entered the First World War, it ended his diplomatic career. By February 1915, he was in Cairo, en route to England where he hoped to gain active service. General Sir John Maxwell, C in C, Egypt sought permission to use him, but that same month the former consul-general was ordered to join Sir Ian Hamilton’s Staff with the rank of lieutenant colonel.

He proceeded to London where he met Gertrude again before taking up the appointment. He joined Hamilton’s GHQ on 18th March, the day of the Navy’s attempt to force a way through the Narrows. Four weeks later, on 21st April, the GHQ Staff were temporarily  split up, with Doughty-Wylie and William Charles Williams taking their places aboard the River Clyde.

On 26th April 1915, following the landing at Cape Helles on the Gallipoli peninsula, during which the brigadier general and the brigade major had been killed, Lieutenant Colonel Doughty-Wylie and another officer (Garth Neville Walford) organized and made an attack through and on both sides of the village of Sedd-el-Bahr on the Old Fort at the top of the hill. The enemy’s position was very strongly entrenched and defended, but mainly due to the initiative, skill and great gallantry of the two officers the attack was a complete success.

Both were killed in the moment of victory. Doughty-Wylie was shot in the face by sniper and died instantly. Doughty-Wylie is buried close to where he was killed. His grave is the only solitary British or Commonwealth war grave on the Gallipoli peninsula: The Turkish authorities moved the graves of all other foreign soldiers to the “V Beach” graves except for his.

Five months later, his widow Lilian received his VC in the post with a letter from King George V. Gertude Bell became a director of antiquities in Iraq, and when she died in 1926, her affair with Doughty-Wylie was a secret outside her family. It only became known after letters were released after Lilian Doughty-Wylie’s death in 1960.

Doughty-Wylie’s large medal group including his Victoria Cross, Companion, Order of the Bath (CB), Companion, Order of St Michael & St George (CMG), India General Service Medal (1854-95) with 1 clasp: “Hazara 1891”, India Medal (1895-1902) with 1 clasp:   “Relief of Chitral 1895”, Queen’s Sudan Medal (1896-97), Queen’s South Africa Medal (1899-1902) with 3 clasps: “Cape Colony” – “Transvaal” – “Wittebergen”,  Africa General Service Medal (1902-56) with 1 clasp: “Somaliland 1902-04”, 1914 – 15 Star, British War Medal (1914-20), Victory Medal ( 1914-19 ) + MiD Oakleaf, Khedive’s Sudan Medal (1896-1908) with 3 clasps: “Khartoum” – “Sudan 1899” – “Gedid” and the Order of the Medjidie ( Turkey ). His medals are held and displayed by the Royal Welsh Fusiliers Museum, Caernarfon Castle, Wales.





Thomas Stewart – Image of Doughty-Wylie’s medal group at the Royal Artillery Museum, Woolwich.