b. 11/07/1875 Gillingham, Kent. d. 14/02/1939 Droitwich, Worcestershire.
Henry Edward Manning Douglas (1875-1939) was born on 11th July 1875 in Gillingham, Kent, the son of George Alexander and Elizabeth Douglas. He had eight known older siblings: Anne Jane, William, George Alexander, Julia Mary, Elizabeth Frances, Ellen Louisa, James Joseph and Charles Francis, as well as a younger sister Margaret Lloyd.
Four years before he was born, his father was employed as a Prison Warden in HM Chatham Prison. The family’s address was “F9 Wardens Drive, Convict Prison”. Ten years later Henry’s father George had been promoted to Chief Warden in HM Woking Prison where he lived with his family in “21 Prison Street”. On the 1871 and 1881 census returns, Henry’s parents and eldest sister Anne Jane places of birth were given as Ireland, and the rest of the family’s as Gillingham Kent. After being educated in Edinburgh, Henry took the Scottish triple qualification in 1898.
On 28th July 1899 Henry, aged 24, enlisted in to the Royal Army Medical Corps as a Lieutenant. By the 11 October 1899 the Second Boer War between the British and the descendants of the Dutch settlers, the Boers, had started. Their ‘argument’ was mainly over the rights of British settlers in the Transvaal Republic. At dawn on 11th December 1899, at what would become known as the Battle of Magersfontein, British troops attempted to capture a Boer position in order to relieve the diamond-mining town of Kimberley. It was here that Henry, who was wounded himself, acted with great bravery and advanced on to the open plain to attend to the wounds of Major Robinson, Captain W. E. Gordon of the Gordon Highlanders, and many other wounded men under a hail of bullets. In total, 120 British soldiers were killed and 690 wounded. For his bravery, Henry was awarded the Victoria Cross (London Gazette, 29th March 1901).
Henry was presented with his VC on 25th July 1901 by King Edward VII at St James’ Palace, London. In addition to this, he was mentioned in despatches, received the Distinguished Service Order (DSO), and the Queen’s Medal with two clasps. After the Second Boer War ended with a British victory on 31 May 1902, Henry, on his return to England, did duty for a while at St George’s Barracks, London. He was promoted to Captain on 27 July 1903 before leaving for active service in East Africa with General Egerton’s command in Somaliland [1903-1904] and at the Battle of Jalahalli in India [1904-1908].
After this last battle it would seem that Henry decided to have a break from his military life and, as part of a group of thirty-six men lead by Robert Sterling Clark (1877-1956), took part in a sixteen-month expedition to North China. Following his return from China, he became a resident at the Royal Army Medical College in Westminster, London. In 1911, he was promoted to Major.
Henry returned to the battlefields in the Serbo-Turkish War of 1912-1913 and with the Greek forces in the Serbo-Bulgarian War of 1913 in which he received the Serbian Red Cross and the Order of the Samaritan.
On 1st March 1915 he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and on 1st January 1918 to Brevet Colonel. Henry was also a “Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George”, as well as receiving the Croix de Guerre with palms, and the Serbian Order of St. Sava as reported in the London Gazette. From 1926 to 1929, Henry was a Consultant at the Royal Army Medical College Millbank London. During this time, on 27th March 1926, he received promotion to the rank of Colonel.
Three years later, on 12th October 1929, he was promoted to the rank of Major General, and became the Deputy Director of Medical Services at Southern Command in India.
Aged 60, Henry retired from the Army on 13th October 1933. His retirement was short-lived and three years later he died on 14th February 1939 at St Andrews House, Droitwich, Worcestershire. Three days later, he was buried in the same grave as his brother George (who had died in 1927) in Epsom Cemetery, Epsom, Surrey. His medals are held and displayed at the Museum of Military Medicine, Keogh Barracks, Mytchett, Surrey.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: MUSEUM OF MILITARY MEDICINE, KEOGH BARRACKS, ALDERSHOT.
BURIAL PLACE: EPSOM CEMETERY, EPSOM, SURREY.
SECTION H, GRAVE 132
Kevin Brazier – Images of Douglas VC Grave and Cemetery Plan from Epsom Cemetery.
Thomas Stewart – Images of Douglas VC Medal Group at the RAMC Museum and the RAMC VC Board, Sandhurst.