Alfred Kitson McDougall enlisted in Melbourne on 17 August 1914. It was a very early enlistment, given that the declaration of war had only occurred two weeks earlier. It was one month before the first large group of enlistments from Yarram on 16 September 1914.
McDougall was 31yo when he enlisted and he gave his occupation as painter. He was single and his religion was recorded as Church of England.
His father – John McDougall – was dead and he gave his mother – Mrs Janet Margaret Hysing – as his next-of-kin. Her address was 60 Wilson Street, North Carlton and this was the same address he gave for himself. When his mother completed the (National) Roll of Honour form she indicated that he had attended the state school in Carlton (Rathdowne Street) and on his enlistment papers he gave his place of birth as North Carlton.
He must have moved to Yarram for work and he must have been there for a fair length of time. It appears that he had moved back to Melbourne before the War as there is no entry for him on the Electoral Roll of the time and he does not appear in the Rate Book. However, he must have lived and worked in the local area for some time because he was clearly regarded as ‘local’. He had spent time in the Yarram Rifle Club. His name appears on both the Shire of Alberton Honor Roll – with his death indicated – and the Shire of Alberton War Memorial. As well, when his mother completed the information for the (National) Roll of Honor she gave Yarram as the place with which he was ‘chiefly connected’. Lastly, the local paper – Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative – gave the following brief account of his death in the edition of 20 August 1915:
Lance-Corporal Alfred H [sic] McDougall, formerly of Yarram, and only son of Mrs. Janet Hysing, 60 Wilson St., Princes Hill, was killed in action at the Dardanelles on 13th July.
He joined 7 Battalion and his unit left Melbourne on 19 October 1914. His papers show that he was promoted to Lance Corporal on 31 October 1914. In Egypt, he spent one month in hospital at Alexandria – from 7 April to 11 May – with an abscess of his left hand. Discharged from hospital, he embarked for Gallipoli on 20 May and rejoined his battalion on 31 May. L/Cpl McDougall was killed in action on 13 July 1915.
The mother received reasonably prompt advice of her son’s death. The cable back to Australia was dated 31 July 1915 and the official Report of Death of a Soldier was dated 16 September 1915, Alexandria. Both The Australasian T.&G. Mutual Life Assurance Society Limited and United Ancient Order of Druids made formal requests for the Certificate of Death as early as the second week of August 1915 but had to wait until late September before they received it. There is no record of any personal effects being returned to the mother. The mother received a pension of 30/- per fortnight, which was increased to 40/- from 10 May 1917.
L/Cpl McDougall was buried in Shrapnel Gully Cemetery. Following the work of the Graves Registration Unit after the War, in May 1921, the mother was advised that her son was buried in Shrapnel Valley Cemetery, Gallipoli plot 2, row C grave 1. As per normal practice she was given a photograph of the grave.
While there is no Red Cross report for L/Cpl McDougall, the war dairy of 7 Battalion – written by its commander, H E (Pompey) Elliott – gives some indication of what happened. Essentially, his death was the result of another ‘demonstration’ – a limited raid/feint on the Turkish positions, this time in the general vicinity of German Officers’ Trench.
The entry indicates that at 5 AM on 13 July a party of 11 volunteers led by 2Lt Greig attacked and overran an outlying Turkish position. The Turks withdrew and then the raiding party itself came under a sustained bomb and machine gun attack from the main Turkish line. All the men in the raiding party were wounded, 2 were killed and 2Lt Greig went ‘missing’. In fact, 2Lt Norman James Greig – former Master at Scotch College, Melbourne – was recorded, subsequently, as ‘killed in action’. Whilst this action was underway another party of Australians attacked another part of the Turkish line before they were also forced to withdraw with heavy casualties. This second action was confused in its execution and more ad hoc than planned. The end result was that the Turks must have feared that a major assault was imminent and they opened up with … the most severe bombardment we have yet experienced & our trenches were practically destroyed in most places. The casualties from this Turkish bombardment were 7 officers and 37 other ranks. L/Cpl McDougall must have been one of those killed. Not surprisingly, such ‘demonstrations’ were not very popular with the Australian soldiers.
Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative