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The Short Life and Death of a War Hero, Ralph Dorchell Doughty M.C.

 

(Article and Images by Peter Kivell)

 

 

Ralph Dorchell Doughty was born on 1st October 1891, the eighth and youngest child of William and Susanna Doughty of,
Stratford, Taranaki, New Zealand.

He went to Australia in 1913 (to work) and at the beginning of World War One joined the 1st Australian Artillery Division and fought at Gallipoli and then in France. He was mentioned in dispatches, being awarded the Military Cross and was made a Lieutenant. He died of wounds on the 25th July 1917 (aged 25). He was interred in
Coxyde Military Cemetery, Belgium. Ralph Doughty was in active service for a total of 2 years and 123 days before he became a WWI casualty. The last entry in his final diary is a fitting way to end such a record, from such a war hero,

16th March 1917
Better day today. Very heavy bombardment on both left, right and centre.

 

Lieutenant R. D. Doughty. M.C.
1891 - 1917

From the Australian Army.
Central Army Records.


Lieutenant Ralph Dorchell Doughty. M.C. records held by this office the information you have requested is:
Stated on enlistment that he was 22, 10/12 years old, and was born at Stratford, New Plymouth, Taranaki, New Zealand.
Enlisted in Sydney, New South Wales on the 28th August, 1914.
Allotted army number 193 and the rank of bombardier.
Embarked for overseas service with the 2nd Battery 1st Field,
Artillery Brigade per HT ARGYLLSHIRE on the 18th October, 1914.
Promoted provisional corporal at Gallipoli on the 20th June, 1915.
Appointed 2nd Lieutenant at Tel-el-Kebir on the 12th March, 1916.
Transferred to the 9th Battery 3 Field Artillery Brigade on the 12th March, 1916.
Embarked at Alexandria on the 23rd March, 1916.
Disembarked at Marseilles, France on the 29th March, 1916.
Promoted Lieutenant on the 13th June, 1916.
Wounded in action in France on the 18th November, 1916.
Evacuated to England on the 21st November, 1916.
Embarked for France on the 31st January, 1917.
Rejoined the 3rd Field Artillery Brigade in France on the 9th February, 1917.
Awarded the Military Cross on the 8th May, 1917.
Wounded in action in Belgium on the 23rd July, 1917.
Died of wounds on the 25th July, 1917.
Buried in the
Coxyde Military Cemetery, Belgium, Plot I, Row F, grave 20.

 

Military Cross (above right) won at HERMIES on the 9th April 1917,
Lieutenant Ralph Dorchel DOUGHTY

Medals Issued:

Military Cross
1914/15 Star
British War Medal
Victory Medal

Displayed conspicuous courage and initiative when working with the Right Battalion, 1st Australian Army Brigade F.O.O. for the 3rd (Army) F.A. Brigade. He was responsible for the successful employment of the Artillery on his flank at a crucial period of the operations, and did not hesitate to push out beyond the furthest point reached by our Infantry patrols in order to secure better facilities for our observation. There can be little doubt that it was to his devotion to duty and resource, that our line in front of HERMIES owed its immunity from counter-attack, during the whole day of attack.

The Five WWI Diaries of Ralph Doughty.
The diaries of Ralph Doughty can all be viewed and read by
CLICKING HERE Then click on the links, Diary One to Five that you want to read.
The diaries were transcribed through hard work by J.M. Webster & G.C. Danvers and the Introduction is by a local historian Murray Moorehead - with many thanks from the members of the Doughty, Ward, and Kivell families.

WWI Diaries that have made it back from the front lines of
Gallipoli, Tel-el Kebir (Egypt), and France.


DIARY ONE
5th April 1915 - 15th September 1915

 

 

After having come from Australia per SS 'Argyllshire' and arrived in the Land of the Pharaohs where rigorous training and tons of good fun and High Life generally were the rules of the road we got embarkation orders thank God! So here's to it and may our little flutter which we are about to have tend in some way to weight his balance against His most Satanic Majesty THE KAISER.
Detailed to go in charge of 3GS wagons to one of Cairo's many railway stations. Got there, and started looking around for the necessary something to eat. Had a last stroll around the square. Posted a photo to cousin Annie in E. Had a last bath at the National (awfully tender memories of that place). The devil alone knows when we'll get another. 7.15 Started entraining. Had charge of 30 wagons. Loaded one truck in 25 minutes. Have developed into a real nigger driver. Got informed by the entraining officer that ours was the quickest he had seen. What dogs we must be. Goodbye Cairo. 0.45 slept in a truck with the gun stores………………………

 

DIARY TWO
16th September 1915 - 21 November 1915

 

 

 

DIARY THREE
22th November 1915 - 3rd January 1916

 

 

DIARY FOUR
2nd March 1916 - 11th August 1916

 

 

Tel-el Kebir Camp Egypt
22nd March 1916
Hur-bloomin-ray. Marching orders at last, and as pleased as a cat with two tails to get them. Just awaiting orders to entrain. Am heartily sick of this confounded Country, however remarkable it may be. Too many flies and niggers for my especial palate and those two abortions combined are exactly 100% worse that Shrapnel or HE. This time I leave Egypt as a 'Bloomin OFFICER'. Lieutenant R.D.D. of the Galloping Ninth, 3rd Brigade, 1st Division. Our CO is Colonel Burgess, OC Major Gee, and Randall and Faulkner. My old chum C.G.P. is with the Brigade, as Orderly Officer to the Colonel. Am feeling awfully fit, so look out somebody!

23rd March 1916
Left Tel-el Kebir at 1am this morning. Arrived at Alexandria at 7am. Had a ripping good sleep coming down. Travel 1st Class nowadays. Officer you know. Unloaded horses and gear in next to record time. Started embarking same at 10am, finished at 12.40pm. Been trying to get into the City but the CO won't hear of it. This time we go to France I believe. Nothing definite known as yet, but I really think that's where we'll bring up. At present on SS Nessian of the Leyland Line of boats. Have a dinky cabin amidships, sharing same with Major Gee and Faulkner. Chas is on board, only a couple of cabins away. Left Alex at 8pm. Picked up with a destroyer escort 10pm. Plenty of 'tin fish' around here. Select little beano with Captains McIndoe and Raymond, and Chas and Faulkner. Sea very calm and, many thanks to someone, the thermometer's down a few. Had a last look at Egypt. Hope it's not my lot to visit there again. Bunk at 12pm………………………

 

 

DIARY FIVE
12th August 1916 - 16th March 1917

12th August 1916
Still spelling. Everything as it should be even the weather behaving itself.

13th August 1916
Sunday again. Still spelling. Beginning to get fit again.

14th August 1916
Out for exercise most of the day. Rumours afloat that we return to the Firing Line tomorrow. Hope so. Too quiet out here. Have got so used to noise by ... [this?] that whenever we get to a quiet spot you've got an idea that the earth is ceasing to revolve, and the sun's going out.

15th August 1916
Marching orders to hand. Left ... .... [St Seger?] at 1000 this morning. Arrived at Val de Maison at 2.20. 'Fed' in the rain. On the move again at 5, arrived here Vadencourt Wood at 7.30. Raining like old Nick………………………

Here ends the last known diary of Ralph Dorchell Doughty. It seems unlikely that he gave up keeping a dairy at this point, having done so almost continuously since the 5th April 1915.
Perhaps there was another diary-one which was with him when he was wounded, and when he died. If it exists, neither of the families who had these diaries know where it went. It would cover the remainder of March, all of April, May, June, and most of July.

One Man's Anzac Story
an article from the New Plymouth Sunday Express April 1983
by Murray Moorehead.
`The ranks of the old Gallipoli veterans are thinned now to a mere handful, and there would not be much more than a decade left for anyone to get to know, in person, a man who could proudly claim to have played a part in the forging of the great Anzac brotherhood.
They have certainly had full lives, these dogged veterans. Those still with us on Anzac Day two years hence will be able to look over 70 long and eventful years since they helped make history on the slopes of an arid and inhospitable peninsula which most of the world had never heard of before.
But it is not only the living whom we may get to know with some intimacy. To the members of the Kivell family in New Plymouth, a man named Ralph Doughty remains someone more than merely some distant ancestor who died in a war that was over long before most of them were born. Ralph Doughty is, in his way, still very much a part of the family. New generations of Kivells feel that they know him almost as intimately as those to whom he said cheery goodbyes as he left Taranaki to seek his fortune in Australia shortly before the Great War broke out……………………………

 

Wreath placed on ANZAC day
 
Coxyde Military Cemetery, Belgium

They shall grow not old
As we that are left grow old
Age shall not weary them
Nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun
And in the morning
We will remember them

Ralph Doughty's final resting place in Coxyde Military Cemetery, Belgium

 

 

TO VIEW THE FULL DIARIES CLICK HERE

 

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