Douglas Robert Cameron
Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders
Died 31 July 1917 age 22
2nd Lieut. D. R. Cameron
Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders
There is an old War Office file for Douglas Robert Cameron at Kew, which gives fascinating insights into his story. It makes no mention of any connection with the parish, but this is explained by the various censuses which show a connection with Kincardine O’Neil going back to at least the middle of the nineteenth century. In 1871, his grandfather Joseph (from Tomintoul) and grandmother Mary (from Midmar) were living in, or possibly above, the shop where Joseph operated his trade as a Master Tailor and clothier, having married in Kincardine O’Neil in 1851. They had a large family, which included Douglas’s father Robert, and in 1881 were at Mill of Campfield, Craigmyle. By 1891 Robert was no longer at home and by 1901 he had his own household with wife Maria Augusta and three children, at Queens Road, Deptford, where Robert, following in his father’s footsteps, was a Merchant Tailor. There were three children, Augusta aged 8, Douglas 6 (born 6 October 1894) and Jeanne 3. By 1911 they had moved from 289 Queen’s Road to number 397. All three children were still at home and 16 year old Douglas was earning his living as a tailor having, as his War Office file reveals, attended the Aske School, close to home in Deptford and one of the schools of the Haberdashery Company still extant at its same address in Pepys Road.
Cameron volunteered on the outbreak of war on 4 August 1914 and enlisted in the 4th Bn the London Regiment (the London Scottish) at Deptford, aged 19 years and 10 months, giving his occupation as Tailor’s Cutler, employed by his father. On 23 March 1915, he was recommended as suitable for a temporary commission for the period of the war. His old housemasters provided a glowing reference, noting that Douglas had entered the school in 1905: “….he is one of the best all-round athletes that the School has ever known. Records of his still hold in the South London Inter-Grammar School contests”. On 1 May 1915 he was selected for the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, joining the 11th (Service) Bn who landed at Boulogne as part of 45th Brigade in the 15th (Scottish) Division in July 1915.
Between July 1915 and August 1916, the battalion were deployed on the Western Front. Cameron would have experienced fighting in the Battle of Loos in September/October 1915 and the first weeks of the Battle of the Somme, at Albert and Bazentin, from July 1916. His service record shows that, on 22 August 1916, a telegram was sent to Mrs Cameron at 397 Queens Road to the effect that Cameron had been admitted to 8 General Hospital Rouen, with shell shock. He was sent home to 10 Palace Green Hospital, and granted leave to 6 November 1916 which was twice extended until, on 13 February 1917 he was certified fit for light duties but “no route marching” and, on 23 February 1917, fit without any qualification. At some point during this turbulent time, Cameron married Lydia Alice Chester. The telegram of 22 August 1916 sent to “Mrs Cameron” may either have been to his wife or mother but, as he was single on enlistment, it seems more likely that Cameron’s marriage to Lydia was one of the happier aspects of his prolonged leave.
Five months after returning to his duties in February 1917, at the age of 22, Douglas Cameron died of wounds sustained on the first day of the third battle of Ypres 31 July 1917. He must have acquitted himself well after his period of sick leave, as a posthumous notice in the London Gazette advertised that he had been promoted to Lieutenant, and his record shows he was drawing the pay appropriate to that rank from 1 July 1917. His effects included a watch, two chequebooks, letters, 1 advance book, a gold ring, and an account with Cox & Co, 16 Charing Cross, overdrawn to the extent of £10 3s 6d. More to the point, he left a posthumous son, Douglas Robert Alexander Cameron, born in October 1917. He is buried at Potijze Cemetery, The Chateau Lawn, Ypres.