Daniel Dougal First World War Diaries

Scope and Content

Diaries of Daniel Dougal, which detail his service as an army doctor on the Western Front during the First World War. Dougal rose to become Deputy Assistant Director of Medical Services, 34th Division of the British Army, and his diaries provide important information on the operation of Army medical services, as well as behind the scenes glimpses into the life of an RAMC officer on active service.

The diaries are typed and include a small number of illustrations and maps. There are four diaries, which have been bound as two volumes: part 1 covering April 1915-1917; part 2, 8 May 1917-25 January 1918; part 3, 26 Jan 1918-4 Aug 1918; part 4, 4 Aug 1918-15 Dec 1918. The diaries were not compiled contemporaneously, but appear to have been typed up after the events, presumably based on manuscript diaries and notes. Dougal indicates that the first volume of diaries covering July 1915-April 1917 was compiled from memory, not notes, and hence is less definite on the dating of events. In total, the diaries comprise almost a thousand pages of text.

Part 1 of the diary describes Dougal’s arrival in France in July 1915, followed by his active service in Northern France and Belgium with the 17th Division. Among the episodes described are a gas attack at Remy Siding in December 1915, the Battle of the Somme in summer 1916 and later operations on the Somme front, and the Battle of Arras, 1916. It also recounts Dougal's periods of leave.

Part 2, 8 May 1917-25 January 1918, describes his service at St Nicholas, Paris (leave), Couturelle, Hermaville, Nobescourt, Elverdinghe and Bisleux-au-Mont amongst other locations, and mentions the 34th Division's involvement in Battle of Arras, the fighting in the Hargicourt Sector, and the 3rd Battle of Ypres.

Part 3, 26 Jan 1918-4 Aug 1918, covers the period of the German Spring offensive on the Western Front and the Allied counter offensive in the summer. Describes Dougal's service at Gomiecourt, Le Cauroy, Merville, Steenwerck, Boeschepe, Remy Siding, Vogeltje, Bembecque, Samer, Couthove Chau, Vivières and Forêt de Retz.

Part 4, 4 Aug -15 Dec 1918, describes Dougal's activities during the final phases of the War including service at Esquelbecques, Ryan Camp (near Abeele), Lauwe, Harlebeke, and Morseele. The final entry describe Dougal's embarkation at Boulogne and transfer to London in Dec 1918.

Volume 2 of the diaries also includes appendices composed of typed transcripts of various documents relating to Dougal's war service, including official correspondence, orders and reports, medical arrangements, orders of battle (1918), newspaper cuttings, a note by Dougal on the small box respirator etc.

The collection includes a box of maps (19 items) assembled by Dougal, mostly military maps of the Western Front, but also some sketch plans of military medical facilities (by DD?) and general maps. There is a single letter from C H Leveson dated 2 Aug 1914, presumably addressed to Dougal, concerning the non-availability of a military band.

Administrative / Biographical History

Daniel Dougal (1884-1948) was a renowned gynaecologist. He was born in Lanarkshire, the son of a doctor, but at an early age moved to Blackburn, where his father was in general practice. Educated at Manchester Grammar School and the University of Manchester, he took his medical degree in 1906, and was awarded the M.D. in 1913 for a thesis on pelvimetry. His early career was spent at Manchester Royal Infirmary, Manchester Northern and St Mary's hospitals.

Having been active in the Manchester University Officers Training Corps, he was called up for service on the outbreak of war. After training, Dougal served in the RAMC, and was awarded the Military Cross and the Croix de Guerre (with Palms). Dougal served initially with the 52nd Field Ambulance attached to the 17th Division, and latterly as Deputy Assistant Director Medical Services, 34th Division from 1917 to the end of the War. In 1919 he returned to Manchester and joined St Mary's Hospitals, becoming assistant gynaecological surgeon at MRI in 1925. In 1927 Dougal was appointed to the chair of obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of Manchester, and held this post until his death. He worked very hard to make a success of this post, and enjoyed great renown as a professor.

Dougal held a number of distinguished appointments - he was a past president of Manchester Pathological Society and of the North of England Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society, and a vice-president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. He was president of the Manchester Medical Society in 1947. During the Second World War, Dougal commanded the Fifth Western General Hospital at Davyhulme, near Manchester.

Access Information

The collection is open to any accredited reader.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

A number of items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, John Rylands University Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Custodial History

Dougal gave his diaries to a fellow medic, John Webster Bride, shortly before his death in June 1948. Bride donated them to the University's Medical Library, (now part of JRUL) in 1953.

Related Material

JRUL also has custody of Dougal's university lectures on obstetrics and gynaecology [uncatalogued]. Biographical information can be sourced from the file on Dougal in the Manchester Medical Collection (MMC/2/Dougal/1)

JRUL has a number of collections which contain material on various aspects of the First World War, including the Tout papers (TFT), C. E. Montague Papers (CEM), Allan Monkhouse papers (ANM), John Graham papers (uncatalogued), and the Mabel Tylecote papers (uncatalogued). JRUL also has custody of 15 volumes of manuscript diaries of Winifred Myers Wills, a member of the wealthy tobacco family, several of which describe life on the home front during the First World War.

Geographical Names