Douglas Carmichael - Capt., 9th (Service) Battn. The Rifle Brigade

Discussion in 'Military Biographies' started by liverpool annie, Sep 3, 2009.

  1. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    In Memory of

    9th Bn., Rifle Brigade
    who died age 21
    on 25 September 1915
    Son of Sir James Carmichael, K.B.E., and Lady Carmichael, of Kingston Hill Place, Kingston-on-Thames.

    Remembered with honour

    Douglas Carmichael was born in 1894. Son of William and Florence Fannie Brown, M.B.E., of Longfield, Heaton Mersey, Manchester. He came to The Leys in 1905 at the age of 11 and went into North A House. He was a Prefect and a Cadet Sergeant.

    On leaving school, Carmichael went up to Jesus College, University of Cambridge.

    At the outbreak of war, Carmichael joined the Rifle Brigade and served with distinction in France and Belgium. He was killed in action on 25 September 1915 at the age of 21, having reached the rank of Captain. He is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, panel numbers 46-48 and 50.

    Extract from de Ruvigny's The Roll of Honour 1914-1918 Part 2 Page 58:

    CARMICHAEL, DOUGLAS, Capt., 9th (Service) Battn. The Rifle Brigade (The Prince Consort’s Own), eldest s. of James Carmichael, of Redclyffe, Streatham Park, London, J.P., by his wife, Annie Reid, dau. of James Reid Ruthvin, of co. Perth; b. Wandsworth, London, S.W., 17 Jan. 1894; educ. Lys School (sic.), Cambridge, and Jesus College, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A.; volunteered his services on the outbreak of war, and was gazetted 2nd Lieut. The Rifle Brigade, 9 Sept. 1914, and promoted Lieut. 1 Oct., and Capt. 4 March, 1915; went to France in May, and was killed in action at Hooge 26 Sept. following.

    Lieut.-Colonel W. Villiers-Stuart wrote on 29 Aug. 1915: “I am taking the liberty of writing you to tell you about Douglas. From the very beginning he was quite exceptionally valuable, and his capacity and industry were amazing. But he has in the last month been compelled to show himself as he really is - no longer to hide his magnificent qualities under his modest demeanour. The battalion was very badly knocked about in the fighting at . . , Your son’s first act was to collect men of another regiment, who, by his personality and fearlessness, he rallied and kept with him till long afterwards they were able to rejoin their unit. As time wore on, the incessant bombardment and continued drain in wounded officers began to affect the battalion, and so your son, who had already organized in the most excellent way everything within reach, was sent to steady two companies. Many of the N.C.O.’s and riflemen have told me that while your son was near they were perfectly happy. He carried out every kind of duty under incessant shell fire till we were relieved, and I don’t think he can have slept at all for many days. Since then I have had more opportunity than before of seeing his work, and the more I see, the more extraordinarily capable I know (not think) him to be. I have recommended him for some mark of distinction, and he thoroughly deserves such a mark. . . . I would much like you to know that I, an old soldier of many years’ service in wild and rough places, would give command of the battalion over to your son to-day, with the knowledge that he is a better and more capable soldier than any I have seen in twenty-five years’ service. His capacity you would know; his coolness is phenomenal, and his bravery quite exceptional,” and again after his death: “He was killed on 25 Sept. in action near . . - I saw him last at twelve o’clock midnight, and he was killed next morning about nine o’clock. His bravery is a byword in the division. He fought that day with infinite courage. I have no words, and no one else would have any, to express his magnificent bravery. For long he has done everything for me, and he knew be was absolutely trusted. I shall never see a soldier like him again. It Is quite impossible that anyone so fearless could ever be found. He carried four lines of trenches With his company under a moat desperate artillery and machine-gun fire, and, when muses of Germans came against him, by his wonderful personality he kept his men, now reduced to a handful, in good spirit, and led them again and again to the attack. They say it was glorious to see him throw himself on the packed masses of Germans and almost alone forced them back. He rallied the men over and over again, and they stuck to him till the end. He was wounded early in the day, about 5 am., but, just like him, made nothing of it. He was killed instantaneously by a bullet in the forehead as he was once more leading a bomb charge. We tried to bring in his body in the evening, but it had been completely destroyed by high-explosive German shells. I will try and tell you better in a few days about it all; but we are so worn out just now that words will not come. He would have earned the V.C. ten times had he lived. He was the most capable and bravest officer of the old army or the new army I have ever or shall ever see, and I can never look on his like again. It is heartrendingly sad that he had to go. Two divisions were attacking. You will know that Douglas carried more German trenches than any other officer on the whole front. Others could not carry any. He at once time carried five lines. If it is possible for you to have any consolation in losing your son, he had become well known for his devotion to duty, bravery and capacity, and I have lost my very best officer and my great friend, who I admired so greatly.” Sergt. W. Walker, Machine Gun Section, also wrote: “There was not a man in our battalion who would not have followed him anywhere. To cut a long story short, he was in command of the whole attack on the morning of the 25th, and right well did he lead us until he was hit in the leg. Then we pushed forward alone, as he refused to have any assistance; but just after I saw him hopping on one leg towards the next line of German trenches under a murderous fire. We took three lines in all, but had to retire. Your son was still in command, absolutely refusing to be taken back. On reaching the original German front line he rallied the small handful of men left, and told us to hold it at all costs, which we did against masses of Germans until almost every man was either killed or wounded. Your son was killed with a machine gun, and I was twice wounded at the same time. It was instantaneous, and his last words were: ‘For God’s sake hold them back!’ He earned the V .C. 50 times over. No officer could be loved more or held in higher esteem by his men than your gallant son. A more gallant leader or fearless man never led men on the field of battle.” Unm.

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