Captain Coll Lorne MacDougall

Captain Coll Lorne MacDougall was born in 1906 in Trujillo, Peru, the son of Coll and Jane MacDougall from Islay, Scotland.  His parents had been posted to South America, where his father managed a sugar plantation.  In the 1911 census he is recorded as  living in West Hampstead, London with his aunt, Colqishan MacDougall and great aunt, Nina Campbell.

Captain MacDougall at Beaulieu, 1939

It has not been possible to trace how Coll MacDougall joined the 140 Regiment in 1939; he is recorded as a Lieutenant in the Territorial Royal Artillery at the time of his first marriage to Irene Howard in 1935.

D Troop, 367 Battery

At the age of 34 years, MacDougall became Officer commanding ‘D’ Troop, 367 Battery, and so I suspect he was my father, Lance Bombardier Eric West’s, senior Officer at Cassel.

Breakout and Captivity

In the confusion of the breakout it appears that Captain MacDougall had joined a column of about 40 Royal Engineers of the 100th Monmouth Regiment.  Captain Hood describes in his diary that he had earlier ‘shared bully beef‘ with him in the small hours of the 30th May near Winnezeele; I assume he evaded capture there before joining with the Royal Engineers column.

The Royal Engineers officer in command,  Major G. Whitehead, was moving along an anti-tank ditch, and about 40 of his men got through before German armoured vehicles enfiladed the ditch. They then marched for some hours in a gradual left hand circle to bring them back to Dunkirk but were evidently shadowed, and they were shot up again by a tank when crossing a road. All but three of this party were captured there.

Major Whitehead, R.E. was captured with Captain MacDougall and later nominated for a Military Cross by Brigadier Mason-MacFarlane of Macforce. The nomination states: ‘He handled his company very ably as infantry in the defence of the town (Cassel). ..He did not return from Cassel’

The three escapees were Captain MacDougall,  Sapper Bate and Major G. Whitehead himself. The three men were captured eight weeks later near Forges-les-Eaux, north of Rouen on 24th July 1940. This town is in the Normandy region and about 100 miles to the South-west of Cassel.

Thus MacDougall and his two companions had lived off the land for nearly two months while evading capture, possibly with the help of French resistance.

Mentioned in Dispatches

Captain MacDougall was also mentioned in dispatches in December 1945 after recommendation by the British Secret service, MI9.  The award was proposed for his communication from captivity with the War office in London, cryptically described as ‘by secret means‘.

The citation reads:

Capt MacDougall was captured on 24th July at Forges-les Eaux and as a result was imprisoned in various camps in Germany.  Between December 1940 and December 1944, Capt. MacDougall frequently sent valuable information to the War Office by secret means. He was liberated by Allied Forces in April 1945.

Liberation Questionaire

There are further clues to MacDougall’s captivity in his Liberation Questionaire, completed on 10th May 1945, describing his role as ‘letter writer‘ in the 3 camps he was interned in (Oflags VIID Tittmoning, VIB Warburg, VIID Eichstatt). Presumably he was sending messages to MI9 in encrypted form.

Captain MacDougall’s life remains somewhat of an enigma.  He had married Irene Howard in 1935 in London and then remarried in 1967 in Enfield, Middlesex. His occupation is recorded as a solicitor, having passed his Law examinations in 1934.

Captain Coll Lorne MacDougall died in November 1997 at Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex at the age of 91 years and is buried at Bishop’s Stortford New Cemetry, Herts, alongside his second wife Eileen who also died in 1997.