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Carlton war hero emerges


Of the 1133 men to have represented Carlton at senior VFL/AFL since 1897 is one Andrew William Dougall.

Dougall only managed two senior appearances in the blue lace-up with the chamois yoke - and that is but part of the story of this complex individual, whose extraordinary double life was only recently uncovered by intrepid Old Geelong Collegian Paul Mishura, who is compiling a comprehensive a database of all Geelong Collegians both past and present, Dougall amongst them.

In this instance, Mishura worked closely with the AFL researcher Stephen Rodgers, whose herculean task is to somehow determine the outstanding birthdates (18) and dates of death (around 200) of the 11,941 senior League footballers to have played the game since the League’s inception 114 years ago.
“It’s a long search,” Rodgers concedes. There are a lot of players from the early days whose dates of birth and death we can’t find for whatever reason. They’re obviously dead, but aren’t recorded in any death records in Australia, and Andrew was one of those.”

On confirmation that Dougall had attended Geelong College as far back as early as 1896 (and current Carlton footballers Ed Curnow and Lachie Henderson also spent their formative years there), Rodgers’ and Mishura’s enquiries led them as far away as the United Kingdom, for as Rodgers explained “we thought for example that Dougall might have died off shore, like England or some such”.

“We found an Andrew William Dougall in the English records as having died in the early 1960s, and we thought that maybe it was him, but the years didn’t really tally and at that stage we didn’t know he’d changed his name,” Rodgers said.

“But when Andrew’s relatives died, I received relevant details from Paul of their dates of death. I checked the death notices at the library, and found a link to a distant relative in Sydney who was then located and contacted by Paul.”
The son of Scottish immigrants William and Mary (nee Mitchell) Dougall, Andrew William Dougall was born in Melbourne on May 22, 1884. He was one of four Dougall siblings, together with older brother John, younger brother Norman and younger sister Helen - and also boasted two half-brothers and two half-sisters from his father’s second marriage.

Club records reveal that in 1902, Dougall was recruited to Carlton from the neighbouring Melbourne University, where he pursued his studies in medicine. Under the tutelage of the newly-appointed Secretary and Coach Jack Worrall, Dougall turned out twice for the Blues - in the 11th and 14th rounds of that season against Melbourne and Collingwood respectively.

It is here that the tale takes a remarkable twist.

Paul was subsequently advised by a distant relative of Dougall’s, Mary-Louise McPherson, that in August 1914 and for reasons that remain unclear, Dougall, then 30, enlisted with the AIF under the pseudonym James Davidson. Two months later, as a member of the 10th Infantry Battalion, he boarded the HMAT Ascanius for the Dardanelles.

At Gallipoli the following April, Davidson took a bullet in the right forearm, but less than eight weeks later returned to battle in the elevated rank of Sergeant.

In August of 1916, and this time on the battlefields of France, he incurred another gunshot wound to the arm. Again he recovered, and after overcoming a subsequent illness, once more returned to active duty.

By 1917, 2nd Lieutenant Davidson found himself in England, where he undertook courses in gas warfare and bombing. In both theatres of learning he qualified as instructor, but mercifully his newly-acquired intelligences were not put to practical purpose, as in October 1918 he boarded a ship bound for his homeland.

Davidson’s bravery was rightfully acknowledged when in May 1919 the Commonwealth Gazette declared him a recipient of the military Cross. His citation, lodged by the Major General, Commanding 1st Australian Division eight months previous, read as follows;

During the period under review from 25th February to 16th September 1918, Lieut. J. Davidson has carried out the duties of platoon officer and later as Quartermaster in a most efficient and praiseworthy manner.

On two occasions within this period he has been called upon to carry out the duties of Quartermaster at very short notice and his work both in and out of the line has been all that could be desired. He rendered very valuable service in the capacity of Quartermaster during the recent fighting on the Somme from 8th August to the present date. He personally conducted the ration parties to the forward area each night and always delivered the food to the men, often in spite of heavy hostile shelling and machine gun fire.

His untiring energy and ability in feeding, clothing and equipping the personnel of the Battalion has been a marked feature of his most excellent service.

His devotion to duty at all times is deserving of the highest praise.


James Davidson, war hero, lived out his years in Hilton South Australia under that pseudonym - the pseudonym he carried with him to the grave following his death, appropriately enough on Remembrance Day 1941.

And yet, when he exchanged marriage vows with Rita Isobel Ridley some ten years previous, he signed the marriage register “Andrew William Dougall”.
Regrettably, Mary-Louise McPherson, whose mother was Dougall’s half-sister, could shed little detail on Dougall’s life. “I know he enlisted for World War I under the name of James Davidson and won the Military Cross. I know he died in South Australia, but he is very much the mystery man . . . and why he changed his name we’ll probably never know.”

However, Mary-Louise was able to provide a rare image of Dougall, pictured here in 1917. In turn, the club was able to provide her with an image of Jack Worrall’s 1902 team, in which she identified her Andrew as the fourth player from the right in the back row.

In an incredible addendum to this family story, Dougall’s younger brother, Lieutenant Norman Dougall of the 10th Battalion, was in June 1917 also acknowledged as a recipient of the Military Cross for conspicuous services rendered. In this instance, posthumously.

In what was one of the countless thousands of human tragedies of the war to end all wars, Norman was killed in action at Bullecourt on the green fields of France. As his citation read;

“His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased to confer the Military Cross on the undermentioned officer, in recognition of his gallantry and devotion to duty in the Field:-
Lieutenant Norman Dougall
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He organized and gallantly led forward a counter-attack which drove the enemy back, and undoubtedly saved a critical situation.”


The Carlton Football Club is still yet to determine the dates of birth for eight more former players. They are;

Edward Joseph Bowen (born 1889), James Francis Caffery (born Carlton, 1872), William John Clohesy (born Eaglehawk, 1894), Henry Edward Lewis (born circa 1877), William Lachlan Mark Lewis (born Hamilton, 1874), James Patrick Slattery Matthews (born Fitzroy, 1880), Samuel Alexander Reid (born 1872) and James Hamish Watson (born circa 1896).

Anyone able to assist with any information is kindly asked to contact the club on 9389 6241.