Topic: Thomas Lewis Douglas (1889-1915)

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Thomas Lewis Douglas was a Tauranga builder. His older brother George Alexander Douglas was killed in action at Gallipoli during the Battle of Chunuk Bair on 8 August 1915. The following day Thomas was also killed. Story researched and written by Debbie McCauley.

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Thomas Lewis Douglas (1886-1915)

Thomas Lewis Douglas was born in Tauranga on 28 January 1889 (reg. 1889/17367). His parents were William John and Annie Douglas (nee King) who married in 1880 (reg. 1880/2745).

On 22 November 1909 his father, William John Douglas, died accidentally (reg. 1909/6517). The incident was reported in the New Zealand Herald on 23 November 1909:

SWALLOWED A STAPLE. MAN'S PECULIAR DEATH. Waihi, Monday. An elderly resident of Tauranga, Mr. William John Douglas, died at the Waihi Hospital this morning, as the result, of accidentally swallowing a fencing staple. It appears that deceased had been engaged in repairing a barbed-wire fence, and put some of the staples in his mouth, as his two hands were engaged at the time. He was talking to his son, and threw back his head to laugh, when one of the stables slipped down his throat. He was admitted to the hospital, but pneumonia supervened. The matter was reported to the Coroner, who decided that an inquest was unnecessary... Great regret was caused here to-day by the receipt of the news of the death at Waihi of Mr. W. J. Douglas, a settler of Tauranga for over 30 years. At a meeting this evening of the committee of the Tauranga Agricultural and Pastoral Association, of which Mr. Douglas was an active member, a resolution of sympathy with the widow and family was carried.

Thomas became a builder and contractor. He was also a marksman with the Tauranga Mounted Rifles.

He enlisted on 15 August 1914 (Service Number: 11/37), embarking from Wellington on 16 October 1914 for Suez, Egypt.

Thomas was a Trooper with the Wellington Mounted Rifles, 6th Manawatu Squadron.

On 8 August 1915 his older brother George Alexander Douglas of the Auckland Mounted Rifles was killed during the Battle of Chunuk Bair at Gallipoli. 

The following day, 9 August 1915, Thomas was also killed at Gallipoli (reg. 1918/39422). He was aged 29. The first notification of their deaths was in the Bay of Plenty Times on 31 August 1915:

Amongst those killed in action at the Dardanelles on August 8 was Trooper George Alexander Douglas, of the 11th North Auckland Mounted Rifles, and on the following day his brother Trooper Thomas Lewis Douglas, of the 6th Manawatu Mounted Rifles, was also killed in action. These young men were sons of Mrs A J Douglas, of Dominion Road, Auckland and the late W J Douglas of Tauranga. For many years they resided at Otumoetai, and were held in the highest esteem by all who knew them. The widespread sympathy of a large circle of friends in this district will be extended to Mrs Douglas and family in their great bereavement. Both these men in common with the late A W Kent and G. Crosley were former members of the old Tauranga Mounted Riles, and thus Tauranga's Roll of Honour is being sadly but proudly built up by her past and present sons.

On 1 September 1915 the New Zealand Herald reported:

TWO BROTHERS. Trooper George Alexander Douglas and Trooper Thomas Lewis Douglas - of Mrs. Annie Douglas, of Rocklands Avenue, Dominion Road, and of the late Mr. William John Douglas, of Tauranga, were killed in action during the recent heavy fighting on Gallipoli. Both young men were born and educated at Tauranga, where the family is well known and widely respected. Trooper G. A. Douglas was 28 years of age. He was a farmer by occupation, and for about five years prior to the outbreak of war resided near Gisborne. He enlisted with the main body of the North Auckland Mounted Rifles, and was killed in action on August 8. His brother, Trooper T. L. Douglas, was 26 years of age at the time of his death in action, on August 9. For about six years prior to enlisting he resided at Ohakune, where he carried on a successful business as a builder and contractor, and had a promising future before him. He left in the main body with the 6th, Manawatu, Mounted Rifles. Both brothers took a keen interest in military matters, and served in the old volunteers at Tauranga and Gisborne. The younger brother was a particularly good rifle shot and won a number of medals and other trophies at various shooting competitions. "Both were fine young fellows," said their mother. They have done good work tor their country, but - l expected to get one back."

The brothers are named together on a headstone at Tauranga Presbyterian Cemetery. 

Thomas Lewis Douglas (1886-1915)


Births, Deaths & Marriages Online (New Zealand).

Cenotaph Record (Auckland War Memorial Museum).

Fiona Kean (Tauranga Heritage Collection).

Military personnel file (Archives New Zealand).

New Zealand Herald (23 November 1909, p. 5).

New Zealand Herald (1 September 1915, p. 9)


A version of this article was archived in August 2016 at Perma CC

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Thomas Lewis Douglas (1889-1915)

Note:Service Number: 11/37
First Names:Thomas Lewis
Last Name:Douglas
Date of Birth:28 January 1889
Place of Birth:Tauranga
Country of birth:New Zealand
Date of death:9 August 1915
Place of death:Gallipoli, Turkey
Occupation:builder and contractor
Fathers name:William John Douglas
Fathers date of death:22 November 1909
Fathers place of death:Waihi, New Zealand
Mothers name:Annie King
Military Service:World War I (1914-1918)