The Australian Boer War Memorial
Anzac Parade Canberra

 
 
Lieutenant Dugald Drummond DCM

Dugald Drummond was born on 24 January 1867 at Ulmarra NSW, the son of blacksmith James Drummond, a native of Glasgow, Scotland and his wife Annie nee Cameron. He was a stock and station agent when he volunteered for service in South Africa 1899. He went to the Boer war as a private with the first contingent of the NSW Mounted Rifles, departing Sydney 3 November 1899 and landing at Capetown on 7 December. The contingent under the command of Captain J M Antill, subsequently became 'A' squadron of a five squadron regiment, 1st NSW Mounted Rifles following the arrival of additional drafts from Australia. It was not until 14 April 1900 that the final squadron joined the unit. Drummond thus served with the 1st NSWMR from its earliest days and saw action at the relief of Kimberley, and at Paardeburg, Driefontein, Johannesburg Diamond Hill and Wittenbergen during which time he was promoted corporal. It was during the latter half of 1900 that he won the DCM, although the award did not appear in the London gazette until 27 September 1901, neither the date of the action for which Drummond received the award nor the citation are given. According to a family story, Drummond and a colleague had been detached from the column which included his unit to reconnoitre when they were suddenly attacked by Boers from three sides. The two Australians wheeled about and attempted to ride back out of the trap. The horse of Drummond’s colleague was shot and fell, whereupon rode back under heavy fire and took his mate up on his own horse before galloping to safety. Drummond escaped with nothing more than a bullet through his hat; it was reportedly said at the time that had he been wounded his award would have been the VC.

Drummond had returned to Sydney on 8 January 1901 and been discharged before the award of the DCM was announced. A character reference written for Drummond by one of his squadron officers, Captain A. A. McLean, referred his South African service as “exceptionally good work, being specially mentioned by his Corps Commander for bravery under fire”. Another such reference from the squadron commander, Antill dated 14 January stated that “Drummond was the only man of my command whom I have recommended for the Distinguished Service Medal for ‘personal bravery’ and I note with gladness that in General Orders this order is to be awarded to Corporal Drummond”

On 28 February 1901 Drummond was appointed as a second lieutenant in the Imperial Drafts Contingent for service in South Africa having volunteered for further duty. He was however transferred to the 3rd NSW Mounted Rifles which was being raised at the same time as a lieutenant. He sailed as an officer with 'E' squadron of that unit on 21 march on the transport "British Princess" with RHQ and A and C squadrons. (B and D squadrons had sailed a week earlier.) 'E' squadron was under the command of Captain S F Stokes. Following arrival in Durban on 17 April 1901, Drummond saw active service in the mopping up operations and final drives in the Eastern Transvaal and Eastern Orange Free State. Much of this service was with Rimmington’s column. The regiment finished operations 28 April 1902 and entrained for Capetown. In Capetown the commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel C F Cox wrote Drummond a reference that referred to him as a 'splendid soldier' and 'thoroughly reliable officer'. After the unit returned to Sydney, Drummond returned to his civil occupation.

With the raising of the first AIF, Drummond joined the 6th Light Horse Regiment commanded by his old CO Lieutenant Colonel (later Major General) Charles Cox on 9 October 1914 and was appointed lieutenant on 1 May 1915. He served with the 6th in Egypt and at Gallipoli where he was badly wounded by shrapnel in late September 1915. He was evacuated to England and then invalided to Australia on the 'Ascanius' unfit for further service. In December 1916 Drummond was asked if he would be available for duty as Adjutant and Quartermaster on board a troopship to England it being stressed that officers so appointed would not be permitted under any circumstances to accompany the troops after disembarkation beyond the depot where they would be available for duty until required to return on duty on troopships returning to Australia. He accepted the offer of active service again and made at least one such trip. He also spent time in a training role at Holsworthy camp where he appears to have been a popular officer. He enlisted in the Sea Service Unit on 11 September 1919 continuing his troop escort duties and served until that appointment was terminated 11 May 1920. He acted as an escort officer to German prisoners being repatriated in 1921.

Drummond married on 11 September 1918 aged 51 in St Andrews Cathedral, Sydney. His wife was Elsie Gertrude Hearndon, aged 29, the matron of Moree hospital. The couple had three children, the third being born after Dugald's death.

Drummond became well known after the war as a manager of an experimental cotton farm for Mr G A Bond at Castlereagh. It had been decided to move the venture to Maryborough in Queensland in order to grow three crops per year. Drummond was preparing to move when he died suddenly from acute pneumonia and nephritis on 24 August 1925. He was buried in Rookwood cemetery, Sydney.

Adapted from "A VC Missed: The Case of Dugald Drummond" (Chris Woods)
 


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