Doughty-Wylie, Charles Hotham Montagu

Lieutenant Colonel / Royal Welch Fusiliers

1868 - 1915

Charles Hotham Montagu Doughty-Wylie was born 23 July 1868, the eldest son of Henry Montague Doughty of Theberton Hall, Suffolk, and Edith Rebecca Doughty, née Cameron. His father's brother was Charles Doughty, author of Arabia Deserta and his maternal grandfather was Chief Justice of Vancouver Island.

Charles came to Winchester College from Cordwalles School (now St.Pirans) as a scholar in September 1882. He was a House Prefect and played in College VI in 1886.

He passed second into Sandhurst, and in 1889 was gazetted to the 2nd Battalion Royal Welch Fusiliers. In 1891 he took part in border fighting in the Black Mountains region of the North-West Frontier of India, being severely wounded in the Hazara Valley while leading a charge; and in 1895 he was selected to accompany the Chitral Relief Force as transport officer on the staff of General Gatacre. After a short time in Malta and Crete he served from 1898 to 1899 in the Egyptian Army, being present at the Battle of Omdurman, and subsequently accompanying, as Brigade Major, the mobile force detailed to follow up the Dervishes in the desert south of the city. He was twice mentioned in Despatches, and received the Turkish Order of the Medjidieh.

In 1899 he was posted to South Africa, where he commanded a battalion of Mounted Infantry in the Orange River Colony, being again severely wounded at Vredefort. He was then posted to Tientsin, in China, in the aftermath of the Boxer Rebellion. From 1903 to 1904 he was in Somaliland on special service in command of a unit of the Somali Camel Corps. In 1906 he was appointed Military Consul at Konia, and later also at Mersina. He rendered conspicuous service at Adana during the Armenian massacres, winning the title of 'the heroic Vice-Consul'. Acting on his own responsibility he assumed command of the town, posting guards over threatened houses and continually riding through the streets in spite of a damaged arm, trying to stop the slaughter. He afterwards organised relief for the destitute, taking many hundreds of refugees into his own house, while his wife undertook control of three hospitals. For the courage and capacity shown by him on this occasion 'in saving the lives of thousands of many nationalities', he was awarded the CMG.

In December 1909 he was appointed British Consul at Addis Ababa, the capital of Abyssinia, where he acted for considerable periods as Chargé d'Affaires. In 1912, having obtained leave from Abyssinia, he was appointed Director-in-Chief of the Red Cross Units working in Turkey during the Balkan War, and remained at Constantinople till May 1913. He was elected president of the International Commission appointed to delineate the boundaries of southern Albania and on the conclusion of his work was awarded the CB.  Early in 1915, having returned to Addis Ababa,  he again obtained leave from Abyssinia and after a short stay in London, was gazetted to the staff of General Sir Ian Hamilton in the Dardanelles, taking up his position on 18 March 1915.

Charles was killed on 26 April during the successful attack on Sedd-el-Bahr, (Seddülbahir in modern Turkish) and it was for his conduct on that occasion that he was posthumously awarded the VC. The official citation for his VC., dated 23 June 1915, states:   'On 26th April 1915, subsequent to a landing having been effected on the beach at a point on the Gallilpoli Peninsula, during which both Brigadier-General and Brigade Major had been killed, Lieutenant-Colonel Doughty-Wylie and Captain Walford organised and led an attack through and on both sides of the village of Sedd el Bahr on the Old Castle at the top of the hill inland. The enemy's position was very strongly held and entrenched, and defended with concealed machine guns and pom-poms. It was mainly due to the initiative, skill and great gallantry of these two officers that the attack was a complete success. Both were killed in the moment of victory'. 

Colonel Doughty-Wylie was buried at Sedd-el-Bahr on the hill which bears his name -  Hill 141, also known as Fort Hill.

Colonel Doughty-Wylie married Lilian Adams, daughter of John Wylie of Westcliff Hall, Hampshire, in 1904. She was the widow of the late Lieutenant Henry Adams  of the Indian Medical Service, who had changed his name by deed poll to Adams-Wylie on their marriage. Charles Doughty in turn also added his wife's name to his own surname on their marriage. The couple honeymooned on the North West Frontier of India, returning to England via Baghdad, Babylon and Constantinople. Mrs Doughty-Wylie joined in her husband's relief work during the Balkan War in 1913 and superintended the management of Red Cross Hospitals at Constantinople.

A small display, including some of Doughty-Wylie's medals, can be seen in the Museum of the Royal Welch Fusiliers in Caernarvon Castle.

Damaged plating from the "River Clyde" can be seen in the Hampshire Regimental Museum in Winchester.

Sources:  VCs of the First World War: Gallipoli by Stephen Snelling (Sutton 1995); The Times (26 May 1915); In the Footsteps of Doughty-Wylie VC by Shaun Hullis (Winchester College publication 2011)

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