The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster

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Charles William Duggan

DUGGAN, Charles William

Charles William Duggan was born in Edinburgh on the 14th of October 1866 to William Nelson Duggan and Jeanie Grant Reid. He was the second of their three children, the eldest, Arthur James, dying in infancy. A daughter, Jeanie Grant Reid Duggan, was born in 1869. William Duggan, an Army Staff Surgeon, died in October 1876 and in the 1881 census his widow and two children were living with her mother in Edinburgh. Charles was educated at private hospital schools in the city and then studied medicine at Edinburgh University, graduating in 1887. He went on to study in Vienna, Prague and Paris and in 1891 joined the Army Medical Service with the rank of Captain. That same year his mother died in Edinburgh. In 1894 he was serving in Sierra Leone, part of the Sofa Expedition, for which he won the medal and clasp.

In January 1895 he married Christiana Maude Maund, a ‘Teacher of Music’, in Chetwynd, Shropshire. Their first child Vera Grant was born in Devon in 1897 but he was then posted to Gibraltar. Gazetted Major in 1903, the family had a couple of years in Edinburgh before they moved to Lucknow, India where a son, Charles Walter Ronald, was born in 1906. In 1908/09 he was in Shwabo, Burma, while a second daughter, Crystal Vivien was born in Worcester in 1908. He retired from the service in July 1909 and in 1911 they were living in Nettleham, close to Lincoln. They later moved to Hampshire.

Meanwhile his sister Jeanie had also qualified as a doctor from Edinburgh University and had gone to India in January in 1896. An entry in the Medical Register shows her as Physician in Charge in Dufferin Hospital, Hyderabad, a hospital exclusively for women and children. However, she died in December 1899, her death being registered in Lahore.

Charles Duggan was in Ireland in October 1918 giving evidence at a court-martial in Cork. He travelled to Dublin by train on the 9th and spent the night in Ross’s Hotel in Parkgate Street in Dublin. There he was in the company of another R.A.M.C. man. Lieutenant Robert Bassett, and a New Zealand Lieutenant, Godfrey Halse, whose injured shoulder was clamped in an iron frame. The three men travelled together on RMS Leinster the following day. The Irish Times of the 12th of October reported that when the first torpedo struck the ship Bassett put a lifejacket on Halse and all three jumped into the water. Lieutenant Halse was rescued but Bassett and Duggan lost their lives.

Charles Duggan’s body was never recovered but his name is recorded on the Hollybrook Memorial in Southampton as well as on the War Record of his old school in Edinburgh, George Watson College.



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