Maj. Gen. MacDougall

Major General J.C. MacDougall
Canadian Training Division

General MacDougall has, also, been very nasty with General Steele, as well as with General Carson … he puffed himself out and became most offensive until, as I once told you, I gave him to understand I would recall him promptly. I had a large gathering of senior Officers at Shorncliffe yesterday, some two or three hundred, and told them frankly and kindly that all this sort of rivalry and “monkeying” must cease.

  (Sam Hughes to Robert Borden, 24 Mar 1916)

Born in Toronto on 16 July 1863, James Charles MacDougall was a Royal Military College graduate, Boer War veteran, former commanding officer of the Royal Canadian Regiment, and a professional soldier for over thirty-years in the Permanent Force. Left behind when the 1st Canadian Division went to France in February 1915, MacDougall was placed in command of all Canadian troops in the United Kingdom.

Under militia minister Sam Hughes’s domineering, the Canadian military organization in England was illogical and confused with uncertainty over hierarchy and authority. MacDougall commanded the reserve brigade at Shorncliffe but more influence rested with Colonel John Carson, the minister’s representative overseas. The arrival of Major General Sam Steele of the 2nd Division in May 1915 confused the situation further as the aging Mountie had felt he enjoyed deference as the most senior Canadian general overseas.

In September 1915, MacDougall took command of the Canadian Training Division at Shorncliffe, but tensions with Carson and Steele persisted. Hughes, whose egoistic propensity for meddling had provoked much of the bickering, placed the blame on “petty, childish, jealousy on the part of MacDougall.” At the same time, field officers complained about the quality of the training new Canadian arrivals had received at Shorncliffe Camp.

In September 1916, Hughes overstepped his authority when he appointed the ten-member sub-militia council, that included MacDougall, to oversee the disordered administrative situation in the United Kingdom. Prime Minister Borden instead appointed High Commissioner George Perley as new Minister of Overseas Military Forces and forced Hughes to resign in November.

In December 1916, Perley selected Major General Richard Turner to head the overseas headquarters, giving him command over all Canadian forces in the United Kingdom. As consolation, MacDougall was sent on a tour of the front where he as briefly attached to Field Marshall Haig’s staff. He was then struck off strength to Canada in March 1917.

MacDougall resigned from the militia in April 1919 and died in Bermuda on 30 January 1927.

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