John Sholto Douglas

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Major John Sholto Douglas, a regular officer from the well-known Scottish Douglas of Tilquhillie family, played a significant role as the Commandant of the Middle East Command Camouflage Directorate during World War II.

Born in 1904, John Sholto Douglas was a professional soldier, a Major in the Royal Scots.

He was appointed Commandant at the School of Camouflage within the Middle East Command Camouflage Directorate where his leadership and expertise were crucial in organizing major deception operations for the Middle East Command during the Western Desert Campaign.

The Middle East Command Camouflage Directorate, also known as the Camouflage Unit, orchestrated several successful deception operations:
- Siege of Tobruk: Provided camouflage during the siege of Tobruk.
- Dummy Railhead: Created a dummy railhead at Misheifa.
- Operation Bertram: Executed the largest army-scale deception for the decisive battle of El Alamein in October 1942.
These operations diverted enemy attention, conserved vital resources, and misled the enemy regarding allied strength and intentions. Winston Churchill publicly praised the effectiveness of these deceptions.

The unit was led by Geoffrey Barkas, a film director, who assembled a team of professional artists as camouflage officers or 'camoufleurs'. John Sholto Douglas worked alongside the renowned British zoologist Hugh Cott, who served as the chief instructor.

Operation Bertram, which Douglas contributed to, may have been the last large-scale physical deception ever conducted by an army. Subsequent major deceptions incorporated electronic measures.

Douglas's role in military camouflage remains a testament to the art of deception during wartime.

 Research notes:

•  In newspaper "Kurjer Poznanski" from 22-04-1939, I found information that Captain John Sholto Douglas was visiting city of Poznan. His host was polish general Wolikowski. First two days J.S Douglas spend in Hotel Bazar, then he moved to private villa that belonged to Dietl family. Members of Dietl family told me that Mr. Douglas came to them wearing a kilt so my guess is that he was attached to some Schottisch regiment. He also was sportsman because he came with his tennis racquet and cricket (bat). He left just one week before the war outbreak. Later he was send to Egypt. Do you have any details or information about this gentleman? I guess that he was around 40 years old in 1939. Newspaper informs that Captain Douglas came from "town named Kingdom" but it was probably a mistake of reporter (it was just United Kingdom in my opinion). He travelled with his colleague Capt. Richard Moncrieff Wright (see below) from Lahore in India(1).


•  Maj. John Sholto DOUGLAS (39267) (late R.S.) to be 2nd Lt., 25th Jan. 1952 TERRITORIAL ARMY

•  J. Sholto Douglas Major, Royal Scots Guards: Commandant, School of Camouflage; A Professional soldier; running the school The British Middle East Command Camouflage Directorate (known simply as Camouflage) was led by filmmaker Geoffrey Barkas, with a team of camouflage officers or "camoufleurs" who were all, apparently, artists. The team included the artist Steven Sykes, the first Camouflage GSO2 in the British army.

•  Sholto Douglas's father, grandfather and great-grandfather had all been soldiers. **UNVERIFIED**

•  1st Battalion The Royal Scots - In 1930 they moved to Quetta, then Lahore in 1934, and finally Hong Kong in January 1938.

•  13 Aug 1943
Polish Military Cross.
Major Charles Anthony Howell Bruce Blake (52575), The Royal Ulster Rifles.
Major John Sholto Douglas (39267), The Royal Scots (The Royal Regiment).
'Major Alan Charles Maxwell (132915), Royal Artillery.
Major George Alexander Potter (90308), The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment).
Captain (temporary Major) Adrian John Reginald Holt (36682), The South Staffordshire Regiment.
Captain (temporary Major) Thomas Miller Kirkwood (67607), Royal Armoured Corps.
Captain (temporary Major) Richard England Liddiard (134442), Royal Corps of Signals.
Captain (temporary Major) Norman Waddleton, M.A. (92607), Royal Corps of Signals.
Captain John Harrison London (117159), The Highland Light Infantry (City of Glasgow Regiment).
Lieutenant (temporary Captain) Henry Boleslaw Grynkiewiez (201219), General List.

•  Captain Richard Moncrieff Wright would appear to have been in the SOE (Special Operations Executive).

•  Richard John Moncrieff WRIGHT - born 06.11.1913, died 23.12.1944 1939 Jan 01 - 1946 Dec 31 records
Held by: The National Archives, Kew -
Major; Service No: 56743; Date of Death: 23/12/1944; Age: 31; Regiment/Service: Royal Tank Regiment, R.A.C.
Son of John Moncrieff WRIGHT and Leonore Ada WRIGHT (nee Macdonald) of Masterton, Wellington, New Zealand

•  Major. Richard John Moncrieff Wright 56743 RTR. Killed 23rd December 1944. Heverlee War Cemetery. Grave 1.K.14. Son of John Moncrieff Wright and of Leonore Ada Wright (nee Beddall), of Carshalton Beeches, Surrey, England. He had been onboard No.148 Squadron Halifax II JP286 Special Operations Halifax. It is thought most probable that JP286 was shot down by Luftwaffe pilot Hauptman Leopold Fellerer of StabIII/NJG6 at 01.50 hrs. 10km NE of Kaposvar on the 4th July 1944 at 1700 Metres The aircraft crashed and exploded - 8 bodies were recovered from the aircraft which meant the "agents" had been dropped to carry out their task. (3)


•  Major J. S. Douglas, of the Royal Scots, who is attached to a Polish Brigade, and who before the outbreak of war was with the British Military Mission in Poland. The Brightonian; Old Boy News; October 1942



•  John Sholto Douglas 15th of Tilquhillie b 18 Nov 1838 d Sep 1874

m. 24 Feb 1864 Vanda v Poellnitz
1. John William Edward James Douglas 16th of Tilquhillie JP b 16 Feb
1865 educ Uppingham. Of Ladyhill, Bieldside Co Aberdeen
m. 17 Nov 1901 Olga Edith dau of August Julius 2nd baron de Reuter
1.1 John Sholto Douglas 17th of Tilquhillie "which his father
propelled to him in 1925" b 1 Mar 1904 Educ Wadham College Oxford. Lt
Royal Scots (1926).
1.2 Madeleine Clemence Ogilvie Douglas b 21 Mar 1907
1.3 Phoebe Mary Douglas b 28 Mar 1917
2. Robert Ernest Douglas b 11 May 1867 d 5 Dec 1867
3. George Norman Douglas b 8 Dec 1868 Educ Uppingham 3rd Sec in
Diplomatic Service
m. 1898 Elsa dau of Augustus FitzGibbon of Mount Shannon Co Limerick,
"and had issue"
4. Mary Douglas b 21 Jan 1871 d 3 Jun 1903
m. 1894 E P Fairbairn of Ystrad House, Knighton, Radnorshire, "leaving
issue" [details in Burke's Peerage under Fairbairn Bt]


1.  I leave it to the reader to interpret the mis-spellings and omitted word(s)

2The engagement is announced, and the marriage will shortly take place, between Major John Sholto Douglas, The Royal Scots, only son of Mr. J. W. E. J. Douglas, of Tilquhillie, and the late Mrs. Douglas {nee de Reuter), and Elsa Valerie, second daughter of Mr. and Mrs. R. Heubach, of 62 Thrale Road, London, S.W.16. The Brightonian; October 1942

3.  T/O Brindisi on Operation SAVANNA101/DEERHURST. The mission are believed to entail a leaflet drop over Yugoslavia, insert military liaison officers into Hungary (DEERHURST) and a supply drop in Poland (SAVANNA101) A/c shot down between 1.00 and 2.00am over Kaposvar by night fighter flown by Hauptman Fellerer Crash site at Nyirespuszta near the village of Mezocsokonya NE of Kaposvar, Hungary. The four special agent’s task was to make contact with the Hungarian resistance because Lt Col E.P.E. Broughhay was eager to give some help for Hungary trying to leave the Axis. Unfortunately however there were not any resistance groups in Hungary at the time, so their mission was doomed from the beginning. All the liaison officers were captured on the same day that they landed


See also:
•  Douglas of Tilquhillie





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