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Hon. Ronald John Sholto Douglas









Lt Ronald DouglasHon. Ronald John Sholto Douglas was born on 22 April 1890, the son of Sholto George Douglas, 19th Earl of Morton and Hon. Helen Geraldine Ponsonby.

He married Alexandra Albertha Jean Hamilton, daughter of Admiral Sir Frederick Tower Hamilton and Maria Walpole Keppel, on 28 June 1920. They had a daughter, Victoria Maria Douglas, b. 25 Mar 1921, d. 9 Dec 1994

He fought in the First World War as a Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. He was invested as an Officer, Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.).


He served on HMS Zedwhale (See below).  

He died on 31 January 1922 at age 31, from illness contracted in the War.  He is shown as deceased on the Conaglen memorial.




















"HMS ZEDWHALE was the first of fifteen Admiralty Whalers, ordered 15 March 1915 and built by Smith's Dock Co, using designs prepared for whalers to be built for the Russian Government. Weighing 336 tons, 139.75 x 25 x 6.5 feet, with 1 12 pounder, 1 6 pounder and 1 3 pounder gun. She was coal driven and held a complement of 26. She was used for Anti-Submarine work, Experiments and Training.

- The ship was launched in July 1915 and given the number Z1.

- In September 1915 she was renamed MEG and given the Admiralty No 1790, and as such was under French command with a French crew and flying the tricolour but under the orders of the British Admiralty.  The Admiralty classed Zedwhale as "unseaworthy" (Report from her first commanding officer Lieutenant de Vaisseau Auxiliarre Jean Charlot after she nearly floundered off North Rona Island) and "quite unfit to be at sea in Atlantic winter weather, only fit for service inside the Minch in small seas" (Lieutenant de Vaisseau Auxiliarre Jean Charlot (1915) on the bridge of the MEG).

After receiving Charlot's report the Admiralty proposed to transfer the MEG to the Mediterranean. However, this move never materialised and instead the MEG was transferred back to the Royal Navy after paying off on 13 January 1916, then renamed ZEDWHALE and re-commissioned at Granton, with a British crew, tendered to HMS ATTENTIVE, 6th Destroyer Flotilla Leader, Dover.

Dates are somewhat confusing but it appears that within days she transferred back to Granton as tender to HMS COLUMBINE, Base Ship Rosyth, and by 1917 she was partnering the steam trawler COOT H897, employed from the Forth down the east coast fisheries and for a time she partnered HM Submarine C7 on anti U-Boat patrols.

Whether ZEDWHALE actually participated in any Q-Ship activities with COOT is not entirely clear. With the advent of the convoy system in May 1917 the number of independent sailings reduced drastically and with changing tactics, the day of the Q-Ships had passed.


The crew of the Zedwhale were apparently awarded naval salvage money for the salvage of S.S. "Jupiter," between 8th and 11th October, 1916.

On 15th November 1918, Zedwhale, commanded by Lt Ronald Douglas, accompanied HMML 65, commanded by his brother, William, was ordered to collect Admiral Meurer, Commander of the German High Seas Fleet, and take him to Admiral Beatty on HMS Queen Elizabeth to arrange the surrender.

- On 12 February 1920, she was sold out of service under the same name: new owners unknown.

- Within two years, she had been sold to Russian owners and renamed TSAR DUSHAN. Tsar Dushan was the Tsar of Serbia 1346-55 !"



See also:
•  Image of signal relating to the surrender and photos of the Zedwhale and HMML65

•  Conaglen memorial

•  Gravestone



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Last modified: Friday, 17 May 2024