The three Dugan brothers

The First World War exacted a heavy toll on the Dugan family from Portsea.

Private Wesley Dugan was part of the 15th Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment, a Portsmouth New Army ‘Kitchener’ unit. He was killed on the Somme on 15 September 1916. He has no known grave, and is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial. The 15th Battalion suffered incredibly heavy losses on this day the first day of the battle of Flers-Courcelette – an attempt to renew the Somme offensive that had started in July 1916.

His brother Private James Dugan was killed just under a year later. Serving with the 2nd Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment, he died on 21 August 1917 at the age of 43. He has no known grave, and is remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial. He was killed during the battle of Passchendaele, between the battle of Langemarck and the battle of the Menin Road.

The third Dugan brother fell in the spring of 1918. Private Edwin Dugan killed on 19 April 1918 in the Ypres Salient, while serving with the 2nd Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment. He is remembered on the Ploegsteert Memorial. This was during the Kaiser Offensive, the German’s last -ditch attempt to turn the tide of the war on the Western Front in 1918.

Thus the Dugan family lost three sons in 18 months of bloody fighting. As tragic as this seems, apparently some families in Britain lost as many as 5 sons between 1914 and 1918.



Filed under Army, portsmouth heroes, World War One

11 responses to “The three Dugan brothers

  1. Graham Howlett

    Fascinating. I believe that they are 3 of 11 children, and previously knew the ‘fate’ of all the others bar one. I believe that James was born in early 1880 (or late 1879), making his age at death 37, not 43.
    I am curious – just where did you find this information?

  2. James Daly

    Hi Graham, many thanks for your comment. Thank you also for the extra information about the Dugan family. I guess its a sad fact that out of a family of 11 children several would fall in WW1.

    The names on the Portsmouth WW1 Cenotaph are listed on memorialsinportsmouth, from there I entered the names into the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s online database to find out unit, age, next of kin etc. I also use Geoff’s WW1 search engine, which is an enhanced way of searching the CWGC database. As for information about the units, I took that from the long long trail website.

  3. Graham Howlett

    James, that is a great help – most kind and helpful, Graham

  4. James Stewart

    The 3 Dugan brothers who lost their lives in 1st World War are ancestors of my Mother in Law.
    Found the info.regarding them on CWGC site plus have been researching Dugan Family for her for about 5 years.
    Thanks for providing the actual battles that they fell on as I wanted to include the info.from the long, long trail website in an Ancestry Album that I am making for her.

  5. fred dugan

    these three where my great of there other brothers was awarded the milartry medal.cyril.i also served in the regiment from 1983 to 1986

  6. Fred Dugan

    * i served in the regiment from 1983 to 1989 not 86 as i previously put.

    • Graham Howlett

      Fred – thanks for pointing out Cyril’s military career. One thing puzzles me. I found what must be his medal record, as Private, no. 20394, Hampshire Regiment. However, I also found enlistment papers for the South Staffs regiment as no. 15710, which includes discharge in 1915 due to poor eyesight. Here he gives his father, Foster, mother, Selina, and a brother, Wesley, as next of kin, so it is certainly the right person. I do not think that there were any other Cyril Dugans, and so am sure that the Hampshire Regiment person is the same person. Do you know what the explanation of this is? Did he manage to re-enlist and somehow conceal the previous attempt?

      I assume that you are a grandson on Frederick Gosney Dugan, Cyril’s younger brother. Your regiment I assume was the Hampshire.

      • fred dugan

        never knew my grandad but yes he was my dad was frederick john dugan.he was in the staffs after the war.and yes i was royal hampshires.i do have some info on cyril will look it out n email it you.

        • James Daly

          Fred, after I’ve finished my current book on the Second World War I am hoping to work on a similar book looking at people from Portsmouth who were lost during 1914-18, and I would be very interested in writing a chapter about the Dugan brothers as I think their story is so very poignant and will strike a chord with people.


  7. John Briggs


    I too have had a brief look at the Dugan family from Prince George St Portsea in relation to WWI; and have found the following sons/brothers who served in the armed forces:-

    20394 Pte Cyril DUGAN 15th Btn Hampshire Regt – awarded Military Medal in London Gazette of Sept 1917 – I believe this was for the fighting around Forest Farm, Hollebeke, Ypres

    15693 Pte Frederick DUGAN South Staffordshire Regt

    20451 Pte James DUGAN 2nd Btn Hampshire Regt K.I.A. 21.8.17.

    108534 Spr Charles DUGAN R,E. served in a RE Field Coy. attached to one of the new Army Divisions. Discharged wounded when lost an eye and serious wounds to body – I have a copy of his discharge papers from the National Archive if you want further information.

    21042 Pte Wesley DUGAN 15th Btn Hampshire Regt K.I.A. 15.9.16.

    34419 Pte Edwin DUGAN 2nd Btn. Hampshire Regt. K.I.A. 19.4.18.

    Another brother Bert DUGAN served as a stoker in the Royal Navy – his papers are at the National Archive he has a “interesting” discipline record being discharged “Services No Longer Required” in 1919

    As you say a family who were hit very hard by the war – wonderful to see we are all still remembering thier sacrifice 100 years on.


  8. fred dugan

    Hi John; that is interesting about uncle bertie i knew him well as he lived with my nan his sister for many years. but didn’t know about his navy record but from the stories i know of him i can well believe his was bit of a lad.fred was my grandad but i never knew him. and great uncle cyril we did some resesrch on his MM as u may know the citaian for a MM was on the medal its self. I did see the medal when i was younger as my nan had them and my other uncles medals also. but when my nan passed they vanished. i do have a absract from the battilion diaries ref the battle cyril may have won his MM in. its ironic that my first son is called wesley and it was only when i told my dad we were going to name him wesley that he told me about my great uncle wesley

    Fred Dugan

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