Woollen sleeping bag : Major K M Doig, Australian Army Medical Corps, AIF

Accession Number REL41658
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Personal Equipment
Physical description Cotton tape, Wool
Maker Unknown
Place made Australia
Date made c 1915
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Camel coloured, coarse weave woollen sleeping bag, consisting of three identical blankets laid length-wise and bound together on three sides, finished in brown cotton tape. One side is open down to a point 59 cm from the top, and is provided with three large buttons and bound buttonholes which attach the two top blankets to the lower one. Two of the buttons are missing and the third has shattered, leaving only a portion remaining. The top is open. There are no maker's marks visible.

History / Summary

Private purchase sleeping bag used by Major Keith McKeddie Doig, (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery, University of Melbourne), born Nathalia, Victoria on 11 December 1891, a single medical practitioner of Princes Hill, Victoria, who applied for a commission in the Australian Army Medical Corps on 1 May 1916, aged 24. Captain Doig embarked for active service aboard the transport 'Themistocles' from Melbourne on 28 July, arriving at Devonport, UK on 11 September 1916. Here, he served temporarily as Medical Officer at both the Pelham Downs Depot with various Pioneer Battalions and at 2 Australian Auxiliary Hospital for six weeks before being transferred to 8 Field Ambulance in France on 23 October. A month later he was posted to 60 Battalion, AIF as the Regimental Medical Officer (RMO).

On 20 September 1917, Brigadier General H E Elliot recommended Captain Doig for a Military Cross (MC). The citation for MC reads: 'During the period from Feb to Sept 1917 this officer has shown exceptional devotion to duty. His work in the trenches on the Somme during the early months of the year under very trying circumstances was exceptionally good and later during the advance on Bapaume and forward from there his work was invaluable. On several occasions he established advanced RAPs under heavy fire, and was at all times heedless of his own safety.

'Later, at Bullecourt in May he displayed the same ability and courage and his work when called upon to replace an RMO who had become a casualty in the front line system, was of the highest order. This Officer has proved himself to be one who does work of the highest quality under the most arduous circumstances. His courage and devotion to duty deserve special recognition.'

Doig received his MC on 1 January 1918 and was posted to 1 Australian General Hospital on 20 June 1918. He enjoyed leave in UK in September/October 1918 and on his return was made temporary Major from 30 October 1918. This appointment coincided with his transfer back to England where he led the 1 Australian General Hospital Detached Advance Party to Sutton Veny on 19 December 1918 as Unit Registrar. He was officially promoted to Major on 11 November 1918.

After the cessation of hostilities, from 28 April 1919 to 28 July, Doig was granted non medical employment at 31 Leinster Gardens, London to attend a 'post Graduate Course under the InterAllied Fellowship of Medicine, London' but the course was cancelled a month early and no award was forthcoming. However, the Army's Education Officer stated that 'good experience gained on the course which will be of considerable benefit in his practice in Australia'. Major Doig returned to Australia aboard the transport 'Canberra' on 23 July 1919, and his appointment was terminated on 26 October.

Sleeping bags are generally not encountered in use by Australians during the First World War and it is likely Doig purchased this item privately prior to his departure from Australia. It is an early pattern consisting of a simple sandwich of blankets sewn together and is obviously intended for cold weather use.