Douglas died on 4 March 2012 aged 91.

Maj D Patchett, MC
Maj D Patchett, MC

He was the Medical Officer to The 8th King’s Royal Irish Hussars in Korea and was captured on the last day of the Battle of the Imjin on 25th April 1951.

On withdrawing down the Valley The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers were forced to leave behind some of their wounded. Doug was asked if he was prepared to take his half truck and try and rescue them. Doug always remembered the Fusilier Officer’s unnerving advice as he drove off “Oh by the way you’ll need your amour up.”

He made five journeys under small arms and mortar fire. On the last occasion, the man behind him was hit and slumped over Doug who was then unable to steer, and the half truck was forced into a ditch.

He then sent the famous message “I am about to be captured”. This was immediately followed by “I have been captured” then silence. He was to spend two years in captivity.

He was awarded the Military Cross for this action.

His citation for the MC stated, “When enemy fire prevented other ambulances from going forward, he repeatedly took his half truck up under heavy fire to evacuate the wounded”. He knew that the position was about to be overrun but insisted on continuing his work with complete disregard for his own safety. He carried on under intense fire and was last surrounded by enemy infantry.

He was undoubtedly responsible for saving many lives and his devotion to duty and calmness under fire was an inspiration to everyone.

He joined the 8th Hussars in Tidworth in August 1950 as a reservist.

He was asked by the Commanding Officer to make sure that certain keen, experienced officers were passed for Active Service. He examined Captain Peter Ormrod who had a glass eye and had already been failed by the Garrison Doctor. When asked to read the letters on a board Peter covered his glass eye with his hand and read out the letters easily. What about the other one?

Asked Doug, Peter put his other hand over the glass eye and read out the letters as before. “There is nothing wrong with you “said Doug. “ I don’t know what the fool was talking about”.

Joining the Hussars as a reservist in August 1950 came about as a result of a gamble he took when called up for National Service in 1946. His posting was to Bermuda but as a national serviceman, he would have to go alone and leave his wife and baby daughter.

The other option was to join up on a short service commission. He would serve a bit longer but his family could accompany him. The catch was that he would be on the reserve list for 5 years.

As World War 2 had just ended, Doug gambled that no one would want to start another war, took the short service commission and off the family went to Bermuda.

1950 found him out of the Army and about to start an Obstetric job in Coventry when the Korean war started and instead of delivering babies in Coventry he found himself on the Troop Ship to Korea called up as a reservist.

After his return from Korea, he worked as a GP in Coventry for 30 years.

He attended with his son Ian and spoke at the Seminar on the 8th Hussars time in Korea, held at The Defence Academy on 11th June 2006.

He attended Dinners at The Cavalry Club of The Society for the protection of Attached Officers for many years. This was formed by the many officers from other Cavalry Regiments who were attached to the 8th Hussars.

Related topics

  1. A short history of The 8th Hussars
  2. Korea 1950-51