Alfred Douglas Dibley, known as Doug, was born in Wellington in 1896. He grew up in the Southern Bays, and attended Island Bay School.
As World War One entered its second year in 1915, Doug was working as a Clerk for Vacuum Oil Company, a predecessor of Mobil.
Joining the New Zealand Medical Corps
By the end of that year the number of New Zealand men volunteering to serve abroad was dwindling.
Doug answered an advertisement calling for medical helpers at Trentham Military Camp in Upper Hutt, where soldiers from the Wellington region were trained before sailing overseas.
Instead, he found himself on his way to Turkey as a member of the New Zealand Medical Corps.
Doug was lucky – he arrived in Gallipoli not long before the ANZAC evacuation, escaping the disastrous attempts to take Chunuk Bair and Hill 60 in August 1915. Like the other survivors of the Gallipoli campaign, in December of that year stretcher-bearer Doug was transferred to Egypt.
In Egypt, Doug was posted to the New Zealand Mounted Rifle Brigade.
Illness and discharge
When the focus of the fighting shifted to Europe, many of the New Zealand soldiers who had been in North Africa were transferred to France. Doug went with them, but in April 1917 he was recorded as being in St Omer hospital, “dangerously ill” with cerebrospinal meningitis. This disease was common among soldiers and often proved fatal.
Doug survived, but he had several relapses. In August 1917 he was well enough to be transferred to Hornchurch Convalescent Hospital in Essex, England.
However, the after-effects of his illness meant he was no longer fit for active service. Doug returned to New Zealand at the start of 1918, arriving in Auckland with a large contingent of other wounded soldiers on 3 January.
No one wins in the end.
New Zealand's last surviving Gallipoli veteran
Doug married Susannah Karl, and took over her father’s farm in Rotorua, where they raised eleven children.
When Doug died in 1997 at the age of 101, he was New Zealand’s last surviving Gallipoli veteran. Of his experience of war, he said simply: “No one wins in the end”.