This is part of a series of essays about the First World War casualties commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in Pennsylvania.
Michael Dugan was born on 16 November 1884 in Corry, Pennsyvania, one of the nine surviving children of William and Ellen Dugan; his father died soon after he was born. There are few details known about his early life except that he found work as a cigar maker before becoming a mechanic and that he married around 1905. He and his wife Mary had two children, a daughter, Helen, and a son, Kenneth. By the time of his enlistment the family were living in Niagara Falls, New York.
Michael Dugan enlisted at St. Catharines, Ontario on 24 April 1916. He joined the 176th (Niagara Rangers) Battalion and was allocated the number 850542. The Battalion been raised in St Catharines in January 1916 and was encamped on Spring Street. His family followed him to St Catharines in May 1916. On Victoria Day, 24 May, the Battalion paraded through the town and Dugan was most likely in the contingent and watched by his family.
Dugan had had a history of kidney trouble and his wife reported him to be a heavy drinker. Both factors appear to have caught up with him and he was rushed to the General and Marine Hospital in St. Catharines in the late afternoon of 16 June. He died a few hours later of nephritis. On 20 June, a military funeral took place, which included a contingent of men from the Battalion commanded by Captain E S Ball (Ball would not survive the war; he was killed on 31 July 1917 while serving with 7th Battalion, Canadian Railway Troops). Dugan’s remains were transported by rail to Corry, Pennsylvania, where a funeral service was held at St Elizabeth’s Church on 21 June, after which he was buried at the cemetery there. His grave is marked by both a Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone and a private marker.
Private Michael Dugan is commemorated on page 80 of the Canadian First World War Book of Remembrance; that page is displayed on 27 February. Having served only in Canada he was not entitled to any medals but his memorial plaque and scroll and the Memorial Cross were sent to his wife, and a Memorial Cross was sent to his mother in Corry. He is commemorated also in the memorial booklet Erie County Pa. in the World War 1917-1919.
Chris Dubbs for the photographs of Michael Dugan’s grave.
Niagara Falls (Ontario) Public Library for permission to use the photograph of 176th Battalion from the Francis J. Petrie Collection.
1. (Back) William Dugan (c1850-c1886) married Ellen McCarthy (20 June 1850-11 October 1926): William (12 August 1869-22 April 1911); Margaret (later Griffin) (12 May 1872-7 July 1938); Dennis (16 May 1874-31 August 1951); Ellen (Nella) (later Dockery) (22 September 1876-22 May 1971); John (22 October 1878-July 1967); Bridget (October 1880-NK); Anna E. (later Banks) (3 June 1886-2 June 1954); Cecelia (September 1887-NK).
2. (Back) Mary Josephine (née Collopy) (14 May 1885-5 February 1943): Hellen J. (1906-NK); Kenneth Irvine (23 March 1908-1965). Mary Dugan remarried Henry Robert Leith (2 March 1895-NK), a Canadian, on 25 September 1917. The family settled in St Catharines, where they had a son, Allan H. (18 May 1926-16 September 1992) and where Mary died in 1943. She is buried in Victoria Lawn Cemetery.
3. (Back) Comfort J W (ed). (1920). Erie County Pa. in the World War 1917-1919. Published by Erie Service Men’s Club, Post Number 11, American Legion.