Behold the Dark Gray Man Triumphs and Trauma: The Controversial Life of Sholto Douglas
Katharine Campbell’s father Sholto Douglas was the hero of her childhood, an unconventional senior commander in the Royal Air Force described as ‘a gloriously contentious character’. Following childhood abandonment and poverty, Sholto rose through the ranks of the fledgling RAF in the First World War before taking on a crucial role in the Second as head of Fighter Command and going on to serve as Military Governor in Germany in the war’s devastating aftermath.
But when Katharine was five years old, he began to be stolen away by strange night-time wanderings and daytime distress – including vivid flashbacks to his time signing death warrants in post-war Germany. The doctors called it dementia, but decades later, Katharine started researching her father’s story and realised that she had observed the undiagnosed consequences of post-traumatic stress disorder.
PTSD is a hot topic today. We’re aware of the front-line soldier suffering from ‘shell-shock’ – but what about the senior officer giving the orders, who may be carrying hidden wounds accumulated over many years? We don’t expect our military leaders to have PTSD, nor is it something they often recognise or acknowledge in themselves, yet this secret burden likely affects a surprising number of those making important tactical decisions. A thought-provoking insight into the damage done by military conflict, Behold the Dark Gray Man is the story of a daughter’s search to understand the impact of war upon one of its most charismatic senior commanders.
“Both a landmark and a classic. A rare and convincing testament by a professional and a daughter of the need for a sea change in our society and how we approach the cataclysmic effects of untreated trauma and stress.”Timothy Knatchbull, award-winning author of From a Clear Blue Sky
“Hugely powerful. An exploration of fatherhood, heroes, war and trauma from an intensely personal point of view.”Dan Snow, historian and broadcaster
“A fascinating and humbling account, lovingly written by his daughter, of the life of Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sholto Douglas, a truly inspiring and compassionate man.
Katharine’s narrative interweaves the story of Sholto’s achievements as a high-ranking military officer with his battle with what we now recognise as post-traumatic stress disorder. Although Sholto’s story illustrates how far we have progressed in our understanding of mental health both within the Services and in society in general, it also underlines why we must continue to work to reduce the stigma of mental illness – a burden which can affect the best of us, at any time, and for reasons which might not always be apparent.”Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston KCB CBE ADC, Chief of the Air Staff
“Through the fierce battles in the skies of the First and Second World Wars, to the traumatic signing of death sentences at Nuremberg and then onto the chairmanship of BEA, Sholto Douglas knew the highs and depths of professional and family life. Katharine Campbell’s brilliant book is a most compelling account of her father’s battles with the enemy without and the enemy within.”General Lord Dannatt GCB CBE MC DL, former Chief of the General Staff
“Shining a spotlight through the layers of gray which make up the human psyche and highlighting this is perhaps the most important achievement of this unique and indispensable book.”Stephen Bungay
“An engrossing, persuasive and compelling read … Katharine Campbell has not only successfully breathed colour, scientific rigour and humanity into this overdue appraisal of her father’s life, triumphs and ultimate disintegration, but has also highlighted the psychological dangers that confront all those who reach and exercise higher command … This book contains valuable warnings and lessons for commanders for all time. It is therefore highly recommended reading.”Group Captain J. R. Beldon, Air and Space Power Review
Share this book
Buy this book
- Hardback, 512 pages
- ISBN: 9781785905971
- 27 July 2021
- ISBN: 9781785906718
- 27 July 2021