He enlisted into the Army in Tongue with Alexander Mackay from Achtoty in May 1916, they were then both sent to complete their military training at Golspie. In early July 1916 James and Alexander were sent as casualty replacements to the 5th (Caithness and Sutherland) Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders on the battlefield in France. The 5th Seaforth Highlanders were serving with the 152 Brigade, 51 (Highland) Division and was preparing to take part in the Battle of the Somme.
The 5th Seaforths contained men from all parts of the Highlands of Scotland and was a Territorial Army battalion before the outbreak of war. The four-battalion companies recruited exclusively from Caithness and Sutherland and men, who joined up together usually served together at the front. ‘A’ was the Golspie and Bonar Bridge Company, ‘B’ the Dornoch, Rogart, Helmsdale and Brora Company, ‘C’ the Wick, Lybster and Thurso Company and ‘D’ the Halkirk, Castletown, Bower and Watten Company. Battalions that were raised in towns and villages in England so that men cold served in this way were called ‘Pals’ Battalions and in the same way the 5 Seaforths were also a battalion of ‘Pals’.
Private James McDougall was severely wounded between the 12 and 14 of November 1916, during the 51(Highland) Divisions attack on Beaumont Hamel. His story up until that point is exactly the same as his comrade Private Alexander Mackay 3771 from Achtoty, who was killed, in the same attack. (Alexander Mackay story appears on this site).