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Edward and Joseph Douglas

 

 

 

 

Edward and Joseph Douglas, both of the 28th Maori Battalion were killed on the same day, in the same unit and in the same action. Another tragic case of brothers dying together:

20 April 1943. Sergeant Rogers gathered his men in a little hollow preparatory to creating the diversion that would assist D Company, 28th New Zealand (Maori) Battalion, to attack Takrouna[Amrit: in Tunisia] from the rear. He found that he had ten men including himself and divided them into two parties: one he commanded and the other was under Sergeant Manahi, but before the operation began he received reinforcements—Sergeant W. J. Smith of 23 Battalion and Private Takurua from D Company, both of whom had lost their companies and had attached themselves to his party.

Sergeant Rogers had with him (as far as can be traced) Lance-Corporal H. Ruha, Privates E. Douglas, J. Douglas, W. Ratahi and Takurua, and the pakeha Sergeant Smith, while Manahi's ‘force’ consisted of Privates H. Grant, J. Ingram, K. Aranui and J. Takiwa....

....When the enemy realised that his observation post on Takrouna was lost, both the pinnacle and the ledge were subjected to fire of all types. It was kept up almost continuously during the day, and the events which follow must be pictured as occurring under a constant deluge of mortar and other shells. All the garrison found targets in Takrouna village and viciniy; Private Takurua found an enemy 2-inch mortar and six bombs which he delivered to the village, and Corporal Ruha, ensconced on the cupola of the mosque, picked out two of our captured 25-pounders and with his rifle prevented them not only from firing but also from being withdrawn to a safer position.

Casualties, however, were mounting. Privates Ingram, Ratahi, and Moore were all killed by one shell, and soon afterwards another killed Sergeant Rogers and Private E. Douglas and wounded his brother, J. Douglas. The last was also killed later in the fighting.

They were the sons of John and Adeline Douglas, of Ngongotaha, Auckland, New Zealand. Their graves are in Enfidaville War Cemetery. (Enfidaville is 100 kilometres south of Tunis on the main coast road)

 

 

In May 1943, the war in North Africa came to an end in Tunisia with the defeat of the Axis powers by a combined Allied force. The campaign began on 8 November 1942, when Commonwealth and American troops made a series of landings in Algeria and Morocco. The Germans responded immediately by sending a force from Sicily to northern Tunisia, which checked the Allied advance east in early December. Meanwhile, in the south, the Axis forces defeated at El Alamein were withdrawing into Tunisia along the coast through Libya, pursued by the Allied Eighth Army. By mid April 1943, the combined Axis force was hemmed into a small corner of north-eastern Tunisia and the Allies were grouped for their final offensive. The Eighth Army attack on the position at Enfidaville on 19 April capturing the village, but strong resistance meant no further progress was possible. Attacks further north met with greater success and Tunis fell on 7 May, Bizerta on the 8th. By 11 May, the position at Enfidaville was surrounded and resistance ceased on the following day. Most of those buried at Enfidaville War Cemetery died in the final battles from March to the beginning of May. The cemetery contains 1,551 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War, 88 of them unidentified.

 

 

 

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Last modified: Saturday, 18 March 2017