Douglas Errol BAGSHAW


BAGSHAW, Douglas Errol

Service Number: SX7468
Enlisted: 2 July 1940, Adelaide, South Australia
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion
Born: Clarendon, South Australia, 11 January 1919
Home Town: McLaren Flat, Onkaparinga, South Australia
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Labourer
Died: Killed in Action, Tobruk, Libya, 1 May 1941, aged 22 years
Cemetery: Knightsbridge War Cemetery, Acroma, Libya
Ploy 7, Row A, Grave 12
Memorials: Adelaide WW2 Wall of Remembrance, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, McLaren Vale Memorial Wall
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World War 2 Service

2 Jul 1940: Involvement Private, SN SX7468, 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW2
2 Jul 1940: Enlisted Adelaide, South Australia
7 Nov 1940: Embarked HMT Stratheden from Adelaide
Date unknown: Involvement

‘Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life’

Douglas was the youngest son of Edward Stokes and Bessie Clarence Bagshaw’s seven children. He was born on the 11th January 1919 at McLaren Flat, on the Fleurieu Peninsula. He had three older brothers, Hartley, Kenneth and Keith and three sisters, Kathleen. Ruth, and Jean. The Bagshaw name is inevitably connected to sporting achievements and Doug was no exception. As did most country young men, he played football, cricket and tennis as well as being involved at the near costal Moana Life Saving Club, formed in 1937. Doug was also actively involved in the Willunga Rifle Club which competed with other country clubs. Douglas and his family were regular attendees of the McLaren Flat Methodist Church, resulting in him becoming a trustee of the Church and also acted as treasurer of the Wesley Guild. (The Methodist Church was demolished when the Uniting Church coming into existence. Both his parents were later interred in the adjoining cemetery.)
The Chronicle newspaper encouraged young people to be involved in a Home Project Club, which several from McLaren Flat did. For his project, Douglas collected tuber specimens with others from the township being more conventional, growing vegetables or rearing poultry. Douglas later made close friends with Leslie Tonkin, a farmer from Minlaton who later rose to be Corporal Tonkin, SX6911 and also in the 2/48th Battalion. Their lives later became tragically entwined.
Post school Douglas became a labourer before the outbreak of WWII saw him enlist, aged 21, on the 12th June, 1940 in Adelaide. (His older brothers, Keith and Hartley later enlisted in March ’41.) Douglas was assigned to the newly formed 2/48th Battalion, where his initial days were spent in the cold of the Pavilions, now part of the Royal Adelaide Showgrounds. Having been used to the fresh country air at McLaren Flat, Douglas soon contracted pharyngitis, followed soon after by mumps and related challenges. He eventually joined the other new enlistees at Woodside for their preliminary training. After pre-embarkation leave, the 2/48th contingent embarked on the Stratheden for the Middle East, on the 7th November 1940, arriving on the 19th December 1940.
Their 2/48th Battalion completed a few months training in Cyrenaica before going to Tobruk at the start of April 1941 where the dust, flies, heat, minimal water supplies and constant bombardment were quite a challenge to these fresh new enlistees. They were to become the famed Rats of Tobruk.
Within a month of arriving in Tobruk, and just 22 years old, Douglas was killed in action on May 1st, less than a year after enlisting. John Glenn in his book, ‘Tobruk to Tarakan’ described conditions at Dimra on that day: “At 3:50 am on 1st May the men of the 2/48th stood-to to await the outcome of the battle which had raged all through the night. In thick mist, darkness, and bitter cold they snatched a quick breakfast of bully beef and hard biscuits.”
The remainder of that day was chaotic, information scant, the men weary and under heavy fire and a sandstorm raged. The next morning there was a terrific dust storm but a foot patrol set out to find their soldiers who had not returned. For a few of those missing men it was some time before their fate was confirmed, however his fellow soldiers were able to recover Douglas’ body. Mark Johnson in his recent book, ‘Derrick In His Own Words’ explained that ‘On 1 May the 2/48th suffered 51 casualties, including 16 killed. Besides Douglas, these included Herbert Neumann SX8014 from Aldgate, Robert Carey SX7943 from Portland, John Christerson SX7791 from Yorketown, John Marshall SX7759 from Hawthorn, William Gates SX6867 from Brompton and Allan Glanville Porter SX7315 all from the 2/48th Battalion. A tragic day.
Back home, the Chronicle first reported the deaths on the 29th May. More South Australians Killed In Action.— Pte. Douglas E. Bagshaw, SX7468, Infantry, McLaren Flat; Pte. George T. Brown, SX6935, Infantry, Barmera; Cpl. Leslie H. Tonkin, SX6911, Infantry, Paskeville; Pte. William G. Westland, SX7688, Infantry, Robe; Pte. Raymond G. Young, SX6607, Infantry, Hoyleton. The following Saturday, the Advertiser carried a tribute to Raymond ‘Private D. E. Bagshaw. youngest son of Mr and Mrs. E. S Bagshaw. of McLaren Flat, who was killed in action on May I was a keen follower of sport. He played cricket, tennis, and football for the Hillside Club, and was also a member of the Willunga Rifle Club. When the Moana Lifesaving Club functioned, he took an active part in it He was a trustee of the McLaren Flat Methodist Church, and was treasurer of the Wesley Guild at the time of his enlistment.’
Raymond and his fellow 2/48th soldiers were re-buried on the 17th May ’44 at the Knightsbridge War cemetery, Acroma, Douglas in Plot 7, Row A Grave 12. and surrounded by others from the 2/48th Battalion including Sergeant Leslie K. Tonkin, SX6911, Private Raymond J. Cooke SX8862, Pte Douglas E. Bagshaw SX7468, Private John H Marshall SX7759, Private Walter A. Birrell SX6060, Private Robert Carey SX7943 and Private Raymond G. Young SX6607 all of whom lost their lives on May 1st. Douglas’ family chose the inscription ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life’ and a cross to mark his headstone.
By 1953 his family received the medals he had earned; the 1939/45 Star, African Star, War Medal and Australian Service Medal.
A fellow soldier from the 2/48th Corporal Ralph Adams SX8245, who survived the war, continue to remember Douglas. Similarly, the family of Sergeant Leslie Tonkin SX6911 from Minlaton continued to remember both Douglas and Leslie, both of whom were killed on May 1st 1941 and rest together at the Knightsbridge War cemetery, Acroma.
Advertiser Tuesday 20 May 1941, BAGSHAW. —On the 1st of May. killed ln action abroad. Private Douglas E. Bagshaw, McLaren Flat; 2nd A.I.F. beloved youngest brother of Kathleen and loved brother-in-law of Don Hunt, aged 22 years. "At the going down of the sun and In the morning we will remember him." BAGSHAW. —On the 1st of May, killed In action, Douglas E. Bagshaw, dearly loved youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. E. S. Bagshaw, McLaren Flat and loved brother of Kenneth. Keith (AIF) Hartley, Kathleen, Ruth, and Jean, aged 22 years. -Some day we will understand."
Advertiser Friday 1 May 1942, BAGSHAW. —In loving memory of our dearly loved son and brother, Douglas (2nd/48th Battn.), killed in action at Tobruk May 1, 1941. A tender chord of memory Is softly touched today. —Ever remembered by father, mother, and family. BAGSHAW. —In loving memory of my dear pal Douglas, who was killed in action at Tobruk on May 1, 1941. To live in the hearts of those we love, is not to die. —inserted by L/CpL Ralph Adams. 2nd A.I.F. (abroad).
Advertiser Saturday 1 May 1943, BAGSHAW. Douglas. —ln loving memory of our dear son and brother, killed in action, at Tobruk. May 1, 1941. —Inserted by his loving parents and family.
Advertiser Monday 1 May 1944, BAQSHAW - TONKIN - In proud remembrance ot Douglas and Leslie, who lost their lives at Tobruk. May 1 1914— Ever remembered by Ruth and Stan.
Advertiser (Wednesday 2 May 1945, BAGSHAW-TONKIN. —In proud and loving memory of Douglas Leslie, late 2/48th Btn, killed in action at Tobruk, May 1, 1941. —Ever remembered by Ruth and Stan Tonkin.
Advertiser Wednesday 1 May 1946, BAGSHAW, Douglas E. 2/48th Btn. In loving memory of our dear son, killed in action at Tobruk, May 1 1941. Inserted by his loving parents. BAGSHAW, Douglas TONKIN Leslie. In loving remembrance of our brothers, who paid the great sacrifice at Tobruk, May 1 1941. – Stan and Ruth
Advertiser Thursday 1 May 1947, BAGSHAW, Douglas E.—ln loving memory of our dear son, killed in action. Tobruk, May 1, 1941. —Ever remembered by his mother and father. BAGSHAW, TONKIN. —In loving memory of our brothers. Douglas Bagshaw and Leslie Tonkin, killed at Tobruk, May 1, 1941. —Inserted by Ruth and Stan Tonkin.

Researched and written by Kaye Lee, daughter of Bryan Holmes SX8133, 2/48th Battalion.

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Son of Edward Stokes Bagshaw and Bessie Clarice Bagshaw, of McLaren Flat, South Australia.

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