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News > Archives & History > Angus Stewart Duncan | War Hero

Angus Stewart Duncan | War Hero

Angus's last letter back home to the parents of the late Lt. George Alexander was considered his best. In the words of Frank Reid (1895-1904), everyone would be better for reading the whole of it.

This is an extract from the 2011 September Issue of the old Diocesan magazine. To see more click here

‘Lt.-Colonel Angus Stewart Duncan DSO (1917-26) planned and executed one of the greatest and most difficult battles that his Regiment, the Cape Town Highlanders, has ever fought and the praise for the capture of Monte Sole has echoed through the 5th Army. With Monte Sole in our hands, victory was certain and two days later the Germans began a general retreat. We can be proud in our sorrow that victory was due in such great measure to the one we loved. He was a great soldier and a grand comrade. He knew no pain. When the battle was at its height and the issue still in doubt, he decided to go forward himself to see what should be done. On the way up to the foot of Monte Sole, one of his party trod on an enemy mine. Angus, aged 35, was killed instantly as were his two jeep drivers.

He was an officer possessed of exceptional ability, Tenaciously displayed in all he undertook

He was buried at Castiglione with the two jeep drivers on either side to guard his last resting place. We, who are left, must carry on and for my part, I shall do my best to uphold the great traditions he has forged.’ -- former commanding officer 

During the War, the OD Secretary was privileged to publish several letters from Angus, which in praising others revealed his own splendid outlook. The last and best was written to the parents of the late Lt. George Alexander (1927-37). In the words of Frank Reid (1895-1904), everyone would be better for reading the whole of it. Let the following extract from that letter express the man: 

“I want you both to understand that all of us here know that we may not see the end of this war - but there is a feeling in most of us which prevents one worrying about it – much as we all wish to live to see a happy world come out of all this misery. And that feeling is a conviction that what we are doing here is a service to humanity and that it is going to bring good to millions of men and women and perhaps to generations yet to come. It is a wonderful thing that so many millions of people of all nations have spontaneously risen against this damnable and horrible thing which greed and hate have brought upon us all. The misery, death and destruction which is part of our daily lives now is a constant god. 

This must be stopped once and for all, whatever the cost. And if we are lucky enough to survive, then we shall keep faith with those who are gone, by seeing that the ideals for which we have all fought are placed again high before the world - and by doing whatever each of us can to help all the peoples of the world to a sane and happy way of living. And so I want you to know that most of us feel that there is a purpose in what we are doing – and I know George felt that way. He hated it all as much as anyone - but he was determined to have a hand in fighting for ideals, too, whatever the cost. So you must both feel great pride in his spirit and courage. It is George and thousands of lads like him who are building the foundations of a New World - God knows these wretched people of Europe need one - and so helping to re-create those ideals without which there can be no progress or peace or happiness. Out of all this evil we shall and must make a good come – and if we do make it so, George’s sacrifice and yours will have helped. Please feel proud of him – and not too sad. Be happy that in his generation again the cynics are confounded. There are people in the world who value ideals more than themselves – millions of them!”

You can read up more on Angus and other ODs who fought in the bitterly contested Italian campaign in Dr Paul Murray's article form Issue 5 of The Old Diocesan. Click here. 

 

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