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Soldiers of the Regiment

The Story of Douglas and Eva Blake


Postcard, Accession Number: KO2848/05

This is Douglas Blake, in 1939 he married Eva.
          
Accession Numbers: KO2848/13 & 14        

Douglas became a soldier with the King's Own Royal Regiment, Lancaster,
and he
served in the Second World War.

Eva and Douglas Blake in around 1939 at their home in Didsbury, Manchester.
Accession Number: KO2848/08


This is
Douglas after he was promoted to a Lance Corporal and joined the 2nd Battalion of the King's Own Royal Regiment.  He served with them in the besieged port and town of Tobruk, North Africa.  The King's Own fought successfully to repel many German attacks, there was much bitter fighting and Douglas was hit in the stomach by shrapnel and he died of his wounds in 173rd Field Ambulance on 22nd November 1941.

On 4th December 1941 Eva received a telegram with the sad news.

"Regret to inform you No. 3714582 L/Cpl Blake Douglas, 2nd Btn, KORR
Died of Wounds 22nd November 1941, Middle East.  Enemy Action.  Report Later."
Accession Number: KO2848/09

A few days later the news was confirmed by letter

Accession Number: KO2848/11

Douglas was buried in Tobruk War Cemetery and his grave marked by a wooden cross.

“I lost a husband with a heart of gold,
He meant more to me than can be told,
Sincere and true in heart and mind,
A beautiful memory left behind.
Loving wife Eva”

Eventually a permanent Portland stone headstone replaced the cross.

Eva remarried but she never forgot Douglas.  She became Mrs Eva Power.  Each year she arranged for a wreath to be placed upon Dougie's grave, through the Royal British Legion, the Embassy or other organisations and individuals who kindly assisted.

In 1959 Eva received a letter from a Mr D H Abbot:

“Dear Mrs Power,
I visited Tobruk Military Cemetery on 24th November and was attracted to one of the graves by the wreath of poppies laid on it. I found that it was a remembrance from you and thought you might like to know that it had been placed as you would have wished. You will, I am sure be happy to know that the cemetery, surrounded though it is by sun-bleached and barren desert, is a beautifully kept place – serene and reverent…. it is a fitting place for a man to rest.
Yours sincerely, D H Abbott”
Accession Number: KO2848/43

Three years later
Flight Lieutenant Lamb, RAF, the Station Adjutant and RAF El Adem wrote:
  

“Dear Mr & Mrs Power,
Yesterday, 11th November, 1962 a Parade Service was held in the British War Cemetery, Tobruk….whilst waiting….my wife drew my attention to a grave which had a wreath beside it. On reading the inscription I thought that you may like to know that your wreath had in fact been placed on the grave and that you may also like an up to date photograph of the stone.
…. I would like you to know that the cemetery is absolutely beautifully kept and is the loveliest spot for hundreds of miles around Tobruk….
Sincerely, Frank Lamb”
Accession Number: KO2848/44

Visitors, and those who placed the wreath on the grave, would send photographs of the grave.
         

Accession Numbers: KO2848/15,16 & 18
         
Accession Numbers: KO2848/19,20 & 23
         
Accession Numbers: KO2848/28, 35 &38

The attention of visitors continued to be attracted and in 2007 HRH The Duke of York also visited the grave, his Assistant Private Secretary wrote to Mrs Power in November 2007:
    
“Dear Mrs Power,
The Duke of York was greatly touched when attending the Remembrance Service at Tobruk Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery on 9th November to see you moving tribute to your husband. He was pleased and honoured to be able to pay his respects to Doug and all those who died in the cause of upholding freedom in the defence of Tobruk in World War II..…..
Yours sincerely,
Robin Ord-Smith Esq MVO, Assistant Private Secretary to The Duke of York.”
Accession Numbers: KO2848/39 & 41

The story ends on 30th June 2010 when Eva died at the age of 93 years. With no relatives her affairs have been sorted by the daughter of Eva’s friend, herself 92 years old.  Douglas Blake’s three war medals, photographs, telegram and Eva’s letters have been donated to the King’s Own Museum – and this will ensure that her Dougie will never be forgotten.

    
The 1939-45 Star, Africa Star and War Medal with box of issue addressed to Mrs Eva Blake.
Accession Number: KO2848/01-04

Only a proportion of our collections are on display at anyone time.  Certain items are on loan for display in other institutions.  An appointment is required to consult any of our collections which are held in store.

© 2010 Trustees of the King's Own Royal Regiment Museum