Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1943, Private Charles Alfred Duncan G.C., Army Air Corps, was killed in action at M’Saken in Tunisia.
One of a family of eleven children, he joined the army before the outbreak of the second world war and served with The Buffs Regiment, transferring later to the Signal Platoon, 4th Parachute Battalion in the 2nd Parachute Brigade. He was serving in North Africa in the spring of 1943, and in July was waiting for the order to fly to Sicily, the purpose of the mission being the capture of the bridge at Augusta in Italy.
On the day of his death it was learned that the 2nd Parachute Brigade was no longer required. Private Duncan was removing primed grenades from his equipment, having returned to camp from the airfield. One of the grenades fell on the ground and he noticed that the safety pin was not in place. In order to save his comrades who were close by, with no consideration for his own safety, he threw himself on the grenade, saving everyone but himself.
Private Duncan was posthumously awarded the George Cross, and lies buried in the Enfidaville War Cemetery in Tunisia. The citation for the George Cross reads: “In recognition of most conspicuous gallantry in carrying out hazardous work in a very brave manner.” This medal and his campaign medals are held at the Airborne Forces Museum in Duxford.
Charles from Bexhill-on-Sea in East Sussex, was 23 years old.