A Life Lost on Shaggy Ridge


Private James Gerald Doyle's name on the Bungendore War Memorial.

Author: Henry Moulds

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The arch of the Bungendore War Memorial bears two main inscriptions. Above the dedication and Roll of Honour for the First World War is the Latin phrase ‘Pro Patria’ – For Country. The other side of the Memorial bears the names of those who served during the Second World War and those conflicts after. Above the arch is proclaimed ‘Their Service Our Heritage’.

Among the names are those followed by a small cross, the symbol indicating the supreme sacrifice made. One such name is Doyle JG.

James Gerald Doyle, known as Gerald, was born in Bungendore in July 1918. The family farmed at nearby Mount Fairy. Doyle’s military service began as a Militiaman in a motorised light horse unit, the 7th Motor Regiment, in 1942. At the end of the year Doyle volunteered for the Australian Imperial Force and transferred to Queensland's 11th Motor Regiment. In mid-1943, 370 officers and other ranks, including Doyle, were transferred to the 7th Division's 2/10th Battalion, then located at Ravenshoe on the Atherton Tableland in Queensland. The new men were well received by the Division’s veterans.

In August 1943 the Battalion was sent to Port Moresby to become part of the increasing Allied actions in New Guinea. In early January 1944 the battalion moved to the razorback ridges of the Ramu Valley where they engaged in patrolling while the newer members acclimatised to the conditions and terrain. Part of the Allied plan was the need to capture the feature called Shaggy Ridge, so called for Lieutenant Bob “Shaggy” Clampett of the 2/27th Battalion, whose company had established a toehold on the southern slopes of the ridge. On 22 January B Company of the 2/10th Battalion attacked the Japanese positions on the feature, however the attack was unsuccessful. Six Australians were killed, others were wounded. Among the dead was Private ‘Gerald’ Doyle. He was 25 years old.

Two other men from the Canberra area who had served with Doyle in the 7th Motor Regiment were also killed in the attack. Lance Corporal John Woods and Private Harold Thomas are commemorated on the 2/10th Battalion Memorial in Eddison Park, Woden, where, along with the inscription on the Bungendore War Memorial, NX137333 Private James Gerald Joseph Doyle is also Commemorated.


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