John Edward DoucetteRank: PrivateService No: F/3480 Regiment/Service: 48th Highlanders of Canada, RCIC Date of Birth:December 24, 1910 Place of Birth:Quinan, Yarmouth Co., NS Date of Enlistment:January 12, 1943 Place of Enlistment:Yarmouth, NS Address At Enlistment:Quinan, Yarmouth Co., NS Age at Enlistment:32Height: 5 feet, 8 inchesWeight: 142 lbs. Complexion: Medium Eyes:Blue Hair: Brown Trade:Labourer/LumbermanMarital Status:Married Religion:Roman Catholic Next of Kin:Mary Modeste Doucette [Wife] Quinan, Yarmouth Co., NS Date of Death: May 22, 1944 Age at Death: 33 Cemetery: Cassino War Cemetery (Italy)Grave Reference: IX. H. 12. The 32nd name on the WWII list of the Yarmouth War Memorial(Edward on the Yarmouth War Memorial)Commemorated on page 293 of the Second World War Book of RemembranceDisplayed in the Memorial Chamber of the Peace Tower in Ottawa on June 23Private John Edward Doucette was the adopted son of Joseph M. and Domitilde (Muise) Doucette and the husband of Mary Modeste Doucette, and step-father of Edward Doucette of Quinan, Yarmouth Co., NS. John Edward and Mary were married in Quinan on July 7, 1941.Prior to his enlistment with the 48th Highlanders, he completed basic training at CABTC #60 at Yarmouth, NS between September, 1942 and November 21, 1942 with the Service Number F/601646 under the National Resources Mobilization Act of 1940. On January 11, 1943 he was assigned a new Service Number F/3480 and taken on strength at CABTC #60 until January 26, 1943 when he was transferred to #14 Infantry Training Centre at Aldershot, NS. He was granted Special leave from March 12, 1943 to March 14, 1943.On May 14, 1943 he was taken on strength with the Canadian Army for overseas and disembarked in the United Kingdom on May 22, 1943 where he was assigned to a Canadian Infantry Re-enforcement Unit. He remained the the United Kingdom until November 11, 1943 when he embarked the UK disembarking in Italy on November 23, 1943.He served in Italy from November 23, 1943 and was assigned to the 48th Highlanders on January 5, 1944. He was killed in action near Pontecorve on May 22, 1944.To attack Pontecorvo, the 48th Highlanders were to lead off at first light on May 22 with the Royal Canadian Regiment and Hastings and Prince Edward Regt. following to widen the breach. Tanks, including British Churchills, were available to provide support. The final plan called for the 48th Highlanders to breach the line and then seize Hill 106 outside Pontecorvo. Their advance began at 10:30 a.m. The defences confronting the Highlanders were part of an 800-metre-wide belt stretching eight kilometres from the Liri River to the edge of the mountains beyond Aquino. The Germans defending the Hitler Line were short of infantry, but not firepower and the Pontecorvo zone included anti-tank positions that inflicted a terrible toll on the British armour. The Highlanders were forced to dig in and endure endless mortar and Nebelwerfer fire. Private Doucette, aged 33, was killed in the action, on May 22, 1944. He was initially buried at Pontecorve in May, 1944, and reburied in the Cassino Military Cemetery, Cassino, Italy in 1945. A memorial service was held in Quinan for both John Edward Doucette, and a fellow soldier, Phillip Blanchard who was killed in action on May 24, 1944. Two crosses were erected for them in the cemetery at St. Agnes Roman Catholic Church, and two empty coffins were lowered into the plots on that day.A walk through the Cemetery in Quinan in 2003 in search of the two memorial graves and the wooden crosses was unsuccessful. Time had taken its toll and no evidence of the burial site or the crosses remained. However, in 2018 a Memorial stone was placed at the entrance to the cemetery, ensuring that the two solders will always be remembered by the village and those who visit the cemetery aware of the wartime sacrifice of these two solders from Quinan.Sources and Information:Commonwealth War Graves CommissionVeterans Affairs Canadafindagrave.com https://legionmagazine.com/en/2008/03/breaching-the-hitler-line-army-part-75/
John Edward Doucette
The ruined town of Pontecorvo, 26 May 1944.
48th Highlanders Regimental Badge
Plaque in Pontecorvo giving the history of the breaking of the Hitler Line.