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Corporal Ewing added to Porirua Peace Memorial

Corporal Ewing

Corporal B C Ewing, from Titahi Bay, died in Crete in 1941.

An additional name has been added to the Porirua Peace Memorial Wall.

Bruce Ewing was born and raised in Wellington. As a young man during the Depression he worked on a farm in the Foxton area until they could no longer keep him.

When passing through Porirua on his way back to Wellington, he saw an advert and applied for a role at Porirua's Mental Hospital. Bruce began training for the NZ Registered Nurses qualification and during that training met nurse Evadne Pauline Sheila Warner.

The couple married in June 1938 and moved out to Tireti Road, in Titahi Bay.

Bruce passed the nurses qualification in December 1938 and started to prepare for examinations to enter medical school and become a doctor.
The couple were involved in both the Titahi Bay Surf Life Saving Club and Titahi Bay Tennis Club. Their only child, Rosalind, was born in 1939.
On the outbreak of war, Bruce was one of the first to enlist, training with the 5th Field Ambulance. He was attached to the NZ Army Service Corp and on 1 May 1940 sailed for overseas service with the 2nd Echelon, NZEF.

Promoted to corporal, he saw service in Greece before being evacuated to Crete.

During the German invasion of Crete, Corporal Ewing was sent, as a medic, to attend to a young Cretan girl who had been injured in the conflict. He and others with him were not seen alive again.

Later, captured NZ soldiers were sent out, with their German guards, to bury dead in the area. They found that the Cretan civilians had already, at night, completed the task, hanging the mens' tunic in the olive trees under which they were buried.
While reported missing on 2 June 1941, it was not until 10 September 1943 that Bruce was officially reported killed in action. Evadne and family up until then had held out hope he was still hiding in the hills of Crete.

When asked in later years what became of Bruce, the family would say he was "killed by the Germans, but buried by the Greeks under the olive trees".

After the war, Bruce and three other Reserve Mechanical Transport Company men were interred in the Suda Bay Cemetery on Crete's northern coast.

Allan Dodson, who put this story together for his Porirua War Stories blog, thanked Rosalind Laing (nee Ewing) for supplying personal information and family photos.

Rosalind told Allan, "In remembering my father and the sorrow experienced by our family, it is important to remember that so many families suffered throughout New Zealand. Our loss was shared over and again around New Zealand."

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23 Oct 2019