RIP Don Carter - Niccar

Discussion in 'Veteran Accounts' started by Paul Reed, Sep 29, 2011.

  1. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

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    Don Carter RIP

    It is with much sadness that I have to report the death of one of our veteran members, Don Carter, better known to us here as ‘Niccar’. As some of you know Don had just been to the battlefields in Italy, with a tour group I was leading. During that week Don got to see many places he hadn’t been to since the war, and see the graves of men from his regiment, the Princess Louise’s Kensington Regiment; his unit was the divisional support battalion to the 78th Division. Don, an East End lad who had seen the cruel hand of the Blitz and witnessed his father go grey as he cleared the streets of Stepney of bodies, had volunteered under age to join the army. He arrived in North Africa, where his brother’s battalion was close by. When he went to see him, his brother couldn’t believe the youngster was in uniform. Don was thrown into battle in Sicily, but he said last week his first real taste of what being a front line soldier was like was at Termoli, where he vividly remembered the dead on stretchers in the streets, awaiting burial. He ended 1943 on the Sangro and moved down to Cassino where he spent the first half of 1944 driving his carrier like a lunatic along the ‘mad mile’ bringing up supplies to the Jeep Head. Following the breakout from Rome his division went for rest in Egypt and then returned for the fighting on the Gothic Line, and then took part in the final battles in Italy.

    I only spent eight days of Don’s long life with him, but last week in Italy he proved a good friend as we chatted about the tough times, and laughed at the good ones. Like many infantry veterans who were at the sharp end, he hadn’t really spoken much about the war; he’d come home in 1946 wanted to make a life, have a family and move on from what he’d seen in the war. But as he got older thoughts of Italy returned; he told me our forum had done him a world of good. He said he was a ‘lurker’ not a poster, but he’d marveled at how fellow veterans had been able to be so vocal with their experiences, especially those like him who had served in Italy. In fact he couldn’t speak too highly of WW2 Talk and converted a few people in the tour group; he said he was especially grateful for the kindness shown him by two forum members who had been copying the battalion war diary for him; the highlight was seeing his own name in there. I think that helped him to make up his mind and return to Italy.

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    Don at Cassino.

    In some ways we’ll never know what went through Don’s mind on the tour last week. He saw name after familiar name, and the visible signs of his war in the cap badges of the graves of his comrades. He was generous in the way he gave people his time on the trip, but some had not even realised he was a veteran, as he didn’t wear his medals like others in the group. Don was not a showy sort of bloke in any way; he felt uncomfortable wearing his medals when those under the white stones in the cemeteries never would, and had only claimed them late in life for his family.

    As a battlefield guide working with groups of veterans the best compliment you can be paid by anyone is when you see a veteran nodding in agreement while you talk, and when one of them says to you over a drink ‘you’re a credit to what you do’. Don was generous enough for both of those and I was genuinely sad to see him depart when the group went its separate ways last weekend. I can only hope that in some small part I was able to help Don get what he wanted from the trip, if just to lay a few ghosts.

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    Don with forum member Damiano.

    I’m a firm believer that we need heroes in our lives. Don was one of those heroes, although he would never have willingly admitted it. It’s not just about charging machine gun posts but there is a quiet heroism in men like Don; they’ve been there, they’ve seen the shooting war, but they don’t need to make a fuss of it - they would be embarrassed to. Occasionally as he stood in a war cemetery last week I’m sure the feint glimmer of men in khaki marching to an unknown destiny flickered across his mind, and the voices and sounds and smells of the battlefield came tumbling back. We owe much to men like Don, sometimes we don’t know how much. Even in their old age they can enrich our lives and help us see that war isn’t just about weapons, technology, generals and leaders, but about ordinary men in extraordinary circumstances. Don was one of those ordinary men, who I will always be honoured to know he called me a mate. Goodbye Niccar.

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    Don with his son (right) and grandson at Cassino.
     
  2. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    That was a very sad & unexpected message I got from Paul last night about Don's passing.

    I never met Don in real life , only on the forum & via email when he had 'technical issues' with the forum.
    RIP Don, it was lovely to 'know' you.

    As they say, 'Old soldiers never die, they simply fade away...'
     
    Paul Reed likes this.
  3. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    R.I.P.
    :poppy:

    My condolences to his family.
     
  4. Deacs

    Deacs Well i am from Cumbria. Patron

    R.I.P Don

    Sad news indeed my condolances to his family.
     
  5. Rob Dickers

    Rob Dickers 10th MEDIUM REGT RA

    Such a shame after his Italy tour.
    :poppy: RIP Don Carter
     
  6. RosyRedd

    RosyRedd Senior Member

    :poppy: Rest In Peace Don. This is very sad news.
     
  7. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    May you rest in peace Don.:poppy:
     
  8. Jakob Kjaersgaard

    Jakob Kjaersgaard Senior Member

    Terrible news. Though I think it's great he made the trip back to Italy and maybe somehow found his peace.

    Rest in peace Don.
     
  9. Verrieres

    Verrieres no longer a member

    :poppy: RIP Don Carter - Niccar :poppy:

    Sad unexpected news.Sorry to hear it.


    Jim
     
  10. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    A bolt out of the blue and sad news indeed. Rest easy Don.

    Lee
     
  11. Jedburgh22

    Jedburgh22 Very Senior Member

    :poppy: RIP Don :poppy:

    Sincere condolences to the family

    Steven
     
  12. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER

    :poppy:Rest in Peace Don:poppy:

    His family will be shattered however he has now joined those mates who have waited so long for his arrival.
     
  13. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    Sit tibi terra levis, Don. Thank you, and have a great reception over there.

    Miguel
     
  14. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    As I said elsewhere, Paul: There's maybe some comfort in it looking like Niccar had a cracking last week.

    Condolences from me too, to all who knew him in person, and 'met' him online.

    ~A
     
  15. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    :poppy: Don Carter - Niccar. RIP :poppy:

    Paul
     
  16. 17thDYRCH

    17thDYRCH Senior Member

    :poppy: RIP, Don Carter :poppy:
     
  17. Auditman

    Auditman Senior Member

    Sad news indeed and condolances to his family.
    Thank you for such a moving tribute Paul
    Jim
     
  18. 4jonboy

    4jonboy Daughter of a 56 Recce Patron

    What a lovely tribute Paul.
    :poppy: RIP Don Carter-Niccar:poppy:

    Lesley
     
  19. Damiano

    Damiano In the shadow of Monte Cassino

    It's so hard for me, to find the words...I would only say that I'm very sad for the loss of a friend; I'm agree with Paul, he was a hero.
    It was an immense privilege for me to met him during his last trip in Italy, so I don't will forget his effort during the war, his voice so friendly and his nice smile, as in the picture shared from Paul.
    You was a great man Don.

    :poppy: RIP Don. :poppy:

    Damiano
     
    Smudger Jnr and Paul Reed like this.
  20. marcus69x

    marcus69x I love WW2 meah!!!

    Paul, a very moving post.

    Sad news indeed. Rest in peace Don. :poppy:
     

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