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Leonard Doars 1924-2020

  • Militia men: Bermuda Militia Infantry soldiers in the Caribbean Regiment, in Egypt, during the Second World War. Leonard Doars, second from the right in the front row, with fellow Bermudians Leroy Lindsay, Leonard Doars, Robert Burns; back, Randolph Hayward, Arthur Wade, Harold Bean, in Cairo in 1945
  • Soldier and civil servant: Leonard Doars  was awarded the Queen’s Certificate and Badge of Honour in 1977

A Caribbean Regiment veteran of the Second World War who served in Italy and Egypt has died. Leonard Doars, whose 97th birthday would have been on Friday, died last Tuesday.

Mr Doars, the second oldest of five children, came from a musical family; his older brother Erskine was bandmaster for the North Village Band, and Bernard, his younger brother, was bandmaster for the Salvation Army.

He started his working life as a delivery boy, aged 13, for the Farmers Market on Front Street.

War broke out two years later in 1939 when Nazi Germany invaded Poland.

Mr Doars’s wartime service began with Imperial Censorship and the interception of post from Germany brought to Bermuda by British warships.

However, he wrote: “I was invited to report to City Hall to apply to be accepted to the army and sent to St David’s Island to be inducted in the Bermuda Militia Infantry.

“I spent time at Prospect Camp on guard duty and Warwick Camp for training.

“In April 1944, the unit was put on ships, taken to the port of Norfolk, Virginia, and driven to Fort Eustis to meet up with the West Indies’ troops to form the Caribbean Regiment.

“The regiment was sent to Italy, then Egypt. It was in Egypt where we guarded German prisoners of war.”

Mr Doars was in A Company, an all-Bermudian unit.

His daughters Michelle Doars and Renée Faulcon said the troops camped at the base of Mount Vesuvius, before they were transferred to Egypt.

Ms Faulcon said their father remembered walking past a makeshift grave and realising “it could be him”.

David O’Shea Meyer, an American resident of Bermuda and an oral historian and archivist for veterans, said his interviews with Mr Doars had been “a privilege”.

He said Mr Doars would laugh at the memory of his Christmas leave in Cairo in 1944, when a group of Bermudian soldiers got into a fight with Egyptian men at a nightclub.

Mr Meyer said: “They were hell-raisers. The military police got called, A Company ran to a hotel nearby and barricaded themselves in. He was laughing and smiling as he told the story.”

He added the group gave themselves up, forfeited the rest of their leave, and were “marched right back out into the desert”.

Mr Doars returned home in January 1946 and took advantage of government training for ex-servicemen.

He qualified as a car mechanic and diesel engine specialist in Canada and was hired at the Transport Control Department in 1952 as an examiner.

He became chief examiner in 1970.

Mr Doars was awarded the Queen’s Certificate and Badge of Honour in 1977 for his service at the department, and retired in 1988.

Ms Doars said her father “lived for bowling” and went to Warwick Lanes bowling alley several times a week and also travelled to tournaments in the United States.

He was part of his team, the Odd Balls, until the early 2000s.

Mr Doars married Edith Cecelia “Ceil” Hazel, who lived across from him in the tight-knit community of Angle Street in Hamilton, in 1960.

The couple were together until her death in 1990.

Mr Doars was also close to his son-in-law, James, and grandchildren, James Emmanuel, Ceil and Adrienne.

His obituary said he was “a loyal and dependable provider. Loving father and grandfather. He was cool, playful and funny”.

Ms Doars said the family would hold a private service this week with a memorial service later this year.

She added: “We want to thank all the people who acknowledged daddy as a war veteran.

That’s often a community of people that’s forgotten. “They should be remembered all year round — they fought for us and they fought for our freedom.”