Premonitions of death in a fox hole


Private Dick Borain went to war believing he was going to die.

He was only 24, but could sense death waiting for him in the desert, outside of the dugout that he shared with my grandfather.

Their dugout was in Eastern Libya  where the South Africans in 1941 were preparing to attack.

There were many soldiers who believed they would not survive the fight against the Italians and the Germans in the Western Desert. Most came home. Dick’s fear was something different, death shadowed him all that closer.

“It was most uncanny as he always use to say that he would never come back from the war. Although a lot of chaps use to say that,”  my grandfather, Arthur Christie, would recall.

“But when he spoke to me, being very close sharing a dugout, he use to give me the creeps. Use to have a funny feeling about it.”

My grandfather first saw action at Bardia in December 1941. His regiment the Royal Durban Light Infantry fixed bayonets and charged the German lines. Dick never made it to those German lines. A bullet struck him in the forehead.

He was alongside my grandfather when he fell.

Dick Borain lies buried in a cemetery in western Egypt. His final resting place is a long way away from the verdant sugar cane fields of Stanger, the place that was home.

He is one of nearly 12000 South Africans that died in World War Two. The one soldier who foresaw his own death.

It is at this war cemetery at Halfaya Sollum in Egypt that Dick Borain lies buried

About Shaun Smillie

Journalist, with a love of bones, fossils and other things dug up. Fisherman and occasional beer maker.
This entry was posted in artefacts from the attic, christie family, south african history, world war two and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Premonitions of death in a fox hole

  1. Cecili says:

    So sad, no wonder so many returnees never spoke about their experiences of war. Think you are lucky your granddad confided in you.

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