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18th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry



18th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry was raised in Durham on 10 September 1914 as a "Pals" battalion.

The first casualty of enemy action on British soil during the Great War 1914-1918 was Private Theophilus Jones aged 29 who was killed on the 16th December 1914 at Heugh Battery, Hartlepool when a German naval taskforce bombarded the town, he was one of six men of the Battalion to die in the bombardment, with a further eleven being wounded.

In May 1915 the 18th DLI was attached to 93rd Brigade, 31st Division and set sail for Egypt in December 1915 to defend the Suez Canal. The division was transferred to France in March 1916 for teh preparation for the Battle of the Somme in July 1916.

The 31st Division took over the front line opposite the village of Serre, the northern most point of the Somme line. On the morning of the 1st of July, D Company of the 18th DLI were in the first wave of the attack and were situated to the southern edge of the village of Serre, with the 15th and 16th West Yorks, they suffered heavy losses but a few men of D Company managed to reach their objective, Pennant Copse. The other companies of 18th DLI were in the second wave with the 18th West Yorks but made now headway and were held in reserve.

The 18th DLI would later see action in The Battle of the Ancre and in 1917 the Operations on the Ancre before moving north to Arras for The Third Battle of the Scarpe and The Capture of Oppy Wood. In 1918 they saw action in The Battle of St Quentin, The Battle of Bapaume, The First Battle of Arras, they moved north to Flanders and took part in The Battle of Estaires, The Battle of Hazebrouck, The Defence of Nieppe Forest and The attack at La Becque during the Battles of the Lys. During the Advance in Flanders they were involved in The capture of Vieux Berquin, and The action of Tieghem. They crossed the River Scheldt on the 9th of November and at the Armistice the forward units had reached Everbecque and the River Dender. They moved back to the Arques-Blendecques area and demobilisation began.

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Those known to have served with 18th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry during the Great War 1914-1918.

Select a story link or scroll down to browse those stories hosted on this site.

The names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add,, or any recollections or photos of those listed, please get in touch.



615

Pte. G. J. Wandless 18th Btn. Durham Light Infantry

Pte Wandless was wounded during the Bombardment whilst serving at Heugh Battery on the 16th of December 1914.



613

L/Cpl. Henry Arthur Scott Durham Light Infantry

Lance Corporal Scott was one of those wounded at Heugh Battery during the Bombardment on the 16th December 1914.



612

Pte. Thomas Rutherford 18th Btn. Durham Light Infantry

Pte Rutherford was wounded on the 16th of December 1914 whilst serving at the Heugh Battery during the Bombardment.



611

Pte. Walter Rogers 18th Btn. Durham Light Infantry (d.16th Dec 1914)

Pte Rogers was killed during the Bombardment of the Hartlepools whilst serving at Heugh Battery on the 16th of December 1914. He was 25 years old.



609

Lt. G. K. Raine 18th Btn. Durham Light Infantry (d.2nd Jul 1916)

Lt Raine was killed on the 2nd of July 1916 he was 19 years old.



608

Pte. G. H. Powell 18th Btn. Durham Light Infantry

Pte Powell was one of 11 soldiers of the 18th DLI wounded on the 16th December 1914 whilst serving at Heugh Battery during the Bombardment.



610

Pte. L. H. Robinson 18th Btn. Durham Light Infantry

Pte Robinson was wounded during the Bombardment of the Hartlepools on the 16th of December 1914 whilst serving at Heugh Battery.



606

Pte. Thomas Minks 18th Btn. Durham Light Infantry (d.16th Dec 1914)

Pte Minks died of wounds sustained during the bombardment of the Hartlepools on the 16th December 1914, he was 25 years old.



605

Pte. J. W. Lewis 18th Btn. Durham Light Infantry

Pte Lewis was wounded on the 16th December 1914, during the Bombardment of the Hartlepools whilst serving at Heugh Battery



604

Pte. D. Lamb 18th Btn. Durham Light Infantry

Pte Lamb was wounded whilst serving at Heugh Battery during the Bombardment of the Hartlepools on the 16th December 1914.



603

Pte. Leslie Dobson Turner 18th Btn. Durham Light Infantry (d.16th Dec 1914)

Pte Turner was 24 years old, he died of wounds having been struck by the first shell of the Bombardment of the Hartlepools on the 16th of December 1914. A plaque marks the spot where then men were manning a machine gun.



602

Pte. Alex Ollife Liddle 18th Btn. Durham Light Infantry (d.16th Dec 1914)

Pte Liddle was 25 years old, he died of wounds having been struck by the first shell of the Bombardment of the Hartlepools on the 16th of December 1914. A plaque marks the spot where then men were manning a machine gun.



601

Pte. Theophilus Jones 18th Btn. Durham Light Infantry (d.16th Dec 1914)

Pte Jones is believed to be the first soldier killed in action on British soil during the Great War. He was 29 years old and was killed instantly by the first shell of the Bombardment of the Hartlepools on the 16th of December 1914. The rest of the gun crew Cpl Alex Liddle, Lance Cpl Charles Clarke and Private Les Turner, died of wounds soon afterwards. A plaque marks the point close to the gates of Heugh Battery where they were manning a machine gun.



597

Pte. Robert Garrett 18th Btn. Durham Light Infantry

Pte Garrett was one of those wounded during the Bombardment of the Hartlepools on the 16th of December 1914 whilst he was serving at Heugh Battery.



596

Pte. T. W. Dees 18th Btn. Durham Light Infantry

Pte Dees was wounded during the Bombardment of Hartlepool on the 16th of December 1914, he was serving the the 18th Btn, DLI at the Heugh Battery.



594

Act L/Cpl Charles Stephen Clarke 18th Btn. Durham Light Infantry (d.16th Dec 1914)

Acting Lance Corporal Charles Stephen Clarke served at the Heugh Battery in Hartlepool and was killed during the bombardment on the 16th of December 1914 aged 25.



593

Pte. R. B. Brown 18th Btn. Durham Light Infantry

Pte. R Brown served at the Heugh Battery in Hartlepool and was wounded buring the bombardment on the 16th of December 1914.



205029

Pte. Charles Thomas Goforth 18th Btn. Durham Light Infantry (d.28th Mar 1918)

My grandmother was Charles Goforth's younger sister and she never got over losing "Tommy" and she always wanted to visit his grave. He has, like so many of that conflict no known grave and I am going to visit the area shortly and pay my respects at the Arras memorial.

I have detailed maps of the places where the battalion fought during the 1918 German offensive and I hope to try and re trace the steps he and his comrades took all those years ago.



206456

Sjt. William Dickinson MM & Bar. 18th Btn Durham Light Infantry

My father William Dickinson couldn't get into the army fast enough in the summer of 1914 as he thought the war would be over by Christmas an didn't want to miss out. He went to Egypt then back for the Somme on July 1st 1916 where he was awarded his first military medal. He was awarded a bar to his MM. in April 1918 and was sent home for officer training by May/June and transferred to the RAF. He was demobbed from the RAF after training to be a pilot. He died in 1968 in Darlington.



207550

Pte. Alfred Dunn 18th Battalion Durham Light Infantry (d.19th July 1918)

Alfred Dunn was born on 16th December 1899, became an apprentice brass finisher after leaving school and joined 18th Battalion DLI on 1st February 1918.

After training, he left for France in June 1918 and was killed on 19th July 1918. In a letter to his mother, Rebecca Dunn of Stephen Street, West Hartlepool, an officer wrote: "A machine gun was harassing the advance, and his officer and he charged it together, when he fell in the bravest way a man could to assist and save his comrades. It was impossible to recover his body in the face of the strong enemy opposition." The officer also remarks that he was a capable Lewis gunner.

He is remembered with honour at the Ploegsteert Memorial. My father was his nephew and named after him; I also have his name and my son too.



207569

Pte. Sydney Crawford Booth 18th Btn. Durham Light Infantry

My father, Sydney Booth enlisted in 1914 and trained at Cochen Hall. He sailed for Egypt 1915 and the ship was fired on. Torpedoes were seen to pass missing their target.

My father was at the Battle of the Somme, July 1st 1916. He never forgot his experiences and often told me of them. Men lying wounded who could not be helped because of enemy fire. In March 1917, near Arras, he was severely wounded with a shell splinter in his side. He told me he was saved by an American doctor who decided he would operate, as my father had been left as not treatable due to the number of causalities. I still have the shell splinter wrapped in bandage also a bullet which hit his rifle.



210625

Cpl. Benjamin Howard Loudon 18th Btn. Durham Light Infantry (d.12th July 1916)

Corporal Benjamin H Loudon died on 12 July 1916, he had been injured several days earlier. He was only 23 years old.



210067

Pte. Ellis Ratcliffe 18th Btn. Durham Light Infantry (d.12th Apr 1918)

This gentleman would have been my great uncle. In Memory of Private Ellis Ratcliffe 81525, 18th Bn., Durham Light Infantry who died age 18 on 12 April 1918. Son of Ellis and Mary Jane Ratcliffe, of 52, Travis St., Stockport. Remembered with honour on the Ploegsteert Memorial.

Information from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission:- Ellis joined up, probably in 1916, under age for overseas service and was assigned to the Lancashire Fusiliers. Service number 51023. Later in the war, at the age of 18 he was transferred to the Durham light Infantry as a replacement for casualties.

On 9 April 1918 the Germans opened the second phase of their spring offensive, known as the Battle of Lys. Ellis was not in action that day. It is thought that he may have been part of 50 new reserves that arrived on 7 Apr 1918. Overnight on the 10/11th the Battalion took up positions at Outtersteene, 5 km SW of Bailleul with orders to attack at 7pm. The start of the attack was delayed 30 mins then 'C' company led the way, with the other 3 companies a little way behind. the first and second objectives were captured and consolidation began to take place. Only 'D' company, on the left, had been severely troubled by an enemy machine gun on their flank.

At 7.30am on the following day all companies reported the enemy massing in front for an attack. This attack was delivered to the battalion next to them - the 13th York and Lancaster, who were forced to retire. This left the Durhams exposed and after 15 mins they were also forced back. The Battalion had suffered 270 casualties - dead, wounded or missing. The Commanding Officer rallied the men into defensive positions with orders to hold at all costs. At this point they were accidentally shelled by the British Artillery, suffering many casualties. 'D' company was reduced from almost 250 to less than 20 men. 'B' company had a similar small number and another retreat was inevitable. They pulled back to a line astride the railway, south of Outtersteene where they held out for an hour before being forced to retreat further. A further significant retreat was ordered for the whole Brigade to a point near Bailleul. It was at some time during the above action that Ellis was killed and his body probably buried by German troops in a quieter period.



213768

RSM. William Turner Benneworth DCM, MID. 18th Battalion Durham Light Infantry

William Turner Benneworth's DCM citation reads: For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He made a personal reconnaissance under a heavy machine gun fire over 8oo yards of ground, this saving a very dangerous situation. Later, when in command of a post, he showed great courage and skill in covering the retirement of other troops, killing six of the enemy himself. He set a fine example to all.

He also received the Belgian 'Chevalier de l'Ordre de Leopold 11'



214016

Cpl. Charles Matson 18th Btn. Durham Light Infantry (d.2nd Mar 1917)

Charles Matson on right - partially obscured.

Charles Matson, Corporal 18/113, served in the 18th Battalion Durham Light Infantry and was killed in action on the 2nd Mar 1917. He is remembered at the Darlington Railway Museum and at Sailley-au-Bois Cemetery Charles was born on the 10th December 1895 in Aycliffe, son of Thomas and Mary Matson nee Garry. He served with the 18th (Service) Battalion (1st County) Durham Light Infantry.



214619

Pte. Albert Berry 18th Battalion, "B" Coy. Durham Light Infantry (d.3rd May 1917)

Albert Berry Medal Index Card

Albert Berry died on 3rd May 1917 at the age of 27 whilst serving with 18th Battalion "B" Coy. Durham Light Infantry. He was born, enlisted and lived Jarrow, the son of John and Frances Berry of 74 Croft Terrace and husband of Mary Isabella Berry (nee Huntley) of 22 Beaumont Terrace Jarrow. On the 1911 census Albert Berry age 21 Traffic Clerk in Co-operative Society is with his parents John and Frances Berry and family at 15 York Street, Jarrow.

Albert is remembered on the Arras Memorial and is commemorated on the Triptych in St. Paul's Church Jarrow.

Albert Berry family grave in Jarrow Cemetery



214848

Pte. George Burnham 18th Battalion Durham Light Infantry (d.4th Aug 1917)

George Burnham Medal Index Card

George Burnham age 25 died of wounds on 4th August 1917 whilst serving with the 18th Battalion Durham Light Infantry. He was born, lived and enlisted Jarrow. the son of Ellen Burnham and the late J. Burnham of Jarrow. On the 1911 census he is recorded as George Burnham age 18 Apprentice Rivetor in Shipyard living with his widowed mother and family at 78 Charles Street, Jarrow

George is buried in Etaples Military Cemetery.



215638

Pte. Thomas James Rutherford 18th Btn. Durham Light Infantry (d.17th Feb 1918)

Thomas James Rutherford, Private 25549, enlisted at Bramshott and served in the 18th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry. He died age 22 on the 17th February 1918 and is remembered at Palmer Cenotaph and Roclincourt Military Cemetery. His medal card records the award of the 1915 Star, War and Victory medals. Thomas was born in Jarrow in 1895. No further details of his family have been found.



215999

Pte. Alfred Richard Walker 18th Btn. Durham Light Infantry (d.1st Mar 1917)

Alfred Richard Walker, Private 10411, enlisted at Jarrow, served with the 18th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry and died age 28 on the 1st March 1917. He is remembered at St. Paul's Church and is buried in Gommecourt British Cemetery. No. 2 Hebuterne.

Alfred was born in Jarrow 1888, son of William and the late Eliza Walker. In the 1911 census he is living at 26 Swindon Street, Hebburn with his sister Alice Howell nee Walker(24) and her husband of two years James Howell(24) a coal miner shifter (underground). They had 1 child who did not survive. Alfred(23) single, is a ships rivetter heater. Also resident are Alfred's widowed father John Walker(61) a Blacksmith Striker, Robert Walker(13) and Edward(8) both at school.





Recomended Reading.

Available at discounted prices.



Dawn Raid: Bombardment of the Hartlepools

J M Ward


An excellent account of the naval bombardment on the 16th of December 1914.


Guns of the Northeast: Coastal Defences from the Tyne to the Humber

Joe Foster


A detailed study of the coastal defences of North East England, including accounts of the bombardment of the East coast in 1914, with many excellent photgraphs and diagrams.


Bombardment: The Day the East Coast Bled

Mark Marsay


A well researched book with many personal accounts of the events of the 16th of December 1914


Durham Pals: 18th, 19th, 20th and 22nd Battalions of the Durham Light Infantry in the Great War

John Sheen


The Durham Pals were the volunteer Geordie battalions of the Durham Light Infantry raised in the north-east in the Great War. The 18th Durhams had the proud distinction of being the first unit of Kitchener's New Armies to come under enemy fire before even leaving Blighty when German ships shelled Hartlepool in December 1914. The 19th were raised as Bantams ( men blow the minimum height requirement) ; the 20th (Wearside) hailed from Sunderland; while the 22nd was the last raised - and fought through the hard battles of 1918. After their baptism of fire while training in Hartlepool, the 18th were seriously blooded on July 1st 1916 as the battle of the Somme opened, when they fought in support of the Leeds and Bradford Pals. After fighting in the successful Messines offensive in June 1917 the 20th were sent to the Italian front; while the 19th distinguished themselves in Flanders during the final Allied advance of 1918. This book pay tribute to them all.





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