- Durham Light Infantry during the Second World War -
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Durham Light Infantry
- 1st Battalion, Durham 1st Btn
- 2nd Battalion, Durham Light Infantry
- 3rd Battalion, Durham Light Infantry
- 4th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry
- 5th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry
- 6th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry
- 8th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry
- 9th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry
- 11th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry
- 12th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry
- 13th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry
- 15th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry
- 16th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry
- 17th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry
- 18th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry
- 30th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry
- 70th (Young Soldiers) Battalion, Durham Light Infantry
- 2/5th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry
1st Battalion, Durham Light Infantry fought in the Western Desert, the Mediterranean and Italy being involved in the battles of El Alamein, Mareth, Mersa Matruh, Halfaya, Syria, Tobruk, Malta, Cos, Cesena, Pergola Ridge, Sillaro Crossing, Sicily, Primosole Bridge, Rauray, Salerno and Camino.
The 2nd Battalion Durham Light Infantry saw action with the BEF and the withdrawal through Dunkirk. The 2nd Batn, fought with the 14th Army in Burma, seeing action at Kohima, Donbaik and Mandalay.
The 5th Durham Light Infantry (TA) served in an anti-aircraft role, and were divided, first as 1/5th and 2/5th, which became 54th and 55th Searchlight Regiments, Royal Artillery.
The 6th Btn, Durham Light Infantry went to France with the BEF in 1940. It later saw action at Gazala, Gabr el Fakri, Mersa Matruh, El Alamein, Mareth; Landing in Sicily, Solarino, Primosole Bridge, Sicily, and took part in the June 1944 assault landings in Normandy and saw action in the advance towards Germany, Villers Bocage, Tilly-sur-Seulles, St Pierre la Vielle, Gheel.
The 8th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry served in N Africa, Gazala, Gabr el Fakri, Mersa Matruh, El Alamein, Mareth; Landing in Sicily, Primosole Bridge. The also took part in the assault landings in Normandy in June 1944 and saw action in the advance towards Germany, Villers Bocage, St Pierre la Vielle, Gheel.
The 9th Battalion, Durham Light Infantrty saw service in N Africa, Zt el Mrassas, Point 174; El Alamein, Mareth. Landing in Sicily seeing action at Primosole Bridge and in NW Europe: Villers Bocage, Tilly-sur-Seulles, St. Pierre la Vielle; Gheel, Roer, Ibbenburen.
The 10th Battalion Durham Light Infantry served in France during 1940, in Iceland in the defence of Rauray and in NW Europe from 1944.
11th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry, was part of 70th Brigade, 49th Division. The Battalion served with the BEF in 1940, in Iceland in the defence of Rauray, landed in Normandy just after D-Day and fought in North Western Europe during 1944.
13th Btn, Durham Light Infantry was a Home Defence Battalion
16th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry, was formed in 1940 and was part of 139 Brigade of the 46th Infantry Division, they saw action at Sedjenane I, E1 Kourzia, Salerno, Volturno Crossing, Teano, Monte Camino, Monte Tuga, Gothic Line, Gemmano, Cesena, Cosina Canal, Athens Greece.
18th Btn. Durham Light Infantry was a Home Defence Battalion, formed from the 13th Btn. in 1941
30th Btn. Durham Light Infantry was formed in 1941 by a merger of the 13th and 18th Battalions. Their role was in Home Defence.
12th Battalion (Tyneside Scottish) Durham Light Infantry served with the 70th Infantry Brigade.
On the 1st of February 1940 the Battalion transferred from the DLI to the Black Watch and was renamed 1st Battalion, Tyneside Scottish, The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment).
Jan 1940 On the Range
1st Sep 1939 HQ Established
4th Sep 1939 Embodiment Complete
5th Sep 1939 Guards
6th Sep 1939 Inspection
8th Sep 1939 Air Defence
13th Sep 1939 Tactical Exercise
14th Sep 1939 Conference
18th Sep 1939 Excerise
21st Sep 1939 Course
25th Sep 1939 Training
28th Sep 1939 Air Defence
4th Oct 1939 Route March
9th Oct 1939 Essential Trades
10th Oct 1939 Reliefs
17th Oct 1939 Reliefs
19th Oct 1939 Civil Defence
22nd Oct 1939 Accomodation
23rd Oct 1939 Changes of HQ
25th Oct 1939 Postings
29th Oct 1939 Concert
30th Oct 1939 Confinement
31st Oct 1939 Reinforcements
2nd Nov 1939 Battalion Formed
3rd Nov 1939 Show
15th Nov 1939 Concert
22nd Nov 1939 Address
23rd Nov 1939 Inspection
27th Nov 1939 Civil Defence & Training
4th Dec 1939 Course
5th Dec 1939 Reinforcements
7th Dec 1939 Training
10th Dec 1939 Training
11th Dec 1939 Training
14th Dec 1939 On the Move
15th Dec 1939 On the Move
19th Dec 1939 Concert
20th Dec 1939 Visit
21st Dec 1939 Move
22nd Dec 1939 Move
24th Dec 1939 Christmas Wishes
4th Jan 1940 Visit
6th Jan 1940 Visit
8th Jan 1940 Defence
12th Jan 1940 Excerise
13th Jan 1940 Transfer
15th Jan 1940 Duties
17th Jan 1940 Lecture
24th Jan 1940 Snow
26th Jan 1940 Excerise
27th Jan 1940 Shortages
29th Jan 1940 Air Raid
1st Feb 1940 Redesignation
7th Feb 1940 Scare
10th Feb 1940 Conference
11th Feb 1940 Change of Command
12th Feb 1940 Assitance Appreciated
20th Feb 1940 Visit
21st Feb 1940 Visitor
23rd Feb 1940 Return
24th Feb 1940 Praise
28th Feb 1940 Air Defence
29th Feb 1940 Demonstration
1st Mar 1940 Accident
3rd Mar 1940 Excerise
4th Mar 1940 Course
5th Mar 1940 Defence
6th Mar 1940 Air Defence
8th Mar 1940 Conference
16th Mar 1940 On the Range
20th Mar 1940 On the Range
24th Mar 1940 Orders
26th Mar 1940 Lecture
27th Mar 1940 Orders
28th Mar 1940 Orders
29th Mar 1940 Orders
8th May 1940 Construction Work
9th May 1940 Alert
10th May 1940 Alerts
12th May 1940 Stand By
13th May 1940 Guard
14th May 1940 Move
15th May 1940 Defence
16th May 1940 Defence
17th May 1940 On the Move
18th May 1940 Enemy Active
19th May 1940 In Defence
20th May 1940 On the Move
20th May 1940 Evacuation
21st May 1940 Stuka attack
21st May 1940 On the Move
22nd May 1940 Recce
23rd May 1940 In Defence
24th May 1940 In Defence
25th May 1940 Situation Unclear
26th May 1940 Recce
27th May 1940 Enemy Active
28th May 1940 Withdrawal
1st Jun 1940 Arrival
2nd Jun 1940 Reorganisation
4th Jun 1940 In Camp
8th Jun 1940 Reorganisation
9th Jun 1940 Reorganisation
10th Jun 1940 Leave
13th Jun 1940 On the Move
18th Jun 1940 Leave
19th Jun 1940 Reorganisation
19th Jun 1940 Entertainment
21st Jun 1940 Reorganisation
23rd Jun 1940 Orders
24th Jun 1940 Recce
26th Jun 1940 Reinforcements
29th Jun 1940 Appointment
30th Jun 1940 Reorganisation
6th July 1940 On the Move
24th July 1940 Defence
12th Aug 1940 Reinforcements
13th Aug 1940 Visit
16th Sep 1940 Defences
If you can provide any additional information, especially on actions and locations at specific dates, please add it here.
Those known to have served with
Durham Light Infantry
during the Second World War 1939-1945.
- Robert Thomas. Pte.
- Aaron Jack.
- Allsworth Cyril Arther.
- Annand Richard Wallace. Capt.
- Archbold Herbert Learmount.
- Ashton Horace Wallace. Capt.
- Bailey Alan. Pte. (d.17th Jan 1944)
- Banks Gordon Cyril. Pte.
- Banks Jack. (d.21st Jul 1944)
- Banks Jack. (d.21st Jul 1944)
- Barker Raymond Walter. Pte. (d.October 1944)
- Bell Clasper. Pte. (d.29th Jun 1942)
- Bell Joseph Russell. Pte. (d.24th Jul 1943)
- Black George.
- Blackwood William. Pte.
- Boardman Herbert. Pte. (d.1942)
- Bowater Frank Leslie. Pte. (d.1st June 1940)
- Bowman George Henry.
- Boyle Charles Arnold. Pte.
- Bridges James Henry. Sgt.Mjr.
- Brown Andrew. Sergeant
- Burns John. (d.14th June 1944)
- Burns John. (d.14th June 1944)
- Byrne James. Pte. (d.27th Jun 1942)
- Cardwell John. Pte
- Cassey William. Pte.
- Charles William.
- Collins Martin.
- Cook Cecil. Pte
- Cordery George Cyril. Sgt.
- Curry William. L/Cpl.
- Davies Frederick Octavius .
- Davis George Henry. Pte. (d.21st May 1940)
- Dixon John Frederick. Pte. (d.10th September 1944)
- Duffy Francis. Pte. (d.28th Dec 1940)
- Duggan Harry. Pte.
- Eagles Charles.
- Easton Stanley Alexander. Pte.
- Elderton Reg.
- Fennon A E. Private (d.2nd November 1942)
- Fergus William.
- Flanagan Joseph. Pte. (d.22nd Mar 1943)
- German Thomas. Sgt.
- Goodrich William Henry. Pte.
- Govan Thomas. Cpl.
- Graves George. Pte (d.26th May - 1st June 1940)
- Hair Robert Walter. Pte.
- Harrington William. Cpl.
- Hatchett Thomas Henry. Gnr. (d.16th Dec 1944)
- Hazell Norman Eric.
- Hermitage Frederick Robert John. Pte.
- Honeybell Charles Victor. L/Cpl.
- Hood John. Pte. (d.23rd April 1944)
- Hopper Stanley. Pte. (d.19th Sep 1943)
- Horseman J W. Cpl
- Hunter Joseph Lakeman. Pte. (d.17 Jun 1940)
- Inglis James Thomas. Pte.
- Johnson Watson. Pte. (d.24th Mar 1942)
- Jones Harrison Oughton. Cpl.
- Jones John. Pte. (d.2nd Nov 1942)
- Kerr Robert Wallace. Padre
- Kerr Robert Wallace. Capt.(Padre)
- Krieger Gerald. Capt.
- Langley John. Pte. (d.15th May 1941)
- Law William Joseph. Pte. (d.26th May 1940)
- Lawn Arthur William Lamason. Capt. (d.11th Jul 1942 Â )
- Leather Thomas L.. Pte. (d.8th January 1946)
- Lewsey Kenneth James. Pte. (d.27th Aug 1944)
- Lomax John Herbert. Cpl
- Martin Albert.
- McCreary Richard. Sgt.
- McEvoy John. (d.2nd Nov 1942)
- McGurty John Henry. Pte. (d.11th Jul 1944)
- Miller Joseph. Pte. (d.1st Jun 1940)
- Morris George. Pte.
- Mullen Thomas. Pte. (d.25th Apr 1944)
- Neathway Joseph Robert Leslie. Sgt.
- Nesbitt Gerard. Padre (d.5th July 1944)
- Newell Leslie Charles. Pte. (d.4th Sep 1944)
- Nicholas Ernest. Pte. (d.25th Aug 1944)
- Noone Albert. Pte. (d.22nd Mar 1943)
- O'Hara James. Pte. (d.17th Aug 1942)
- O'Malley Patrick. Pte. (d.12th Dec 1946)
- Ord Percy. Pte.
- Parker David Edward. Pte
- Pearson Joseph Henry Foster. L/Cpl. (d.8th Jun 1943)
- Potts Robert. Pte.
- Rafferty William. RSM.
- Richardson Thomas Alan. Lt. (d. 21st March 1943)
- Roberts Sydney George. Cpl. (d.22nd Dec 1943)
- Robins Oliver.
- Rock Dan.
- Saunders James McQuillan. Pte
- Scully Frederick Albert.
- Shaw John T.. L/Cpl.
- Shepherd Ronald Frederick. Pte.
- Simpson George Robert. Sgt.
- Smith George.
- Sopwith Ivan Gerald. Capt. (d.17th Sep 1944)
- Stanness John. Pte.
- Stockel Victor Issac. Sgt.
- Stokes Benjamin. Pte. (d.9th March 1943)
- Stokes Joseph. Pte.
- Stothard James. Pte.
- Thompson Jack. Pte. (d.4th Oct 1944)
- Timms Ernest.
- Tolan John. Pte.
- Tucker Albert Adolphus. Pte. (d.5th Oct 1944)
- Turnbull R.. Pte.
- Wall Joseph Michael. Sgt.
- Wallace Harry. Private
- Walton Francis James. Pte. (d.8th Feb 1941)
- Walton George Geordie. Pte.
- Walton Noble. Sgt.
- Warf Norman. Pte.
- Watson George. L/Cpl.
- Westby Joseph. Pte.
- Wheeler Thomas John. Pte. (d.20th Aug 1944)
- Whiteford James. Pte.
- Willis Thomas Marshall. Sgt.
- Wilson John Edward. Pte. (d.30th Jan 1944)
- Wood James. Pte. (d.8th Dec 1944)
- Wright Harold. Pte. (d.23rd Dec 1941)
- Wright Joseph Alan.
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 Add a Name to this List
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There are 4 pages in our library tagged Durham Light Infantry These include information on officers service records, letters, diaries, personal accounts and information about actions during the Second World War.
Pte. Percy Ord Durham Light InfantryMy father in law Pte Percy Ord served with the Durham Light Infantry, he was was taken prisoner of war in Tunisa in Feb or March 1942, and then trasferred to Italy, then later to Stalag 1VB in Germany. His p.o.w. no. was 263142 His home town was Guisborough, Yorks. He was held prisoner until the end of the war. I would be very gratefull to hear from anyone who may have known him or have any information regarding him.Yvonne Ord
Pte. William "Blackie" Blackwood 9th Btn. Durham Light InfantryI can only speak on behalf of my father who would never talk much about his days in World War 2. He served in North Africa he used to say to me he wasn't frightened of anyone he was fighting apart from a tribe named the Fuzzy Wuzzys, he told me they scared him to death. He used to say about the maggots that were in his cigarrettes and food and how he dreamt of his roast beef yorkshire pudding dinners. My dad went into the army after being ill with pernicious anemia, at that time there was very little cure for it, he eventually got well but was still weak and told that he should not join the army, he made sure he joined to fight for his country. The sadness of all this is when he returned home there wasn't many jobs to seek. It saddens me that I did not find out more about his days in World War 2 as I was quite young when he died. I have photographs of him with his friends in Africa but would love to hear from anyone who served there with him.Marilyn
Pte. William Cassey Durham Light Infantry
William is Second from the right on the back row
Pte William Cassey of the Durham Light Infantry captured just outside Dunkirk and held in Stalag IX C 43B. He was born in 1916 and survived the war, living until 1994.John R. Heron
Pte. Joseph Lakeman Hunter 2nd Btn. Durham Light Infantry (d.17 Jun 1940)Joseph Hunter was the batman of Captain Annand, he was injured on the 15th of May 1940 and rescued by Captain Annand, an action for which the first Victoria Cross of the Second World War was awarded. Hunter was captured by the enemy and transferred to a Dutch Hospital where he died from his injuries. He was 25 years old.
Capt. Richard Wallace Annand VC. 2nd Btn. Durham Light InfantryRichard Annand was the first soldier of the Second World War to be awarded the Victoria Cross, in Belgium in May 1940.
His obituary was published in the Times in December 2004:-
The Action in which Dick Annand fought on May 15, 1940, was the first to result in the award of the Victoria Cross to a soldier in the Second World War. As a second lieutenant with no previous operational experience he displayed resolution and personal courage of the highest order. When the battle was over, his first thought was to get his wounded batman to safety. Belgian neutrality in the early months of the war left the British Expeditionary Force and the French Army with an open flank from the northern end of the Maginot Line to the Channel coast. But, forewarned of a German attack through the Low Countries by a Wehrmacht plan which had fallen into Belgian hands and been handed over to the French, the Allied armies were ready to cross the frontier and occupy a defensive line along the River Dyle, east of Brussels, as soon as Belgian neutrality was breached. Germany launched her attack on May 10, 1940.
Annand was a platoon commander with 2nd Battalion The Durham Light Infantry in the 2nd Division sent to man positions on the Dyle, near the village of La Tombe. The ground on the west bank could hardly have been less suitable; trees and undergrowth made observation of the approaches to the opposite bank difficult and, to the rear, open ground rose steeply to the village. Annand was with D Company covering the road bridge over the Dyle, across which another company of the Durhams had been forced to withdraw before the advancing German Army on the afternoon of May 14, when the bridge was blown.
At 11.00 the next day the enemy launched a violent attack to cover the move of a bridging party into the sunken riverbed. Annand led a group of men from his platoon in a counterattack and, when their small-arms ammunition was exhausted, went forward alone to throw grenades from the edge of the ruined bridge on to the enemy bridging party working below, inflicting some 20 casualties. The enemy was thus prevented from crossing the river in continued fighting, but the situation remained grave, and the company commander had been badly wounded. During the evening of the same day, the enemy launched another attack under cover of intense mortar and machinegun fire. Annand again went forward armed with all the grenades he could carry and attacked the German troops attempting to repair the bridge.
Reporting on the action afterwards, the company sergeant-major said: “They came with a vengeance and were socked with a vengeance. They seemed determined to get that bridge but Jerry could not move old D Company. For two hours it was hell let loose, then they gave up and withdrew.”
But elsewhere the Allied line had broken and at 23.00 the Durhams’ commanding officer gave the order to withdraw as part of the general move back to the line of the River Scheldt. As Annand led the survivors of his platoon away from the bridge in the early hours of May 16, he discovered that his batman, Private Joseph Hunter, from Sunderland, had been wounded in the head and legs and was unable to walk.
Despite his own wounds sustained in the day’s fighting, he found a wheelbarrow, lifted Hunter into it and wheeled him to the rear until their way was barred by a fallen tree. Leaving Hunter in an empty trench he set out to find help but collapsed from exhaustion and loss of blood shortly after finding his company HQ position abandoned.
Hunter was captured by the advancing Germans and sent to a Dutch hospital, but he died of his wounds a month later. The award of the Victoria Cross to Second Lieutenant Annand was gazetted on August 23, 1940. This followed the announcement of the same award to another officer and a Guardsman, but for actions later in the withdrawal of the BEF to Dunkirk.
Richard “Dickie” Wallace Annand was born in South Shields in 1914, the son of Lieutenant-Commander Wallace Moir Annand, who was killed with the Collingwood Battalion of the Royal Naval Division at Gallipoli in June 1915. He was educated at Pocklington School in the East Riding of Yorkshire. He joined the National Provincial Bank in 1933 and became a midshipman in the Tyne Division of the RNVR in the same year.
He applied for a commission in the Royal Navy but was told he was over the age limit for application, so he joined the Army. After a period with the Supplementary Reserve he joined the 2nd Durham Light Infantry.
Although he recovered from wounds received at La Tombe, he was severely deafened in the action and was never again fit for active service. He was invalided out of the army in 1948 and thereafter devoted his life to helping the disabled, taking particular interest in the welfare of the deaf.
He was personnel officer of the Finchdale Abbey Training Centre for the Disabled near Durham until his retirement at the age of 65. The Borough of South Shields had made him an honorary freeman in 1940, and he was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant for Co Durham in 1956. He was president of the Durham branch of the Light Infantry Club until 1998.
He married Shirley Sefton Brittain Osborne in November 1940 and had cause to rescue her from drowning almost 40 years later, in 1979. The couple had attended dinner aboard the frigate HMS Bacchante anchored in the Tyne as guests of her captain. Turning from the foot of the gang plank on leaving to admire the ship, Mrs Annand fell off the quayside into the river. Without hesitation, Captain Annand plunged in and supported her until both were hauled to safety by the ship’s crew. Neither was much the worse for the incident, although Mrs Annand said her fur coat would never be quite the same.
His wife survives him. There were no children. His death leaves only 13 surviving VC holders.
Cpl J W Horseman Durham Light InfantryMy father was Cpl J W Horseman 4454335 (after WW2 I was adopted hence change of name). He was captured in North Africa in June 1942 whilst serving with the DLI. He was in Campo 75 and Campo 70 in Italy before being sent to Stalag IVB and then Stalag IVF. I have no information on his period in capitivity other than he came back to the UK via 91 Reception Centre.
If there is any one out there who knew him or can fill in any details I would appreciate it.J Sewell
Padre Robert Wallace Kerr Durham Light InfantryI would like any information at all regarding my grandfather's time with the Durham Light Infantry. He was Rev Robert Wallace Kerr, a Padre in WW2, and I would welcome anything someone might remember.Nicola Cooke
Private A E Fennon Durham Light Infantry (d.2nd November 1942)I am over 70 years and I don't know a lot about my dad, Private A E Fennon. I know he was killed on the 2nd of November 1942 and is buried in a grave in Libya, if anyone can tell me more about him it would make my day.Albert William Fennon
Joseph Alan Wright 11th Battalion Durham Light InfantryMy father, Joseph Alan Wright, served in the 11th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry in France with the BEF, and in Iceland. He tells me that he started to swim the Channel from the Dunkirk beaches before being picked up by a fishing boat.
I don't have many details, except his identification number: 4459285 and the fact that he was in Battalion HQ in 1941 (at that time I think they were in Wales). He also worked in training at some stage - teaching economics!
I'm pleased to say that my father is still alive.Grahame Wright
Frederick Octavius Davies Maltese Cross Durham Light InfantryI am trying to establish where my father served during world war II. Myself and an older sister are attempting to write a record of his service for future generations to read. We have no idea of his service number, but we know he was captured twice during 39-45 and escaped twice, once on his birthday 14th April. We have some picture of some of his mates with a white polar bear emblem on their uniform. He was born 14th April 1919 and died 8th April 1990 just short of his 80th birthday. He was one of 10 children and I am one of six children. He very rarely spoke of his experiences during that time. If anyone knew him or any relative has heard their father speak of 'Fred', we (my sisiter and I) would be most grateful for any information. Jacqui Wimbush nee DaviesJacqui Wimbush
John Burns 6th Battalion Durham Light Infantry (d.14th June 1944)John Burns is a relative of mine who was in the 6th Battalion DLI. He was killed on 14 June 1944 near Verriere, France. Does anyone have any memories or photos of him? I have the letter from his CO telling his parents of his death.Brian Carter
Private Harry Wallace 16th Battalion Durham Light InfantryI'm searching for my grandfather Harry Wallace. He was in Allerheiligen, Austria in 1946 with 16th Btn., Durham Light Infantry. I don't know if he is still alive, but my family and I would like to get in contact with him or with our relatives in Great Britain. The last contact address we have is Pte. Harry Wallace, 4468965, 7 Elgin Street, Sunderland, Co Durham.August Zoebl
John Burns 6th Battalion Durham Light Infantry (d.14th June 1944)John Burns is a relative of mine who was in the 6th Battalion DLI. He was killed on 14 June 1944 near Verriere, France. Does anyone have any memories or photos of him? I have the letter from his CO telling his parents of his death.Brian Carter
William Charles Durham Light InfantryMy dad was no-one special to anyone but his family. He was of the Old School – boss in his house, Ma got a share of his wage if he was working, but only as much as he chose. She worked wonders with the pittance he gave her, and she brought up two kids, my sister Jean, and myself, Jim. He would be in the bar, or later the Club almost every night, he was a Committee Man, at times a sponger, at times totally stubborn, would not back down to anyone, and had an opinion on just about everything. My sister and I were afraid of him until he died, alone, probably bitter, but reaping, as he had sown. BUT, He was MY DAD, and when I was a young lad, and asked, “What did you do in the War da?” he told me. He later told more tales, some true, some jokey and some plain daft. This little attempt at literature is to give him some pride back. He said he would do it again, with the same lads, said National Service should never have been withdrawn, that I had missed it and sometimes, when the pints were flowing and he was in a good mood, he and some of his mates would draw me into that special circle, to listen, in awe, at ordinary men, men I knew only as middle aged and sometimes grumpy. But then I noticed the blazers they wore. On the breast pocket was a badge, usually in gold, or silver thread, and there were many different ones, and then a special look came over their faces, they were back in uniform, remembering, and by the end of the night, I appreciated them and Dad a lot more.
Of the badges, there was a hunting horn with DLI under it, the same as Dad's badge in pictures I’d seen. There was a Cannon with a pointing barrel, GR in big letters, a WW1 Tank Corps, but one I knew was missing. I remember my Ma saying it was the best looking badge in the Army, it had a star, a wreath, and a hunting horn, now who was that? No one wore that one in our local club, but I had seen it but where? Then it hit me, it was in a picture of Dad in uniform, so questions asked when I was small, were asked again. This is a way to pass on to my nephew, and his sons, and even my son, and his son, a small record of what my dad did in the War so for them and to them, I rack my memory for some war stories of Billy Charles, of Birtley, England, near Newcastle upon Tyne, an ordinary soldier. His war service began in August 1939, when his TA unit, Durham Light Infantry, was embodied into the Army; the war was just a couple of weeks away but the call up was in effect before September 3rd. He had hurried home from the brickyard where he worked with his father, he was going to take his girl Jane to Newcastle to see a new film, as he was washing up, his mother said someone was coming to the door with a blue envelope. Dad knew what that was, so he told her to say he’d gone out, and to come back tomorrow, But, the messenger told Nana the lads were meeting in the William, a pub in Birtley. After discussing what was happening with Jane, they decided to go to the pub and see what was up.
It seems that many a pint was drunk that night, as the lads in uniform were told to report to the drill hall, now! Being the true soldiers they were, hardly anyone turned up that night, but next day, with thick heads, dry mouths and a following crowd, the unit formed up in the drill hall. They were tasked with digging holes in the farmer’s field next to the hall; dad had a rifle and two bullets, and said, “If I fire these, can I go home again as there are no more?” He was on night sentry and only had a couple of curious dairy cows snuffling around for company. Next night they were allowed home, but had to be back the following night to be moved to parts unknown. As was related to me by both Mam and Dad, “you could have sailed a ship down Harras Bank that night” women crying, old timers like my Granddad asking to be allowed to go, as they had been there before, and all the while, drink flowing from the pub, the landlord was losing a lot of his best customers that night.
Eventually the buses, not trucks, set off, no one knew where to, and hours later they were in a strange part of England, with no means of letting anybody know they had arrived safely. At least that’s what the officers and NCOs thought. A bright lad had stuffed a couple of his champion pigeons in his kit bag, and he sent one home now, they were in Oxfordshire for Home Defence, and the people in Birtley knew before anyone else.
After some to-ing and fro-ing as a prisoner escort, back home some nights, but all over the country with his mate Bob Elliot, Dad was settling into wartime life. He was trained on the PIAT, and until he died he had a scar over his eye, where the “bugger hit me”. He swore he could tell a PIAT man by that scar, and he did a number of times.
All good things come to an end, some of the Battalion had been sent to France, some would die, and some escape from Dunkirk, some were captured, to spend almost six years as prisoner, and some simply disappeared. Dad was posted to Iceland, he spent eighteen months there, coming back for invasion training, late 1942 I believe. He was trained to drive a Bren Carrier, and loved it. Many years later I took him to the DLI Museum in Durham, and he literally taught me to drive a carrier, there in the museum. The guard was about to say something until dad told him he was an ex-Durham, and an ex-carrier driver. He showed us some places that only those crews knew….
I could retell some tales from his training days, but this is about his Cameronian days, so we’ll skip to June 1944, not D-Day, but D+6, when Billy Charles invaded France, was told to drive his carrier into that field, park it that side, then get a cup of tea. Not a bad start? Then he’s told to drive out again, through that gate, and now, by the way, you are re-badged as Cameronian. Being rebadged to the Cameronians occurred either during, or just after the Battle of Caen. The DLI and the Cameronians had taken a good hiding and it was decided to consolidate, so he and others were told to report into a certain field, as he said, “I was told to drive into this field, told to wait, have a cup of tea, then report to an Officer. He told us we were now in the Cameronians, and God help anyone who said Camerons!, so get your transport and prepare to move".
I asked about the pipes, “Fine music, stirs the soul, but when you see the Scots charging, it’s not the Germans they want, it’s the guy playing those bloody things”. I asked about the kilt: “We could wear trews, tartan just the same, and as easy to start fights” and of course “What’s worn under the Kilt?, “Absolutely nothing son,- It’s all in first class condition.” Oh yes, Dad took to his new regiment with great spirit, and that spirit went with him through Belgium, Holland and into Germany, to be drunk when it was all over, but that was a way away just yet.
He landed at Arromanches about D+6, driving his carrier over the Mulberry Harbour, a marvel of engineering, but he was glad to get to firmer ground, he was no great swimmer. I’m not sure if they went to Bayeux from here, or what happened, I’d love to know from anyone else who was re-badged. He travelled to Villers Bocage, it was here he came under fire for the first time, at least it was here he “heard and felt somebody was trying to kill me”. He recalled how he was in a field, a Spandau opened up from another side, and he could see the trail of tracer and earth as it was spurting up. He dived to the ground and found great relief to be behind a blade of grass, “as thick as a tree trunk” it was amazing he said, how anything, no matter how small, could be as big, as to hide behind when the bullets were flying. That was his baptism of fire. He was scared, feared for his life, but lived to tell the tale, with a glint in his eye. Villers Bocage was a fierce battle. I’m sure all who were there do not need reminding of that fact, I have read the tales of it, and am proud my Dad was there.
As the carrier driver, he became a shell carrier when his team was ready to start a mortar shoot. He used to laugh as he retold how when he pulled up somewhere, the regular Infantry would call him names, and tell him to go elsewhere, because as soon as they’d fired off a few rounds, the Germans would reply in kind, by which time S Company was on its way somewhere else, “thereby missing that which we had sown”.
He never spoke much of France, except to say he’d like to see parts of it again, like Bayeux (he’d seen the Tapestry), and while sitting in a shell hole from WW1, he wondered if he was sitting where his Father had been.
After France was Belgium, and some fun times: he told of the Union Jack club in the main square next to the railway station. He said he had some good times in there. He loved Brussels, some things he would not share, like a certain sergeant who was famous for his dancing and that was all I got on that subject. He also told me how he met up with a big French Canadian, and they became friends, bumping into each other now and again up until the end of the War. One story was that he and Frenchy were in a bar in Brussels when a Yank started to become “aggressive and argumentative” and was about to fight any and all comers. He pulled a flick-knife, to which Frenchy pulled a hunting knife from his boot, threw it so it landed on the table, and told the Yank to be quiet. He was, and Dad was happy Frenchy was his friend.
Again I must say I am not sure of any timeline to these recollections, I wasn’t there, and Dad didn’t elaborate. He would just say something like “One time in Brussels…” or something along those lines. But I can recall how he told his stories, and how he enjoyed his war.
In the heat of battle some strange tales emerge. He recalled the time when he and some mates were in a farmyard and found some edible eggs, some potatoes, and decided to do some egg and chips, except they had no fat, so on searching again, found a jar of honey, decided this would do, and fried the eggs in the honey. He never said if they did the chips, but he did say the eggs were different. Another time they had real fresh pork after spending a lot of ammunition and a very long time trying to shoot this pig. “It just would not die", he said.
Driving the carrier, he was used to doing the Dixie run to outlying positions, so the lads could get a hot meal. He told of one time he was taking a hot box to a sniper lying up in a barn. Dad and his friends knew this guy, and they all had agreed they could not do his job. It was a quiet approach to his spot, Dad walking the last few yards so the enemy not too far ahead would not hear the sound of the carrier. He went in the barn, up the stairs, and was watching the sniper work. A German moved away from his group, to relieve himself behind a tree, but in view of the sniper, who offered Dad a look through his ‘scope. Dad saw the German was indeed “Havin’ a good un” and asked the sniper if he was going to shoot him. The sniper looked through his sight, shook his head and said not yet. They waited until the German had finished, pulled up his trousers, fastened his belt, and was starting to walk away. Then the sniper shot him, clean as a whistle. Dad asked “why the wait”, the sniper replied, "I’m not that hard hearted I’d shoot a guy on the toilet. He died happy, with nothing on his mind”. Dad swore that this story was true I have to believe it. All was not fun, and laughs I’m sure, but there must have been instances that broke through the seriousness.
He was driving his carrier and he caught an infection in his thumb. It swelled so badly and was so full of poison that it was touching the palm of his hand. He had to go back down the line to an aid post to have it lanced, when he got back, it was to the tail end of the Gheel battle. He was not happy to be sent backwards when his mates were going forward, but he was ordered to go, as he could not grip because the thumb was touching the palm of his hand, he told his Officer he would just burst it by driving, but the officer would have none of it and sent him back. I believe this officer was killed near Gheel, when he dived under a carrier to escape shelling, only to have blast blow under the carrier he was under.
Dad said all in all his Officers weren’t too bad. I’m not sure if one was a Captain Jurgensen, he may have been DLI, and he got on okay with them. One day toward dusk an officer came to Dad and his pal, another carrier driver, and asked if they would “Dash down the road to that Villa thing, load up with as many wounded as possible and get them back to the R.A.P.,” It was also pointed out that the road was under observation, and any dust brought forth some "nastiness that we didn’t want too near to us”. He and his pal set off, the Officer in Dad's carrier, until they were almost at the gate, “Turn Now !!!” and the gate post was demolished. “That made it easier for my pal to get in the drive” said Dad. Loading up with stretcher cases first, and doing a number of runs until it was just too dark to see, the two carriers did sterling work. Other drivers had "not exactly refused, but…” and the Officer told Dad, “You will hear more for this night’s work”. Alas, he was killed just a few days later, so no more was heard. Dad wasn’t bothered; he and his pal were just pleased to help other pals.
Leave came around, but so did the Battle of the Bulge and hardly had the lads got their boots off, than they were back to help the Yanks. This was not a pretty site he recalled, young men hanging from tank guns by wire, or their dogtags, and yet the one thing that stuck in his mind, was the fact that there was cake, and soda pop, and decorated trees. He always said the Yanks were not concentrating and were caught out because their troops were not as disciplined as ours. During this period, he and his mates were trying to sleep in a farmhouse, but just outside was the body of “The biggest bloody Jerry” he ever saw, and no-one could sleep just thinking of this poor man, so in the middle of the night, they had to bury him, so they could sleep. I asked if they marked the grave, so his family would be notified, “Nope” and that was that.
Eventually he came to “The land of clogs and windmills”. That got past the censor, so Mother knew where he was heading, and she kept that letter for years. Market Garden, a mad dash to a sudden stop – he couldn’t explain why XXX Corps or the Second Army never pressed on. He felt they should have. Nijmegen and the flat tops of the Dykes, the bridges, being told by a Tankie to get that effing mess tin out of his way, or he’d be run over. Then came Tilburg, I have a picture that says “with the first troops to liberate Tilburg” it's dated, and I would love to go over there and find the house in the picture and some friends of Dad's; it may happen.
The War was winding down now, he was either in Kiel, watching over SS officers in the prison, “Several slipped on occasion, those uneven floors”. He met a cousin somewhere in a prison camp who begged him for a loan of his rifle as he had a score to settle. He was not overly impressed with the conditions the Germans had to live in, as they denied ever knowing about concentration camps nearby… so let the “buggers starve”.
He made another trip home just as the war was ending; in fact the war was over and by the time he got back to Newcastle the news was just breaking there. When a guard told him the War was over, he smiled and said I know. Leave over, War over, but he had to go back to Kiel, the picture there is dated June '45. He met a friend of his being de-mobbed, and they drank that spirit he had carried since landing. Swaps were made, another town was driven into, a manicure set was thrown at him, incomplete, but I have it still.
Werewolves as they called the German Underground were still active, and he was in on the hunt. One night, on returning to barracks, one of the new boys was playing cowboy with his pistol, a chip flew up and hit Dad over the eye, so now he had two scars, one from a PIAT, and one from “after the war”.
Now it was time to clean off the Carrier and park it for the last time, check the oil, redo the tracks, grease it, wash it, and say bye bye to a good friend who had saved “me walking all that way”. He missed that Carrier, and many years later in the DLI Museum in Durham, he showed me how to drive it. I’d love a real go at one, I’m sure he was a good teacher that way.
When the Surrender was signed, I believe he was on the banks of the Escaut Canal, when I asked how he felt, I was told this, “ I felt relief, a sadness at friends lost, I felt I needed to thank God I was in one piece, I kneeled and prayed, then we laughed, had a drink, and were very very careful, we wanted to be sure the guys on the other side knew it was finished too. There was also a sense of something ending, I would be going home to Birtley, the lads would be splitting up and going their own ways. Reunions were talked of, but I never went to any, except one of the DLI where I was told I could pick the best carrier they had, then I found out that it was a recruiting drive, not a reunion. I lost touch with the lads I served with, but if I could go back, would I? You bet I would, we had some good times, and I had some great pals”.
After his de-mob, he gave a load of his souvenirs to a relative, who in turn sold them, all that was left was a very small selection of pictures. My Grandmother wanted only his Cameronian cap badge, she got it, but on her passing, it was lost.
When I was old enough to ask about his war, he related these tales here, but in his style, eyes twinkling, a memory stirring, a thought of someone, somewhere I never would know, something he would not tell me about just yet, but that tale went untold, it had to do with a sergeant, and his “talent” it involved “dancing too” I never did get that one. As I said, I loved to hear the guys in the Club telling their stories, Tankies, Sloggers, Drivers, each a joy to my ears, I wish I could have written them all down, or recorded them. Time is passing, I hope someone reads this and recalls my Dad, but also I hope he recalls some of his own stories, and someone writes them down for him. It’s a legacy to be proud of, we need to have the Ordinary side heard, not just the medal-winning hero though that has its place, but also the guy who all he got was two Stars and two round ones, as Dad called his medals. Alas I stand guilty of playing with them and losing them.
So in ending, I thank all who served, I hope I hope I can meet some of you sometime, and listen to your stories. The last word of course is Dad’s, when he was talking to his best mate from before the war, in the bar sometime after it was all over:
“Colin, you flew in Lancs and bombed Kiel didn’t you?”
“Yes“ was Colin’s reply, “why?”
"What were you aiming at?”
The harbour he was told, “again, why?”
“Cos you hit every bloody thing but.”
Goodnight Da, sleep well, and I promise I’ll find that someone in Tilburg and we’ll meet, sometime. God Bless.Jim Charles
Pte. William Joseph Law 9th Btn. Durham Light Infantry (d.26th May 1940)William Joseph Law joined the 9th Battalion D.L.I. (Private 4454416)and was also killed-in-action at Vimy Ridge, near Arras, on the retreat to Dunkirk. His name appears on the Dunkirk Memorial, Nord, France which commemorates those soldiers of the British Expeditionary Force who have no known grave.George Law
Sgt. George Robert Simpson Durham Light InfantryI am trying to find out information about my Dad, George Simpson. I know he was taken prisoner and was classed as missing pressumed dead. He managed to get a postcard out of his POW camp which arrived at Christmas to say he was alive. I am not sure where he was captured or for how long. It's not a lot of info but if anybody knew of him I would love to hear from you.Pat MacRae
Pte. Ronald Frederick "Shep" Shepherd 8th Battalion Durham Light InfantryMy father (who died in March 2000) was called up in October 1939 and after training joined 9th Platoon, "A" Company, 8th Battalion, 151st Brigade, 50th (Northumberland) Division & embarked for France on 7th March 1940 (his 21st birthday).
He took part in the Battle of Arras in May 1940 which contributed to the Germans stopping outside Dunkirk for 2 days. During the retreat to Dunkirk he "found" a bicycle which he used for a few days. He left it by a tree while he went for a call of nature and was angry to find that someone had stolen "his" bike.
After retraining, etc, he went via Durban, SA & Suez Canal to North Africa. Fought in all major battles in North Africa including: Gazala, Mersa Matru and El Alemein.
Posted back to England May 1942 for training for D-Day. Landed on D+1 (7th June 1944) driving a lorry so didn't get feet wet! His diary entry for that day was: Landed.
He 'lost' 3 rifles during his 6 years including one on 10th June 1944 when top blown off by a shell which killed a man 2ft away. He took part in battles at Tilly, Villers Bocage, through to Belgium and on to Arnhem, Nijmegen & Gheel. He finished the war as a driver with the RASC in Hamburg.
Medals awarded: 1939-1945 Star; The Africa Star with 8th Army clasp; The France and Germany Star; The Defence Medal; 1939-1945 Medal. Also the French 'Dunkerque 1940' Medal. He was one of the few soldiers who started out in the BEF, was evacuated at Dunkirk and returned to Normandy in 1944.Ron Shepherd
Ernest Timms 16th Btn. Durham Light InfantryMy Grandfather, Ernest Timms was with the The Durham Light Infantry, 16th Battalion 1940-1946. I have just found out all of his old war photos. I will hopefully be able to find out more information from my mum regarding him. All I know are some first names of his friends from an old photo Len, Cyril, George, Wally, and Jack. It says he was good friends with Len and Wally.Katherine Hollin
Cpl. Harrison Oughton "Harry" Jones 1st Btn. Durham Light InfantryHarry started off # 4451283 in Aisne Squad D Coy machine gun Coy after his eighteenth birthday (just under 8 stone in weight). He learned how to drive Bren Gun Carriers, and was the number1 shot out of 1000 hand picked troops at an Army competition at Bisley Ranges which gained him a pay increase and a Medal awarded. Hand picked and sent to Chatham Naval Base (School of Military Engineering) Harry was taught the trade of Plumbing. He was transferred to A Coy as Battalion Plumber and given badge of two crossed axes then transferred to HQ for trip to China in 1937. They stopped in at India to take on more DLI troops, water and fresh fruit, and finally rrived in China at Shanghai to see the place on fire after the recent Japanese bombing. The men transferred to the docks in small boats with main troop ship at anchor in middle of river. They were initally based in a school on Nankin Road in Shanghai then moved north to Peking / Tientsin to “nice barracks”. Harry Taught ice skating to Officers on frozen over Tennis Courts with fellow solider Frank Chapman.
Next they were sent to Hong Kong, then to Egypt and landed at Port Said, where they were rushed to Mersa Matruh and should have been awarded Military Medal for acts of courage during an enemy bombing raid on a rail head but the reporting Indian Officer confused the surnames of Jones and Owens and Private Owens was awarded the Medal in error. They advanced to Fort Cappuzo where after brutal battle, Harry requested permission to return and pick up his truck that had the front end blown off from a shell, or mortar round. The Officer agreed and one truck was made from two blown up trucks. Harry was then transferred to B Coy and made a fitter for the rest of the Battalion trucks.
He was promoted and transferred to 10th RTR (Royal Tank Regiment) “Ghost Battalion” and advanced to unchartered desert to set up dummy tanks to confuse the enemy. He moved to Tobruk then to to Syria and fought Vichy French and pushed them through Palastine to the Turkish border, until the surrender at Aleppo.
The battalion was sent back to Egypt to camps in Port Said, then on to Alexandria, from where they sailed on Friday 13th to Malta onboard the Brackenshire captained by Colin Hutchinson who recommended extra pay and recognition for Harry and other DLI men for relieving the ships crew on the machine guns during air raids. This request declined as this action was just expected of a soldier in the D.L.I.! The ship behind Brackenshire was bombed and sank in about 4 minutes. The next raid brought a stick of bombs which exploded a hole in the side of the Brackenshire, the order to abandon ship was given. A destroyer pulled alongside to save the crew but it hit a mine and sank. Ocean going tugs rescued the survivors and took them into Valetta Harbour, eventually the Brackenshire was run aground to save the cargo.
Harry Was on guard duty in Rabbat the story goes that he shot the seat pole out of a bike riden by Major Croxwright who was returning from a night on the town and had refused to stop after the first checkpoint. The Major commended Harry for his action and advised he wouldn’t have to go on guard duty again. The Major also advised he wouldn’t go out drinking again!
Harry relieved a Bren Gun position on a hillside above the camp where he shot down an enemy bomber and was promoted to Corporal in the field for this action. On another occasion he shot down an enemy craft after going on an unauthorised test flight after assisting in the repair of an aircraft. Before leaving Malta Captain May requested Harry to be promoted and join the paratroopers. This offer was declined.
Harry was sent from Malta to Egypt, then from Egypt to Kos where he was in charge of a platoon looking after an air strip near the Coast. He was wounded in the leg and reported to a Medical Station, where he was advised by the medical orderly to prepare for surrender.Harry advised him that he would never surrender and asked the medical orderly to give him some rations to make good his escape. Harry met up with an 18 year old RAF private named Jack Harrison and tried to get the Coast, but they were captured, interrogated and marched off to German HQ by two Italian guards. Harry was able to escape with Jack Harrison after an English Beaufighter strafed the Italian guards. They were given a boat by a Greek fisherman on the proviso that they took his wife and two kids to Turkey, which he agreed to do. Once the boat was uncovered eight fully armed and kitted out South African Air Force personnel (including a Sergeant and a Colonel) jumped from the bush and commandeered the boat but didn’t know how to sail it. Harry said he would sail it as long as Jack and the Greek family were allowed on. This was agreed. Once at sea, the boat was strafed by a Messerschmidt, who came back for another pass but another Beaufighter came to the rescue and engaged.
They arrived in Turkey and were escorted by a Turkish soldier to a village in the Mountains, after a nights rest and a good feed walked through the mountains for approximately ninety miles. At one part the journey went though a gap in the mountain approx 50 – 60 yards across which the Turkish guide said was caused by an earthquake many years earlier. They finally arrived at a seaport called Boderum. The South Africans were led in one direction whilst Jack and Harry were put on a small craft with several SAS commandoes returning from a mission and sent to Cyprus. The Turkish soldier made Harry sign a form which was sent to Constantinople requesting reimbursement for the journey. Harry sailed by boat to Syria and arrived in a Harbour and was then sent to hospital for two weeks to treat his infected leg wound. When he was released from hospital Harry was arrested as he had no identification, but this was soon resolved.
Eventually Harry was made a Police Corporal on the main gate of the military base but he wanted to get back to England, so he got a job as a cook for an Indian Officer who was escorting prisoners to Palastine by boat. On arrival Harry was sent to barracks in Hifa, and was put in charge of a group of soldiers guarding the gate to the base. He managed to get a ride, as an assistant driver of a truck carrying two Royal Artillery personnel, to El-ta-hag near Port Said. The journey took Harry through the Sinai Desert. On arrival he was greeted by a Major Nickelson Who had been Harry’s Sergeant in B Coy in China. His nickname I believe was “Hands” or "Feet" due to his extraordinarily sized hands or feet. Harry got a new Pay Book & AB64 from the Sergeant Major looking after the records of the 1st DLI in Cairo.
Harry Left Port Said on an unknown boat bound for Liverpool with an escort of 3 to 5 naval craft, a German submarine attacked just outside Liverpool. The Navy depth charged the sub and about 2 miles from Harry’s boat it rose up to almost halfway out of the water then sank. Back in England Harry was sent by train to Brancepeth Castle where he trained a squad of recruits preparing for D-Day.
Harry told the Officer in charge of Northern Command the banns for his marriage had come back and as he would be on leave he wouldn’t be attending the D-Day landings. After his honeymoon Harry crossed the Channel in a boat with about 150 – 200 other soldiers and arrived in France. After drying out on the beach Major Croxwright recognised Harry and seconded him into a nearby bombed out house which was Montgmery’s temporary HQ. Harry moved to the Officers Mess and moved to Caen & Falaise and on through many places (I have yet to decipher the diaries, photos and post cards) but one place named was Stag Diesl in Belgium and later Borg Leopold where Harry was in charge of driving a Canadian photograher to record the horror of Belsen. Harry was in charge of a truck to load up survivors and transport them to Luneburg Hospital and was on guard and observed when Montgomery accepted the surrender of the Germans.
While based at Luneburg Barracks he was in charge of four German prisoners cleaning out the sheds. One morning there were five prisoners and heated debate broke out. The extra prisoner was complaining about a fellow German prisoner making the younger one do all the work and they suspected him to be Heinrich Himmler. Harry with an officer and another rank confronted the man on the second floor of block #2. He was standing between the fourth bed along the right hand side wall wearing a German Sergeant uniform with a patch over one eye. He was accused of being Himmler and ordered to confirm or deny the accusation. He told them he wouldn’t say anything to a lowly ranking officer and requested to be taken to their highest ranking officer. Harry motioned toward him to escort him away but before he came close he popped a pill into his mouth and dropped to the ground and began shaking. They thought he was acting but after a minute or two he was pronounced dead. Harry was ordered to stand guard overnight whilst the Officers decided what to do. The next day he was part of the burial party. A small hole had already been dug and a short time later a truck arrived with an Officer driving and 4 officers in the back with an unmarked coffin. They lowered the coffin into the hole, covered it over and drove the truck over it several times to “disappear” the grave site. Harry was forced to sign secrecy documents regarding this affair and other details. Harry resumed his duty transported inmates away from the Belsen Camps. Later he travelled around Germany, Belgium, Holland, Paris, over the Haartz mountains to the Swiss border with an Officer picking up watches, perfume, chess sets, etc. to put into the Luneburg gift house for troops to buy and send home. Harry stayed in Germany until 1946 when he was demobilised He was discharged from the Army in 1952
His friend and fellow D.L.I. soldier Frank Chapman # 4451284 eventually married Harry’s sister.
Harry’s father, Thomas Edward Jones, born in 1889, was a Sergeant Drum Major in the 16th (2nd Reserve) Battalion Durham Light Infantry in World War One. He served for 1 year 11 months before medical discharge. -Jason Renshaw
Capt. Horace Wallace Ashton MC. Durham Light InfantryMy father, Horace Ashton married Catherine Watt Gilstin of Sunderland, Co. Durham (now Wearmouth) at High Lane. He volunteered for the Army in 1939 and rose to the rank of Captain. He was a proud and private man and although he talked about the Army as he grew older, we the family never really knew why he was awarded the MC. besides several other medals.
He had three children and became an Overall Manufacturer mainly for the Ministry of Defence. He was a founder member of High Lane British Legion and died in the late 1990's.
I am now 72 and am anxious to find what he was awarded the M.C for, I have a copy of a letter King George sent him from Buckingham Palace but nothing more.Patricia Ayres
Pte. Jack Thompson 9th Btn. Durham Light Infantry (d.4th Oct 1944)Any information regarding my uncle Jack's service or death in Arnhem, Holland would be appreciated. He was Pte. Jack Thompson and served with the 9th DLI, son of Sydney F. and Sarah K. Thompson, of Chorlton-on-Medlock, Manchester. He is buried in the Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery.Eric Cooper
Herbert Learmount Archbold Durham Light InfantryMy Uncle Herbert Archbold served with DLI in WWII. Sadly he died in 1970,when I was a child, and I know little about him. I do know he was in the glass house while serving in Trieste, in Italy, as he lost the mail. I would love to know more about his military service or hear from anyone who knew him.Patricia Heard
L/Cpl. George Watson Durham Light InfantryGeorge Watson was my father who died in 1956. He served in the DLI in Burma and I remember him mentioning place names there such as Irrawady, Arokan, Kohima,Rangoon, Imphal etc.
I have some of his uniform badges and a cap badge, also some photographs of him overseas. I also have a postcard from the time with a photograph of a cemetery for the fallen. It has a most moving verse on a noticeboard: "In glorious hope their proud and sorrowing land commits her children to thy gracious hand".
He contracted malaria during his service, as did many of his comrades. He died of cancer, age 43, when I was 8 years old so we did not have much time together but he taught me to count to 20 in Hindustani; I can still do it! His family were convinced that the stresses of the Burma campaign killed him before his time. I recall him saying that he guarded some Japanese prisoners. I am guessing that they were few and far between before the A bombs so this was late in the war I suspect.
I would love to know more about his unit and their movements during the campaign. Any ideas on achieving this would be gratefully received.Peter Watson
Sgt. Victor Issac Stockel Durham Light InfantryMy Father Vic Stockel was involved in some way in getting supplies to our troops across Neimagen Bridge whilst under sniper fire and was awarded the Oak Leaf Cluster. I believe that, although the bridge was damaged, this might have been accomplished in a fleet of jeeps. Others who might have been involved in that event are believed to be Staff Sargeant Hockley and Sergeant Gold.
If anyone could throw any more light upon this event I would be most grateful to hear from you.Allen Stockel
Pte. James Thomas Inglis Royal Northumberland FusiliersMy Grandfather died before I was born and I Know that his family came from Gretna in Dumfrieshire, have been searching his army records for several years. Recently I have found that he joined the Blackwatch in 1939 and was then transferred to the Royal Fusiliers with whom he was sent on the British Expedition to France, he was posted from there back to England and then to Iceland where he was posted for two years before being sent back to Kingston in the UK for a further two years before being posted on the British North African Force.
My grandfather was in the army for a total 7 years. In 1952 he emigrated to America and settled in New Jersey where he passed away in 1964 aged just 46. I would love to hear first hand accounts from anyone who may have served in the same Regiments or who served in the same places as my grandfatherSharon Meek
Pte. William Henry Goodrich Durham Light InfantryMy father, William Goodrich almost never spoke about his experiences, and now that he has been dead some 18 years, I wish I had pushed for more information. He spoke at length,for him, about cabbage soup. He also suffered from severe frost bite on his ears but I never minded that as a small girl, I thought he was a pixie! I also remember visiting his friend, who was an officer. This man I referred to as Uncle Sid, he lived in or near Sheffield with his wife, Aunt Daisy, and a son Jeffrey(or Geoffrey). Dad had been 'batman' to Sid at some point, later in the war.
I would really like to know about Dad's army service but I'm finding it very difficult. My husband is now taking me to Durham to see if we can find more information.Mrs V Brooks
Capt. Arthur William Lamason "Paddy" Lawn 10th Battalion Durham Light Infantry (d.11th Jul 1942 Â )Paddy Lawn was a well-loved teacher and swimming coach at Hawera NZ. He went to London in 1937 to help with unemployed youth auspices through the YMCA.
When war started he went to NZ House to join up and was told to join the local Durham Light Infantry. Having been a Territorial in New Zealand, he was made a Captain right away and then found himself right through France and Dunkirk. The Battalion reformed at Ilford and was sent to Iceland as part of the Garrison.
Later Paddy was transferring to the NZEF from the BEF when the ship was torpedoed by U boat. He was last seen holding up another soldier in shark-infested waters near Iceland.Tom Lawn.
Pte. Gordon Cyril Banks Durham Light InfantryMy father had been conscripted late, and made up the losses of the 8th Army in North Africa in 1943. Then he was in Sicily, before going to Normandy.
Two years ago, whilst researching my father's history at Gold beach, on D-Day, I came across a book with a photo of troops taken on June 7, 1944, in Normandy. To my surprise I recognised one of the soldiers, as my father. I have since been able to get a copy of the picture from the Imperial War Museum.
I have never found out if he was in the 6th or 8th Battalion, and would like to know if anyone recognises the troops in the picture. My Dad is the man with the spectacles holding onto both straps in the centre of the troops.Tony Banks
Pte. James Stothard Durham Light InfantryMy dad, James Stothard was taken prisoner of war at Dunkirk at the beginning of the war and was taken to Toruń camp Stalag XX-A, he was with the actor Sam Kidd.Peter Stothard
L/Cpl. Charles Victor Honeybell 2nd Battalion Durham Light InfantryThe little I know about Dad's army service was that he served with the DLI 2nd Battalion in Burma. The place names that stand out from memory are Rangoon, Kohali, Djakarta among others. I still treasure the Burma star my Dad was awarded.Vic Honeybell
Jack Aaron Durham Light InfantryMy father, Jack Aaron, was a POW in PolandLynda Aaron
Sgt. George Cyril Cordery 53rd (Worcestershire Yeomanry) Airlanding Regt. Royal ArtilleryMy father, George Cordery did his basic training with the Durham Light Infantry before joining the Royal Artillery as a Gunner. He was eventually posted to the 53rd (Worcestershire Yeomanry) Airlanding Light Regiment, which was part of 6th Airborne Division. He served with the OP Section of then Regiment.
After the war had ended he was sent to Burma as part of the British Training Mission, where he served as an instructor with the Burmese 1st Anti-tank Regiment (which was also known as the Chin Hills Battalion).Robert Cordery
Lt. Thomas Alan Richardson 8th Batallion Durham Light Infantry (d. 21st March 1943)My late uncle, (Thomas) Alan Richardson, known at home as Sonny, was a primary school teacher in Braunton, Devon from 1937. He was called up to the Devonshire Regiment in January 1940 and was in training with them (6th and 8th Battalions) in south Devon and Essex until embarkation leave in August 1942. He went to Aden via Cape Town in Convoy No.22 and was seconded to the 8th Battalion DLI, joining them after El Alamein in November 1942. In January 1943 he was made the Battalion Intelligence Officer. He was killed, probably by an anti-personnel mine, in Wadi Zigzaou on the first night of the Battle of Mareth. Reports suggest that he was with the C.O., Lt. Col "Jake" Jackson, at the time. Other known soldiers reported to be nearby at the time were Lt. Douglas Pentney and Lt. W Douglas. Lt Pentney was killed when he stepped on a mine whilst Lt. Douglas who was injured in the foot and was brought back to Battalion HQ. There is a memorial grave to Thomas Alan Richardson at Enfidaville.Adrian Collins
Pte. Raymond Walter Barker East Yorkshire Regiment (d.October 1944)My brother, Raymond Barker was killed in Holland in 1944, he was nineteen years of age. He enlisted in early 1942 under age, telling them he was eighteen. He was in the Durham Light Infantry but was transferred to the East Yorkshires.R. Judge
Pte. Stanley Alexander Easton 16th Battalion Durham Light InfantryStanley Easton's service number 4465708 indicates he may have been with the 16th DLI from the early days, and probably joined up about mid 1940. My father was taken prisoner in North Africa probably at the Battle of Sedjenane where he was shipped to Italy and eventually ended up in Poland at Stalag 344. He talked of working in a steel manufacturing factory, and was also in visible contact with other prisoners, such as Slavs, Russians and Jews. He was liberated by the Americans (not sure where from), and was back in the UK by April/May 1945. Any further info would be appreciated.
Sgt. Joseph Michael Wall Durham Light InfantryJoseph Wall was my Grandfather who died in 1991. He was a POW at Stalag IV-B. Did anyone know him? Please contact me if you did.Malcolm Wall
Cpl. Thomas Govan MM. 1st Battalion Durham Light InfantryThis is an account written by my late father. Cpl. T. Govan M.M. 4464195, 1st Btn. D.L.I Kos
"I was a Section Leader in the Mortar Platoon which was part of the HQ. Co. and provided support to the other Companies. I travelled from Ramat David Airport by Dakota to Cos with `B`Co. and we flew low over Turkey on the way to avoid detection by German fighters who, it appears, knew we were arriving that way, and were expected to intercept us before we could land.
We were to land at Antimachia Air Strip and had firm instructions that, as the Dakota came to a stop on landing, we were to jump from the open doorway of the plane and disperse as fast as possible to the edge of the air strip, take cover, and prepare to be straffed by German fighters who would try to catch the Dakota on the ground. The Dakota pilot said that from stopping to being back in the air again should take him less than a minute if we did our job properly.
Well we did and as he took off again the ME's came in straffing, All the troops opened fire with rifles and Bren guns on the ME's to try to cover the Dakota's take off, which was successful° The Companies that had arrived were then put into defensive positions around the airstrip and were used to repair the runway after continuous attacks from the German airforce. This became a losing battle, as there was little dispersal area for any aircraft of ours that could land, and our bivouac positions were under constant attack from the air.
After a few days a new airstrip much closer to Cos town was being prepared and we were ordered to move to a position between the new airstrip and Cos town and were to assist on improving and repairing bomb damage on the airstrip as it occured. Early on 3rd Oct. we were 'stood to' and I with my section was moved in support of 'B` & H.Q. Co. which were covering the road from Antimachia to Cos and the new airstrip, following a report that enemy ships had been reported off the island, and there were rumours of German Paratroop landings.
Later in the morning it was obvious that a landing had been made and ships could be seen off the coast. My section took up a position on the forward edge of an olive grove, with a good view of the road and in support of the positions of 'B' and H.Q. Co. and some way forward of Battalion H.Q. The landings were confirmed, and there was very strong enemy activity, and heavy bombing of the airstrips and other selected targets.
All areas came in for some attention from J.U's and Stukas and soon 'B' and H.Q. Companies came under attack from infantry with support weapons, so they requested support from me, which I gave, and discouraged some movement on the road and in front of the forward positions
Soon, the enemy was infiltrating the forward Co's which were very thin on the ground and enemy bombing softened forward resistance. Our positions came under heavy fire from the direction of the road and the mortar was hit by fire that came from the edge of the olive grove. By then I had lost all radio communication and enemy troops had entered the olive grove from the direction of the road. Shouts from the opposite edge of the grove informed us that all units were falling back and re-forming somewhere in the area occupied by Btn. H.Q. Withdrawing under cover of stone walls with my section, I found odd stragglers from the forward Co's, who informed me that Btn. H.Q. had withdrawn as well, and the enemy seemed to be in that area, therefore we appeared to be cut off.
I did a Recce to the area that Btn HQ had occupied, and towards Cos town made contact with Q.M (Captain Bush) who gave me directions of the new areas to be defended, and how to reach them. I returned to my section and led them and the stragglers towards Cos town where we rejoined what remained of the Btn. There, I was placed under the command of Capt. Armitage and put into positions on the forward edge of Cos town, covering the road with rifles and Brens. We held the Germans there until dark, later, after we had had our first meal of the day, it was decided that the Btn would withdraw back into the town and leave it by the south end. We were to move in small groups and make our way into the hills, where we would rejoin with the rest of the Btn.
I was to remain behind with a small group under Capt. Armitage to cover this withdrawal, we were to leave some hours later without the enemy knowing where we had withdrawn to. This was to be done before daylight. This we did and just got clear of Cos town before daylight, and headed into the hills, but enemy spotter planes were soon in the air and movement was quite difficult.
We 'holed up' when we found suitable cover and moved when possible, but on 5th Oct. we were eventually spotted from the air, surrounded by ground troops in a position impossible to defend. The German commander called on us to surrender before he called in the Stuka's to move us from our position We were instructed by our officer to lay down our arms after first trying to make them unusable, this we did, and when we came to our'hiding place' found that our captors had completely surrounded us and had planes flying in support overhead.
We were taken to Cos town, and while being escorted from the hills managed to straggle which made escorting difficult, and enabled some escapes to be effected by some of the group. Some of these were soon spotted, but I believe one or two were successful° In Cos town we were taken to a compound where we joined a number of officers and men who were already being held under guard
After being there a few days we were taken by boat to Athens. Then after another few days we were loaded into cattle trucks and spent the next couple of weeks moving around the Balkans, As the Germans struggled to move us to Germany they found that the lines were being sabotaged by various 'Freedom Groups' in Greece and Yugoslavia.
We eventually arrived at a P.O.W. camp outside Munich, where everyone was registered and I, as an N.C.O., refused to work for the Germans and was sent to an appropriate P.O.W. camp.
That wasn't the end of my father's story he was given the PoW number 50095 and at the wars end was listed amongst those at a Camp (Stalag 357) near Fallingbostel. Like many, he settled back into civilian life after the war raising a family and talking little of his Wartime escapades. He was not presented with his Military Medal, it was sent to him and the circumstances of the award were all but a mystery to us, his family. Then fate took a hand in proceedings - sadly during a Burglary at home his Military Medal amongst many other things was stolen.
Some years later a letter was received at my father`s childhood Altrincham address, from a male who claimed to be a Police Officer in Derbyshire and claimed to have possession of his Military Medal, which he had purchased at a military auction. As luck would have it my father's brother still lived at the Altrincham address and forwarded the letter to my father, who then lived in Derby. As further luck would have it I was then a police officer in Derbyshire and was able to confirm that the sender of the letter was indeed a Police Officer, Detective Chief Superintendent Duncan Bailey.
Contact was made between my family and DCS Bailey and the outcome was that DCS Bailey invited my father and I to the Derby Police Social Club so he could return the medal to him, all he asked in return was a chat with him about his experiences during the war and the action resulting in his medal award.
It was a great surprise when we met Duncan Bailey for he presented my father with an A4 folder with a D.L.I. cap badge on the front and not only the mounted Military Medal inside, but a photograph of my father in uniform (the family at that point had none) and, all the mounted campaign medals he had earned in the war. This folder also contained letters from The King, his Commanding Officer and the War Office. Included was the above account written by my father of the action resulting in the award of his medal during action on Kos.
My father was also granted `The Malta Medal` for his service with the Durhams on the George Cross Island.Andy Govan
Pte. Joseph Russell Bell 10th Btn. Durham Light Infantry (d.24th Jul 1943)Joseph Russell Bell 4456672 10th Battalion DLI, was part of the BEF fighting a retreating battle against the overwhelming numbers of the German Army. He was shot, wounded and captured near Villiers, northern France on 20th May 1940 then taken to Stalag XXA,Thorn on 10th June 1940, where he became POW No 10558, he was held at various forts until he was "shot while trying to escape" on 24th July 1943 whereupon he was buried in the garrison cemetery at garnison freidhof then later exhumed and re- buried in the Malbork commonwealth cemetery.
Russell was also "mentioned in despatches" and because our relative is reluctant to give details of his citation we dont know whether he earned this award during the fighting or in his captive time. During his time in Thorn he was sent to work in the brickworks near Tuchola where he was befriended by a Pole called Jan Glowacki who's son Lucjan used to to sneak food parcels in for them despite the enormous risks, sometime later the two comrades became separated for ever.
Years later in 2011 when we were planning to visit Malbork to honour his grave Russells sister Doreen gave us a letter written in german by Jan asking Russell to write back and tell him about his story, anyway we showed this letter to the lady who was organising our trip and she said "Tuchola is a small village, I'll be able to track down the Glowacki family and maybe arrange for you to meet them", well she did, we visited the three forts where Russell was held then actually met Lucjan who despite his age remembered His father and his friend, what a moving moment it was! Anyway thats Russells story, now I'm hoping someone somewhere will have a soldier who knew Russell Bell either in the prison or in battle who can maybe "put some flesh on the bones" of this enigmatic man.Alan Bell
Cpl John Herbert Lomax 6th Btn. Durham Light InfantryMy Gradfather Jack Lomax served with the 6th DLI. I have lots of battlion pics and pics of him and his mates as well. Also, all his paper work and medals also his badges. I've one question he has cpl stipes but they are black with red background could anyone tell me why?Chris Lomax
Pte. Frank Leslie Bowater 9th Bn. Durham Light Infantry (d.1st June 1940)My Great Uncle Frank Bowater was killed on Dunkirk Beach by enemy air action (See page 148 of The Gateshead Ghurkas, Harry Moses). He has no known grave but is commemorated on the memorial at the CWGC Cemetery, Dunkirk. I wish I knew more.Geoff English
Pte. Kenneth James Lewsey 8th Battalion Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry (d.27th Aug 1944)Ken Lewsey was my Mothers elder brother. He went across to France a few days after the D-Day landings. After working there way across Northern France they had to hold the river crossing in a small village near Vernon, north of Paris. It was in this village of Pressagny-l'Orgueilleux that he was killed in a skirmish with a German patrol trying to infiltrate the British lines. In a special order of the day they had been commanded to hold the position 'to the last man and the last round'. A sad loss of an eighteen year old. RIP.Bob Bryant
Pte John Cardwell Durham Light InfantryMy Grandad, John Cardwell, got detached somehow from his Battalion and was hidden (I think with 3 others) for a long period by Italians in a village in the mountains before they were betrayed by one young guy.
The villagers had dug out caves in the mountains where they hid food from the Germans and my grandad was often hidden there when the Germans came to the village. I also remember him telling a story of being hidden under the floor of a barn where German soldiers were walking around on the floor above them and they could see them through the gaps in the floor boards. One day, this young villager told them that the British Army was in the next village and two of the people he was with walked down there but my grandad didn't trust this guy. A couple of days later; the Germans arrived in the village on motorbikes and caught him.
I was always under the impression that he was in a POW Camp in Italy but having found the information above, it seems I was mistaken. He talked of working in a cement factory during his incarceration and that seems to fit with what I have read about XI-A.
We only learned the above information as he would tell funny stories related to them but he gave very little away and never explained a scar he had on his shoulder. I am trying to find out his movements during the war.Scott Dickson
George Black 11th Btn. Durham Light InfantryI was a member of the 11th Battalion of the DLI, captured at Lille in 1940. I spent the rest of the war in Stalag 8b. One of my fellow POW's was a Mauri who was the New Zealand Army Division Heavy Weight Champion boxer.
We had a Sergeant in charge of our working party E565 Siersza Wodna at a coal mine near Trzebinia, Poland, we knew him as Sgt "Krappitz" (The Man of Confidence) He was from County Durham or Northumberland, spoke with a slight lisp and had trouble pronouncing his R's. He was a great man and was like a father to us younger lads. Does anyone remember him? I would like to get in touch with anyone who remembers Sgt Krappitz from those times. He was with us on the long march from Poland to Landshut where we parted company.
I would also like to get in touch with the family of one of my fellow prisoners who was killed in a accident whilst working in the coal mine in July 1944. He was about 23 or 24 years old, from London I think, I didn't know his full name but I think he may have been Pte Harry Williams of the 5th Battalion of the Hampshire Regt who died on the 15th July 1944 and is buried at the Cracow Rakowicki Cemetery. I'd also like to hear from my friend Cecil B. Moulden who was from Stroud in Gloucestershire, we lost touch after the war.George Black
Pte. Clasper Bell 9th Btn. Durham Light Infantry (d.29th Jun 1942)Clasper Bell died age 34 whilst serving with the 9th DLI. He is buried in El Alamein War Cemetery.Vin Mullen
Pte. James Byrne 9th Btn. Durham Light Infantry (d.27th Jun 1942)James Byrne died age 28 whilst serving with the 9th DLI. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. J. P. Byrne (nee Marron) of Primrose, Jarrow. Born in Jarrow, James is remembered on the Alamein Memorial.Vin Mullen
Pte. Francis Duffy Durham Light Infantry (d.28th Dec 1940)Francis Duffy is buried in Jarrow Cemetery.Vin Mullen
Pte. Joseph Flanagan 9th Btn. Durham Light Infantry (d.22nd Mar 1943)Joseph Flanagan who died aged 22 was born in Jarrow in 1921, the son of Thomas and Sarah Flanagan (nee O'Brien) of Jarrow. His older brother Thomas was also one of the fallen
Josesph is buried in Enfidaville War Cemetery and is commemorated on the WW2 Roll of Honour Plaque in the entrance of Jarrow Town Hall.Vin Mullen
Pte George Graves 2nd Bttn Durham Light Infantry (d.26th May - 1st June 1940)George Graves who died between 26th May and 1st June 1940 was aged 20. He was born in Jarrow in 1919.
George is buried in St Venant Communal Cemetery and commemorated on the WW2 Roll of Honour Plaque in the entrance of Jarrow Town Hall.Vin Mullen
Pte. Stanley Hopper 16th Btn. Durham Light Infantry (d.19th Sep 1943)Stanley Hopper died aged 27 whilst serving with the DLI. Born in Hebburn in 1916 he was the son of William and Annie Hopper (nee Hill) of Jarrow and Husband of Margaret Hopper (nee Charlick) of Jarrow
Stanley is buried in Bone War Cemetery Annaba and is commemorated on the WW2 Roll of Honour Plaque in the entrance of Jarrow Town Hall.Vin Mullen
Pte. Watson Johnson 9th Battalion Durham Light Infantry (d.24th Mar 1942)Watson Johnson was born in 1915 in Northumberland, son of Thomas Watson Johnson and Alice Blanche Johnson (nee Moore) of Primrose Jarrow
Watson is buried in Knightsbridge War Cemetery, Acroma and is commemorated on the WW2 Roll of Honour Plaque in the entrance of Jarrow Town Hall.Vin Mullen
Sgt. Thomas German 6th Btn. Durham Light InfantrySgt. Thomas German Service No.4439753, Durham Light Infantry was held as a POW in Stalag 8B (344) Lamsdorf Poland. POW no. 16268.
Pte. John Henry McGurty 10th (Service) Battalion Durham Light Infantry (d.11th Jul 1944)John Henry McGurty died aged 24. He was born in Jarrow in 1920, son of John and Elizabeth McGurty (nee Wilson) of Hebburn Quay.
John is buried in Tilly-Sur-Seulles War Cemetery and is commemorated on the WW2 Roll of Honour Plaque in the entrance of Jarrow Town Hall.Vin Mullen
Pte. Thomas Mullen 2nd Btn. Durham Light Infantry (d.25th Apr 1944)Thomas Mullen died aged 32, he was born in Jarrow in 1912 and was the husband of Catherine Mullen (nee Walker) of Primrose Jarrow. Thomas is remembered on the Rangoon Memorial and is commemorated on the WW2 Roll of Honour Plaque in the entrance of Jarrow Town Hall.Vin Mullen
Pte. James O'Hara 6th Btn. Durham Light Infantry (d.17th Aug 1942)James O'Hara died aged 28, he was born in Jarrow in 1913, son of Timothy and Mary O'Hara (nee King) of Jarrow. James is buried in Johannesburg (Brixton) Cemetery and is commemorated on the WW2 Roll of Honour Plaque in the entrance of Jarrow Town Hall.Vin Mullen
Pte. Francis James Walton 9th Battalion Durham Light Infantry (d.8th Feb 1941)Francis Walton was the son of Hector James and Mary Elizabeth Walton of Primrose, Jarrow. He died aged 20 and is buried in Jarrow Cemetery. He is commemorated on the WW2 Roll of Honour Plaque in the entrance of Jarrow Town Hall.Vin Mullen
Pte. John Edward Wilson Durham Light Infantry (d.30th Jan 1944)John Edward Wilson died aged 27, he was the son of Albert Edward Wilson and of Margaret Wilson of Jarrow and is remembered on the Cassino Memorial. He is also commemorated on the WW2 Roll of Honour Plaque in the entrance of Jarrow Town Hall.Vin Mullen
Pte. James Wood 9th Battalion Durham Light Infantry (d.8th Dec 1944)James Wood died aged 19, he was the son of Frederick and Jane Isabella Wood of Jarrow and is buried in Banneville-La-Campagne War Cemetery. He is commemorated on the WW2 Roll of Honour Plaque in the entrance of Jarrow Town Hall.Vin Mullen
Sgt. Noble Walton 10th Btn. Durham Light InfantrySergeant Noble Walton was born in Crook, County Durham on 7th February 1908. Before he enlisted with the Territorial Army on 30th November 1927 he worked as a coal miner. When the war broke out he was originally a member of 6th Battalion Durham Light Infantry, and in 1939 the 6th DLI HQ announced that they would become 10th Battalion.
In 1940 The 10th DLI served in France as part of the 70th Infantry Brigade, and this included action in the Allied evacuation from Dunkirk in May and June. It was here that Sergeant Noble was captured. He was sent to Stalag 8b in Lamsdorf, Poland, and became a POW there on 12th July 1940.
Pte. Albert Noone 8th Btn. Durham Light Infantry (d.22nd Mar 1943)Albert Noone served with the 8th Battalion Durham Light Infantry and died, age 28, on the 22nd March 1943. He was born in Jarrow 1915, the son of Martin and Sarah Jane Noone (nee Doogan) of Jarrow. He is commemorated on the WW2 Roll of Honour Plaque in the entrance of Jarrow Town Hall and on the Medjez-El-Bab Memorial.Vin Mullen
Pte. Patrick O'Malley Durham Light Infantry (d.12th Dec 1946)Patrick O'Malley died aged 34, he was the son of Patrick and Bridget O'Malley amd husband of Catherine O'Malley of Jarrow. He is buried in Jarrow Cemetery and is commemorated on the WW2 Roll of Honour Plaque in the entrance of Jarrow Town Hall.Vin Mullen
Pte. Ernest Nicholas Durham Light Infantry (d.25th Aug 1944)Ernest Nicholas died aged 38, he was the son of Hugh William and Mary Jane Nicholas of Jarrow and husband of Mary Nicholas (nee Birkett). He is buried in Jarrow Cemetery and is commemorated on the WW2 Roll of Honour Plaque in the entrance of Jarrow Town Hall.Vin Mullen
Sgt. Thomas Marshall Willis 8th Btn. Durham Light InfantrySgt. Thomas Willis served with the 8th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry.Jeff Willis
Pte. Joseph Miller 9th Btn. Durham Light Infantry (d.1st Jun 1940)Joseph Miller served with the 9th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry during WW2 and was killed in action on the 31/05/1940 or 01/06/1940 aged 31. He is buried in the Annoeullin Communal Cemetery and German Extension in France.
Joseph was the son of Edward and Ethel May Miller, of Gateshead, Co. Durham also husband of Blanche Velyn Alderson Miller, of Gateshead.S Flynn
Pte. Leslie Charles Newell 6th Btn. Durham Light Infantry (d.4th Sep 1944)Leslie Charles Newell served with the 6th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry during WW2 and was killed in action 04/09/1944 aged 28. He was buried in the Annoeullin Communal Cemetery and German Extension in France.S Flynn
Pte. Joseph Westby 7th Battalion Parachute Regiment C Coy Durham Light InfantryMy dad, Joseph Westby wanted to be a soldier after seeing his uncle Joe in uniform - he had served in India. As he was too young to join up my Dad joined the Home Guard.
When he was old enough he joined up with the Durham Light Infantry. He was sent to Sleaford, Lincolnshire where he did his sixteen weeks initial training. He was one of a group of six men who volunteered to join the Parachute Regiment. He was sent to Derbyshire for parachute training and on completion was posted to Bulford barracks in Wiltshire. His company was dropped into Normandy in the early hours of June 5th. Their objective was to secure the River Orne and the canal and to take out the enemy gun battery at Morville.
He returned to England in September 1944. In December 1944 he was married. In March 1945 he was hospitalised in Belgium having sustained a broken leg. He was demobbed in 1946 and returned to Nottingham, where he still lives.G Westby
John McEvoy 8th Battaltion Durham Light Infantry (d.2nd Nov 1942)Although we don't know much about Jack McEvoy, we do know he was my grandfather. We don't have any pictures or stories about his life other than he was born in Liverpool in 1911 and at some time, before or during the Second World War, he joined the 8th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry. We know for certain that on 2 November, 1942, John was killed and he is buried in El Alamein, Matruh, Egypt.Terry
Jack Banks 8th Btn. Durham Light Infantry (d.21st Jul 1944)I found the headstone of 16year old Jack Banks at the Jerusalem War Cemetery in Normandy about 5 years ago. There is quite a lot of information about the young man near his grave. I think he enlisted without his family knowing about it and the authorities were searching for him but they were too late.Brian Smith
Jack Banks 8th Btn. Durham Light Infantry (d.21st Jul 1944)I found the headstone of 16year old Jack Banks at the Jerusalem War Cemetery in Normandy about 5 years ago. There is quite a lot of information about the young man near his grave. I think he enlisted without his family knowing about it and the authorities were searching for him but they were too late.Brian Smith
Pte. Robert Walter Hair Durham Light InfantryMy late father who happily survived the war joined the Durham Light Infantry at the onset. He was an anti tank gunner. Unfortunately he, like many, didn't speak much of the War.
He was captured in North Africa and was interned in a POW camp in Italy. He escaped but was later captured again and ended up in Stalag 4f for the war he wouldn't have learned how to play chess or more importantly be a good poker player. If anyone has any information relating to the above I would be extremely grateful. His son.Roy Hair
Pte. Robert Thomas 1st Battalion Durham Light InfantryI am researching my father Tom Scollay's history for a school project that my grandson has been asked to carry out at his school in Singapore. I am also carrying out research into my family tree for him.
I have photos of him in the 4th General hospital in Ranikhet India (I think it was 1944). I also have a certificate on him leaving the Regiment dated 24th November 1936 (Blackdown) which doesn't seem correct given that he was in India in 1944. I have searched as many records as I can online but I can't find anything at all anywhere. I am looking for a photograph of him where he is wearing sergeant's stripes. I also have his Service and playbook which has the following details:- Birth 17:11:1910 (should be 1911), Trade: Electrical Engineer, Enlisted 25:11:1929. Distinctive marks and minor defects:- Oversea Service 2/178 A&S Group No 18.
He was listed as living at 15 Victoria Road Grangetown, East Yorkshire, Middlesbrough.Barry Scollay
Pte. Charles Arnold Boyle 6th Btn Durham Light InfantryMy father, Charles Boyle was a veteran of WW2. I know he was a Medic, and know he served in England at a hospital in Horsham. My Dad would not talk about his experiences, or the reason for receiving his medals. He passed in April 2002. Last year I was approached by a cousin on my Mother's side of the family. He had found a photo in a printed history book titled D-Day +1. that being June 7. You can imagine my utter surprise seeing this photo. It was so like my Dad. I have only one living relative I thought could confirm the photo. It was not to be so. I am at a loss at to know how to go about finding any information regarding this photo, so am submitting to see if anyone can offer me suggestions.Denise Collins
L/Cpl. William "Tut" Curry Durham Light InfantryWilliam Curry served with the Durham Light Infantry and was held in Stalag XXA as a prisoner of war.Neil Curry
Pte. Alan Bailey 8th Btn. Durham Light Infantry (d.17th Jan 1944)Allan Bailey is buried in Bari, Italy. I would like to know what happened to him and how he died. Any information would be useful.
George Henry Bowman Durham Light InfantryMy father, George Henry Bowman, was a POW at Stalag XXB (he was part of the British Expeditionary Force captured at Dunkirk). He was a regular soldier in the Durham Light Infantry. In the photograph of him in Stalag XXB, he is 4th from the right in the middle row. I would be delighted if anyone recognised him. He was also one of those who survived the long march, but didn't talk much about any of his wartime experiences, which I gather is a common trait.Tony Bowman
Sgt.Mjr. James Henry Bridges Durham Light InfantryMy grandfather, James Henry Bridges, known as 'Harry', born in 1906 in Richmond, Yorkshire but migrated when still young to the Kibblesworth, Gateshead area. He was, from what I can remember, in the Durham Light Infantry and I know he was in the military prior to the Second World War. I can remember tales of India and Africa.
I'm trying to find some information on my grandfather I have no way of tracing his army records or even what medals he had (they were stolen in 1983). I would be pleased if anyone has any information about him.Karen Wilkinson
Pte James McQuillan "Sandy" Saunders Durham Light InfantryJames Saunders is my father, who died when I was 15, that was 44yrs ago now, and I never got to know many details, and I only know now because of research. He was in Stalag XXB, Marienburg camp between 1939-1945. He was quite an intelligent young man, and I remember he could speak 12 languages, German being one of them, he told me of the time he would listen to the German soldiers chatting and unaware that he understood every word they were saying, he said he had a few laughs at their expense.Desmond Saunders
Frederick Albert Scully Durham Light InfantryI am looking for information about my father who served in WWII with the DLI. Can anyone help please?maureen scully
Pte. George "Popsy" Morris 9th Btn. Durham Light InfantryMy cousin, Pte George `Popsy' Morris served with the 9th Btn Durham Light Infantry. He was captured at Mersa Matruh in June 1942 and was a POW in Italy, Germany and Poland.Harry Moses
Martin "Marky" Collins Northumberland FusiliersDoes anyone have information regarding my dad, Martin `Marky' Collins from East London, who served with the Northumberland Fusiliers/Durham Light Infantry during WWII? My dad was captured at Arras in 1940 during the fall of Dunkrik and was imprisoned in (I think() Stalag XXB in East Prussia. Sadly, my dad is no longer alive, but I would be grateful for any information about him and life in the camp.Tracy Sturgess
Oliver Robins Durham Light InfantryDoes anyone remember my uncle Oliver Robins, Durham Light Infantry? He was held in Stalag 8B for most of WWII. Any information or photographs would be appreciated. He died in December 2003.Henry Coundon
Albert Martin 1st Btn. Durham Light InfantryMy father, Albert Martin, was a professional soldier serving with the 1st Btn Durham Light Infantry. He was taken prisoner on the Greek island of Kos, in mid 1943 and sent to Stalag 4B. On the morning that the POWs discovered hat their German captors had fled, he took the swastika flag flying from the flag pole as a souvenir. Any other ex-British POWs out there?Dennis Martin
Gnr. Thomas Henry Hatchett 15th Btn. Durham Light Infantry (d.16th Dec 1944)On 16th of December 1944, the Rex Cinema in Antwerp, which was packed full of people, was the subject of a direct hit by a V2 rocket, which killed some 290 Allied personnel, together with many Belgium civilians. One of these people was my grandmother's cousin, Harry Hatchett, of the Royal Durham Light Infantry. Is there anybody out there who has any more information about this incident or could perhaps help with recollections?
Update: Ten minutes before the rocket fell I was one of four friends who had stopped outside the cinema wondering whether to go in. I remember it was showing a Gary Cooper western which I had not seen. One of our party went in. For some unknown reason I decided to go to a cinema across the street showing a film of which I have no memory. The other two walked on. I had barely sat down when there was an explosion and the roof fell in. I staggered out to see a scene of devastation across the road. There was nothing I could do that was not being being done so I walked away. I never saw my friend again.Stuart Burbridge
Norman Eric Hazell 2nd Btn. Durham Light InfantryMy grandfather was a POW in Stalag 8c from 1942 to 1945. Does anyone have any stories or know anything about him?Allie
Reg Elderton Durham Light InfantryMy father was in the Durham Light Infantry and served in Burma during WWII. Does anyone know anything about him?Ian Elderton
William Fergus MM Durham Light InfantryMy uncle, William Fergus, served with the Durham Light Infantry on the Northwest Frontier (where he was awarded the MM) and then in Belgium and France in 1940. He was taken prisoner with others of the rearguard at Nieuport at the beginning of June. In the years that followed he made five escape attempts, finally succeeding in escaping from a camp in Poland towards the end of the war. He reached the Russian lines and walked to Odessa where the Americans and British had sent ships to repatriate POWs who had escaped to Russia.Colin Fergus
Pte. John Tolan Durham Light InfantryJohn Tolan was captured in June 1940 at St Valery and liberated at Merkers Mine on 12th of April 1945Richard Tolan
Pte. Harry Duggan Durham Light InfantryMy grandfather, Harry Duggan, saw service with the Durham Light Infantry in France in 1940 and was present at Dunkirk. He also served in North Africa and Italy.Mat Russell
Capt. Ivan Gerald "John" Sopwith 11th Btn. Durham Light Infantry (d.17th Sep 1944)Ivan Sopwith served with the 11th Btn. Durham Light Infantry and was posted to the 2nd Btn. Devonshire Regiment. I am his nephew and know nothing.David Connell
Pte. George Geordie Walton 2nd Btn. Seaforth HighlandersMy grandfather George Walton originally started his military service in 1940 with the DLI, but was transferred to the Seaforths after Dunkirk. I know he served in all theatres after the Dunkirk evacuation: North Africa, Sicily, Italy, France, Ardennes, and finally into Germany where he de-mobbed. He was a dispatch rider by trade, but when he wasn't on the bike he was a Bren Gunner on a Universal Carrier. He was very close friend with another Seaforth's veteran from Ayr called Jimmy Allen. Can anyone provide more information?Mark Charlton
Charles Eagles 9th Btn, S Coy. Durham Light InfantryI served with 'S' Company, 9th Btn. Durham Light Infantry from D-Day on. I was nicknamed "The Parson's Son" as I didn't drink or smoke. We lost 226 men and 22 officers in about 30 minutes on the 14th June at Lingevres. A small group of us survivors were taken prisoner by a German division of the Panzer Lehr, who in turn were surrounded by the Allies and surrendered to me and my fellow men. I am keen to get in touch with anyone who may remember me from my time with the Battalion, and later service in Germany after the Germans capitulated. I would also like to contact anyone who can remember this incident from the Scottish Regiment that we handed over the Germans to.Charles Eagles
L/Cpl. John T. "Trevor" Shaw Durham Light InfantryIf anyone can put me in touch with anyone who may have been at Stalag 11A with my father, Lance Corporal John T Shaw, of the Durham Light Infantry, (known as 'Trevor') in the latter part of WWII I'd be very greatful to know more about life in the camp.Phil Shaw
Sgt. Richard McCreary 8th Btn. Durham Light InfantryI have my dad's, Sgt Richard McCreary, Army records but I am really interested in his records after his capture and when he was a POW for the rest of the war. I know he was captured May 1940 as part of the BEF and also that he was captured near Arras in northern France. However, I would like to know where he was as a POW for the rest of the war; which Stalag he was in; which salt mines in Poland; and where he was finally rescued by Allied Armies in May 1945. If anyone can help I would be grateful.
Sgt. Joseph Robert Leslie Neathway Somerset Light InfantryI know that Joseph Robert Leslie Neathway or Les, as he was known, was in the Somerset Light Infantry from 29th January 1942 until 21st April 1944. He then transferred to the Durham Light Infantry from 22nd April 1944 until he was de-mobbed.
I also know that he was on the beaches at Dunkirk, where he sustained an injury to his leg. The shrapnel remained in his leg all his life. He was also in charge of 200 POWs towards the end of the war. When he left he had risen to the rank of sergeant.
Cpl. Sydney George Roberts MM. att. Force 133, Special Operations Executive Durham Light Infantry (d.22nd Dec 1943)Sydney Roberts was the son of John Richard and Fanny Amelia Roberts; husband of Edna Roberts, of Stoke, Devon. He was aged 29 when he died and is buried in the Tirana Park Memorial Cemetery, Albania. He is remembered on Special Memorial E, his grave having been lost.s flynn
Pte. Albert Adolphus Tucker 9th Btn. Durham Light Infantry (d.5th Oct 1944)My father's Uncle Albert Tucker was in the 9th Btn. Durham Light Infantry. He landed in France in the second wave of the D day landings and fought his way to Arnhem and fought there until he was injured on the 4th October 1944 and died the next day on the 5th. He was a bren gunner and is buried at the Jonkerbos War Cemetery, Nijmegen Holland. Is there anyone out there that knows of this man?Albert Tucker
Cyril Arther "Peter" Allsworth Durham Light InfantryCyril Allsworth was also a Normandy Veteran and I am trying to find out more details of his time in France. He was wounded and I think it was at Falaise.Lesley Marciniak
L/Cpl. Joseph Henry Foster Pearson 8th Btn. Durham Light Infantry (d.8th Jun 1943)Joseph Pearson was the son of Richard and Mary Pearson of Gateshead and husband of Sarah Elizabeth Pearson also of Gateshead. He is buried in the Suez War Cemetery in Egypt.Simon Lisle
Pte. Frederick Robert John Hermitage 7th Btn. East Kent RegimentMy father, Fred Hermitage, joined the 7th Buffs and was transferred to the 11th Battalion Durham Light Infantry on 7th July 1944. The 11th DLI was posted to the 1st Dorset Regiment on 26th August 1944 and dad was finally posted to the 4th Dorsets at Kemmel on 10th December 1944. He remained with them, ending his war in Soltau, Germany from where he was posted home on 30 November 1945.Mark Hermitage
Pte. Thomas John Wheeler 6th Btn. Durham Light Infantry (d.20th Aug 1944)Tommy Wheeler signed up, aged 17, to fight with the Durham Light Infantry in 1942. After training, he joined the 6th Btn, part of the 151st Infantry Brigade, 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division who were preparing to take part in the Normandy landings. He landed at Gold Beach with the 8th and 9th battalions DLI at around 11.00 on 6th June 1944, D-Day. He died on the 20th August during the Battle for Normandy. He is buried at Bayeux.Peter Hale
Pte. John Hood 2nd Btn. Durham Light Infantry (d.23rd April 1944)John Hood was reported missing in action on 23rd April 1944 (believed killed in Burma).
Pte. John Stanness 9th Btn. Durham Light InfantryMy uncle John Stanness was captured at Tobruk and taken to Tripoli then shipped to PG70. I don't know how long he was there. Then he was moved to a camp in Czechoslovakia, 1vc Wistritz Bei Teplitz (Rozenthal-Brux). He spent the rest of the war there until liberated by the American Army.Hilton Stanness
Padre Gerard Nesbitt CdeG, MID Att. 8th Btn. Durham Light Infantry Royal Army Chaplain's Department (d.5th July 1944)Rev. Gerard Nesbitt was a teacher as St Cuthbert's Grammar School, Newcastle before he joined the DLI in 1940. He served in North Africa and Sicily before joining the D-Day landings. He was killed by a stray shell as he was burying his predecessor. He was awarded the French Croix de Guerre and was also Mentioned in Dispatches as confirmed in the London Gazette dated 12th January 1944.Gerry McGregor
Pte. Norman Warf 16th Btn. Durham Light InfantryNorman Warf was captured at Sedjenane in Tunisia in February 1943. He was transported to Italy and held in Camp 66 Capua. Then he was sent to Camp 82. After the Italian surrender Norman was transported to Stalag 8a and then, in November, to Stalag 8b Lamsdorf. He worked on railways and in mines. Norman survived the long march and was liberated by the Americans in May 1945.Mark Burton
RSM. William Rafferty CdeG. 2nd Btn. Durham Light InfantryMy uncle Bill Rafferty was RSM of 2 DLI during the Second World War and was awarded the French Gallantry Medal, The Croix de Guerre.Terry Rafferty
Pte. John Frederick Dixon 8th Btn. Durham Light Infantry (d.10th September 1944)I'm researching for my elderly family and our relative, John Dixon, was killed in action on 10th September 1944 while attempting to gain a bridgehead at the Albert Canal.Lee Wood
George Smith 16th Battalion Durham Light InfantryMy father, George Smith, served with the 16th Durham Light Infantry in North Africa and southern Italy in WW2. He was a sergeant and was injured in December 1943 losing his left arm just below the elbow, and various shrapnel wounds through out his body. I understand that a colleague stepped on a mine, killing him and 2 others,so I suppose dad was lucky to survive. We still have the letter the matron wrote to his mother in Wingate, County Durham on 27th of December 1943. He regularly attended reunions in Durham for many years and was secretary of the local branch of BLESMA for years.George Smith
Pte. John Langley 1st Btn. Durham Light Infantry (d.15th May 1941)John Langley served with the 1st Durham Light Infantry.Carl
Pte. George Henry Davis 2nd Batallion Durham Light Infantry (d.21st May 1940)George served in the 2nd Battalion of the DLI, alongside his older brother, Lance Sgt Thomas Davis. Thomas was my grandfather, George would have been my great uncle. They were attacked on the morning of 21st May 1940 by the 22nd Panzer Regiment in the village of St Venant, some 40 miles south of Dunkirk. During the retreat, George and Thomas jumped into the canal to the north of the canal in an attempt to escape from the Germans. Thomas remembers swimming with George alongside, then George disappeared. Thomas was pulled out of the canal by the Germans and taken prisoner. George's body was pulled from the canal about a mile east, snagged on a burnt out barge, and buried alongside the canal.
A couple of years after his death, the International Red Cross dug up his body by the side of the canal, and re-interred him in the St Venant Commonwealth Cemetery. Before re-burial, his remains were examined and the records show that there were no visible signs of gunshot wounds on his remains. This led me to speculate that perhaps he was not shot, but drowned. The morning of the 21st was a particularly hot one, and the brothers had had to race across a cornfield for about a kilometre while under heavy machine gun fire from the chasing panzers. It is quite possible that George, although only 25, was weakened by the chase, and his exhaustion and equipment combined to drag him beneath the water to his death.
The exact date of death is not known: he disappeared on the morning of the 21st May, and his body recovered on the 1st June. His grave in the St Venant Commonwealth cemetery bears both dates, although it is most likely the former is the true date.Geoff Dickson
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