Sunday 29 November 2009

16 DLI Support Company, 1945 Photograph

The latest photograph on the site is an informal group photo of the Carrier Platoon, Support Company, 16 DLI in 1945. The photo seems to have been taken 'in the field' and is of poor quality at present. However, I'm hoping that someone out there will have a better quality original--and be able to place names to a few more of the men featured. Among around 30 unidentified faces and a fearsome array of mortars, rifles, Bren guns and at least one Tommy gun, the photograph also features Carrier Platoon officer Lt Russell Collins MC, Sgt H Chilvers MM and the Support Company CO, Captain Harry Myneer MM. The photograph is on this page:

The Gallantry award citations of Collins and Chilvers can be read in the Honours and Awards section of the site, here:

Wednesday 25 November 2009

16 DLI WW2 Campaign Medals and Service Certificate 1940-46

The latest addition to the site is a photograph of the campaign medals of L/Cpl Wilfred Townsend (4467119) of the Mortar Platoon, 16 DLI, who was with the Battalion from its formation in July 1940 through to its disbandment in early 1946. His campaign medals thus represent the entire service of the Battalion in World War Two and comprise the following:

The British War Medal 1939-45
The Defence Medal 1939-45
The 1939-45 Star
The Africa Star (with First Army Clasp)
The Italy Star.

The photograph is on this page:

Also, on a related theme, I have also just added the DLI service certificate of Pte J G Copeman, (4464500), another soldier who served with the 16th DLI from the beginning in 1940 to the end in 1946. Already on the site is the certificate of Alex Gray of the Signal Platoon. As yet, I have yet to find a certificate awarded to any 16th DLI soldier who was not a full five year veteran with the Battalion. I wonder were they only issued to men who were there from the beginning? If anyone has one for a soldier whose service began after 1940, please let me know. Pte Copeman's certificate can be seen on this page:

And for comparision, that of Pte Alex Gray is on this page:

All items are also listed on the Letters and Documents index page.

Both Townsend and Copeman's Army numbers are also now included consecutively in my listing of 446 series DLI Army numbers, which is indexed from this page:

Sunday 1 November 2009

Major A E C Vizard, 'E', 'A' and 'HQ' Companies, 16 DLI

There's now an extensive collection of photographs and documents on the site relating to the war service of Major A E C 'Viz' Vizard, who joined the 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry with a draft of 150 reinforcements in early March 1943. At this stage, just after the Battle of Sedjenane, the severe losses suffered by the Battalion meant that Vizard's reinforcements had to be formed into an ad hoc rifle company, dubbed 'E Company'.

Arthur Vizard was a pre-war Territorial in the 8th Battalion the Middlesex Regiment and was commissioned into the Middlesex Regiment in 1941.

He subsequently served with the 70th (Young Soldiers) Battalion of the DLI in the UK and the 16th Battalion DLI, in North Africa, Italy, the Middle East, Greece and Austria. He was CO of A Company at Salerno, where he was seriously wounded.

He later rejoined the 16th as HQ Coy CO through to the final Battalion disbandment in 1946. The items include: group photos of the 8th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment and the Officers of 70th DLI, the September 1943 War Office wounded in action telegram to Vizard's mother and several hugely evocative informal photographs from his time with the 16th DLI in the Middle East, Greece and Austria. These items, all courtesy of Graham Skilton, begin from this page:

Monday 26 October 2009

Sedjenane POWs at Camp E 715 Auschwitz

Latest addition to the site is a group photograph taken at work camp E 715 at Auschwitz. Here, from October 1943, the British POWs were engaged in construction work for the I G Farben concern. With regular mail and Red Cross parcels, their treatment was much better than the horrors meted out to the Jewish and Soviet prisoners, who they often worked alongside, but it was still a very harsh routine.

The men featured include Pte G R Hamilton, who was serving with B Company, 16 DLI when he was taken POW during the Battle of Sedjenane on 2/3/43 and Ptes Frank Sansom, Harry Foster and W Fretwell, all of the 5th Sherwood Foresters, who were all almost certainly taken POW at Sedjenane, too.

This section also includes Pte Hamilton's diary listing of dates, places and distances coverred during the long march west from Auschwitz, which lasted from late January into March 1945. It's very possible that other men on this photograph are also 16 DLI and 5th Foresters. Hopefully more names will be forthcoming. All further details welcome. This new section begins on this page:

And among the documents featured are a copy of Pte Hamilton's

‘Register Form for Recovered Prisoners of War’

which records his capture on 2/3/43 (and note the misspelling of Sedjenane) and his liberation at Stalag 7A on 3/4/45. I have never seen a document like this before, so it's great to have a specific 16 DLI example on the site.

I've also updated the POW Numbers section of the site with many more names and numbers and it's now possible to view a near complete consecutive listing of men in the 222000 range, which includes Ptes Hamilton (222076) and Sansom (222079). Obviously, many of these men could well be on this group photo. The numbers sequence for Hamilton, Fretwell and Sansom is currently on this page:

Sunday 9 August 2009

279 Battery, 70th Field Regiment at Sedjenane, 1943

Latest addition to the website is a selection of photographs of Sergeant James Shackleton, who was a Sergeant in C Troop, 279 Battery, 70th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery during the Battle of Sedjenane in early March 1943. The photographs include one of all eight sergeants of 279 Battery in 1942. These are courtesy of James Shackleton's son Iain, who has also provided details of his father's war service.

One of James Shackleton's friends in 279 Battery was Sgt John Wise. Remarkably, John Wise was interviewed for the excellent 1995 book War on the Ground by Colin John Bruce (Constable)

I've included a couple of brief quotes from this interview and put these in the context of James Shackleton's war experiences--John Wise was the best man at his wartime wedding, in July 1942. This wedding photo is also in this section.

I've also revamped the opening age of the website devoted to the 70th Field Regiment and have now included left and right larger views of the late war group photo of the Regiment's officers. These items can now all be accessed from this new index page:

and also from the 16 DLI Photographs Index page.

Wednesday 17 June 2009

A Photograph of Three 16th DLI NCOs at Blida, North Africa, 1943

This isn't exactly a new photograph, as it's been on the site as a small illustration in the Concise History pages for a while. However, I've now made up a page for an enlarged version of it, here:

The NCOs featured are: Colour Sergeant John Crosby, who was killed in action in September 1944, Cook Sergeant 'Sibble' Battle and CSM W 'Jimmy' James. I've also linked the photo to the small version illustrating Jimmy James's excellent poem about the Salerno Landings, which is already on this page:

Thursday 11 June 2009

An 'A' Company 16 DLI Sedjenane POW

The latest photographs and documents added to my 16 DLI site are of Pte Percy Wilson, who was in 'A' Company of the 16th Battalion Durham Light Infantry when he was wounded and taken POW during the Battle of Sedjenane, on 27/2/43. These are courtesy of his son, Barrie. Included in the new pages are an early war photograph of Pte Wilson in service dress, a postwar photograph in battledress with two unidentified DLI friends, his service record and a copy of his AB64 paybook entry which notes his posting from 4 ITC at Brancepeth to the 16th DLI on 11/4/42. The items begin on this page:

Pte Wilson will probably also feature on the longlost 1942 company photograph of A Company, 16 DLI which must still be out there somewhere....

I've also been steadily adding names and numbers to the Army Numbers and Stalag 4B Numbers sections of the site. Percy Wilson's number, 4468279, can now be seen in the broad sequence of DLI '446' numbers on this page:

Tuesday 21 April 2009

The Salerno Times 16/9/43

The latest addition to my 16 DLI site is in the Letters and Documents section and is the 16/9/43 edition of The Salerno Times, a one-page, one-sided newspaper which was published on the beach head during the early days of the landings. This has been copied from a very battered original loaned to me by Captain Gordon Harris, who commanded the 16 DLI Signal Platoon at this time. This is the link to the newspaper:

And this is a link to a smaller version, which puts the item in the context of 16 DLI's role in the Salerno landings, which is in the Concise History part of the site:

I've also finally got round to updating my associated Thornley Colliery site-after a two year lay-off!--ad this now includes an updated caption, with several corrected names, for the

1968 St Godric's RC school photograph of Mr McGarr's class,

which includes yours truly.

Wednesday 1 April 2009

Stalag 4B POW Numbers in the 228000 Range

I've now gone back to the Stalag 4B POW numbers listing which has been on the Prisoners of War part of the site for while and have began to update it with many additional names and numbers.

The reasoning behind this is to establish just exactly who my father and his ex-Camp PG 53 colleagues were with on the day that their German POW numbers were issued in October 1943. I already have a near complete run of names and numbers in the immediate range of my father's number, 227987. Now I am expanding the list in either direction, out to numbers in the 225000 and 251000 range.

There are still many gaps, but the listing already gives a good indication both of the huge variety of regiments that were jumbled up together at Stalag 4B and and of the many different work camps that the men were sent to. I've also added the site search button to this page to make it easier to search for a specific surname or number.

Here's a link to the revamped opening page of this section.

And here's the link to the page featuring the number of Pte T Tunney and some of the other men who ended up in the Bad Schmiedeberg work camp with him.

I've also added the name and Stalag 4B number of Australian pilot Geoff Taylor, whose 1955 book Piece of Cake, is one of the best books that I have read about the POW experience in WW2. To my mind, this book is a must read for anyone with an interest in Stalag 4B.

A small scan of the cover of the 1957 paperback edition is featured on the first link above and I've included a short appreciation and an enlarged front and rear scan on this page:

Thursday 26 March 2009

C Company, 16 DLI, 1942

In the March 24th 2009 update I have added photographs of Les and Stan Bernard of Scarborough, who both served in C Company, 16 DLI with my father in 1942-43. Stan Bernard was killed on 27/2/43 at Sedjenane. His cousin Les went on to serve in the 1st Battalion DLI ending the war as a Sergeant. This is the link to that page:

I'm still hoping that someone will turn up the missing Company photographs of A, C and HQ Companies that must have been taken in 1942, most probably by the firm of Lambert and Weston of Folkstone which took the photos of B Company and D Company which are already on the site.

I've also began to add small portrait photos of identified casualties enlarged from these B and D Company photographs to the Roll of Honour section of the site. For example, see this page which lists and pictures several Sedjenane casualties:

Also added are enlargements of Faces 28 and 29 of the Medjez el Bab Memorial which commemorate those soldiers of the DLI who died in North Africa who have no known grave. Click on the image on this page to go to the first enlargement:

Wednesday 18 March 2009

Sgt John Wintershausen MM, 16 DLI

Just added in the March 18th update is an excellent collection of photographs of Sgt John Wintershausen, who was awarded the Military Medal for his actions with the Pioneer Platoon of 16 DLI at Salerno on 17/9/43. These were kindly provided by his son Paul and include members of the Battalion posing with the Nazi flag that John Wintershausen liberated from the one-time Gestapo HQ in Athens, Greece, in December 1944. These photos begin from this page:

16 DLI in Vienna 1945

A photograph of 16 DLI on ceremonial parade outside the Palace of Justice in Vienna in October 1945 has now been added to the site. Also included in this update is an article about this parade from the Battalion magazine Geordie.

The new items can be accessed from both the Photographs and Eyewitness Memories sections of the site and begin from this page:

Saturday 14 March 2009

The 16th DLI Regimental Aid Post at Salerno

In the Eyewitness Memories section of the site I have now added Padre G Meek's memories of the 16th Battalion DLI Regimental Aid Post in the immediate aftermath of the Salerno landings of September 1943. This item has been transcribed from a late 1945 edition of the Battalion magazine 'Geordie'. Here is the link to the page:

Thursday 19 February 2009

B Company, 16 DLI, Greece 1945

Hmm, where have the last 18 months gone? I've finally got back to updating my 16 DLI website, after spending most of 2008 working with the Wheatley Hill History Club on their book about local people from the three villages of Thornley, Wheatley Hill and Ludworth in World War Two.

Here's a link to the cover of the book:

And here's a link to a picture of myself (on the right, looking like a refugee from a Seventies folk concert) and fellow toilers Fred Bromilow and Owen Rowland with local MP Phil Wilson at the book launch in Wheatley Hill Working Men's Club back in September 2008:

Now back to the 16th DLI. Latest additions to the site are much better quality right, left and centre enlargements of the 1945 B Company photograph which was taken in Greece. I purchased an original print of the photo on Ebay recently and it's scanned in very well. It should be possible now to recognise individual faces on this picture. It would be great to get a decent caption compiled, so if anyone reading this recognises themselves or a relative please get in touch.

Here's the link to the web page:

In the latest update I have also added more photos and documents relating to the career of Norman Bland, who was wounded while serving with B Company, 16 DLI in April 1943. These are the links to these new pages: