Thursday 3 March 2022

And Finally, My Sedjenane Battle Book Project.

I've just done a general clean up on the website, deleting dead links and tidying up pages. Still a way to go, but it should work and look a bit better now than it did before. I'd forgotten what a big site it is now: the site's search engine is the best way into it. There's probably still quite a few broken and rogue links, but a lost less than before. The software is now so old now (Serif Web 6, copyright year 2000!) that it's becoming very unstable, however I will still be adding the odd item and updating photo captions as appropriate. Next year, February 27th-4th March 2023, will be the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Sedjenane in Tunisia, in which 16 DLI suffered extremely heavy casualties. I'm finally getting around to writing what I hope will be the definitive history of the Battle and have a lot of additional original research and eyewitness testimony which is not on the website. I've got the 'untold story' and the structure of the book, firmly mapped out now in my head, but if there's anyone out there who thinks they can add to it with photographs, documents and the rest, please get in touch. This will be your last chance to contribute to the real story of one of the most costly, most mis-reported--and least understood--battles in the entire history of the Durham Light Infantry. Whether this book is self-published, published by a reputable publisher or simply handed over as a completed project to the relevant museums will be decided in due course. The imperatives of commercial publishing generally result in hastily written and/or sensationalised rubbish, so I will see what I've got when I've got it and decide on the matter then. I hope to have a complete manuscript/narrative by the end of the year. Writing the book also means finally getting around to transcribing the several telephone interviews I undertook with various 16th DLI, No 1 Commando and 2/5th Sherwood Forester veterans in the late 1990s. These were in addition to those undertaken by yours truly for the IWM in 1999-2004 and tended to be more informal. I also interviewed over the phone several veterans who were not interviewed by the IWM, and with the passage of time and WW2 now passing out of living memory, these interviews are even more important now than previously. I aim to have these tape interviews copied as MP3s and passed on to the IWM as part of the project in due course. Which brings me to my usual plea: the 1942 Company photographs of A Company, 16 DLI, C Company 16 DLI, and the various platoons of HQ Company 16 DLI, bar the Mortar Platoon, which is on the site here: are still lost to history. No museum or archive has them, yet they must still be out there somewhere. I've done my best to caption the photographs I do have, for instance see the B Company 16 DLI photograph here: These missing photographs, and the officers and men featured on them, deserve to see the light of day again after 80 years. The quest to find them continues!


UKViewer said...

Good luck with the book. I often pop into the website to revisit Danny Feasey's bits and pieces. I know the importance of the missing photograph, but sadly most of the veterans of that time have probably died, so unless the picture is help by a descendent it is unlikely to surface.

I had a thought to put stuff of mine onto a blog like yours, but my service apart from two NI tours, was relatively peaceful. Although I probably spent the equivalent of 6 year of absence on schemes and tours from my family. I retired after 43 years service rising from Pte to Major in that time. Now, 10 years after retirement I have a role in the CofE as a Lay Reader, which gives a unique perspective as I sometimes get to lead services of Remembrance.

And while the casualties of recent wars are much fewer than either WW1, WW2 or Korea, they have been much more prominent of current generations who have relearned of the sacrifices made my so many to give them the freedoms they now enjoy, at least Schools are now dealing with such loss in new ways to enable new generations to hear about their ancestors sacrifices.

Tom Tunney said...

Hello again,

I'm pleased you're still looking in on the site! The pages on Danny Feasey are some of the best, so I'm grateful to you for passing them on. How many years ago was that now? Time flies! Little bit of new information: casualty records state Ernie was capture on the 10th March 1943 as part of a patrol,led by Lt Weightman, which was ambushed. The Battalion was down to HQ and two composite companies by then, so it seems Ernie got through the Sedjenane action only to be captured a few days later.

Regarding the missing photos, I'm confident I can place the officers and most of the Sgts, using the other photos I already have if they ever do surface. Other ranks will be more difficult but some could be matched up using casualty press photos I have Strange how they've disappeared, but they must be out there.

All the best,


UKViewer said...

I have tried to get more information about Danny's service. sadly without any success. Unfortunately I am unable to request his Army records as his Son is his NOK. The MoD cheerfully sent my own Fathers records after his death, he was also Beds and Herts, enlisted in 1941 and served in Egypt went through the campaign from there, through Italy, ending up in Austria, as Danny Did. But he was transferred to the Royal Signals after being injured on operations and served as a Driver in different Divisional Signals HQs. In fact 11 of the 13 who survived to adult hood served in one way or another in WW2, which is not unique, but all survived although I know my own father had PSTD, undiagnosed it seems until a breakdown which ended up with him in hospital in 1953 and all of us in care for nearly five years. I have done DNA and all of a sudden I have numerous new inquiries to deal with. Talking to my spouse she mentioned one of her Uncles who served in the RNR in WW2, whose ship was sunk and he was rescued by the Italians and kept as a POW as well there. He had fond memories of working on a Farm until the Italian collapse when he was carted off to Germany as well. Its a small world.