Sedjenane and North Africa
After over eighteen months of training and preparation, the 16th D.L.I. were at last in the front line. It was a strange feeling for those who had been with the Battalion since it was formed. This was the thing for which they had been training for so long yet it was with grim reflection that they realized that should they be careless and show themselves then the enemy they were facing would without any doubts what so ever kill them. Nevertheless, initially things were pretty quiet and the Battalion was fortunate in being allowed time to settle down and accustom itself to the realities of war in easy stages. The positions occupied by the Battalion were over-looked by the enemy who were dug in on the sides of hills known as Greenhill and Baldy. For the next six weeks there was little activity in the battalions sector .. Patrolling in “No mans land" was the order of the day. Owing to the fact that the enemy had such good observation from his posts on the hills above the DLI positions the slightest movement would attract an enemy barrage of mortars or shells. This being the case it did not take long to realise that the bringing up of rations and any other necessary movement would be better off carried out at night. During this period parties of Commandos often passed through the positions held by the Battalion to carry out raids on Greenhill.
On 26th February 1943 the long lull of nearly two months was eventually broken as enemy patrols started to become very active in the battalion area. The expectation that the enemy would attack very soon influenced the decision to withdraw the Brigade to a better line of defence but, no sooner had the move been initiated than the Germans attacked in unknown strength and completely overran the village of Monopoles six miles north of Sedjenane ,the 16th DLI who were without its CO Lt Colonel Richard .F. Ware and all of its Company commanders at this time (all had been called away to recce new positions earmarked for a battalion move) were ordered to advance on the Cap Serrat Road and recapture the positions at Monopoles (The hope being that the village was held only by a strong German Fighting Patrol)
At approx 0700hrs on the 27th February the leading Company which was À were surprised by a strong German force which inflicted heavy casualties including all officers 4463752 Sergeant Major John Plemper was also killed he was the son of John and Jane Plemper, of Sunderland, Co. Durham; husband of Lydia Plemper, of Pallion, Sunderland and today lies at peace in Tabarka Ras Rajel War Cemetery Section 1 Row C grave 23.(CWGC list him as having died between the 27th February and 1st March this is usually based on the last date he was seen alive and the date his body was recovered)Due to the ferocity of the attack all the other companies were left with no alternative but fall back
Orders were received on the 28th February for the 16th DLI to counter attack. `A` company who had been decimated were amalgamated with `D` Company to form a composite Company of some ninety or so men these would lead `C` Company who held a position on the hill were to be reinforced to exploit their initial gain before pushing on in an attempt to occupy higher ground to the north of Sedjenane. At 0600hrs on the 2nd March the attack was launched. Initially both forward companies had reached the top of the slope without much difficulty and actually took some prisoners then the Germans had opened up with mortar and machine gun fire unable to call for artillery support due to radio failure the 16th Durham`s found themselves attacked from both flanks and even from the rear as well trained German Parachute engineers left their concealed hollows in a well prepared counterattack. Despite the attack being pressed home with great determination bu the Durham Light Infantry , it soon became apparent that it had failed the stragglers filtered back looking pale and tired and large numbers men from all the companies had either become casualties or had been taken prisoner. . A withdrawal was ordered first to the woods of Sedjenane and then to the cover of the woods at Tabarka.
Casualties during this phase of operations were very heavy. All C.S.M's, apart from those of H.Q. and "C" Company, were killed and, from two of the forward companies, only one officer (wounded) and 80 OR's returned.Casualties listed for this phase of operations included;-
4469429 Pte Robert Allinson .16th Durham Light Infantry Died 4th March 1943 aged 30 Son of Thomas Willis Allinson and Mary Jane Allinson, of South Shields, Co. Durham; husband of Frances Allinson, of South Shields He lies in good company at Tabarka Ras Rajel War Cemetery Section 3 Row D Grave 1
4469115 Pte Robert Armstrong, 16th Durham Light Infantry Died: 2nd March 1943 aged 23 . Commemorated Medjez-El-Bab Memorial Panel 28
4465568 Pte John Potts Bennell, 16th Durham Light Infantry KIA 27th February 1943 aged 29 he enlisted at South Shields Co Durham .Husband of Mrs M. Bennett. of 67 Lindisfarne Road Primrose. Jarrow, and son of Mrs Ellen Bennett and the late Mr Henry Bennett, of no 54 Lindisfarne Road.Commemorated on Medjez -El-Bab Memorial Panel 29
4469442 Pte Stanley Bernard The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Born Yorkshire enlisted Scarborough .Member of ` C Company` KIA 27th February 1943 aged 29 .No known grave commemorated on the Medjez-El-Bab Memorial Panel 29.
4465571 Cpl George Beveridge The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Son of John Lausin Beveridge and Sarah Beveridge; husband of Emma Vida Beveridge, of Gateshead, Co. Durham 3rd March 1943 aged 31 .No known grave commemorated on the Medjez-El-Bab Memorial Panel 28
4445200 Pte Joseph William Birbeck The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Son of Mr. and Mrs. H. Birkbeck, of West Hartlepool, Co. Durham; husband of Gwendoline Birkbeck, of Bedford 2nd March 1943 aged 35 .No known grave commemorated on the Medjez-El-Bab Memorial Panel 29
5948261 WO Class II (CSM) George John Broadhead The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry `D Company `Originally enlisted The Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment and still recorded on the CWGC as secondary regiment Died 28th February 1943 aged 32 the son of George Richard and Margaret Broadhead, husband of Dorothy Broadhead, of Muswell Hill, Middlesex. No known grave commemorated on the Medjez-El-Bab Memorial Face 28.His brother, Sgt William Francis Broadhead , also died on service on the 13th November 1946. a member of the RAOC.
4470213 L/Cpl Kenneth Byrom The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry `D Company `son of Ernest and Alice Ann Bryom, of Blackburn, Lancashire. 1st March 1943 aged 22. No known grave commemorated on the Medjez-El-Bab Memorial, Tunisia Face 28
5949034 Pte James Edward Cairns The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Formerly of The Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment Died1st -2nd March 1943 aged 21. No known grave commemorated on the Medjez-El-Bab Memorial, Tunisia Face 29.
189530 Lieutenant Charles William Duck, The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Son of Charles and Ann C. Duck, of Sunderland, Co. Durham; husband of Annabella Duck, of Roker, Sunderland Died: 1st March 1943 aged 32.
4457407 Sgt Jeffrey Emerson, The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Husband of Elizabeth Emerson, of Todmorden, Lancashire Died: 27 February-1 March 1943 aged 24.No known grave commemorated on Medjez-El-Bab Memorial Face 28
4436896 WO Class II (CSM) Miles Etherington, The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Son of Miles T. and Margaret Ann Etherington, of Deckham, Gateshead, Co. Durham. Died: 27 February-1 March 1943 aged 42.No known grave commemorated on Medjez-El-Bab Memorial Face 28.
4470192 Pte Laurence Fleming,The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Died: 27 February 1943 aged 31. . Son of Thomas and Mary Fleming; husband of Hilda Fleming, of Newton Heath,No known grave commemorated on Manchester Medjez-El-Bab Memorial Face 29
4465598 Cpl James Golightly, The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Died: 28 February 1943 aged 28. He lies in good company at
4464128 Cpl Ronald Green, The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Son of George and Mary Hannah Green Died: 27 February-2 March 1943 aged 27.No known grave commemorated on Medjez-El-Bab Memorial Face 28
4457775 Pte Frederick Ernest Haywood The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry.Son of Thomas George and Mary Jane Haywood, of Fulham, London. Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead Died 4th March 1943 At rest Medjez-El-Bab War Cemetery Section 4 Row A Grave 2
4467071 Pte Valdemar Hessegar The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Son of Maximillian Christian Hessegar, and of Fannie Louisa Hessegar, of Lapworth, Warwickshire Died 4th March 1943 No known grave commemorated on Medjez-El-Bab Memorial Face 29
4469801 Pte Stephen Pringle Hewison, The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Died: 27 February-1 March 1943 aged 20.Son of Stephen and Florence Hewison, of no 7 John Street Boldon Colliery, Co. Durham.No known grave commemorated on Medjez-El-Bab Memorial Face 29
4469548 Pte Edward Hunter, The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Son of Stephen and Eva Hunter; husband of Catherine R. Hunter, of Forest Hall, Northumberland. Died: 27 February-1 March 1943 aged 25. No known grave commemorated on Medjez-El-Bab Memorial Face 29
4470267 Pte Richard Heslop Hunter, The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Died: 27 February 1943 aged 23 . Son of Richard and Mary Hunter; husband of Jenny Hankin Hunter, of Sunderland, Co Durham No known grave commemorated on Medjez-El-Bab Memorial Face 29
4470382 Pte John Kershaw. The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Son of Mrs. E. Kershaw, of Littleborough, Lancashire Age 20 Died 2nd March 1943.He lies in good company at Massicault War Cemetery Section VI Row A Grave 13.John Kershaw was born in Rochdale on 18th February 1923 Mrs. E. Kershaw, 687 Halifax Road, Hurstead, Rochdale, Lancashire,was first informed that her son was `missing`(letter dated 23rd March 1943)A further letter was received on the 24th August 1943 informing her that Private J. Kershaw had been wounded and was missing, On the 4th/12th/17th January 1944 letters were received with the final confirmation informing her that Private J. Kershaw died of wounds on 2nd March 1943 in the French hospital, Ferryville,in Tunisia, Confirmation of his burial place was received on the 15th February 1944 and stated that John had been buried in Ferryville Municipal Cemetery, Tunisia, later relocated to Massicault War Cemetery (confirmation received 16th February 1945)
4466497 Pte Joseph Kirkley, The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Died: 27 February 1943 aged 32 . Son of Joseph Longstaff Kirkley and Isabella Kirkley, of Hunwick, Co Durham No known grave commemorated on Medjez-El-Bab Memorial Face 29
4464999 Cpl Alfred Cyril Lane The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry.Son of Herbert and Ada Margaret Lane; husband of Rhoda Lane, of Barnsley, Yorkshire. Died 2nd March 1943 Aged 22 No known grave commemorated on Medjez-El-Bab Memorial Face 29.
4469573 L/Cpl Stanley Malone The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry.Son of Henry and Elizabeth Malone; husband of E. M. P. Malone, of North Stifford, Grays, Essex. Died 2nd March 1943 Aged 24 No known grave commemorated on Medjez-El-Bab Memorial Face 28
4466537 L/Sgt Francis McDonough, The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Died: 27 February 1943 aged 32. . Son of Ralph and Sarah McDonough; husband of Edith Majorie McDonough, of Darlington, Co Durham No known grave commemorated on Medjez-El-Bab Memorial 20313 Lt Donald McGregor, The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Son of Donald and Margaret Hutchison McGregor; husband of Edith McGregor. M.A. Died 1 March 1943 aged 32.No known grave commemorated on Medjez-El-Bab
4459004 Cpl William Gordon Mellor The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry.Son of Washington and Florence Elizabeth Mellor; husband of Eileen Mellor, of Bredbury, Cheshire. Died 4th March 1943 aged 23.No known grave commemorated on Medjez-El-Bab
4469577 L/Cpl Harold Mitchell The 16th Durham Light Infantry.Son of John and Agnes Maude Mitchell, of Bridlington, Yorkshire.Died 2nd March 1943 Aged 23 No known grave commemorated on Medjez-El-Bab
4469914 Pte Stephen Neal, The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry. Son of Stephen and Mary Neal; husband of Jane Neal, Father of Joyce Peter and Mavis,brother of Mary, Maggie and Nellie of 36 Walker Street, Middleborough, Yorkshire Died: 27 February 1943 aged 30.He lies in good company Tabarka Ras Rajel War Cemetery, Section I Row C Grave No 5
4464810 Pte William Nodder, The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Died: 27 February-1 March 1943 aged 30. . Son of J F and Nellie Nodder, of Castleford, Yorkshire No known grave commemorated on Medjez-El-Bab Memorial, Tunisia Face 29
4465023 Pte Herbert Oates The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry. Died 2nd March 1943 Aged 24 No known grave commemorated on Medjez-El-Bab
4463752 Warrant Officer Class II (C.S.M.) John Plember .The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry. Son of John and Jane Plemper, of Sunderland, Co. Durham; husband of Lydia Plemper, of Pallion, Sunderland.Date of Death listed by CWGC as between 27/02/1943 and 01/03/1943 Aged 30 yrs He lies in good company at
4470254 Pte Ernest Rigby The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry. Son of Frank and Alice Rigby, of Tottington, Lancashire; husband of Mary Ellen Rigby, of Tottington. Died between 01/03/1943 and 02/03/1943 Aged 34. He lies in good company at
4469986 Pte John Stenton Roberts, The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Died: 28 February-1 March 1943 aged 21yrs Son of John Thomas Roberts and Jane Stenton Roberts, of Sturry, Kent. Born Sunderland; enlisted Sunderland Medjez-El-Bab War Memorial,Panel 29
4469329 Pte Henry Kenneth Rowland.The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry.Son of William Henry and Olive Emma Rowland, of Stockton-on-Tees, Co. Durham. Died 2nd March 1943 Aged 22.No known grave commemorated on Medjez-El-Bab
4468505 L/Cpl Cecil Sands,The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Died: 27 February 1943 aged 38yrs Son of Robert Ness Sands and Margaret Sands; husband of Laura Sands, of Byker, Newcastle-on-Tyne No known grave commemorated on Medjez-El-Bab Memorial, Tunisia Face 28
4466581 L/Cpl Walter James Secker, The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Died: 27 February 1943 aged 31yrs Son of Walter James Secker and Mary James Secker; husband of Marie Lydia Secker, of Dunston, Gateshead, Co Durham No known grave commemorated on Medjez-El-Bab Memorial, Tunisia Face 28
4469639 Pte George William Simpson The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Son of George Edward and Rhoda Gertrude Simpson, of Saltburn, Yorkshire Died 3rd March 1943 Aged 28 .He lies in good company Massicault War Cemetery Section VI Row A Grave 12.
5951620 L/Cpl John William Skellington,The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry formerly The Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment now The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Born Leicestershire; enlisted Hertfordshire Parents lived at 68 Cademan Street Died: 1 March 1943 aged 29.No known grave commemorated on Medjez-El-Bab Memorial, Tunisia Face 28.
4464840 Pte Ronald Smith.The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry.Son of Tom Robson Smith and Clara Smith; husband of Blanche Smith, of Linthwaite, Yorkshire. Died 27/02/1943 Aged 29.No known grave commemorated on Medjez-El-Bab Memorial, Panel 29
4469645 Pte Robert William Smith, The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Died: 27 February 1943 aged 27. . Son of William and Catherine Smith; husband of Lilian Smith, of North Shields, Northumberland No known grave commemorated on Medjez-El-Bab Memorial, Panel 29
4469637 L/Cpl Eric Snailham The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry.commemorated on Medjez-El-Bab Memorial, Panel 29 Son of John E. Snailham, and of Jessie Snailham, of Cockerton, Darlington, Co. Durham; husband of Christine Snailham, of Clapham, London.Died 2nd March 1943 Aged 27 No known grave commemorated on Medjez-El-Bab Memorial, Panel 28
4469652 Pte Sydney Whitley Southwick,The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry between 1 st -2nd March 1943 aged 32.. No known grave commemorated on Medjez-El-Bab Memorial, Panel 29
4470000 Pte Edward Spowart The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Son of John Spowart, and of Hannah Spowart, of Shildon, Co. Durham Died: between 27th February and 1st March1943 No known grave commemorated on Medjez-El-Bab
4465668 Pte Matthew Stapylton The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry.Son of Matthew and Agnes Maria Stapylton, of North Shields, Northumberland.Died between 01/03/1943 and 02/03/1943 Aged 22 .No known grave commemorated on Medjez-El-Bab Memorial, Panel 29
130959 Capt Dennis Beckworth Stark, The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Died: 27 February 1943 aged 25. . Son of Thomas William and Mary Jane Stark, of Darlington, Co Durham. (Originally B Company, then transferred to A Company as second in command in Tunisia ) A Sgt in the DLI prior to his commission Tabarka Ras Rajel War Cemetery I C 20
4465672 Pte Stephen Strachan,The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Son of Frederick and Mary Strachan; husband of Annie Strachan (nee Trotter), of Stockton-on-Tees, Co. Durham Died: 27 February 1943 aged 31. No Known grave commemorated Medjez-El-Bab
4466607 L/Sgt Thomas Norman Swan ,The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Son of Norman and Edith Swan, of Benwell, Newcastle-on-Tyne; husband of Dorothy Swan, of Glasgow.Died 2nd March 1943 Aged 26 No Known grave commemorated Medjez-El-Bab
4464856 Pte Ernest Thornley, The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Son of Ernest and Maria Thornley, of Pudsey, Yorkshire; husband of Lily Thornley, of Pudsey. Died: 27 February 1943 aged 31.
4464857 L/Cpl Kenneth William Thornton, The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Son of George William and Gertrude Annie Thornton, of Carleton, Skipton Died: 27 February-1 March 1943 aged 29. Medjez-El-Bab
4468962 Cpl John Turnbull,The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Son of John and Mary Turnbull; husband of Barbara Jane Turnbull, of Gateshead, Co. Durham. Died between 1st-2nd March 1943 Aged 32 No Known grave commemorated Medjez-El-Bab
4462227 L/Cpl Ernest Walker, The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Died: 27 February-1 March 1943 aged 29. Medjez-El-Bab
4470232 Pte Eric Watkins, The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry. Son of Arthur and Ellen Watkins, of Longford, Warrington, Lancashire Died: 27 February 1943 aged 22. Medjez-El-Bab
4469691 Pte William Cuthbert Wharton, The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry .Son of Mr and Mrs Thomas C Wharton; husband of Annie E Wharton, of Seaham, Co Durham. B Company Died: 1 March 1943 aged 26. Medjez-El-Bab Memorial, Panel 29.
4465686 Pte Richard Layon Henry Wilkinson ,The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Died 2nd March 1943 aged 22. Medjez-El-Bab
4465688 L/Cpl Frederick Willis,The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Son of Arthur and Isabella Willis; husband of Leonetta Willis, of Sunderland, Co. Durham. Died 2nd March 1943 aged 22. Aged 31.Medjez-El-Bab
4464887 Pte Cyril Windle, The 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Died 27 February-1 March 1943 aged 29. Medjez-El-Bab
On the afternoon of the 2nd March barely one Hundred men remained of this fine battalion. The village of
March 10th 1943,saw Lieutenant Colonel J. C. Preston of The KOYLI assume command of the battalion in place of Lieutenant. Colonel R. H. Ware M.C.
The battalion strength was badly depleted two composite companies were formed the first under Major D.H.C, Worrall of the Dorsets who had joined the Battalion about ten days before, was in action on a feature close to the viaduct at Temara. The other Company was in the area known as `The Mine` some four miles south of Djebel Aboid. That night this composite Company was able to move up to the area of the viaduct, and take up a position behind Major Worrall's company. The 6th
The Commanding Officer moved one Company under Major T. G. L. Ballance back to "the Mine" area south of Djebel Aboid. Here Major Ballance and Major Preen, who commanded a squadron of the 46th Reconnaissance Regiment, put their heads together and appreciated the threat the Germans were making to cut the Djebel Aboid—Beja road. On their own initiative they proceeded to move against some Germans who were located on the saddle which overlooked the main road. This operation was carried out with great success as the enemy withdrew and neither the Durhams nor Recce Regiment suffered any casualties. The Company under Major F. Duffy established themselves in what was known as the "German mines" area and this was later to prove the jumping off place for 138 Brigade's attack to retake Sedjenane.
By this time reinforcements of both officers and other ranks had arrived back at "B" echelon. Owing to the fact that both the composite Companies were in action, the C.O. was forced to form a Company made solelyout of the reinforcements and, thus, "E" Company was formed under the command of Captain A. E. C. Vizard. This new Company was placed under command of the 5th Forestters and moved down to "the Mine" at Djebel Aboid. On the 16th March 1943 the company were ordered by the C.O. of the 5th Foresters to take up a position at Temara in the area of the railway station. The platoon areas were given to Captain Vizard by the C.O. personally, and although he did not think them entirely suitable due to the very poor fields of fire he had no option but to occupy them. Patrols were ordered out to contact both the 5th Foresters who were forward and the 2nd Parachute Regiment bringing up the rear and, on the night of 16th/17th March, the road and railway were patrolled from 0400-0500 hours. The intention of the C.O. 5th Foresters was that this DLI. Company placed under his command should form a link between his right hand positions and the 2nd Parachute Regiment on the left flank. Further tasks were to keep open and free from infiltration both the road and railway through Temara and to hold the road and railway bridge at Temara against sabotage. At dawn on the 17th March the Company, consisting of 4 Officers and 137 OR's "stood to" and were subjected to severe shelling and mortar fire. No casualties were suffered from these attacks. A breakfast meal was served at 0730 hours At 0745 hours the Luftwaffe put in an appearance with Junkers 87B's, supported by ME 109s, attacking the gun lines in the valley to the DLI`s right. In the latter stages of this air attack bombs were dropped from a high altitude near to the Company area, but no damage was done. From 0930-1030 hours shelling and mortaring to the Durhams left flank and in the area of the 5th Forester positions was continuous. At 1045 hours the C.O. contacted captain Vizard on the phone and told him that the enemy had outflanked the French to the Forresters right and were also attacking the
Captain Vizard had no option but to postpone his attack and instead decided to use his company to aid the Forresters, however the Company had still not moved up. Captain Vizard made his way back along the line and arrived at Temara where he found his missing company. It was now 18;30hrs and the light had now faded to such an extent that to either go to the aid of the Forresters or carry on with the planned attack against an enemy of unknown strength and disposition would undoubtedly have been foolhardy. Instead Lieutenant Reynolds was ordered to fortify his position at Temara should the Germans attempt an attack meanwhile Captain Vizard made his way to the 2nd Parachute Battalion to attempt to make contact with the Forresters by radio to establish a situation report and receive further orders.
Having contacted the C.O. Captain Vizard returned to Temara and found it in a good state of defence but, whilst he had been away the Company area had been heavily mortared and some casualties, including one killed, had been sustained. A direct hit on the cookhouse wounded two cooks and wrecked the equipment but Lieut. N. L. John and C.Q.M.S. Wilson, with commendable calm, quickly applied first aid and .sent the wounded back on some Forester carriers which were stationed in the battalion area
Orders were received from the Foresters instructing Captain Vizard`s company to proceed with all speed to his HQ, which was about 3/4 of a mile away, to act as a rear-guard through which his troops, could withdraw!
Lieutenant Reynolds and a small party consisting of C.Q.M.S. Wilson, Sgt.Stoll and six men moved forward as an advance guard, with the rest of the Company following on. There were quite a few NCO's and men from the Foresters straggling back down the railway line with tales that their Command Post had fallen. Despite this, the company journeyed on. The Company arrived at the Foresters H.Q and Lieutenant Reynolds was sent on a bicycle bearing a despatch to the Parachute Regiment asking for reinforcements or for permission to withdraw as the Forresters CO was certain the position could not be held after dawn. At midnight the orders to withdraw were received .Mr Vizards Company were ordered into position astride the road, At around 0345 hrs after the last of the Forresters had passed back through the DLI company Mr Vizard gave orders for his company to begin to fall back.
During the withdrawal 'E' Company of the 16th had D.L.I. suffered one killed, ten wounded and seven missing
The German March offensive had won them some valuable ground, and dealt a nasty blow to the First Army's preparations but, by the 20th of the month, the enemy had been held on all fronts. He had made his biggest gains in the north and had only been stopped at Djebel Aboid after pushing the British forces twenty miles back from Green Hill. On the Beja front he had been held at Hunt's Gap. The two enemy advances had made
After a long march the 16thDLI arrived in their new area just after dawn it was shady and pleasant and there was a river close by. However at1100hrs hours the Commanding Officer was ordered to report to the Head-Quarters of the 3rd Brigade, 1st Division. On arrival the C.O. was told that the 16th DLI was to take over from a Battalion of the K.S.L.I. who were in the line the following evening. Thus the
The 16th Battalion found itself once again in defensive positions near Bou Aradai and opposite the Hermann Goering Division whom it was to meet at a later date in
It looked for a while that the 16th DLI would take no part in the coming battle but the Battalion were placed under the command of 128 (Hampshire) Brigade and took their place in the first full-scale attack made by 46th Division which was on the right of the divisional attack, the Battalion was directed against Sidi Barka which was well fortified with the German defenders having over two months to prepare their ground.
On the 22nd April, the 46th Division attacked with seven battalions up on an eight mile front. One hundred and twenty twenty-five pounders, a battery of and 231 A/T Battery supported 128 Brigade, while 138 Brigade had seventy two twenty-five pounders, twenty-four self-propelled guns, a battery of mediums and 229 A/T Battery supporting their attack. "H" hour was at 0300hrs
The Battalion went into the attack on a two Company front, supported by heavy artillery concentrations on known enemy positions. Soon after dawn, the two forward companies had managed to get close to their objective but not on it.
The CO had been informed that tanks would be available after dawn and that , if he was in trouble, he could rely upon the support of at least one troop to come to his assistance. However, the squadron of tanks which were supporting the Hampshire Brigade drove onto a deeply laid minefield and, in a short time there was only one left, the rest having been hit or had their tracks blown off it was a difficult day for the battalion.
The apparent top of the hill of Sidi Barka proved to be a false crest and the enemy held strong and commanding positions from the real summit above. Casualties from deadly mortar fire were numerous and Major A M K Martin, commanding `B` Company, was killed. Lieutenant T. Reynolds took over command and, with the help of Sergeant Threadgold, held the company together in what was a very exposed area and contained the enemy. For this Lieutenant T. Reynolds received the award of the Military Cross and Sergeant Threadgold the Military Medal.
That night it was found that the Germans had indeed fallen back Major Vizard and `A` Company had been a constant thorn in the enemy`s right flank and rather than risk being encircled the Germans pulled out", having first fired off everything they possessed. After a few days rest but still on the Sidi Barka, the Battalion moved forward a mile or so to rejoin the rest of the Brigade on the Djebel Bessioud. This feature had been taken by the other two Battalions of 139 Brigade on the 25th April. Two or three days later the Battalion moved across to the far side of the Salt Lake and came under the command of 138 Brigade who were on Djebel Kournine, more commonly known to all as "The Twin Tits". This feature had successfully prevented the 1st and 6th Armoured Divisions from effecting a break through as it rose up in a sheer face from the plain and completely dominated the surrounding countryside.
In the early days of May the 16th DLI took over from the 2/4th K.O.Y.L.I. on the edge of the salt lake Sall Lake and went under the command of the 1st Armoured Division.Here the task by day was easy due to the fact that the Germans would have been foolish to try any counterattack with such a vast weight of armour in the area At night, however, the Battalion's role was not so easy as its task was to prevent enemy patrols from infiltrating through the lines and reaching the tanks. A strong patrol of about thirty of the enemy arrived one night armed with explosives and "beehive" mines. This enemy patrol was dealt with accordingly by the 16th DLI. When hearing of this, the Commander of the 1st Armoured Division was very pleased and praise was duly given. News now started to come through that the death blow was being dealt to the enemy in the Medjez El Bab area (the gateway to the sea) and, sure enough, this battle was about to end. The Division was left out of the final triumphant decent on
In two months fighting the Durhams had been under command of nine different Brigades and had been in three Divisions as well as its own 46th Division. The Victory was celebrated by an extra issue of rum and there were wild rumours of leave and a good time for all. The Quartermaster called in all Battle Dresses and gave out K.D. in lieu. This was the first time that the Battalion had seen tropical kit. After just over a week at Oued Zarga, during which time it took part in the great Victory Parade in
A move took place back to Ghardimaou on Tunisian-Algerian frontier where the Battalion had staged in January. Fortunately there were hardly any prisoners to guard and trips to the sea at La Calle were fairly frequent. Towards the end of May, another move took the Battalion to Hamman Lif just south of
Early in June the Battalion moved all the way back to
The period at
Preparation for Invasion 16 DLI
The voyage up the Tunisian coast for the men of 16th DLI was uneventful and on arrival at Bizerta Docks they were marched to their Divisional area . Here they were engaged in training which much to everyones dismay took the form of route marches. Progressing into August the battalion was engaged in more specific training in preparation for the assault on the Italian mainland this included street fighting, and boarding and exiting from various types of landing craft.
On the last day of August the 16th DLI moved to an Assembly area near La Pecherie. On September 5th 1943 the entire Battalion consisting of 25 officers and 656 nco`s and men,were embarked aboard their various ships in readiness for the full scale invasion of Italy. The battalion although they did`nt know it were heading for the beaches South of Salerno.
4468255 L/Sgt William Hudson 16th DLI
Born in Sunderland in 1920, William Hudson enlisted for the duration in November/December 1940 and saw action with the 18th Battalion DLI as part of a Beach Group on the invasion beaches of Sicily and Salerno, where he was wounded. On the 4th January 1944 he joined the 16th Durham Light Infantry in Italy and was awarded the Military Medal bravery Citation;- 'On 3rd September 1944, a Section of the Carrier Platoon was driven out of a position which they were holding SERRA Ridge. 13 Platoon, commanded by 4468255 L/Sgt Hudson was ordered to recapture the position, which they did, L/Sgt Hudson leading the assault with great dash. L/Sgt Hudson was then ordered forward with 8 men to search and clear a house nearby. This was done, taking two prisoners and killing two other Germans. From this house they came under fire from a further dug in enemy position. Without waiting for orders, L/Sgt Hudson advanced against the post, through enemy machine gun fire, throwing grenades and firing his TSMG. He went in with such dash and determination that the party (now reduced to four men) were able to overwhelm the enemy, killing two and taking eight prisoners.'Shortly afterwards, L/Sgt Hudson was temporarily knocked out by blast from a mortar bomb and was ordered to go back to the Regimental Aid Post. Realising, however, that the Company, was by now very weak in numbers, especially in Officers and Non-commissioned officers, he insisted on returning, and during the night that followed, his example and inspiration was invaluable in encouraging and keeping alert the men under his command.
L/Sgt Hudson joined the 1st DLI in January 1946 later that year he left the Army only to re-enlist in 1949 as a Regular soldier again with the 1st DLI. He served in the Korean War and finally retired from the Army in November 1958. William Hudson died in 1992.
Salerno and Hospital Hill
On September 9th 1943, C and A Coys of the 16th DLI landed on Green Beach and made their way with some difficulty to their Assembly Area some 600yds from the beach. The remainder of the Battalion landed on the 10th September without mishap . The first task for the men of the 16th DLI was to relieve the 6th Yorks and Lancs who were in the are of the hospital at La Mennold.The area was to be known as Hospital or Light Infantry Hill. The battalion marched through Salerno, which was being shelled regularly and by 20:10 hrs the battalion had completed their first task. B Coy then moved forward to occupy Parato passing through the Carrier section who had been skirmishing with the enemy. Heavy Resistance was encountered before the objective could be reached and the Coy settled in to positions nearby in readiness for any possible German counter attack . At dawn the expected German attack came in and suceeded in pushing B Coy back a short way, before they were able to rally and hold their ground.
Persistent mortaring of B Coy continued throughout the day but no further Counter attack developed. During the night the enemy succeeded in mounting an MG in a commanding position , but, this was withdrawn following a swift counter-attack by the Durhams. Brigade HQ was shelled On the night of the 15th September D Coy were attacked by a company of Panzer Grenadiers, but this was broken up by a bayonet charge followed by a 3" mortar barrage which dispersed the remainder of the enemy, and inflicted heavy casualties amongst them . It later became known that the Germans had attacked along the whole of the Divisional front but the front had held firm.The 2nd Coldstream Guards took over 16DLI positions as they were moved to the area of S. Leonardo
'On the evening of 15th September 1943, D Company, 16th Bn THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY were in position on a feature close to the hospital on the outskirts of Salerno. The Company had been in action for 48 hours and had incurred some casualties. At approximately 19;15 hours, the enemy put in a strong attack with 90 to 100 men supported by mortar fire. Captain F Duffy, who was commanding D Company, and has trained it in NORTH AFRICA, had the majority of the Company held back on the reverse slope. The enemy reached the top after suffering casualties and then Captain Duffy, leading his Company, put in his counter-attack. By his splendid leadership and excellent control, combined with dash and drive, he routed the enemy. 15 were killed and 11 prisoners taken, also several wounded and D Company only had one man wounded in this bayonet charge
On the 23rd September 16 DLI were involved in heavy fighting around Vietri Defile. As dusk fell German tanks supported by infantry were seen near the foot of the La Crocella spur. The attack was repelled with the help of some accurate fire laid down by the artillery . On the 24th September A Coy moved to Corpo di Cava and here, during the afternoon, Brigade HQ was established. Patrols soon reported that the enemy had withdrawn completely from the area enabling the battalion to enjoy a few days of welcome rest.
During the summer of 2009 my family and I travelled to Italy.We ventured to the Cassino War Cemetery which is at the foot of Monte Cassino with its monastery now restored to its former glory looking down upon it.Here we found the lads of 16th DLI.
4469562 L/Cpl George (John) Leadbitter MM 16th Durham Light Infantry was the son of William and Mary Leadbitter, of Newcastle-on-Tyne he was awarded the Military Medal whilst on active service in Tunisia during the Battle of Sedjenane. On March 2nd 1943, when the 16th Durham Light Infantry attacked Djebel Guerba, Pte Leadbitter of `D` Company was in charge of a Bren gun. When the attack was at its fiercest, this soldier ran out of ammunition. He ran through heavy fire to obtain more magazines and returning to his gun he put out of action an enemy MG position which was holding up the advance. He then went forward firing the gun from the hip and thus enabled the advance of his Platoon to be continued.This was the first Military Medal to be awarded to the 16th DLI
4469562 L/Cpl George (John) Leadbitter was killed in action on the 8th December 1943 originally his grave stone was dated 1944 and it was some sixty years later that someone noticed the mistake..sad to think that no one had noticed or double checked the records before then..today he lies in good company in section VII. Row B. Grave 21 of the Cassino War Cemetery Italy.
4464742 L/Sgt Joseph Drake left his job with Hemsworth Urban Council where he had been employed as a lory driver and joined the 16th DLI in June 1940. 'On March 3 1943 while the main enemy attack on Sedjenane was being pressed from the East, a fresh threat developed from the North. L/Sgt Drake was a member of the party of 20 detailed to delay any new attack. Defensive positions having been taken up, the party was attacked by two companies of the enemy. This NCO, by continually moving the position of his two Bren guns, led the enemy to believe that the Durham Light Infantry positions were a great deal stronger than was the fact. By this action the advance was successfully held up until all ammunition was exhausted.` Joe Drake was the son of Mr and Mrs W Drake of 26 Regent Street in Hemsworth he himself residing at 10 Grove Avenue Hemsworth
Military Medal Action 4689911 Sgt Donald Threadgood 16th DLI
'On 22 Apr, 16th DLI attacked a feature known as Sidi Barka near BOU ARADA. Sgt Threadgold was comd No 11 Pl, B Company When it became light the Company came under severe mortar fire and were held up on the slopes of the SADDLE. This fire was directed by an enemy Observation point firmly established in the strong point at the top of the Barka feature. Sjt Threadgold continued to try and reach this enemy OP which was controlling the mortar fire. The Company Comd of B Company Major A M K Martin (later killed) called for a repeat of Artillery concentration and as shells fell short ordered the Coy to withdraw to a safe distance. Sjt Threadgold withdrew his men under fire to a safer position and directed the occupation of this position. At all times he was a great example to his men, by his leadership and disregard of his own personal safety he controlled his Platoon in a difficult situation. Later he crawled forward under fire to look for wounded and brought back 5 or 6 personally.
Sgt Douglas Kennedy & Pte William Milner....16th DLI KIA 06/12/1944
Sgt Douglas Kennedy,4459612 16th DLI is recorded Killed in Action on 6th December 1943 aged 26.The 16th DLI were in action on the Cocurruzo Spur which formed the Western side the Calabritto Basin at this time Company Sgt Major Les Thornton of the Support Company ,a friend of Sgt Kennedy ,recalled coming across the body of his friend and another soldier of the regiment Pte William Milner 14375847 16th DLI both men had been shot through the head by German Troops who had been positioned on a Knoll on the Spur. CSM Thornton buried the pair wrapped in their gas capes in shallow graves where they fell,taking the ID discs and marking the Graves they would be recovered later and formerly re-buried.
Sgt Douglas Kennedy was the son of Thomas and Jane Ellen Kennedy, of South Shields, Co Durham; and husband of Elsie Kennedy, of South Shields.Pte William Milner was another Durham lad the son of William Dobson Milner and Amelia Milner; husband of Margaret Jane Milner, of Eastbourne, Darlington, Co. Durham .Today they lie at peace side by side as they were in life, at rest in Cassino War Cemetery Italy.
Sgt Kennedy lies in section VII Row B grave 18 Pte Milner lies in section VII. Row B. Grave19
Newspaper clipping with announcement of Sgt Douglas Kennedy`s death in Italy
4699867 Private Ronald Steele served in the 16th Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry he was born in Barnsley in 1921 the son of Fred and Ada Steele, of Barnsley, Yorkshire and lived at
Ronald enlisted on the 18th June 1942 initially with the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry before moving to the 16th DLI.
4699867 Pte Ronald Steele was wounded on the 26th April 1943 but following his recovery returned to active duty. On the 24th September 1944 Ronald Steele’s mother was once again notified that her son was in 71st
'On the night of 22 November 1944, Private Gerowski's Platoon crossed the River COSINA. After it had consolidated, several spandaus opened fire on it. The enemy then attacked in strength and Private Gerowski immediately went out to meet them, killing several of them with his Tommy Gun. This action so inspired his comrades that the enemy was driven back with heavy casualties. 'On the following day, the same Platoon attacked a house. On nearing the objective a spandau opened fire on them from the right flank causing several casualties. Private Gerowski immediately rushed forward with his Tommy Gun, killed one of the Bosche and silenced the spandau. This action enabled the platoon to advance and take the objective. The bravery shown by Private Gerowski on the days stated was of the highest order and an inspiration to his comrades
Pte Gerowski was initially recommended for a Distinguished Conduct Medal he was awarded an immediate Military Medal. Freddie Gerowski lived at
Military Cross Action 256432 T/ Major Patrick Anthony Casey 16DLI
On the 23rd November 1944 `C` Company of the 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry commanded by Major Casey were ordered to attack an enemy position across the River COSINA This task was carried out with great dash,Major Casey leading the attack himself and silencing an enemy machine gun post.On reaching their objective `C` Company were ordered at short notice to take part in a further attack on a position known as DESMOND.Major Casey re-organized his company and gave out orders for the second attack under extremely difficult conditions and under persistent enemy fire.He then took part in the second attack and captured his objective together with 15 of the enemy.Major Casey`s disregard of enemy fire and devotion to duty enabled the company to put in an attack on important enemy positions the taking of which had a great effect on the operations in the area.I strongly recommend that Major Casey be awarded an immediate Military Cross.
5951827 Corporal John Lewindon The 16th Durham Light Infantry
"On the night of 14/15th September 1943, Corporal Lewindon was commanding a section in 18 Platoon of 'D' Company, 16th Battalion Durham Light Infantry. This section were giving local protection to a machine gun sited on top of a feature overlooking the hospital north of Salerno. During the night, about 2200 hours, an enemy patrol of 10 men worked their way up and tried to rush the position. The enemy were temporarily checked and then Corporal Lewindon went at them with his Tommy gun killing two and scattering the remainder. His prompt action and courage restored the situation, heartening his section and allowed the machine gun to remain in position. I recommend that this young NCO be given the immediate award of a Military Medal."
John Lewindon was born in October 1919 in Muswell Hill, London, and was living and working in Hemel Hempstead when he was called up and intially joined the Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire Regiment. In July 1940 John was transferred to the 16th Battalion Durham Light Infantry which was one of the so called "Dunkirk" battalions raised during the summer of 1940 following the BEF evacuation . During the World War 2, he served in North Africa, Italy, Greece and Austria and was awarded a Military Medal, , for his bravery near Salerno in Italy in September 1943, when he drove back a German patrol with his sub-machine gun. He was "de-mobbed" on 4th August 1946 and in 1947 married Freda, a war widow with two young daughters. After the war John worked as a maintenance engineer . John Lewindon died in Hertford on the 10th August 2001
Mortar Platoon 16th DLI Sgt Israel Raphaelson
Two photographs featuring Sgt Israel Raphaelson of the 16th Durham Light Infantry Photographs kindly supplied by his daughter`s