At the end of June 1943 the 1st DLI were back in Egypt in due course the battalion would join the 10th Indian Division and move into Syria and Palestine where the battalion would undergo intense training for what would be its next role on the Island of Kos.
On the 16th September 1943 `C` Company and Colonel Kirby climbed aboard aircraft at Ramat David Airfield bound for the Dodecanese Island of Kos. The battalion`s objective was to seize and hold the airfield at Antimachia Kos lies only four miles from the Turkish coast, 60 miles northwest of Rhodes and 30 miles south of Leros. The island is 28 miles long and six miles wide, The only port is Kos Town on the northeast coast while the only airfield was situated just east of Antimachia A rugged ridge runs the full length of the southern part of the island.
As `C` Company landed at the airfield they were delighted to see a South African Spitfire squadron had arrived shortly before them together with a company of paratroopers, but it would be two more days before the rest of 1st DLI arrived and during that time German air activity increased with both fighters and bombers making frequent runs on the island. Crater filling became a priority to keep the islands air defence operational. `C` Company made themselves useful in this time moving into Kos Town to help with the unloading of much needed supplies.
When the last of the DLI Companies arrived (`A` Company) the airfield was barely operational and was littered with the wrecks of burning air-craft.To make things worse one of the Dakota transports carrying a platoon of `A` Company came down in the sea and the men were picked up by the Turkish Navy and interred. After two days on the island all of the rifle companies with the exception of `C` Company were in positions around the airfield yet the battalion had still no news on the fate of its support Company nor Battalion transport which was due to arrive by sea.
German air activity was now intense with constant bombing raids steadily taking a toll of both men and supplies the airfield was in ruins and without planes there was very little point in maintaining it. Two companies `A` and `B` were ordered to move eastwards towards Kos Town when they reached the salt pans ,five miles from the port, they set about constructing a new temporary airstrip.
`D` Company under Captain John Thorpe were left to defend the original airstrip at Antimachia as best they could. It should be noted that the only transport available at this time for the Durhams were a number of light jeeps none of the battalion`s carriers or transport had even been dispatched owing to space restrictions on board the inbound ships!
On the night of the 3rd October 1943 German paratroopers landed in and around Antimachia Colonel Kirby was in Hospital at this time so it fell to hugh Vaux to deploy the battaion in positions astride the main Kos- Antimachia road.As the battalion took up these positions they could see more German paratroopers landing in the Salt Pans `C` Company were ordered to send a platoon forward to investigate reports of further landings to the South of the battalions positions Meanwhile the battalions carrier platoon(minus its missing carriers) were sent in whatever jeeps the battalion could muster but ran head-on into German forces moving down the road Captain George Sivewright (George Sivewright was initially buried at Kos War Cemetery however in 1957 the cemetery was closed and those who were buried there moved to Rhodes today he lies in Grave 7. B. 2.) and his driver were killed by a burst of machine gun fire from almost point blank range despite the action being recorded on the 3rd October 1943 his death is not recorded on the CWGC until 5th October 1943.
The Battalion were now heavily engaged, Colonel Kirby discharged himself from hospital and commandeering a motorcycle rejoined the Battalion who were desprateley trying to improve their defensive positions with what meague tools they could find all the while German stukas circled overhead and with no British aircover and no anti aircraft weapons they were able to pick out ground targets amongst the battalion with ease.
The mortar platoons supported `B` Company to good effect when faced with a frontal assault by German forces but despite this furious resistance the forward platoons of `B` Company were overrun and contact with `A` Company, which was on its left, South of the main road was lost.
Sgt Major Flannaghan did his best to keep everyone supplied with ammunition whilst the Quartermaster Captain John Bush, despite constant heavy fire, brought up food and water to the forward companies.
The Durham’s were heavily outnumbered and to remain in position would have led to the complete annihilation of the battalion. At 17;00hrs orders were given to the Companies to withdraw to the outskirts of Kos Town.All were able to withdraw except `A` Company who were still out of touch and did not receive the new orders.
Despite inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy the battalion itself had also suffered with many men being Killed, wounded or Captured. Battalion strength was now down to less than two hundred Officers, NCO`s and men.
`A` Company oblivious to the fact that they were now alone and down to only forty men withdrew under the command of Captain Jim Grey who led his men Westwards towards an Italian 75mm Gun battery which despite being under constant air attack from the Germans was still operational. Captain Grey offered the services of himself and his men in any capacity the Italians could use them and fought alongside them until nightfall. The Germans were now so close that Captain Grey could see their campfires as they prepared an evening meal and singing could also be heard coming from the German positions.
Captain Grey made a decision he ordered his men to fix bayonets in preparation for a charge it was at this time that news arrived that the other companies were in position around Kos. Much to the relief of all concerned Captain Grey decided discretion rather than valour was the best course and gathered the remnants of `A` Company together and set off in search of his battalion headquarters.
At the airfield at Antimachia German paratroopers had landed in numerous positions around the runway and despite heroic efforts `D` Company were overrun. A few of the men from `D` Company managed to escape into the hills amongst them were Captain John Thorpe and Sgt Major Carr ,Thorpe was seriously wounded and was captured and spent the rest of the war in Oflag 79 ( Waggum, Germany) later but Sgt Mjr Carr would escape the island and rejoin the battalion.
On reaching the outskirts of the town the remnants of `B` and `HQ` Companies joined `C` Company in forming a defensive perimeter. On the right flank near to the temporary airstrip Captain R A G Birchenough and his anti-tank platoon prevented the Germans manoeuvring around the battalions positions but suffered severe casualties in doing so. Captain Birchenough twice returned to rescue wounded men caught in the open and on a third occasion he set fire to a Spitfire which was hidden in trees nearby, thus denying the enemy its capture.Capt Birchenough was later captured escaped and was awarded a MC.
An Order group was called but during the meeting Colonel Kirby Captain Mark Leather (HQ Company CO) and Quartermaster John Bush were wounded by mortar fire,the gallant Quartermaster Bush later died from his wounds ( Kirby and Leather were later captured ).
Captain Kenneth Mark Walters Leather 1st DLI
Born in 1910, the son of Colonel K.J.W. Leather, also late DLI, he was educated at Wellington College and Sandhurst. He was commissioned as a Regular officer in 1930 and joined the 1st Battalion DLI at Catterick. In 1937, he joined the Sudan Defence Force and fought in Abyssinia from 1940-41 against the Italians. In late September 1943, he rejoined 1st DLI on the island of Cos, just a few days before 1st DLI was overwhelmed by German forces On 3 October, 1943 he was badly wounded by a mortar bomb and was taken prisoner whilst receiving treatment in hospital. He was imprisoned in several camps before he was sent to Oflag 79, near Brunswick. This camp was not liberated by the Allies until 11 April 1945. For his work on Cos, he was awarded the Military Cross After the war, he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and commanded 2nd DLI, being its last Commanding Officer, from 1952-55, before he finally retired in 1959.
Captain `Topper` Browne organised the evacuation of the wounded to a convent hospital nearby whilst Temp Colonel Hugh Vaux took command of what little remained of the battalion. The first duty Col Vaux performed was to attend the force HQ to secure new orders for his decimated command which had been at a disadvantage from the onset of operations, no heavy weapons,no transport greatly outnumbered and no chance of any reinforcement with these things obviously in mind the orders received by the Durhams were to split up into groups of no more than twelve moving at night the battalion along with various odds and sods from other units were to head for the village of Kargiou situated about three miles west of the main Antimachia-Kos road.It was reported that an Italian food store was at this location which to men currently living on a diet of margarine, jam and relish supplemented by the odd piece of goat flesh, was a great incentive. The small parties of men carrying what ammunition they could moved only at night to avoid encountering any German patrols but the terrain of the island was punishing and often treacherous at night Several of the groups were captured as was the remnants of the platoon left behind to cover the battalions escape but eventually some of the small groups, tired, hungry and often exhausted began to reach the outskirts of the village. Sentries were posted and a recce into the village was organized. What they found was disheartening to say the least for they found the Germans had occupied the village, in strength. The hope of a sound base and more importantly food was gone.
Sixty members of the 1st Durham Light Infantry together with a few men of the RAF regiment, Sappers and a few Gunners made the decision to head into the Hills. After surviving for ten days they realized that if they were to survive they must now plan a way off the Island.
The plan was a simple one engaging the help of a Greek carpenter they would build a raft, which would sail to the Turkish mainland, here the raft crew would acquire boats and return to rescue the others.
Eleven men would crew the raft A Colonel of Engineers together with Captain Browne and two men of the battalion, five sappers and two gunners. The raft was hidden in a cave on the beach but as the men reached the cave they were met, much to their delight, by Captain Walter (Papa) Milner Barry of the Special Boat Squadron (S Detachment) who un-be-known to the men had landed days earlier in an effort to round up any survivors and bring them away from the Island. Yet another surprise was in store for the Durham’s when they were reunited with Captain Frank Armitage and Sgt Fishwick who after fighting a rear guard action at Kos Town had been captured by the Germans, escaped, and were picked up by Captain Milner Barry.
The SBS Captain informed the group that a small naval craft would arrive at 0200hrs on the 13th October 1943 to attempt a rescue it was unlikely that there would be room for all of the men however that decision would be made by the Skipper of the craft and not by Barry. The craft arrived on time and the skipper made the decision, much to everyone’s relief, to embark all eight officers and sixty men. All weapons were left for they were heading for the Turkish mainland where the Turkish government tolerated the landing of shipwreck survivors and nothing more (In truth the SBS had been using this base for all manner of Operations)
After landing briefly the men began the second leg of their journey to Kastelorizo, the most distant island of Greece, almost 2 naval miles from the Turkish Coast line. Its official name Meyisti was given to it because it's the biggest of a cluster of 14 small islands.
The journey here would take the men close to the occupied island of Rhodes, so close in fact that aircraft could be seen taking off and landing. When the battalion disembarked there was a moment of lighthearted amusement when Captain Armitage mistook a latrine trench for an Italian slit trench and much to the amusement of all present jumped in! The men’s journey was not over their next and final destination was Cyprus, which after braving heavy seas and several engine failures they reached shortly before 0200hrs when the battered group sailed into Famagusta Harbour. The men were marched off to the nearest transit camp whilst the officers were billeted at the St George Hotel where they were treated to Turkey Sandwiches, Brandy Black Coffee and feather beds.
Military Cross Action Lt Temp/Capt James Goring Gerald Gray 1st DLI
During the German attack on the island of Kos (Cos) on the 3rd October 1943 this officer under heavy enemy fire took up a defensive position in the face of an advancing enemy.In spite of unceasing German air and ground attack,and heavy counter attacks,his sound judgement and coolness in organising the defences proved an inspiration not only to his own men but also to the Italian troops on his left flank,and enabled the position to be held until dark.
When finally ordered to withdraw,he led the remnants of his troops through the enemy lines to the RV in the hills.He was then untiring in his efforts to obtain and cook food for his men,until they were evacuated 10 days later.
It is no exaggeration to say that but for Captain Gray`s fine leadership and complete disregard for his personal safety none of the men under his command would have succeeded in escaping from the Island of Kos.He behaved throughout the operation with coolness,sound judgement and gallantry which proved an inspiration to all with whom he came into contact.
James Goring Gerald Gray ,born June 1921, he was educated at Windlesham House School,Malvern College and Sandhurst. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant on 31st December 1939, joining the 1st Battalion DLI in Egypt in 1940.Lieutenant 1st July 1941.Temp Captain 14th December 1941- 4th October 1943.He gained the Military Cross in October 1943 on Kos, when the Germans invaded the island and the defenders, including 1 DLI, were overwhelmed. He managed to escape with his men and hide for ten days in the hills until the group was evacuated by the Special Boat Squadron.
He won the Bar to his MC in December 1944, commanding "A" Company 1st DLI in a night attack under very heavy fire at Casa Bianca in Italy. (Please see Beyond Kos 1st DLI in Italy)
After the war, he served at the Depot and at Barnard Castle and with the King's African Rifles in Kenya from 1951-54. He retired, through ill health, as a Major in 1960 and entered the Prison Service. James Gray was an Assistant Governor in Portland Prison when he was killed in a road accident in Hampshire in December 1979.
MILITARY MEDAL ACTION 4271305 Pte William Reilly 1st DLI
4271305 Pte William Reilly 1st Durham Light Infantry Military Medal Kos 1943
During the operation on Kos (Cos) Island on the 3rd October 1943 Pte William Reilly was a member of a platoon which was ordered into close contact with the Enemy three times during a six hour period.On the third occasion although the party had marched some 15 miles over very broken country,and were very nearly exhausted,Pte Reilly by his unfailing good cheer and disregard of his own personal safety under heavy enemy air and ground attack was an insperation to all.After the withdrawl of the majority of the defenders of Kos (Cos) to the hills,Pte Reilly`s platoon was overun by the enemy and most were forced to surrender.Pte Reilly with two others who had volunteered to go with him,made his way down to the beach,secured a plank of wood and set off to swim 10miles to the Turkish mainland.After about five hours in the water,one of the party was seized by cramp and was not seen again but Pte Reilly and the other man continued until about 3 miles from the mainland where they seperated and struck out for the shore which Pte Reilly reached after being 20 hours in the water.
Pte Reilly`s general conduct under fire and his determination not to be captured himself and his efforts to save two other men regardless of his own safety,is deserving of the highest praise.
4271305 Pte William Reilly formerly of The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers was initially recommended for a British Empire Medal his recommendation is reproduced in full in the opening paragraph.The announcement of his award was made in the London Gazette of the 29th February 1944.Pte William Reilly was from Newcastle upon Tyne.The actions of Pte Reilly mirror those of 4450714 Sgt Satchwells who also made an attempt to swim to the mainland and may even have been one of the other two men in Pte Reillys group but this cannot be verified at this stage.
Military Cross Action Lt Richard Alfred Godsal Birchenough 1st DLI
During the enemy attack on the landing ground on Kos Island Capt Birchenough personally led a number of small sorties under heavy enemy fire to create the impression that the flank he was guarding was strongly held.He showed complete disregard for his own personal danger and displayed coolness and determination which was an inspiration to his men.
Later after he had been ordered to withdraw he went alone across some 400 yards of ground under direct machine gun fire and successfully set alight a Spitfire aircraft to prevent it falling into enemy hands.He also returned twice to his original position and brought back two wounded men.He then led his men,who were by now exhausted to an appointed rendezvous in the hills where he sustained them by his continual cheerfulness and hope until they were evacuated ten days later.
His constant devotion to duty,unselfishness and resourcefulness set a fine example to all and is deserving of the highest praise.
Captain Richard Alfred Godsal Birchenough known to his men as `Beagle` was born on the 20th June 1921 educated at Eton and Sandhurst, following his service with the 1st DLI he saw action with the Parachute regiment and was captured at Arnhem he served post War in Palestine(MID) and Malaya returning to 6th DLI as Adjutant from 1949-51.A keen winter sportsman he represented the Army in the Inter Service competition on the Cresta run at St Moritz in 1955. Awarded an MBE in 1954 Captain R A G Birchenough died at Wimborne ,Dorset on the 11th October 1984.
Military Medal Action 4445635 WO 1RSM George Flannigan 1st DLI
During Operations on the Island of Kos (Cos) on the 3rd October 1943 RSM. Flannigan,in spite of heavy ground fire and air attack succeeded in his task of bringing ammunition up to the forward companies so ensuring that at no time were any companies short of ammunition.He was also responsible for the organisation of the defence of Battalion Headquarters which he did with great skill and judgement.
After the withdrawal to the outskirts of the harbour area,he went back into the town,which at the time was under continual enemy shell fire,to obtain food which he personally distributed to the troops in the line. During the subsequent 10 days,when in the hills,and though he himself was suffering from lack of food and exhaustion he was untiring in his efforts to obtain supplies of food and water for the party he had with him.In addition he carried out reconnoiring patrols alone to areas held by the enemy without thought to his personal safety.
His conduct and devotion to duty throughout the operations was of the highest order,setting a fine example to all present.
The above reccomendation is taken from the original document now held in the National Achives.
Captured on Kos
Cpl John Robert Hood was a musician in the band of the 1stDurham Light Infantry a pre-war Regular who had seen service in China ,Hong Kong ,Western Desert,Malta and finally Kos where on the 3rd October 1943 he was captured by the advancing German Forces
4451716 L/Cpl Hood
Cpl Hood was born on the 9th March 1919 in South Shields.On his capture he was sent to Stalag VII A (Moosburg) the Prisoner of War Roll for 1945 then states he was in Stalag IVB at Muhilberg (Elbe) he was given the POW No 263783
German Prisoner of War Identification
POW Form showing his next of kin as his mother who lived at 28 Hardwick Street South Shields Co Durham.John Robert Hood survived the war and died in Leeds in 1985
Those who Fell on Kos (Rhodes War Cemetery)
Those few members of the 1st Durham Light Infantry who survived to fight another day would go on to form the nucleus of the new battalion for those left behind it would be a different story for the lucky ones if they can be called lucky it would be a German prison camp for the rest of the War,many I`m sure succumbed to wounds received in the battle and died in captivity.
What of the twenty two known dead? Ten of these men would be buried on the Island of Kos before being moved to the CWGC cemetery on Rhodes.Twelve more have no known grave and are commemorated on the Athens Memorial
Those buried on Rhodes are listed as follows;-
Pte James Kessy Buglass, 4452105 The 1st Durham Light Infantry Died of Wounds 19/10/1943 Aged 28 Son of Charles James Buglass and Elizabeth Buglass, of North Shields, Northumberland.A pre -war regular who served with `A` Company in Peking on the 16th February 1939 he won funniest costume dressed as a `Flapper` at the Battalions Fancy Dress Ice Carnival.A memory of happier times.
Rhodes War Cemetery Row 7. C. 4
Captain Frederick Harrison Bush MBE 131820 Quartermaster The 1st Durham Light Infantry KIA 03/10/1943 Aged 38 Son of Major Thomas William and Beatrice Bush; husband of Mary Dorothy Bush, of Watford, Hertfordshire born on January 17th 1904 his father was both a former quartermaster and Adjutant of the 5th DLI
131820 Quartermaster Captain Bush photographed in 1942
The London gazette of 31st May 1940 announced that RSM Frederick Harrison Bush was promoted to Lieutenant (Quartermaster) Emergency commision, from 25th May 1940 this was confirmed as a full commision from the 15th February 1941 announced in the London Gazette 11th February 1941.On the 26th December 1941 it was anounced that Mr Bush had been awarded an MBE.Mr Bush was appointed RSM with the 1st Durham Light Infantry on September 2nd 1937.His total service was as follows Served in the ranks for eight years and 16 days,as a WO 2 he served a further seven years 174 days before his promotion to WO 1 then went on to serve a further two years 266 days before his commision.
Quartermaster John Bush was wounded by mortar fire,the gallant Quartermaster Bush later died from his wounds
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
Rhodes War Cemetery Row 7. B. 4
Corporal Samuel Clarke 4464054 The 1st Durham Light Infantry KIA 29/09/1943 Aged 31 Son of Philip and Hannah Clarke, of Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, Northumberland
Rhodes War Cemetery Row 2. A. 1
Pte Benjamin Hood 4456702 The 1st Durham Light Infantry KIA 03/10/1943 Aged 27 Son of William and Rachel Hood, of Spennymoor, Co. Durham
Rhodes War Cemetery Row 1. A. 11
Warrant Officer Class II ( C.S.M. ) Richard A W Moodie 4450723 The 1st Durham Light Infantry KIA 03/10/1943 Aged 31
4450723 CSM Moodie was a pre war regular having served in China Shanghai Tientsin and Hong Kong son of George Frederick and Harriet Alice Moodie, of Bensham, Gateshead, Co. Durham.Also dear brother of George F Moodie, Robert Moodie and Frances Moodie.
Rhodes War Cemetery Row 1. A. 2
Pte Edgar Frederick Pittard, 6029140 formerly The Essex Regiment Now 1st Durham Light Infantry KIA 03/10/1943 Age 32 Son of Richard and Lilian Annie Pittard, of Barrington, Somerset
Rhodes War Cemetery Row 7. A. 2
Pte James Probert 4451264 Army Catering Corps Att 1st Durham Light Infantry,KIA 18/09/1943 Aged 29 Son of Thomas Probert and Margaret Jane Probert, of Forest Hall, Northumberland
Rhodes War Cemetery Row 1. A. 9
Captain George Philip Sivewright 156769 1st Durham Light Infantry KIA 05/10/1943 (although Regimental history states 3rd Oct 1943) Aged 24 years Son of James P Sivewright and Annie H Sivewright(Wyllie) of Hartlepool Old County Durham .2nd Lt from cadet in 1940 joined the Durhams as a 2nd Lieutenant initial commision announced in the
SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, on the 19th NOVEMBER, 1940
Captain George Philip Sivewright pictured in Malta 1942.
Rhodes War Cemetery Row 7.B.2
Pte Ralph Waldock 4463856 1st Durham Light Infantry KIA 25/10/1943 Aged 23 years Son of Joseph Watson Waldock, and Annie Waldock, of Washington, Co Durham
Rhodes War Cemetery Row 2.B.4
Pte Thomas Wright 4462588 1st Durham Light Infantry KIA 03/10/1943 Aged 29years
Rhodes War Cemetery Row 7.A.3
The ATHENS MEMORIAL stands within Phaleron War Cemetery and commemorates nearly 3,000 members of the land forces of the Commonwealth who lost their lives during the campaigns in Greece and Crete and the Dodecanese Islands including those of the 1st Durham Light Infantry who were killed on the island of Kos 1943 and who have no known grave
The men of The Durham Light Infantry killed on Kos with no known grave are commemorated on Panel 7 of the Athens Memorial
Cpl Frederick Anderton 4467609 1st Btn The Durham Light Infantry KIA 03/10/1943 aged 33 years Son of Elijah and Mary Anderton of Lancashire
L/Cpl John Edward Everest 4464438 1st Btn The Durham Light Infantry KIA 03/10/1943 aged 23 years.Son of Christopher John and Caroline Esther Everest, of Thorpe, Egham, Surrey. CWGC estimate his loss between 3rd-4th October 1943
Pte Thomas James Green 4451116 1st Btn The Durham Light Infantry KIA 03/10/1943 aged 27 years.Foster-son of Mrs. J. Foster, of Durham.
L/Cpl John Griffiths 4460031 1st Btn The Durham Light Infantry KIA 06/10/1943 aged 24 years Son of Alfred and Barbara Griffiths, of Higher Blackley, Manchester
Cpl James Hannan 4452138 1st Btn The Durham Light Infantry KIA 03/10/1943 aged 25 years Son of Michael and Margaret Hannan, of East Rainton, Co. Durham.Again listed on the CWGC register as died 3rd-4th October 1943
Pte Joseph Edward Harris 4464134 1st Btn The Durham Light Infantry KIA 27/09/1943 aged 27 years. Son of Charles and Frances Lily Harris; husband of Grace Foster Harris, of Ashington, Northumberland
Pte Raymond Houseman 4461208 1st Btn The Durham Light Infantry KIA 04/10/1943 aged 27 years. Son of Mr. and Mrs. J. Houseman, of Coverham, Yorkshire
Pte John Jackson 2987478 1st Btn The Durham Light Infantry KIA 03/10/1943 aged 27 years.Son of John and Isabel Jackson; husband of Jessie Jackson, of Cowdenbeath, Fife Again listed on the CWGC register as died 3rd-4th October 1943.Formerly of The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.
Pte Norman Jones 4459015 1st Btn The Durham Light Infantry KIA 03/10/1943 aged 24 years Son of Ernest and Helen Jones, of Offerton, Cheshire
Pte Harold Walter Lee 6025926 1st Btn The Durham Light Infantry KIA 03/10/1943 aged 31 years Formerly of The Essex Regiment.
Pte Gwilym Morris 6025335 1st Btn The Durham Light Infantry KIA 04/10/1943 aged 31 years.Formerly of The Essex Regiment
L/Cpl Stanley Roberts 4452158 1st Btn The Durham Light Infantry KIA between 03/10/1943-13/10/1943 aged 28 years
Sgt Kenneth Satchwell 4450714 1st Btn The Durham Light Infantry KIA 03/10/1943 aged 28 years died in his attempt to escape the island his friends believe he may have attempted to swim to the Turkish Mainland.Ken Satchwell has no known grave and is commemorated on the Athens Memorial.A pre-war regular who saw service with the Durhams in Shanghai,Tientsin,Hong Kong, The Middle East, Malta and finally Kos.The commonwealth war graves lists his death as between 3rd-4th October 1943 he was the son of David and Ruby Satchwell, of Whitley Bay, Northumberland.He was a good friend of Sgt Albert Martin
Photograph of Kenneth Satchwell taken just prior to the battalions embarkation for Shanghai in 1937.Kindly supplied by Dennis Martin
L/Cpl Patrick Shaughnessy 4452170 1st Btn The Durham Light Infantry KIA 27/09/1943 aged 25 years.Patrick was born in Gateshead the son of Thomas and Marian Shaughnessy;. He was the husband of Grace Shaughnessy, of Hal Bajjada, Rabat, Malta, G.C.The 1st DLI had been stationed in Malta prior to their move to Kos.
Also named on Face 7 although not killed on Kos with the 1st DLI
L/Cpl Dennis Keenan 4542527 16th Btn The Durham Light Infantry KIA 23/12/1944 aged 24years Son of Lilian Keenan; husband of Nora Keenan, of Bramley, Leeds. Born Co Durham; enlisted Northumberland. Originally of the The West Yorkshire Regiment.
Panel 7 Athens Memorial
Escape and Evade Kos 1943 4451276 Cpl. J. Almond, Durham. L.I
James `Huck` Almond 1938
4451276 Corporal James Almond was born in the parish of Dunston,
For three weeks they marched from village to village, vainly searching for the British Mission. The rest of the party wanted many times to give up on what looked like a hopeless task, but Corporal Almond’s personality and leadership held them together until at last they were found by E.L.A.S. guerilla forces, they were initially imprisoned in a hut until their nationality was established. The mountain hideout to which the Corporal was subsequently taken was a G.H.Q. from which operations against the occupying forces were directed by several British officers. Accepted as a member of the guerilla forces, Corporal Almond took an active part in sabotage against the Germans.During such missions he assumed the identity of a `Nicos Ntolos`.
Cpl Almond served with distinction as a Wireless Operator (Although he was never formally trained as such) for a British Military Mission and E.L.A.S. partisans in Greece, finally returning to the U.K. in early 1945 - officers with whom he served in this latter period included Major Brian Dillon, D.S.O., M.C., Major Francis Macaskie, M.C. and Captain Derek Dodson.Cpl Almond was discharged in February 1946 as a result of being found permanently unfit for any form of military service,
He was notified on July 1st 1946 that he was to receive a medal for his outstanding work during this period he was able to attend a presentation ceremony in November of the same year to receive a Distinguished Conduct Medal from his Majesty the King at Buckingham Palace he was also mentioned in despatches (London Gazette 1 November 1945).
D.C.M. London Gazette 18 October 1945. The original recommendation states:
‘In November 1943, Corporal Almond, then a Private, was taken P.O.W. on the
After some time in a prisoner of war cage in
For three weeks they marched from village to village, vainly searching for the British Mission. The rest of the party wanted many times to give up what looked like a hopeless task, but Corporal Almond’s personality and leadership held them together until at last they found the British Mission camp.
On hearing that a second W./T. operator was required, Corporal Almond, despite nine years foreign service, volunteered to stay behind and refused to be evacuated with the others. Soon after his arrival, the leading W./T. operator was evacuated to the
On several occasions he was left in command of the station, a task which he carried out tactfully and efficiently. On one occasion, he had to escort arms and explosives through enemy held territory; to do this he wore civilian clothes and ran great personal risk.
Corporal Almond showed powers of leadership and determination quite above the average and by his example largely contributed to the efficient running of the station under difficult circumstances. He was evacuated to the Middle East from
Report on Operations on Cos Island 3rd October 1943 by Maj H M Vaux
Statement by 4450705 CSM W Carr 1st DLI of `D` Company at Antimachia
Statement by 4450705 CSM W Carr 1st DLI of `D` Company at Antimachia
(Sgt. Satchwell and 9.0RS, Carrier, P.L. were not. heard of all day by the Company Commander. who had sent a message to them to look out for troops coming up Wadi from the South. Carriers situated at the East end of LG)
3rd October, 1943 - Sunday.
Island invaded , at dawn by German paratroops which were seen landing approximately six miles South of Landing Ground (Antimachia). Estimated numbers 100, seaborne troops were also used, some landing on. the West and North Coasts. The Coy. Comdr. Capt. J.H. Thorpe on being informed of this ordered 17 PL. under command of Sgt. Hilis and 1 Mortar (3"). Detachment to proceed to Windmill Hill which is situated at the West end of Landing Ground. Coy. Comdr. then made out message re paratroops and despatched it by D.R. (Pte. Buglass) this D.R. did not return, whether he arrived at H.Q. we were unable to find out. Time of departure of D.R. approximately 0600. All lines of communication with Bn.H.Q. were useless by this time The Signal NCO L/Cpl Sillitoc failed to get in touch with Bn.H.Q. with 18 Set, all 38 Sets which each Platoon had were unable to contact Coy. H.Q. Coy. Commander decided to move up to Windmill Hill, time 0650, on. arrival he placed Cpl. Bills. detachment of 3" Mortars in position, during this period Capt. Waite had taken over 17 PI, and moved towards Ginger Hill which is situated on the South side of the Landing Ground. On Ginger Hill he would most likely join up with 18 PI. which was under command of Lt. Ryves, and attached to this platoon was Sgt. Wilson's detachment of 3” Mortars. Coy. Commander. stayed on Windmill Hill until approximately 1645hrs. At 1600 hrs. I went onto Windmill and the situation there was that the Coy. Commander. was in charge of 16 PI and he had .also managed to hold on to an Italian Captain and approximately 60 men, but on receipt of a message from the Antimachia direction, the Italian Captain withdrew to the North side of the Village. Message stated that the Germane were advancing on Antimachia from Pellie (Pyli) and Asfendi (Asfendiou). All day long Ju 87`s and 88`s bombed L.G. and area forward of hit own troops.. By 0900 hours it appeared to me as though there were only 2 Bofors Guns left in working condition. At 1530 hours there was no more Ack Ack fired from the South of the Island., from 0845 hours the Colonel of the 1. L.AA., Regiment R.A. and his Adjutant were at my Coy.H.Q. Every now and then the Colonel wont over to a Windmill called Sector which was situated on the . East side of Antimachia about 600yds. At 1700 hours all RA. personnel that is the Colonel, Adjutant, 1 Major, 1 Padre, M.O,CSM Price and a couple of Gunners moved off to the Wadi ,about 100yds to the East of Sector, this was the last time that this party was seen by me.
At 1755 the Coy. Commander . gives orders to destroy all documents this was done by fire, Coy. HQ. then moved back to to arca about 300 yds. to the North (position of Coy. HQ. Company was approximately 400 yards. East of the fork roads North of Antimachia ). The Coy. Commander. then ordered the CQMS. and the remainder of Coy. HQ. to wait in the Wadi, while he observed the Germans advance from the North. At 1750hrs five Ju. 87`s, came over, they were diving to drop, their bombs when the forward troops of Jerry put up a Very light (white) so they banked and dropped their bombs, seven in all, a distance of six yards from us. The Coy. Commander. was wounded in the small of the back ,left side. The shrapnel passed though his web belt cutting the left buckle; wound did not bleed very much, put on a field dressing. This was last raid of the day. Coy. Commander, Pte. Proudlock and myself then moved over to pick up remainder of Coy. HQ. but we were unable to do so, these men were not soon any more. The Germans which took Windmill were estimated by the Coy. Commander. to have come up the Wadi duo West from sea. We now moved on from this position to approximately half-way to Cardemena, which is situated on the East Coast, travelling by Jeep down the main road. Halted by Italian Road Block, we wanted to stay with them for the night but they made us move on. So travelled a little more and pulled. up at a building .where we slept for the night.
4th October, 1943 - Monday.
Moved off at dawn by Jep towards Cardamena pulled off the road at approximately 400 yards from the town, after putting Jeep out of action, we moved into Wadi. Stayed here for about one hour, when we observed movement on our left under a small group of trees. On a closer ,inspection found them to be British Troops, so we decided to move over to join them. The party consisted of four officers, R.A. and about 35 OR`s - whether the OR`s, were all RA I cannot state. During the period from 0100 to 1130 hours Ju87,s came over in batches of fives and dive bombed the town of Cardamana and the area to our North, and West. During the bombing the Germane did not appear to be advancing from his position of the previous night. We decided to move from present position to the foot of hills, North of Cardamena. At 1200hrs we moved, after travelling about 1,00yds. we took cover behind a wall with a couple of trees to shade us from the and another raid of Ju87`s with fighter escort. Again moved on but had to be flat again to the fighters and 1. Dornier seaplane coming at a height of 200ft. Again moved on towards small village at the foot of hills, but this was not our luck, time now 1730 hrs approximately. This time we saw 2 German lorries with trailers and a Mortar on each with roughly 20 men on each ,coming along the road from Pellis or Asfendiou. They passed us by about four yards, all troops semed to be well armed, so we lay still until the moon came up. Whilst lying down I heard the Germane attacking Cardemena, their lorries did not come back along the same road. At 2015hrs we moved on to a small village, where we slept under the trees for the night.
5th October, 1943 Tuesday
After breakfast and dressing of Coy. Commanders wound, which appeared to be no better, if anything it was swelling. He felt very stiff in the back when he had to move. We stayed in position till 1345hrs, when. a Greek warned us to move as the Germans were coming to search the area. During the morning a Greek brought a matchbox to us . On reading message inside this is how it ran "Who are you? I am Pte Walters of the SAS regiment," His number was included, but the chitty was lost. I replied by merely stating “Three English Soldiers” After the warning we moved up into a small waste and stayed till dark, then moved into the Hills for the night.
6th October, 1943 Wednesday
We are now in position on a Hillside overlooking Pelli and the North of the Island. During the day observed Dornier seaplanes moving in pairs at irregular intervals. These planes travelling from dawn till dusk patroling the waters, they appeared to me to travel to Rhodes and back again Ju 87`s were going over in batches of nine to what I believe to be Leros. At dark moved over towards Asfendiou and higher into hills. Pte Proudlock very dizzy and shivering-suspected sandfly..
7th October, 1943 — Thursday
This was a very good position for observation of North Coast. Saw 3 German landing craft, later learnt from Navy that they were called F-Boats These craft pulled in and unloaded on West side of Salt Flats about 700yds along the coast. Transport left the area of the Hospital and returned by circular route. ;Wound of Coy. Commander no better. 2 Greeks fed us for the day and we stayed the night owing to the Pte.(Proudlock)Ju 87`s and 88`s over us for 6th night.
8th October, 1943 — Friday.
Same position ant fed by Greeks. German seaplanes same as for the 6th. Ju 87`s and 88`s, as for previous day. At 1715 watched a small convoy of three ships (Merchant) These were joined by the 3 F.Boate from the North coast and a further 2 which appeared to come from the town of Cos. They all moved over to the Island about 3 miles from Cos rough bearing of N.N.W. Coy. Commander. and Pte still in same condition. - stayed night.
9th October, 1943 - Saturday.
Still in same position. Normal air activity by Germans. Coy Commander and Pte same condition. Coy Cdr.'s wound turning black on. top side, now at the end of Field .Dressing.
10th October, 1943 - Sunday
Officer decided owing to condition of wound and the condition of Pte. Proudlock to go into the Hospital (German occupied), the following day. At 1800 hours I moved off with then. to a Shepherd's House at the foot of hills, on arrival at house the Greeks gave bread and cheese, so after burning the Company's A.F.B.122`s, left the Capt. and Pte. Proudlock with the best of health. Air Activity normal. 5 F-Boats returned from the Island N.N.W. of Cos, 3 to position on North coast and 2 moved to the harbour of Cos, my estimation. I then moved off in a Southerly direction towards Cardamena. Not known whether officer and Pte. went into hospital - never saw them.
11th October, 1943 Monday.
Arrival on hilltop overlooking Cardamena and Antimachia at 0330 and slept till 0900hrs Observed all day, nothing of importance except there appeared to be movement on the L.G at Antimachia„ i.e. 6 lorries moving up and down the strip. The two Macchi planes (Fighter) which the British moved from one of the pens and put to one side away from strip appeared to have been taken on to the L.G. which I took for the purpose of a decoy. At night moved to bottom of hills and slept till daylight.
12th October, 1943 Tuesday
To-day received the news from a Greek that 12 English soldiers were in a house on hillside, so I packed up and joined this party. Strength of party including myself 15. Names and units as follows:-
Sgt. Burridge, (M.M.) R.A.
F/Sgt. Taylor, R.A.F.
Sgt Phillpotts RAF (Cyphers Branch)
L/Bdr Thompson RA
Gnr Webb, R.A.
Pte. Walters of the S.A.S. Regt. had left, his kit on a Wadi but nothing was seen of the man himself. 2 Officers, R.A.F., F/Lt. R.G. Allan end Lt. Highland lived in a cave above the white house, but refused to take over the party or even their own men.
13th October, 1943 - Wednesday.
Living in house. Rained all day. No Greek visitors. 3 Ju. 88`s appeared to take off from North end of Islaad, nothing else happened.
14th October, 1943 - Thursday.
Still in house. Fine weather. Note written in French received at 1900 hours to the effect that we were to follow Guide. Here 2 Italian soldiers joined party. After journey of approximately 6 and a half miles over mountains and keeping close to the shore, arrived safely at destination and contacted Greek ,with letter signed by Naval Comdr. appeared O.K. Boat did not answer signals by Greek Agent.
15th October, 1943- Friday.
Stayed on in cave all day with Greek Agent. Expected boat at night so the Agent and myself sent up Signal Flashes from the beach from 2100 till 0230 hours - nothing arrived.
16th October, 1943 - Saturday.
Same procedure as for 15th.
17th October, 1943 - Sunday.
Agent decided to go to Turkey in small boat to bring back launch. 2 more Italians joined party. No small boat available this day.
18th October, 1943 - Monday.
Agent went out to get a boat himself, but ran into a German Patrol of 12 strong. These men wore white caps. Agent returned, we made raft, but it was of no use.
19th October, 1943 - Tuesday.
Made another raft under supervision of the Agent, but when tried out this also failed. at 1930 hours the 2 R.A.F. Officers returned to join party, but when they saw that the party was still as large, they moved off to a water point about one and a half miles away.
20th October, 1943 - Wednesday.
Made another raft for the Agent. Raft excellent in water so Agent moved off at 1930 hours. Appeared to be making good progress on a calm sea.
21st October, 1943 - Thursday.
Greeks arrived and, told us that the Germans were now-living on the hillsides. They had evacuated Cardamena, Antimachia, so now we were on one side of hill and Germans on other. At 1100 hours approximately sent message to the 2 R.A.F. Officers to move to cave at dark as boat was expected to-night.
22nd October, 1943 - Friday,
At 0150 Boat arrived, all were on board by 0220 hours. Once on all arms were handed over to the Skipper of the boat under orders from F/Lt. R.G. Allan who had now taken over. The following arms and ammunition were handed over;-
3 T.M.C., 2 Rifles, 2 Pistols ,Revolver .45., 166 Rdr. .45., 129 .303 Ball, 9 Steel Helmets and a few pieces of equipment. Landed on small Island off the Turkish mainland, picked up again at 1530. Prior to being picked up, Sgt. Phillpotts, R.A.F., Cypher Dep was sent to the mainland by small sailing boat, He was admitted Hospital. Were taken to mainland where after waiting for the Officers being questioned, etc. we moved over to the other side of Harbour and boarded L.C.T, 139 end 114.
23rd October, 1943 - Saturday.
Moved off at 1900 approximately on board a 2 masted fishing boat. On board 17 British Troops, including R.A.F. and 33 survivors of the H.M.S Haworth or Harworth (Destroyer). The Greek Adrius and Haworth were both sunt by mines on the Friday night , 2300.
Journey to Castel Rosso was uneventful, arrived safely at 10.30.a.m. on 27th..Flt Lt R.G. Allan and Lt.Highland with 7 R.A..F. Regt. left the same .night on board R.A.F. Launch. My party of seven in .all left at midnight and on the 28th arriving Haifa - no enemy seen during voyage.
Regret....now a Prisoner of War in Germany
4451255 Lance Corporal Thomas Grainger Wigham Iley
4451255 Lance Corporal Thomas Grainger Wigham Iley was part of the 1st battalion the Durham Light Infantry which landed on the Greek Island of Kos under equipped and undermanned he was part of an elite battalion sacrificed in a hopeless situation.
Thomas was born on the 10th February 1917 whilst the first world war was raging ,In 1935 he enlisted in the Durham Light Infantry Thomas Iley lived at 6 North Avenue,Hordon Colliery,Co Durham a far cry from this sun bleached island he found himself on in 1943 Thomas received ,in the vicious fighting,a severe facial wound resulting in the loss of his left eye and found himself ,like many of his fellow Durhams in a German Prisoner of War Camp.The Germans gave Thomas Iley the PoW number 35987.Thomas recalled after the war he received adequate medical treatment but was never repatriated as his injuries were not deemed severe enough to warrant this action he spent time at Stalag VIIIB at Lamsdorf and VIIB near Memmingen, Germany liberated in late April 1945 Thomas was able to complete his Prisoner of War questionaire on the 10th May 1945.
One who was there!....4464195 Cpl Thomas Govan M.M 1st Durh L Inf
The events surrounding the 1st Durham Light Infantry`s campaign on the island of Kos has long been neglected a fine Pre-War Regular Battalion sacrificed in the Hills surrounding Kos Town.With very little `official` information on the campaign I am indebted to those who have allowed family accounts and experiences to be used here on these pages.The following is one such account that of Cpl Thomas Govan who won a Military Medal on the island yet the only `official` record is in The London Gazette under the heading `For Services prior to Capture` Thanks to his son Andy Govan who contacted me with his dads story another piece of the `Dodecanese Puzzle` falls into place.This is an account written by `One who was there..`
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 sabbotaged 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.
Cpl. T. Govan. M.M., 4464195 1st Btn. DLI.
That was`nt the end of Thomas Govans story he was given the PoW number 50095 and at the wars end was listed amongst those at a Camp (Stalag 357) near Fallingbostel.Thomas like many settled back into civilian life after the war raising a family and talking little of his Wartime escapades.Thomas was not presented with his Military Medal it was sent to him the circumstances of the award all but a mystery to his family ..then fate took a hand in proceedings sadly during a Burglary his Military Medal amongst many other things was stolen.
Some years later a letter was received at Thomas`s childhood Altrincham address, from a male who claimed to be a Police Officer in Derbyshire and claimed to have possession of Thomas`s Military Medal, which he had purchased at a military auction. As luck would have it Thomas Govans brother still lived at the Altrincham address and forwarded the letter to Thomas who then lived in Derby. As further luck would have it Thomas`s son Andy 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 the Govan family and DCS Bailey and the outcome was that DCS Bailey invited Thomas and Andy to the Derby Police Social Club so he could return the medal to him - all he asked in return was a chat with Thomas about his experiences during the war and the action resulting in his medal award.
The letter from the King congratulating Thomas on his Award.
It was a great surprise when they met Duncan Bailey for he presented Thomas with an A4 folder - D.L.I. cap badge on the front and not only the mounted Military Medal inside, but a photograph of Thomas in uniform (the family at that point had none) and, all the mounted campaign medals Thomas Govan had earned in the war. This folder also contained letters from The King, his Commanding Officer and the War Office. Included was an account written by Thomas of the action resulting in the award of his medal during action on Kos which are all reproduced by kind permission of Andy above and below..
The letter from Colonel Kenyon, himself a winner of a DSO
Thomas was also granted `The Malta Medal` for his service with the Durhams on the George Cross Island .Thomas is remembered with honour by the Govan family in particular Andy who I thank once again for the supply of photographs and information and his permission to use them here.
M.B.E 126032 WS/Capt Eric Browne The 1st Durham Light Infantry
Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire 126032 WS/Capt Eric Browne
Prior to the Operations on the Island of Cos WS/Capt (Temp Major) BROWNE was adjutant to the 1st Bn Durham Light Infantry an was largely responsible for the high standard of discipline and training maintained by the battalion .
In the operation on Cos Major BROWNE was commanding a COY given the task of defending the harbour area. In addition this company provided parties for unloading supplies night and day and for the construction of RAF landing strips. Both these tasks earned special praise from the Commander of the Island .Colonel Kenyon, now a PoW.
When the withdrawal was ordered major BROWNE led his partyto the appointed RV in the hills and succeeded in getting them there inspite of enemy resistance and the exhausted condition of his men and himself occasioned by forced marches over very broken ground. Throughout the operations Major BROWNE showed courage, determination and cheerfulness under very difficult conditions
Taken Prisoner on Kos only to die in tragic accident one day after the War officially ended.
4451208 Pte . R. Turnbull Durham Light was one of those Durham soldiers captured on the Island of Kos . Ralph was a pre-war regular . According to the Enlistment books his enlistment took place between 18 June 1934 - May 1936 . He served pre-war in China serving in HQ Company before moving with the battalion to the Middle East . Following service on Malta Ralph was landed on Kos and was reported missing on the 3rd October 1943 it was later established that Ralph Turnbull was a Prisoner of War. The PoW number 35785 was allocated to him and records show he was held at Stalag VIII-B Teschen (Cieszyn) Poland.
In 1945 with the Russians advancing rapidly on the Eastern front the Germans began force marching the prisoners back into the German homeland. Although Stalag VIII-B was known as Lamsdorf the satellite camp at Cieszyn lay some hundred miles to the east, took a southerly route through the German occupied Czech Protectorate (Bohemia and Moravia) to Bavaria. Some prisoners escaped,some died for those who reached Stalag XIII-D the long years of captivity ended in April 1945 when the camp was liberated by the Americans.
4451208 Pte Ralph Turnbull was a freeman when peace was announced on May 8th 1945 but Ralph would not see England again. He was the only Durham Light Infantryman on-board a Lancaster Bomber , serial RF230-JI-B, from 514 Squadron which was detailed to take part in Operation "Exodus “, the evacuation of ex-prisoners of war on May 9th 1945. For undetermined reasons the Lancaster crashed killing 24 British Soldiers,the crew and one other American airman. The Lancaster was seen to circle twice before banking sharply and spiralling to the ground.
All the passengers and crew were buried at Clichy Northern Cemetery, which is on the northern boundary of Paris. Today Pte Ralph Turnbull the son of Albert Victor and Elizabeth Mary Turnbull, of Gateshead, Co Durham, lies in Plot 16. Row 12. Collective grave Nos 7-18.He was aged 28 years and had previously reided at 90 Redheugh Road Gateshead his father ,Victor,was listed as his next of kin.