The 2nd Durham Light Infantry France 1939-1940

Contained here is the story of the Regiment`s 2nd (Regular) Battalion during the B.E.F Campaign.The first Durham Light Infantry  battalion to arrive in France and went on to take part in some of the most bloody and less publicised battles of this period. A period which saw the destruction of this fine pre-war battalion between the Dyle River and the sands of Dunkirk. In a frantic period between the 10th and 29th May 1940 a mere 19 days the battalion almost ceased to exist with it`s soldiers either dead or captured.This section contains a number of accounts and a background of the battalion leading up to the conflicts both on the Dyle and at St Venant.

The British Expeditionary Force 1939-40 (2nd DLI)

On the outbreak of war in September 1939 the 2nd Durham Light Infantry were stationed at Woking, they were the first of the Durham Battalions to sail for France.As part of 6 brigade 2nd Division they sailed on the 25th of September 1939 arriving in Cherbourg on the 26th September, one day later they moved to billets at Chauteney, nr Sable .They remained here only one week before moving to the Arras area, a twelve mile march put them at Bloiry again staying only a week before moving up onto the Belgian Frontier

 Men of the Durham Light Infantry carrying Lewis guns during an exercise near Basingstoke, Hampshire, 1939 

On May 9th 1940 the Germans began their advance into the Low Countries and on the 11th May 2 DLI took up positions on the Dyle River with the Battalion headquarters based at le Tombe. `A` Company on the right, `B` Company on the River bend and `D` Company covering both the River and Railway bridges on the right. The 12th and 13th May was spent fortifiying the positions around the River and taking advantage of some existing Belgian Pill boxes and dugouts.

On the 14th May the Bridges over the Dyle were blown. .first contact with the advancing Germans was made around 1600hrs .A roadblock set up by `C`Company under Captain Rupert Blackett inflicted some casualties on the enemy before falling back as ordered without loss.The Germans awaited nightfall on the slopes opposite 2DLI before attempting to infiltrate positions on the battalions left flank this was beaten back by very accurate machine gun fire from the battalions forward positions.

At 6 o`clock on the 15th May the Germans rushed `B` Company positions and overran them with an entire platoon being wounded or killed with only one exception 2Lt John Hyde Thompson who had rejected German calls for his surrender gathered what men he could from neighbouring platoons was able to halt the German attack and temporally stabilise the position .`C ` Company under Sgt Major George Pinkney counter attacked and despite suffering heavy casualties forced the Germans back from a position they could never be expected to hold due to their mounting casualties. The remnants of `B` Company and `C` company were amalgamated to form a composite company in order to hold the battalions central positions.

 DLI Memorial at the Dyle River

 

Meanwhile the Germans were attempting to break through on the left flank through positions held by `D` Company, one of the Belgian Pillboxes being held by a section ran out of ammunition and despite valiant efforts by 4454256 Corporal William Hanwell Thompson to get his men clear all were killed.Sgt Mjr Norman Metcalf acting for Lt Charles Bonham ordered the reserve companies forward and they managed to halt the advance once more .,yet this left 2 DLI very thin on the ground with nothing in reserve it was only when brigade sent over a company from1RWF that things stabilised with the Germans still held on the river line. Throughout the night the Germans shelled the DLI positions and in the morning put in a strong counter attack in an effort to seize the blown bridge held by `D`Company and 2Lt Richard Annand.Wave after wave of infantry were driven back with Lt Annand, Privates Batty,Wood and Surtees using grenades and rifle fire to hold them at bay.Time and again the attackers were beaten back in an action for which 2Lt Annand was awarded a Victoria Cross

However hard 2nd DLI fought it became apparent to Colonel Simpson that eventually they would be overrun, Orders were then received that 2nd DLI were to withdraw at 0130hrs a decision which had the fighting men of the Durham`s furious, they had after all halted the Germans time and time again but elsewhere the Allied line had broken and at 23.00 the Durhams commanding officer gave the order to withdraw as part of the general move back to the line of the River Scheldt.

 As Annand led the survivors of his platoon away from the bridge in the early hours of 16th May, he discovered that his batman, Private Joseph Hunter, from Sunderland, had been wounded in the head and legs and was unable to walk. Despite his own wounds sustained in the day's fighting, he found a wheelbarrow, lifted Hunter into it and wheeled him to the rear until he found their way was barred by a fallen tree. Leaving Hunter in an empty trench he set out to find help but collapsed from exhaustion and loss of blood from his wounds shortly after finding his company HQ position abandoned. Hunter was captured by the advancing Germans and sent to a Dutch hospital, but died of his wounds on the 17th June 1940 later.

 

 

 

Today he lies at peace Row 3. Grave 134.MAASTRICHT GENERAL CEMETERY he was the son of Joseph Lakeman Hunter and Amelia Hunter, of Sunderland, Co. Durham. Joseph Lakeman Hunter his part in the VC action is remembered here.

The War Diary of 40725 Captain Cyril Moseley Townsend 2 DLI

 

The following is the diary kept by Captain Townsend recalling the arrival and subsequent actions of the 2nd Durham Light Infantry during 1939-40.These are his words and are exactly as he recorded them ;- 

40725 Lieutenant Cyril Moseley Townsend, 2nd Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry(1935)

 The 2nd Battalion moved with the 6th Infantry Brigade from Woking on 15th September 1939 via SOUTHAMPTON to CHERBOURG. We crossed over  during the night in a convoy The ship which was I believe one of the Irish cross channel boats it was packed and included several hundred R.A.F personnel and also Brigade Hq. Arrangements at CHERBOURG for breakfast were very inadequate and the day was spent in a large upstairs waiting room at the station. Our Motor transport had left WOKING several days earlier under Hutton and Bonham and went via AVONMOUTH to ST NAZAIRE
A proportion of the men were allowed to visit the town during the 26th and by the evening when the train left some had learned the effect of mixing French wine and Spirits. The Adjutant and Provost Sergeant assisted some of the more serious cases out of the cafes and back to the train.
We passed through LE MANS the next morning and after detraining at a village station marched some 10 miles to the village of CHANTENAY not far North of  SABLE. Companies were billeted in various farms and houses in this charming village and a very happy week was spent in delightful warm weather. The orchards were laden with apples and pears and the inhabitants were friendly. How we enjoyed French coffee and omelettes ! Gregson had had preceded the battalion and met us on our arrival  with a French liaison officer who was attached to us. Davide was a charming Frenchman who had learned his English as a shipping clerk in Liverpool and spoke very well. During the months to come he greatly assisted us in billeting and other problems and was a buffer between us and wrathful Frenchmen,  He finally left us in March when on account of his age he was withdrawn from the frontier zone, much to his and our regret. Together with our medical officer Sutcliffe , he looked after the wines in our HQ Mess.
It is interesting to recall that before we left WOKING we were given a lecture by our Brigadier on Trench Warfare and the conducting of relief’s  etc. This was supplemented by other lectures on the same subject by serving officers who had experience from the last war. It indicates the trend of Military thought at the time.
I was billeted with a delightful family in the village. Monsieur was a retired businessman from Paris, his daughter had evacuated herself from Paris as her husband had been called up. I spent several evenings drinking and talking to Monsieur and  Madame. In discussing the War Monsieur  had the greatest faith in the Maginot line. During the next few weeks I learned that many other Frenchmen shared the same faith and I wrote home that French morale would be broken if the Germans pierced the Maginot Line.
Frenchmen also thought that the Maginot Line extended up to the Belgian frontier to the sea. They did not realise ,and  I was yet to learn, how weak those defences were.
We left CHANTENAY  after a week. Our MT had now joined us after several adventures and under Beart,the 2nd in command, it moved by road to the ARRAS area. We spent one uncomfortable cold night in the train and the troops did not appreciate cattle trucks.
We detrained outside ARRAS and marched some twelve miles to scattered billets around BOIRY, It had always been a matter of conjecture whether we were going to the SAAR front or not. Davide and Gregson had again gone on in advance  so our billets were ready when we finally settled in about midnight.
The country around still showed traces of the last war and was bleak and open Many of the houses were of pre-war construction-modern red brick villas and shops. Agriculture and farms had been heavily subsidised by the Government. `B` Company were billeted in a huge sugar beet farm and McBain the Company Commander had a room in a palatial residence, though as far as I remember the highly polished chromium plated taps did not produce neither hot  nor cold water when turned on but they looked very nice! Water did `let go` when he pulled the chain which was the envy of many!

During the week we were here we dug slit trenches around the village War Memorials and several parties visited the old battlefields and some of the beautifully kept War Cemeteries.
We moved by train to LANNAY station about the middle of October and marched to NORMAIN village some three miles behind the Belgian Frontier. We were the reserve battalion of the Brigade, the Royal Welch Fusiliers and the Royal Berkshire Regiment being on the actual frontier .
The defence along the frontier consisted of well built concrete blockhouses at about a thousand yards apart. Between the blockhouses and in some cases in front of it, there was an anti-tank ditch, bordered on the sides with French barbed wire. The Blockhouses in nearly every case fired to a flank , very few could fire frontally. Each had a periscope which could be raised or lowered. Water was pumped by hand into a tank but was considered unfit to drink. The armament consisted of an anti-tank rifle or gun and a Bren Gun and the guard varied from four to eight men.
French wire does not have so many barbs as English wire and was not generally sited so that it could be covered by fire from the blockhouse. This was also the case with the anti tank ditch. The blockhouses were built in 1937 according to the plaque about the steel door. There was no depth to this line. During the winter of 1939-40 the BEF were busy strengthening this line and adding small clusters of pillboxes to support the French ones. Pillboxes were also springing up in rear and reserve lines.
Work was slow and heavy clay when wet takes a lot of moving. Moreover the ground was so flat or so low that drainage was almost impossible and although trenches were begun during the lovely autumn weather they were in many cases abandoned when filled with water later on. Work parties  under RE supervision put up concrete pillboxes but cement cannot be poured when the temperature is at freezing point and the winter that year was severe.
Parties also went to the Forrest of MARCHIENNES to cut brushwood. This was brought up in lorries and used for revetting . The Durham miner is not a skilled wood cutter and the French were horrified to see what damage was done to trees and stumps. This led to a demonstration on how to use an axe and long circulars from above. Work parties were also provided for cable laying,  revetting a new anti tank ditch, unloading of Railway trucks and road repairing.
Pave roads are liable to suffer if used during a thaw or after a heavy frost and we re-laid several sections.
At the end of November I was attached to 2nd Division HQ to learn the work of G.3. At first I was lost in a different world and no-one seemed to want to help, but gradually I became, I believe quite  a good office boy though I always objected to running messages. The battalion went by road to ACHICOURT near ARRAS  to do training for three weeks in bitter  weather. Our 2nd in Command, Beart, left us in January to command the 8th Battalion then in France and McBain came to Division HQ as D.A.Q.M.G,(Deputy Assistant Quartermaster-General)  just as I went home on ten days leave prior to taking over Adjutant from Stallard.
We exchanged billets with the Royal Berkshires on February 12th These were on the whole better than those at NORMAIN. There seemed to be less mud and our Battalion HQ mess was palatial. Colonel Yate left us early in March on medical grounds and Simpson took over.
The tourist season was now coming to a close. Throughout the winter great men surrounded by lesser men visited the line and one of the main halting places was No67 Blockhouse on the main TOURNAI Road. For His Majesty’s visit , previous to our occupation beautiful wooden steps with a handrail were put up against the blockhouse so that visitors could  gaze into Belgium from the top. I often wonder if those were still there when the Germans came  by. We cheered the French President and made polite conversation to half a dozen charming Field Marshall’s
We saluted respectfully our C.I.G.S ,Cin C ,Corps, Divisional and Brigade Commanders who we found one day all walking up to the Blockhouse in single file in order of seniority luckily the sentry kept his head .Members of Parliament, Foreign Representatives and War Correspondents seemed small fry in comparison.
Before we left NORMAIN we gave a party to all the children in whose homes our troops were billeted. The Padre, Rice, was Master of  Ceremonies  and organised games afterwards. Each child was given a really nice present bought in Lille. They all ate a huge tea and made lots of noise so it was a great success. We also gave a party early in April to all our billet owners in Bercu and Mouchin. After consulting our liaison officer we ordered forty bottles of cheap champagne from the brewery close by, and a visit to Lille produced the necessary things to eat. Towards the end a farmer an old soldier of the previous war stood on a chair and sang the `Marseilles` and with great presence of mind the C.O replied by leading us in “God save the King”.
Like all good sherry parties it continued until after 9pm and was a great success. It was charming to hear those democratic people thanking the batmen and mess staff for their hospitality, and equally entertaining  to make polite conversation as a host to the owners of the house and his gardener, both guests for the evening in what had been the owner’s dining room.
The Brasserie was a fine old Dutch building surrounded by a moat and housed HQ and part of HQ Company. The owner and his family lived under the thumb of the mother-in-law and they not only bottled beer but also made Dutch cheeses of a very tasteless variety. The family were very hospitable and kind and gave several parties. The old mother caused a great deal of trouble “on parade” so to speak , when she completely dominated the Company Officers and men by her tongue. The British soldier was always infringing his rights in her eyes. The Motor vehicles prevented her carts from moving out or some man had taken a piece of wood for the cookhouse fire. There was always a Daily complaint but “off parade” in the house she calmed down and was quite friendly.
One afternoon the Gunner Brigadier visited the Brasserie and looked at various buildings which bordered the huge courtyard. He obviously visited a part which was out of bounds to the English soldiers because whilst in some parts of the buildings “mother2 turned  the key ant took it away. The perfect  Brigade Major finally unlocked the door with a piece of wire but the Brigadiers wrath could not overcome “mothers” tongue as she pursued him to the gateway with her lungs working at full pressure, quite unmoved by the rank of the trespasser .
The question of leave to England became interesting after one had been in France for three months. Depression weighed on those who had either just returned from leave or those whose leave had suddenly been postponed, due to bad weather or Hitler.
Our leave trains left from Cantin every night and there was a comfortable waiting room and restaurant at BOULOGNE . The boat was always escorted by destroyers and aircraft. It was delightful to sit back in the Pullman at DOVER with the day’s English papers and to be asked if one would like afternoon tea.
A visit to Lille did a lot to alleviate boredom. A bath at the Bellevue Hotel cost ten francs and included a large bedroom containing the usual brass posted double bed. Are all  beds in France of the double variety? I never saw a single model. This was usually preceded by a haircut where one might buy scent or soap to send home. There was several popular eating places and night clubs I always favoured Madam Andrees restaurant. Madam herself with her red hair was a great character who came and talked to all her clients and gave advice on the menu. Her patron had been chef at the Ritz some years before and spoke English. Wild  strawberries with cream were an excellent climax to chicken by the patron. Brandy was served with coffee cups on nights when spirits were officially forbidden to be sold.
As one’s car bumped home over the cobbled streets one felt overeaten and slightly drunk but satisfied with the world.

An account of the operations of the 2nd battalion The Durham Light Infantry in France and Belgium from 10th May 1940 to 29th May 1940 by Major C M Townsend at that time adjutant of the battalion…………..continued

During April the battalion did a route march every week increasing the distance until 18 miles was a normal days march. This was to stand us in good stead during May, when operations started we were all very fit.

THURSDAY 9th MAY 1940

THURSDAY 9th MAY 1940
About 2230hrs a message was received from Brigade that parachutists were reported to have landed in our area. `A` and `B` Companies sent out search parties but failed to find any `C` and `D` Companies went out later.

FRIDAY 10th MAY 1940

FRIDAY 10th MAY 1940
A heavy anti-aircraft barrage was heard in the direction of DOUAI and ARRAS during the early hours. The drone of aircraft gradually got louder and a number of us were awake by 0400hrs watching enemy bombers in formation flying west over Belgium. It was just getting light enough to see them. Several flew low and one in particular roared down the main road to ORCHIES and DOUAI just above the tree tops.
At 1630hrs Brigade rang up to inform us that Plan D was to be put into operation at once. The code word was `DAVID` and I remember asking the Brigade Major on the telephone to repeat it. This plan which had been overhauled several times during previous scares, gave in detail the instructions and orders for an advance into Belgium should we be invited by the Belgian authorities and for the subsequent occupation of the river DYLE between WAVRE and LOUVAN. The news on the wireless told us of the invasion of Belgium and Holland.
Colonel Simpson held a conference at 0900hrs to discuss final arrangements. It lasted under half an hour.
The day was spent in the packing up and sorting and the disposal of surplus kit. During the morning the Belgians removed all road barriers into their country. A Colonel and Staff officer in two cars went through our frontier post to BRUSSELS.
Our Bren Gun anti-aircraft posts were mounted and together with neighbouring units fired at enemy aircraft. This firing was in many ways a waste of ammunition as the target was usually well out of range. A few bombs were dropped around ORCHIES railway station and in the evening three whistling bombs fell near the PONT du NIL Farm on the main road but no damage was done.
Zero hour was 1300hrs. Armoured fighting vehicles followed by army vehicles of all types poured into the road and crossed into Belgium.
Our Brigade was not due to move until the next evening so our preparations were not hurried
.

SATURDAY 11th MAY 1940.

SATURDAY 11th MAY 1940.
The CO, Adjutant and Signal Officer left by car at 0400hrs and joined a Brigade reconnaissance group which crossed the frontier at 0430hrs and reached the DYLE river about 0830hrs without incident. The day was spent going over the ground. The position had been prepared by the Belgians. A number of trenches had been dug and wire put up. There were a few concrete blockhouses along the front. At 1530hrs the Carrier Platoon 2nd Lieutenant H.O.Lyster Todd left as part of the brigade advance guard, to protect the debussment of the brigade on arrival at its destination.
The main body of the Bn left under the 2nd in Command at 1800hrs and travelled all night. The route was via ANTOING,LEUME VIM ENGHIEN, HAL, ALSEMBERG,LA HULPE and .`B` Echelon under the Quartermaster, Captain Pearson, travelled under Brigade arrangements.
The main body moved in Company Groups at a speed of 15 miles in the hour, ten vehicles to the mile in daylight closing to twenty vehicles to the mile after dark. Only sidelights were used and then only if necessary.
Traffic control was well arranged and on each of the numerous level crossings, there appeared to be an English sentry.
One carrier broke down and one platoon truck of `D` Company had to be left en-route but the weapons were later salvaged by the Motor Transport Officer. Both vehicles came up a few days later. No other incidents were reported and the expected bombing by the enemy did not materialise.
The Inhabitants waved joyfully at the stream of vehicles. There were not many refugees except some private cars.

SUNDAY 12th MAY 1940

SUNDAY 12th MAY 1940
The Bn debussed at 0200hrs and marched with `A` Echelon transport into the woods South of the TOMMBEK-TERLAENEN Road. Here it lay up and obtained some sleep.
“B” Echelon came up about 0600hrs and breakfast was ready by 0800hrs.
By 1000hrs Companies had started to move forward with their fighting vehicles to their positions on the DYLE five miles away “B” Echelon moved back to TERLAENEN. Battalion HQ was established at LA TOMBE.
“C” Company took up outposts on the high ground East of the river at LES MONTS and LES PRES. They were to withdraw on contact with the enemy and come into reserve at LA TOME. The other three Companies held the line of the River Dyle
“A” Company on the right had two platoons forward on the railway embankment with one platoon in reserve in the woods. On their right was a territorial battalion of The Lancashire Fusiliers of the 4th Brigade.
“B” Company in the centre also had two platoons forward, one on the railway and No 10 Platoon on a broken tongue of ground where the river made a loop on the East and then ran away from the woods. This platoon position was even more overlooked than the other by the high ground of GASTUCHE immediately on the east side of the river.”B2 Company HQ were in the old chateau with the reserve platoon.
The right platoon of `D` Company had a Blockhouse in its area and also covered the road and bridge. The left Platoon of `D` Company connected with the right Company of The Royal Berkshires.
Behind these positions the ground rose steeply covered in woods and with only two passable tracks for motor transport. It was clearly understood that this position was to be held at all costs and every effort was made before the arrival of the enemy to make it strong.
It was by no means an ideal position-in many places field of fire was very restricted by trees and undergrowth-observation from behind the forward positions was difficult even though the ground was much higher. The Bn held a wide frontage. There was little depth.
Enemy planes came over at all times but nothing was dropped

MONDAY 13th MAY 1940

MONDAY 13th MAY 1940
All companies spent the day improving the existing defences. Positions for one platoon of machine guns and for the Anti-Tank platoon were reconsidered and altered as necessary. The machine guns fired from the right of `A` Company across `A` Company’s front towards the Paper Mill a large yellow factory which was on the far side of the River in front of No 10 Platoon.
It was evident from the reports of refugees that the Germans were across the MEUSE and pushing on fast towards us.
These refugees poured down the LOUVAIN-NAMUR Road to WAVRE but some crossed the bridge by `D` Company and were sent back to HQ . Amongst these were Belgian Soldiers and one French Colonel who belonged to a French Armoured Division which had suffered heavily. These refugees were a big problem. All had identity cards but it was quite impossible to pick out the good from the bad.
Small parties of civilians would appear from the woods round about.
Dumaret the French Liaison Officer was sent down to the Bridge in `D` Company’s area to help Hutton with the refugees. The Brigade Liaison Officer also went down to relieve them. It had been notified that refugees carrying red blankets were likely to be fifth columnists. Actually about sixty per cent had red blankets and yet nothing could prove their treachery. The state of those refugees was pitiable and inspired the troops. It was only possible to push everyone Westwards and allow no loitering.
Several reports reached us that parachutists had been seen in woods behind the line.
Almost all vehicles were ordered back to “B” Echelon. Equipment weapons and ammunition were therefore unloaded and dumped ready for use. Each man had his great coat. During the day field stores arrived and dumps were made at Company and Battalion HQ. The RE demolished all Bridges in our area except that in front of `D` Company.
¬C` Company was ordered to withdraw at 2300hrs from outposts although no enemy had been seen and the bridge in `D` Company area was blown up on order of the Brigadier. Our divisional Cavalry was heard returning along the road to cross the DYLE at WAVRE.

TUESDAY 14th MAY 1940

TUESDAY 14th MAY 1940
At 0600hrs `C` Company again went out as a protective screen and `D` Company formed a bridgehead. Our Divisional Cavalry-the 4/7th Dragoon Guards had apparently withdrawn without gaining contact with the enemy.
During the day the Bn continued to dig in-wire, stakes sand bags and tools had been sent up to the companies.
Enemy air activity was more marked and a Messerschmitt 110 machine gunned unsuccessfully the woods along the river.
At 1600hrs `C` Company made contact with enemy armoured cars and motor cyclists. They had put up a road block of carts and fired their anti-tank rifle, inflicting casualties before withdrawing as ordered with no loss.
The Germans occupied the high ground around GASTUCHE and observed our positions. There was some spasmodic and at times indiscriminate machine gun and rifle fire.
In the evening all civilians in LA TOMBE were ordered to evacuate their houses. In the small house where the Bn office was made the husband and wife left at only a few minutes notice. They took almost no belongings and the evening meal was still cooking on the fire after they and their small child had tearfully left their little home.
At 2330hrs two German patrols came up to reconnoitre the river. They were spotted by a very light, fired on and dispersed. I had to form a brigade ammunition dump in the village during the night . The houses were shuttered up and empty and the little streets were deserted save for a few stray animals wandering about.

Wednesday 15th May 1940

Wednesday 15th May 1940

At dawn MG fire was again active. Some dead Germans were soon lying in front of `D` Company who had no casualties.
At 0600hrs a mortar concentration was put down on `D` Company’s area. Captain Hutton and Dumaret, the French liaison officer were both wounded.
The blockhouse in No 16 platoon area `D` Company on the left of No 10 platoon was reported to be in enemy hands. Apparently Cpl Wilson with his section had ran out of ammunition but most of the men were killed trying to get back. The enemy started to filter through and two sections of no 18 platoon in reserve were ordered to counterattack. They checked the infiltration but could not recapture the Blockhouse.
At about 0600hrs Captain Tubb`s of `B` Company was informed that no 10 platoon (2nd Lieutenant J Hyde Thompson) adjoining No 16 platoon had been overrun by the enemy . They had rushed the platoon from the cover of the paper mill, crossing the river by a small Weir which could not be destroyed without lowering the level of the river above. Little was left of No 10 platoon beyond platoon HQ. Hyde Thompson was later awarded the MC for gallant counter attacks with men from no 12 platoon on his right. Those counter attacks were repelled by showers of grenades and he held on to alternative positions and materially assisted in checking further enemy penetration.
No 11 platoon in reserve had orders to remain in the moated Chateau- a strong position which also covered further enemy advances.
At Bn HQ the situation was naturally obscure. The enemy had certainly crossed the river and were up to the railway embankment. They had also captured a blockhouse and would presumably try to widen the gap and fan out.
`C` Company in reserve were ordered to counter-attack and this attack went in about 1100hrs. PSM Ditchburn`s platoon on the left had little cover and were almost wiped out by fire from the embankment. They did not succeed in reaching the railway. PSM Pinkney on the right had more cover and succeeded in reaching the railway from whence with no 12 platoon they forced the enemy back by enfilade fire.
At this time heavy mortar fire was searching all cover around `B` Company and more enemy machine guns were firing from the high ground opposite. Captain Tubb`s was hit and evacuated, Lieutenant Bonham taking over command.
`D` Company reported that the enemy were trying to work across the demolished bridge. However the battalion had no more reserves and it was a relief to learn later that `D` Company had the situation in hand.
A little later one company of the Royal Welch Fusiliers were put under command from Brigade reserve and the CO decided to put them into `B` Company’s area to strengthen the line which although not reaching the river rested on the railway embankment and was somewhat stronger than before.
The CO also moved the Carrier platoon forward, behind `B` Company to thicken up the fire when necessary.
During the rest of the day enemy mortar and shell fire kept our men under cover and their snipers became a nuisance . Our one mortar- the other was in Ordnance for repair-tried to fire onto the high ground opposite but positions were difficult to find in the woods.
That evening a determined attack was made on the bridge in front of `D` Company, but No16 platoon under 2/Lieutenant R W Annand put off all attacks and inflicted severe casualties. The enemy again tried to repair the bridge in the dark but Annand and his men went forward with Grenades and drove them back. For this and subsequent actions in attempting to bring back his wounded batman Annand was awarded the Victoria Cross

Having failed to break through the enemy began to plaster our position with mortar and machine gun fire. They used tracer ammunition red/green and white. For the amount of fire few casualties were caused.
At the same time our artillery put down a very heavy barrage Captain R Blackett (C Company) was wounded and evacuated in the CO`s car.. 2/Lieutenant Lace took over command. `B` Company reported that Hyde Thompson, CSM Mullins and a signaller were missing.
It was felt at the BN HQ that persistent enemy attacks must eventually penetrate the line however well the men fought.
The ground around `B` and `D` Company was difficult to defend the battalion frontage was wide and depth was almost non- existent.
At 2300hrs duplicate written messages were sent out to each Company by runners. This message gave orders for a general withdrawal to take place at 0130hrs. The CO had earlier learnt of this at a Brigade conference It came as a complete surprise to all ranks. All had been told they would stand and fight on the present positions and many were disappointed not to have seen more of the enemy. It seemed that their labours in digging and sandbagging were in vain. There was not time to send back for the motor transport to come up and take the equipment and stores back. All kit had to be abandoned on the ground. Bren Guns and Anti tank rifles were to be man handled back. No hot meal could be served.
Of the three 25mm anti-tank guns on our front one was captured one put out of action and one had to be abandoned.
It was rumoured that the French had given way on our right..

VC Citation Richard Wallace Annand 2nd Btn Durham Light Infantry

[ London Gazette, 23 August 1940 ], River Dyle, Belgium, 15 - 16 May 1940, Second Lieutenant Richard Wallace Annand, 2nd Bn, The Durham Light Infantry. 

For most conspicuous gallantry on the 15th-16th May 1940, when the platoon under his command was on the south side of the River Dyle, astride a blown bridge. During the night a strong attack was beaten off, but about 11 a.m. the enemy again launched a violent attack and pushed forward a bridging party into the sunken bottom of the river. Second Lieutenant Annand attacked this party, but when ammunition ran out he went forward himself over open ground, with total disregard for enemy mortar and machine-gun fire. Reaching the top of the bridge, he drove out the party below, inflicting over twenty casualties with hand grenades. Having been wounded he rejoined his platoon, had his wound dressed, and then carried on in command.During the evening another attack was launched and again Second Lieutenant Annand went forward with hand grenades and inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy. When the order to withdraw was received, he withdrew his platoon, but learning on the way back that his batman was wounded and had been left behind, he returned at once to the former position and brought him back in a wheelbarrow, before losing consciousness as the result of wounds.

 

Thursday 16th May 1940

Thursday 16th May 1940

The noise of gunfire increased until by 0100hrs the DYLE valley was like an inferno. There was a good deal of rifle and machine gun fire. The atmosphere was rather tense and electric.
The situation on `B` Company’s front ,it must be remembered was obscure. It was quite possible for German patrols to filter through our platoon localities into the woods.
Without doubt there were enemy snipers in the woods around us whether soldiers or civilians it was never discovered. The MG Platoon Commander was fired at on his way through some woods to his platoon. Major Cousens reported that his 8 cwt truck had been deliberately put out of action by some unknown person.
Companies withdrew by different routes passing through OTTENBURG which up until then had housed the HQs of the Brigade.
The battalion was to take up fresh positions on the high ground west of the TERLAEHEN-TOMBEEK road which ran along the small river LASNE.
This new line was only six miles behind the River Dyle and was reached by 0400hrs. The road back was full of troops, lorries and guns. Several fires had started in OTTENBURG and a fine Chateau behind `B` Company’s first position was inflames from German Artillery .Two Bren carriers got caught up in telephone wires which were lying across the road and had to be abandoned. Some shrapnel fire was falling along the road which led back to OTTENBURG.
About 300 men of the battalion collected at the rendezvous but half an hour later Major Cousens brought in about 150 men of his Company with some of `B` and `C` Companies.
`B` and `C` Companies had suffered most and needed reorganising. There was not time for this as dawn was already breaking and the new line had not even been reconnoitred. The quartermaster and MTO with cooks lorries arrived and some food was obtained though many men had lost their mess tins.
The whole battalion fell in on the road and was divided off into pls of about twenty men under an officer or Sgt Major. HQ Company except the carrier platoon were used as riflemen as signal, mortar and pioneer kit had all been left. Each platoon was given a locality to hold and platoons were grouped into four companies under Mann on the right, then Burdon, Taylor Cousens and Bonham on the left. Annand was found to be wounded and sent back inspite of his protests.
The position had a number of trenches already dug and some filled sandbags were available close by from some old artillery positions.
It was difficult to ascertain what weapons had been brought back and ammunition was scarce. Fortunately the Carriers had about eighteen boxes of S.A.A, eight boxes of grenades and some anti tank rifle ammunition which the carriers distributed along the whole front of 3,000 yds. Some carriers were sent back to Brigade for more ammunition. Communication had to be entirely by runner.
During the day Bren guns and anti tank rifles were distributed evenly so that each platoon locality had at least one. Verey light pistols were scarce. It was impossible to dig more trenches without tools and wire was unobtainable. There was a shortage of drinking water.
Several small parties of our men who had not received orders to retire from the River Dyle joined during the morning, moving across country, avoiding roads and houses. It was apparent that the enemy had not followed up our retirement.
During the morning the enemy could be seen advancing and spent the afternoon and evening collecting in woods on the far side of the valley.
About 1800hrs intermittent firing started and the enemy mortars kept our heads down and inflicted some casualties. The enemy started to work their way forward but did not seriously embarrass our line though they made fairly determined efforts on our left.
A section of the Carrier platoon was ordered to move over to the left from reserve and as they moved across an open field were fired at by a mortar. One bomb burst above a carrier and knocked it out. Their fire was extremely accurate and our few casualties this day were caused by this weapon. The trenches already dug gave splendid protection, provided men stayed under cover.
It was a relief to be told at 2100hrs that a general withdrawal would take place at 2200 hrs. The position was thinly held there was no wire and ammunition and weapons were limited. The battalion needed reorganizing reequipping and rest and food but they were still ready to fight when required.
The route back via OVERYSSCHE,HOEYAERT and TERBLOCK to the Forest of SOIGNIES was some twelve miles.The Quartermaster had a splendid meal ready in the forest.The two left Companies under COUSENS and BONHAM did not reach OVERYSSHE until after the remainder of the battalion had left it,having being delayed on the position . They reached this village across country,uncertain whether the enemy was there or not. They obtained food from a deserted cafe and not knowing the way the rest of the battalion had gone.Major Cousens marched them to BRUSSELS. They bought food in the Capital and were directed to 1st Division HQ,Here they were told the locality of our brigade and rejoined later having been given up for lost.
Colonel Simpson had an interesting experience this night. He waiting on a track halfway back to Brigade Hq, checking in each Company as it marched back. Whilst waiting with his runner in the dark for Cousens he heard some voices and hailed them but the person did not appear to have heard,and as they came up he stepped back into the darkness as he heard them talking German. He then decided it was time he moved on presuming the remainder had been overrun or had withdrawn some other way. Thus it was that the party under Cousens did not know the RV to which to retire
.

FRIDAY 17th May 1940

FRIDAY 17th May 1940

The battalion left the forest at 0400hrs marching with the remainder of the brigade via the southern outskirts of Brussels across the CHARLEROI/BRUSSELS Canal via LEEUW St PIERRE to a village a few miles south of ELINGHEN a distance of about sixteen miles. The men were very tired and on arrival the day was spent sleeping under trees in an orchard this was interrupted by an air bombing attack, unfortunateley on another battalion close by who suffered a few casualties.


`B` Echelon with the cooks lorries could not be found, so a scratch meal was made up with food bought in the few farms about. Water was obtainable and some could get a wash. Some local inhabitants were busy packing up to leave their homes others were undecided .Huge Belgian horses were harnessed to enormous Belgian wagons. Old couples perched on the top of their bundles waved sadly to us as they joined the stream of refugees moving slowly down the special side roads reserved for them. Troop carrying buses were expected but never arrived .
The withdrawal continued at 2130hrs via BLINGHEN IEERBELK,OUDE PLATTS,VOLLEZEID to GAMMERAGES a distance of about sixteen miles.

SATURDAY 18th MAY 1940

SATURDAY 18th MAY 1940

GAMMERAGES was reached at dawn.Here the men were put intobillets but no food was available beyond a few local purchases.The men were very tired and hungry. They had marched some 48 miles in little over 48hrs,manhandling the bren guns and anti-tank rifles. Theyhad had small snatches of sleep since contact on the Tuesday afternoon. They had had a hot meal of sorts on Tuesday night a very hurried meal on Thursday morning. Part of the battalion had some hot food on Friday morning and all had a meal of sorts on Friday afternoon.
This is not intended to cast any aspersions on the Quartermaster and his cooks. They did magnificently during the whole period. It is intended to show that in modern war,sleep and hot food are difficult to get and that tiredness and hunger are part of the discomforts that must be expected.
By 0900hrs billets had been found in a convent and some unoccupied houses but orders were just then received to continue the retirement. A number of troop carrying vehicles were available. A large proportion of the battalion went in these and the remainder started to march and were picked up later by more M.T. Some six miles east of GRAMMONT. No one quite knew how close the enemy was and how much the troops behind had delayed their advance. The Divisional Cavalry had covered our rear on the outskirts of the forest of SOIGNES and demolition parties were hard at work as we crossed the CHARLEROI-BRUSSELS Canal.
As we crossed the River DENDRE at GRAMMONT in MT, troops could be seen holding bridgeheads. The billeting area was in scattered farms North of OGY which is west of ILSSINLS.
The quartermaster had food ready and had obtained some more Bren guns. Orders were received to continue the withdrawal in MT at 2200hrs. Our embussing point was near OGY. The troop carring vehicles arrived late but this did not seem to upset the operation unduly as the remainder of the Brigade column had halted. The column moved close up but with frequent long halts. The route was was via REUAIX to TOURNAI. A recce party under Major Stallard had rushed off earlier at very short notice to TOURNAI. Burdon-Taylor left the battalion as his arm in which he had been wounded,on the Dyle,was becoming swollen and painful

SUNDAY 19th May 1940

SUNDAY 19th May 1940

When dawn came our part of the column was in REUAIX held up by a huge block of traffic. The road either way for miles was packed with Military vehicles of every kind all head to tail. It was impossible to open out until the column moved on. What a target for enemy aircraft fortunately none appeared. Much of the halting was due to drivers falling asleep during a check and then failing to wake up when the vehicle ahead moved off.
TOURNAI was reached at 0800hrs still burning from a very recent air attack. The town was almost deserted by civilians. Several churches and many houses had been destroyed and the central square was a shambles.
The battalion was to hold the canalized river ESCAULT which runs through the centre of the town. `A` `B` `C` and `D` Companies were on the canal with Hq Company and battalion Hq in the rear.
No contact with the enemy was made though there were frequent scares. The bridges were blown by sappers before it was necessary and several British Armoured fighting vehicles,carriers and rear parties were cut off. In most cases the vehicles had to be destroyed. The engineers who blew these bridges did so without any co-operation with the Company Commander on the spot.
Enemy aircraft bombed the station during the day but our sector was not hit. A hot meal was broughtup that night.

 

MONDAY 20th MAY 1940

MONDAY 20th MAY 1940

The night was quiet except for occasional sniping. A breakfast meal came up early. The day was spent loopholing wiring and digging. It was understood that we would hold the line of the ESCAULT for some time. Some of the bridges although demolished were passable by enemy infantry.
Any civilian material such as spades and bicycles were taken and one motor-bicycle a small BSA was most valuable.
Contact with the enemy was made during the afternoon and the town was shelled that night. The Battalion handed over its sector and marched out at 2130hrs to WILLEMDAU a village four miles south on the DOUAI road.The battalion went into divisional reserve.

 

TUESDAY 21st MAY 1940

TUESDAY 21st MAY 1940

The battalion had settled into the new billets by 0800hrs and the day was spent digging and reconnoitring `B` `C` and `D` Companies were forward and `A` Company was in reserve. The village was deserted by civilians.Many cows were waiting to be milked and in the farmyards were rabbits,chickens and goats
About 0600hrs a report was received that the enemy had crossed the River ESCAULT on the 5th Brigade front and the Battalion stood to for some hours. An enemy observation ballon was seen some distance away.
At 2330hrs `D` Company was sent forward to the 4th Brigade area as the enemy. A few casualties occurred from shell fire directed against our artillery positions which were all around the village. During the night MG fire could be heard around TOURNAI

WEDNESDAY 22nd MAY 1940

WEDNESDAY 22nd MAY 1940

One company of the RWF arrived before dawn to take `D` Company`s place.
During the day enemy aircraft flew around but we were not bombed.Digging continued.
At 2145hrs `D` Company rejoined. They had not come into action nor seen any enemy. The battalion marched out of the village to continue the retirement. It was believed that the Belgians away on the left,had fallen back. The carrier platoon was left behind as part of the Brigade rearguard with orders to stay in position at all costs until 0700hrs.Stallard was in command of this rearguard.
The Battalion passed through BERCU village which was our original starting point. The village was now deserted except for the French troops moving up to take over that part of the `Gort` line which we had so many weeks in, building. We moved into the BOIS de BERCU to lie up.

 

Thursday 23rd MAY 1940

THURSDAY 23rd MAY 1940

The batttalion reached the BOIS de BERCU at 0300hrs after a short march of eight miles. Concealment from the air was the main essential. During the morning Company Commanders carried out a preliminary reconnaissance of a possible defensive position.
Some French troops were already in the wood others were moving up to the `Gort` line close by.
Stallard and the carriers returned having been attached to the 4/7th Dragoon Guards from 0700hrs until 1130hrs on receipt of orders direct from Division. They had had a comparatively quiet time with only two brushes with enemy patrols.
The padre and 2nd Lieutenant Lyster-Todd were sent to Lille on a 15cwt truck and brought back 200,000 cigarettes ,tinned food and chocolates from the NAAFI stores which were being abandoned.
At 2200hrs the battalion marched to GENECH to embuss north of the town. The MT column moved via PONT a MARCQ-SECLIN-LA BASSEE-ROUGE CROIX to LA COUTURE- a difficult journey with much traffic coming and going.
Maps of Northern France were scarce.Excellent maps had been provided of Belgium but this withdrawal had not been foreseen. Many were lost or left behind and none of this particular area had been issued to company commanders.

 

Friday  24th MAY 1940

FRIDAY 24th MAY 1940

LA COUTURE was reached at 1000hrs after a trying journey.Companies were put into deserted or empty houses. Some inhabitants still remained and French troops were moving through the village. The fog of war was descending. The enemy was near LA BASSEE and had occupied BETHUNE. The location of units in front and on our flanks was not properly known.
A message was received that enemy mobile troops had pushed forward north of BETHUNE and road blocks were hastily erected on all roads leading into the village and patrols sent out to watch.At 2100hrs the battalion embussed and moved to CALONNE

 

Saturday 25th MAY 1940.

Saturday 25th MAY 1940.

Leaving CALONNE Companies marched at Intervals and by seperate routes to occupy roughly the line of the railway running through ST VENANT. On our right was a company of the Royal Berkshires then `D` `C` `B` and `A` Companies from right to left. The RWF was forward of the village having pushed the enemy out of ST FLORIS and ST VENANT. They were later pushed back,one Company being surrounded and lost. The remainder marched into our line. One RWF Company was moved during the day to the left of `A` Company. Battalion Hq Company were in a lone group of buildings on the left flank in the rear of `A` Company. A large covered barn concealed the vehicles. Behind the village was a canal roughly parallel to the railway the only crossing being from ST VENANT towards the forest of NIEPPE near which was battalion Hq and some of the Royal Berkshires. Enemy tanks had been reported in or about the forest There were no troops on our left flank.
Along the canal to our left some 600 yards away were 40 large barges with civilians living on board. Fortunately they were moored on the bank away from the enemy. The RE could not destroy them all. If sunk they would still make good piers for enemy pontoon bridges.They had double steel hulls and would not burn easily.
Contact was made at dawn. Throughout the day it was chiefly confined to sniping and mortar fire which was accurate and troublesome.The Hq of the RWF moved closer to our own Hq during the evening. An O.P from the 99Fd Regt was established at Battalion Hq.
After dark the enemy lit big bonfires presumably to indicate their forward line to aircraft. These bonfires could be seen in a big semi circle round the village.
The quartermaster brought up a hot meal.
The night was relatively peaceful though enemy movement was suspected along the canal bank to our left and odd lights were seen. Several civilians were detained at Hq. They appeared to be imbeciles from some Home in the village who had been released owing to lack of food and water.

Sunday 26th MAY 1940

Sunday 26th MAY 1940

The battalion debussed outside CALONNES SUR LYS at about 0100hrs and marched into the village and billets were found on the ST VENANT road. Inhabitants said the Germans had been there before.There were road blocks at the corners.
The other two battalions of the Brigade were reported to be in contact with the enemy near ST FLORIS and ST VENANT and were pushing them back.During the morning some ten German prisoners were marched through the village well built young men believed to have been captured from `The deaths head hussars`
During the morning Lieutenant E Nutley the Intelligence officer went out on a reconnaissance on a motor cycle. He was shot dead by a German patrol. A few casualties occurred from mortar or shell fire and one shell landed in the road infront of battalion Hq. A conference had just finished. Evertone in the room was covered in fallen plaster or earth though no one was hurt.
Time allowed for a complete casualty return to be made out.Up to this morning there were a hundred casualties,officers and other ranks.About eighty casualties occurred on the River DYLE and the remainder on subsequent days.
At 2100hrs the battalion marched to ST VENANT via ST FLORIS. Battalion Hq had the only map of the area and Company Commanders had either to memorise the route or make a copy of the map.

 

MONDAY 27th MAY 1940.......onwards

MONDAY 27th MAY 1940

The enemy atttacked about 0700hrs. Heavy mortar fire and possibly artillery fire was put down on our Company positions. The Church spire was hit and movement in the village was difficult and dangerous. The enemy was moving across our front to the left. About 15 tanks could be seen from the Battalion Hq . Our artillery opened fire but later ceased firing. It is believed that they ran out of ammunition.
Lieutenant Gregson commanding D Company was wounded and died soon after . 2nd Lieutenant Clazey was also wounded in the arm,2nd Lieutenant Peel of `A` Company was reported killed.
The RSM moved some of the vehicles at Hq back across the bridge. Battalion headquarters now came under fire and received a direct hit. Some men inside may have been injured but all the officers,who were outside,escaped. Shelter was taken behind the house but a few minutes later bullets came right through the building,presumably armour piercing and cover was taken on the canal bank.
The RWF moved away towards the bridge together with some of our own men from the canal bank.
Three armoured cars now appeared along the canal bank to our left and opened fire at about 600yards range .They were engaged by bren-guns and anti-tank rifles but they prevented any large movement away towards the bridge and firing tracer caused many casualties.
A two pounder anti tank gun had been concealed in a hedge in front of the cafe firing to the front. Although some of the team had been knocked out it continued firing but was silenced before the armoured cars appeared on the left.
CSM Metcalfe took over command of `D` Company during this day when Lieutenant Gregson was wounded. He was awarded the Military Cross.
A verbal message came up that Colonel Harrison of the RWF whose Hq was a little further along the bank towards the bridge wanted Colonel Simpson. As the CO had recently been at the RWF Hq talking to Brigade Hq by wireless and not knowing exactly where he was now I crawled back to see Colonel Harrison. He said the position was untenable and that he was taking what men he could to form a bridgehead. I was to bring back any men I could.
I sent Lyster Todd and some men back at once and crawled forward as far as the cemetery. Here I found CSM Birkett and Pte Worthy the `C` Company runner.By this time armoured cars had almost reached the cafe and although I waved to the men inside, I realised they could no more come out then I could go to them across an open space.
After a few minutes the armoured cars came on towards me,so I withdrew with the two men and eventually reached the bridge. I was telling Colonel Harrison the situation when his RSM came up to say the armoured cars were approaching the bridge. I was told to get my men over the bridge. We ran the gauntlet of the enemy MG fire but on reaching the other side I was shot through the face. A Welshman put on my field dressing and I managed to walk away and although under more MG fire got a lift in the Medical Officers truck which appeared from nowhere and reported at Brigade Hq the situation.
When Colonel Harrison saw that no one else could get across the bridge owing to the close proximity of the leading tanks,which by this time were only 150 yards away he ordered the Royal Engineers to blow the bridge, unfortunately there were none available. The situation then became impossible as there were perhaps twenty men holding the bridge with only one Bren gun and no anti tank rifle against at least five tanks.
The leading tank came across the bridge and wiped out most of the men holding it and blew up with its gun some of the houses in which men were sheltering.
This tank then made its way to the head of the main road leading to HAVERSKERQUE and started to shell three RWF carriers withdrawing.
Its career was cut short by a direct hit from an 18 pdr gun.From now on the situation as regards the battalion became somewhat obscure.The story of what happened to the rifle companies will not be told until after the war and the prisoners released.
However some sixty men under 2nd Lieutenant Rudd made their way through the Forest of Nieppe and joined `B` Echelon. The relics of the carrier platoon (3 carriers) held a position in front of Brigade. More tanks were engaged from 1600hrs to 1930hrs when the Brigade were ordered to retire. The carrier Platoon acted as a rearguard to the Brigade which consisted chiefly of The Royal Berks. The action was broken off about 2030hrs.
On May 28th the withdrawal continued via Hazebruk to Dunkirk.The Brigade embarked on May 29th about mid-day.
214 other ranks of the 2nd battalion collected at Huddersfield during the first half of June but many of these had been in hospital or on leave.Probably 150 men were left of these who had been through the fighting many of whom were drivers and personnel of `B` Echelon

Military Cross Action 67469 2/Lieutenant J.Hyde-Thomson 2nd Durham Light Infantry

67469 2/Lieutenant J.R .Hyde-Thomson 2nd Btn Durham Light Infantry

On 15th May this officer was in charge of a post when the enemy attacked.all the men in the post were killed or wounded and the enemy who had then approached close to the post called on him to surrender.2Lt Hyde Thomson shot the enemy leader,dispersed the remainder by throwing a hand grenade at them and managed to escape to a flank whence he was able to be a great assistance in organising a counter attack,later in the same aday this officer brought in a wounded man under heavy fire.

Robert John Hyde -Thomson was born on the 9th February 1916 the eldest son of Robert Hyde--Thomson of The Pool House,Graby,Leicester.Educated at Harrow and St Johns college Oxford he joined the Rifle Brigade from the Special Reserve in 1936 as a 2/Lieutenant he moved to the Scots Guards Special Ski Battalion in preperation for Finland but joined The 2nd Battalion The Durham Light Infantry in 1940 and fought with them during the BEF campaign .Hyde-Thomson was captured during the campaign but not before he had won a Military Cross (As mentioned above)After capture Hyde -Thomson was sent to Colditz he was given the POW number 482.In 1946 he was awarded a `Mention in Despatches` for his activities whilst a prisoner of war his recommendation reads;-

Lieut John Robert Hyde-Thomson MC The Durham Light Infantry...After being taken prisoner with the BEF in May 1940.Lieut Hyde -Thomson was sent to GERMANY.

He made several attempts to escape during his period of captivity but only twice did he succeed in leaving the camp area.On the first occasion he was free for six days and on the second he travelled from Colditz to Ulm before being recaptured.He was liberated in April 1945.LONDON GAZETTE 29 August 1946

After the war he was Adjutant of the 6th DLI in 1947 before joining 5th Kings African Rifles on attachment in 1951.He married Jane Monsarrat on the 6th June 1951 at St Peters House,Eaton Square tragically Major Robert John Hyde-Thomson died of Jaundice on 18th September 1951 at Jinja in Uganda.

Military Medal Action 4452717 Pte J Johnson 2nd Btn The Durham.L.Inf

4452717 Pte John Ernest Johnson 2nd Battalion The Durham Light Infantry

At Le Tombe Pte Johnson went forward on several occasions to bring in wounded men from an evacuated forward position.On each occasion he was under heavy fire.This man did not take the men he rescued back to the Regimental Aid Post but only as far back as the FDI`s of his company.He then returned back to the forward lines to collect other casualties.Throughout he showed complete disregard to his personal safety.

LOCAL SOLDIER'S GALLANTRY
DEEDS WHICH  EARNED HIM THE M.M.

The story of a West Hartlepool soldier's bravery during the fighting in Flanders last May has just been told. He is Lance Corporal John Edward Johnson (22). son of Mr. and Mrs. Laurence Johnson. of 37 Northumberland Street. West Hartlepool. and his gallantry in rescuing wounded comrades earned him the Military Medal. The incidents occurred after a battalion of the Durham Light Infantry to which L. Cpl. Johnson was attached—had taken up position on the River Dyle, a mile or two north of Wavre. in the path of the German invaders of Belgium. L./ Cpl.Johnson's company were occupying outposts on high ground on the opposite side of the river at Les Moms and Les Pres. with instructions to withdraw to battalion headquarters on contact with the enemy. It was from this position that L/Cpl. Johnson brought in several wounded men from an evacuated forward position while under heavy fire. The men thus rescued by him were Pte. Corney who subsequently died of his wounds. Second-Lieut. R. J. Hyde-Thompson. L./Cpl. Ison. of Stockton Pte. Fletcher. of Middlesbrough. and a Royal Northumberland Fusilier. who died no the spot Apart from the difficulty of moving these wounded men over rough country. L..Cpl. Johnson was exposed all the while to the fire of snipers who were operating from tree-tops, but he escaped injury and three of the men survived. A fortnight later Johnson, himself was wounded. and after being in hospital at Dunkirk. was evacuated to England on May 31. An old boy of St. Aidan's School. West Hartlepool, L./Cpl. Johnson Joined the 2D L I three years ago. His father served in the same regiment throughout the last war and was twice wounded.

4438949 PSM George Pinkney 2nd Durham Light Infantry DCM

It was during the same battle on the River Dyle that George Pinkney won one of the first DCM`s of the war

On 15 May 1940, the German Army attacked the 2nd Battalion DLI across the River Dyle, east of Brussels. "B" Company was pushed back and the Commanding Officer ordered "C" Company to counter attack. One platoon was destroyed. The other led by Platoon Sergeant Major Pinkney, an old soldier who had enlisted in 1920, forced the Germans back across the river.

On 27 May at Saint Venant, 2 DLI was overwhelmed by German armour. Sergeant Pinkney was last seen attacking the tanks with a box of grenades. He survived but spent the rest of the war as a prisoner in 1945 he was listed amongst those held in Stalag 383 with a Pow Number of 2895. For his "example and courage", George Pinkney was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal - one of the first awarded during the Second World War.

George Pinkney`s citation/recomendation reads;-

 

At Le Tombe two platoons were ordered to counter-attack a position which had been over-run by the enemy.It was only through PSM Pinkney`s example and courage that they succeeded in gaining their objective At St Venant when enemy tanks were approaching his position he went forward himself with a box of grenades and engaged the tanks with them.Throughout the whole three weeks his bearing was always cheerful as well as determined.

Mentioned in Despatches 4450109 L/Cpl J Crawford 2nd Durham.L.Inf

4450109 L/Cpl J Crawford 2nd Durham.L.Infantry BEF 1940

Originally recommended for a Military Medal by Captain J.M.Hanmer the award was downgraded to a `Mentioned in Despatches`published in the London Gazette 20th May 1940.

This NCO was responsible for shooting down one enemy bomber and killing the tail gunner of another on two different occasions.These bombers were part of several which were machine gunning the convoy in which he was travelling.In both cases he was firing a Bren gun off a Motley Mounting.He showed great courage and determination in facing the fire of the enemy as he was in a most exposed position.He never considered himself or thought of taking cover his one aim and object was to keep his gun going.

Mentioned in Despatches 4443042 Pte L Robinson 2nd Btn The Durham Light Infantry

4443042 Pte Leslie Robinson 2nd Durham.L.Infantry BEF 1940

Originally recommended for a Military Medal by Captain J.M.Hanmer the award was downgraded to a `Mentioned in Despatches`published in the London Gazette 20th May 1940.

All the men of Pte Robinson`s section were wiped out except for him and one other,both of whom were wounded.They were then ordered to withdraw from a Blockhouse which they had been holding and had become untenable owing to enemy mortar and machine gun fire.After withdrawal this soldier realised that the Bren Gunner was a casualty and although wounded himself went back to the blockhouse under heavy fire.He retrieved the Bren Gun which had been left and reported back to Company Headquarters for his wounds to be dressed.Throughout the action he displayed a very high standard of courage

4443042 Pte Leslie Robinson was the son of Jack and Harriet Robinson and the husband of Mona Robinson, of York he is listed as having died between the 24th -31st May 1940 .He joined the Durham Light Infantry between 1st October 1923 - 13 January 1925 aged 31 when he was killed he is buried in good company at St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 4. Row C. Grave 23.

Photograph by kind permission of ` Ramacal`(Rob)

Mentioned in Despatches 4453155 Pte.R.Jones 2nd Durham.Light.Inf

4453155 Private R Jones The 2nd Battalion The Durham Light Infantry BEF 1940

Originally recommended for a Military Medal by Captain J.M.Hanmer the award was downgraded to a `Mentioned in Despatches`published in the London Gazette 20th May 1940.

This man who was wounded carried another wounded man three miles across country which was swept with machine gun fire and shellfire after the ambulance in which they were riding had been put out of action

2nd Battalion The Durham Light Infantry France March 1940

(Below) Battalion HQ of The 2nd Durhams believed to be at Bercu,France 1940,Lt Colonel V A C Yate,Captain C M Townsend (Adjutant) and Major (Later Lt Colonel) R B T Simpson.March 1940

(Below) The Sergeants Mess of The 2nd DLI also photographed in March 1940 RSM Goddard is three from the right on the back rank

Men of the 2nd DLI at Chauntenay in 1940 the soldier in the centre is Pte James `Dusty` Miller who was captured whilst wounded following the battle for St Venant.

 

 

Beyond the Dyle River....

As the orders had been received at 2300hrs there was no time to send back Company transport so anything which could not be carried was left.The battalion passed through Ottenburg on its way to its new positions which were located on the high ground west of Terlaenen-Toombeek Road where they dug in with what little equipment and ammunition they had managed to carry with them .There was no German attack that night although some of the positions were hit by mortar fire.At 2230hrs further orders were received to withdraw once again to the Forest of Soignies which was a further twelve miles away.Two companies were late in arriving at the position and were given up as lost as the battalion left the forest at 0400hrs little did they know that both companies were on there way,When the stragglers arrived at the forest they found the positions empty and the battalion gone.Undetered they made there way to Brussels where they obtained the Brigades position and marched a further Fifty miles to rejoin their comrades some days later! The rest of the battalion with all personel now,due to lack of heavy equipment, in the role of riflemen reached Tournai on the 19th May 1940 spending four days in the line at the Escaut Canal.On the 25th May the battalion arrived at Calonnes sur-Lys where the residents informed them that the Germans had already been and gone,although this was dismissed at the time by the CO as ..Cut off units trying to reach their own lines! It was none the less known to all that the RWF were in contact with German forces just a mile and a half south of St Venant.. 2 DLI`s next task!

Military Cross Action 4441783 CSM Norman Metcalfe 2nd Durham.Light.Inf

4441783 CSM Norman Metcalfe The 2nd Battalion The Durham Light Infantry

When all the company officers had been killed or wounded C.S.M Metcalfe was ordered by the adjutant to take charge of the Company.He had to fight his way out of the position and succeeded in withdrawing the company to another position-which he immediately organised and held.His example and disregard to personal danger and leadership qualities were of the highest order.He remained calm and cool and his indefatigable energy often saved what appeared to be a hopeless position.

St Venant 1940

The 2nd Durham Light Infantry who had been billeted at Calonne-sur-la-Lys and in farms along the Saint-Floris road were ordered forward to occupy St Venant on the night of the 25th May 1940.With three advance companies and one in reserve and despite being under heavy machine gun and mortar fire this was successfully accomplished. German armour had been seen St Floris although no direct contact with tanks had been reported .As night approached camp fires could be seen all around 2DLI`s position it was at this time that news was received that the Germans had taken and moved on through the forward positions which had been held by The RWF and now appeared to completely encircle 2DLI.

The arrival of the 2nd Battalion the Durham Light Infantry during the night helped fill gaps in the brigades defences but its was not ideal men and equipment were spread over a wide area and weaknesses persisted, weaknesses the Germans would find and ultimately exploit.
The 2nd DLI`s Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Simpson set about organising his defences. A, B and C Companies were positioned between the Robecq and the Les Amuzoires roads. Hq Company were at Ferme Taverne where Battalion headquarters had been set up with the Farm and the Barn areas fortified as best they could. Outside a single anti-tank gun was positioned in a secluded position within the shrubbery facing towards the Railway line and hopefully in the right direction to give the Germans a nasty surprise should they manage to break through. A number of battalion vehicles were also hidden within the barn under the watchful eye of RSM Archie Goddard.
D Company commanded by Lieutenant Gregson, had been sent to fill the breach which existed between the Royal Welch Fusiliers and the Royal Berkshire Regiment between the Busnes and Aire roads. A composite of `D` and `B` Companies now found themselves defending a small bridge at the junction of Rue d`Aire and Rue Berthelotte.

Men of `B` Company 2 DLI digging fortifications France 1940 

On the 26th May 1940 Lieutenant John Gregson (son of Maj. C. D. Gregson, formerly of the Indian Army, and Amore Moore Gregson, of Scarborough, Tobago) was wounded by a piece of shrapnel from an exploding shell which lodged in his back. Despite the heroic efforts of Sergeant McLane of the mortar platoon, (who had been in the area on a forward solo recce at the time ) who tried to extract the hot shrapnel with his bare hand’s, and six men of the Company who used a Farm Gate as a stretcher to rush Lieutenant Gregson to the aid post, the popular officer died of his injuries early on the 27th May 1940. (Lt Gregson`s mother in gratitude of the men’s efforts to save her son later presented them with Engraved Silver Cigarette cases)
The Brigades battalions were now focused around Saint-Venant but there were still a few gaps in the line, especially where D Company and the Royal Welch Fusiliers met. The mortar platoon now without ammunition were dispersed amongst the rifle Companies Sgt McLane was sent to join `D` Company on his way he had passed the bodies of men from `C` Company including his friend 4447217 Pte Henry Rutherford who had obviously been involved in a vicious hand to hand encounter with the Germans McLane remembered that despite his compassion for his comrades that they paused only long enough to gather the mens rifles and ammunition which he was sure would be needed in the coming hours.

Early on the morning of the 27th May the Germans set about exploiting these gaps with an intense Artillery bombardment which started at first light, This was followed by Infantry with tank support after the DLI returned fire the German advance was seen to falter, however this was just a temporary set back and as the Durham’s defensive fire started to dwindle the Germans pressed home their advantage in equipment and men.B and D Companies hurriedly withdrew across the bridge but with no time to prepare new positions they found themselves easy targets for the artillery and the growing amount of sniper fire coming out of the wooded areas nearby. With all the Officers dead D Company the Durham Light Infantry. Were now commanded by Sergeant-Major Metcalfe who placed Sergeant McLane in the position of his second in command, a decision which was not popular with the more senior surviving NCOs. Each and every DLI position was being attacked. The men could try and withdraw ,surrender or be killed on the spot. Sergeant-Major Metcalfe gave an order to Sergeant-Major Pearson to counter-attack with a platoon of men ,German infantry who were attempting to exploit the gap between `D` Company and the rest of the battalion, those not killed were captured. It was now that Sgt McLane gave the order “Everyman for himself!“ As the tanks drew closer the sense of panic amongst the Durham’s was heightened and they ran across the muddy fields to the canal bank where they used all means available to them to cross and the few survivors of this action made their way to the Forest of Nieppe.
The British had set up a hospital in Madame Boulet’s house which was situated at the crossroads on the Hurtevent and Bas Hamel roads and it wasn’t long before the first casualties arrived
Meanwhile back at the Battalion Hq Lieutenant Colonel Simpson was organising his defence The German attackers had managed to reach the town but in so doing they had suffered casualties at the hand of a few well dug in machine- gunners. Accompanied by several tanks. The attackers moved off along the Marais road and then along the Le Rue Amuzoires From there they made their way towards the DLI Hq on the canal. En route they fiercely engaged men from `A` Company 2nd Battalion Durham Light Infantry, who were defending their positions around the railway line. During the battle 74853 2nd Lieutenant Hubert William Morant Peel from `A` Company Durham Light Infantry was killed along with many of his men.
The German tanks continued advancing, shelling the Taverne Farm which was housing the Durham Light Infantry’s battalion headquarters. One round exploded within the house and several men were wounded. The officers who were outside at the time set up in the Farms Sturdy Barn but this was only a temporary respite soon the hay and the Barn were ablaze some men were trapped and no doubt perished in the flames. Sergeant-Major Goddard desperately tried to move the battalion headquarters vehicles and lead them towards the bridge, whilst others tried to erect barricades on the road. The battalion vehicles were soon hit and burst into flames adding to the choking smoke from the burning barn.Lt Colonel Simpson his headquarters ablaze had took up position along with a few survivors in a slit trench at the front of the Barn. Unbeknown to Lt Colonel Simpson the Brigade commander Brigadier Furlong’s order to withdraw had been issued and finally reached the RWF`s headquarters at around 1100hrs but because of his new position within the trench it was impossible to reach him. Instead Lieutenant Colonel Harrison of the RWF sent Captain Townsend of the 2nd DLI back to find Lt Colonel Simpson to deliver the order personally as he made his way back towards the cemetery he noticed two German Panzers advancing. Passing CSM Burkett and Pte Worthy the `C` Company runner he continued on and found Lt Colonel Simpson still in the slit trench and despite crawling to within shouting distance of Simpson realised ,as had Simpson himself that there would be no time to extricate what was left of his men. As Captain Townsend turned with the few men he could safely gather he saw the Lt Colonel wounded in the shoulder firing his pistol into the oncoming German Infantry but even as Captain Townsend headed for the Bridge a German Panzer had burst through the now blazing barn the fight was over for Lt Colonel Simpson who ordered his men to surrender .There was time for one last selfless act of defiance the battalions anti-tank gun which had been hidden from view manned by a wounded crew had just time to fire one round into one of the advancing Panzers and disable it before the gun and its crew were silenced forever by the accompanying vehicle.
Captain Townsend ,meanwhile, with his small party were on their way to the bridge when they came upon a small café in which men of the battalion were sheltering he waved frantically for them to join him one soldier 4454216 Pte John Roache rushed out and was immediately cut down by the Germans who had set up light machine guns on the opposite bank and were able to pour their fire into the backs of any survivors sheltering on the canal bank. The second Panzer manoeuvred onto the bridge and cut down the defenders attempting to cover the DLI retreat Captain Townsend was hit in the face ,dragged clear he was thrown onboard a truck which sped him away from the battlefield to the brigade headquarters where he delivered a situation report..
RSM Archie Goddard and other survivors were being marched away when he heard the voice of his friend and batman Pte Anthony Corkhill(Right) calling out to him from the canal bank, on closer inspection he found Pte Corkhill was wounded in both legs with a flesh wound to the neck despite the RSM`s pleas to take the wounded Private with them the Germans declined and instructed RSM Goddard to make his friend comfortable and he would be collected and treated by their Field Ambulance units who were in the area. There is no record of Pte Anthony Corkhill from this date he is listed on the Dunkirk Memorial his date of death recorded as May 29th 1940.

4453513 Pte Thomas Rodgers

4453513 Pte Thomas Rodgers who was Killed on the 27th May 1940 defending the bridge at St Venant his grave was unknown until extensive investigation by his family led to its re discovery in 2000/2001 he now lies in good company at ST. VENANT COMMUNAL CEMETERY Plot 3. Row B. Grave 35

 An account from the Evening Chronicle by James Brunskill

The Faithful Durhams in Flanders

EVENING CHRONICLE  FEB- MARCH 1941

By James Brunskill
Evening Chronicle War Correspondent Published 1941 (several similarities are noted from those attributed to Captain Townsend`s account)

THE FAITHFUL DURHAM`s in FLANDERS No 1

Published Monday February 24th 1941 .......

One of the first awards of the Victoria Cross to be made during the present war—Making the proud total of 10 earned by the regiment during the past 85 years—was gained by a young South Shields officer serving in a (2nd)  battalion of the Durham Light Infantry which played a valiant part before being over-whelmed when called upon to meet the onslaught of German mechanised might in the heroic Battle of France. The matchless courage displayed on all sides was recognised by the award of many other decorations, and numerous acts of unsurpassed gallantry were performed during the 19 days' forced retirement from the River Dyle to St. Venant.
 So far as is known only five officers and 28 other ranks out of a total of about 700 passed unscathed and later survived the drama of Dunkirk. Three officers were killed. 11 were taken prisoner and one is posted as missing. This battalion of the "Faithful Durham`s." which had gone to France in September, 1939. under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel V. A. C. Yate. M.C• — now commanding  another battalion of the regiment—was early in April taken over by Lieut.-Colonel R. B. Y. Simpson. who was subsequently taken prisoner. When the Germans invaded Holland and Belgium on May 10 the battalion was in billets at Bercu and Mouchin being reserve to a brigade which also included Regular battalions of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and the Royal Berkshire Regiment. The first indication that there was "something in the wind" was
the sight of about 30 German bombers flying westwards, having obviously outraged the neutrality of Belgium, One machine in particular roared down the main road to Orchies and Douai just above the tree tops.
On the wireless our troops learned of the invasion of the Low Countries, and preparations were made to put into operation at once the plans which had been prepared and overhauled several times during previous scares.
These consisted of detailed instructions and orders for an advance into Belgium-should they be "invited by the Belgian authorities"—and for subsequent occupation of positions on the River Dyle between Wavre and Louvain.
Zero hour was at 1 p.m., and armoured fighting vehicles and transport of all kind, poured along the reed and crossed Into Belgium, but the "Durham`s" did not move until the following night,


In Advance


The commanding officer, the adjutant (Captain C. M. Townsend and the signal officer Second• Lieutenant, M Farr) joined a brigade reconnaissance group which crossed the frontier in advance, and the main body travelled during the night via Antoing, Leuze, Ath. Enghiem, Hal, Alsemberg and La HaIpe.
 A few hours after Belgium's eastern frontier was crossed by the German hordes there thus begun on the west another type of invasion. But the men of the British Expeditionary Force who clattered past the swiftly raised barriers  not as conquerors but as friends and allies in an hour of desperate need, and as as such they were welcomed joyfully by the inhabitants, as their fathers were a generation ago. Towns which 25 years ago heard the tramp of the Kaiser's hosts were now resounding to the rattle of German tanks, which thundered across the plains so closely packed that many of them were only six feet apart.


 On the morning of Sunday  May 12th this battalion (2nd) of the Durham Light Infantry took up their positions on the River Dyle a mile or two north of Wavre battalion headquarters' being established at La Tombe. It was here that Lance-Corporal J. E. Johnson, of West Hartlepool, earned the Military Medal for his gallantry in bringing in wounded men from an evacuated forward position while under heavy fire,
Johnson was in 'C" Company, who were occupying out- posts  on the high ground on the opposite side of the river at Les Monts and Les Pres. They were to withdraw on contact with the enemy and come into  reserve at La Tombe. The other three companies held the line of the River Dyle, Seeing a wounded man waving his hand, Johnson crawled along a shallow ditch and dragged him  to the chateau where Sergeant Taylor, also of West Hartlepool had his platoon headquares, Sergeant Taylor, incidentally, has since been discharged from the Army,  The wounded man is Private Corney, who subsequently died from his injuries In England ( actually died in France buried at Dieppe) . His wlie, I understand, has vainly tried to contact the gallant rescuer, and If she cares to let me have her address I will pass It on to Lance-Corporal Johnson.

The Danger
 Having returned to his position, Johnson got his eagle eye on Second•Lieutenant R. J, Hyde Thomson and Lance Corporal Ison, of Stockton, the latter of whom was wounded in the foot, Recognising the danger from snipers, who were operating from tree tops, he went out and directed the officer to the trench and, although exposing himself to great danger, he dragged the Lance-corporal to safety A few hours later Johnson's attention  was again attracted by man waving his hand, and—under covering fire from a Bren gun--he once more made the hazardous journey and rescued Private Fletcher, of Middlesbrough, who was badly wounded, he had to lift him over the trunk of a tree and across a stream before he got him to the Regimental aid post Both Ison and Fletcher are still serving in  the regiment, While he was bringing Fletcher out Johnson noticed another man who had ben wounded, as soon as possible he set out on another mission of mercy, but found that the man, who belonged to the  Northumberland Fusiliers,  had died before he got back to him,
 Johnson, who is aged 22, was himself wounded a fortnight later, and after being in hospital at Dunkirk was evacuated to England on May 31. Behind the positions  held by the Durham`s the ground rose steeply, covered in woods, and with only two passable tracks for motor transport. The battalion occupied a wide frontage with little depth. It was by no means an ideal position, In many places the field of fire was restricted by trees and undergrowth, and observation from behind the forward positions was difficult in spite of the fact that the ground was much higher. From the reports of refugees it was evident by this time that the Germans had crossed the Meuse and were pushing on fast towards the positions occupied by the Durham Light Infantry, As the confusion of the conflict as German units advanced and contact was made all along the front, the situation became obscure, but a great fight was put up by the daring "Durham`s " before they had to abandon their equipment and stores and were compelled to retire from the inferno of the Dyle valley. 

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THE FAITHFUL DURHAM`s in FLANDERS  no 2

published February 25th 1941....

He Earned the title....

`THE WHEELBARROW V.C`

THE valour displayed on May 15th/16th by Second-Lieut, R, W. Annand, of South Shields, which earned for him the Victoria Cross while serving in this battalion of the Durham Light Infantry, has caused him to become known as the "Wheelbarrow V,C." When the order to retire from the River Dyle was received, Lieut. Annand withdrew his platoon, but, learning on the way  back that his bat-man — Private Hunter —was wounded and had been left, behind, he returned at once to the former position and brought him back in a wheelbarrow before losing consciousness as the result of wounds, Battalion headquarters had been established at La Tombe, in front of which was an open plateau stretching eastwards for some distance before the ground dropped very sharply to the river. This steep slope was well wooded, the field of fire being restricted by trees and undergrowth. Mr  Annand was In command of No. 16 Platoon of "D" Company.
 ALL BRIDGES
On May 13 the Royal Engineers demolished all bridges in the area except that In front of "D" Company. and In the early hours of the following morning armoured fighting vehicles were heard across the river. Thousands of refugees were heading along the Louvain-Wavre road. Among them were Belgian soldiers and a French colonel belonging to a French armoured division which had suffered heavily. The terror-stricken civilians. trapped between two armies. presented a grave problem. and all that could be done was to push everyone forwards and allow no loitering.
About this time there were constant reports of enemy parachutists having been seen behind the line During the day more and more German units appeared and contact was gradually made all along the front The advance troops. dressed in black coats. worked their way forward The first indication of the enemy approach had been the sound of a large number of motorcycles.
TERRIFIC
The speed of the enemy automatic fire was terrific." to quote the words of the North's latest V.C 'It was about double that of our Bren guns. and each burst went on for several seconds. The expenditure of ammunition must have been enormous." Firing soon became general, and it was realised that the battle had begun in earnest. It continued all through the night.
 In the evening all civilians in the village of La Tombe were ordered to evacuate their houses. Lieut. Annand experienced the difficulty of communicating with isolated posts when he wished to get in touch With a section occupying a blockhouse. It was a moonlight night. and anyone walking about in the open could be seen both by our own and the enemy troops. Taking advantage of what little cover there was. It actually took him well over an hour to reach the post. although the that distance as the crow flies was only about 300 yards. When he reached the blockhouse Cpl Wilson who formerly  served in a territorial battalion of the _Durham Light Infantry—told him that he had already accounted for six Germans with his own rifle and that other members of the section had also got satisfactory `bags`
Unfortunately. on, the following morning this section were wiped out Corporal Wilson. one of the most enthusiastic N.C.O.s  in the battalion, and three other men were killed. two were, wounded and one was taken prisoner.
 The Germans were apparently trying to establish a post on the opposite side of the river where the bridge had been blown„ but every time they got as automatic into position The `Durham`s`  silenced it with .grenades.
 MINES LAID
 A few- hundred anti-tank mines had been laid by `A ` Company  and wire had been erected across the road on the near side-of the-river under the -..supervision of Captain Burdon-Taylor
 Particularly harassing: artillery fire  was experienced. and  heavy machine gun fire could be heard further north and also from Wavre on the right. Several  casualties were caused by enemy  trench mortars,
 At 7 a.m. on May 15th  Captain F. R, Tubbs, of `B' Company. reported that No. 10 Platoon had been overrun by the enemy. who had rushed out from the cover of a paper mill and crossed by a small weir which could not be destroyed without lowering the level of the river above
 The situation became somewhat obscure. The Germans had certainly crossed the river and railway and were trying to press forward in fan formation. Heavy shell and mortar fire was coming down all along the line.
When the pressure became greater `C` Company moved forward and counter-attacked, At eight o'clock a platoon' in the charge of  Sergeant-Major P. Ditchburn of  Hetton le Hole. advanced  to the railway but were  met by heavy  fire front the embankment and were almost wiped out, Sergeant-Major G. Pinkney , a Wearsider , succeeded in getting his platoon to the railway further to the right and pushed the enemy back. Pinknev. who was later taken  prisoner has been awarded The Distinguished Conduct Medal.
 HE ATTACKED
 Meanwhile  a report was received from "D '' Company that the enemy were trying to work across  the demolished bridge. It was this bridging party which Lieutenant  Annand attacked. and when ammunition ran  short he went forward' himself over open ground with total disregard for. enemy mortar and machine gun fire.
 Reaching the top of the_bridge he drove out the party below, inflicting more than twenty Casualties with hand grenades. having been wounded he re-joined his platoon. had his wounds dressed. and then carried on in command
The battalion now had no reserve and one company of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers was brought up to strengthen the position in `B ` Company's area which was most difficult to defend. The front  held by the battalion was wide and depth was almost non-existent
It was thought that, how-ever well our men fought. a strong enemy attack must inevitably penetrate the-line.
-AND AGAIN
 At 11p.m. orders were given for a general withdrawal. There was no time to send back for motor transport.. and equipment and stores had to be  abandoned on the ground. Bren Guns and anti-tank rifles had to be. man-handled In the retirement. During the evening another attack had been launched by the enemy and here again Lieutenant  Annand went 'forward With hand grenades and inflicted- heavy casualties Lieutenant Annand is the 25- year-old son of Lieutenant- Commander  W .Annand. who was killed in action at 'Gallipoli in 1915. and the nephew of Colonel Robert Chapman of Cleadon, South Shields  with whom he has made his home for the past two years. In the early hours of May 16th  the enemy gunfire had increased to such an extent that the  Dyle Valley had become an inferno. and the  Durham Light Infantry moved out on their withdrawal to new positions six miles to the rear...

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THE FAITHFUL DURHAM`s in FLANDERS No 3

Published Wednesday February 26th 1941 .......

He Defied Them .....

GERMAN troops, attacking a post held by the 2nd battalion of the Durham Light Infantry on the River Dyle, killed or wounded every man except an officer, who valiantly defied them when they shouted "Surrender." The officer who so gallantly fought on alone was Second-Lieutenant R. J. Hyde--Thomson, and his bravery was rewarded by the award or the Military Cross. with complete disregard for his own personal  danger he shot the enemy leader and dispersed the remainder of the Germans by throwing a hand grenade at them.
 Then  he managed to escape to a flank, where he was able to give great assistance to other unites by organising a counter-attack. Later the same day May. 15 Lieutenant Hyde-Thomson again displayed outstanding courage by bringing in a wounded man under heavy fire. Subsequently. as in the case of so many officers and men of the battalion, this gallant officer was taken prisoner. Platoon Sergeant-Major G. Pinkney a Wearsider, who was among those captured, gained the Distinguished Conduct Medal in the same operations. On May 5 "C " and ° D " Companies were. ordered to take over the billeting area and field works of The Royal Welsh Fusiliers at. Mouchin. a village about a kilometre and a half from Bercu. No resistance was encountered when "D" Company moved forward on the night of May 11. the only visible sign of war being a burnt out German aeroplane by the side of the road. Early next morning cover was taken in a wood. near Auveriche and company commanders were allotted  their sector of defence on the line of the River Dyle.
 At this stage it was notified that there would probably be 10 to 34 days to prepare the area before any attack might be anticipated. Little did they realise on that fine spring day that within a very short space of time they would be taking part in the great withdrawal and that in truth monotony had been replaced by massacre.
 A frontage of about 800 yards was allotted to " D" Company. On their extreme right and In front of the main position was a Belgian  pill-box. and there was another on the extreme left. where the "Durham`s" linked up with a platoon of the Berkshire Regiment.
In spite of a grave 'deficiency of the necessary tools. good progress was made in the preparation of weapon pits. special attention being given to camouflage and concealment from the air. Refugees crossing the bridge on the morning of May 15 were so numerous that the French interpreter. Damaret. was sent to assist in checking them. Information had been received that refugees carrying red blankets were likey to be Fifth Columnists. and a careful watch was kept. As events turned out. it was found that 60 per cent. of them had red blankets, but there was nothing to prove any treacherous. intent.
 The fleeing civilians made a pathetic spectacle, and their sorry plight, I am told. acted as a real inspiration to the troops. It was rightly considered that the local defence of the bridge was of paramount importance. in view of the fact that it was destined to be the last to be blown and work was. at once started on the digging of trenches and the erection of additional wire Throughout the night Belgian soldiers with very harrowing tales were pouring through the company's positions, and the next morning the bridge was destroyed.
 Just before the German attack developed Captain W. B. Hutton was wounded by a stray mortar shell which kiIled a signaller and wounded M. Damaret.

Key position...

The key position was held by No 16 Platoon, and, as already indicated. there is no doubt that but for the determination and  Gallantry of Second-Lieutenant R. W. Armand, the South Shields V.C., the situation would have been much more criitcal during the withdrawal. C S M. Norman Metcalfe. of Stanley, organised a counterattack  which was successfully carried out by Platoon Sergeant--Major Falrclough. In the evening the enemy advanced  in force. To quote the words of  C.S.M. Metcalfe. the German`s were "bumped off like ninepins." and. as they made determined efforts to cross  the bridge hundreds were killed and wounded in the vain attempt, The position we had could not have been better," said C S M  Metcalfe, who subsequently earned the Military Cross. and received his commission.  We had casualties but. our men were wonderful Jerry got up to the other side of the bridge to their sorrow. They must have thought they had demons in  front of them. "For two hours it was hell let loose and then. Jerry gave it up and withdrew I can hardly believe it. but when we checked up we had had only.16 casualties and there must have been enough German dead to give the whole company their 10/- a man.
The second enemy attack was launched with increased violence but again they were held at bay. The Germans tried to bridge the river to get his tanks across said C S M Metcalfe Lieutenant  Annand went on to the bridge and blew up the bridging party with grenades.
We had Jerry beaten to a frazzle and we were dumbfounded when we got the order to retire. apparently the French Colonial troops had given up on our right and we were in danger of being cut off?

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THE FAITHFUL DURHAM`s in FLANDERS No 4

Published Thursday February 27th 1941 .......

"Fifth Column"

WORK BEGINS......

WHEN this battalion of the Durham Light infantry made their first withdrawal from positions on the . River Dyle in the early hours of May 16 they were subjected to much sniping, but whether the shooting was done by soldiers or civilians it was never discovered. There is no doubt that Fifth Columnists were at work, for Major J. R. Cousens. officer commanding "A" Company—who was  subsequently wounded and taken prisoner—reported that his 8cwt. truck had been deliberately put out of action by some unknown person. Companies withdrew by different routes. passing through Ottenburg. where up to this time Brigadier N M S Irwin. D.S.0.. M.C.. had had his brigade head-quarters. Within three hours the battalion had occupied their new positions on the high ground west of the Terlaenen—Tombek road, which ran along the small river Lasne. six miles behind the River Dyle..
Congested
The road back had been congested with troops. lorries and guns Several fires were raging in Ottenburg and a fine chateau behind "B" Company's first position was in flames through enemy shelling. Two Bren carriers got caught up in telephone wires and had to be abandoned. There had been casualties. including three company commanders wounded--Captain  F R. Tubbs `B` Company, . Captain R. H Blackett  `C` Company'. and Captain F. W. B. Hutton `D` Company—and they had been succeeded respectively by Lieut. J. H H. Bonham. Captain Burdon Taylor and Lieut. J. R Gregson  "B" and "C" Companies had suffered most and needed re-organising. but there was no time for this as dawn was already breaking The quartermaster (Capt. 0. Pearson) and the transport.officer Lieut. G. Wright. arrived with the cooks' lorries and food was provided for the men. There was a shortage of drinking water , It was difficult to ascertain what weapons were available and ammunition  and Very pistols  were scarce. There were a few trenches in the area. but it was ' impossible to dig more without  tools. and wire was unobtainable.
The battalion fell In on the road and was divided off into platoons of about 20 men under  an officer or Sergeant-Major.  Each platoon was given a locality  to hold and an officer put in charge of two or more platoons  as company commander.
Communication  had to be entirely by runner . Several small parties of the Durham Light Infantry who  had ant received orders in retire from the River Dyle  joined during the morning, having moved across country and avoided roads and houses. Intermittent bombardment with mortars was experienced. The enemy `s fire was extremely accurate and a few casualties were caused
The battalion needed re organizing re-equipping rest and food and although they were still ready to fight when required they welcomed the order to withdraw at 10 o`clock the same night.
At the end of a tiring trek of 12 miles via Overyssche, Hoeylaert and Terblock the men enjoyed a splendid meal in the Forest of Soignes.
Major Cousins and `A` Company did not reach Overyssche until after the remainder of the battalion had left, having been delayed on the positions. They reached the village by cross country route uncertain whether the enemy were there or not.
In a deserted cafe  they obtained food and not knowing which way the battalion had gone marched his company to  Brussels where they were able to buy more eatables and were directed to the headquarters of another Division. Here they were told the locality of the battalion which they joined later after having been given up for lost.
At four o`clock on the morning of May 17th  the battalion left the Forest of Soignes and marched with the remainder of the brigade via the southern outskirts of Brussels across the Charleroi-Brussels Canal and through Leeuw St Pierre to a 
village a few miles south of Elinghen. Having covered a distance of about 16 milesthe men were very tired,and after arrival the day was spent sleeping under trees in an orchard interupted however by bombing which caused a few casualties to another battalion close by.
Water was obtained in restricted quantities and some of the men were able to get a wash. The cooks lorries could not be found so a scratch meal was made up with food bought at the few farms round about.
Some of the inhabitants were packing up to leave their homes but others were still undecided.Huge Belgian horses were harnessed to enormous Belgian wagons. Old couples perched on top of their bundles waved sadly to the `Durham`s` as they joined the pitiful procession of refugees moving slowly down the special side roads reserved  for them.
Shortly beffore 10 o`clock the same nightthe battalion continued the withdrawal and travelled a further distance of 16 miles to Gammerages via Elinghen Leerbeek ,Oude Platts and Vollezell.
Gammerages was reached on Saturday May 18th. Here the men were found billets at a convent and in some unoccupied houses but no foodwas available beyond a few local purchases.
Retirement
The men were very hungry and tired .They had marched 48 miles in a little over 48 hours manhandling the Bren Guns and anti tank rifles that remained. They had had no sleep for 2 nights and had had only two meals the first of which was hurried.
At 9am however signals were received to continue their retirement. A large proportion of the battalion set off in troop carrying vehicles whilst the remainder who started off to march were picked up by more mechanised transport about six miles east of Grammont.
The situation was very confused as no one knew how far the Germans had advanced. As the Durham`s crossed the river Dendre at Grammont our troops could be seen holding bridgeheads.
Billets were provided in scattered farms north of Ogy which lies west of Lessines. A meal was ready for the men and the quartermaster had been able to obtain some more Bren guns.
In the afternoon the withdrawal was continued the mechanised column moving  off via Renaix to Tournai preceeded by a reconnaissance party under Major T Stallard second in command of the battalion who rushed off at very short notice.
Dawn on Sunday May 19th found part of the column held up by a huge traffic block at Renaix the roadway in each direction for miles being packed with military vehicles of all kinds many of them head to tail.
Much of the halting was due to drivers falling asleep through sheer exhaustion during a check then failing to wake up when the vehicles ahead of them moved on.......

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THE FAITHFUL DURHAM`s in FLANDERS No 5

Published Friday February 28th 1941 .......

      

They Acted too Soon.....
The premature blowing up of bridges by our Sappers resulted in rear parties being cut off on the East Side of the River Escaut and several armoured fighting vehicles and carriers which would otherwise have been sucessfully withdrawn had to be abandoned and destroyed.
When the 2nd battalion of The Durham Light Infantry reached Tournai on the morning of Sunday May 19th the town was in flames from a recent air attack and was almost deserted by civilians.Several churches and many houses had been demolshed or badly damaged and the central square was a shambles.
The task of the battalion was to hold the canalised River Escaut which runs which runs through the centre of Tournai. No contact with the enemy was made, although there were frequent "scares" The night was fairly quiet, and the following day was spent loopholing, wiring and digging. as it was under-stood they were to hold the line of the river for some time. Some of the bridges. although demolshed. were passable by enemy Infantry.
 Any civilian material such as spades and bicycles were taken. and one motor-cycle proved most valuable
 An enemy attack deveoped during the afternoon. and the town was shelled at night
Shortly before midnight the battalion handed over the sector and marched :o Wllemeau a village. four miles south on the Douai road The brigade then went into divisional reserve.
In the abandoned farm-steads there were cows waiting to be milked  and there were rabbits and chickens that made an appetising addition to the menu for some of the troops
Reports were later received that the enemy had crossed the River Escaut and "D" Company now commanded  by Lieut. J. Gregson—was sent to assist s forward brigade., their place being taken by a company of the Royal Welch Fusiliers.
 At midnight "D" Company rejoined the battalion, which then continued the retirement. They passed through Bercu which was their original starting: point when the Germans had Invaded Belgium 12 days previously. The village was now deserted except for French troops moving up to take over that part of the "Gort" line which the "Durhams" had spent so many weeks in building,
After a short march of eight miles the battalion reached the Bois de Bercu It was here. incidentally. that the men were provided with large quantities of cigarettes and tinned food. which Captain Rice (the padre) and Second-Lieut. H O. Lyster-Todd brought from  the N.A.A.F.I stores in Lille which were being abandoned,
Still the khaki line was moving back. That night the "Durhams" marched to Genech. and in motor transport proceeded via Seclin and La Bassee to La Couture. It was a difficult Journey. with much traffic passing in each direction. Maps of Northern France were scarce Excellent maps of Belgium had been provided. but this large scale withdrawal had not been anticipated. Many were lost. and none of this particular area had been issued to company commanders.
 Empire Day found the fog and fury of war descending in earnest. The Germans had occupied Bethune and were near La Bassee. The location of units in front and on the flanks was obscure. A message was received that enemy mobile troops had pushed forward north of Bethune, and road blocks were hastily erected and patrols sent out. At 11 p.m. the Durham Light Infantry moved to Ca!onne, where they were told by the inhabitants that the Germans had been there previously. The other two battalions of the brigade were reported to be in contact with the enemy at. St. Flores and St. Venant. Ten German prisoners were marched through the village during the morning. They were well-built young men. believed to belong to the "Death's Head Hussars."
 On the afternoon of May 25th  Lieutenant Nutley. the intelligence officer, went on reconnaissance on a motor-cycle and was shot dead by a German patrol.
 A few casualties were caused by mortar and shell fire. Up to this time there had been 100 casualties about 80 of which had occurred on the River Dyle. During the night the battalion left Calonne the companies marching at intervals and by different routes to occupy roughly the line of the railway running through St Venant
The Royal Welsh Fusiliers, who were forward of the village. drove the enemy out of St. Floris and St. Venant. but they were later pushed back, one company being surrounded and lost. Behind the village was a canal, the only crossing being from St. Venant towards the Forest of Nieppe, near which was brigade headquarters and part of the battalion of the Royal Berkshire Regiment. Enemy tanks had been reported in or about the forest. The Durham Light Infantry had no troops on their left flank. Difficulty was Increased by the fact that along the canal hank there were 48 large barges with civilians living on board. Fortunately they were moored on the side farthest away from the enemy. The Royal Engineers could not destroy them all as they had double steel hulls and would not burn easily. If sunken they would still have made good supports for enemy pontoon bridges.
After dark on Sunday 26th May the Germans lit fires presumably to indicate their forward lines to aircraft these bonfires could be seen in a big semi=circle around the village.
Several civilians were found wondering at headquarters.These were found to be imbeciles from the local asylum who had been released  through the lack of food and water.
The enemy attack developed with frenzied ferocity the following day and movement was difficult and dangerous.
Second Lieutenant H W M Peel of `A` Company -a nephew of Brigadier General H H S Morant DSO Honoury Colonel of the Regiment who had joined over 50 years ago- was killed and Lieutenat J.R.Gregson commanding `D` Company was wounded and died soon afterwards.
There were many other casualties including Second Lieutenant  F.L.Cousins wounded and hundreds more were wounded and taken prisoner amongst them R B Y Simpson the commanding officer.
Many daring deeds would be performed before the final departing debacle and these will be recounted in future instalments......

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THE FAITHFUL DURHAM`s in FLANDERS No 6

Published Saturday March 1st 1941 .......

"OF THE HIGHEST ORDER"......

For saving what, in the words of the official announcement, "appeared to be a hopeless position." C.S.M. Norman Metcalfe. of Stanley, was awarded the Military Cross—a distinction seldom given to any but an officer—while serving with this battalion of the Durham Light Infantry. When all the officers had been killed or wounded, Sergeant - Major Metcalfe took command of his company and had to fight his way out of the position. He withdrew his company to another position, which he held. His example, disregard of personal danger and leadership qualities were "of the highest order."
 Sergeant-Major Metcalfe has since received his commission, and now, with the rank of captain. is serving with another battalion of the regiment. For 18 years he has been In the Regular Army, and has served to India, Egypt and Ireland, He is an all-round sportsman, and has played Rugby for his regiment The enemy attack. as previously Indicated, developed on an unprecedented scale on Monday. May 27. when the "Durham`s" found themselves In a precarious position at St. Venant after a 17 days rapid withdrawal from their positions on the River Dyle When Lieut.. J. R. Gregson was killed C.S.M. Metcalfe was left in command of three platoons of "A" Company. the remaining platoon being in another position at the time. Snipers  were inflicting heavy casualties:, and !he Bren guns of two platoons were both blown up and put out of  action while Sergeant-Major Metcalfe was reconnoitring  on the flanks.
 Our troops had received no  artiIlery support. for three or four days. owing to the confusion caused by the encircling tactics of the enemy and gallant warrant officer did not want all his men to be knocked down like ninepins with nothing to hit back with. Preparations were being made to withdraw to another strategic point when a number of Germans kneeling in the nearby fields opened fire with machine guns. It became a case of `every man for himself` Among those wounded were Sergeant Robert Donaldson of Newcastle (whose thrilling adventures in dealing with snipers at close quarters and his nightmare journey to Dunkirk is recounted below)
Meanwhile Regimental Sergeant Major A G Goddard (now a Prisoner of War) had moved some of the vehicles across the bridge.
Battalion headquarters now came under fire and received a direct hit. Some men inside may have been injured but all the officers who were outside escaped. Shelter was taken behind the house but a few minutes later bullets presumably armour piercing went right through the building. Cover was then taken on the bank of the Lys Canal.
Captain C M Townsend adjutant of the battalion was lying in concealment on the canal bank when an inquiry for the commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel  R B Y Simpson from Lieutenant Colonel H B Harrison MC commanding officer of The Royal Welch Fusiliers included in the same brigade.
As he did not know where the commanding officer was Captain Townsend crawled back to see what was wanted Colonel Harrison told him that the position had now become untenable-it appeared that the companies had been over-un by the enemy-and they had better see if it was possible to withdraw any of their troops across the bridge.
Three enemy armoured cars had appeared along the canal bank to the left and opened fire at 600 yards range. They were engaged by Bren gun and anti-tank but their appearance  prevented any withdrawal away towards the bridge which provided the only means of escape. Tracer fire caused many casualties.
A two pounder anti tank gun had been concealed in a hedge in front of a cafe used as battalion headquarters and although some of the team were knocked it had commenced firing . It had however been silenced before the appearance of these three tanks on the left.
Colonel Harrison withdrew with a few of his Fusiliers to form a bridgehead and gave instructions for any remaining men of the Durham Light Infantry to withdraw through him.
With the intention of getting in touch with his commanding officer Captain Townsend crawled back towards headquarters but when he reached the cemetery he found that the three armoured vehicles had moved up to the cafe and it was apparent that none of the officers and men inside would get away.
Captain Townsend was able to wave to the men inside the building and they returned the signal until enemy fire opened up..
About five minutes later one or two tanks came down the road. Captain Townsend who had two men with him crawled back to the bridge and reported to Colonel Harrison that he did not think any of the `Durham`s` would be able to make their escape.
As he said this the RSM of The Royal Welsh Fusiliers shouted "Look out!" The armoured cars are coming!
A rush was made to get as many men as possible across the bridge and as he made his way over Captain Townsend was wounded in the face by machine gun fire. Three days later he had the fortune to be evacuated from Dunkirk, now with the rank of Major is second in command of the Regimental Training Centre.
Sergeant Major Metcalfe and a few men of `D` Company got away and after many adventures took part in the `miracle of deliverance from the death Dunes of Dunkirk.
As stated Colonel Harrison had given instructions that the remnants of the Durham Light Infantry to withdraw through him. He held on to the last to enable this to be accomplished but he was killed on the last to enable this to be accomplished but he was killed on the bridge across which he had made it possible for others to pass to safety.

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THE FAITHFUL DURHAM`s in FLANDERS No 7

Published Monday March 3rd 1941 .......

"AN OFFICERS LAST COMMAND"..............

Acts of gallantry unsurpassed in audacity and daring were performed by a Sergeant and four men of the Durham Light Infantry who, after swimming twice over a canal, effectively silenced German snipers by throwing Mills bombs over the wall of the house from which they were operating.

This plan of attack was one of the last orders given by Lieut. J.R. Gregson, then commanding "D" Company, before he was killed near St. Venant on May 27.
Having pointed out the route to be taken Lieut. Gregson told the heroic little party to leave their equipment and to go armed only with Mills bombs and five rounds in the magazines of their rifles, which were to be carried slung over the shoulder. When they had swum over the canal in the direction of their objective they discovered greatly to their chagrin, that owing to the winding of the waterway, the aquatic adventure would have to be repeated.

"We forgot all about the cigarettes in our pockets" one of the men told me. Apparently no more irrefutable evidence could be advanced to emphasise their earnestness in carrying out the expedition! As they once more reached the far side of the canal, however, they had a very disconcerting experience that was akin to a hideous nightmare. On the bank there suddenly reared up in air the black form of some mysterious animal---whether it was a horse or a bull or some other ferocious beast has not been established---which was apparently suffering from madness due to the gunfire and noise of the clashing armies.

"It reared up and charged in a most terrifying manner" Said Sergeant Robert Donaldson of Newcastle, who was in charge of the party. "We dare not shout, as it would have given our position away, so all we could do was to scatter and fling ourselves back into the water. We then made our way along the bank to find another landing place and, fortunately the animal took no more notice of us.

On reaching the roadway they saw a farmhouse about 400 yards away with a big white circle round one of the windows. "We guessed that was where the snipers were operating," Sergeant Donaldson told me. "We worked round concealed ourselves behind some bushes and rubble." "I said to the others" 'I am going to throw a bomb through the top window. As soon as I do that you make a dash for the door.' "One of the men--Private Batty--said he would throw the bomb which he immediately proceeded to do in the overarm style of a professional cricketer. Unfortunately he missed the window and the bomb exploded."

Machine-gun fire at once opened out from two houses standing on the left. They took shelter behind the farmhouse and sat for about half-an-hour wondering what to do next. They could not go forward and they could not go back. Eventually a plan of campaign was formulated and to put into action. They doubled across the open space and managed to get back to the road without casualty.
Having worked their way round the houses from which the machine-gun fire had come Lance-Corporal Whitely--who has earned fame as a boxer in the regiment--pulled himself up by his hands and peered over the wall of one of the backyards

"Instead of speaking he held up three fingers," said Sergeant Donaldson resuming the narrative. "I held up four fingers--one extra for luck"--and we threw four bombs over.
"We then went into the yard and found that all the Germans had been knocked out. They had an American Tommy gun and a mortar, which was much larger than those we were using. Mr Gregson afterwards told me that he had heard the noise of the grenades. When we got back to the road we heard a lot of motor vehicles approaching, so we hid in the ditch. We wondered what they were, but we had not long to wait. They pulled up at a house still inhabited by French people, and a number of Germans got out and entered the house. Two of them brought out bicycles which they had found there. "They rode past us as we lay in the ditch watching them. We doubled back and eventually reached our company. The French people in the farm opposite where we had our little trench were very kind to us and we soon
had dry clothes again."
We reported to Mr Gregson what had happened and about 10 minutes later he received wounds from which he died shortly afterwards." It was at this stage of the battle that C.S.M. N. Metcalf, of Stanley, took over the command of the company and as previously mentioned was awarded the Military Cross in recognition of the courage and qualities of leadership he displayed when all his officers had become casualties.

Sergeant Donaldson -- who previously served in the Durham Light Infantry from 1926 to 1933 and was recalled on the outbreak of the war--was wounded in the leg in subsequent operations. The thrilling story of how he survived the drama of Dunkirk after having laboriously crawled over fields and along seemingly endless ditches, expecting to be pounced upon at any moment by the advancing Germans, will be told in a subsequent instalment.

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THE FAITHFUL DURHAM`s in FLANDERS No 8

Published Tuesday March 4th 1941 .......

 

"EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF!".....

Following the heavy enemy attack at St. Venant on May 27 it became a case of "every man for himself'" In order to avoid being encircled. Sergeant Robert Donaldson of Newcastle -- whose daring exploit in swimming the canal and silencing German snipers was recounted in the previous instalment -- was wounded in
the leg shortly afterwards and was unable to walk. Private Batty was among those killed.

"As I crawled across the field expecting to be pounced upon at any moment by the advancing Germans, it seemed as if everything was being fired at me" said Sergeant Donaldson in recalling his experiences. "I got into a ditch and when I reached the road I had lost all sense of direction and did not know which way to go. "I saw a khaki figure on the edge of a wood and signalled to him. He was a machine-gunner and he helped me to the building, which was their headquarters. They gave me a hot drink and dressed my leg."

Nobody in Front

When Donaldson told the officer in command that there was nobody in front of them he at once ordered his men to pack their guns on the vehicles. "I was put in a front seat with one of the drivers." Donaldson told me "When I heard the instructions given to the drivers as to the route to be taken it appeared to me that if we went that way we would be going back to the place that I had just crawled from." The officer in charge assured me that I must be mistaken, but as events proved, they ran into an ambush and lost their guns. We had only got about 450 yards when there was a sudden grinding of brakes and the lorries came to a standstill.

"The drivers then jumped out and started backing their vehicles away again. They did not know what was happening and all was confusion. Shells were bursting on the road right in front of them and a farmhouse was in flames." "About 200 or 300 yards away the Germans could be seen going in and out of the little trenches which we had occupied. "One of the drivers shouted to me 'Jump for it sergeant!' I managed to get out and as I was unable to walk I had to start to crawl again.

Which Way To Go

'When I got back to the humpy-back bridge some of the machine-gunners were still there and we had an argument as to which way to go. One of the men said "The sergeant knows where north is We will stick to him" We got a ride in a 30-cwt truck and on the way I caught a glimpse of some of the Durham Light Infantry."

"A dispatch rider said he would get me something to relieve my pain and put me to sleep. I said I did not need anything. I did not want to run the risk of being left behind unconscious. They took me to the casualty clearing station, which was in darkness. I lay there about an hour, during which time the place was heavily shelled. I was one of the lucky ones who got moved away. For two days the ambulances were going backwards and forwards owing to general confusion and congestion on the roads. After being held up for two or three hours word would be received that they could move on another five miles or so."

"We then came to a canal over which a temporary bridge had been thrown and the driver opened the door and shouted "You can either stay where you are or get out and crawl" "The two machine-gunners and I were giving a blanket each by French soldiers. They were both wounded, and the one who was holding me had more serious injuries than I had, but they were in the arm.

"Military police on motorcycle did good work in directing us, and eventually we reached Dunkirk." At Dunkirk we found that the hospital had just been evacuated so we went on to the sands and sat down and wondered what the next move would be. We then went back into the town, where we stayed for two days and French soldiers dressed our wounds. We had plenty food and cigarettes -- thousands of them -- which had come from abandoned canteens. An officer came along and took us to the car 'dump' where there were hundreds of vehicles of all kinds. He put us into one of the lorries and drove off. By this time I had acquired a walking stick and was not quite so helpless."

As we boarded a destroyer I saw C.S.M. Metcalf, who with other "Durhams' got back to England.

Grave of Lieutenant Gregson Sgt Donaldsons CO as mentioned in the article

The First Encounter

During the first encounter with the enemy on the River Dyle a fortnight earlier, Sergeant Donaldson was in charge of the mortar platoon and he had a birds eye view of the advancing Germans coming down on the opposite side of the hill. "I sent up an SOS and after we had used all our ammunition we retired" he told me "Our own artillery fired short and caused confusion but no casualties. To prevent us being fired on as withdrew we held up our handkerchiefs and kept waving them. We got back to battalion headquarters. Platoon Sergeant-Major P. McLane of Newcastle did great work. He had a motorcycle and he was whipping round doing odd jobs on his own. He saw we were never beat in carrying the mortar. Sergeant G. Jenkinson of Hebburn who was in charge of the other mortar detachment, also rendered valuable assistance."

"During the night the mortar was lost through the truck having been commandeered and the men had to manhandle the ammunition. It was pitch dark and there was no means of finding our way back to the mortar. We learnt later that they had however, taken the precaution of removing the sights from the gun."

A Meal Ready

"We tossed up which company to go to. I went to 'D' Company, then commanded by Lieut. J. R. Gregson and Sergeant Jenkinson went to 'C' Company commanded by Captain R. H. Blackett. When we retired we thought the whole battalion had been wiped out, but when we reached the main road we found all our trucks waiting for us and a hot meal ready." We lined up, turned to our front and numbered off. In my group there were three officers, three sergeants and two privates, and we were expected to hold a line of 800 yards. Lieut J.H.H. Bonham was the senior officer in the group. Jerry 'Germans' caught us up again and we got a lot of mortar fire. We had no Bren guns and one man had no rifle. We had to stand the enemy fire and were not able to return it.

At 1a.m. We got orders to retire and C.S.M. who had 20 years service in the regiment, went down with four men to hold up the German army. He had a Bren gun and some boxes of ammunition. As we went back the Commanding officer was standing on the road in the darkness and as each group passed he had a word of cheer and encouragement for them. Later I saw C.S.M. Burkitt and he said he had got out "by the skin of his teeth."

It was after the further retirement to St Venant that Sergeant Donaldson and four men went forward with Mills bombs and silenced the enemy snipers who were the causing as much trouble.......................

 

 

 

 

Memories of May 1940 4448544 Serjeant James (Jim) Wray 2nd DLI

James Wray was born in Fencehouses,Co Durham in April 1913, the son of a a coal miner. James left school when he was just 14 years old and went to work
in a local colliery. On January 7th 1931, James Wray joined the Regular Army signing up for a period of seven and a half years he was then  posted to the Durham Light Infantry Depot at Fenham Barracks near Newcastle upon Tyne. After completing his basic training, Private `Jim` Wray was posted to the 1st Battalion Durham Light Infantry then at Catterick, where he eventually trained as a Bugler.
In September 1933, Private Wray was sent as part of a draft of soldiers to join the 2nd Battalion Durham Light Infantry in India. He served with 2 DLI in India on the North West Frontier  and in the Sudan before returning to England in 1937. James Wray then decided to leave the Army and went back to work as a miner.
When the Second World War began in 1939, the Reservists were recalled and James Wray rejoined the 2nd Battalion DLI, crossing to France in September 1939, as part of the British Expeditionary Force. James Wray fought on the River Dyle in May 1940 and at St Venant. He was badly wounded by a mortar bomb at St Venant and was evacuated via Dunkirk to a hospital in England.
After he had recovered from his wounds, James Wray was sent to West Africa to help train Army recruits. Later he was promoted to Regimental Sergeant Major of the 7th Battalion Gold Coast Regiment and from 1943 fought in India and Burma against the Japanese Army.
At the end of the Second World War, James Wray was demobilised from the Army on the 1st March 1946 and returned to his work as a coal miner. James Wray died in 2002.

 The following account is based on the memories and recollections of Serjeant James Wray 2DLI

The Durhams moved up to the Dyle and started digging in on the Belgian frontier, the Belgian frontier as it stood was  a line of barbed wire along the Dyle River with high ground  with wooded areas on both banks .The Germans on one side the Durhams on the other as soon as they arrived they started to dig in and prepare the positions .A Company on the left  then B Company , C Company MG Company with Company HQ further back . Sgt Wray a platoon sergeant  set about reinforcing the existing positions digging to a depth of about shoulder deep.
Early next morning the Germans were clearly visable to Sgt Wray on the far bank, you have heard of the balloon  going up well on this occasion it was just that with a German observation balloon  complete with observer  watching the DLI positions from the hill beyond . Sgt Wray pointed out these enemy troop movements to his officer Mr Cousins who was the Company commander and the he remarked  that a battle seemed imminent. Naturally their was a great deal of apprehension although the vast majority were  regular soldiers none had yet fired a bullet in anger
Sgt Wray  was resigned to the coming battle but settled down and even mamaged a few words of encouragement to his platoon Corporal Lance Corporal Nelson telling him not to worry they were prepared..
As the German artillery opened up the men stood too as German shells dropped all around but the Durhams stood fast  Sgt Wray realised that the Germans  had to first cross the Dyle River so there was no immediate prospect of meeting them face to face. A few DLI around Sgt Wray were wounded and no doubt further up the Company line there were fatalities, but casualties were light considering that the barrage lasted for a good five hours.
 In the lull that followed  to the left of his position Sgt Wray had observed Lieutenant Annand  frantically  pushing  what turned out to be his batman in an old wheelbarrow at the time A Company had no idea of what was happening  down at Annands bridge. The Company frontage  was about a mile with each company having a third of a mile each.Sgt Wrays platoon were blissfully unaware of the actions that led to the first Army VC of the war.
 With no direct enemy contact it came as a surprise after about two days in these positions  when the order came to slowly fall back.B Company led with ,C,A and MG Companies following in close order.It was an orderly retreat which was carried out very slowly all equipment was taken and nothing was abandoned at this time.. Once on the march about 15 km was covered before they were forced to dig in again Sgt Wray  remembered the amazing flexibility of the German Army whose rapid advance was threatening  to out flank them.
Whilst on the march a Messerschmitt fighter appeared overhead machine guns blazing,the column scattered and whilst lying in the ditch Sgt James Wray  recalled the terrifying noise and vibrations in the ground as it was raked with machine gun shells  he could even recall the bullet clips hitting the road. Shaken after this first encounter  Sgt Wrays platoon suffering no casualties  but it  in the words of Jim Wray `shook up their feathers`. They marched on  until they reached  a hill top position near Halle. Occupying a pre prepared machine gun position a German spotter plane soon appeared and despite a Corporal`s efforts with a Bren gun it was not long before the German shells began to fall .
 Company head quarters with Mr Cousins was  set slightly further back with Sgt Wray answering direct to his Platoon Officer Mr Peel, who had fought in the Spanish Civil War for the nationalists. Mr Peel always carried two water bottles during a brief rest Mr Peel offered Sgt Wray his water bottle “No Thank you Sir” he said “Go on Sgt  take a drink to the Sgts surprise the bottle contained Cognac “Better? Enquired the officer “Much  Thank you replied  Sgt.Wray.
 Moving on they left Halle heading onto the Brussells road.  Brussels they  found was totally deserted  no civilians no one,  Sgt Wrays platoon guarded the bridge over the Albert Canal. Sgt Wray  recalled  the CO set up his Headquarters directly behind A Company, Mr Peel was given the order that this bridge was to be held at all costs but a more pressing concern for the men than the Germans imminent arrival was the lack of rations with food  desperately short.
It was at this time  Sgt Major Harry Qualtrough dispatched Sgt Wray and two men to forage in the buildings for food in one large hotel it was clear that the occupants had left in  a hurry yet no food was found.Then  one of his soldiers found some bottles of wine. Sgt Wray warned them in no uncertain terms to leave well alone else they would feel the butt of his rifle on the back of their necks! Eventually they found a few loaves of bread and a little ham moving across the road they also found a large convent also empty with the cellars deliberately flooded to prevent the looting of the nuns wine stores .
 Reporting back to Sergeant Major Harry Qualthrough with what little food they`d found the Sgt Major ordered it distributed to Wrays platoon at this time it was noticed that an old gentleman was acting strangely and fearful of fifth columnists he was ordered to stop ,what followed next was described as Sgt Wray as one of the most regrettable incidents of the war so far, ignoring the order and seemingly hurrying away one of the soldiers dropped to his knees and fired a single round killing the old man on closer inspection it was found he was not a fifth columnist but a hungry civilian attempting to hide a small loaf of bread in his waistcoat  fearful of losing it he had ignored the order to halt.
At the bridge it was discovered that the Royal Engineers had prepared the bridge for demolition prior to the Durham`s arrival having worked in the mines James Wray offered to complete the job but after reporting the situation to HQ with having no orders and fearful that some British troops still remained yet to cross Mr Peel returned  to his platoon and  informed Sgt Wray that his offer had been declined.Shortly afterwards  a German motorcycle combination appeared around the corner if there were any British troops left they were now cut off.
 With no orders the bridge was left intact much to Sgt Wrays dismay as he reflected on the fact that it was now an open invitation for the German panzers to cross the Albert Canal.
Out in open country it was here that the long streams of refugees were encountered for the first time slowing up the Durhams who were now marching in single file.There was very little rest no time to wash and shave although they had no idea how far the Germans were behind them at night the German bombers could be clearly be seen and heard overhead. The Durhams were disheartened with this constant retreat no information was passed to the men but the rumours had started regarding Dunkirk. Up ahead some British officers asked “what`s your  regiment?” The DURHAMS came the reply, “They are The Durhams Thank christ! It’s the Durhams!” they said. Ahead of them they saw French and Belgian troops walking aimlessly about smoking and with no intention whatsoever of fighting.
Eventually they were halted and  told they were  forming a defensive line. “Where the hell are we Mister Peel ?” Sgt Wray said. Having the only map Mr Peel answered St Venant! There was a railway which cut the road,with the town of St Venant  situated just behind. Sgt Wray`s platoon took up position forward of the railway with a double farmhouse on their right and a single farmhouse 200yds on their left. The platoon was then moved into the right hand farmhouse. As they were digging in just prior to this Sgt Walker arrived he was with B company and known as Hooky Walker he had been a battalion footballer before the war, Hooky pointed out these two people dressed as women but certainly not walking like women these two persons disappeared into a small copse,despite their concerns on this occasion no one opened fire possibly mindfull of what had happened in Brussels.
An Anti tank gun was brought up to cover the road and railway junction it was about this time a loud crunching noise was heard initially Sgt Wray had presumed Mr Peel had taken out a recconaisance patrol and this noise was now them returning when Sgt Wray looked out he was horrified to see at least half a company of German Infantry advancing towards them after a fierce firefight the Germans were forced back.On the body of a German Officer  Sgt Wray found detailed maps, plans and other documents these  were sent back with Pte Hurst to the Company commander Mr Cousins with a reccomendation to send them back to battalion HQ if these documents actually arrived at Battalion HQ is not known.
 A heavy mortar barrage by the Germans resulted in the fatal wounding of Lt Peel and badly wounded his platoon sergeant Sgt Fisher. Mr Cousins came forward with Pte Hurst and completed a short report on the incident and the circumstances surrounding the Germans attack . Mr Cousins asked Sgt Wray for his casualty returns as he was reading the report Mr Cousins looked up and said do you not think it was a little scary to which Sgt Wray answered that although it was certainly a heavy engagement  if the reserve platoon were moved forward they should be able to cover it. Mr Cousins  told Sgt Wray to carry and not to concern himself with the reserve platoon and he would determine what happened to that.
 Another stronger attack from the Germans came in  and being the most senior NCO it fell upon Sgt Wray to take control of the platoon, now the men were literally fighting for their lives they remembered their training and at a range of around 150 yards there were plenty of targets there was no indiscriminate fire each target was selected there was no remorse at the time from Sgt Wray and his men .
One young German was found nearby,wounded through the knee despite expecting to be shot and shaking like a leaf he was taken to the farmhouse where his wounds were dressed before he was sent back down the line. The fighting spirit of the Durhams  was not dampened during the first attack the platoon had suffered relatively few casualties the second attack however was altogether different.
No artillery or mortar fire was available the Durham`s relied on small arms fire from a knelling and lying position. The Germans initial attack had been fierce the second was now proceeded by a heavy mortar barrage designed to soften up their enemy. Sgt Wray was standing close to where a German mortar burst its casing struck Wray in the back and he was thrown three yards forward where he lay  well aware that the blood was now flowing freely from his wound. Pte Hurst pulled the Sgt back into an empty dugout and proceeded to dress his wounds.The Sgt Major appeared with Major Cousins they made no enquiry into Sergeant Wrays condition they were  there solely to get an overall picture of what the platoons current situation was it was at this time whilst having his wounds dressed that Sgt Wray recalled the death of Pte Menns (although there does not appear to be a Pte Menns there is a Pte Minns ,4452575 Charles Richard Minns Son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Henry Minns, of Walker Gate, Newcastle-on-Tyne this could be the soldier Sgt Wray referred to.) Sgt Wray realised he was out of the battle ,Sgt Fisher badly wounded and  unable to speak  was evacuated supported by two men to RAP. Along with Menns, Cpl Nelson was also believed to have been killed ( he was actually a prisoner of war) Pte Hurst helped Sgt Wray out of the dugout into the battalion HQ which was situated in a large stout barn ,the men inside were really up against it incendiaries were been fired into the barn Durham Light Infantrymen were up in the rafters firing at the Germans across the open ground in front of the Barn. The RSM (RSM Goddard)  was attempting to push a truck full of ammunition away from the burning barn, The Colonel,(Colonel Simpson) called to the battalion adjutant Capt Stallard and told him and the surviving Durhams this “Anyone who can possibly manage to get out of this situation ,you are welcome to do so  and I urge you to do so urgently ,get yourselves out of it as soon as you possibly can,if you can!” Sgt Wray, wounded in his back, did not know if he could crawl let alone walk  another Sgt next to Sgt Wray wounded in the knee managed to haul himself up and hobbled off  Sgt Wray following his example half walked half crawled out of the barn towards the  small canal bridge small arms fire was pinging around off the bridge the Sgt was determined to get as far as he could. Dragging himself across the bridge he collapsed in a heap unable to go any further someone ran from the RAP and dragged Sgt Wray inside.A Cpl Victor Gunn examined Sgt Wrays  field dressing ,he offered reassurance to Wray and ten minutes later a 15cwt utilility truck improvised as an ambulance carried Sgt Wray and a further 8 casualties away from the St Venant area. As they were evacuated they had a little time to reflect on the Germans total domination of the situation and the certainty that their battalion had been completely overun.

German tanks clear of the canals now free to roam free in the town of St Venant above a panzer outside of the church.

 

4267469 CSM Martin McLane 2nd Durham Light Infantry

Martin McLane was a Company Sergeant Major with the 2nd Durham Light Infantry who served prewar and throughout WW2 these are some of the recollections of his time with the BEF.A full biography of CSM McLane can be found on the `Those who proudlyserved` section. 

In France in 1939-40 Martin McLane a Sergeant with the 2nd Durham Light Infantry recalled many an incident involving Ossie Pearson an old soldier and Battalion quartermaster who refused to issue any of the new battledress or any other new kit for that matter McLane often referred to Pearson as the old Tyrant. Dry boots and socks had always been a problem and the solution came in parcels of Wellington boots sent from home,private purchases made by families who often scrimped and saved between them to provide these boots for the soldiers. yet these were taken from the men by the quartermaster and  put into battalion stores which were eventually abandoned in an open field during the later retreat.Something McLane could never understand.
When the Mortar Sgt ,Harry Qualtrough, was promoted and moved to  `A` Company  it was McLane who was promoted to head the Mortar platoon much to the displeasure of the older sergeants who questioned why this relatively young soldier had gained promotion so early in life,the reason was not sinister it was simple McLane was already fully trained  on 3” mortars having completed the course prior to war being declared.
Colonel Simpson took over command of the 2nd battalion from Colonel Yates both were much respected officers,however further down the command chain Captain Mann,McLanes officer was new to the battalion and McLane was of the opinion that he lacked the training and leadership qualities of some of the pre war officers who were with the battalion at that time.
On the 10th-11th May 1940 war came to the men of the 2nd Durham’s as the German Luftwaffe roared overhead the battalion prepared itself for the move into Belgium but for some reason Sgt. McLane was temporarily removed from his mortar platoon and assigned to other duties when he eventually rejoined the battalion they were on the River Dyle near Wavre. What Sgt. Mc Lane found on his return did not please him as most of his platoon were now employed on fatigues digging fortifications instead of preparing their new mortars for the confrontation that was obviously coming.
The River Dyle  area was already partially fortified with wire and a few pre-war Belgian pillboxes the 2 DLI mortar platoon were sited in the valley surrounded by high woods,not an ideal place the lack of time allocated to them had prevented any sort of preparation and the Germans on the other side of the river being on the high-ground had the area covered by snipers.
On the hill ,on the British side, was a huge Château,Château  de Laurensart, the occupants refused to be evacuated and it was not until the fighting was under-way that they accepted they would have to eventually leave their home.

Château de Laurensart on the Dyle River it was a bridge on the estate which would set the scene for the winning of the first army VC of WW2

At the foot of the valley there was a bridge spanning the Dyle not a large bridge certainly not built for transport , fifty yards long,eight yards wide with ornamental balustrades on either side. On the right of the bridge there was what Sgt. McLane described as a small fortress with a pill box  not far from it. Sgt. McLane  whilst carrying ammunition down to his position was aware of  Captain Hutton the former transport officer now in command of `D` Company preparing their positions nearby obviously concerned that an engagement of some kind was imminent.
The mortar platoon had other issues,no one wanted the mortar situated anywhere near them fearful of retaliatory  fire by the Germans. No orders had came from the Company Commander,Captain Mann, as to what support was to be given, to whom, or where? The mortars night sighting lamps had, unbeknown to Sgt. .McLane, been sent back to `B` echelons positions some fifteen miles back to the rear of their position. The mortars ammunition trucks too which McLane had camouflaged and concealed were also gone on the orders of the Company Commander much to McLanes displeasure. Repeated requests for new bi-pods had also fell on deaf ears those which  he had, had loose elevating screws which could have been fixed in a field workshop had there been a field workshop!.

The sniping continued with the mortar team`s  ammunition carrying party now the Germans centre of attention although none were killed but at least one of the DLI party was wounded .The bridge was blown as the Germans approached . A small crossroads became the mortars centre of attention a few  rounds dropped with the intention of discouraging German transport and civilians still in the area from approaching it. The accuracy of the mortars greatly impressed the other companies who now suddenly realised the benefit of its powerful, accurate fire but with only one operational mortar  left in the battalion the effect of this one remaining tube was never going to be enough to deter the Germans who were now in the riverbed itself attempting to cross the Dyle river.due to the close proximity of the DLI troops McLane could not support the Durham’s actions as they fought to force the Germans back. It was left to Captain Annand and his platoon with a box of grenades to force them back and for this action he later received a VC .

  The pillbox nearby was also overrun but a counter attack was put in led by a Corporal whom McLane remembers as a Territorial soldier unusual in a pre war regular battalion. A platoon of the Royal Welch Fusiliers were sent forward by brigade to support the DLI however their imminent arrival had not been passed to McLane ,whose men had been pushed back from the riverside area ,the baseplate of their mortar had been lost unable to retrieve it,McLane utilised the plate from the battalions second,non operational mortar, and  began to drop rounds in the reportedly overrun area. This unbeknown to McLane was the area to which the RWF had been dispatched the mortars fell amongst the RWF causing several fatalities this was an episode that weighed heavily on the mind of Sgt McLane throughout his life although this was clearly a breakdown in communication stemming from the Company, carrying out a `blind` attack was always a risky manoeuvre .

 Despite the valiant actions the decision was taken to pull the Durham’s back with no trucks the mortar platoon requisitioned a horse drawn milk float to carry their equipment away. Once the horse could go no further  the order was given for the mortar and other equipment to be dumped the mortar platoon reluctantly complied and the men became riflemen once again.
McLane was sent to `C` Company as a temporary measure but by his own admission was not ,due to tiredness and fatigue,any use to these men.

 Up to this moment the only direct orders had came from Captain Stallard at the Riverbank when he ordered the mortars to fall back and then came this order from Captain Mann to destroy the 3” mortar and bury its ammunition other than that it was a case of `follow the leader` had the Company Commanders become casualties at this time then because nothing was being cascaded downwards it was McLanes belief that the Company they commanded would have became hopelessly lost.
After a brief stay at `C` Company McLane went on to `D` Company formerly under Captain Hutton who had been wounded through his knee cap his place had been taken by Lieutenant `Greggo`Gregson, a regular soldier who was regarded as cool and collective. With the disbandment of the mortars, and other sections now surplus to the battalions needs, `D` Company was at almost full strength once again.
With his new company McLane and his mortar men moved off to new positions,with no orders and no maps they were believed to be moving into the area of Le Bassee canal. Passing the pre prepared positions they had dug in the days leading up to the move into Belgium  `D` Company came upon the scene of a recent battle,`C` Company with whom McLane had spent such a short time,had been involved in a bayonet charge against a German unit in a bid to `straighten the line`. It had been a bloody affair with bodies strewn around testimony to the warfare they were very much embroiled in .McLane recalled a Pte Rutherford employed in collecting up rifles from the dead some with bloodied bayonets still attached.

 Tournai and positions over the Albert Canal were occupied briefly but once the bridge over the Albert Canal was blown the whole 2nd Division moved off Mouchen and Lille all passed through or passed nearby during what was still a very orderly retreat.
During the retreat `D` Company came under very accurate machine gun fire which appeared to be being directed by a man in the top of a barn.McLane was for shooting this man who he was convinced  was a German but was dissuaded by PSM Pearson. Eventually they came across a narrow farm road ,very straight with a scattering of Farm buildings a road ran to the left with a large farmhouse on the junction this was where the Company Commander ordered them to dig in. Three platoons were sent ahead to forage for tools to enable them to `dig in` all of their own equipment had now been `lost` or packed up with `B` echelon. McLane and the men he had kept together from his mortar platoon took up position to the right of this farmhouse whilst they dug in McLane went on a recconaissance by himself he found a lot of the land was waterlogged and a small humped backed bridge was encountered over the canal certainly capable of supporting horse drawn vehicles and perhaps heavier vehicles.
A visit to other platoons was made to determine their fields of fire in relation to his own ,his platoon had no bren guns just rifles,any position they attempted to dig simply filled with water so in most cases these positions consisted of mounds of earth banked up to enable the men to shelter behind them. At this time German artillery shells began to fall in the area .Shortly after speaking with Sgt.McLane Lieutenant Gregson was hit by a bowl sized piece of shrapnel from one of these exploding shells,McLane rushed to the officers aid and tried to pull out the shrapnel which appeared to be lodged in the base of his spine the shrapnel was red hot and despite the sergeants attempts to dislodge it it remained solid. Sgt McLane was alone with his company commander for whatever reasons he did not order men from his platoon  to take up their Company Commander but ran to the Company Headquarters where he reported to Company Sergeant Major Metcalfe who dispatched four stretcher bearers .A farm gate was improvised as a makeshift stretcher and five men of the battalion carried their officer to the Regimental aid post but unfortunately he died of his wounds a short time later. Lieutenant Gregsons mother later had inscribed silver cigarette cases sent out to the men who had helped her son.
With no officers left CSM Metcalfe put himself in command of `D` Company and promoted McLane as his second in command much to the displeasure of the other more senior Platoon Sergeant Majors. McLane sent out a five man reconnaissance patrol including Sgt Donaldson,Pte Wood, Pte Whiteley. No one knew where the Germans were it was thought they were still at least a canals width away but when the bedraggled soaken wet patrol returned Sgt Donaldson reported the Germans across the canal and what seemed like the whole German Army were in-front of them.this information was quickly sent back to battalion headquarters.
Early next morning,at first light, as the battalion stood to a terrific artillery barrage began to fall on the DLI positions. Tanks were heard and men were worried about facing them but no German tanks were seen what was now apparent was the Germans were putting in a concentrated attack on the company positions .McLane sniped at the advancing Germans a young Lieutenant ,Lieutenant Rudd,arrived he had been sent up to take command of the Company but by his own admission knew little about this type of warfare. On the right men started to break they were not Durham’s but it appeared that these must be the ones facing the tanks heard earlier as they poured back,just then one of McLanes own men reported Pte Fyttche had been shot by a sniper this had un-nerved the men and now McLanes own men began to retreat in some disorder. Another two soldiers were shot in the lower body one of them Pte Syd Walt was a member of  McLanes old platoon now reassigned to one of the other companies,despite his pleas he was left for the stretcher bearers in McLanes mind he was already dead the blood clearly flowing freely down his battledress.CSM Metcalfe appeared with his stretcher bearers and asked what the hell was going on he was told in no uncertain terms that this was a full-scale attack “Put in a counter-attack them!” with what asked McLane as men ran out of their positions directly in front of them the situation was chaotic.

As McLane and Metcalfe stood there the Germans were moving quickly towards them their automatic weapons taking up an increasing number of the surrounding men. Whats to be done asked Metcalfe? Give the order Everyman for himself, I cannot do that said Metcalfe then I will said McLane and he yelled out “Everyman for himself!” the men were now running for their lives  the order was given and they started ducking and weaving through the water logged fields Pte Whitely ,the battalion boxer used by McLane earlier to recce the area, fell, hit by a burst of automatic fire. Mortally wounded he yelled at McLane to carry on “Sgt Major leave us I’m finished” he yelled McLane stopped briefly he could see Whitely was right and ran on. At the edge of the field was a lorry containing a Vickers machine gun section with two or four machine guns packed on their vehicle McLane laid into the PSM in charge of the section they could really have done with these guns only moments earlier. The PSM said nothing but the section boarded their lorry and left. Out of 120 men nine got away including  Pte Dusty Miller,Sgt Walker, McLane and 4441783 CSM Norman Metcalfe.
Norman Metcalfe a very brave man was shattered but he  McLane and the group continued on with what men they had until they came once again to  the Lys Canal. Metcalfe and a few of the men were non swimmers McLane could swim and swam over and brought back a rowing boat for Metcalfe and the men who could not swim.By this time the group had been joined by some of the Royal Berks these were the men who had broken on the battalions right and though they probably had just cause the speed of their departure had wrangled McLane and after handing over the boat told them they were on their own.
After making their way through the Forest of Nieppe the few survivors were amazed to meet up with their `B` echelon vehicles still loaded with the battalions equipment and stores despite their pleas this small group were refused even the meagest food and drink with the quartermaster refusing to unpack any of the battalion stores.McLane went to see the quartermaster but he was drunk and refused to unpack anything and quickly moved off leaving the small group in the road.
Moving off across country the group came upon fresh troops despite having wounded with them they were stopped by an un-named officer not a Durham’s officer he was possibly Yorks and Lancs who gave the DLI survivors a dressing down and accused them of running away. The group were escorted to a barn where they could sleep and change into dry clothes but when they awoke next morning these `fresh` troops had gone,simply pulled out without any notice, and the group were alone once more.
Marching off again the group consisting of about 12 or 14 infantrymen eventually met with the remnants of the 2nd DLI`s battalion HQ  who had took such a beating at St Venant. Lieutenant Rudd who had been ,technically,placed in command of McLanes  company had also found his way back. It was discovered the battalion had been overwhelmed by superior German numbers it was a shock to McLane to find out that so many of his friends he had known since pre-war days were either dead,wounded or missing.McLane heard the stories of one Sergeant Major who was allegedly shot for cowardice when it was discovered he had refused to lead his men into battle and instead got drunk McLane diplomatically refused to elaborate on the story as he was not present.

 British Prisoners taken at St Venant ,DLI included, are shown in this photograph outside of L'hopital de la ville de Saint-Venant.This is one of the fates which befell Martin McLanes comrades for others...... 

 ....their future would hold no further consequence for the outcome of the war.The bodies of the British Infantrymen killed at St Venant lie awaiting buriel on the St Venant -Robeqc Road. Numbers vary as to how many souls were buried here somewhere between 60-90.

The commanding officer Colonel Simpson was taken prisoner Sgt McLane believes the forces which almost wiped out his battalion were the same forces who had bridged the canal at `D` Company’s positions and thus enabled them to move against the battalions flank at St Venant. The remnants of the rifle companies numbered approximately 60 strong Lt Rudd in charge,CSM Metcalf ,4444173 Sgt J Hourigan a PSM like McLane and 4441577 Sgt Burkitt made up the more senior NCO`s these were survivors of a battalion which had numbered some 600-700 strong there were of course men of `B` echelon who had gone off independently.
These survivors moved off mostly in single file until a terrific rainstorm forced them off the road and they sheltered in  local hen houses when the rainstorm had passed they emerged to find the Lieutenant and Sergeant Majors had gone after speaking with the men it emerged that these men had been picked up by a passing lorry leaving McLane and his platoon behind.
4444173 PSM Hourigan unknown to McLane had been separated from the rest of the group at this point and  he wasn't one of the men lucky enough to have been picked  up by any truck finding himself alone he ended up 'acquiring ' a motorbike and headed off in the direction of Dunkirk. On the way he ran into a German patrol where ,after running down one German soldier,  he managed to get through the Germans but ended up crashing the bike a little further on, badly injuring his leg in the process. Crawling painfully along for several miles he was  picked up and eventually evacuated to England. The injury to his leg was fairly serious and he was sent to Lartington Hall in Durham to convalesce on his return.(My thanks to PSM Hourigans Grandson Niall Hammond for this information)
Meanwhile a  passing company of Infantry informed McLane that everyone was to make for Dunkirk this came as a complete shock to McLane but after informing his men they managed to stop a convoy of Bedford lorries and managed to obtain a lift for the men,unfortunately McLane was left behind as the lorry he was about to clamber into pulled off. It wasn’t long before McLane caught up with his men who had ,realising he had been left behind waited for him further along the road.
This was the outer perimeter of Dunkirk ,in single file  dirty and unkempt they marched passed abandoned transport ,French horse drawn transport was strewn all around the horses which had pulled the transport were dead on the road will full destruction to prevent the Germans using them.Dead men of all nationalities and all colours and creeds littered the roads it was likened to a scene from Dante s inferno by McLane. Hurrying by McLane and his group entered the outskirts of Poperinge  officers at the side of the road hurried the lines of troops on McLane had expected to be pulled from the line to provide a rearguard however they were ushered on through past even more abandoned transport through the crowds of refugees who had been most noticeable by their absence on the leading roads out from St Venant. The sea was in the air now crossing a steel girdered bridge McLane led his group down to the beach where he was amazed at the number of troops snaking away across the sand out at sea there were destroyers and other craft busily taking men from the smaller craft that  were coming into the beaches. It was obvious to McLane that this would take forever,settling the men down on the beach he went off to find out what was happening.
A fire station near the dunes on the beach had a British 15cwt army truck outside after attempting to disable it he went off in search of an officer which he eventually found he was advised to gather his men and any others he could find  they will give you a number and get you off as soon as possible its a waste of time trying to get off from the beach a fact which McLane was already aware.

 Shouldering their arms McLane marched them towards the Port of Dunkirk across streets that in peacetime had held crowds of holiday makers.Whilst resting, sitting on a sandbank, a staff car pulled up an officer emerged and asked for any 2nd Division to come forward McLane ,L/Cpl Fallon,4449326 Sgt R T G Bulmer,Pte Embleton ,Sgt Bruce and one or two other 2 DLI immediately came forward .What happened next shocked McLane two officers of the Manchester Regt drew their pistols and waved them in the direction of McLane and his party of 2nd DLI.McLane went berserk and told these officers never to draw pistols on men of the Durham light infantry at the same time McLane`s men lowered their rifles towards the officers and McLane firmly believed that had these officers not lowered their pistols then his men would have shot them! McLane had his name took and informed he would be court marshalled, pleasantries over, the men marched back up the road in the direction they had just came where they were then ordered to join men of the Cameron Highlanders.Their officer too initially drew his pistol but quickly put it away again when he realised these men were only too willing to follow his orders. McLane suggested to this officer that passing soldiers be asked to surrender up any Bren Guns or ammunition they still carried. In addition to this McLane was able to secure nearly a full company of 140 men comprising not only 2 DLI but men from all of the Durham Battalions in France at that time. Equipped with Grenades, Brens and Rifles the company lacked only officers,digging in each section had two Bren guns and each of the three platoons consisted of three sections each.
 Sgt R T G (Bob) Bulmer was McLanes second in command at this time as they dug in as best they could on the canal bank. The Cameron’s were delighted with their `new` composite company but McLane had now the problem of feeding them. Sgt Bulmer was a driver and he drove a few of the men up and down the lines of abandoned lorries foraging for food most of the lorries were already looted but chickens and vegetables obtained from farms enabled the men to prepare a stew. Sgt Bulmer came across the Battalion quartermaster  Ossie Pearson and his staff by the side of the road together with a Brigade Major they wanted a lift down to the docks which McLane and Bulmer reluctantly provided the Quartermaster alighted the truck at the jetty where the  wounded were being unloaded and unsuccessfully tried to persuade Sgt Bulmer to leave with them.
When they returned to the canal they were informed that the French marines were taking over the canal positions previously designated to the Durhams. The Cameron’s had been allocated a place in the evacuation and the Cameron’s wanted McLane and his men to go with them. As they were marching down Pte Embleton McLanes runner brought a message which was said to have came  from 6th Infantry Brigade asking for all 6th Brigade men to report immediately.McLane and his nine men left their composite company and made their way over to where they found,not 6th Infantry Brigade but the Quartermaster of the Royal Berks who needed McLanes DLI men to join men of the RWF and Royal Berks in a fight to the last round  McLane tried to encourage more men of  `B` echelon to join them but whilst he was distracted these men cleared off.
 Taking up position at one of the two bridges leading into Dunkirk McLane was approached by a Brigadier Lawson who was in charge of the rearguard Lawson told McLane this was a last stand,last man last bullet job, again McLanes group replenished their weapons from the passing columns. On the right more Cameron Highlanders now held the second bridge a large storehouse nearby was raided and this enabled McLane to issue food and a tot of rum to the lads passing on their way to Dunkirk. One of the weary soldiers was Colonel McBain of the Regiment McLane had a word with him and thought for a moment that he might stay but like most the Colonel passed on through to the beaches.
Brigadier Lawson appeared shortly afterwards in the company of a French officer the French were now in control of the defence of Dunkirk and it was explained to Sgt McLane that the bridge was to remain intact and the explosives which had been placed ready for its demolition had to be removed.McLane and his men were Infantry not engineers and the only way they could disarm the explosives was to tip the exploders  into the canal.McLane and Bulmer were not happy that this bridge could be used by the Germans to shoot up the troops on the beach so they left a  lorry near to the explosives with fuel cans beneath which if required could be set on fire and would eventually blow the explosives beneath the bridge.
The three sections DLI,RWF and Royal Berks rotated guard duty at the bridge .It was during one rotation that McLane was told that two Sergeants one RWF and one Royal Berks had been overheard discussing a plan to desert the bridge position at Midnight leaving only the DLI section in position on the bridge . McLane then played out an elaborate charade. Gathering all the men together McLane explained that whilst he was familiar with his own men he was not familiar with those of the other Regiments and this would pose problems should any of them become casualties, McLane explained as a result of this he had decided to take the names and numbers of all those present. These details were taken in a small notebook,once they were all recorded Mc Lane took a step back and announced to the stunned men that he was well aware that some of them planned to desert that night and anyone who did so would now be reported for cowardice in the face of the enemy. The reaction of some of these men was to lower their rifles in the direction of McLane,this in turn was met by a similar response by the DLI men protecting McLanes back. There was a short stand-off no hotheads thankfully and when McLane barked out an order to bring the men to attention it was,reluctantly obeyed. A young Royal Berks officer presented himself to McLane he was,in theory to be McLanes new officer commanding. After a brief tour of the bridge the officer was driven to the command post in Dunkirk itself by Sgt Bulmer when he returned it was learnt that they had been stood down and were leaving that night. Sgt McLane recalled there was no desertion that night if it was ever a feasible plan or overheard idle chatter would never be known McLane and his men were going home. The journey down to the beach was not uneventful but they were going home!

The Mass Grave at St Venant........................

On the road from St Venant to Robeqc there was dug an enormous pit into this pit were laid the bodies of those who had fallen in the battle for St Venant

 From the Mayor of St Venant a list was obtained detailing those who were resting here prior to finding a more permanent resting place in the St Venant Communal Cemetery those interred here by the road side were...

 4448530 Pte William Eric Pearce 2nd Durham Light Infantry,Between 28/05/1940 and 31/05/1940,aged 28,St Venant,Plot 4 Row A Grave 3A

 

 4449312 Pte Albert Edward Dodds 2nd Durham Light Infantry,Between 22/05/1940 and 31/05/1940,age 27,Plot 4 Row C Grave 87

 

803529 Pte George Raglan Brown 2nd Durham Light Infantry,Originally enlisted in Royal Artillery (Field, Coastal & Anti-Aircraft) CWGC lists his death as between 21/05/1940 and 31/05/1940,he was aged 27,He lies today at rest at St Venant,Plot 4 Row C Grave 86.George Raglan Brown was the son of Josiah and Florence Brown and the husband of Fanny Brown, of Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent. Enlisted 12th January 1931 originally believed to be a Prisoner of War status changed to `Missing`


 

 

 4449220 Pte Ernest John  Fowler 2nd Durham Light Infantry,Between 30/05/1940 and 31/05/1940,Body noted as burnt, age 27,St Venant,Plot 4. Row C. Grave 81.Ernest John Fowler was the son of  Albert Allan Fowler, and of Agnes Fowler, of West Hartlepool, Co. Durham.

burnt

 

 4453415 Pte  James Frederick Carpenter 2nd Durham Light Infantry,Between 27/05/1940 and 31/05/1940,aged 20,St Venant,Plot 4. Row C. Grave 80.James Frederick Carpenter was the son of Cecily Carpenter, and stepson of Farnell Alexandra Russell, of Heaton, Newcastle-on-Tyne.

 

 4443691 Warrant Officer Class III Stanley John McGuire 2nd Durham Light Infantry,Between 27/05/1940 and 31/05/1940,age 33,St Venant,Plot 4. Row C. Grave 78.Stanley John McGuire served pre-war as a private soldier in India with the 2nd DLI and was awarded an India General Service Medal with a clasp/bar Northwest Frontier 1930-31.Mentioned in Despatches announced in the London Gazette 11th April 1946.

 

 4607255 Pte John Pollock 2nd Durham Light Infantry,Between 25/05/1940 and 30/05/1940,age 31,St Venant,Plot 4. Row C. Grave 69.John Pollock was the son of John Hill Pollock and Ada Pollock; husband of Johanna Pollock, of Bridge-of-Weir, Renfrewshire.

 

 4452556 Pte James Scott 2nd Durham Light Infantry,Between 10/05/1940 and 31/05/1940,age 20,St Venant,Plot 4. Row C. Grave 68

 

 4370649 Pte John Preston 2nd Durham Light Infantry,Between 10/05/1940 and 31/05/1940,age 21,Plot 4. Row C. Grave 67 Enlisted on the 5th July 1927 initially posted missing between 27th and 31st May 1940 Listed as simply `Died` Recorded as aged 21 which if correct we may assume his actual enlistment was 1937 rather than 1927.

 

 4443042 Pte Leslie Robinson 2nd Durham Light Infantry,Between 24/05/1940 and 31/05/1940,age 31,St Venant,Plot 4. Row C. Grave 23.Leslie Robinson was awarded a Mention in Despatches for actions on the 20th May 1940 a member of `A` Company he was the son  of Jack and Harriet Robinson and husband of Mona Robinson, of York.

 

 4447176 Cpl James Emmerson Spencer 2nd Durham Light Infantry,30/05/1940,age 27,St Venant,Plot 4. Row C. Grave 22.John Emmerson Spencer was the son of  John and Susanah Spencer, husband of Alice Mary Spencer, of Tottenham, Middlesex.

 

 4454219 Pte Leslie Evans 2nd Durham Light Infantry,Between 30/05/1940 and 31/05/1940,age 21,St Venant,Plot 4. Row C. Grave 21.Leslie Evans was the son of Jack and Edith Florence Evans, of Camberley, Surrey

 

 4453576 Pte Charles Tiffin Storey 2nd Durham Light Infantry,Between 30/05/1940 and 31/05/1940,age 19,St Venant,Plot 4. Row C. Grave 20.Charles Tiffin Storey was the son of George and Ellen Maud Storey, of Chopwell, Co. Durham
 Pte Charles Tiffin Storey
 Pte Charles Tiffin Storey

 

 4448307 Pte William M Charlton 2nd Durham Light Infantry,Between 30/05/1940 and 31/05/1940,age 27,St Venant,Plot 4. Row C. Grave 19

 

 4453403 Pte Arthur Buck 2nd Durham Light Infantry,Between 22/05/1940 and 08/11/1940,age 20,St Venant,Plot 4. Row C. Grave 1.

 

 4447784 Pte Robert Berry  2nd Durham Light Infantry,Born Kendal, Westmorland in 1910 Son of Albert Berry and Agnes (Atkinson) Berry. Enlisted in the Regular Army 31st August 1929 for an initial period of 71/2 years. Served with A Company. On the 14th June 1940 Robert was posted `Missing presumed dead CWGC record he died between 01/05/1940 and 31/05/1940,age 29, At rest St Venant Communal Cemetery ,Plot 4. Row C. Grave 2

 

 4452928 Pte Raymond Carroll  2nd Durham Light Infantry,Between 10/05/1940 and 31/05/1940,age 23,St Venant,Plot 4. Row C. Grave 3.

 

 4448594 L/Cpl Thomas William Denton  2nd Durham Light Infantry,Between 17/05/1940 and 31/05/1940,age 27,St Venant,Plot 4. Row C. Grave 12

 

 4444132 Pte Michael Lally  2nd Durham Light Infantry,Between 25/05/1940 and 31/05/1940,age 32,St Venant,Plot 4. Row C. Grave 13.

 

 4447924 Pte John George Leonard 2nd Durham Light Infantry,Between 24/05/1940 and 31/05/1940,age 30,St Venant,Plot 4. Row C. Grave 15

 

 4342477 Cpl William Henry Peacock 2nd Durham Light Infantry,Between 10/05/1940 and 31/05/1940,age 24,St Venant,Plot 4. Row B. Grave 6A. Enlisted 21st September 1932 for 7 years with a 5 year reserve commitment  listed as died .Transferred from 1st East Yorks on the 1st July 1936

 

 4453533 Pte William Lawrence 2nd Durham Light Infantry,Between 22/05/1940 and 31/05/1940,age 24,St Venant,Plot 4. Row B. Grave 4A.

 

 4452566 Pte James Alexander Davison Reid 2nd Durham Light Infantry,Between 26/05/1940 and 31/05/1940,age 23,St Venant,Plot 4. Row C. Grave 63

 

 4449203 Sgt Richard Albert Barrett 2 nd Durham Light Infantry, enlisted and resided at Newcastle upon Tyne. Between 10/05/1940 and 31/05/1940,age 26,St Venant,Plot 4. Row C. Grave 64

 

 4453149 Pte Thomas Henry Pattison  2nd Durham Light Infantry,26/05/1940,age 20,St Venant,Plot 4. Row C. Grave 66

  

Fallen Durhams and their original resting places...........

 These are the field graves of known 2nd Durham Light Infantrymen not placed in the mass grave mentioned previously unfortunately a great many were listed as `inconnu` or unknown.

 

 4449368 Pte George Henry Davis was the son of Edward and Eleanor Davis, of Grindon, Sunderland, Co. Durham. The date of death given by the CWGC is the 21st May 1940. He rests today in Plot 3 Row B Grave 34 he was aged 25 years .His original field grave was recorded as `Digue de le Lys, pres borne No 10` Pte Davis’s Regimental number 4449368 features in Army Form B 358 Register of Soldiers, Durham Light Infantry, no. 15, nos. 4449001 - 4449999, Enlistment between 1 May 1931 - March 1933.My thanks John for the translation "the Lys dam or dyke, near kilometre post number 10" (which in practice would mean 10 km from the starting point, usually the nearest town or sometimes 

 

 4453513 Pte Tom Rodgers 2 DLI .Pte Rodgers number appears in Army Book 358 Register of Soldiers, Durham Light Infantry, no. 19, nos. 4453000 - 4454516, Enlistment given as between 11 May 1938 - 1939.According to `In Search of Tom` this was in February 1939.A headstone was erected at the end of Row 3B although the family believe Pte Rodgers to be buried in Grave 21 CWGC would not accept that this was 100% certain and hence the new headstone reads `Believed to be Buried` Pte Rodgers is still amongst those commemorated on the Dunkirk Memorial. His original field grave was Rue d`Aire in the Field of Paul Walle.Casualty numbered 154 was subsequently identified by the Rodgers family with the help of M.Faivre of A.R.H.A.M

 

 

4443886 Pte Joseph Dobson Rigg was the son of James and Hannah Rigg; husband of Sarah Hannah Rigg, of Middlesbrough, Yorkshire.The original field grave is listed as Rue d`Aire Pres Courant Haut-Bleface DESPREZ. (Translation to follow) His regimental number of 4443886 appears in Army Form B 358 enlistment book, Durham Light Infantry, no. 9, nos. 4443001 - 4444000,Enlistment dates of between 1 October 1923 - 13 January 1925. Aged 33 at the time of his death Pte Rigg was reburied at St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 3. Row B. Grave 15.The CWGC list him as having died between 23/05/1940 and 31/05/1940 .

 

 Location given of temporary field grave as Rue d`Aire -Entre champ SOCKEEL & LECOCQ pres du Malmeule (Translation to follow).


4449469 Cpl John Docherty died between 10/05/1940 and 31/05/1940 according to the CWGC aged 20.The Regimental number 4449469 features in Army Form B 358 Register of Soldiers, Durham Light Infantry, no. 15, nos. 4449001 - 4449999, Enlistment between 1 May 1931 - March 1933 for the age to be correct Cpl Docherty would have to joined (possibly as a band boy?) at an age of between 11 and 14 years. At peace in St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 3. Row B. Grave 30.


4268590 L/Cpl James Barker was formerly with The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers he is listed by the CWGC as having died between 15/05/1940 and 31/05/1940.At rest today in St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 3. Row B. Grave 29 He was aged 26 years.
4453561 Pte Thomas William Bowman was the son of George William and Margaret Jane Bowman, of Stockton-on-Tees, Co. Durham. The CWGC list him as died between 10/05/1940 and 31/05/1940
His regimental number features in Army Book 358 Register of Soldiers, Durham Light Infantry, no. 19, nos. 4453000 - 4454516, Enlistment between 11th May 1938 - 1939.At rest in St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 3. Row B. Grave 28.


4443777 Cpl Joseph Chambers was the son of Robert and Bridget Chambers; husband of Ellen Chambers, of Sunderland, Co. Durham. Another pre-war regular who served on the North West Frontier 30-31 and was awarded the India General Service Medal. The medal roll shows discharge or transfer by 1934 so it can be assumed Chambers re-enlisted or was called back from reserve service.Cpl Chambers service number 4443777 falls within Army Form B 358 enlistment book, Durham Light Infantry, no. 9, nos. 4443001 - 4444000, 1 October 1923 - 13 January 1925.According to the CWGC he died between 27/05/1940 and 31/05/1940 aged 32years.At rest today in St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 3. Row B. Grave 27


4447919 Pte Alfred Robert Calvert son of Esaias and Mary Elizabeth Calvert; husband of Leah Calvert, of Darlington, Co. Durham. Listed by the CWGC as died between 10/05/1940 and 31/05/1940 aged 30.Again his regimental number features within Army Form B 358 enlistment book, Durham Light Infantry,no. 13, nos. 4447001 - 4448000, Giving enlistment between 21 June 1928 - 19 February 1930.At rest today St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 3. Row B. Grave 26

 

4448403 Pte Robert Samuel Hunt son of William John and Harriet Hunt, of Gateshead, Co. Durham; husband of Jessie Hunt, of Old Washington, Co. Durham is listed by the CWGC as having died between the dates 10/05/1940 and 31/05/1940 aged 31 years.The original field grave location was Rue d`Aire, bordure pres chez Sockeel. (Translation to follow). At rest in St Venant Cemetery Plot 3. Row B. Grave 25. Pte Hunt`s regimental number again is a pre-war listing found in Army Form B 358 enlistment book, Durham Light Infantry, no. 14, nos. 4448001 - 4449000, Enlistments between 24 January 1930 - 7 May 1931
4448403 Pte Robert Samuel Hunt son of William John and Harriet Hunt, of Gateshead, Co. Durham; husband of Jessie Hunt, of Old Washington, Co. Durham is listed by the CWGC as having died between the dates 10/05/1940 and 31/05/1940 aged 31 years. At rest in St Venant Cemetery Plot 3. Row B. Grave 25.Pte Hunt`s regimental number again is a pre-war listing found in Army Form B 358 enlistment book, Durham Light Infantry, no. 14, nos. 4448001 - 4449000, Enlistments between 24 January 1930 - 7 May 1931

 

 4449342 L/Cpl Walter Whiteley 2 DLI was a well known battalion boxer who served with `D` Company 2 DLI he features in a combat report from the 26th May by Sgt Donaldson. The CWGC give his death as between 26/05/1940 and 04/06/1940 however Sgt McLane recalled Pte Whiteley mortally wounded shortly after the order was given for everyman for himself. McLane went back to see him but he urged the Sgt to leave him and yelled at him that he was finished.The temporary field grave is given as Entre Bas Hamel & Rue d`Aire pres du haut Champ DEHAINE (Between Bas Hamel & Rue d`Aire near the DEHAINE top field). He was aged 26 years at rest today in St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 3. Row B. Grave 14.L/Cpl Whiteley`s number of 4449342 features in Army Form B 358 Register of Soldiers, Durham Light Infantry, no. 15, nos. 4449001 - 4449999,Enlistment dates between 1 May 1931 - March 1933.

 

 4446313 L/Cpl John Allan Ritchie son of Mr. and Mrs. James Ritchie; husband of Grace Ritchie, of Yiewsley, Middlesex Aged 29 Recorded by the CWGC as having died between 26/05/1940 and 31/05/1940.The field grave he shared with three members of the Royal Berks is listed as Bas Hamel pres chez Marcel Dethoor (near the home of Marcel Dethoor)Cpl Ritchie a pre war regular served on the North West Frontier 30-31 and was awarded the India General Service Medal. The medal roll shows the award was made in October 1934.At rest in St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 4. Row D. Grave 8.

 

 4449232 Pte Leonard Reece is identified on the listings by the last four letters of his service number.The DLI list him as Killed in Action the CWGC give the date of 25/05/1940 his age recorded as 28.The grave to which he was committed is listed as Cour M.FLAMONT,Rue de Busnes (Court yard of M.Flamont , Busnes Street )Today he rests in St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 4. Row C. Grave 25.A member of  `B` Company 11 Platoon No 4 Section

 

 

Aftermath .........................................Carriers and Casualties May 1940

Two views of a pair of carriers and possibly their crew the crossed keys div sign clearly visable on the left guard of the front carrier (right as we view it)

 

We regret to inform ....................2nd DLI Dead 1939-40  TOTAL 152

 

 

RGVJ  ABLETT 4453582 27/05/1940 Pte Ronald George Victor John Ablett son of William George and Margaret Ablett , of 65 Brougham Terrace West Hartlepool, Co Durham.He was a former pupil of Galleys Field School and before joining up in April 1939 was employed at Messers Horsley`s Timber  yard . Enquiries by the family revealed he was seen being carried from the battlefield on a stretcher however official notification received in 1942 simply `presumed` death.Commemorated on the Dunkirk Memorial Column 121. Age 20
J ARMSTRONG 4453493 2ND DLI  28/05/1940Pte Joseph Armstrong son of Joseph and Jane Armstrong, of Leadgate, Co. Durham . At rest  St Pol War Cemetery Row B. Grave 16.Aged 23
T  BALMER 4447628 2ND DLI  16/10/1940  Pte Thomas Balmer born 1911 Enlisted 07/06/1929 into the 6th DLI(TA) for an initial period of 4 years however he re-enlisted into the regular army just four months into his service .Signing on for 71/2 years with the regulars he was killed in a land mine explosion at home (UK) At rest  Bishop Auckland Escomb Cemetery Sec. 1. Grave 66 aged 29.
J  BARKER 4268590 2ND BN  15/05/1940 - 31/05/1940 L/Cpl James Barker formerly enlisted in the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers Enlisted and Resided in Yorkshire Born July 1913 in Guisborough, Yorkshire North Riding, United Kingdom Son of Joseph George Low Barker and Isabel (Flower) Barker. At rest St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 3. Row B. Grave 29. Aged 26.
AB  BARNES 4452251 2ND BN  15/05/1940 Pte Alfred Brewer Barnes born and resided in Yorkshire At rest Leopoldsburg War Cemetery VII. C. 5
Aged 20.
RA BARRETT 4449203 2ND BN  10/05/1940 - 31/05/1940 Sergeant  Richard Albert Barrett  enlisted and resided at Newcastle upon Tyne. At rest  St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 4. Row C. Grave 64.  Age 26
JWA  BATTY 4450749 2ND BN  15/05/1940Pte James William Arthur  Batty,Son of James Leopold and Ethel Batty; husband of Lilian Hope Batty (Girardot  born 30 Jan 1916 in Kensington South, London, England), of Oxted, Surrey .Pte Batty was born 1918 in Liverpool North, Lancashire  Took part in the actions which won a VC for Lieutenant Annand on the 15th/16th May 1940 at the River Dyle Commemorated on the   Dunkirk Memorial Panel 121.Aged 22.
CR  BELL 4452666 2ND BN  27/05/1940  Pte Caleb Ronald Bell Son of Thomas and Jessie Bell, of Davenport Green, Wilmslow, Cheshire born Durham his father was born in Wingate Co Durham. Born 1920 At rest  St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 4. Row C. Grave 54 Aged 20
B BERRIMAN 4451216 2ND BN  27/05/1940Pte Ben Berriman Husband of Edith Berriman Commemorated on the  Dunkirk Memorial Panel 122 Age 21
R  BERRY 4447784 2ND BN  01/05/1940 - 31/05/1940 L/Cpl Robert  Berry Born Kendal, Westmorland in 1910 Son of Albert Berry and Agnes (Atkinson) Berry Enlisted in the Regular Army 31st August 1929 for an initial period of seven and a half  years. Served with A Company. On the 14th June 1940 Robert was posted`Missing presumed dead Aged 29 At rest St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 4. Row C. Grave 2
J  BLENCH 4447203 2ND BN  27/05/1940 Pte John Blench enlisted on the 8th January 1929 for a period initially of seven and a half years Like many soldiers of 2nd  DLI he was initially posted as `Missing from the 10th-29th May 1940` which was confirmed later on the 14th June 1940. Following further information it was recorded that he had died on the 27th May 1940.At rest St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 4 Row C Grave 46 Aged 29
TW  BOWMAN 4453561 2ND BN  10/05/1940 - 31/05/1940 Pte Thomas William Bowman son of George William and Margaret Jane Bowman, of Stockton-on-Tees, Co. Durham . At rest  St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 3. Row B. Grave 28 Age 29
WSG  BRACK 4449777 2ND BN  27/05/1940Pte Walter Stanley Garrett Brack son of Alfred and Emily Ann Brack. Born in Darlington and enlisted in Northumberland.At rest St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 3 Row B  Grave 22.Aged 24
JJ  BRADLEY 4452220 2ND BN  16/05/1940 - 04/06/1940 Pte John Joseph Bradley son of James and Catherine Bradley, of Gateshead, Co. Durham.Commemorated on the Dunkirk Memorial Panel 122 Aged 22
T BROOKFIELD 4448467 2ND BN  26/05/1940Pte Thomas Brookfield born and resided at 7 Exeter Street in Sunderland. Son of James and Elizabeth Brookfield .Thomas enlisted on the 28th December1930 Like many soldiers of 2 DLI he was initially posted as `Missing 10th-29th May` which was confirmed on the 14th June 1940. Following further information it was recorded that he had died on the 26th May 1940.He has no known grave and is commemorated on The Dunkirk Memorial Panel 122 Aged 31
WJ  BROWN 4448340 15/05/1940 - 31/05/1940 Pte Walter Joseph Brown on of Walter and Ethel Brown; husband of Lavinia Brown, of Goxhill Place,Buslingthorpe Lane,Leeds, Yorkshire. He originally enlisted for a seven and a half year period in the regular army On the 24th July 1930  but  was a serving reservist recalled on the outbreak of war having spent 7 years in India. He was originally thought to have been taken prisoner and indeed word was received on the 20th December 1940 Unfortunately this was not true  and today Walter rests at  Leopoldsburg War Cemetery section VII. row B. Grave 8. Aged 27
GR  BROWN 803529   21/05/1940 -31/05/1940Pte George Raglan Brown son of Josiah and Florence Brown; husband of Fanny Brown, of Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent.At rest St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 4. Row C. Grave 86.Intially enlisted in The Royal Artillery. Age 27
JE  BURKE 4449024  23/08/1940Pte James Henry Burke son of William and Helen Burke, of Hartlepool a pre war regular who was recalled at the outbreak of war .Returned home for treatment wounds/injuries died in hospital .Full profile in the `Those Who Proudly served ` section. At rest Hartlepool West View Cemetery Sec. 1. Unconsecrated ground. Row J. Grave 9

H BURKINSHAW       

 4435945  26/05/1940 Colour Sergeant  Horace Burkinshaw  Born 1900  Garforth , Yorkshire Son of Oscar and Alice Burkinshaw, of Osmondthorpe, Leeds, Yorkshire .Lived at West View, Red Road , Osmondthorpe  At rest  Merville Communal Cemetery Extension Plot 1. Row A. Grave 53 .Served WW1 with 2 DLI previous regimental number 82961 he was awarded the WW1 Victory and War Medal for services with 2 DLI during that period. Aged 40 He had prior to re-enlisting worked in the offices at Waterloo Colliery he served 21 years with the Durhams
 AR CALVERT 4447919 2ND BN  10/05/1940 - 31/05/1940 Pte Alfred Robert Calvert son of Esaias and Mary Elizabeth Calvert he was born in 1909 and resided in Hutton Henry .In March 1938 he married Leah Calvert (nee Andrews registered in Richmond ) of Darlington, Co. Durham. Alfred enlisted on the 7th January 1930 for a period of seven and a half years Initially posted as Missing believed to be a Prisoner of War (14/08/1940) it was later found he had been killed in action  ( R Casualties W.3016R 10/06/1941) At rest St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 3. Row B. Grave 26 Age 30

 

E CAMPBELL                          4452647 2ND BN                            28/05/1940 Pte Ernest Campbell was born and enlisted in Co Durham the C.W.G.C date of death is the 28th May 1940 .Today he rests at St Pol War Cemetery Row 8 Grave No 16. He was aged 20 years.
JF CARPENTER 4453415 2ND BN  27/05/1940 - 31/05/1940Pte James Frederick Carpenter Son of Cecily Carpenter, and stepson of Farnell Alexandra Russell, of Heaton, Newcastle-on-Tyne.Listed as being killed between 27/05/1940 and 31/05/1940 At rest St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 4. Row C. Grave 80. He was aged 20 years.
SC CARR 5884528 2ND BN  26/05/1940Pte Samuel Crawford Carr formerly enlisted in The Northamptonshire Regiment.Born in County Durham and enlisted in Newcastle upon Tyne he is recorded to have died on the 26th May 1940 He lies at rest at St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 3. Row A. Grave 8. He was aged 21 years.
R CARROLL 4452928 2ND BN  10/05/1940 - 31/05/1940 Pte Raymond  Carroll was the son of Thomas Hugh and Olive Carroll, of Stockton-on-Tees, Co. Durham. He was recorded to have died between the 10th and 31st May 1940 .He lies at rest at St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 4. Row C. Grave 3. He probably was killed around the 27th May 1940 as the battalion fought in and around St Venant.Born and enlisted in County Durham
J CHAMBERS 4443777  27/05/1940 - 31/05/1940 Corporal Joseph Chambers was a pre war regular soldier the son Son of Robert and Bridget Chambers; husband of Ellen Chambers, of Sunderland, Co. Durham. Recorded as having died between the 27th -31st May 1940 .At rest at St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 3. Row B. Grave 27. He was aged 32 years.
WM CHARLTON 4448307 2ND BN  30/05/1940 - 31/05/1940Pte William Mustard  Charlton was the Son of L. Cpl. William M. Charlton, lst /7th Bn. The Durham Light Infantry who died in France, 24th May, 1915, and of Alice Charlton, of Southwick, Sunderland, Co. Durham; stepson of John Place,also  of Southwick, Sunderland. William like his father originally enlisted into the 7th DLI (TA) on the 4th June 1930 he then enlisted into the Regulars on the 6th January 1931 joining his battalion on the 7th Recorded as killed between the 30th-31st May 1940 after being posted as `Missing 10th-31st May 1940`. William rests today at St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 4. Row C. Grave 19. He was aged 27 years.
ML CHASE 4453106  27/05/1940 Pte Maurice Laverick Chase son of Jacob and Florence Chase, of Houghton-le-Spring, Co. Durham.Recorded as killed on the 27th May 1940 he has no known grave and is commemorated on The Dunkirk Memorial Column 122.He was aged 23 years.
C CLARK 4449913  20/06/1940 Pte Clement Clark is recorded as having died on the 26th June 1940 most likely in a Military Hospital as a prisoner of War as the DLI or what was left of them had escaped back to England .Pte Clark married a Surrey nurse in 1939 after serving 7 years in the army he was recalled on the outbreak of war. His brother Thomas was a L/Cpl with 10th DLI Clement  today  rests at Etaples Military Cemetery Section 46 Row A Grave number 23.He was 25 years of age according to the CWGC although press reports state 26.He lived at The Oval ,South Hylton in Sunderland.
H CLARKE 4442263 2ND BN  02/06/1940 Pte Harold Clark is recorded to have died on the 2nd June 1940 at Dunkirk.he rests today in Dunkirk Town Cemetery Plot 2 Row 11 Grave 5.He was aged 36 years.He was born in Sunderland and enlisted in Durham City 
JH CLAYTON 4446420 2ND BN  27/05/1940 - 31/05/1940 Lance Corporal Joseph Henry Clayton is recorded as died/killed between the 27th May and the 31st May 1940 aged 36 he rests today at  St Venant Communal Cemetery Section 4 Row c Grave no 30
WJ CLEWS 4449177 2ND BN  29/05/1940Serjeant William Jarvis Clews was the son of Emma Ridley Clews, of Newcastle-on-Tyne, nephew of John Hinson, of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. William died back in England on the 29th May 1940 he rests NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE (ALL SAINTS) CEMETERY Sec. D. Cons. Grave 188.William was aged 24 years.It was announced after the war in SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, 11th APRIL, 1946 that Sjt Clews had been awarded a Mention in despatches in relation to actions in 1940.
A CORKHILL 4449147  29/05/1940 Pte Anthony Corkhill the son of   Joseph and Mary Corkhill, of Scotswood, Newcastle-on-Tyne disappeared from the banks of the Lys Canal shortly after the battle for St Venant. Anthony was last seen by RSM Goddard wounded in both legs and the neck but perfectly lucid .The Germans forbid his comrades from carrying with them and he was left for the German Field Ambulance what happened next to Anthony is not known. How the CWGC and the War Office arrived at the date of death 29th May 1940 is not known and attempts to determine what happened to him have so far proved fruitless with all official sources either uncooperative or obstructive. Anthony has no known grave and is commemorated on the Dunkirk Memorial Column 122.He was 27 years old and had been recalled to the battalion in 1939 having left in 1938 following the battalions return from The Sudan.
J CORNEY 5825473 2ND BN  20/05/1940Pte John Corney originally enlisted in the Suffolk Regiment he is recorded as having died on the 20/05/1940 he rest today at Dieppe Canadian War Cemetery Section C. Grave 74.The cemetery was created by the Germans using back to back headstones. John was aged 26
SF CORNWELL 4452656 2ND BN  27/05/1940 Pte Stanley Frederick Cornwall son of Fred and Florence Lilian Cornwell, of North Ormesby, Middlesbrough, Yorkshire. Stanley`s date of death is recorded as the 27th May 1940 he lies at rest the only DLI casualty amongst three ww2 buriels at Burbure Communal Cemetery. Stanley was 18 years old.
M CROSSLEY 4452661 2ND BN  27/05/1940 Pte Matthew Cossley Son of Mr. and Mrs. G. Crossley, of Sunderland, Co. Durham recorded date of death 27th May 1940 Matthew has no known grave and is commemorated on the Dunkirk Memorial Column 122 .Matthew was aged 20 years.
AE CULLEN 4453559 2ND BN  15/05/1940 Pte Albert Edward Cullen Son of John and Ada Cullen, of Dunscroft, Yorkshire Recorded date of death 15th May 1940.At the River Dyle. Rests today at Leopoldsburg war Cemetery Section VII. row B. Grave 6.Albert was aged 23 years.
W CURTIS 4446379 2ND BN  15/05/1940 Corporal Wilfred Curtis Son of William and Elizabeth Marie Curtis; husband of Hannah Jane Curtis, of West Auckland, Co.Durham.Recorded date of death 15th May 1940.At the River Dyle. Rests today at Leopoldsburg war Cemetery Section VII. row B. Grave 12 .Albert was aged 33 years.It was later announced after the war in SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, 11th APRIL, 1946 that Pte Curtis had been awarded a Mention in despatches in relation to actions in 1940.
J CUTHILL 4448703 2ND BN  15/05/1940 Corporal John Cuthill
Son of Wallace and Mary Cuthill, of Leith, Edinburgh. John Cuthill enlisted originally in the Territorial Army and The 5th DLI .He enlisted on the 23rd February 1931 for a period of 4 years . Other service was recorded with The West Yorkshire Regiment before returning to 5 DLI who had became 54th Search Light Regiment it was from this unit that John joined 2nd DLI on the 2nd November 1939
Recorded date of death 15th May 1940.At the River Dyle. Rests today at Leopoldsburg war Cemetery Section VII. row B. Grave 15 .Albert was aged 26  years.

N DANIELS 4447938 2ND BN  27/05/1940 Pte Norman Daniels brn November 5th, 1911.in Wynyard Park,County Durham, England his Army no falls between those in army book no 13 covering the enlistment period between 21st June 1928 and 19th February 1930 according to this record Norman enlisted on the 13th January 1930 for a period of 7 and a half years. His recorded date of death is recorded as 27th May 1940 prior to this he had been posted as `missing` between 10th-29th May 1940 (14/06/1940 )`He is at rest at St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 3. Row B. Grave 24. Norman was aged 28 years
MG DAVIES                  4447765 2ND BN  27/05/1940 Pte Morris George Davies Son of Arthur and Emma Davies; husband of Alice Davies, of Harbury, Warwickshire  Morris enlisted on the 22nd August 1929 for an initial period of 7 and a half years .Recorded date of death 27th May 1940 after being declared as `Missing` between 10th and 29th May 1940. There is reference made to this in a document listed in the enlistment book as(Ref 104.QM (SUR 670 ). No known grave commemorated on the Dunkirk Memorial Column 122 Aged 28 years

 

GH  DAVIS              4449368      21/05/1940 Pte George Henry Davis was the son of Edward and Eleanor Davis, of Grindon, Sunderland, Co. Durham.The CWGC date of death is recorded as the 21st May 1940 but this is known to be wrong his brother Thomas was with him attempting to swim the canal possibly on the day Thomas was captured the 27th May 1940 .George was swimming alongside Thomas and simply stopped and disappeared presumably shot in the back and washed away. His body was recovered from the canal and buried at St Venant Communal Cemetery he rests today in Section  3. Row B. Grave 34.George was aged 25 years he had served seven years and had been recalled on the outbreak of war he lived with his mother at 22 Stanley Street ,Garrison Field in Sunderland his brother Thomas lived at Laburnham Road Fulwell and before the war had been a civil servant
A DAVISON 4449217 2ND BN  15/05/1940 Pte Albert Davison was recorded as having died/killed on May 15th 1940 at this time the battalion were in action on the River Dyle he was laid to rest at Leopoldsburg War Cemetery Section VII. Row B.Grave 1.Albert was aged 27 years.
TW DENTON 4448594 2ND BN  17/05/1940 - 31/05/1940 Lance Corporal Thomas William Denton son of Mrs. E. Denton, of Witton-Gilbert, Co. Durham,At rest St Venant Communal Cemetery Section 4. Row C.Grave No 12. He was aged 27 years.
RW DITCHBURN 4448462 2ND BN  15/05/1940 Warrant Officer Class III P.S.M.Robert William Ditchburn was the son of Robert. William. Alexander. and Kate(Jeffery) Ditchburn, of Langley Moor, Co. Durham. Born in 1912 he enlisted on the 24th October 1930 The CWGC show his death as May 15th 1940.At this time the battalion were in action at the Dyle River. Robert rests today at Leopoldsburg War Cemetery  Grave Reference section VII. Row B. Grave 13.PSM Ditchburn was aged 28 years. Originally posted as `missing`
J DOCHERTY 4449469 2ND BN  10/05/1940 - 31/05/1940 Corporal John Docherty according to the CWGC died between  10th May 1940 and 31st May 1940.He rests at St Venant Communal Cemetery Section 3. Row B. Grave 30.John was aged 20 years.
GR DODDS 4453414 2ND BN  26/05/1940 - 27/05/1940 Pte George Rodger Dodds was the son of  Albert and Annie Dodds, of Middridge, Co. Durham.CWGC list his death as between 26th May 1940 and 27th May 1940. at rest at St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 3. Row A. Grave 24. George was aged 21 years.
AE DODDS 4449312 2ND BN  22/05/1940 - 31/05/1940 Pte Albert Edward Dodds was born in Durham and resided in Newcastle upon Tyne recorded as died between the 22nd May 1940 and the 31st May 1940.Today he rests at St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 4. Row C. Grave 87. Albert was aged 27 years.
JH DONALDSON 4444883 25/05/1940 Pte John Henry Donaldson was born  on the 14th April 1909 in Whitburn nr South Shields Son of Thomas and Beatrice Donaldson(Davis) lived for a time at his grandparents house at 66 Seventh St Horden. Married in 1929 in Sunderland to  Winifred Donaldson (Lawson), of Mill End, Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire. Another former address was Grey Street, Southwick ,Sunderland CWGC record his death as the 25th May 1940.John is buried at Haverskerque War Cemetery Row D. Grave 7. He was aged 31 years.He is also commemorated on the War Memorial at Rickmansworth. He joined the DLI at the age of 16 and had served with 1st DLI in Egypt pre war
H DUNCAN 4446356 2ND BN  05/09/1939 Lance Corporal H Duncan was the son of Henry and Agnes. A. Duncan  of Hebburn, Co. Durham. L/Cpl Duncan died on September 5th 1939 he is believed to have been the battalions first World War 2 casualty. He rests today at Brookwood Military Cemetery Section 14. Row C. Grave 21.He was aged 32 years.
T F EDMOND 4453648 2ND BN  25/05/1940Pte Thomas Frederick Edmond was bornin Hull and resided at 5 Walker Street, Hull  he is recorded to have died on May 25th 1940 his grave was never found and he is commemorated on the Dunkirk Memorial Column 122. Thomas was aged 26 years and before joining the Regular Army worked as a Boxmaker.
GE EVANS 4452398 2ND BN  27/05/1940Pte George Ernest Evans son of Fred and Elizabeth Evans is recorded as having died on May 27th 1940 he has no known grave and is commemorated on the Dunkirk Memorial Column 122. George was aged 20 years.
L EVANS 4454219 2ND BN  30/05/1940 - 31/05/1940 Pte Leslie Evans was the son of  Jack and Edith Florence Evans, of Camberley, Surrey. Cwgc record his death between the 30th May 1940 and the 31st May 1940 .Leslie is at peace today in St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 4. Row C. Grave 21. Leslie was aged 21 years.
C FAIRCLOUGH 4443212 2ND BN  24/05/1940 - 25/05/1940 Warrant Officer Class III PSM Cuthbert Fairclough was the son of Jackson and Mary Alice Fairclough, of Sunderland, Co. Durham Born in Sunderland in 1907  the family lived at 19 Howick Street (back).In 1940 he bacame the husband of Anne Fairclough (nee Martin) the marriage took place in Leeds , . Recorded by the CWGC as having died between the 24th May 1940 and the 25th May 1940. Cuthbert rests at St Venant Communal Cemetery

Plot 3. Row A. Grave 27. Cuthbert was 34 years of age, On Saturday 06 November 1943 his father appealed to repatriated soldiers to get in touch if they could share any information on the circumstances of his sons death.

F FERGUSON 4446935 2ND BN  10/05/1940 - 16/06/1940Pte Frank Ferguson was the son of John and Sarah Ferguson and the husband of Maggie Ellen Ferguson, of Hamsterley Colliery, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The CWGC list Frank has having died between the 15th May 1940 and the 16th June 1940 he has no known grave and is commemorated on the Dunkirk Memorial Column .Frank was aged 33 years
J FISHER 4443470  31/05/1940 Lance Serjeant  John Fisher died of wounds ,sustained in Belgium, at home in Houghton le Spring Son of George and Esther Fisher, of Houghton-le-Spring and husband of Elsie Fisher, of 10 Poplar Avenue, Houghton-le-Spring. John (Jack) Fisher was born in Sedgefield in 1916 John died on May 31st 1940 he rests today at Houghton le Spring (Durham Rd) Cemetery Section A (Not K as CWGC state) Grave 3309. he was aged 33 years. He was buried on June 6th 1940 and left a wife and two young sons formerly a Territorial with 8th DLI where he had served for 16 years Sgt Fisher transferred to 2 DLI on the outbreak of war.A former long serving employee of Houghton Urban Council (15 years)
P FOSTER 4453050 2ND BN  15/05/1940Pte Peter Foster is recorded as having died on the 15th May 1940. Age 30. Peter was the son of Peter and Elizabeth Foster of West Hartlepool Co. Durham.He rests today at Leopoldsburg War Cemetery Section VII. Row A. Grave no 15.
J FOSTER 4449746 2ND BN  10/05/1940Pte John Foster was the Nephew of Mr. and Mrs. J. T. Hedley, of New Hartley, Northumberland. The CWGC  record Johns death as May 10th  1940 this like so many this date is almost certainly assumed  as the battalion were not at St Venant at this time yet John Foster is buried here resting within Plot 4. Row C. Grave 57 of St Venant Communal Cemetery.He was aged 25 years.
EJ FOWLER 4449220 2ND BN  30/05/1940 - 31/05/1940Pte Ernest John Fowler the son of Albert Allan Fowler, and of Agnes Fowler, of West Hartlepool, Co. Durham born in September 1912 in West Hartlepool, Durham, Lived at 169 Raby Road a former pupil of St Cuthbert`s School a reservist called back to the colours on the outbreak of war he had previously served 7 years in India he  is recorded to have died between the 30th May 1940 and May 31st 1940 .He rests today at St Venant Communal Cemetery 

Plot 4. Row C. Grave 81. John was  according to the CWGC aged 27 years. although the local press stated he was 29 years.

WM FYTCHE 4453140 2ND BN  15/05/1940 Pte William Morris Fytche was the son of Albert Thomas and Margaret Jane Fytche (Roberts) brother of Emily Harland, of Blyth, Northumberland born in Grimsby,Lincs in 1920 he is the only DLI casualty at Renescure  Churchyard.Renescure is a village on the main N42 between St Omer and Hazebrouck, 6 kilometres east of St Omer yet there were eye witnesses to say William was killed at St Venant shot through the head by a sniper despite repeated warnings from Pte  James`Dusty`Miller to keep his head down. The CWGC records Pte Fytche as having died on May 15th 1940 again Pte Miller and Sgt McLane recalled it was around the 26th-27th May 1940. Whatever the actual date was young William Morris Fytche was aged only 20 years at the time of his death.
R GARDINER 4448398  10/05/1940 - 28/12/1940 Pte Robert Gardiner was the son of John William and Florence Gardiner of 52 Dame Dorothy  Street, Roker, Sunderland the CWGC record Roberts death as between May 10th and December 28th 1940 like so many missing from this period how the dates were arrived at is unknown. With no known grave Robert is commemorated on the Dunkirk Memorial Column 122 he was aged 28 years. Robert had been a regular soldier enlisting on the 11th August 1930. A memorial service was held in St Peters Church by his family on February 16th 1941.
 

R GIBSON

 4447105 2ND BN  15/05/1940 Pte Ralph Gibson was born and resided in Sunderland he is recorded as having died on May 15th 1940 at this time the battalion were fighting on the Dyle River. A regular soldier Ralph enlisted on the 2nd October 1928 and served in India with the battalion where he was awarded the India General Service Medal with NWF 1930-31 Bar/Clasp.Ralph rests at Leopoldsburg war Cemetery  Aged 30years he lies in Section VII. Row C. Grave no 9.
 

G GRAVES

 4453408 2ND BN  26/05/1940 - 01/06/1940 Pte George Graves was from Jarrow he is recorded by the CWGC as having died between 26/05/1940 and 01/06/1940 aged 20 he rests at St Venant Communal Cemetery section 4 row C Grave 31.He is also remembered on the war memorial at Jarrow Town Hall
 

JR GREGSON

 67191 2ND BN  

 27/05/1940

 Lieutenant John Robin Gregson was the son of Maj. C. D. Gregson, formerly of the Indian Army, and Amore Moore Gregson, of Scarborough, Tobago. Commemorated at Longuenesse  (St Omer) Souvenir Cemetery recorded by the CWGC as having died on May 27th 1940 He rests in Plot 10. Row A. Grave 3
 

RP HALL

 4446405 2ND BN  25/05/1940 Pte Robert Pearson Hall recorded by the CWGC as having died on May 25th May 1940 at rest at St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 4. Row C. Grave 53. He was aged 33 years Born in 1906 the son of  Earnest Werren Hall and Mary Ann (Smith) Hall.
 

R HARPER

 4446936 2ND BN  15/05/1940 Pte Robert Harper was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Harper, of Wallsend, Northumberland; husband of Ivy Harper, of Wallsend. CWGC date of death 15th May 1940 at this time the battalion were at the Dyle River  at rest at Leopoldsburg War Cemetery .Section VII. Row B. Grave 17. He was aged 34 years.
 

H HARRISON

 4533970  15/05/1940 - 31/05/1940 Pte Hubert Harrison is recorded to have died between the 15th May and the 31st May 1940 it is more than likely it was the earlier date because he rests today at Leopoldsburg War Cemetery Section VII. Row B. Grave19 which is where the battalions dead from the actions on the Dyle River rest. Hubert originally enlisted into the West Yorkshire Regiment 7th Leeds Rifles and had connections to the Ebenezer Church Boys Brigade Born and resided in  Leeds lived at 9 Lovell Terrace he was married and had been with the regular army for two years after initially joining the TA. Last reported sighting was May 18th 1940.Son of Mr W B Harrison and Step son of Mrs Harrison of Nippet Mount Leeds Aged 29.
 

W HASWELL

 4449483  22/05/1940 Pte William Haswell  was born and resided in Fell Road,Ford Estate, Sunderland he was a Bandsman with 2 DLI.having joined in 1932 serving six of his eight year service in India.Initially reported as missing possibly a PoW.Recorded by the CWGC as having died on May 22nd 1940 he rests today at Merville Communal Cemetery Extension Plot 1. Row A. Grave 56. He was aged 28 years
 

TW HAWKINS

 4451392 2ND BN  15/05/1940 Pte Thomas Wright Hawkins was born in Bishop Auckland Co Durham in 1914  CWGC have him listed as having died on the 15th May 1940 at the Dyle river he rests today at Leopoldsburg War Cemetery Section VII. Row A. Grave 17.He was aged 25 years.
 

G HEYDON

 4448350 2ND BN  27/05/1940 Lance Sgt George Heydon was the son of George and husband of Caroline Heydon born in Sunderland and lived at 12 Jubilee Avenue Seaham ,County Durham (Parents lived at 36 Hawthorn Square, Seaham)   he enlisted on the 12th August 1930 and although listed as having died on May 27th 1940 it is possible that George was killed earlier a solitary grave marked as an unknown Sgt of the Durham Light Infantry exists in Leopoldsburg War Cemetery there is no record of any other Durham`s sergeants killed in the area. Unconfirmed hence George is recorded as having no known grave commemorated on the Dunkirk Memorial Column 121 he was 31 years old. He was posted missing originally on the 14th June 1940 between the dates 10th-29th May 1940 and presumed killed on the 27th May 1940 in 1943.
 

GF HIGGINS

 4448357 2ND BN  15/05/1940 Pte George Frederick Higgins Son of Albert Frederick and Mary Ann Higgins, of Newcastle-upon-Tyne; husband of Jean A. Higgins, of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. George enlisted on the 12th August 1930 Listed by the CWGC as having died on May 15th 1940. He rests today at Leopoldsburg War Cemetery Section VII. Row B. Grave 4. He was aged 26 years.
 

A HODGSON

 4452198 2ND BN  25/05/1940 - 01/06/1940 Corporal Arthur Hodgson is listed by the CWGC as having died between 25th May1940 and 1st June 1940 He is at rest today in St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 3. Row A. Grave 1.There are no additional details held and his age is not recorded his army number of 4452198 falls within Army book 358 Register of Soldiers No 18 which covers numbers between 445000 and 4452999 covering enlistment between May 13th 1936 and May 1938
 

R HOGARTH

 4445244  27/05/1940 Private Robert Hogarth was  born on Christmas Day 25th December 1907 the son  of Robert and Mary Ann Hogarth, of 23 Henry Street Hartlepool, Co. Durham and the husband of Mary Alice Hogarth, of 22 Southgate Street,Hartlepool,Co Durham.Robert`s army number of 4445244 falls within Army book 358 Register of Soldiers No 11 which covers numbers between 4445001 and 4446000 covering enlistment between December 15th 1925 and 15th April 1927 the book gives an actual enlistment of the 17th April 1926 whilst  his enlistment papers  give an earlier enlistment date of 9th April 1926. It also records his age as 18 years and 113 days. He enlisted at Hartlepool and prior to his Military Service had been a labourer. Recalled from the reserve in 1939 CWGC state he died on May 27th 1940 he rests today at St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 3. Row A. Grave 25.He was 31 years of age. His wife Alice was notified of his burial in December 1942 as he had simply been declared `Missing` between 1he 10th-29th May 1940..
 

T HORSLEY

 7343134 2ND BN  26/05/1940 Pte Thomas Horsley originally enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corps the son of Thomas and Elizabeth Horsley and husband of Cissy Horsley, of Darlington, Co. Durham the CWGC confirm his date of death as May 26th 1940 he rests today in St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 4. Row C. Grave 58. He was aged 27 years.
 A CURTIS 4449228 2ND BN  10/05/1940 -  05/01/1941 Pte Alfred Curtis was the son of Charles and Ada Curtis; husband of Jenny Curtis, of Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire. CWGC record Alfred`s death as between May 10th 1940 and January 5th 1941 he rests at Merville Communal Cemetery Extension Plot 2. Row B. Grave 32. Alfred Curtis was a member of HQ Company.
 

J HOWLETT

 4452367  05/06/1940 Pte John Howlett was the son of  Harry and Maud Lucy Howlett of Fink Hill ,Horsforth ,nr Leeds The CWGC record his death as June 5th 1940 He rests at St Pol war Cemetery Row E. Grave 15. He was aged 19 years. John`s army number of 4452367 falls  within Army book 358 Register of Soldiers No 18 which covers numbers between 445000 and 4452999 covering enlistment between May 13th 1936 and May 1938 which given his age at the time of his death would indicate he enlisted as a boy soldier however press reports at the time of his death state he had been with the DLI only 9 months and was formerly a Bus Conductor for Leeds Council
 

GH HUGHES

 4453491 2ND BN  27/05/1940 Pte George Henry Hughes according to the CWGC died on May 27th 1940 .George`s number 4453491 falls within Army book 358 Register of Soldiers No 19 which covers numbers between 4453000 and 4454516 covering enlistment between May 11th 1938 and 1939.George was aged 21 and rests today at St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 3. Row A. Grave 21
 

H HUGILL

 4448231 2ND BN  27/05/1940 Cpl Henry (Harry) Hugill was born on February 24th 1907 at 18 Rydal Street West Hartlepool Co Durham . The son of Frederick James Hugill and Sarah Hugill brother to Ella, Blanche, Robert and Hilda . Harry  `Curley` Hugill married Patricia A Corrigan in 1933. Henry`s army number 4448231 falls within Army Book B 358 book no 14 covering enlistments between January 24th 1930 and May 7th 1931.On Pg 45 of the book the enlistment date shown is 19th March 1930 CWGC record his death as May 27th 1940 he has no known grave and is commemorated on The Dunkirk Memorial Panel 121 Henry was aged 33 years. Intially posted as missing  914th June 1940) with the dates of 10th-29th May 1940 given.
 

RS HUNT

 4448403 2ND BN  

 10/05/1940 - 31/05/1940

 Pte Robert Samuel Hunt son of William John and Harriet Hunt, of Gateshead, Co. Durham; husband of Jessie Hunt, of Old Washington, Co. Durham The CWGC record his death as between the 10th May 1940 and May 31st 1940 He rests at St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 3. Row B. Grave 25.He was aged 31 years. Roberts army number 4448403 falls within Army Book B 358 Durham Light Infantry no 14 numbers 4448001 and 4449000 covering enlistment between January 24th 1930 and May 7th 1931 the actual date of his enlistment was 10th August 1930.The book also narrows the date of death to between 27th-30th May 1940.
 

JL HUNTER

 4449180  17/06/1940 Pte Joseph Lakeman Hunter son of Joseph Lakeman Hunter and Amelia Hunter, of 124 Fordham Road, Sunderland, Co. Durham was Richard Annand`s batman whom he tried to rescue in a wheelbarrow. Unable to go on Annand was forced to leave Joseph who was seriously wounded was then captured by the Germans .He died of his wounds on the 17th June 1940 he rests at Maastricht General Cemetery Row 3. Grave 134 he was aged 25 years.
 

C HUNTER           

 4445648 2ND BN  27/05/1940 Lance Corporal Charles Hunter son of Charles and Margaret Hunter of 13 Hurworth St West Hartlepool, Durham CWGC state Charles died on May 27th 1940 he rests today at St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 4. Row C. Grave 60. Charles`s army number 4445648 falls within Army Book B 358 Durham Light Infantry no 11 numbers 4445001 and 4446000 covering enlistment between December 15th 1925 and April 15th 1927
 WMH JARVIS
 
4446852
  27/05/1940 Corporal William Martin Hudson Jarvis was the son of of Benjamin Jarvis, and of Martha Jarvis, of Hetton Downs, Hetton-le-Hole, Co. Durham: husband of W. E. Jarvis. The CWGC give his date of death as 27th May 1940 he rests at Fleurbaix Communal Cemetery Grave No 6 He was aged 31 years. His brother Frank died June 3rd 1929

 

JG KELL                        4453499 2ND                           BN                     10/05/1940Pte John George Kell was the son of John George and Annie Elizabeth Kell, of Hitchen, Hertfordshire. The CWGC record his death as May 10th 1940 however today he lies at St Venant Communal Cemetery which geographically would be unlikely considering the battalions position on the 10th May.Aged 21 he rests in Plot 4. Row C. Grave 40
E KEYWORTH       4452384  14/05/1940 Pte Ernest Keyworth was the son of Ernest and Ellen Keyworth, of Sheffield recorded by the CWGC as having died on May 14th 1940 the battalion were on the Dyle River at this time but Ernest has no known grave and is commemorated on The Dunkirk Memorial Column 122 Ernest was aged 21 years.
R KIRK 4451247 2ND BN  01/06/1940 Pte Ronald Kirk is recorded as having died on June 1st 1940 Ronald rests today at St Venant Communal Cemetery

Plot 4. Row C. Grave 62.Ronald lived and enlisted in Durham he was aged 21 years

M LALLY 4444132 2ND BN  25/05/1940 -31/05/1940 Pte Michael Lally was the son of  Michael and Edith Isabella Lally, of Newcastle-on-Tyne and husband of Mary Lally, of Walker Gate, Newcastle-on-Tyne. CWGC record his death between May 25th 1940 and May 31st 1940 He rests today at St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 4. Row C. Grave 13 Michael according to the CWGC was aged 32 years however his father ,also Michael,who had served with both the 2nd Coldstream Guards and Yorks & Lancs recorded his sons date of birth as 27th October 1906 which would have put Michaels age at 33 at the time of his death .The family address was 12 Back Siegton St Newcastle upon Tyne
WH LATIMER 4448399 2ND BN  24/05/1940 -25/05/1940 Pte William Hargrave Latimer Son Of William Latimer & Sarah Elizabeth Ironside was born in Sunderland in 1913 he was married at the young age of 17 in 1930 to Mary Dorothea Young .Pte William Hargrave Latimer enlisted in the DLI between 24th Jan 1930 and 7th May 1931 (Enlistment book no 14) The actual date was 11th August 1930 recorded by the CWGC as having died between the 24th and 25th May 1940 William has no known grave and is commemorated on the Dunkirk Memorial Column 122 He is recorded as aged 27 years. Originally posted as missing on the 14th June 1940 between the 10th and 29th May 1940.
W LAWRENCE 4453533 2ND BN  22/05/1940 -31/05/1940Pte William Lawrence was the Son of James and Amelia Lawrence, of Pelton Fell, Co. Durham. The CWGC record his death as between May 22nd 1940 and May 31st 1940.He rests at St Venant Communal Cemetery Section  4. Row B. Grave 4A. Age recorded as 24 years.
O LEGG 4448557 2ND BN  25/05/1940 Pte Oswald Legg was the son of William John Legg and Alice Legg, of West Hartlepool, Co. Durham (born 19 Thomas Street West, Hartlepool) enlisted in the DLI between 24th Jan 1930 and 7th May 1931 (Enlistment book no 14) Actual day of enlistment was 8th January 1931 for 7 and a half years.The CWGC although listing him as having died on May 25th 1940 have no record of a grave and he is commemorated on the Dunkirk  Memorial Column 122 According to the CWGC Oswald was aged 28 years however Oswald appears to have been born in 1910 which would make him 30.Again the CWGC list only his mother but in 1911 the family were residing at 19 Thomas Street West, Hartlepool with father William John ,Alice and sisters Lizzie and Esther. Originally posted as missing document noting DoD Ref 104-91 Box 663?
JG LEONARD 4447924 2ND BN  24/05/1940 - 31/05/1940 Pte John George Leonard Son of George and Mary Ann Leonard, of Houghton-le-Spring, Co. Durham and husband of Hannah Leonard nee Raine, of Houghton-le-Spring. In 1911 the family address was 5 Market Place Houghton le Spring at the time of his death the address was 11 George Street. John enlisted on the 10th January 1930 . Recorded by the CWGC as having died between May 24th and 31st May 1940 he rests today at St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 4. Row C. Grave 15. He was aged 30 years
JE LONGSTAFF 4453417 2ND BN  24/05/1940Pte Joseph Ernest Longstaff was the son of Jane Ritchie of Thornaby-on-Tees recorded by the CWGC to have died on May 24th 1940 he rests today at St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 4. Row C. Grave 55. Joseph was 19 years of age. The enlistment book notes cause of death as `unknown` Joseph`s brother Henry who enlisted with him was killed at El Alamein on the 2nd November 1942 also serving with the DLI.Sons of Jane Ritchie Longstaff (Smith)
E MALLABARR 3300423 2ND BN 30/05/1940 Cpl Elijah Mallabar was born in 1901 son of John Andew and Sarah Catherine Mallabarr although born at Jarrow on Tyne the family home was at 64 Albert St Grange Villa,Pelton Chester-le-Street. Elijah originally enlisted into the Highland Light Infantry discharged 8th August 1921 enlisting in the DLI on the 31st October 1921 enlisting in Newcastle aged 20 years 5 months and 12 days Elijah married Annie Anderton. at St James Church in Benwell Cpl Mallabarr served on the North West Frontier with the 2nd DLI on the 27th April 1935 he was awarded the India General Service Medal with the NWF 1930-31 Clasp. On the return from the Sudan Elijah and Annie were living in the married quarters at Inkerman Barracks.As part of the BEF he served in France with 2 DLI CWGC list him as having died on May 30th 1940 although he was originally posted missing between the 16th-29th May 1940 he rests today at St Pol War Cemetery Row C. Grave 14.He was aged 39 years.
R MARSHALL 4453390 2ND BN  15/05/1940Pte Robert Marshall was the son of  John and Mary Marshall, of Felling, Co. Durham born in Gateshead he enlisted in Co Durham.The CWGC list Robert as having died on May 15th 1940 at this time the battalion were at the Dyle River. Robert was just 19 years of age and rests today at Leopoldsburg War Cemetery Section VII. Row B. Grave 3
F MARTIN 4453065 2ND BN  25/05/1940 Pte Frank Martin was born in 1921 son of Luke and Ann Martin (Banks) of Dipton Co Durham he was aged 19 years when the CWGC recorded him as having died on May 25th 1940 He rests today at St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 3. Row A. Grave 10.
TF MASON 4436524 2ND BN  10/05/1940 - 01/06/1940

Warrant Officer Class III Thomas Furby Mason was an old prewar regular who CWGC list as having died between May 10th and June 1st 1940 but Lt Michael Farr witnessed Mason knock out a panzer with an anti tank rifle on May 27th 1940? Thomas was born in Thirsk in 1902 he lived in Leeds Thomas rests at St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 4. Row C. Grave 59 He was aged 38 years

S J MCGUIRE 4443691 2ND BN  27/05/1940 - 31/05/1940 Warrant Officer Class III Stanley John McGuire born 1906 was the son of Andrew and Jane McGuire and husband of Eva McGuire, of Southwick, Sunderland, Co. Durham. Mentioned in Despatches for actions with the BEF in 1940.PSM McGuire is recorded as having died between May 27th and 31st May 1940 he rests at St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 4. Row C. Grave 78 He was aged 33 years. Awarded a mention in Despatches announced in the London Gazette 11th April 1946.Probate announcement gives an address of 17 Finsbury Street Monkwearmouth, Sunderland  and an estate value of £238.4s 4d
J MIDDLEBROOK 4449705 2ND BN  27/05/1940 Cpl James Middlebrook was the Husband  of M. Middlebrook, of Shildon, Co. Durham.CWGC list him as having died on May 27th 1940 no known grave he is Commemorated on the Dunkirk Memorial Column 121. He was aged 28 years.
C MIDGLEY 4444124 2ND BN  28/05/1940 Pte Clarence Midgley was the son of Wilson and Beatrice M. Midgley, of Malton, Yorkshire CWGC record his death as May 28th 1940. He rests today at Longuenesse (St. Omer) Souvenir Cemetery Plot 8. Row C. Grave 47. He was aged 34 years
CR MINNS 4452575 2ND BN  27/05/1940 Pte Charles Richard Minns was the son of  Mr. and Mrs. Charles Henry Minns, of Walker Gate, Newcastle-on-Tyne. Although the CWGC  list his death as May 27th 1940 Charles has no known grave and is commemorated on The Dunkirk Memorial Column 123.He was aged 21 years
JG MORTON 4448605 2ND BN  28/05/1940 Pte John George Morton was the son of John and Dorothy Morton and husband of Elsie Morton, of Chester-le-Street, Co. Durham. The CWGC list his death as 28th May 1940 he rests today at St Pol War cemetery Row B. Grave 18 He was 30 years old
R MORTON 4449195 2ND BN  27/05/1940Pte Ralph Morton was the son of  George and Jane Ann Morton, of Lobley Hill, Gateshead, Co. Durham. CWGC list his death as May 27th 1940 He rests today at St Venant War Cemetery Plot 3. Row A. Coll. grave 2-7. He was aged 26 years.
D NORMAN 4453516 2ND BN  01/06/1940Pte David Norman was the son of  Albert Ernest and Marjorie Norman, of  26 Freeman St later 64 Stephenson St Central Estate Hartlepool, Co. Durham. CWGC list his death as June 1st 1940 he rests at St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 4. Row C. Grave 41 He was aged 19 years. His father was in the Merchant Navy and brother Harry with the Seaforths

 

E.NUTLEY                   52363 25/05/194052363  Lieutenant Edward Nutley 2nd  Durham Light Infantry CWGC date of death  25/05/1940 Age 30.Born 1909 at North Bedburn, Durham, England Son of Edward and Mary Nutley; husband of Mary Caroline Nutley, of Newcastle upon-Tyne. B.Sc.(Dunelm) Resided at 13 Longridge Avenue, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. According to Captain Townsend  Lieutenant E Nutley the Intelligence officer went out on a single reconnaissance on a motor cycle. He was shot dead by a German patrol. Edwards body was never identified and he is commemorated on the Dunkirk Memorial  Column 121.                            
T.H.PATTISON 4453149  26/05/1940Pte Thomas Henry Pattison was born on January 4th 1920 in Sunderland. The son of  Thomas Henry and Minnie Pattison (Gleghorn) at the age of 10 Thomas Pattison`s mother Minnie died his father remarried in 1935 Thomas`s stepmother was Mary Ann (Lawson) Pattison, they were married at Easington but resided at Stavordale Street Dawdon, Co. Durham. At the time of his death Thomas was 20 years old He rests today at St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 4. Row C. Grave 66. He had been in the army for two years after previous employment at Dawdon Colliery.
J.W PATTON 4445266 2ND BN  10/05/1940  04/06/1940James William Patton was born in Hartlepool on March 5th 1919 Son of John Robert and Isabella Patton; husband of Jessie Mary Patton, of Derby whom he married on September 8th 1939 4445266 gives an original enlistment between 15th December 1925 and  April 15th 1927.Jame William Patton is lited as having died between May 10th and June 4th 1940 he rests at Leopoldsburg Cemetery Section VII. Row C. Grave 11 He was 31 years old
W.H PEACOCK 4342477 2ND BN 10/05/1940 31/05/1940Cpl William Henry Peacock was born in 1916  Son of William Henry and Florence May Peacock; stepson of Agnes Peacock, of Middlesbrough, Yorkshire he originally enlisted in the 1st East Yorkshire Regiment. His death is recorded between May 10th and May 31st 1940 but his original burial  was in the  mass grave  found at St Venant.Aged 24 he rests today at St Venant Cemetery Plot 4. Row B. Grave 6A. 
W E PEARCE 4448530 2ND BN

28/05/1940

31/05/1940

William Eric Pearce was born in 1912 he joined the DLI on the 29th December 1930 enlisting for an initial seven and a half years. He is listed as having died between 28th May and 31st May 1940. The enlistment book however puts his death at the night of 30/31st May 1940 .   He too was recovered from the mass grave at St Venant he was reburied in the Communal Cemetery at St Venant aged 28 he rests today in Plot 4. Row A. Grave 3A 
H W M PEEL 74853 26/05/194074853  2nd Lieutenant .H. W. M. Peel Served with the 2nd Battalion in France Hubert William Morant Peel of Home farm Peover Hall Estate ,Cheshire died of wounds on the 26th May 1940 when he was struck in the back by a piece of Shrapnel. Despite being carried back to the Regimental aid Post he died shortly afterwards. Lieutenant Peel was the son of John Graham Peel and Dorothy Mary Grace Morant born in 1913.He was aged 27 years he rests at St Venant Communal Cemetery Sp. Mem. Plot 4. Row C. Grave 44.Awarded a Mention in Despatches announced in the London Gazette on 11th April 1946.
R B PHILLIPS 124510 2ND BN 27/05/1940

Roy Brightman Phillips was the son of Theodore John Phillips M.B., B.S., and Hilda Ansom Phillips, of Holy House, Front Street Tynemouth, Northumberland. Born in 1917 .Roy`s commission into the Durham Light Infantry was announced in the London Gazette on the 15th March 1940 (published 19th March ) Commission effective from March 9th 1940.He is listed as having died on 27th May 1940 he rests today at Haverskerque  British Cemetery Row EE. Grave 22. He was aged 22 years

J POLLOCK 4607255  25/05/1940 30/05/1940 John Pollock was the son of John Hill Pollock and Ada (Wilden) Pollock born 1908 at 10 Cliffe Terrace Hendon Sunderland; John married Johanna (Corns) Pollock, of Bridge-of-Weir, Renfrewshire whom he married in 1932. According to the CWGC he was 31 but was possibly 32 at the time of his death  estimated  between 25th May-30th May 1940.Originally enlisted into  The Duke of Wellington's Regiment (The West Riding) prior to joining the DLI. He saw service on the North West frontier where he was awarded the IGSM with clasp served in China too and had 16 years service. Later discharged he lived at 2 Athol Park, Sunderland he was recalled from the reserve in preparation for WW2. He rests today at St  Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 4. Row C. Grave 69 .He had a baby daughter named Ruth
J. PRESTON 4370649 2ND BN

10/05/1940

31/05/1940

John Preston was born 1919-20 and the Army Roll of Honour puts his birth place as Newcastle upon Tyne his number shows enlistment prior to joining the Durhams in the East Yorkshire Regiment.There are no CWGC details listed but we know from their records that he died between 10 May 1940-31/05/1940 but he was found in the mass grave at St Venant and reburied in the St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 4. Row C. Grave 67. It can be safely assumed that John fell in the battle for this village/town.He was aged 21.
J J PUGMIRE 4444050 2ND BN 15/05/1940John Jefferson Pugmire was born in 1906 The son of Joseph and Isabel S Pugmire the family resided (1911) at 11 Robert Street Gateshead, Co Durham Enlisted between January 1st and January 2nd 1926 (Army number features in Enlistment book B358 No 10 covering this period) John served with 2 DLI in India on the North West Frontier where he was awarded the IGSM and clasp for 1930-31.Discharged and recalled for War service he was killed on the 15th May 1940 near the Dyle River he lies today at Leopoldsburg War Cemetery Section VII. Row B. Grave 5. Aged 34 years old
T PUNTIN 4446397 2ND BN 27/05/19404446397 Pte Thomas Puntin was the son of  George and Ada Puntin, of Gateshead, Co. Durham; husband of Kathleen I. Puntin, of 60 Seymour Street Dunston, Gateshead. Thomas was reported killed/died on the 27th May 1940 he is at rest at Haverskerque British Cemetery .Thomas is recorded to have been aged 33 He was a long serving member of the battalion and had previously served in India where he was awarded the IGS Medal with North West Frontier Bar. Prior to the War he worked as an Inspector of Armaments at The Royal Arsenal Woolwich. His service number 4446397 falls into the enlistment book No 12  for enlistments between 12th April 1927 and 21 June 1928
J B RAGG 4448470 27/05/19404448470 Pte James Bell Ragg died on the 27th May 1940 the CWGC hold no family details however the UK Roll of Honour list both his birthplace and residence as Sunderland . The Sunderland Echo record he was the son of Mrs T E Ragg of West Street, he joined the Army on the 30th October 1930 served in India and was a reservist on the outbreak of war aged 27 (28 Echo) he lies today at St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 3. Row A. Grave 28 
W W RAINE 4452004 2ND BN 01/06/1940 4452004 Pte William Whitfield Raine  was the son of Charles Whitfield Raine and Susanah Raine, of Swalwell, Co. Durham. CWGC state he died on June 1st 1940 he rests today at St Venant Communal Cemetery aged 25 he is shown as Section 4 Row C Grave 34
L REECE 4449232 2ND BN 25/05/1940 Leonard Reece  was born in Darlington in 1911 the son of  George and Eliza Reece (nee Blakeburn ) Reece also had three brothers Robert Willie Reece (b 1901), James Frederick Reece (b1909) and George Arthur Reece (b 1900) together with three sisters Isobel Reece (1914), Mary Elizabeth Reece (b1914) and Frances Annie Reece (b1906) Leonard enlisted in Durham his number indicates an enlistment between the dates May 1st 1931 and  March 1933 CWGC record his death as May 25th 1940 he was aged 28 years. He rests today at St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 4. Row C. Grave 25
J A D REID 4452566 2ND BN 26/05/1940 31/05/1940 James Alexander Davison Reid was the son of William and Margarette Reid, of Scotswood, Newcastle-on-Tyne. He enlisted in the Durham light Infantry between 13th May 1936 and May 1938.CWGC list him as having died between May 26th-31st 1940 . He rests today at St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 4. Row C. Grave 63 he was according to the CWGC aged 23yrs.
J D RIGG 4443886 2ND BN 23/05/1940 31/05/19404443886 Pte Joseph Dobson Rigg was the Son of James and Hannah Rigg and husband of Sarah Hannah Rigg, of Middlesbrough, Yorkshire Joseph had three children Margaret, Beatrice and Joseph James Jnr. Recorded as having died between May 23rd and May 31st 1940 aged 33  he rests at St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 3. Row B. Grave 15. A pre-war regular his number is recorded between enlistment dates 1st October 1923 and 2nd January 1925
J A RITCHIE 4446313 2ND BN 26/05/1940 31/05/1940 Lance Corporal John Allan Ritchie was the son of Mr. and Mrs. James Ritchie; husband of Grace Ritchie, of Yiewsley, Middlesex although he lived in Sunderland having enlisted at Newcastle  into the Durham Light Infantry between April 12th 1927 and 21 June 1928 aged 29 he is recorded to have died between May 26th-31st May 1940 he rests today at St Venant Communal War Cemetery Plot 4. Row D. Grave 8.
J ROACHE 4454216  03/06/1940 John Roache was the son of John and Catherine Roache, of West Hartlepool, Co. Durham he lived at 27 Cromwell Street, West Hartlepool formerly employed by C Brown & Co Timber Merchant of Baltic Street, Hartlepool. CWGC record his death as June 3rd 1940 he  enlisted in April 1939 John rests today at St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 4 Row C Grave 52 he was 20 years old .
G B C ROBERTS 50971 27/05/1940

50971 Lieutenant  A/Captain G B C Roberts,Served with the battalion in France during 1940 he was killed in action on the 27th May 1940 whilst with Brigade The son of a Durham Light Infantry officer ,Lieutenant Colonel Gerald Chipchase Roberts, who was killed in WW1 Captain Gerard Brian Chipchase Roberts had always wanted to emulate his father .Born  6th April 1912 at Beechwood  Sowerby Bridge Yorks he was educated at both Charterhouse and Sandhurst

L ROBINSON          4443042 2ND BN 24/05/1940 31/05/19404443042 Pte . Leslie Robinson was the son of Jack and Harriet Robinson; husband of Mona Robinson, of York.A pre War soldier his number is recorded between enlistment dates 1st October 1923 and 2nd January 1925 aged 31 years he rests today at St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 4. Row C. Grave 23
T H ROBINSON                 4454232 2ND B                         27/05/1940  Pte Thomas Hayton Robinson was born in 1915 Served in the 2nd Durham Light Infantry The CWGC date of death is given as 27th May 1940.Age 25  (28 in local press)Robinson was a member of `D` Company and efforts to locate him were made and documented in the `DLI Missing Men File` (WO361/41) Hi last resting place Is unknown and he is commemorated on The Dunkirk Memorial Column 123.Son of Mr & Mrs George Robinson of 27 Ellis Square Southwick Sunderland
W ROBSON 4446307 2ND BN  20/05/1940 Pte William Robson was the on of William and Mary Ann Robson, of Newcastle-on-Tyne.The CWGC have his death listed as May 20th 1940 William rests today at St Pol War Cemetery Row B. Grave 75. He was 28 years old.
C P ROBSON 4451236 2ND BN  30/10/1940 Pte (Bdsm) Charles Percy Robson was born in 1920 the CWGC list him as the son of Percy and Sarah Robson of Pauperhaugh however Charles`s mother was Hannah Margaret (Blythe) Robson but she died in 1923 .Charles died at (home) Stannington Sanatorium  on the 30th October 1940 (29th October according to obituary Newcastle Journal - Thursday 31 October 1940)  and rests today at Rothbury Cemetery Sec. C. Grave 3.Williams father had served in WW1 with the Northumberland Fusiliers. Charles William Percy Robson was aged 20 years. 
T RODGERS 4453513  27/05/1940Pte Thomas Rodgers was the son of James H. and Amelia J. Rodgers, of Wingate, Co. Durham he served with B Company but at the time of his death was part of the Composite D Company comprised of men of both B and D recorded as Killed on May 27th 1940 he was initially recorded as having no known grave however after extensive enquiries by his family and members of the ARHAM society and in particular M. Dominique Faivre his grave was located. However the CWGC would still not acknowledge it was Tom who rested in this grave they did however concede he was buried in the St Venant Communal Cemetery and he is now commemorated in Plot 3. Row B. Grave 35 as well as on the Dunkirk Memorial Tom was aged 21 years.
R ROGERSON 4449140 2ND BN  27/05/1940 Pte Richard Rogerson was the son of William and Violet Rogerson, of Winlaton, Co. Durham Although listed as having died on May 27th 1940 he has no known grave and is commemorated on the Dunkirk Memorial Column 123.Aged 28 years he is also commemorated on the Town war Memorial.
H RUTHERFORD 4447217 2ND BN  26/05/1940 -31/05/1940 Pte Henry Rutherford enlisted on the 29th January 1929 into the regular army for an initial period of seven and a half years he transferred briefly to the KRRC on the 5th August 1936 Relegated to the reserve on the 2nd December 1938 he was recalled from the reserve as War loomed . He is recorded by the CWGC as having died between  26th May 1940 and 31st May 1940.Henry rests at St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 4. Row C. Grave 26.Henry was aged 29 years. A note in the enlistment book states he was buried by The International Red Cross Society?
J SCOTT 4452556 2ND BN  10/05/1940 -31/05/1940 Pte James Scott was born and resided in Gateshead the CWGC list him as having died between 10th May 1940 and the 31st May 1940 He rests today at St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 4. Row C. Grave 68.Jame was aged 20 years.
 AC SHARP 4449697 2ND BN  26/05/1940 -04/06/1940Pte Arthur Clifford Sharp was the son of Mr Charles Sharp and his wife Ettie ( Jickells) born in January 1914 in Sculcoates, Hull, Yorkshire Arthur was  the husband of Grace Winifred Sharp, of Row Town, Surrey. CWGC record Arthurs death as being between May 26th and June 4th 1940 He rests today at St Venant Communal Cemetery

Plot 3. Row A. Grave 18 He was aged 27 years

J SHAWCROFT 4448176 2ND BN  15/05/1940James Shawcroft was the Son of Mr.Horace James Shawcroft and Mrs. Jeanie Scott (Oram)Shawcroft, of 27 Pensher Street Sunderland, Co. Durham and  husband of G. Irene Shawcroft
Killed in the actions on the Dyle River on the 15th May 1940 at rest Leopoldsburg War Cemetery Section VII. Row A. Grave 18.
G SIMPSON 4451112 2ND BN  25/09/19404451112 Pte George Simpson died at home on the 25th September 1940 at rest at St Johns,Westgate and Elswick,Newcastle upon Tyne,Sec. O. Uncons. Grave 259.
J W SMART 4443005 2ND BN  15/05/1940 John William Smart  enlisted into the Durham Light Infantry his number 4443005 falls into Army Book 358 which covers numbers 4443001- 4444000 and an enlistment window of between 1st October 1923 to 13th January 1925. John died, according to the CWGC on the 15th May 1940 during the actions around the River Dyle. He was aged 35 and rests today at Leopoldsburg War Cemetery. Section VII Row B Grave 2.John was buried here on the 8th November 1946 from his original burial place at Gastuche Burial Ground.
W T SMITH 4449353 2ND BN  15/05/1940William Thomas Smith the son of George John and Ethel Smith; husband of Annie M. Smith, of Send, Surrey his number 4449353 is from the series 4449001 - 4449999, covering enlistments between 1 May 1931 and March 1933.William died on the 15th May 1940 when the battalion were in action on the Dyle River crossings. He rests today at Leopoldsburg War Cemetery Section VII. Row B. Grave 18 he was buried here in 1946 after being originally buried at Gastuche. William was aged 28.
W SPENCE 4447645 2ND BN  27/05/1940William Spence was the son of Joseph and Maria Spence; husband of Nora Mary Spence, of Blackwater, Hampshire ,William`s service number   4447645 suggests an enlistment between 21st June 1928 and 19th February 19 February 1930 (Army enlistment Book B 358 ) William died in France on the 27th May 1940 he is one of four DLI at rest at Merville Communal Cemetery Section/ Plot 1. Row A. Grave 55. William Spence was aged 27 years.
J R SPENCER 4447176 2ND BN  30/05/1940 James Emmerson Spencer enlisted originally on the 5th December 1928 into the Durham Light Infantry for an initial period of 7 and a half years .On the outbreak of war James and his Wife Alice were living at 59 Deans Way, Edge ware. London The CWGC record his death as 30th May 1940 after initially being posted as `missing` on the 14th June 1940.Son of John and Susanah Spencer, husband of Alice Mary Spencer, of Tottenham, Middlesex. He was aged 27 years
C T STOREY 4453576 2ND BN  30/05/1940 - 31/05/1940 Charles Tiffin Storey was the son of George and Ellen Maud Storey, of 27 Wear Street, Chopwell, Co. Durham Charles enlistment into the DLI was between 1938-39 his number 4453576 falling into the range of book 358 Register of Soldiers Durham Light Infantry 4453000 -4454516, covering the period 11th  May 1938 - 1939. Charles is recorded to have died between the 30th-31st May 1940 he lies today at St Venant  Communal Cemetery Plot 4. Row C. Grave 20. He was aged just 19 years.
G SURTEES 4448254 2ND BN  27/05/1940George Surtees enlisted in the regular army for seven and a half years joining the Durham Light Infantry on the 24th May 1930.Originally posted as `Missing` on the 14th June 1940 between the dates of 10th-30th May 1940. It was later established that George had been killed on the 27th May 1940 he rests today at St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 3. Row A. Grave 26.
A THOMPSON 4450104 2ND BN  26/05/1940Allan Thompson enlisted in the Durham Light Infantry and whilst the Roll of Honour lists him as born and living in Newcastle the CWGC list his next of kin as son of Mr. and Mrs. William John Thompson; husband of Ethel Thompson, of Sale, Cheshire.. Although Allan has no known grave and is commemorated on the Dunkirk Memorial Column 123 the Enlistment and Discharge book list him as having `Died of Wounds` on the 26th May 1940
W H THOMPSON 4454256   15/05/1940 Pte William Hanwell Thompson son of Robert and Nora Hilda Thompson, of 16 Darlington Terrace ,West Hartlepool, Co. Durham .He was reported to have been killed on 15th May 1940 his parents were informed he was buried at Gastuche he lies today at Leopoldsburg War Cemetery Section VII. Row B.Grave 7. He was 20yrs old two of his brothers were also serving in the Army
F T WADDLE 4452825  15/05/1940 Frank Waddle is reported to have died on the 15th May 1940 at the Dyle he has no known grave and is commemorated on The Dunkirk Memorial Column 123 Frank was the son of Thomas and Maggie Waddle, of Whickham, Co. Durham.
K WALKER 4453567  15/05/1940 Pte Kenneth Walker was the son of Thomas and Ellen Walker, of Hull On July 2nd 1940 The Daily Mail announced that Mrs Ellen Walker had received news that her youngest son Kenneth was `missing` Pte Walker had enlisted five months before the outbreak of war. He was a former pupil of The Open Air School, Park Avenue and Buckingham Street School a former employee of The Hull Bottle & Glass Company He was 20 years old. It was later confirmed by the Belgian Red Cross that Kenneth had been killed on the 15th May 1940 near the Dyle River he was buried at Gastuche before being re-interred at Leopoldsburg War Cemetery on 8th November 1946.He rests today Section VII. Row B. Grave No 9
S WALT                         4449017  29/05/1940 

 Pte Sydney Walt was born in Sunderland in 1913 the son of Thomas William Walt, and of Florence Beatrice Walt. The family moved from Sunderland and settled in Hutton Magna, Yorkshire. Syd was wounded, according to CSM McLane in the lower body and was bleeding heavily when the order came `everyman for himself` on the 27th May 1940 he died, according to the CWGC two days later. He rests today at st Venant Communal Cemetery  Plot 3. Row A. Grave 20. He was aged 26 years.

R E O WATERS 4449735 2ND BN  15/05/1940 Robert Edward Oley Waters  He died on May 15, 1940, at the age of 28.He rests today at Leopoldsburg War Cemetery Section VII. Row C. Grave 6.
W WHITE 4448901 2ND BN  15/05/1940Pte William White was the Son of William and Mary White, of Shildon, Co. Durham; husband of Ada White, of Shildon. William original enlistment date was the 27th November 1931.The CWGC have William listed as having died on May 15th 1940.he rests today at Leopoldsburg War Cemetery Section VII. Row B. Grave10. He is recorded to have been 35 years of age.
W WHITELEY 4449342  26/05/1940 -04/06/1940

Lance Corporal Walter Whiteley born in 1914 and resided Harrow Street in Hull a 2nd battalion boxer and Rugby player he is recorded as having died between 26th May 1940 and June 4th 1940 Walter rests at St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 3. Row B. Grave 14. He was aged 26 years. A former pupil West Dock Avenue School

G A WIGGINS 4449924 2ND BN  27/05/1940 George Albert Wiggins Son of Mr. and Mrs. F. G. Wiggins, of Birtley, Co. Durham.
 H WILBY 4446488 2ND BN  28/05/1940 -02/06/1940Pte Herbert Wilby was the son of  Earnest and Rena Wilby and husband of Elise Wilby.
and brother of Harry Wilby . The Wilby brothers both enlisted into the Durham Light Infantry on the same day the 29th February 1929 both for an initial period of 7/5 years . Herbert Wilby was born in Halifax ,Yorkshire on the 16th April 1908 his elder brother Harry in the same place on the 18th February 1907.Herbert had been a Mill Hand brother Harry a shoe repairer prior to their service. Herbert Wilby was awarded the India General Service Medal for services on the North west Frontier 1930-31 although the roll has `WILBEY` not WILBY but the service number is the same. Herbert Wilby was killed in action in France he has no known grave and is commemorated on the Dunkirk Memorial Column 123.The CWGC record his death between 28th May and 2nd June 1940 this is contradicted by the enlistment book which states `Killed in Action` 23rd December 1941although this `may` have been a confirmation date as he was originally classed as missing between the 9th-29th May 1940. Harry Wilby returned home but died later in the War  15th November 1944 and is buried as a Sergeant 2 DLI at Imphal  Section 3.  Row B. Grave No 5.his cause of death is listed as `unknown` (File 104.91.SW.545 ?)
M WILSON 4453646 2ND BN  15/05/1940

 Matthew Wilson was the son of William and Jane Wilson and husband of Florence Lucille Wilson, according to the CWGC  of Wembley Park, Middlesex however  according to the Teesdale Mercury of June 19th 1940 the Wilsons lived at Cleveland Road Barnard Castle and before re-joining the DLI had been a night porter at the Morritt Arms  Hotel at Greta Bridge.nr Barnard Castle. Matthew was a well known amateur footballer. He died during the actions on the Dyle River on May 15th 1940 and rests today at Léopoldburg  War Cemetery Section VII Row B Grave 11.CWGC record his age as 34 whilst the local press stated 30.

J WOOD 4447135 2ND BN  15/05/1940 -31/05/1940John Wood was the son of Charles William and Catherine Mary Wood, of Linthorpe, Middlesbrough, Yorkshire; nephew of Mr. E.Backhouse, of Middlesbrough. He enlisted on the 12th November 1928 for an initial period of seven and a half years.John served in India and was awarded an India general Service medal with the Northwest Frontier 1930-31 clasp/bar.He was reportedly deemed  as`missing on the 15th May 1940 which suggests his death occurred on that day rather than within the broad dates the CWGC specify 15th-31st May 1940. John Wood rests today at Leopoldsburg War Cemetery  VII.C.10, He was 30 years old.
W WOOD 4452240 2ND BN  15/05/1940William Wood was the son of Charles William and Margaret Wood, of North Ormesby, Middlesbrough, Yorkshire; husband of Eva Eugenia Wood, of Middlesbrough. He was killed in Action on the 15th May 1940 during operations on the Dyle River .Today William rests at Leopoldsburg War Cemetery Section VII. Row A. Grave 19.Aged 25 years.He was originally buried at Gastuche reburied in 1946.
R WRIGHT 4451069 2ND BN  27/05/1940 Ronald Wright 4451069 was the son  of John William and Mary Elizabeth Wright, of Stockton-on-Tees, Co. Durham. He died on the 27th May 1940 At rest today at St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 3. Row B. Grave 16.
H YOUNG 4453528 2ND BN  15/05/1940 Harry Young was the son of George and Margaret Frances Young, of Normanby, Middlesbrough, Yorkshire. Died May 15th 1940 at rest Leopoldsburg War Cemetery Section VII. Row A. Grave 20.
H R YOUNG 4447780 2ND BN  25/05/1940 -27/05/1940 Harry Robson Young was the son of Henry Robson Young and Mary Ethel Young, of Newcastle-on-Tyne; husband of Hannah Isabelle Young, of Heaton, Newcastle-on-Tyne he enlisted on the 28th August 1929 he was originally posted as missing on the 14th June 1940 the dates were initially thought to be between 10th-29th May 1940 the CWGC changed that to 25/05/1940 and 27/05/1940 however the enlistment and discharge book states he died on the 20th May 1940? He rests today at Le Grand Hasard Military Cemetery,Morbecque. Section 5. Row F. Grave 18.He was aged 26.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Soldier of the Second World War..

 

 In the CWGC cemetery of Leopoldsburg lie the bodies of those of the 2nd Durham Light Infantry who fell during the actions around the River Dyle. The Headstone above bears no name only the inscription `A SOLDIER OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR ,A SERGEANT OF THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY 15th MAY 1940`. The Headstone is not uncommon , many men were laid in such graves their identities not established and commemorated by name on a Memorial such as the one at Dunkirk whilst their remains, if found, were  laid to rest under headstones such as these.

What we do have on this particular stone is evidence that it was possible to identify this soldier as a Sergeant of The Durham Light Infantry which is where this mystery really starts. We have established that those in Leopoldsburg were all members of the 2nd Durham Light Infantry so it is safe to assume that this was a Sergeant from the 2nd Durham Light Infantry but who?

Only one 2nd DLI Sergeant is recorded as being killed on that day  4448462 WO III PSM Robert William Ditchburn who was 28 and the son of RWA and Kate Ditchburn of Langley Moor is this the unfortunate soul who lies beneath this stone? No it isn't Robert has a named headstone in the same cemetery commemorated  in Section VII Row B Grave 13.

 There are three Durham Light Infantry Sergeants commemorated on the Dunkirk Memorial their graves unknown these men were 4451039 Sgt Norman Edwards recorded killed 26th May 1940. 4451613 Sgt George Harrison  recorded 26th May 1940 and finally 4441216 Sgt Robert Stonehouse 26th May 1940 (Killed Instantly in Provin and listed as so in the Regimental history) could these be candidates ,very unlikely, as these three were all Sergeants in the 9th DLI and never in the area of the Dyle actions.

An enquiry to the CWGC shed a little bit of light on where this lad was originally buried but nothing in relation to his identity their reply was;-

With regard to your query as to the ‘Unknown Sergeant of the Durham Light Infantry’ who is buried in Leopoldsburg War Cemetery in Belgium.
I have examined our Second World War records and can simply confirm that there are limited records consistent throughout in recording these details. Our records are, as you may be aware, based on information provided to us after the war by the Service Authorities at the time. They would have provided us the above detail, based on the limited information that they had available to them at the time when the casualty’s remains were recovered from their original burial place in Gastuche Temporary Burial Ground at map reference:
M.R. 822424, Sheet 56
1/50,000, GSGS 4040


The map reference given above refers to the Second World War maps but when converted it works out to be a field North of Gastuche. Latitude 50.44 27.28 N, Longitude 4.38 57.10 E. So by location it seems he was definitely 2nd Durham Light Infantry but whom? It is only when you look into other cases of soldiers killed during this period that you begin to realise how unreliable the CWGC  dates of death are.

By searching the Dunkirk Memorial once again ignoring the dates recorded by the CWGC  we finally find a likely candidate 4448350 Lance Sergeant  George Hayden aged 31 the son of George and Caroline Heyden he is commemorated on the Dunkirk Memorial column 121 with a date of May 27th 1940.Is this George? It is more than likely, can we prove it? Sadly no yet he is the only 2nd DLI Sergeant missing from this period..

11 Platoon B Company Roll Book.

The Platoon Roll book of 11 Platoon, 'B' Company, 2nd Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry, was lost following the actions on the Dyle River in May 1940.It was found on the ground after the action at Gastuche, Belgium, shortly afterwards. It was preserved throughout  the German occupation of Belgium and handed back  to Major F.R. Tubbs of the Regiment in September 1944.
The book itself is unremarkable, a simple, small notebook its pages now stained with age but bearing a list of those Durham`s who served with 11 Platoon in Belgium and France. Those listed and what I have been able to establish regarding their ultimate fates
are listed below;-

 

 793185 Sergeant F.D.K. Monaghan was a member of  `B` Company 11 Platoon Hq Section 2nd Durham Light Infantry his name features prominantly on the headings page, perhaps it was his book that was found? Sgt Monaghan was captured by the Germans in 1940 given a PoW 1131 he was recorded at the end of the War in Stalag 383.RSM Goddard recorded him with a Lager No of 3356 during his time in the camp. Sgt Monaghan originally enlisted in the Royal Artillery (Field, Coastal & Anti-Aircraft).Enlisting on the 17th March 1932 he was discharged on his release from captivity under Para 390 (XVIII)A Kings Regulations 1940

 

  4449210 Pte R.R. Waistell  was a member of  `B` Company 11 Platoon Hq Section 2nd Durham Light Infantry. Pte Robert Robinson Waistell was taken prisoner in May 1940 his PoW No was 12647 at the end of the War he was recorded as being present in Stalag 344.A pre-war soldier Pte Waistell`s regimental number 4449210 features in Army Form B 358 Book 15 Register of Soldiers Nos 4449001- 4449999 covering original enlistments from 1st May 1931 and March 1933.He was discharged on the 1st March 1946 under Kings Regulations.

 

 4444885 Pte G.E Tate  was a member of  `B` Company 11 Platoon Hq Section 2nd Durham Light Infantry there is no record of Pte Tate being captured and he does not appear as a casualty in `The Roll of Honour - Land Forces British Army casualties 1939-45` To date it is assumed hesurvived past the end of hostilities. A pre-war soldier Pte Tate`s regimental number 4444885 features in Army Form B 358 Book 10 Enlistment Book  Nos 4444001-
4445000 covering original enlistments from 1st January 1925-2nd January 1926. Pte G E Tate served with the 2nd Durham Light Infantry in India in 1930-31 where he was awarded
The India General Service Medal with the North West Frontier 1930-31 Clasp/Bar authorised for issue in October 1934 it is noted that Pte Tate had been discharged to the reserve at that time so was possibly, a reservist, recalled to the colours on the outbreak of war.4444885 Pte GE Tate was mentioned in Despatches for the BEF Campaign SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, 20 DECEMBER, 1940.

 

 4449946 Pte T S Potter  was a member of  `B` Company 11 Platoon Hq Section 2nd Durham Light Infantry. Pte Thomas Shield Potter was taken prisoner in May 1940 his PoW No was 12643 at the end of the War he was recorded as being present in Stalag 344.A pre-war soldier Pte Potter`s regimental number 4449946 features in Army Form B 358 Book 15 Register of Soldiers Nos 4449001- 4449999 covering original enlistments from 1st May 1931 and March 1933.His PoW status had been confirmed on the 12th July 1940. On release from captivity Thomas was discharged under Section 390 (xviii) on the 18th February 1946.

 

 There is an entry in the book for a Pte T McFee or McGee it is not clear which, the regimental number appears to read 4452661 however this number is that of
Pte Matthew Crossley son of Mr. and Mrs. G. Crossley, of Sunderland, Co. Durham recorded by the CWGC as having died on the 27th May 1940 he has no
known grave but is commemorated on the Dunkirk Memorial column 122.

 

 4445003 Pte Sidney .Stoker was a member of  `B` Company 11 Platoon Hq Section 2nd Durham Light Infantry there is a record of Pte Stoker being captured  possibly badly wounded he was repatriated to England in 1941 no longer deemed fit he was one of 91 DLI soldiers ,15 of them from the 2nd Battalion who were returned home prior to the conclusion of the war.A pre-war soldier Pte Stoker`s regimental number 4445003 features in Army Form B 358 Book 12 Enlistment Book Nos 4446001- 4447000 covering original enlistments from 12th April 1927-21 June 1928.Pte Stoker served with the 2nd Durham Light Infantry in India in 1930-31 where he was awarded
The India General Service Medal with the North West Frontier 1930-31 Clasp/Bar authorised for issue in October 1934 it is noted that Pte Stoker had been discharged to the reserve at that time so was possibly, a reservist, recalled to the colours on the outbreak of war.

 

 4453334  Pte Frederick Charles Jemmett was a member of  `B` Company 11 Platoon Hq Section 2nd Durham Light Infantry there is no record of Pte Jemmet being captured and he does not appear as a casualty in `The Roll of Honour - Land Forces British Army casualties 1939-45` To date it is assumed he survived past the end of hostilities although his service with the DLI ended on the 13th May 1941 when he was transferred to the 3rd Maritime AA Battery Royal Artillery.

 

 4444714 L/Sgt T. Devine was a member of  `B` Company 11 Platoon No 4 Section 2nd Durham Light Infantry was captured by the Germans in 1940 given a PoW 1150
he was recorded at the end of the War in Stalag 383. RSM Goddard recorded him with a Lager No of 3303 during his time in the camp. L/Sgt Tate served, as a Corporal with the 2nd Durham Light Infantry in India in 1930-31 where he was awarded The India General Service Medal with the North West Frontier 1930-31 Clasp/Bar authorised for issue in October 1934 it is noted that Cpl Tate had been discharged to the reserve at that time so was possibly, a reservist, recalled to the colours on the outbreak of war. L/Sgt Devines number 4444714  features in Army Form B 358 Book 10 Enlistment Book  Nos 4444001- 4445000 covering original enlistments from 1st January 1925-2nd January 1926.

 

 4449209 L/Cpl John George Scurfield was a member of  `B` Company 11 Platoon No 4 Section 2nd Durham Light Infantry. There is no record of L/Cpl Scurfield being captured and he does not appear as a casualty in `The Roll of Honour - Land Forces British Army casualties 1939-45`  He survived past the end of hostilities and died on January 26th 1996. A pre-war soldier his regimental number 4449209  features in Army Form B 358 Book 15 Register of Soldiers Nos 4449001-4449999 covering original enlistments from 1st May 1931 and March 1933.He was born on May 20th 1910 the son of William and Mary Scurfield of 239 Marsden Street South Shields Durham

 

 4446397 Pte T Puntin was a member of  `B` Company 11 Platoon No 4 Section 2nd Durham Light Infantry he is listed by the CWGC as having died on the 27th May 1940
son of George and Ada Puntin, of Gateshead, Co. Durham; husband of Kathleen I. Puntin, of Dunston, Gateshead he rests today at Haverskerque British Cemetery row EE. Grave 2.A pre-war soldier Pte Puntins`s regimental number 4446397 features in Army Form B 358 Book 12 Enlistment Book  Nos 4446001- 4447000 covering original enlistments from 12th April 1927-21st June 1928.He served with the 2nd Durham Light Infantry in India in 1930-31 where he was awarded The India General Service Medal with the North West Frontier 1930-31 Clasp/Bar in 1934 he is recorded as still serving with the battalion.

 

 4449232  Pte L. Reece was a member of  `B` Company 11 Platoon No 4 Section 2nd Durham Light Infantry he is listed by the CWGC as having died on the 25th May 1940 he was 28. He rests today at St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 4. Row C. Grave 25..A pre-war soldier Pte Reece`s regimental number 4449232 features in Army Form B 358 Book 15 Register of Soldiers Nos 4449001- 4449999 covering original enlistments from 1st May 1931 and March 1933.

 

 4452353 Pte H Thornton  was a member of  `B` Company 11 Platoon No 4 Section 2nd Durham Light Infantry there is no record of Pte Thornton being captured and he does not appear as a casualty in `The Roll of Honour - Land Forces British Army casualties 1939-45` To date it is assumed he survived past the end of hostilities. Pre war enlistment  between 13th May 1936 -May 1938 Book 18 Army Book 358 Register of Soldiers covering numbers 4452000-4452999.

 

 4452955 Pte James Salmon  Purvis was a member of  `B` Company 11 Platoon No 4 Section 2nd Durham Light Infantry there is no record of Pte J. Purvis being captured and he does not appear as a casualty in `The Roll of Honour - Land Forces British Army casualties 1939-45` He survived past the end of hostilities .Pre-war enlistment  between 13th May 1938 -May 1938 Book 18 Army Book 358 Register of Soldiers covering numbers 4452000-4452999. James was transferred to the 2nd East Yorkshire Regt on the 30th September 1940 but transferred back to the DLI on the 25th October 1940. Transfers again followed to the KRRC on the 10th May 1942 and the REME on the 22nd November 1943.Born 11 Oct 1916 died Newcastle upon Tyne in 1985 aged 68

 

 4448478 Pte G Murdock was a member of  `B` Company 11 Platoon No 4 Section 2nd Durham Light Infantry there is no record of Pte George, Murdock being captured and he does not appear as a casualty in `The Roll of Honour - Land Forces British Army casualties 1939-45` To date it is assumed he survived past the end of hostilities .A pre-war soldier Pte Murdock`s regimental number 4448418 features in Army Form B 358 Book 14 Enlistment Book  Nos 4448001- 4449000 covering original enlistments from 24th January 1930-7th May 1931.Pg 96 refers to George Murdock enlisting on the 17th November 1930 initially for 7 and a half years he was discharged as no longer being fit Para 390 (xvi) on the 29th August 1941.

 

 4453583 Pte Hodgson  Gibson was a member of  `B` Company 11 Platoon No 4 Section 2nd Durham Light Infantry. Pte H. Gibson was taken prisoner in May 1940 his PoW No was 11312 at the end of the War he was recorded as being present in Stalag 4A. Pre war enlistment  between 11th May 1936 -1939 Book 19 Army Book 358 Register of Soldiers covering numbers 4453000-4454516. Originally posted `Missing` his PoW status was confirmed on the 12th June 1940. Discharged under Pare 390 (XVII) G on the 17th June 1946

 

 4447859 Pte R. Clarkson was also possibly a member of  `B` Company 11 Platoon No 4 Section 2nd Durham Light Infantry  Pte Robert Clarkson was taken prisoner in May 1940 (Announced on 12th July 1940) his PoW No was 1149 at the end of the War he was recorded as being present in Stalag 20A.On Page 176 it states Robert Clarkson enlisted into the regular army for (initially) seven and a half years following his release from captivity he was discharged under Para 390 (xvi) 1940 on the 10th May 1946.

 

 4448398 Pte Robert Gardiner  was a member of  `B` Company 11 Platoon No 4 Section 2nd Durham Light Infantry he is listed by the CWGC as having died between
 the 10th May 1940 and 28th December 1940  he was 28.The  son of John William and Florence Gardiner, Robert has no known grave and is commemorated on The Dunkirk Memorial column 122.

 

 4453490 Pte Thomas Edward Rusk was a member of  `B` Company 11 Platoon No 5 Section 2nd Durham Light Infantry there is no record of Pte T.Rusk being captured and he does not appear as a casualty in `The Roll of Honour - Land Forces British Army casualties 1939-45` To date it is assumed he survived past the end of hostilities. Pre war enlistment  between 11th May 1936 -1939 Book 19 Army Book 358 Register of Soldiers covering numbers 4453000-4454516 which state that Thomas transferred to the Royal Armoured Corps on the 1st January 1942 posted to 155 Regt which had previously been the old 15th DLI.

 

 4453010 Pte James Peter  Nicholson was a member of  `B` Company 11 Platoon No 5 Section 2nd Durham Light Infantry there is no record of Pte Nicholson being captured and he does not appear as a casualty in `The Roll of Honour - Land Forces British Army casualties 1939-45` To date it is assumed he survived past the end of hostilities. Pre war enlistment  between 11th May 1936 -1939 Book 19 Army Book 358 Register of Soldiers covering numbers 4453000-4454516. Discharged under Para 390 (XVI) on the 31st May 1946

 

 4263881 Pte Vincent  Rochester was a member of  `B` Company 11 Platoon No 5 Section 2nd Durham Light Infantry there is no record of Pte Vincent Rochester being captured and he does not appear as a casualty in `The Roll of Honour - Land Forces British Army casualties 1939-45` To date it is assumed he survived past the end of hostilities. Original enlistment  into The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers whom he left to join The Durham Light Infantry on the 8th September 1939.

 

 4452147 Pte Wilfred Mellor was a member of  `B` Company 11 Platoon No 5 Section 2nd Durham Light Infantry there is no record of Pte Mellor being captured and he does not appear as a casualty in `The Roll of Honour - Land Forces British Army casualties 1939-45` To date it is assumed he survived past the end of hostilities. Pre war enlistment  between 13th May 1938 -May 1938 Book 18 Army Book 358 Register of Soldiers covering numbers 4452000-4452999.Discharged under Para 390 (XVI) on the 11th January 1946

 

 4267306 Pte Richard  Curtis Stephenson was a member of  `B` Company 11 Platoon No 5 Section 2nd Durham Light Infantry. Pte  Richard Curtis Stephenson was taken prisoner in May 1940 his PoW No was 11708 at the end of the War he was recorded as being present in Stalag 344. Original enlistment  into The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers whom he left to join The Durham Light Infantry on the 8th September 1939 his initial Army career started on the 8th January 1930

 

 4443640 Pte G E Barnes was a member of  `B` Company 11 Platoon No 5 Section 2nd Durham Light Infantry there is no record of Pte Barnes being captured and he does not appear as a casualty in `The Roll of Honour - Land Forces British Army casualties 1939-45` To date it is assumed he survived past the end of hostilities. He served with the 2nd Durham Light Infantry in India in 1930-31 where he was awarded  The India General Service Medal with the North West Frontier 1930-31 Clasp/Bar issued October 1934 at this time Pte Barnes was listed as discharged to the reserve. Enlistment Book No9 covers numbers 4443001-4444000 giving Barnes original enlistment between 1st October 1923-13th January 1925

 

 6699942 Cpl W Mayers was a member of  `B` Company 11 Platoon No 6 Section 2nd Durham Light Infantry there is no record of Cpl Mayers  being captured and he does not appear as a casualty in `The Roll of Honour - Land Forces British Army casualties 1939-45` To date it is assumed he survived past the end of hostilities.

 

 4452147 L/Cpl Wallis was a member of  `B` Company 11 Platoon No 6 Section 2nd Durham Light Infantry there is no record of L/Cpl Wallis being captured and he does not appear as a casualty in `The Roll of Honour - Land Forces British Army casualties 1939-45` To date it is assumed he survived past the end of hostilities. Pre war enlistment  between 13th May 1938 -May 1938 Book 18 Army Book 358 Register of Soldiers covering numbers 4452000-4452999.

 

 4389005 Pte Arthur Ayre  was a member of  `B` Company 11 Platoon No 6 Section 2nd Durham Light Infantry there is no record of Pte Arthur Ayre being captured and he does not appear as a casualty in `The Roll of Honour - Land Forces British Army casualties 1939-45` To date it is assumed he survived past the end of hostilities. Original enlistment into the Green Howards  on the 6th October 1936 (SR) He re=enlisted into the regular army on the 8th March 1937 he transferred to the Army Catering Corps on the 8th December 1943 his documentation being sent to offices in Edinburgh on the 21st January 1937.

 

 4448420 Pte Albert Edwin Walker  was a member of  `B` Company 11 Platoon No 6 Section 2nd Durham Light Infantry Pte Walker was captured and died as a Prisoner of War on November 12th 1943 .Son of Joseph B Walker and Margaret (Horsman) Walker. Born 1911 in Northallerton Yorkshire.

 

 4260619 Pte Preston  was a member of  `B` Company 11 Platoon No 6 Section 2nd Durham Light Infantry there is no record of Pte Preston being captured and he does not appear as a casualty in `The Roll of Honour - Land Forces British Army casualties 1939-45` To date it is assumed he survived past the end of hostilities. Original emlistment in the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers.

 

 866603 Pte Thomas  Tullock  was a member of  `B` Company 11 Platoon No 6 Section 2nd Durham Light Infantry although there is no record of Pte Thomas Tullock being captured the enlistment books record he was posted as `missing` on the 14th June 1940 and a prisoner on the 14th September 1940?  He does not appear as a casualty in `The Roll of Honour - Land Forces British Army casualties 1939-45` To date it is assumed he survived past the end of hostilities. Originally enlisted in the Royal Artillery (Field, Coastal & Anti-Aircraft) on the 16th January 1939 he was discharged under Para 519 (V) on the 30th September 1947.

 

 4453542 Pte H Walmsley  was a member of  `B` Company 11 Platoon No 5 Section 2nd Durham Light Infantry. Pte Walmsley was taken prisoner in May 1940 his PoW No was 11709 at the end of the War he was recorded as being present in Stalag 344.Pre war enlistment  between 11th May 1936 -1939 Book 19 Army Book 358 Register of Soldiers covering numbers 4453000-4454516.The local press reported that his parents Mr and Mrs William Walmsey  of Castle Street North Castletown, Sunderland had originally been notified that their son was missing 19 year old Harry Walmsley had just prior to his capture met his brother George. George who was evacuated via Dunkirk with leg wounds recalled he had been marching past the Durhams trench when a voice had called "Hi ya Kid!" 

 

 4453394 Pte Gallon  was a member of  `B` Company 11 Platoon No 6 Section 2nd Durham Light Infantry there is no record of Pte Gallon being captured and he does not appear as a casualty in `The Roll of Honour - Land Forces British Army casualties 1939-45` To date it is assumed he survived past the end of hostilities.Pre war enlistment  between 11th May 1936 -1939 Book 19 Army Book 358 Register of Soldiers covering numbers 4453000-4454516

 

 The book also contains the following but no regimental numbers or specific sections Pte Slater, Pte Trueman and Pte Dobson .Those below were members of 11 Platoon but no section has been identified

 

 4446487 Cpl Harry Wilby was a member of  `B` Company 11 Platoon 2nd Durham Light Infantry.he survived the retreat to Dunkirk and fought again with the 2nd Durham Light Infantry in the far east, sadly he was killed on the 15th November 1944 .
Harry Wilby now a Sergeant was buried at Imphal War Cemetery he was 37.A pre-war soldier Pte Wilby`s  regimental number 4446487 features in Army Form B 358 Book 12 Enlistment Book  Nos 4446001- 4447000 covering original enlistments from 12th April 1927-21st June 1928.Harrys younger brother 4446488 Herbert Wilby also served and died with the 2nd DLI at this time his death is recorded as between 28/05/1940 and 02/06/1940 he has no known grave but is commemorated on Column 123 of The Dunkirk Memorial he was 32.As boys they had lived at 4 Westfield Ct Havelock St Claremount Halifax Yorks with their parents Earnest and Rena, Herbert had married Elise.

 

 4447780 Cpl Harry Robson Young was a member of  `B` Company 11 Platoon  2nd Durham Light Infantry. Cpl Young  is recorded as being killed  between the 25th May and the 27th May 1940  son of Henry Robson Young and Mary Ethel Young, of Newcastle-on-Tyne; husband of Hannah Isabelle Young, of Heaton, Newcastle-on-Tyne he rests at Le Grand Hasard Military Cemetery ,Morbecque.
Pre war enlistment  between 21st June 1928-19th February 1930  Book 13 Army Book 358 Register of Soldiers covering numbers 4447001-4448000. Book lists his original enlistment as 28th August 1929

 

 4446996 Pte Robert Metcalfe was a member of  `B` Company 11 Platoon 2nd Durham Light Infantry. Pte Metcalfe was captured during the fighting of May 1940 he died as a prisoner of war  on the 17th October 1941.
The son of Mary Metcalfe; husband of Violet Metcalfe, of Bayswater, London Robert rests today at Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery in Poland. The original grave was at Weihendorf and was removed to Krakow on September 7th 1948..A pre-war soldier Pte Metcalfe`s regimental number 4446996  features in Army Form B 358 Book 12 Enlistment Book  Nos 4446001- 4447000 covering original enlistments from 12th April 1927-21st June 1928

 

 4444112 Pte M Crossen was a member of  `B` Company 11 Platoon  2nd Durham Light Infantry there is a record of Pte Crossen being captured  possibly  wounded he was repatriated to England in 1941 no longer deemed fit he was one of 91 DLI soldiers ,15 of them from the 2nd Battalion who were returned home prior to the conclusion of the war. A pre war regular who had previously served with the battalion on the North west frontier in1930-31 where he earned The India General Service Medal with clasp/bar.Possibly a reservist recalled at the time of War .His number 4444112 falls in Enlistment book no 10 featuring nos between 4444001-4445000 with enlistments from 1st January 1925 and 2nd January 1926

 

 

Missing believed Killed in Action..commemorated on the Dunkirk Memorial

 

 4453582  RONALD GEORGE VICTOR JOHN ABLETT     2nd Durham Light Infantry CWGC date of death 27/05/1940 Ronald was the son of William George and Margaret Ablett, of West Hartlepool, Co Durham

 

 4450749  JAMES WILLIAM ARTHUR BATTY  2nd  Durham Light Infantry  CWGC date of death 15/05/1940.James was the Son of James Leopold and Ethel Batty; husband of Lilian Hope Batty(born Girardot), of Oxted, Surrey he was born in 1917 and was aged 22 at the time of his death.

 

4451216 PTE BEN  BERRIMAN   2nd Durham Light Infantry CWGC date of death 27/05/1940 Age 21.Husband of Edith Berriman (nee Hickmott) whom he married shortly before he left for France.Born 1919.

 

 4452220 PTE JOHN JOSEPH  BRADLEY   2nd  Durham Light Infantry   CWGC date of death between 16/05/1940 and 04/06/1940.Aged 22 Son of James and Catherine Bradley, of Gateshead, Co. Durham.

 

 4448467 PTE THOMAS BROOKFIELD   2nd  Durham Light Infantry   CWGC date of death 26/05/1940 Age 31

 4453106 PTE MAURICE LAVERICK CHASE  2nd Durham Light Infantry CWGC date of death 27/05/1940.Age 23 Son of Jacob and Florence Chase, of 6 Prospect Row Houghton-le-Spring, Co. Durham. Born in 1917 he enlisted in the DLI between 11th May 1938 and 1939 the number features in book 358 no 19 covering the numbers 4453000-4454516. On the 27th May 1940 the DLI were defending St Venant. Local press reported on June 26th that Pte Chase was missing.

 

 4449147  Pte ANTHONY CORKHILL   2nd  Durham Light Infantry  CWGC date of death 29/05/1940.Son of Joseph and Mary Corkhill, of Scotswood, Newcastle-on-Tyne. Anthony Corkhill was a pre war regular soldier who served in India and the Sudan with the 2nd DLI following their return from the Sudan Anthony decided to leave the Army and transferred to the reserve in 1937 with war looming Anthony was recalled to the colours and rejoined 2 DLI at Woking. As part of the 2nd British Infantry Division Anthony and the rest of 2 DLI took up their positions in the BEF.

Following the initial actions around the Dyle river the 2nd Durhams withdrew to St Venant. It was on the 27th May 1940 that Anthony Corkhill was last seen, wounded in his legs and neck by RSM Goddard. Forced to leave him for the German Field Ambulance RSM Goddard was marched away into captivity little did he realise then that his former batman would never be seen again. The family searched for answers but none came. Their search for the truth continues today.

 

 4452661 PTE MATTHEW CROSSLEY   2nd Durham Light Infantry CWGC date of death 27/05/1940.Crossley was a member of `D` Company and efforts to locate him were made and documented in the `DLI Missing Men File` (WO361/41)

 

 4447765 PTE MAURICE GEORGE DAVIES  2nd Durham Light Infantry CWGC date of death 27/05/1940.Davies was a member of `D` Company and efforts to locate him were made and documented in the `DLI Missing Men File` (WO361/41)

 

 4453648 PTE THOMAS F EDMOND   2nd  Durham Light Infantry  CWGC date of death  25/05/1940 .Age 26.Born and resided in Hull.

 

 4452398 PTE GEORGE ERNEST EVANS   2nd Durham Light Infantry CWGC date of death 27/05/1940.Age 20 Son of Fred and Elizabeth Evans..

 

 4446935 PTE FRANK FERGUSON   2nd  Durham Light Infantry CWGC date of death between 10/05/1940 and 16/06/1940.Age 33.Son of John and Sarah Ferguson; husband of Maggie Ellen Ferguson, of Hamsterley Colliery, Newcastle-on-Tyne. Frank Ferguson was a member of `B` Company and efforts to locate him were made and documented in the `DLI Missing Men File` (WO361/41)

 

 4448398 PTE ROBERT GARDINER   2nd  Durham Light Infantry CWGC date of death between 10/05/1940 and 28/12/1940,Age 28 Born in Sunderland 1912 Son of John William and Florence Gardiner (nee Freeman)

 

 4448350 LANCE SERJEANT GEORGE HEYDON  2nd Durham Light Infantry CWGC date of death 27/05/1940,Age 31 Born Seaham Harbour, near Sunderland.

 

 4448231 CORPORAL HENRY HUGILL   2nd Durham Light Infantry CWGC date of death 27/05/1940.Age 33. Born 24th February 1907 at 18 Rydal Street West Hartlepool Co Durham Son of Frederick James Hugill and Sarah Helen Hurn. Henry was a labourer prior to joining the `Durhams`.He married Patricia A Corrigan In 1933

 

 4452384 PTE ERNEST KEYWORTH   2nd  Durham Light Infantry CWGC date of death 14/05/1940 Age 20.Son of Ernest and Ellen Keyworth (Gibson), of Sheffield.

 

 4448399 PTE WILLIAM HARGRAVE  LATIMER   2nd  Durham Light Infantry  CWGC date of death between 24/05/1940 and 25/05/1940 .Age 27. Pte William Hargrave Latimer Son Of William Latimer & Sarah Elizabeth Ironside was born in Sunderland in 1913 he was married at the young age of 17 in 1930 to Mary Dorothea Young .Pte William Hargrave Latimer enlisted in the DLI between 24th Jan 1930 and 7th May 1931 (Enlistment book no 14) The actual date was 11th August 1930 recorded by the CWGC as having died between the 24th and 25th May 1940 William has no known grave and is commemorated on the Dunkirk Memorial Column 122 He is recorded as aged 27 years. Originally posted as missing on the 14th June 1940 between the 10th and 29th May 1940.

 

 4448557 PTE OSWALD  LEGG    2nd  Durham Light Infantry  CWGC date of death 25/05/1940 . Age 29 Oswald enlisted at West Hartlepool, Durham, England. The son of William  John and Alice Legg Oswald was born at 19 Thomas Street West, Hartlepool .Oswald Legg was a member of `HQ` Company and efforts to locate him were made and documented in the `DLI Missing Men File` (WO361/41)

 

 4449705 CORPORAL JAMES MIDDLEBROOK   2nd Durham Light Infantry CWGC date of death 27/05/1940.Age 28.Husband of M. Middlebrook, of Shildon, Co. Durham

 

 4452575 PTE CHARLES HENRY MINNS 2nd Durham Light Infantry CWGC date of death 27/05/1940 Age 21.Son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Henry Minns, of Walker Gate, Newcastle-on-Tyne.

 

 52363  LIEUTENANT EDWARD NUTLEY   2nd  Durham Light Infantry CWGC date of death  25/05/1940 Age 30.Born 1909 at North Bedburn, Durham, England Son of Edward and Mary Nutley; husband of Mary Caroline Nutley, of Newcastle-on-Tyne. B.Sc.(Dunelm) Resided at 13 Longridge Avenue, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. According to Captain Townsend  Lieutenant E Nutley the Intelligence officer went out on a single reconnaissance on a motor cycle. He was shot dead by a German patrol.

 

 4454232 PTE THOMAS HAYTON ROBINSON   2nd Durham Light Infantry CWGC date of death 27/05/1940.Age 25 Robinson was a member of `D` Company and efforts to locate him were made and documented in the `DLI Missing Men File` (WO361/41)

 

 4449140 PTE RICHARD  ROGERSON   2nd  Durham Light Infantry CWGC date of death 27/05/1940.Age 28.Son of William and Violet Rogerson, of Winlaton, Co. Durham.

 

 4450104 PTE ALLAN THOMPSON  2nd  Durham Light Infantry CWGC date of death 26/05/1940 Age 26  son of Mr. and Mrs. William John Thompson of Whitewell Lane, Ryton on Tyne. The husband of Ethel Thompson, of Sale, Cheshire According to records he was a cook serving in D Company. Pte Thompson s brothers  also served in WW2 George Lyall Thompson died of wounds received in action on 19th July 1940,he was  aged 39 years, At the time he was serving aboard HMS Wivern.  Edwell Thompson served with the army in Egypt,  Robert Thompson served as a Sergeant Major Instructor in India. Thomas Thompson served with the RAF. Allans sister Mary married a submariner, Michael Jordan, he too lost his life on the 8th  December 1939 whilst serving on board H.M. Submarine Oxley .

 

 4452825 PTE FRANK THOMAS  WADDLE  2nd  Durham Light Infantry CWGC date of death 15/05/1940.Age 19 Son of Thomas and Maggie Waddle, of Whickham, Co. Durham. Family believe Frank was wounded and killed at a hospital during a bombing raid .The actions on the 15th May 1940 were around the Dyle River in which the first VC of the war was won by Lieutenant Richard Annand .

 

 4446488 PTE HERBERT WILBY   2nd  Durham Light Infantry  CWGC date of death  between 28/05/1940 and 02/06/1940. Age 33, Son of Earnest and Rena Wilby; husband of Elise Wilby. Herbert`s  brother ,Harry, was also killed in action serving with the 2nd DLI in the Far East.

 

 

 Thomas Rodgers was killed in Action defending a bridge whilst manning a Bren Gun Initially he was classed as a `missing man` however his family eventually discovered that he was buried at St Venant and started a campaign to have this recognized although the M.o.D accepted Tom was indeed buried in this cemetery they refused to accept he was in a grave highlighted by the family but agreed to a headstone acknowledging he was indeed here at St Venant Communal Cemetery.

 

 

"There were hundreds killed.....2/Lieutenant  Michael Farr 2nd DLI"

 2/Lieutenant Michael Farr 2nd Durham Light Infantry served France and Belgium May 1940

  Michael Farr was born in India in 1918 in January 1939 he took a commission in the Durham Light Infantry. In 1940 he was part of 2 DLI then serving in France As the battalions signal officer he was present at the Dyle River and was eventually captured at St Venant in May 1940. In his first days of captivity he sent home, to his mother ,a message  telling her he was safe on the message he added "There were hundreds killed we were completely outnumbered in tanks and men but the details  of what happened cannot be discussed here..."

As he settled into a captivity which would last five long years there would be regular correspondence yet there would be little more news on what happened during those days in May indeed Michael had assumed that the battalions heroics would be well publicised at home as can be seen from his comments in November 1940 again addressed to his Mother he recalled.." ............I hope you have read some accounts of what we the 2nd Division did while others were evacuating?. After fighting 3 Days on and behind the river Dyle in Belgium we marched 45miles in 36 hours then went in again. Here we held the line of Escaut at Tournai, retired again to a reserve position for a few hours then marched another 20 odd miles and finally took up a position on the La Bassee Canal near Hazebrouk where we met out fate.
We had little more than 20 hours sleep in 17 days we were completely done by the end. The eyes of the enemy were always on us from the air and we had no air support ourselves. One of our officers got the VC"....(Letter 26th November 1940).

During his captivity he was a constant thorn in the side of the Germans with numerous escape attempts.(Details can be found on Michaels `Who Proudly  Served` section ) After the war without the constraints of the censor ,Michael put to paper some of his war time service details which are now held at the Durham Records Office in Durham City the manuscript `Wine and War` is a biography of his service and working life.In relation to his capture at St Venant his post war comments read;- 

"..In fact despite of the great losses and the ghastly trauma, there was almost a sigh of disappointment on being ordered to retire. Hell, our blood was up, we had just beaten the Hun. The Brigadier visited the area...hurried plans were made. .then the news came that the German tanks had been seen near St. Floris. Tanks, snipers, mortar and shell fire was starting again. worst of all no one quite knew from where it was coming. Suddenly we were all in a desperate and serious situation.

A brave attempt was made to fortify H.Q. in a barn, where the Commanding Officer, his second in Command, the intelligence Officer and myself found ourselves. All of my signal equipment had, by now, completely gone. Most of this was lost on the River Dyle battle. In those days there was no wireless, just laid lines with morse code. Every time we laid a line, It was cut with a shell. We obviously could not run in open country.

The final German attack started at dawn. .the advancing Companies were soon mowed down like ninepins. Bill Peel was killed. He had also fought in the Spanish Civil War. Lt. Nutley, in trying to locate the Germans and find information., was killed. Lt. John Gregson commanding `D` Company, took over the right flank and was killed. The last count of `D` Company was 45 men. `B` Company had been wiped out on the Dyle...`C` Company had met the same fate. `A ` Company seemed to have disappeared altogether. .Killed or wounded.

Sergeant Major Metcalfe took over the famous `D` Company with the remainder of the men . Metcalfe had done such brave work on the Dyle with Dick Annand. He then ordered an attack under Sergeant Major Pearson in an area where the Boche were steadily creeping in. Neither he(Pearson) nor his men were ever seen again.

Meanwhile Brigade had sent out orders to withdraw.. this meant every man for himself. We at H.Q. never appeared to receive this message. I saw the position getting more and more serious. The Boche had infiltrated around the left flank. .snipers had crossed the Canal.. and the bastards were shooting our soldiers in the back. Meanwhile huge and ugly tanks were bearing down upon us. Our one and only anti-tank gun was destroyed. The men were driven to the edge of the river bank they had no where to go but backwards into the water. Band Master Mason was holding a fine position. He had a Boys Anti-tank rifle and managed to delay a tank by shooting into into its tracks. Enfilade fire was crossing us, this flank was wide open. There were no other British troops there at all. I saw and realised this position. The bloody Germans had virtually surrounded us .I became wild with anger to see them bearing down on us like that. I then managed to extricate 6 or 7 men from the Canal, and told them to wait for me on the other side of the Bridge.

A large truck had arrived ,it was smouldering..I believe it was loaded with rations or something. Under very heavy fire we somehow managed to push this into the Canal. With bullets flying in all directions I somehow managed to get the men away. I was determined to try and destroy the bridge. With all the men on the other side, I then dashed over as fast as I could. All fear was gone. I must have thought, keep your head down and bloody well run. The building on the far side was hit by a shell, and then again. I diverted my run to the right. .hoping that I may at least see off one Hun with my revolver...the sniper., but he evaporated into nothing. I only had one man left, my faithful signal Serjeant who had followed me everywhere. There was nothing more that I could do, the whole area was plastered with machine gun fire the old building was demolished into rubble, and I had so nearly gone there too. I ran into a hollow on the bank of the Canal and collapsed.

After recovering later, I looked up and saw huge tanks slowly moving over the Bridge. For many hours I had laid there undetected. Tanks followed tanks, these massive weapons of destruction if only I had detonators I could destroy some myself from this position. .I felt so helpless, if only I could stop the swines. This dreadful nightmare was with me for many months to come. My friends, many of whom I had trained with, were blown up before my eyes. A soldier never likes to be captured, to him it is a disgrace. I should have done better, should have killed more, but again the laughing echo returned. .you fool, what with, damn it what more could I have done.

Then it was all over. A German soldier found me lying in the hollow. He shouted " Hande Hoch...schnell.. schnell",and I was immediately surrounded by several of the Hun, all pointing their machine guns and cocked rifles straight at me.I could do nothing but obey. I was then taken back to the German H.Q. Due to the heat of the battle I only had a torn and filthy light shirt, my helmet, boots and a revolver. I must have been a desperate sight to see. My last meal had been the boiled chickens we had rustled up behind the Escaut Canal. about May 22nd.,and then before that in the Forests on May17/18th. Now it was May27th. Besides being filthy I was very bewildered, sad and angry.

So, it was the German S.S. that we had been up against. The "Deaths Head Hussars" Waffen SS. Storm Troopers. The real professionals in the game of War. They had been through Poland, and they really knew their job. They wore the skull and cross bones on their pale grey hats. In that state I was cross questioned by an Officer who had a great scar across his cheek. This supposedly the mark of a brave soldier. He was immaculately dressed with a spotless uniform and highly polished boots. I knew nothing... .I said nothing, not even my Unit. I was now taken to a barn under guard. I was far too weak to think of escaping. When I came to my senses a bit I looked around for anything which may be lying about. I found a Belgium blanket, which was a great treasure to me, it was so warm. I soon made this into a sleeping bag, and general bag for carrying everything. It was to be a wonderful acquisition for me, and was to save me so often in the future from the cold at night.

As I left German Headquarters the scar faced Officer had said to me in his broken English "We will be in London in ten days", and raising his voice shouted "Oh yes we will". As I lay that night exhausted, I kept hearing those words echoing in my head.

My God, was I now a Prisoner of War. My fighting for English Victory was over, at least on the battle field. Little did I realise then what dark days were ahead of me, and in fact for the next five years of my life.."

Missing? What happened to them?

The missing men of The 2nd Durham Light Infantry are commemorated on the Dunkirk Memorial (above) but what really happened to them . We know the horrors of war and the damage a shell or a bullet can have on a human body and for some it was a simple case of here one minute and gone the next ...for others `missing` has a far more sinister meaning. Atrocities in the area of St Venant  were common place and not all of the victims could be identified later, for others placed in temporary graves it was not always possible to re-identify them when exhumed for a more formal burial in one of the immaculately kept CWGC cemeteries such as that at St Venant some twelve months later. Others simply `disappeared` without trace literally `vanished` in the turmoil and confusion of the British retreat on Dunkirk.

Efforts were made to establish what exactly had happened to these men with letters of enquiry going out to those lucky enough to have survived both still in service,discharged and amongst those taken prisoner now languishing in German PoW Camps .

The surviving files do not tell the whole truth Forms Q, used to report a war crime are `missing` and the files themselves contradict themselves at times with the results of the War Office enquiry not matching with the  original lists of personnel enquired about leading me to question is this indeed a full file or a censored version released to appease a public with no real knowledge of the events in the area during 1940 and for those that have? Can we ever prove what we suspect? Are the files simply lost, destroyed , censored or are they held by people who are publicly very big on patriotism but privately of the opinion that it was simply a very long time ago....and not worthy their time?

On this website these men are remembered, all of them! Here in this section is a summary of the findings of the enquiries made following their disappearance in May-June 1940.

 

2nd Durham Light Infantry known to have served in the B.E.F Campaign

This list is by no means complete but everyone listed is known to have participated in the BEF Campaign of 1940. Where possible a brief note of their fate is added.

4443861 L/Cpl H Cooper  Henry enlisted in November 1924 giving his date of birth as 12th April 1906 and not 1907 as it actually was enabling him to join at the age of 17 rather than 18 years of age. Henry served at home until September 1927 when he was posted out to India .Promoted L/Cpl he was awarded a India General service Medal with North West Frontier Clasp 1930-31 whilst with `C` Company.In July 1930 Henry was listed as being wounded whilst attempting to cover his companies  withdrawl. He returned home in November 1932.A period in the Reserve followed until he was once again recalled to the colours in August 1939.L/Cpl Cooper was captured in May 1940 where he was wounded in the shoulder and forehead  served with `A` Company. Repatriated on the 25th October 1943 after three years in captivity  he transferred to the RAMC 1st January 1944.
4444112 Pte M Crossen  Captured in May 1940 but repatriated back to England in 1941.Matthew Crossen was born in Stockton upon Tees and was formerly employed as a shop assistant prior to enlisting for a period of 7 years with a further 5 within the reserve. Enlisted at Middlesbrough on the 18th February 1925 Matthew gave his age as 21 years and 108 days his next of kin was his mother Alice Ridley 22 Cameron Street, Norton, Stockton on Tees (Then Co Durham) his PoW status was announced on the 28th June 1940 following his repatriation he was discharged under Paragraph 390 Section XVI on the 18th January 1944.Prior to WW2 Matthew had served on the North West Frontier of India in 1930-31.
4448391 Pte John Miller Foster  Captured in May 1940 but repatriated served with A Company prior to capture. Originally enlisted on the 10th September 1930 with the regulars for 7/5 years . PoW status announced on the 17th June 1940 he was discharged on his return to England under Para 390 (XVI) on the 25th April 1941.
4449111 Pte Haldane  Hall  Captured in May 1940 but repatriated served with HQ Company prior to capture Enlisted 1931 PoW announced on the 26th June 1940. Following repatriation  he was discharged to Z Class reserve on the 5th April 1946 he re-enlisted on the 22nd October 1947 and transferred to the RASC on the 31st October 1947.(Unconfirmed.. born Bishop Auckland 28th March 1915 Married in 1944 to Kathleen Johnson Died 1969 aged 53 in Shropshire)
4447927 Pte Alexander  Watson  Laing  Captured in May 1940 repatriated served with `B` Company prior to capture. Originally enlisted on the 8th January 1930 for 7/5 years .Son of William and Mabel Laing born Hebburn 18 Albert St Hebburn Quay. Alexander married Frances Irene  (Ball) Laing he died at Radcliffe Infirmary ,Oxfordshire 3rd June 1962  Aged 51(8 Lynmouth Rd, Didcot, Berkshire. On repatriation his address was given as 45 James Street , Jarrow.
4444043 Pte John Robert Mawson Son of Thomas and Mary Jane in 1911 the family were living at 41 Back Merrington Lane John had two brothers at this time Thomas and Ebenezer. Captured in May 1940 repatriated in 1941 served with `A` Company prior to capture. Enlisted on the 22nd January 1925 at Middlesbrough allegedly aged 18 years 21 day  9however his date of birth appears to have been 18th February 1908 giving him an actual age of 16years and 338 days!) occupation given was  labourer? He was born at Ferryhill. On enlistment  his next of kin was given as his father Thomas Mawson of 49 Bridge Street West, Middlesbrough, John`s capture was announced on the 4th September 1940 he was discharged from the Army on the 27th April 1944 under Paragraph 390 (xvii) KR 1940.John Robert Mawson died in 1993 aged 85 years.
4445726 Pte Uwins Gilbert  Nottage  Captured May 1940 repatriated in 1941 served with HQ Company prior to capture. Uwins Gilbert Nottage was born on 1st February 1911 the son of William Robert Nottage and Ellen Jane Nottage who lived at 139 Verney Road, Old Kent Rd, South Bermondsey S E. Brother of Harold and Constance Martha Nottage.  Uwins enlisted in the Durham Light Infantry as a Band Boy at the age of 15 years 263 days in London on the 22nd October 1926 . Uwins saw service with the 2nd DLI on the North West Frontier in 1930-31 where he was awarded an India General Service Medal. In 1934 he was serving with the 1st DLI before leaving the Army. Unwins moved back to London and was living at 121 Barkworth Road, London SE16. Recalled to the colours he was captured in France where he was a stretcher bearer PoW status confirmed on the 12th July 1940  repatriated in 1941 and finally discharged from the Army on the 8th February 1946 Class Z RAR.in 1965 he and his wife Bessie (Bessie Pierce) whom he had married in 1940  at Newton Abbott were living at 46 (Beulah) Sherborne Rd . Uwins Gilbert Nottage died aged 90 in Torbay Devon in October 2001.
4449700 L/Cpl Robert  Nelson Captured May 1940 repatriated in 1941 served with A Company prior to capture Discharged 2nd January 1941.Lived at No 66 Elm Street, Benwell. Officially declared a PoW on the 14th June 1940.
4449376 Pte Stanley William Satchwell  born 13 Jan 1914 Captured May 1940 repatriated in 1941 served with A Company prior to capture. Discharged on return to England under section 390 (VI) on the 9th May 1944.Lived at 149 Cauldwell Lane, Monkseaton .  Died  January 1993 aged 79 years.
4445003 Pte Sidney Stoker Captured May 1940 repatriated in 1941 served with B Company prior to capture Enlisted on the 2nd January 1926 aged 19 years and 24 days he enlisted at Gateshead where he worked as a labourer prior to enlistment he was born at Barnard Castle on the 29th August 1940 it was announced that Pte Stoker was a Prisoner of War. He was repatriated and discharged  on the 24th May 1944 under Paragraph 390 (xvi) Kings regulations
 3447737 Pte R.R  Shaw  originally enlisted in the Lancashire Fusiliers before joining the Durham Light Infantry served with B Company and captured repatriated in 1943
4444811 C/Sgt Patrick Gallogly Captured May/June 1940 repatriated 1941 attached 48 Coy AMPC prior to capture. Patrick enlisted on the 18th July 1925 aged 18 years 52 days he enlisted at Middlesbrough where he had worked as a labourer . Patrick had been born in St Helda in Middlesbrough . announced as a PoW on the 1st August 1940 repatriated and discharged on the 1st January 1946 Class Z discharged to reserve.
3131799 Pte R Idle Captured May/ June 1940 repatriated in 1941 Enlisted originally in the Royal Scots Fusiliers.
4447204 Pte David  Clark  Captured May 1940 repatriated in 1941 served with C Company prior to capture The original enlistment for David was the 8th January 1929 for seven and a half years his capture was confirmed on the 9th September 1940 he was finally discharged on the 3rd January 1944 Para 390 (xvi)
4447752 L/Cpl John  William  McPherson  Enlisted as a Boy Soldier on the 2nd August 1929 for 9 and three months Captured May 1940 confirmed on the 26th June 1940  Repatriated in 1941 served with HQ Company prior to capture. Discharged 17th May 1945 Para 390 (xvi)
4442095 Pte Robert  Taylor  Captured in 1940 repatriated in 1941 served with C Company prior to capture. Enlisted on the 1st August 1922 into the regular army for 7 years with a five year reserve commitment . Aged 18 years and 6 months on enlistment Robert was born in Gateshead and enlisted in Newcastle .James Taylor Robert`s father was named as next of kin the address on the enlistment book is partially illegible with only 1 Back ????? Street Gateshead clearly visible. A  PoW  in 1940 confirmed as such on the 9th August 1940 repatriated he was discharged on the 16th January 1944. Some documentation gave Robert Taylor`s number as 4442062 however the enlistment book gives this number to a Pte Tatum.
4449628 Pte Hugh  Waterworth  Captured May 1940 repatriated in 1941 served with D Company prior to capture. Discharged Para 390 (xvi) 12th June 1944.PoW 7274 Stalag XXIA Captured 28/05/40
4444040 Pte Joseph  Watson Captured May 1940 repatriated in 1941 served with HQ Company prior to capture. 41 Chepstow Rd, Denton Road captured near Lille. Joe Watson enlisted on the 22nd January 1925 into the regular army for a period of 7 years with a further 5 reserve commitment .At this time he gave his age as 20years and 310 days born and enlisted at Newcastle upon Tyne his next of kin was given as his sister Ethel Coates 20 Bond Street, Edinburgh . Joe was a labourer prior to joining the DLI. Initially discharged on the 27th July 1939 under Paragraph 510 (X) Kings Regulations 1935  (Termination of engagement) He re-enlisted next day 28th July 1939 at Edinburgh! Captured in 1940 notification received 12th July 1940 4444040 Pte Joseph Watson was repatriated and discharged Para 390 (XVI) Kings Regulations 1940 on the 9th January 1944.
4453527  Pte John  Thomas  Forster Captured May 1940  announced on the 18th August 1940 repatriated on the 27th May 1944 served with A Company prior to capture. Discharged  Paragraph 390 (XVI) on the 20th August 1944.
4436736  CSM Thomas Green  Captured in 1940 repatriated in 1941 served with C Company prior to capture. Former number was 103112 he enlisted on the 5th May 1919 aged 19 years for a seven year period plus a further 5 reserve commitment .Next of kin was his brother Alfred Green 37 Wood Street. Born Jarrow and enlisted at Newcastle-upon-Tyne . Prisoner of War announced on the 9th August 1940 repatriated on the 27th May 1944and discharged under Paragraph 390 (XVI) Kings Regulations 1940 on the 4th May 1945.
Enquiries were made to the following DLI soldiers in relation to missing DLI personnel whose bodies were never found and the circumstances of their ultimate fate were never determined.
4448334 Pte Robert Jones originally enlisted on the 17th July 1930  for a 71/2 year period.Served in D Company 1940 survived and returned to England contacted by the War Office in relation to missing men. He was later transferred listed as still DLI X(ii) list but Middle East Forces. Discharged on the 13th February 1946
4452651 Pte  Ronald Stoker  Served in D Company 1940 survived and returned to England contacted by the War Office in relation to missing men. Serving MEF (X(ii) List) Later taken prisoner and in 1945 was listed at  Hohenstein, Hesse  PoW number 262021 Stalag IV-A  Ronald had re-enlisted into the Regular Army on the 18th May 1938 He was discharged Section 13 Reserve Forces on the 5th August 1946 (Div 3/A 28)
4453097 Pte Joseph  Wilkinson Served in D Company survived and returned to England. Transferred to Yorks and Lancs Regt on the 16th July 1942  later  recorded as (xi) list serving with The Kings Regt X list 13th Btn 142 Coy India
4449711 Pte Jack Watson  served in D Company 1940 returned to England later served with 2 DLI in India and the far east. Class Z Discharge on the 6th February 1946.
4448572 Pte Matthew Metcalfe Smith  enlisted on the 13th January 1931 . Matthew served in C Company 2 DLI 1940 returned to England Discharged 20 September 1940 under paragraph .383 (xvi) Kings Regulations, Pte Smiths home address on discharge was recorded as 35 Katherine Street Darlington,Co Durham.
4453072 Pte  George Mayne  transferred on his return home  to 10 DLI Home address 21 Stephen Street,Byker,Newcastle upon tyne served in the MT Section HQ Company. George was a territorial transferring to the Regular Army on the 18th October 1938 he was classed as a deserter on the 24th August 1943 he returned to his unit and was eventually discharged on the 26th December 1946 ( Div 3/A 47)
4452821 Pte John Dodds transferred on his return to 10th DLI served HQ Company 2DLI France 1940 Home address recorded as  C/O Mrs Baker Halls Farm Cottage,Anchors Hill, Knaphill, Surrey. Relegated Section B Reserve 9th May 1946 Discharged Section A Reserve 1st November 1948 had trans briefly to the RE on the 13th March 1944.
4453537 Pte Lawrence  Reilly returned home to England and transferred to 803 (S Coy) AMPC on the 24th October 1940.
4447797 Cpl Harry Barton  returned home to England later promoted to Sergeant. Barton served with D Comp in 1940 he left 2 DLI in September 1940. he originally enlisted on the 4th October 1929 for a period of 7 years with a 5 year reserve commitment  Barton was contacted by the War Office regarding the missing men and  believed both Robinson and  Davies had been taken prisoner On leaving 2 DLI he joined 51 ITC before moving to the  1st Lanc Fusiliers and  later served in India.
4452872 Pte Thomas Alexander Scurr  Returned to England when enquiries were made regarding the missing men Pte Scurr was listed as missing in S Tunisia then serving with The 6th DLI he was later confirmed to be a PoW  in Stalag IV DZ ( PoW number 226694 ) Discharged section A RAR on the 3rd November 1948.Thomas Alexander Scurr of 6 Hartside Foundry Fields, Crook County Durham died March 31st 1959 at Hollin Hall Mine, Fir Tree,Crook widow was Irene Scurr he left an estate valued at £848.18s 4d.Thomas Alexander Scurr was born in July 1914 in Durham, his father, Charles, was 47 and his mother, Robina, was 53. He was married Irene Hall in March 1940. He was aged just 44 when he died.
4449315 Pte Thomas Bell Returned to England and was transferred to RASC  on the 13th December 1941 and later posted to Gibralter
4447434 L/Cpl George  Walker  Served in France and  returned home to England . His original enlistment was on the 19th April 1929 George Walker  transferred to RECCE on the 14th February 1941. On the 30th April 1941 he was posted again to 2nd Loyals.
4453409 Pte Francis Kay  Gowland Returned home 1940 Discharged Para 390(xvi) 8th November 1941 last known address Lake Lodge, High Cornforth Farm, Northumberland. Francis had transferred to the Loyal Regiment prior to discharge on the 14th February 1941
4447218 Sgt James Stephenson served with D Company in France on his return he was transferred to 4 ITC at Brancepeth  on the 10th august 1942.  An enquiry into men missing   was made to Sgt Stephenson his reply was received showing his unit to be (rejoined DLI on the 4th February  1943) 26th Durham (Seaham) Battalion Home Guard. Originally enlisted on the 10th January 1929 initially for 7 years with a 5 year reserve commitment.
4457428 Cpl O Henderson returned home to England  later transferred to the 10th DLI. Sgt ‘Ossie’ Oswald Henderson. Released Class Z (TA) Reserve on the 16th August 1946. Died 3 October 2014 Aged 96 years

4449285 L/Cpl  W Thomson  Served with D Comp 1940 returned home to England and provided statements in respect of  4453491 GH HUGHES,4448231 H.Hugill ,4450104 A Thomson. William`s number of 4449285 falls within book 358 no 15 covering nos 4449001-4449999 1st May 1931-March 1933 . Thomson following his return home transferred to the  MPSC on the 31/08/1941/In 1941 he was serving in the Military Provost Staff Corps, in the Military detention Barracks in Chorley Lancashire Serving with the RA on the 15th October 1942.In1943 he was  serving 6 Maritime Bty RA Kynneton House, Thornbury, Bristol. Born 25th January 1912 the son of John and Annie(Woodland) he married  Ellen Rose Griffiths on the 27th December 1941 at Lindley Huddersfield Yorkshire  William Thomson died on July 30th 1987 at Windsor Berkshire aged 75 years.

2567596 L/Cpl Robert  Thompson  Returned home in 1940 he transferred to the  RNF on the 14th August 1942 following a short spell at 4 ITC on the 20th July 1942 at Brancepeth he was with 30th RNF `D` Coy and was based at RAF Cresswell in 1943.L/Cpl Thompson originally  enlisted in The Royal Corps of Signals on the 19th February 1932

Pte  Andrew  J Steadman returned home but due to wounds was discharged from the army his home address was 178 Newlands Avenue,Cottingham Rd Hull.

4448324 L/Cpl Frederick  Stevens served in D Comp wounded 15th/16th May returned to England but was discharged no longer fit for active service. His home address was14 Ford Oval,South Hylton, Sunderland.  L/Cpl  Stevens was contacted by the War Office in relation to the missing men he replied that he had saw 4448231Hugill the day before he (Stevens)was wounded fit and well. Fred Stevens enlisted on the 7th July 1930 into the regular army for seven and a half years, He was discharged with the rank of Lance Corporal on the 15th November 1940 under KR 1930 Paragraph 390 (XVI).
4448542 L/Sgt John James  Robinson  Served with 2 DLI as part of the BEF on his return he later transferred to 11th DLI. He enlisted on the 6th March 1931 in the Regular Army for 7 and a half years he was discharged on the 20th January 1946 to Class Z Reserve.
4447159 Pte John Hardy Taylor (Alias John AtkinsonServed with 2 DLI returned to England where he later transferred to the 30th NF on the 11th June 1942.Originally enlisted on the 28th November 1928 for a period of 7 and a half year`s. He served in India under the name John Atkinson he was eligible for the India General Service medal with a NWF 1930-31 Clasp however the roll is not clear as to his actual award stating it was unissued up until 1934
4447477 Pte Thomas  Armstrong Returned to England 1940 and was still  serving in 1943 with 2DLI in India. Originally enlisted into the 7th Durham Light Infantry (TA) on the 1st February 1929 enlisting again into the regular army on the 27th November 1929  for a seven years with a five year reserve commitment  he was discharged to Class Z Reserve on the 30th January 1946 but again re-enlisted finally being permanently discharged under Section 519 (X) Kings Regulations 1940.
4453064 Pte William Clark  Served during the BEF campaign and returned safely to England .He travelled with 2 DLI to the Far East and was still serving with 2 DLI in 1943 with 2DLI then in India In 1944 Pte Clark was sadly killed in action 28th Aug 1944 buried at Imphal War Cemetery he was aged just 24 years
4453487 Pte John George Collin Served in the BEF Campaign 1940 returned home and was still serving in1943 with 2DLI in India. Discharged Paragraph 390 (XVI) on the 21st January 1944.
4447089 Pte George  Davison Served in the BEF Campaign 1940 returned home and was still serving in1943 with 2DLI in India. Originally enlisted on the 7th August 1928 initially for a 7 and a half year period Discharged Class Z on the 30th January 1946.
4448385 Pte J Fitzpatrick Served in the BEF Campaign 1940 returned home and was still serving in1943 with 2DLI in India. He originally enlisted on the 6th September 1931 and was discharged at the end of the war to class Z RAR. Actual discharge date 8th February 1946.
4453155 L/Cpl Robert Jones Served in the BEF Campaign 1940 Mentioned in Despatches returned home and was still serving in1943 with 2DLI in India. Discharged Section B RAR 5th March 1946
4452230 Pte Patrick  Kelly Served in the BEF Campaign 1940 returned home and was still serving in1943 with 2DLI in India.Discharged under  Kings Regulations 1940 Para 390 Section (VXI) on the 7th June 1944.
4444521 Pte Matthew Ross Served in the BEF Campaign 1940 returned home and continued serving  with 2DLI in India throughout 1943.Enlisted originally into the 6th Durham Light Infantry (TA) on the 7th May 1925 for 4 years he was according to his enlistment aged 18 years and 7 Days . Matthew joined the 6th DLI at Bishop Auckland his home town. He re-enlisted in the regular Army on the 20th February 1928 serving with the Leicester Regiment before returning to the Durham`s on the 1st July 1930. Son of Thomas and Eliza Ross; husband of Violet Jane Ross, of Escombe, Co. Durham Pte Ross was killed in action at Kohima 23rd April 1944 buried originally as an unknown on Summerhouse Hill he was eventually identified by his pay book and reburied at  Kohima Section 12. row B.Grave 5 listed as Royal Army Catering Corps to which he transferred on the 19th December 1942 . Aged 37
4452363 Pte Charles Alexander  Slack Served in the BEF Campaign 1940 returned home and was still serving in1943 with 2DLI in India. Enlisted 34-36 . Section B Reserve 28th May 1946
4452648 Pte Cecil Henry  Stacey Served in France 1940 with 2DLI  captured 20/09/1940 initially posted missing 14th June 1940.
4447772 CSM Robert Suddes Served France 1940 Still serving 1943 with 2DLI in India. A long serving soldier he originally enlisted on the 24th August 1929 initially for 7 and a half years he was finally discharged in 1953 having been awarded The Long Service Good Conduct Medal .

4447015 Sjt Percival  Stappard Served France 1940 he was wounded and discharged from the army on 27/02/1941 under Paragraph 390 (xvi) KR 1940 his home address on enlistment  was  45 James Street,Butterfield,Newcastle upon Tyne. Original enlistment 26th June 1928 initially for a seven and a half year period conduct on discharge noted as `exemplary` Discharged to new Home address 45 Tarset Street, Battlefield, Newcastle upon Tyne. Served with 2DLI on the North west Frontier in 1930-31 awarded the India General service Medal with Bar NWF 30-31 

4447216 Pte James Walker Served in France 1940 where he was wounded eventually discharged 03/01/1941-27/02/1941 Para 390 (xvi) KR 1940 Home address at this time 16 Palmer St Gateshead Co Durham. Originally enlisted 10th January 1929 ( Exemplary Conduct on discharge)

4449493 Sgt Joseph Robert  M Noble Served in France 1940 evacuated via Dunkirk. Joseph `Budley` Noble was born in Silksworth where he worked in the mines until his enlistment into the Durham Light infantry at Fenham Barracks in 1932.A battalion boxer he joined 1st DLI later that year at Blackdown. Transferred to 2nd DLI in 1937 he saw active service in France ,India and Burma where he was CSM of `c` Company. Post War he re-joined 1st DLI in Greece and later served with them at Dortmund. After a tour as PSI with the 6th DLI he took his discharge from the regular army but continued his service with the Territorials whilst working full time as a miner. He was right Guard in the Guard of Honour on the opening of the Eden Armoury in 1957 later becoming its caretaker in  his later years until ill health forced his retirement. CSM Noble died in Bishop Auckland Hospital on January 8th 1980 after a long illness he was aged 66 years

4453097 Pte J Wilkinson Served in France 1940 returned home but transferred to the Yorks and Lancs Regiment on the 6/7/1942 and onto the Kings Regt 30/09/1942
4453405  Cpl Horace Arthur Wright  Served in France 1940 returned home  and was still serving  with 2 DLI in India in 1943. He transferred to the York and Lancashire Regiment 0n the 28th May 1944 but returned to the Durham Light Infantry on the 3rd October 1944 Discharged section `B` Reserve on the 15th May 1946.
4458666 Pte Leonard  Young   Served in France 1940 and returned home  still serving in 1943 with 2 DLI in India. Discharged Class Z (T) Reserve on the 22nd June 1946
4449708 Pte Joseph Albert Irving (Irvin?) Served in France in 1940 returned to England and when contacted by the War Office in relation to the `Missing Men` was found to be at  the Military Prison and detention barracks Aldershot (26th Sept 1942) committed to 140 days detention Transferred to the East Yorkshire Regt and posted to No2 NCI Depot on the 30th November 1942.
4444902 Pte Thomas  Day Served in France 1940 and although he was with 2 DLI he was attached to RAOC in whilst in France. Returned home. Enlisted on the 6th October 1925 initially for 7 years with a 5 year reserve commitment .Age on enlistment 18 years 220 days .Enlisted in Durham born Jarrow Thomas was a former miner. On his return he was transferred to the Royal artillery on the 27th November 1942 his army documents being transferred to Sidcup. On the 4th February he returned to 4 ITC at Brancepeth (DLI Depot) before he was discharged to war Reserve on the 27th April 1944. In October 1934 he was awarded the India General Service Medal with NWF 1930-31 clasp for services with the 2nd DLI in India pre-war.
4386813 Sgt W L Blair Served in France with 2 DLI but attached to GHQ in the Intelligence section  On his return he was transferred to 11th DLI where he saw service in Iceland. On the 10th June 1944 Sgt Blair returned to the Green Howards the Regiment he had enlisted in prior to joining the Durham`s  on the 25th January 1931.
4448569 Sgt Ralph  Nicholson Served with 2 DLI in France in 1940 he returned home to England and served with the young soldiers  of the 70th DLI Ralph Nicholson reverted to Corporal and returned to France in 1944 with the 10th DLI .Ralph was killed in action shortly after his return to France in 1944.The CWGC list his rank as Cpl he died on the 26th June 1944 and is buried at St Manvieu Cemetery. Ralph Nicholson enlisted in the DLI on the 12th January 1931 initially for seven years with a five year reserve commitment.Son of John Thomas and Emma Nicholson, husband of Nellie Nicholson, West Cornforth.
4447757 Pte William  Charles Edward  Hayes Served with the 2nd battalion in France 1940.Returned home and was serving at 4 ITC at Brancepeth Castle in 1942.Previously served on the North west Frontier where he was awarded the India General service Medal with Bar NWF 1930-31.Originally enlisted on the 19th August 1929 in the regular army for 9 years 3 months Discharged on the 16th January 1946 Class Z Reserve
4455701 Pte John R Lambton Served with the 2nd battalion in France 1940.Returned home and was serving at 4 ITC at Brancepeth Castle in 1942.Originally enlisted into the TA he was discharged Class Z (T) RAR on the 1st March 1946. His brother William enlisted at the same time (4455700)
2867555 Cpl Andrew  Armstrong Served in France in 1940 originally enlisted in the Gordon Highlanders on the 25th April 1939 returned home but was  discharged on the 9th June 1941 Para 390 (XVI) Kings regulations 1940 His home address at the time was 27 Ash Ave Sherburn Rd Estate, Durham.
4453328 Pte Hutchinson  Stearman Served in France with the 2nd Battalion  returned home and was discharged on the 5th March 1941.Para 390 (XVI) KR 1940 His home address was 63 Harle Street Gateshead.Hutchinson Stearman was born on March 2, 1917, in Gateshead, Durham,  He was married in March 1943 in Newcastle Upon Tyne, Northumberland. to Lillian Victoria Dodds. He died in April 2003 in Andorra, at the age of 86.Death registered in Newcastle
4453510 Pte Walter Skidmore Served in France returned home and was later discharged  on the 14th January 1941 para 390 (XVI) Kings Regulations 1940 ,home address was  8 Simonsill Rd,Bleach Green,Winlaton.Co Durham
4452935 Pte Thomas Robert  Addison Served in France with the 2nd Battalion Pte Addison was discharged on the 17th January 1941 .Home address at the time was 47 Brittania Street,Thornaby on Tees

4447633 Pte Joseph  Banks Served in France 1940 with the 2nd Battalion returned home an was discharged on the 20th April 1941.Pte Banks home address was  Long Row,Page Bank,Spennymoor,Co Durham. He originally enlisted into the 8th Durham Light Infantry (TA) on the 3rd June 1929 he was discharged on the 2nd June 1937 but re-enlisted on the 14th November 1939. Joseph was discharged under  Kings Regulations Para 390 Section (VXI)

4452504 Pte John Thomas Barnes Served in France 1940 with the 2nd Battalion enlisted pre-war and served initially with the 1st Battalion did not travel to China but remained at Woking and joined the 2nd DLI on their return from the Sudan. Embarked with the battalion in September 1939 captured  in 1940 and was lined up for execution by his captives but saved by a passing German Officer in a staff car...information from his son Richard Barnes.  Discharged Class Z Reserve 7th April 1949

4446315 Pte Arthur  William Willis Served in France 1940 with the 2nd Battalion returned home and discharged  in 1941. Home address at the time was 170 Whalley Rd Clitheroe, Lancashire. Arthur`s surname of `Willis` was an alias his original name being `Arthur William Jameson` he enlisted in Belfast  on the 16th September 1927 .The enlistment was within the Regular Army for 9 years with a further 3 in the reserve. Arthur was born in Durham despite his Belfast enlistment he was discharged on the30th March 1941 under Paragraph 390 (XVI) Kings Regulations 1940.
 

843466 Corporal  Robert  Bainbridge Served with the 2nd Battalion in France 1940 returned home contacted by the War Office regarding Missing Men at the time Cpl Bainbridge was serving in East Africa ,Serial R.A.Y.K.A. Originally enlisted in The Royal Artillery Coastal and Anti-Aircraft. Robert`s tale is perhaps unique he enlisted in the (TA) DLI on the 4th July 1937 aged 26 years 6 months and 19 days the initial report for Robert on the 25th July 1940 was he was missing and on the 21st August 1940 thought to be a Prisoner of war? He was neither but following an attachment he was reported to have been killed in action on the 22nd March 1943 which was again premature . The adventure continued and he  was believed Captured and now a prisoner in Italy again this was not true. Robert Bainbridge was discharged on the 30th May 1945 but re-enlisted into the TA on the 10th July 1947!

4441992 C/Sgt David Gordon  Davies Served with the battalion in France with A Company originally promoted to Sergeant on 23rd October 1932.Returned home to England. David originally enlisted on the 7th July 1922 for a period of seven years with a further commitment of five years with the reserve. Enlisting at Middlesboro he gave his age as 21years and 3 months formerly a Steel Worker he was born at St Johns Stockton on Tees. Davids next of kin was listed as his father Mr David William Davies of 4 Fawcus Road, Dormanstown Yorkshire. Discharged on the 28th October 1945 Class Z Reserve .
4436218 C/Sgt John Richardson Served with the battalion in France originally enlisted  on the 29th July 1920 aged 18 .Born and enlisted in Sunderland John named his next of kin as Mr James Richardson 22 Brady Street Sunderland and listed his pre-army trade as a Rivet-Heater .Promoted to Sergeant on 11th June 1924 Served on the Northwest Frontier and was awarded The India General service Medal with clasp NWF 30-31 in July 1935.Although he was thought to have continued to serve until 17th December 1948 the Army Enlistment books list his discharge as 31st November 1943 under Paragraph 390 XVII Kings Regulations 1940..Returned home from Dunkirk
4447435 L/Cpl Patrick  McAllister enlisted 19th April 1929 initially for a seven and a half year period. Returned home and transferred to the Loyal regiment on the 14th February 1941.
4447462 Sgt John James  Alderson  enlisted on the 29th April 1929 initially for a seven and a half year period Returned home transferred to the East Yorkshire Regiment.(Docs to section 14th January 1943)
4448600 Pte George Pearson George enlisted 19th January 1931 initially for 7 years with 5 years reserve commitment he returned to Britain and was transferred to the Loyal Regiment on the 14th February 1941 later Reconnaissance Corps
757873 Cp l G Morris Reconnaisance Corps
4447751 Bandsman Private Robert William Dunlop Served in France in 1940 He was wounded but managed to return home where he was later discharged. Born Durham 29 May 1913 he lived at Lanchester he attended Esh Winning Council School leaving on the 26th July 1929 and enlisted in Durham on the 2nd August 1929 as a boy soldier. Dunlop served in Egypt initially with the 1st DLI before moving to India with the 2nd DLI (1929 - 1930) remained in India from 1930 - 1937 and then onto the Sudan in 1937 at this time he was in HQ Company. As a band boy he played the bassoon. A keen regimental hockey player he was awarded the regimental hockey colours for 1936 (awarded 5th June 1936) Pte Dunlop left the Army on the 14th  April 1938 but remained a reservist, Recalled to the colours on June 15th 1939 he  rejoined  the 2nd battalion on mobilization in August and was stationed at Woking. On the 1st September 1939 he joined 'C' Company, 2nd Battalion The Durham Light Infantry,and travelled with them as part of the British Expeditionary Force serving in France from 24th September 1939 -until his return to England on 2nd June 1940. A patient at Orpington War Hospital, Kent, he remained here until 29th October when he was allowed home to Durham pending his discharge. He was discharged unfit for military service on the 25th November 1940. Pte Dunlop`s address was 402 John Street, Broom Park, Co Durham.
4451261 Cpl Robert Carlton  Haddrell 2DLI Signal platoon att to D Company. Transferred to the Army Air Corps on the 5th May 1943 transferring back to the Durham Light Infantry on the 7th April 1949. Robert was born on the 26th November 1918 enlisting between 1934-36 he died aged 83 at Henley in Oxfordshire in 1999.
4452854 Pte T Kerr 2DLI Signal platoon att to D Company wounded

799095 Sgt G Hopper 2 DLI Served in D Company as a Lance Corporal.

4448455 Pte .Edward .Hopkinson, Pte Edward Hopkinson served with the battalion in France 1940, Originally from Wheatley Hill, Co Durham. Born 25th January 1912. Enlisted 22nd September 1930. he was captured on the 16th May1940, Interred at Stalag IV C, employed at work camp 52 (railway) from January 1941 to May 1945.Discharged Para 390 (XVII) on the 16th February 1946.Edwards  father who lived at 2 Wordsworth Avenue, Wheatley Hill was notified that his son was initially missing. Edward served pre-war and spent 7 years in India on returning to civilian life he was employed at Wheatley Hill colliery but re-joined the colours on the outbreak of war.

Known Prisoners of War

4447229 Pte Leslie  Banks PoW 15761 Stalag VIIIB Captured 27/05/40. Enlisted on the 17th January 1929 initially for 7 and a half years Announced as PoW on the 26th June 1940 final discharge 23rd December 1945.
4344036 Pte William Bambro PoW 15563 Stalag VIIIB Captured 27/05/40.Original enlistment was with the "East Yorkshire Regiment" The enlistment book gives an enlistment  date of the 18th January 1939 .Announcement of his capture was made on the 16th September 1940.Following his release he was Discharged Section B Reserve (Dis 3/A 26) on the 16th July 1946
4453550 Pte Luke  Bowden Prisoner of War number 17593 Stalag VIIIB captured whilst wounded Prisoner status announced 22nd January 1940 .Discharged Paragraph 390 (XVI) Kings regulations 17th March 1946.
4447516 Pte Geordie Blackburn PoW 16721 Stalag VIIIB Captured 27/05/40. Geordie originally enlisted on the 8th May 1929 into the 7th Durham Light Infantry (TA) for a period of 4 years he was discharged on the 7th May 1933 .He re-enlisted into the army  on the 16th November 1939 confirmed a Prisoner of War (wounded) on the 29th May 1940.Final discharge Christmas Day,25th December 1945. Geordie lived at Hall Gardens Estate, West Boldon.
4341757 Pte Jack  Hunter PoW 16683 Stalag IXC Captured 27/05/40 Jack E Hunter enlisted on the 26th May 1930 into the East Yorkshire Regt. He transferred to the Durham Light Infantry from the 1st Battalion East Yorks  on the 1st May 1934, Discharged from the Army on the 16th February 1946 Class Z RAR.
4448414 Pte Stanley King PoW 10365 Stalag XXB Captured 27/05/40.Pre war regular having enlisted on the 15th September 1930 (7 years) with 5 years reserve commitment)  PoW status confirmed on the 12th July 1940. Class Z Release 16th February 1946.

4444030 Pte Jonathon William  Keller  PoW 2673 Stalag VIIIB Captured 26/05/40 PoW  number 2673 recorded in 1945 as Stalag 344 Lambinowice, Poland.  Enlisted originally in the 6th Durham Light Infantry (TA) for an initial 4 year period on the 20th January 1925 at the time he was aged 20 years and 3 days. Jonathon`s time in the TA amounted to 6 days! On the 26th January 1925 he re-enlisted into the regular army but on this enlistment he changed his age to 19 years and 212 days? Enlisting at Bishop Auckland where he had previously been a miner Jonathon signed on for 7 years. Born at South Church Bishop Auckland his next of kin was given as his father Joseph Keller address 6 Johns Terrace, Coronation, Bishop Auckland. On his release from captivity he returned to England where he was discharged on the 16th November 1946 to Class Z RAR. 

6549649 CSM W F Mullins Served with the Battalion in France 1940 taken prisoner on the 15th May 1940 .Served with the 2DLI in India in 1931 his full medal entitlement numbered four medals an India General service medal bar NWF1930-31,LSGC Medal 1939-45 Star and War Medal .Warrant Officer Class 2 W.F. Mullins  finished the War incarcerated in Stalag 383 at Hohenfels .PoW No

4448171 L/Cpl Richard Thomas Rochford  PoW 14903 Stalag VIIIB Captured 27/05/40. Originally enlisted on the 24th September 1930 for a period of 7/5 years his POW status was announced on the 25th June 1940 . On his return at the end of the war he was discharged on the 2nd March 1946 Class Z RAR.
4450742 Pte Joseph Ryan PoW 16923 Stalag VIIIB at the end of the war he was at 344 at Lambinowice, Poland . Joseph originally enlisted on the 4th March 1935 and re-enlisted again the 3rd May 1939 The announcement of his confirmed capture was made on the 6th September 1940 on his release Joseph remained in the army but transferred to the RASC on the 16th August 1945 being finally discharged in 1948

4448495 Pte George Wilkinson PoW 36121 Stalag XXID in 40-41 Captured 27/05/40 In 1945 he was listed as being at Cieszyn, Poland in Stalag VIII-B 20 .George enlisted on the 11th December 1930 posted missing on the 14th June 1940 he was confirmed as a prisoner on the 14th September  1940. Returned to England at the end of the War he was discharged on the 15th February 1946 .Class Z Class.
 

4448607 Pte Stanley Wood PoW 36523 Stalag VIIIB Cieszyn, Poland .Captured 10/05/40 during the Dyle operations. Stanley Wood enlisted on the 22nd January 1931 into the regular army for 7/5 years. After initially being posted as missing on the 14th June 1940 there were two notifications on the 20th September and 2nd November 1940 confirming him as a PoW. He was initially discharged on the 18th December 1945 under section 390 he rejoined on the 28th March 1947 but was again permanently discharged permanently unfit for further service (390 (VIII) ) on the 7th May 1949

4452827 Pte Eric  Pearson PoW19584 Stalag  XXB (1940) Eric was declared a Prisoner of War on the 14th June 1940 On his release he returned to England and was discharged Section 390 (XVI) Kings Regulations on the 18th November 1945.
4438949 PSM George Pinkney PoW 2895 Stalag XXIA ; Lance-Corporal, c.1923; Corporal, 'D' Company, 1926; Sergeant, 2nd Battalion, 1930; taken prisoner of war at St. Venant, France, 1940; P.O.W. no. 2895 at Stalag XXIB, Germany born on June 14, 1902, in Stockton-on-Tees, Durham, his father, George, Henry was 29 and his mother, Annie, was 26. He married Clare Hortense Pollard in October 1926 in West Bengal, India. They had three children during their marriage. He died in September 1990 in Middlesbrough, Yorkshire, at the age of 88.George Pinkney`s  DLI career began on the 27th July 1920 when at the age of 18years and 43 days he enlisted in the TA joining the 5th Durham Light Infantry at Stockton initially for a 5 and a half year period. On the 7th July 1921 George decided to increase his commitment to the TA signing for another 4 years in addition to his initial agreement . George never completed his TA service he was released from his contract after agreeing to join the Regular army on the 28th February 1922 for seven years with a further five in the reserve .His next of Kin on enlistment was his father George Henry Pinkney his address at the time was 60 Marritime Street, Stockton on Tees. On his release from captivity George was discharged Class Z RAR on the 5th February 1946 with the rank of PSM.
 4451041 Cpl Edwin Oscar  Ramage PoW 13154 Stalag XXA(1940) Discharged Paragraph 390(XVI) Kings regulations on the 2nd March 1946. Edwin Oscar Ramage was born on January 14, 1918, in Calcutta, West Bengal, India, the child of William and Myrtle Ramage . He was married in June 1945 to Jenny Hedley . He had one child during his marriage. He died in August 1968 in Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, at the age of 50.
4447774 Pte William Reed originally enlisted on the 27th August 1929 into the regular army for seven and a half years  PoW 15620 Stalag VIIIB Served in France 1940 returned home after the war on the 26th June 1945 but died at Shotley Bridge hospital (home) on the 13th January 1946 Son of William and Rebecca Reed; husband of Margaret Reed, of Denton Burn. Newcastle-on-Tyne. Aged 34 he rests at Pelton Cemetery Sec. C. Grave 349.Cause of death given as myeloid leukemia.
4445463 Pte William Richards Enlisted 17th June 1926 enlisted for a period of 7 years with 5 years reserve commitment  age 21 years and 103 days . A former miner who was born in South Shields and enlisted in Durham .William was confirmed as a PoW on the 12th July 1940 PoW 25982 held at Stalag IVC. Discharged on the 11th May 1946 Paragraph 390 Section XVIIIa.
4458624 Pte George  Thomas  Riddle PoW number 13472 Stalag XXIA (1940) Announced as Prisoner of war 29th July 1940 .Returned home after the war and transferred to the Royal Engineers on the 6th August 1945 his documents were sent to Brighton on the 30th October 1945
4449277 Pte John Thomas Scott  PoW 3338 Stalag XXIB Pow status 14th June 1940 Class Z Release 26th May 1946.PoW status 14th June 1940,
793203 L/Cpl George William Seal PoW 15401 Stalag VIIIB. George  enlisted  on the 21st may 1929 for 7 years with a 5 year reserve commitment . The number 793203 comes from the number block allocated to The Royal Artillery (Field, Coastal & Anti-Aircraft) In 1945 his location was recorded as Lambinowice, Poland Stalag 344 Discharged on the 22nd January 1946 Class Z RAR.
4453401 Pte George  Stewart Prisoner of War ,number 595 Stalag XXID announced 12th July !940.Discharged Section B Reserve 22nd May 1946.

4443792 L/Cpl William  Walker PoW 11211 Stalag XXB. Enlisted on the 13th October 1924 into the regular army for 7 years with a 5 year reserve commitment Aged 19 years 138 days he enlisted at Durham where his former employment was given as a miner. Born in South Shields his next of kin was listed as William Walker (father) 20 Reay Street. South Shields . Following his release he was discharged on the 14th February 1946 Class Z RAR.

4452930 Pte J Young  PoW Joseph Young was captured at Merville on May 27th 1940.He was awarded a Mention in despatches for repeated escape attempts. The first attempt was from a working party at Schulusselmuhle on July 12th  1942  with another soldier he scaled a barbed wire fence and boarded a train arriving in Hanover on July 15th they were discovered and sent to Thorn. At Bromberg he again escaped over a wired fence and into a nearby forest he was given food by a civilian worker but was recaptured by the Police on December 27th. A third attempt on July 31st 1943 again from a working party at Zoppen forcing the window bars apart his liberty was cut short when he was captured at Lessen next day. Two other attempts were made from Zoppen on March 12th 1944 and June 1944 but both proved unsuccessful . Joseph`s final escape was from his camp in Feggerdorf whilst on a march this time he was successful and joined American forces on April 8th 1945.

4448369 Pte R Lane PoW Wounded served with  D Company 2 DLI Originally enlisted on the 19th August 1930 for seven and a half years as a regular soldier he was taken prisoner on the 15th May 1940, repatriated on the 19th April 1945 he was discharged Class Z 10th February 1946.

4448399 Cpl William Hargrave  Latimer Presumed Killed in Action served with  D Company 2 DLI.  Pte William Hargrave Latimer Son Of William Latimer & Sarah Elizabeth Ironside was born in Sunderland in 1913 he was married at the young age of 17 in 1930 to Mary Dorothea Young .Pte William Hargrave Latimer enlisted in the DLI between 24th Jan 1930 and 7th May 1931 (Enlistment book no 14) The actual date was 11th August 1930 recorded by the CWGC as having died between the 24th and 25th May 1940 William has no known grave and is commemorated on the Dunkirk Memorial Column 122 He is recorded as aged 27 years. Originally posted as missing on the 14th June 1940 between the 10th and 29th May 1940.

4447802 Pte George Lee Wounded served with  D Company 2 DLI. On his return George transferred  to 803 (s) Coy AMPC on the 24th October 1940.Originally enlisted into the DLI on the 7th October 1929 for 7 years with 5 years reserve commitment.

4453361 Pte Roy William Lodge Prisoner of War Stalag XXA 3A served with  D Company 2 DLI. Announced 12th July 1940. Discharged section B reserve 3rd August 1946 (Div 3/228) Re-enlisted  from B reserve on the 26th April 1947.

4453545 Pte John Longley Prisoner of War  Stalag XXA served with  D Company 2 DLI. Announced 1st August 1940. Discharged to B Reserve 14th August 1946.

4453417 Pte Joseph Ernest Longstaff Died from cases unknown served with  D Company 2 DLI . Pte Joseph Ernest Longstaff was the son of Jane Ritchie of Thornaby-on-Tees recorded by the CWGC to have died on May 24th 1940 he rests today at St Venant Communal Cemetery Plot 4. Row C. Grave 55. Joseph was 19 years of age. The enlistment book notes cause of death as `unknown` Joseph`s brother Henry who enlisted with him was killed at El Alamein on the 2nd November 1942 also serving with the DLI

3300423 L/Cpl Elijah  Mallabar Died of Wounds served with  D Company 2 DLI  Cpl Elijah Mallabar was born in 1901 son of John Andrew and Sarah Catherine Mallabarr although born at Jarrow on Tyne the family home was at 64 Albert St Grange Villa, Pelton  Chester-le-Street. Elijah originally enlisted into the Highland Light Infantry discharged 8th August 1921 enlisting in the DLI on the 31st October 1921 enlisting in Newcastle aged 20 years 5 months and 12 days Elijah married Annie Anderton. at St James Church in Benwell Cpl Mallabarr served on the North West Frontier with the 2nd DLI on the 27th April 1935 he was awarded the India General Service Medal with the NWF 1930-31 Clasp. On the return from the Sudan Elijah and Annie were living in the married quarters at Inkerman Barracks.As part of the BEF he served in France with 2 DLI CWGC list him as having died on May 30th 1940 although he was originally posted missing between the 16th-29th May 1940 he rests today at St Pol War Cemetery Row C. Grave 14.He was aged 39 years.

4453346 Pte Arthur Joseph McElhatton  Later wounded in India served with  D Company 2 DLI. Section B reserve Discharged 30th June 1946.

4268721 Pte Matthew McLoughlin PoW XXA 1940.served with  D Company 2 DLI. Matthew enlisted into the Regular Army for a period of 7 years with a 5 year reserve commitment on the 13th July 1932 .He was discharged to class Z RAR on the 16th March 1946.Original enlistment was in the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers

4448559 Pte James Henry Miller PoW VIIIB served with  D Company 2 DLI.  Born  on the 23rd of October, 1910, in Wear Street , Bishopwearmouth, Sunderland James lived at Hedworth St in Hendon and attended Hudson road School. Enlisted 12th January 1930 as a regular soldier initially for seven years with a five year commitment to the reserve .POW status established on the 15th June 1940 Class Z release on the 17th March 1946.

4445671 Pte Albert  Morgan Wounded served with  D Company 2 DLI. Originally enlisted on the 6th August 1926 for seven years with a five year commitment to the reserve. On enlistment at Durham he was aged 18 years 20 days born at Wallsend he was discharged on the 7th January 1946 Z Class reserve.

4453581 Pte John Henry Neal Prisoner of War served with  D Company 2 DLI announced 21st June 1940 .Section B release 1st August 1946 completed section A reserve status 1st November 1948.

4441481 Pte Robert Arthur  Newton served with  D Company 2 DLI. Originally enlisted into the DLI (TA) for a four year period at the given age of 19 years and 9 months. Born and enlisted in Stockton on Tees he was employed as a Labourer when not soldiering. On the 28th October 1927 he enlisted in the regular army given age at this time was 25years and 5 months enlisting at Middlesboro his place of birth was more accurately stated as St Pauls-Stockton on Tees. Next of kin listed was Mrs James Newton 2 William Street Thornaby on Tees. Roberts discharge from the TA was on the 16th March 1926 at the Termination of his initial engagement following his re-enlistment in 1927 he was finally discharged on the 1st January 1942 under Paragraph 390 (XVI) Kings Regulations 1940.

4445034 Sgt Terrence (Terry)  O`Neil Wounded (lost an arm) served with  D Company 2 DLI. Terry enlisted on the 8th January 1926 aged 19 years and 222 days he enlisted at Durham for seven years with a five year commitment to the reserve. He was born at Consett he returned to England and was discharged on the 3rd December 1940 under Paragraph 390 (XVI) Kings regulations 1940.Conduct on discharge noted as exemplary . Served in India pre war awarded India General Service medal with clasp NWF 1930-31.

4448329 Pte Harold Parker Prisoner of War served with  D Company 2 DLI. Originally enlisted on the 14th July 1930 as a regular soldier for 7 and a half years. Prisoner of War notification recorded on the 12 July 1940 Discharged Paragraph 390 Section XVIII Kings regulations 1940 15th March 1946

4453052 Pte Norman  Parkin  (Parker) Wounded served with  D Company 2 DLI Transferred to Pioneer corps 6th November 1941

4443173 SSM James Pearson Prisoner of War Stalag XXA served with  D Company 2 DLI repatriated in 1945 James Pearson had over 22 years service and was captured after he was wounded in an eye. It was announced in the Hartlepool press that James Pearson was due to be repatriated to his sisters house (Mrs Jefferson) 10 Lambton St, Central Estate,Hartlepool. James originally enlisted on the 27th December 1923 aged 18 years and 326 days at Durham previous employment listed as a Labourer his birth place is recorded as St Hilda`s West Hartlepool. The next of kin at the time of enlistment was his mother Margaret Pearson of 32 Everard Street Hartlepool. Official discharge date 15th December 1945 the rank was listed at RSM cause of discharge Paragraph 390 (XVI) Kings Regulations.

4441260 L/Sgt Robert  Phillips served with  D Company 2 DLI he enlisted on the 14th February 1922 for [even year[ with a commitment to a further five in the reserve. At the time of his enlistment he gave his age as 18years and 8 months his next of kin was his father Mr J A Phillips of 17 Oswald Terrace, Chilton Buildings, Ferryhill.  A miner prior to enlistment he was born at Middleton-Moor , Spennymoor .Robert was discharged from the army (DLI) on the 6th April 1945 under section 390 (XVI) Kings Regulations 1940.

4453552 Pte Robert William Piper Previously reported missing reported back serving with unit again served with  D Company 2 DLI. Discharged paragraph 390 (XVIII (a) Kings Regulations 1940 on the 20th March 1941.

4443114 Pte Robert  Paul PoW Stalag XXIB served with  D Company 2 DLI. Robert Paul enlisted on the 27th November 1923 for 7 years with a 5 year commitment to the reserve enlisting at Newcastle at the age of 18 years and 60 days he was formerly engaged as a miner prior to his enlistment. The next of Kin listed for Paul was his father Henry Paul of 16 Beaufort Road, Gateshead. He served pre war in India where he earned an India General Service Medal Clasp 1930-41. Confirmed as a PoW on 16th June 1940 he was eventually discharged on the 16th December 1945 RAR.

4271264 Pte Alexander  Reynolds served with  D Company 2 DLI. Alexander enlisted into the regular army 0n the 12th August 1938 his army number comes from those allocated to Royal Northumberland Fusiliers .Alexander was captured in 1940 and in 1945 was held at Malbork in Poland PoW number  3340  Camp XX-B 20.Discharged Section B Reserve on the 11th May 1946

4446746 Pte Samuel McLoughlin served with  D Company 2 DLI . Originally enlisted on the 3rd April 1928 into the 5th Durham Light Infantry (TA) Born on the 3rd July 1908 at St Aidens West Hartlepool  he enlisted at West Hartlepool where he worked as a labourer. On the 23rd May 1930 he re-enlisted into the regular army for a 7 year period with 5 years reserve commitment. Discharged under paragraph 390 (XVI) on the 27th October 1942. 

4449275 Pte Harry Thomas Hatton served with  D Company 2 DLI. returned to England .Wounded India Discharged Para 390 (XVI) on the 18th December 1944.

4448375 Cpl Henry Bell served with  D Company 2 DLI, Initially enlisted on the 2nd September 1930 for a seven and a half years Transferred to 46 ITC on the 23rd February 1942 returned to the DLI on the 10th September 1942.Parachute School Green Howards on the 28th December 1943 then the 11th Green Howards on the 22nd August 1944 Discharged as a Sergeant on the 17th January 1946 but re-enlisted into the Green Howards on the 25th September 1947.

4447901 L/Cpl George Wray Maddison served with  D Company 2 DLI he enlisted on the 2nd January 1930 into the regular army for initially 7 years plus 5 in reserve discharged with the rank of Colour Sergeant on the 31st January 1946 George re-enlisted into the Army (Corps) on the 24th July 1947.Born 11 Oct 1912 he died aged 57 in 1969

4450749 Pte James William Arthur  Batty Presumed died of wounds served with  D Company 2 DLI Pte Batty was discharged to the reserve on the 13th May 1938 Married Lilian Hope Girardot in 1939 recalled to the colours . Posted `Missing` on the 14th June 1940 . Date of death 20/05/1940 (CWGC)

4448254 Pte George Surtees enlisted 24th May 1930 into the regular army for an initial period of 7 years with a further 5 in the reserve Killed in Action whilst serving with  D Company 2 DLI 27th May 1940.George Surtees was one of Captain Annand`s platoon present at the Dyle VC action.

4449906 L/Cpl Joseph Murray Prisoner of War served with A Company. POW announced 20th June 1940.

4443770 CSM William Harry Qualtrough Prisoner of War served with A Company awarded a Military Cross for `Actions prior to Capture` William Harry Qualtrough was born in Fulham in 1906 the son of William John and Alice Qualtrough (Brother of Irene Eva Qualtrough) of Brook Vale Union Mills Isle of Man. William `Harry` Qualtrough  enlisted on the 1st October 1924 into the regular army for a period of 7/5 years he was aged 18 years and 311 days. Enlisting at Liverpool he was previously employed as a clerk. On his attestation he named his mother Alice as his next of kin her address then was Trammon cottages. Announced as a PoW  on the 12th July 1940  PoW number 2895 held in Stalag 8593 He returned to England and he was discharged on the 4th March 1946 Class Z RAR. On discharge his rank was WO2.he returned to the IOM and was employed by the Post Office William Henry Qualtrough died in 2000.

4449182 L/Cpl Joseph Quinn  Served with A Company returned to England went out to India posted as `Missing` on the 15th February 1942 he was located and transferred to the Border Regiment (India) on the 22nd June 1942.

4448349 L/SST Joseph Barker Returned to England served with A Company Originally enlisted on the 12th August 1930 for seven and a half years .He transferred to The Loyal Regiment on the 14th February 1941 Discharged from the Royal Armoured corps in 1947

4446328 Sgt Crosby Robson  Crawford Returned to England served with A Company. Originally enlisted on the 21st September 1927 into the regular army for Initially for 7  years with a 5 year Reserve commitment Born in Sunderland  his date of birth on his enlistment was given as 19th June 1909 (Although it may be he added a year to enable him to join 19/06/1910) the son of Frederick and Elizabeth Crawford of 131 Church St , Sunderland brother of  William, Charles and Jeninie Crawford. Crosby Robson Crawford was a cooks assistant prior to his service he was discharged under Para 390 (xvii) Kings Regulations on the 5th March 1945.Crosby Robson Crawford died in Oxfordshire in 1991 he was 81 years of age.

4449471 Cpl Edward Forster enlisted regular army 29th July 1933 Posted as `Missing` confirmed Prisoner of War 15th August 1940 Served with A Company discharged 30th March 1946. 

4449737 Cpl George  Middleton  Green Returned to England served with A Company Son of George and Mary Ann Green, of Thornaby-on-Tees, Yorkshire; husband of Edna Green, of Stockton-on-Tees, Co. Durham recorded as drowned in India 30th July 1942 now a Serjeant he lies at rest in Kirkee War Cemetery Section 1  Row F Grave 2 he was aged 30 years.

4449728 L/Sgt  Norman Hawkins Prisoner of War initially posted as `Missing` on the 14th June 1940 confirmed as a prisoner on the 3rd October 1940 served with A Company. On release he was discharged class Z reserve 26th April 1946.

4445273 PSM Walter  Hogg Returned to England served with A Company . Walter Hogg enlisted on the 24th April 1926 initially for seven years with a five year reserve commitment. On enlistment his age was recorded as 18 years and 255 days enlisting in South Shields Walter was previously employed as a Book Hall Assistant. Born in South Shields he served pre-war in India where as a L/Cpl he was awarded an India General Service Medal with clasp NWF 1930-31 .Walter was discharged on the 16th march 1944 Paragraph 390 (XVII) Kings regulations 1940.

4449343 Pte James William  Bartlett  Prisoner of War announced on the 17th June 1940 served with HQ Company in May 1940. Possibly repatriated as he was discharged on the 28th November 1943 Para 390 Section (xvi)

4447773 Pte John Johnstone Returned to England served with HQ Company in May 1940 he had enlisted on the 27th august 1929 Initially for 7  years with a 5 year Reserve commitment . He transferred to the RAOC on the 13th January 1946.

4447844 Pte George Arthur Larter  from Boldon Colliery Prisoner of War served with HQ Company in May 1940 PoW number 1708 Pte Larter was recorded to be at Stalag XX-B Malborg in Poland . George originally enlisted on the 22nd November 1929 (Initially for 7  years with a 5 year Reserve commitment ) confirmed as a Prisoner of War on the 13th August 1940.Announced in the Sunderland Echo September 2nd 1940. Discharged Class Z  reserve 26th May 1946.

 

4449738 L/Cpl James Meekin  (Right) Prisoner of War served with A company in May 1940 P. o. W number 1547 Stalag 344 Lambinowice, Poland. Announced as POW on the 13th August 1940 after an announcement on Saturday 29th June (Daily Mail) 1940 that his parents Mr & Mrs T Meekin of 21 Finsbury Grove, Fountain Rd Hull had been informed their son was missing. A well known local boxer James Meekin attended St Charles School, Hull prior to his enlistment. Discharged Paragraph 390 Section (xvi) 28th November 1945.

 

 

4449200 Pte William Haswell  McGrory  served with HQ Company in May 1940 Previously enlisted prewar and  served in Egypt and the Sudan 1937 left the battalion in 1938.Recalled on the outbreak of War Captured  on June 21st 1940 Pow number 13163 in 1945 he was liberated from Stalag 344. Discharged 6th March 1946.

4448537 Pte Vincent  Murray Enlisted 5th January 1931initially for 7 and a half years Returned to England served with HQ Company in May 1940.Discharged Class Z 8th February 1946

4448563 Pte Joseph  Ryan Returned to England served with HQ Company in May 1940 Joseph enlisted on the 7th January 1931 he was transferred to the Army Catering Corps attached to 14th DLI 1942.

4449351 Pte John Robert  Wilkinson Returned to England served with HQ Company in May 1940.Discharged  24th January 1946 Class Z RAR.

4448602 Pte Lloyd James Wilson Returned to England served with HQ Company in May 1940.Enlisted 19th January 1931 initially for 7 years and 5 in the reserve he was discharged Class Z RAR 3rd February 1946.

4444173 Sgt J Hourigan  Returned to England served with HQ Company in May 1940 Full profile in the section `Those Who Proudly Served` enlisted 25th February 1925 for 7 years with 5 years in the  reserve . Served in India pre=war and transferred to the East Yorkshire regiment in 1943.

4449728 L/Sgt Norman A Hawkins Prisoner of War served with A company in May 1940 PoW number 10142  Stalag 383 Hohenfels, Rhineland-Palatinate

4458413 Pte L Young Served in France 1940 with D Company and returned home  still serving in 1943 with 2 DLI in India. (according to enlistment books this number belongs to Pte James Birmingham?)

4442038 W.O. Ill Frank Walker Served in France 1940 taken prisoner during this time mentioned in despatches in 1946 for actions in 1940. Originally enlisted on the 12th July 1922 for 7 years regular service plus 5 with the reserve enlisted in Stockton on Tees a former Iron worker prior to enlistment he was born at Dinsdale near Darlington Co Durham .Aged 18 on his enlistment Frank gave his Aunt Mrs F Legg as his next of kin with an address of Station Road Middleton St George. Following his release he was released Class 2 Reserve on the 20th April 1946.

4448420 Pte Albert Edwin Walker. Served in France 1940 taken prisoner and died in captivity on the 12th November 1943  (graves state 42) he is buried at Malbork Commonwealth War Cemetery his body was removed from its local burial place and reinterred on the 27th November 1948 and he rests today in Section 4 Row A Grave 13 Aged 32.Married to Norah Walker they lived at  256 Geneva Rd Darlington. Probate effects of £162.16s.7d

.4452917 Pte John Joseph Stevenson Served in France 1940  taken prisoner and died in captivity  aged 22 on the 10th October 1941 .Son of John Joseph and Margaret Stephenson, of Eighton Banks, Co. Durham. Originally buried at Lamsdorf he was reinterred into the CWGC cemetery at Malbork on the 25th September 1948. Section 6 Row E Grave 3.

4452959 Pte George Adamson Served in France 1940 taken prisoner and he was released at the end of the war however he died on the 4th December 1945 and was buried at Redcar Cemetery Son of Richard Robert Adamson, and of Elizabeth Adamson, of Redcar he was only 25 he rests today Plot E. Row 7. Grave 9.

4444552 Cpl John Hall  Served in France  died at home on the 21st December 1942 he was buried at Seaton Hirst (St John) Churchyard.Son of William and Elizabeth Hall, of Ashington; husband of Jane Ann Hall, of Ashington. John was aged 36 He rests today at Sec. T. Row 3. Grave 19.

 

 

 

2nd DLI Officers present in France 1940

 This is a page from the War Diary of the 2nd Durham Light infantry showing the officer strength on the 14th April 1940. In addition to these we have Lt Rudd who transferred to the 2nd DLI  from the 9th DLI .The page is the last surviving "Muster" from the original diary which was heavily reconstituted following the loss of the "original" on the road to Dunkirk. Below is a description of what befell these officers during the German blitzkrieg of May 1940.

  

13862  Major .R.B.Y. Simpson Officer commanding in 1940 he was captured on May 27th 1940 at St Venant leading a desperate last ditch defence of the battalions HQ.Robert Barry Yelverton, 'Bobby' 13862, 2ndDLI was the elder brother of Frank Harold Simpson who was also taken prisoner in Italy whilst serving with the DLI. Awarded a DSO for actions prior to capture and like his brother commanded the 1st DLI postwar. Simpson was born in Freemantle West Australia in 1898 he married in 1930 marrying Lorna Gifford Nash in Bedfordshire.
28308 Captain.Acting Major T. Stallard, Served in France with the battalion in France 1940 Major Thomas Stallard ,28308, 2ndDLI. Commissioned 2nd Lt DLI 31st January 1924. Taken POW with 2 DLI, at St Venant on the 27th May 1940 at St Venant. Awarded an MBE (London Gazette 15/11/45) for services while POW. A DSO (London Gazette 11th April 1946), for services prior to capture. Attempted several escapes from Colditz and other PoW camps.

37178  Captain Acting Major J.R.Cousens  Served with 2 DLI he was captured with the battalion in May 1940. On the 14th April 1945, when those interred at  Oflag VIIB were being moved, American fighter bombers attacked the PoW column near Landershofen in Bavaria, In the resulting carnage 14 British officers were killed and 46 including Cousens ,were wounded A/Major  John Robert Cousens had his right leg  amputated.Following his liberation he commanded the DLI Depot post-war at Brancepeth (1948-51)

Awarded a Mention in Despatches for actions in 1940 announced in the London Gazette on April 11th 1946.

40725 Captain C.M.Townsend ,Cyril Moseley Townsend .Served with the battalion in France 1940 as Adjutant he was wounded whilst attempting to lead his men across the lock bridge at Saint Venant on the 27th May 1940.Rescued by a RWF medic he was evacuated to England. Son of Cyril Samuel Townsend and Mary Elizabeth Moseley he was born in Farnham in 1908 he died in Torbay, Devon in 1997
45466  Captain.R.H. Blackett  Rupert Henry Blackett was born  on February 13th 1911 son of Sir Hugh Douglas Blackett and Helen Katherine Blackett (Daughter of George William Lowther) Rupert was educated  at Eton and Lincoln College Oxford,He joined the Army from University on January 29th 1931 Lieutenant in 1934 Captain in 1939 he went to France with the 2nd Durham Light Infantry and was wounded and evacuated.He joined the 15th DLI 42-43 and served with the 70th DLI (Young Soldiers) .He married Felicity Mary Audrey Scudamore-Smith on the 11th January 1941.Subsequent promotions followed and as a Major he retired in 1948 and attaining the upper age limit finally left the Reserve of Officers in 1961.Rupert Henry Blackett died on May 1st 1992 aged 81 years.His wife died aged 99yrs in 2011.
72413 Captain C. Burdon-Taylor  ,Served with the battalion in France in 1940 Christopher Burdon-Taylor, 72413, joined 2nd DLI after serving with the 8th DLI. Commissioned 2nd Lt 8 DLI (TA) 14/7/37 he volunteered to serve overseas with 2 DLI rather than stay with 8th DLI where he would have been senior to his younger brother who was with 8th DLI also. Wounded with 2 DLI in May 1940 at the river Dyle . Evacuated he returned to duty with 8th DLI. Captured on the 14/6/42 with William Glaister and one other man during the breakout from the Gazala Box in the Western Desert after the truck they were travelling in broke down. Held at Oflag 5A.Born in Morpeth Northumberland in 1919 the son of Christopher Taylor and Henrietta Burdon Married to Edith Rosalind Mortimer Christopher died on the 14th October 2002
50971 Lieutenant Acting Captain .G.B.C.Roberts,Served with the battalion in France during 1940 he was killed in action on the 27th May 1940 whilst with Brigade .The son of a Durham Light Infantry officer ,Lieutenant Colonel Gerald Chipchase Roberts,who was killed in WW1 Captain Gerard Brian Chipchase Roberts had always wanted to emulate his father .Born  6th April 1912 at Beechwood  Sowerby Bridge Yorks he was educated at both Charterhouse and Sandhurst.
63625  Lieutenant Acting Captain .W.B. Hutton was born on July 31st 1914 the son of Edgar William Hutton and Vera Hutton (Chetwynde-Stapleton) Bill Hutton was educated at Wellington and Sandhurst .On the 30th August 1934 he was a 2nd Lieutenant promoted to full Lieutenant in 1937 Served with the battalion in France in 1940.`Bill` Hutton was wounded twice once through his knee during the actions at the Dyle River he was later evacuated to England. He continued to serve with 2nd Durham Light Infantry served in the Arakan and Burma 1942-43 mentioned in despatches on 16th December 1943.Invalided home in 1946 he took half pay because of his disability and became an estate agent in Ireland on his retirement. Changed his surname to Hutton-Bury by deed poll in 1961.
 52321 Lieutenant Acting Captain. E.Mann
39095  Lieutenant Acting Captain .F.R. Tubbs

56511 Captain .O.H.Pearson (Quartermaster) Served in France in 1940 returned to England. Enlisted in the 3rd Durham Light Infantry on the 26th August 1914 Oswald Harcourt Pearson then joined the 16th DLI on the10th November 1914 then proceeded with the 12th DLI to France where he was wounded. In January 1917 he was posted to the 4th DLI before leaving to join the RAF .He returned to the 4th DLI in January 1919 and the 2nd DLI in February as a Colour Sergeant  where he proceeded overseas.He was appointed Lieutenant Quartermaster in 1933 and remained overseas with the battalion until 1938 when he returned to Woking, Surrey. Served throughout WW2 and retired as a Major, a rank he achieved in 1945,still with the DLI on the 26th July 1950.

Awarded a Mention in Despatches for actions in 1940 announced in the London Gazette on April 11th 1946

58860  Lieutenant .J. H. H. Bonham Served in France 1940 .A/Captain John Henry Hamilton Bonham, was captured with the 2nd DLI 1940.Held at Oflag 7B. (Major) John Henry Hamilton Bonham was born on 19 May 1914. He was the son of Major John Wroughton Bonham and Lilian Mary Hamilton. He married Hon. Caroline Hamilton, daughter of Hans Wellesley Hamilton, 2nd Baron Holmpatrick and Lady Edina Dorothy Hope Conyngham, on 10 April 1951.
     He was educated at Radley College, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, England.A 2nd Lieutenant with the North Staffs on the 26th April 1933 he moved from the supplementary reserve to the 2nd Durham Light Infantry on 19th May 1935 and a full Lieutenant on May 19th 1938 He fought in the Second World War with the 2nd DLI, where he was wounded and became a POW near St Venant PoW number 1187  .Promoted to Captain  on May 19th 1943 whilst in captivity at  Oflag 7B  He retired from the military in 1946, with the rank of Major, late of the Durham Light Infantry. He lived at Trumroe, Castlepollard, County Westmeath, Ireland
 67469 Lieutenant  J.R. Hyde-Thomson , Served with 2DLI in France. Captured with 2 DLI on the 5th May 1940. Awarded a MC for actions on 15May 1940 serving with B Coy, 2 DLI (London Gazette  22/10/40).Also  Mentioned in Despatches for POW escaping activities( London Gazette 29/8/46). Involved in several escape attempts one which involved him being disguised as a German soldier. Co-operated with CSM Harry Qualtrough in one attempted escape. Held at Oflag 4C. Died in Jinja in 1951
67191 Lieutenant .J.P. Gregson  John Robin Gregson was the son of Maj. Charles Dalton Gregson, formerly of the Indian Army, and Amore Moore Gregson, of Scarborough, Tobago. Educated at Cheltenham and Sandhurst he married Eleanor Kathleen Tenanant (Daughter of Colonel Edward  Moore Tenanant Indian Army) He joined the Durham Light Infantry and attained the rank of 2nd Lieutenant on the 30th January 1936 gaining full Lieutenant on 30th January 1939. Lieutenant Gregson died of wounds on May 26th 1940 near St Venant as the BEF fell back on Dunkirk He was buried at Longuenesse (St Omer) Souvenir Cemetery Plot 10. Row A. Grave 3.
52363  Lieutenant .E. Nutley  Served with the battalion in France and was reportedly Killed in Action whilst out on a recce patrol. Edward Nutley was born in 1911 at North Bedburn  ,nr Horden in the Parish of Medomsley .He resided at 3 Victoria Terrace Hamsterley, Ebchester . Edward Nutley was a former member of Durham University`s OTC  gaining his first commission to second Lieutenant in 1931.Announcement was made in the London Gazette on July 21st 1931. Edward`s promotion to Lieutenant was announced in the same publication  on the 22nd July 1934
49977  Lieutenant .G. B. Wright  Served with the battalion in France in 1940 where he was captured Geoffery B Wright was from Fenham and was married to June and the family lived at 11 Auburn Gardens Fenham Newcastle upon Tyne. While at Oflag 5B he was able to send home a photograph which appeared in the local newspaper on the photograph in addition to Wright were Captain Blackett, Officers Henderson and Lawson also of the Regiment.
77687 2nd Lieutenant .H.O. Lyster-Todd ,Served with the battalion in France 1940 .returned home and continued to serve with the battalion.Moved to the far east with the battalion but was tragically drowned
85687 2nd Lieutenant . M. Farr Michael Farr was a trained signals officer who served with the battalion in France 1940.Captured with his signalman attempting to hunt down a sniper whilst racing across the bridge at St Venant. Several escape attempts from Oflag 5B, in August 41, Oflag 6B,in April 1942 and again at Oflag 7B, in June 1943. Awarded an MBE (London Gazette 31st January 1946)

74853  2nd Lieutenant .H. W. M. Peel Served with the 2nd Battalion in France Hubert William Morant Peel of Home farm Peover Hall Estate ,Cheshire died of wounds on the 26th May 1940 when he was struck in the back by a piece of Shrapnel.Despite being carried back to the Regimental aid Post he died shortly afterwards. Lieutenant Peel was the son of John Graham Peel and Dorothy Mary Grace Morant born in 1913

Awarded a Mention in Despatches for actions in 1940 announced in the London Gazette on April 11th 1946

74134 2nd Lieutenant .R.W. Annand VC. Served with the battalion in 1940.At the Dyle River he was awarded a Victoria Cross the first award of the 2nd World War. He attempted to rescue his batman, who had been wounded but due to blood loss himself was unable to bring him back to safety the batman Pte Hunter died of his wounds in captivity. Annand returned home but did not serve overseas again due to his hearing being impaired from the noise of the grenade explosions as he drove back the Germans on the Dyle River
70628  2nd Lieutenant. J.Lace, served with the battalion in France in 1940 .Lieutenant  John Lace, 70628, Commissioned into the DLI as a 2nd Lieutenant on the 13th March 1937. Captured with BEF 1940 imprisoned in Oflag 4C.
121154  2nd Lieutenant . R. B. Armstrong Served with the 2nd Durham Light Infantry Robert Bryan Armstrong`s promotion was announced in the London Gazette of February 16th 1940 During the retreat to Dunkirk he was captured by the Germans and in 1945 was imprisoned at Oflag 7B with the PoW number of 749.Robert served post war and eventually relinquished his commission on the 6th Oct. 1951, and was granted the honorary  rank of Lieutenant.
86070 2nd Lieutenant. J.W.Rudd, Jasper Winterton  Rudd was born 23rd December 1918 at Bishop Auckland he was the son of George Winterton Rudd and Edith Barker. Jasper  served with 9DLI initially but joined 2DLI in May 1940.Returned home via Dunkirk May 1940. Joined the Royal Engineers on the 7th April 1941 this was announced in the London Gazette on the 16th May 1941.1st May 1967 he was promoted to Captain then Acting Major September 8th 1949 On the 30th December 1949 he was awarded The Efficiency Decoration , and promoted to Major (confirmed 23rd December 1952 ),Rudd was awarded his first clasp to  The Territorial Decoration in 1954 again this was announced in the London Gazette on June 4th 1954,On the 8th August 1958 it was announced that Major Rudd was retiring from the active list but retained the rank of Major.J W Rudd died in Darlington March 23rd 1982 he was 63,