Rebuilding for the Far East

The fine pre-war regular battalion was gone,virtually wiped out during the BEF campaign in 1940,in its place were a new breed of men both young and old ready to take up the traditions of  a fine Regiment.

In the summer of 1940 new men ,new equipment began to arrive to replace that lost on the coast of France a period of intense training which would last until 12th April 1942 when a new 2nd Battalion boarded  `The Empress of Canada` bound for Bombay in India in preparation for a planned offensive  against the Japanese.

On June 2nd 1942 the 2nd Battalion arrived in Bombay, before moving South by rail to Ahmednagar where yet another intense period of jungle training and acclimatisation exercises would begin.Following amphibious landing training on Lake Kharakvasla near Poona 2DLI moved to Thana near Bombay in October 1942 for more jungle warfare training.In November the battalion were at Juhu Beach where every man was taught to swim in full kit however it was during this time that the battalion suffered its first casualties when  Captain Hugh Lyster-Todd (the man who had rescued Dick Annand in 1940 )was drowned on the 2nd December 1942 this followed the death of 4458962 Pte Harry Bottomley of Malaria on the 17th November 1942 an illness which seriously affected over 100 of the 2nd battalions personell.

On the 17th of December 1942 the 2nd DLI were once again deemed combat ready and boarded another train this time bound for Chittagong in East Bengal arriving on Christmas Day 1942 to a Christmas meal of Bully Beef ,biscuits and WATER! No Beer!

4458778 Pte Eddie Gregg 2nd DLI Photograph Album

 The following are a group of photographs from the album of 4458778 Pte Eddie Gregg who served with the 2nd DLI in India and Burma.If anyone can put a name to any of the faces then please do get in touch.My thanks to his son Eddie Gregg (Jnr) for permission to use  the photographs  here on the website

 (Below) Group photograph of the Mortar Platoon of 2nd Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry,was taken at at Scampson, near Rillington, Yorkshire, May 1941. The officers are Major John Corbett Horton, commanding officer of Headquarters Company. he died at Brancepeth (Son of Henry
Beavon Horton and Jean May Horton; husband of Eileen Mary Dowman Horton, of
Greenwich, London,)03/12/1944 and 124251 Lieutenant Thomas Clague,who joined 2
DLI from KOYLI on the 14th May 1941.Top right is Pte Thomas Stanley Pout (Identified by his daughter Gwenda Cullen (nee Pout) )

 

 (Below) Group photograph of the Mortar Platoon of 2nd Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry, India, July 1942

 Below men of the 2nd Durham Light Infantry possibly taken in 1942 crowd around a motorcycle and sidecar combination

Below A `DR` of the 2nd Battalion The Durham Light Infantry 1942-44. This Soldier has been identified by his family as Pte Raymond Hall born 30th December 1919 originally from Thornley Village near Tow Law Co Durham and served as part of the Mortar Platoon in the far East

 Below A different form of transport this time again in India around 1942 again anyone care to put a name to the faces of the lads cathered around this example of the battalions carriers?

 

The man himself 4458778 Pte Eddie Gregg 2nd DLI again my thanks to his son Eddie

Military Medal Action 4462230 Pte George Beeley 2nd DLI

 4462230 Pte George Beeley 2nd Durham Light Infantry

At Donbaik – Burma 18th March 1943 this soldier advanced with "C" Coy into the attack on the Japanese position. The Coy came under heavy fire at an early stage and casualties were sustained. Several wounded men were known to be lying in an exposed position. Pte Beeley on his own initiative, climbed from his platoon area (in a nullah ) and took up a position from which he successfully harassed the enemy and thus provided cover for a party which brought in the wounded. During this period he was exposed to continuous heavy M.G. and grenade fire. He remained in this position until he was eventually ordered to return to cover in the nullah. His conduct was exemplary and mainly through his action was the safe evacuation of the wounded accomplished.

Military Medal Action 4458216 L/Cpl Joseph Andrew Pennington 2DLI

4458216 L/Cpl Joseph Andrew Pennington 2nd Durham Light Infantry

At Donbaik – Burma 18th March 1943 this N.C.O. went into attack with "C" Coy on to the Japanese positions. The Coy came under considerable enemy fire at an early stage and casualties were sustained. His platoon were held up in a nullah. From this position of comparative safety L/Cpl Pennington climbed repeatedly out of the nullah to bring in casualties which were lying outside. Under considerable automatic and grenade fire this N.C.O. was instrumental in rescuing four of his injured comrades, showing complete disregard for his own safety.He prevented these men from falling into Japanese hands. Recommended for an immediate award

Military Medal Action 4458629 Sgt Frederic Turnbull 2 DLI

4458629 Sgt Frederic Turnbull 2nd Durham Light Infantry

At Donbaik – Burma on 18th March 1943 Sgt Turnbull advanced on the Japanese position. His company came under heavy fire and casualties were sustained. It became known to this N.C.O. that several wounded men of his company were lying in an exposed position about 30 yards forward of where he was. Quite regardless of his own safety and advancing into enemy grenade fire Sgt Turnbull at once went forward and successfully brought in three wounded men. His general conduct and example throughout the action on 20th March were consistently of the highest order. Beside saving the lives of these men and preventing them falling into Japanese hands, Sgt Turnbull showed outstanding bravery and devotion to duty throughout the action. Recommended for immediate award

Early Days

The planned offensive began but without the participation of 2 DLI their role was planned to be an amphibious one with a raid against Akyab to secure the Airfields there but as the DLI waited at Chittagong the order never came on the 6th February the plan was eventually scrapped.Instead it was anticipated that the entire 6th Brigade would land at  Donbaik and attack the Japanese positions from the rear.2DLI left Chittagong on the 13th February arriving at Maungdaw in Burma two days later for more intensive Jungle training...except for six platoon of `B` Company who under Lieutenant Terry Bardell were tasked with raiding the Japanese held village of Myebon although the raid was a total success it had little stategical value but did mark the battalions first `enemy` action since Dunkirk.

The seabourne raid on Donbaik was also abandoned instead 2DLI were to attack on land.The 6th March saw 2DLI march  forty five miles to take their place in the line for the attack on Donbaik,several attacks had already been attempted and the dead bodies were still littered around the Durhams new positions.

The 6th Brigade including 2DLI attacked on the 18th March as well as having no ladders to bridge the Chaung and being caught by Japanese machine guns firing from the hills 2 DLI also had to contend with faulty rifle ammunition.The attack was a fiasco the 2nd DLI lost nine men killed including;-

 

 50242 Captain Phillip Kelly who was shot by a sniper.Captain Kelly was the son of Paul Herrick Kelly and Beatrix Mary Kelly; husband of Mary Haslewood Kelly, of Hartley, Kent .He lies today in Section 11. Row C. Grave 14. TAUKKYAN WAR CEMETERY.

Photograph kindly supplied by supplied by Mr Tony Beck (Bucklt WW2 Talk)

Others killed that day were;-

Pte Andrew Bates 4464039 2nd Durham Light Infantry Son of Mary Ann Bates, of West Hartlepool, Co. Durham he lies today in Section 3. Row C. Grave 6. TAUKKYAN WAR CEMETERY


Photograph kindly supplied by supplied by Mr Tony Beck (Bucklt WW2 Talk)

Corporal Samuel Pattison Nixon Clasper 1491340 2nd Durham Light Infantry Son of Robert Henry and Emma Martha Clasper, of Cleadon Park, South Shields, Co. Durham.He has no known grave and is commemorated on Face 17 Rangoon Memorial.

Pte James Errington 4465526 2nd Durham Light Infantry Son of James and Minnie Errington; husband of Leonora Errington, of North Shields, Northumberland.He has no known grave and is commemorated on Face 17 Rangoon Memorial

Pte Robert Storrie Graham 4459704 2nd Durham Light Infantry Son of Christopher Lindsay Graham and Annie Scott Graham; husband of Jane Graham (nee Procter), of Spital Tongues, Newcastle-on-Tyne.He has no known grave and is commemorated on Face 17 Rangoon Memorial.

Pte Henry Crook Lightfoot 4458290 2nd Durham Light Infantry Son of Robert Tye Lightfoot and Mary Lightfoot, of Boldon Colliery, Co. Durham.He lies today in Section 12. Row J. Grave 8. TAUKKYAN WAR CEMETERY


Photograph kindly supplied by supplied by Mr Tony Beck (Bucklt WW2 Talk)

L/Cpl Ernest Mathews 4462216 2nd Durham Light Infantry.Son of Albert and Annie Matthews He has no known grave and is commemorated on Face 17 Rangoon Memorial.

Pte Andrew McGarry 3133728 formerly of The Royal Scots Fusiliers now 2nd Durham Light Infantry. Son of Michael and Elizabeth McGarry; husband of Elizabeth McGarry, of Cambuslang, Lanarkshire.He has no known grave and is commemorated on Face 17 Rangoon Memorial.

Pte Noel Moffat 4463237 2nd Durham Light Infantry Son of John James Moffat and Elizabeth Ann Moffat, of Jesmond, Newcastle-on-Tyne.He lies today in Section 4. Row D. Grave 18. TAUKKYAN WAR CEMETERY.


Photograph kindly supplied by supplied by Mr Tony Beck (Bucklt WW2 Talk)

Pte Reginald Waite Richardson 4463278 2nd Durham Light Infantry Son of Reginald Waite Richardson and Martha Richardson(nee Butler); husband of Isabella Richardson, of Cramlington, Northumberland.He lies today in Section 11. Row C. Grave 18. TAUKKYAN WAR CEMETERY.


Photograph kindly supplied by supplied by Mr Tony Beck (Bucklt WW2 Talk)

Pte John Thomas Ridley 4461828 2nd Durham Light Infantry.Son of John Thomas Ridley and Angelina Ridley; husband of Mary Ridley, of Chopwell, Co. Durham.He has no known grave and is commemorated on Face 17 Rangoon Memorial.

Lance Sergeant Thomas Percival Stephenson 4463307 2nd Durham Light Infantry.Son of Joseph and Elizabeth Ann Stephenson; husband of Elsie Stephenson, of Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia He has no known grave and is commemorated on Face 17 Rangoon Memorial.

By Rail to Dimapur

On the 3rd April 1944 2DLI began a six day train journey to Dimapur.On arrival there was great confusion and rumours were rife that the Japanese  were closing in on the rail head,`C` Company was dispatched to take up defensive positions overlooking the road to Kohima whilst the rest of the battalion tired,hungry and in desperate need of some rest after their journey ,which had seen then cover some 1200 miles,made camp on the airfield on the outskirts of Dimapur.The next day the 2nd Durhams marched on to Nichuguard in order to meet up with their transport and carriers which had made the journey by road.On the 12th April the battalion started its advance,the Cameron Highlanders with Artillery and Tank support had destroyed the Japanese roadblock at Milestone 37.The road to Kohima was open...

Military Medal Action Pte John Ward MM 4452804 2nd DLI

 Pte John Ward MM 4452804 2nd DLI

Pte John Ward 4452804 was born in Grangetown, Sunderland in 1915, he joined the 2nd Battalion DLI in 1938 and served throughout the Second World War, seeing action with the BEF in 1940 and was one of the lucky few to be evacuated at Dunkirk.He saw service in the far east and  Burma where he earned the Military Medal at Garrison Hill during the battle of Kohima on the 24th April 1944. After taking part in a counter attack with `A` Company 2 DLI Pte Ward volunteered along with Pte Wood to man one of two bren gun positions ahead of the main company positions.Pte John Ward brought down a rain of accurate fire onto the Japanese positions spending the entire day alone  he was kept supplied  with ammunition food and water which had to be thrown to him from the most forward of the Durhams positions such was his isolation from the rest of the battalion  he was described by his commanding officer as `an inspiration to all`.

Kohima (Terrace Hill) April 1944

Kohima despite being a village is the capital of the Naga Hills district of Assam situated some 5000 miles up in the mountains of Manipur.The road from Dimapur winds up through the village. Since the 5th April 1944 Kohima had been under siege by strong Japanese forces and at this moment in time the 4th Royal West Kents held only the feature known as Summerhouse Hill (named like so many of the small hills after a part of the pre-war district commissioners bungalow which was situated nearby) It was now 2 DLI ,who as part of  2 Div ,who would face a vicious and bloody struggle to prise open the Japanese hold on the region .

  The 2nd Durham Light Infantry first made contact with the Japanese on the 17th April 1944 at this time they were a mere two miles away from the besieged village and the following night when men of 161st Bde passed through the Durhams positions they were able to meet up with the beleagued men in Kohima itself and although this marked the breaking of the siege the worst and bloodiest fighting for the 2nd DLI was just about to begin.

On the 19th April 1944 `B` Company were ordered to take and secure the feature known as Terrace Hill which overlooked the main Dimapur Road..The company advanced with great speed and overran the Japanese positions using bayonets and grenades they killed fifty or so Japanese soldiers unfortunately this was not without cost with six Durham Light Infantrymen killed including ;-

 `B` Company Commander 64637 Major Robert Allen who was caught by a burst of Japanese machine gun fire near the end of the action the son of Basil Robert and Dorothy Eliston Allen; nephew of Miss M. Allen, of Kensington, London he lies at rest in Kohima War Cemetery Section 4 RowF Grave 4

4468336 Pte Charles David Allan 2nd Durham Light Infantry was the Son of Charles and Martha Allan, of Tow Law, Co. Durham he was aged 21 he too lies at peace in Kohima War Cemetery Section 4 Row F grave 7

 4463506 Pte John Hastie Buchanan 2nd Durham Light Infantry was the son of John Hastie Buchanan and Dorothy Ann Buchanan, of North Shields, Northumberland; husband of Jane Ann Buchanan, of North Shields he was aged 26 he too lies at peace in Kohima War Cemetery Section 4 Row F grave 8

4450999 Pte Thomas Embleton 2nd Durham Light Infantry was the of Thomas and Agnes Embleton; husband of Enid Amy Embleton, of Leeds, Yorkshire he was aged 25 he too lies at peace in Kohima War Cemetery Section 4 Row F grave 6

4463195 Pte Harry Humphrey 2nd Durham Light Infantry was the son of James and Emily Humphrey; husband of Jean Humphrey, of West Hartlepool, Co. Durham he was aged 31 he too lies at peace in Kohima War Cemetery Section 4 Row F grave 8

4463290 Pte Albert Sergison 2nd Durham Light Infantry Albert was the son of Joseph and Mary Sergison of high street Gateshed , he was one of six children .Albert worked in Alfie Carrs butchers shop on Gateshead high street . He was 24 years old when he was killed . he rests in peace in Kohima war cemetery Section 5 Row C Grave 19.

 

 4463290 Pte Albert Sergison

Photograph by kind permission of Dave Sergison

 

Kohima(Summerhouse/Garrison Hill)

Many of the positions around Kohima were based as previously stated on land formerly occupied by the Commissioners bungalow. Summer House Hill now named Garrison Hill was one such position the Summerhouse of course had long since disappeared and the ruins of the bungalow were occupied by the Japanese as were the warren of tunnels and trenches where in peace time had been sited the Commissioners tennis courts. The area bore no resemblance to its pre-war splendour instead above this Japanese fortress lay the debris of war and the constant stench of death and decay which hung over the area was unmistakeable, slightly to the South lay Kukis Picquet also held by the Japanese.

On Friday 21st April 1944 both `B` and `D` Company of 2nd Battalion The Durham Light Infantry were ordered, alongside The Royal Berkshires, to take up positions on the feature known now as Garrison Hill (formerly Summerhouse Hill).The Durham’s busied themselves with equipping their new positions with weapons and stores and despite being in full view of Kukis Picquet which was barley 50 yards away the Japanese did not interfere.

Saturday 22nd April 1944 continued in much the same way the Japanese inactivity enabled both `A` and `C` Companies to move up onto Garrison Hill to join `B` and `D`. The companies were organised as follows `C` Company were directly facing the Japanese positions at Kukis Picquet `D` Company positioned just behind `C` with both `A` and `B` Companies in reserve on the small plateau some 100 or so feet below the forward two companies. During the day the DLI`s first airdrop of fresh food and water was air dropped by the RAF…every one landing beyond the Japanese held positions such was the close proximity of friend and foe. Lured into a false sense of security many Durham Light Infantrymen were caught out in the open and completely by surprise by a Japanese bombardment later that day (22nd April) three men were killed and many more seriously injured in the bombardment which was both brief and deadly. This was but a taste of what was to come at approx 0230hrs on the 23rd April all hell seemed to be let loose on `C` Companies positions as grenades and mortars rained down from the direction of Kukis Picquet,above the sound of the exploding shells came the cry of `Banzai` as men of the Japanese 124th Infantry stormed forward the leading ranks wore gas masks and threw phosphorous grenades amongst the startled Durham’s ,more infantry behind followed up behind the grenade throwers with bayonets fixed. The Durham’s responded by pouring a steady stream of accurate Bren gun fire into the oncoming ranks of Japanese soldiers but with sheer weight of numbers `C` Company was overrun, the Japanese now had a foot hold on Garrison Hill.

Lieutenant Pat Rome rallied the men of `B` Company his sergeant Alfred Brannigan grabbed a sten gun and grenades but got less than twenty yards before he was cut down and killed. Major `Tank` Waterhouse attempted to form `D` Company into a cohesive defensive line but was unable to call down artillery support for both the radios and telephones were now un operational and the battalions artillery officer was dead.

Stretcher bearers of the 2nd Durham Light Infantry at the Regimental aid post photograph taken around June 1944 Tom Spencer who was recommended for the VC (but got nothing) is second row behind the soldier in the cape.Pte Tom Hope from Sunderland stands second left (Hands on Hips)

The Japanese had to be stopped at 0400hrs `D` Company put in a counterattack despite vicious hand to hand combat in which Lieutenant Bill Watson  of  `D` Company was killed the attack failed.

 At 0500hrs `A` Company under Captain Sean Kelly were ordered into the attack with bayonets fixed they crawled forward over the bodies of friend and foe alike.  4467671 Cpl Arthur Breden took his section forward and throwing grenades with extreme accuracy cleared the Japanese held trenches, despite being wounded in both legs he continued to lead his men when hit a third time he still managed to pull himself upright before a mortar bomb exploded nearby killing the valiant corporal. Lieutenant Peter Stockton led a second platoon of `A` Company into the Japanese trenches the waiting Japanese decimated the Durham’s  those few who managed to make it back out were easy targets for the Japanese machine gunners who firing by the light of the breaking dawn wrecked havoc amongst the survivors. Throughout the night the stretcher bearers in particular performed heroics time and again ,two of them Cpl Tom Spencer and Corporal Ward were recommended  for the Victoria Cross but much to the battalions disbelief got nothing, not even  a mention in dispatches.

  At 0800hrs the hand to hand fighting had ceased but the mortaring and shelling continued. The DLI companies were reorganised `D` and `C` Companies were amalgamated to form a composite company supporting `A` Company who were now the forward company and occupying `D` Companies original positions. Shells landing on `D` Company cookhouse caused more casualties to add to the ever mounting list. Twenty nine members of 2nd Durham Light Infantry were dead from the nights fighting including four missing a further seventy seven were wounded. The Japanese although holding out were still not in control of Garrison Hill but without a doubt they would be back…soon.

On the 28th April 1944 the birthday of the Japanese Emperor Hirohito the Japanese put in a strong two company attack on `A` Company positions once again the Japanese put their grenades to good use and this time by shear weight of numbers broke through `A ` Company positions before digging in on the top of Garrison Hill.

4386669 Pte G Matthews 2nd Durham Light Infantry formerly of The Green Howards who died on the 28th April 1944 Aged 31 yrs Son of Walter and Ellen Matthews; husband of Edna May Matthews, of Cargo Fleet, Middlesbrough, Yorkshire Section 4 Row D Grave 3 Kohima War Cemetery.

 

 

   Throughout the night the British bombarded the Japanese in their new positions the 2nd DLI  launched more than 1300 mortar rounds. At first light The DLI counter-attacked using both of the flanks they moved up to the Japanese positions,after a bloody confrontation the Japanese fled using the smoke and confusion of the battle to retreat back to their positions on Kukis Picquet,the action although completely successful had once again been costly for the DLI with another nineteen dead and scores more wounded.On the 29th April the 2nd DLI were withdrawn to Dimapur to rest at Milestone 42..briefly.

Military Cross Action 189305 Lieut Patrick Leslie Rome 2nd Durham .L.I

         189305 Lieutenant Patrick Leslie Rome The 2nd Battalion The Durham Light Infantry   

  At Garrison Hill,Kohima on the 23rd/24th April 1944 Lieutenant Rome was commanding a platoon of `D` Company 2nd DLI which counter attacked the battalions forward positions after they had been overun by a heavy Japanese attack during the night he personally led counter atack after counter attack and although he himself was wounded early on he refused to leave but fought on until the position had been restored this example and courage stopped a very dangerous situation.After the battle he refused to have his wounds dressed until all the other men in his platoon had been attended to.

One Man`s View a report by Lieutenant P L Rome M.C.

Lt. P. L. Rome M.C., platoon commander in "D" Company 2nd D.L.I., wrote the following report whilst recovering from his wounds in hospital after the battle it refers to the actions on the nights of 23rd/24th April 1944

Everything was quiet - I expect it will be like last night. At about 8 o'clock we settled down to get some sleep.
The shells and mortar bombs woke me up at about 2 o'clock. They were coming down pretty thick and fast. Sgt. Brannigan and Wilson were already awake and speculating as to what was going on. They weren't ours, it was obvious. The Japs seemed to be cooking up a bit of nonsense. I stuck my head out of the hole and found the area thick with smoke and smelling of cordite and the whole area lit by fires. An ammo dump on the hill was blazing away merrily, a dump of food and stores was also burning. Some of the pine trees had caught fire and were adding their quota to the crackling of ammo going up and the dull thud of bully beef tins bursting!
They were still dropping stuff into the perimeter so we kept our heads well down, our eyes skinned and our tongues busy cursing the Japs for spoiling our sleep. Suddenly we heard them yelling and a high pitched scream "charge - charge" So they were attacking. Brens opened up on the perimeter and all hell was let loose. The rapid stuttering crackle of the Jap L.M.G.'s, the heavier thudding of the Brens, grenades, sten, mortars, the Banzai-yelling Japs - and above all the area illuminated by fires and heavy with smoke with figures dashing hither and thither.
Sgt. Brannigan and I got out of our hole and with a Sten each and a pocket full of mags. and grenades and started routing out members of the Platoon who were nearby. We then went over towards Coy H.Q. to find out what could be done. We hadn't gone twenty yards when Sgt. Brannigan was hit and crumpled up with just a groan. He was dead so I left him and found Bill Watson looking wild and huge clasping a Bren gun in his hand, having just clubbed a Jap with it. We stuck together and discussed the situation. Everything was very confused but it seemed that some of the Japs had broken through and, to judge by the screaming, the remainder were massing for another go. It was a question of grenades and still more grenades and shooting when you saw something. Shortly after Bill Watson was hit and crumpled up I shifted my position.  
The remainder of the night was a confused memory set against a background of fires, smoke and noise. Isolated incidents spring to mind. Willie Lockhart killed lying beside me - Edwards hit in the stomach cursing and screaming - Cpl. Worthy lying out in front and shouting "Mr. Rome come and fetch me, I'm blind" - dragging him back - Snowball, James' ex-batman shouting both legs broken. All I could do was drag him along the ground - poor chap he was in hell. Standing up, lying down, walking and crawling, throw-ing grenades - more grenades - more grenades - keep the bastard`s at .a distance. Watching their grenades coming over - a little blue light sailing through the air - then down and bang.
I stood up and smack I was knocked round and found my arm hanging limp and useless and numb. I believe I said " - it hit again". I thought it was broken but it didn't hurt which was fortunate. I crawled round with it hanging for a bit and then got a rifle sling and hung it in that round my neck. After that I couldn't do much except with my left hand. We were lining the backs of trench-roofs and keeping our eyes skinned. "Hold it" was the cry as soon as the screaming died down, as it signified another attempt to break through.
A little Jap was found in the middle of us lying on the ground saying Tojo - Tojo - a Sten gun tried - but it wouldn't work - a rifle finished him. It made one think of shooting rats. The fires spread to a dump of 37 ammo just where we were lying - we had to forget the Japs and shift it otherwise there wouldn't have been any hill left to fight on! Just made it!!
I can't remember daylight coming. I remember talking to Roger Stock and hearing 5 minutes later that he was dead. But the night was nearly over thank God. We could see Kuki Picquet and they too could see us. Their L.M.G.'s opened up and we were in the open on a forward slope. We couldn't spot them. I went forward with a Bren Gunner to try but he got us first and the Gunner had his hair parted by a burst. All he said was "My God, I've got a bloody headache"! We shifted and I found a good billet behind a dead Jap. Not a bad little chap - but he stared at me. Anyway he was useful. I never thought of looking in his pockets for papers or loot, it only struck me afterwards. He kept me company for some time.                                                   "A" Coy were preparing for a counter attack and Peter Stockton came up and had a chat to find out what the situation was. They went in in fine style, Peter leading with his Kukri. They got in to the trenches and fought their way along a bit but the Japs were too strong. Peter was killed almost immediately. The wounded started straggling back and the bastard`s  opened up on them with their L.M.G.'s. The stretcher bearers were beyond all praise and I've never seen such superb and inspiring courage. They knelt in the open and patched the chaps up and carried them back and came back for more. They were unstintingly and without thought for themselves. Cpl. Spencer and Ward were put in for the V.C. They got NOTHING - not even a mention from Delhi. Sean took another counter-attack in but without success.
I remember shifting around with my pockets full of mags. fort the Brens, they were running out. I remember a Jap who jumped out of a forward trench and ran towards us screaming and waving his arms. He bought it in a big way. He had no arms. Perhaps he'd had too much. I remember regretting that I wasn't on the Bren.
About eight things died down a bit and I sat and chatted to Sean. I asked him what the form was and he said "A" Coy were digging in on the line we had held and were going to reverse the trench roofs to fire the right way. I didn't reckon I could do much good so I toddled back to Coy H.Q. where I found Tank. He had done marvels that night .... He told me to go into his hole, sit quiet. I was very grate-ful. I sat there and dozed until at about twelve when the R.A.P. was a little less pushed and then made my way over there. Teddy and Dick were doing marvels in a shambles. I had a pot of tea which was like nectar and sat around. The rumour was that we were not being evacuated that day. I didn't tell anyone.
But soon we got the word and made our way down the back of the hill through the hospital. They had run some ambulances up and though the Japs mortared the road and put a bit of fire down they didn't interfere. So like the wind we dashed down the road to safety. Ronnie Johnson met us at the A.D.S. and we transferred to another ambulance and away down the road towards Dimapur. I had left Garrison Hill.

                                                                                  Major `Sean` Kelley and Lt Pat Rome Kohima 1944

The fires were still burning when it disappeared from sight. The mediums and 25's were knocking hell out of the town and G.P.T. ridge. The noise made my arm hurt. 

Military Medal Action 4458608 L/Cpl Edward Wharton 2 DLI

 4458608 Lance Corporal Edward Wharton 2nd Battalion The Durham Light Infantry

At Garrison Hill Kohima on the night of the 27th/28th April 1944.L/Cpl Wharton was a section commander in the GR Platoon 2/D.L.I.The platoon perimeter was heavily attacked during the night and some forward positions were over-run.The GR Platoon counter-attacked and L/Cpl Wharton leading his section with great dash and determination drove the Japanese from his sector of the objective,personally putting out of action a Japanese Light Machine Gun as soon as it opened up.He then consolidated and hung on under heavy and prolonged machine gun fire until relieved later in the day.His outstanding courage,determination and leadership was largely responsible for the success of the action.

Offensive Operations

On May 1st The Durhams learnt of their role in the forthcoming attack on the Japanese surrounding Kohima . Japanese mortar fire proved especially effective in countering this attack, as did the series of inter-locking trenches that the Japanese had dug around Kohima. The hilly terrain was also taking its toll, as was the weather. Rain became a major problem affecting the use of transport. Men fell ill with dysentery and sleep was a luxury yet `B`and `C` Company with the support of three Lifebuoy flame throwing tanks joined other armour for the attack on the feature known as FSD .The ridge was cleared by mid afternoon on the 4th May 1944 yet the weather had made conditions almost impossible for transport to move and combined with the Japanese intense defending fire this prevented the heavy armoured ambulances from reaching the many wounded and the battalions stretcher bearers were once again called on to perform miracles under heavy and accurate fire.

New Gateshead Cemetery Kohima Temp Graves of the men of 2nd DLI

Meanwhile Colonel Jack Brown had taken the rest of the battalion by carrier incase they were needed to assist in the FSD attack unfortunately as they drove on the road by the ruined commissioners bungalow they once again came under Japanese bombardment from a 75mm mountain gun the Colonel ordered his men out of their carriers and into cover,he was then ordered to withdraw the battalion on foot to Garrison Hill unfortunately Colonel Brown was killed whilst doing so his place as commanding officer was taken over by Major Robinson of The Royal Berkshire Regiment. In the next few days up until the 6th May the Durhams lost a further thirty Five men killed and many more wounded,2nd DLI had been in action since the 19th April and had lost in that time over one hundred men killed and hundreds more wounded in some of the fiercest, bloodiest fighting in some of the worst conditions ever faced by soldiers of the British Army .On May 6th 1944 the battalion were withdrawn but they would be back

Witness to History  4451820 Cpl Thomas Stanley Pout 2DLI

4451820 Cpl Thomas Stanley Pout served with the 2nd Durham Light Infantry in India and during the Battles for Kohima the image below is taken at that time taken under battlefield conditions it is a relic of an historic battle... to those who were there it was just another day they were happy to survive..another day nearer returning home to their loved ones.Cpl Pout did return married at the age of 36 he is survived by his loving family whom I thank for permission to use these photographs from Stans collection

 

Men of the 2nd DLI pose by the roadside whilst in the background the battle for Kohima rages on

 (Above) Photograph taken in India Titled `Stan in India  18th July 1942` Stan is bottom far right

 (Above) `Stan` in a more relaxed mood taken in India  Cpl `Stan`Pout is far right

Letters played a big part in the lives of our servicemen and their families above is an example of one of Stans letters back home.His reference to Mills and Harvey relates to a Boxing bout in 1942 held at  White Hart Lane football ground  Freddie Mills and Len Harvey fought before a huge crowd of 30,000 spectators.In war Sport is still a major part of this soldiers life.My thanks again to Gwenda Cullen (nee Pout)

4451820 Cpl Thomas Stanley Pout 2DLI and...........whom?

 The photograph below shows a group of Durhams from the 2nd Battalion just prior to their move to the Far Eas  2nd from the left is 4451820 Cpl Thomas Stanley Pout but who are his comrades? if you recognise any of them please get in touch either through my Guestbook page or my E-mail shown at the foot of my home page

 Once again my thanks to Gwenda for supplying the image and giving me the permission to display it here.

A `Real` War Diary carried during the battle of Kohima by Stan Pout 2DLI

 Below are a few pages from a small diary carried throughout the campaign in Burma by Cpl Stan Pout of the 2nd Durham Light Infantry.The entries,now faded,show hastily scribbled  notes made throughout 1944 documenting the day to day life and in some cases deaths of the 2nd  Durham Light Infantrymen fighting in the Far East .My thanks once again to Gwenda for her permission to show these images here.  

 Terrace Hill,Garrison Hill.Piquets Point, all mentioned by someone who was there.Poignant reminders of those days long gone and which for at least two Durhams recorded within Stans diary there would be no tomorrow ...Thursday 27th April ...Beeden missing after attack..4462050 Pte Kenneth Wallace Beeden killed in action 27th April 1944 no known grave commemorated on Face 17 of The Rangoon Memorial..(See Profile in Those Who Proudly Served section)..Saturday 29th April 1944 Tomlinson killed by sniper (Garrison Hill)..listed by the CWGC as having been killed on the 25th April 1944..3130752 Pte Percy Tomlinson formerly of The Royal Scots Fusiliers,Son of Percy and Sarah Emily Tomlinson, of Sheffield aged 23 no known grave also commemorated on Face 17 of The Rangoon Memorial.

Sergeant George Marshman 2nd Durham Light Infantry Kohima

 The following were kindly supplied by George Marshman who is a Veteran of the Kohima Campaign having served with the 2nd Durham Light Infantry .

 

 This is a photo of a section of drivers from the 2nd Battalion DLI taken at Milestone 86 on the Kohima to Imphal road in 1944.

Standing on the LHS of the picture is  MT Sergeant George Marshman, standing third from the left is driver E Longland and kneeling at the front LHS is driver Corporal Rennick.  Unfortunatley George cannot remember any other names however most of the lads in this picture he recalled are from the south of England and one was the driver of the Water Truck (Pa-a-nee wallah).
The  photograph above  was taken in Ahmednagar.George  is  standing on the far right however, George cannot recall the names of the men in the photograph (He puts it down to a sign of old age! ) ,These are from D Company. George states "We had just arrived from Bombay by train in June 1942. Ahmednager was then a large pre-war military camp where we started to get acclimatised. Training was night and day and we had our first lessons in jungle warfare".
 
The picture above which George and his daughter Anne have kindly sent me was again taken at Ahmednagar barracks early June 1942.George stated " I am standing on the left hand side, centre is driver Private Dalkin from Butter Knowle near Bishop Auckland and sitting centre, guess who? the Char Wallah selling tea and 'wads' (cakes)? Sorry, can't remember the name of the lad on the right hand side."

 

Military Medal Action 4463241 W /Sub Sgt James Murray 2nd Durh.L.Inf

 4463241 W /Sub Sgt James Murray 2nd Battalion The Durham Light Infantry

 At MALEGYIN on the 12th March 1945 Sgt J Murray 2nd Battalion The Durham Light Infantry was commanding 11Platoon `C` Coy 2 DLI.
The Company was ordered to capture the Village of MALEGYIN and the high ground overlooking it.
11Platoon was the leading platoon in the attack which started at 10;00hrs Soon after they crossed the start line they came under heavy LMG fire.Sgt Murray ordered covering fire and himself led the other two sections to liquidate the enemy.During the later stages of the attack he led his platoon through accurate shellfire to attack a party of 30 Japanese who were trying to make their escape from the burning village.By skillful leadership he manoevered the enemy into an unfavourable position and put in a quick attack which killed 10 of the enemy besides wounding many others.The platoon captured its objective and large quantities of equipment and ammunition.
Through the engagement he repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire in order to move his section into the most favourable position.The success of the platoon action was due to Sgt Murray`s determination and outstanding leadership.

I was there an account by Pte Raymond Hall Mortar Platoon 2nd DLI

Pte Raymond Hall was born 30th December 1919 he originated from Thornley near to Tow Law in Co Durham as a member of the Mortar Platoon he served in the far east with the 2nd Durham Light Infantry .

The words below are Raymond`s as he told it to his family I have changed nothing it is spoken by a brave man who was there. My thanks to Raymond Hall and Annie Waters for allowing me to use their fathers account here and in  identifying Ray as a proud member of the 2nd Durham Light Infantrys Mortar Platoon.   

    2nd Battalion Durham L.I
       Mortar Platoon

Our Battalion 2nd DLI

Went out to India in 1942 and were disembarked at Bombay.  From there to a place called AHMEDNAGAR where we settled in ready for whatever was to happen and of course, many more places, one of which was BELGAUM, spelling may not be accurate as regards places.  But if I remember correctly it was from this latter place it all started.  We were in the British 2nd Division, the only all white division in India and Burma.  The other Division, I think it was the 36th, were white, but their RMSC were coloured troops.

Well, it came about that they decided that they would form a 4th Battalion Brigade which consisted of Royal Welsh Fusiliers, Royal Berkshire Regiment, Royal Scots and a 2nd Battalion Durham Light Infantry.  By the way Louis Mountbatten, Allied Commander S.E.A.C. had told us that we were going to train for Combine Operations.  So went to a place called CHITTAGONG in Bengal.

From then on training was hectic and we found out later, that our target was to attack AKYAB an island off the ARAKAN coast.  In my case I was in the Mortar Platoon and to give you some idea what we had to achieve, besides getting off the landing craft and fight – Each mortar man was allotted his load, which consisted of :-

1 Carried the base plate 37 ½ lb and sights plus personal ammo
2 Barrel 44lbs  - (we all had revolvers)
3 Tripod 56lbs –
The rest of the crew carried mortar bombs.

We had what you call Everest Equipment – we called it Neverest!  When you got down, it took some time to get up.  We were told that it was the minimum load we could take for the assault.  However were we going to do it? We could hardly walk with the load never mind run. 

By what I understand, it was found out that Akyab was too heavily defended and the assault was called off, much to our relief.  The outcome of this, we were near the Arakan, so we were sent into action in the Arakan, to join other troops fighting.  There was a lot of bitter fighting in there and we nearly got boxed in by the Japs and were lucky, I think, to get out.  In fact, when I got back home I saw a cutting out of a paper, which my dad had kept, and it stated that Japs had annihilated the 6th Infantry Brigade, which I explained was our Brigade.

I must relate an incident that happened there.  A mate of mine in one of our Mortar Squads was in the trench when a Jap mortar shell came over and wounded every member bar him and yet he was nearest to where it went off.  His name was George Burns, nicknamed ‘SMASH’ Burns.  He was a real character – he was small with a good physique - it was only his legs that were small.  He was a good morale booster.  He lived at Hebburn, Jarrow.  There was once an O.P. party, that means going forward, to direct our mortars on enemy positions – hence O.P. observation post.
Anyway, he was lying down and naturally got uneasy and moved his behind up – and there was a rattle of enemy machine gun fire, which nearly ripped his pants off.  He replied, so unconcernedly, ‘have they no union rules over there about break times?’  While we are on the subject, Smash’s real mate was a chap called Danny Sherwin(??), who belonged SEAHAM HARBOUR and whenever any beer was allotted, they always got my ration, as I never drank.  They were a good duo, but the laugh was – Danny was a big lad and he sang the high notes and little Smash sang low, but were two grand singers.  ‘Sweet and low’ - one of my favourites – was one of their songs.

Anyway, we came from the Arakan and went to Belgaum for our rest, so we had been six months approx. in action before our Division had moved, so they had been okay.
Needless to say what happened next, the Japs were getting near the Indian Border and the 2nd Division were ordered to DIMAPUR, which included us, as we were now back with our Div again.  Some were flown in – others by rail.  We got into Dimapur and made our way up the road to KOHIMA and I think it was only a few miles up that road we hit the first Jap roadblock.  At Kohima the Japs had the Royal West Kents trapped and they were in real bad shape.  The battle for Kohima was one of the worst battles of this sphere of the war, with hills changing hands numerous times.  One instance I remember here, besides the atrocious fighting, was a party of men were detailed to run the gauntlet with rations, as this particular spot was under snipers’ fire.  So many yards had to be run until you were round the turn and were clear.  This particular time I followed the chap, called NORMAN PURVIS – I think from South or North Shields, and when I got to him he said look – and there was a hole straight from one end to the other of the tin which he’d been carrying – which shows luck plays a part in all things.  A lot of fighting ensued, which can’t be explained in every detail.

Another incident that happened, which was bizarre, was as we left here after the Japs were routed and were making our way to IMPHAL, we went round this bend following these old Stewart tanks we had.   The first tank was a few yards ahead and a cheeky Jap sprang from the hillside and stuck one of his stick grenade bombs on the tank – by then the other tank was coming round the corner and must have spotted the Jap and opened up.  It was a shell the tank fired and when we got to the spot, the Jap had his helmet on and his head was standing on his neck on the track and his body twitching in the gutter, which meant the shell must have severed his head before exploding on the hillside.

Kohima was on the 46th milestone and we linked up with the troops at Imphal round about the 120th milestone.  When things were calmer, although we were still in the operational area, we had baths and clean clothes were doled out.  A bath was water in a 40 gall drum halved lengthwise so it made two baths, when laid out and chocked up.  Then we had ‘short arm inspection’, in case I suppose somebody had been ‘cohabiting’ with natives.  Back to our character again ‘SMASH’ Burns – Our M.O. was quite used to him, and on this occasion said to him ‘now Burns’ – ‘now Sir’ said Smash – ‘why bother with me, that chap over there has more to ‘play with’ than I have to f--- with’.  Vulgar perhaps, but laughable and morale boosting in the circumstances.  Another time when we were ‘bivouacking’ (2 groundsheets laced together) Smash was our bugler and he used to crawl out and stand in his shirt blowing the bugle, his shirt below his knees.  When he went for breakfast he was always last, because he would go back to bed after he blew reveille.  His excuse for being late at the cookhouse was ‘I never heard the bugle’ (he only blew it!) 
 Our Platoon Officer once told him, if you don’t mind Burns, would you play regimental style – you see Smash used to kind of ‘swing it’, because I think he played trumpet in a dance band in civvy street.  You must understand this couldn’t have happened in ordinary circumstances.

Another time, while making our way to Mandalay, we were in this jungle, rationed for water etc and Smash came charging through the brush and said ‘ I can see a nasty pint of beer standing on the table in this bar and froth running over’.  The lads went after him, because everybody was suffering and he was making it a bit hard to take.
There are numerous things this character has done that I just forget, but as I say a real good chap and a real morale booster. 
As you know, the Division went on to Mandalay.

I arrived home in November 1945 after 3 years 7 months in Burma and India with the 14th Army.

4452236 Cpl Leslie Rennick 2nd Durham.L.I Photo  Memories

4452236 Cpl Leslie Rennick served with the 2nd DLI he saw service throughout the War initially in the BEF`s babtisim of fire and the road to Dunkirk. He was also part of the reformed battalion which formed in England and eventually set sail for the Far East where Cpl Rennick took part in the campaigns against the Japanese most notably those in the Arakan and relief operations at Kohima.The following are his photo memories kindly supplied by his daughter Val Poynton in the hope that someone, somewhere recognises a brother,uncle,father or simply a comrade.Thank you Val for permission to display them here .

Leslie Rennick inside of the lorry cab with an un-named comrade Yorkshire 1941

 Deer Park    Rillington 1941 Les Rennick front left bottom row

The Image above was taken in Yorkshire in 1941 whilst refitting in preperation for their move to the Far East featured here are the names ;- Thomas    Chapman    Sgt Bulmar  (back row right)  Hill   Storey  Squires    Mitchell    Spoors   Rennick (Light Jumper end right)  

 

Yorkshire 1941 

Yorkshire 1941 

 

Leslie Rennick (left) Yorkshire 1941 

 

Above photograph captioned `Ken Gardner

 

 The photograph above was taken and captioned June  1942    Nagar

        Names  - ( not certain the order is correct.)

        Sgt Hill    Curtis    Shearer    Blenkinsop    Johnson    Hamilton    Welburn ?

        Mackay ?    Halford    Beard    Barraclough    Rennick     Matthews    Miller

         Spoors    Harland    Nicholson    Hume    Guy     Macbeth    Latham

Above  Nagar  June  1942 Les is second right in the frontrow

 

Above `Nagar` 1942 

‘Mamie’  Oct 1942 Sgt George Marshman can be seen back row second right

 

Ahmednagar  baths  1943 

 

Above Les Rennick    3rd row far left, Sgt George Marshman  second row 2nd left 

 

 

Above;-Nagar  June  1942 

Above Cpl Leslie Rennick  

Leslie Rennick (Right) with an unknown soldier in Ahmednagar in 1945 

 

 

For Your Tomorrow they gave their Today...............................

The below images deal with the unveiling of the Kohima Memorial dedicated to those men who died in this bloody conflict by clicking on the image you will open up a larger version in a new window again I wish to thank Val Poynton for the supply of these images and permission to mount them here.These are from her father Leslie Rennick`s collection of documents/images