Prisoners of War

During the Second World War many thousands of men were captured by both the German and Italian forces amongst their number were men of the Durham Light Infantry some captured at the very beginning of the war would spend nearly five years in captivity suffering the hardships and discomforts of life behind the wire.For some there would be the chance to escape,to come home to family and friends,others not so lucky would die trying.Some Durham Light Infantrymen never made it to a prisoner of war camp succumbing to wounds and in some cases being shot out of hand by their captors.This section is dedicated to their stories.

4435534 RSM Goddard A.:-POW No 2920 :2nd  DLI

RSM Archibald George Goddard was captured whilst serving with Headquarters Company 2nd Battalion Durham Light Infantry at St Venant near Merville in France, on the 27th May 1940. RSM Godards POW No. was 2920.

After their surrender the DLI prisoners were marched under escort from St Venant to Trevant, (28/5/40) Doullens (29/5/40) Fonquivillers (30/5/40) Bapaume (31/5/40) then on to Cambrai where they were held from the 1st -6th June 1940 whilst awaiting transport into Germany and a POW camp. Their journey there onwards was through Trier, Germany (8/6/40) to Schubin, in Poland 11/6/40.

This must have been the most unhappy fortnight in RSM Goddards life after the virtual collapse of the much larger French Army, the outnumbered British forces were making a stubborn retreat towards Dunkirk and evacuation. The best fighting regiments, including the Durhams had been thrown into the line to buy time for the evacuation. However, they were successively swamped by the better equipped and numerically superior German Army. Rifles versus tanks and dive bombers was a very unequal contest. From a professional viewpoint RSM Archibald George  Goddard must have been terribly frustrated and angry he was now cut off from his family at home,  and for how long he didn’t know. So moral in the weary British troops must have been very low at this time, although I have no doubt that in spite of the misery RSM Goddard as a Regimental Sergeant Major would have attempted to put some semblance of soldierly order and cheerfulness in the troops around him.

 Their pride may have been dented but their spirit wasn’t broken. This would have been an easier task with the survivors from the Durhams who knew him well, but not quite so simple with men from other regiments. Archibald George Goddard rarely spoke of this period of his life or indeed of any of his wartime experiences but this march into captivity would have been a hard business with little food or even assistance for the wounded. Indeed there have been a number of accounts of the Germans ill treating or even shooting prisoners of war, including RSM Goddards batman, who although wounded in the legs, simply “disappeared”.The batman's name was Anthony Corkhill, Army No. 4449147 Son of Joseph and Mary Corkhill, of Scotswood, Newcastle-on-Tyne. According to the Commonwealth War Graves  Commision he died on 29th May which is two days after the surrender at St Venant. He has no known grave and he is commemorated on the Dunkirk Memorial. According to RSM Goddards letter to Pte Corkhills mother after the war this was the last occasion he was seen alive- "I heard your son's voice calling me from the canal bank. I immediately went over to him and found that he had a flesh wound in the neck also wounds in both legs. He was concious at the time and spoke to me quite rationally. I certainly gained the impression that his wounds were not fatal. We wanted to take him with us but as we had no means of carrying him and the ground was very rough the German guards ordered us to make him comfortable and leave him to be collected by their field ambulance which was working in the vicinity. We met some stretcher bearers shortly afterwards and informed them as to your sons whereabouts. The fighting in the area had ceased so that there was no apparent danger of him receiving further wounds." 

Anthony Corkhills name on the Dunkirk Memorial

4449147 Anthony Corkhill, . Son of Joseph and Mary Corkhill, of Scotswood, Newcastle-on-Tyne.Remembered with honour commemorated on the Dunkirk Memorial

The Red Cross contacted RSM Goddard in Stalag 383 about the matter as did Pte Corkhills  mother at the end of the was The camp to which RSM Goddard was initially sent was Schubin in Poland throughout the war he found himself being moved from camp to camp and spent  time in the following  during the course of the Second World War in Europe.

11th June1940 Stalag XXI  BH Schubin. Poland

4th November 1940 Stalag XXI  BH Thure Poland

3rd April 1941 Stalag XXI BH Red Cross Parcels Depot, Schubin.

3rd October 1941 to 14th September 1942  Stalag XXI  A  Schilberg, Poland.

19th September  1942 Oflag III C  (Stalag 383) Hohenfels, Bavaria.

2nd December 1942  Appointed Camp S M. (Sgt Major?). Oflag III C (Stalag 383)

20th April 1944 to 18th April 1945.  Stalag 383.(Photographed above)

 Wartime German censorship prevented any detail of his time as a POW from being revealed in his letters home to his wife but reading between the lines it is possible to pick up his growing frustration and unhappiness. Perhaps the kindest thing that could be said about the situation was that the POWs were not intentionally mistreated. Food was appalling and in short supply and the soldiers lived for their Red Cross parcels with which to eke out their meagre rations. Boredom was soul destroying and the men went to extra ordinary lengths to find things to occupy their time. RSM Goddard had several exercise books filled with copious notes on gardening, which he obviously hoped to use one day when the war ended and he could return home once more. Many books have been written about escapes from POW camps. His son can vaguely recall a soldier who has successfully escaped from RSM Goddards camp visiting them to give his Mum the latest news about his Dad.

RSM Goddard (2nd Left) with other Prisoners of War pose for the camera between their work shifts (All photographs in this section  by kind permission of Mr Ian Goddard)

 During the latter days of the war RSM Goddard maintained a small pocket diary as an official record of the increasingly dangerous situation they were in as German organisation broke down. There seemed to be a real possibility that allied POWs could be moved into German strongholds and used as hostages or even executed by the Nazis. The immediate future had a question mark hanging over it with some very dangerous possibilities.

The following are excerts from the Diary for 1945;-

Sunday 15th April.  Warned by Commandant that the Stalag was being moved south of Danube. Strength 6,600.

Monday 16th. First batch 1,000 approx moved in the evening.

Tuesday 17th.  Remainder ….. approx moved in the evening. Unfits …….. approx left behind.

Wednesday 18th. Wehrmacht personnel deserted during previous night. Lager left without protection. Looting of German stores, etc. by escaped POW’s, German deserters and civilians of all nationalities. Demand protection from Genl Geiger, the local commander. Necessary protection provided.

Friday 20th. CMP sent to Hohenfels to try and round up POW’s from line of march.

Sunday 22nd. Contact made with US (Rec) Cavalry by a patrol sent out by me. Genl Geiger, several officers and OR’s taken prisoner. 19th complaint received from RSM Baxter.

Tuesday 1st May. Left Hohenfels for Regensberg by truck.

Monday 7th May. War with Germany ended. Still in Regensberg awaiting transportation by air.

Tuesday 8th. Left Regensberg 10.40hrs by US Transport for Rhiems. Arrived 13.00hrs. Left Rhiems by Lancaster bomber at 16.50hrs. Arrived Aylesbury, Bucks 18.25hrs. Reception camp, High Wickham

(Text and Historical Background by kind permission of RSM Goddards son Mr Ian Goddard)

4457717 Cpl Bill Roberts and  843466 Cpl R Bainbridge   8th DLI.

4457717 Cpl Bill Roberts (left) was born in Tonypandy, South Wales, in 1918.A hotel porter in peace time Cpl Roberts resided at 71 Thomas Street .Tonypandy, Rhondda, Glam He served  initially with  the 8th Battalion DLI following his call up in September 1939. In May 1940, 8 DLI counter-attacked the German Panzers at Arras and, in the confused fighting, Private Roberts was taken prisoner on the 21st May 1940 approx 8kms South of Arras after he was cut off by advancing German Armour. He was first sent to a Prisoner of War camp at Thorn in Poland  after being put on a train at Cambrai and then to a small farm camp at Konitz on the 15th July. During their time there it was reported that they received Red Cross Parcels which had been opened and the cigarettes removed they were allowed to write letters however these were subject to censorship. An English RSM by the name of Davidson was not liked at all in this camp and it was reported that if any prisoner attempted to steal supplies from the Germans this RSM would report them and they would be punished with seven days in the cells with no blankets

On 21 September, he escaped with 843466 Corporal Tony Bainbridge, also from 8 DLI, and three Green Howard soldiers Pte Waller,Pte A Hodgson and R Hodgson along with another DLI soldier 4457220 Pte A Pawson.The group began by forcing a window and cutting through the barbed wire with an axe,being a Saturday night the elderly sentries all seemed to be drunk thus began the long, dangerous journey back home. Travelling by night, hiding by day, the six men travelled for seven days arriving at Tuchei  whilst hiding in a haystack they were almost caught and following another near escape in a nearby wood the group decided to split into two groups of three with Roberts,Bainbridge and Waller forming one group and the two Hodgsons and Pawson the other this was the last either group saw of each other (Although Pte Pawson was recaptured and spent the rest of the war as PoW 6342 in Stalag 20B)

Roberts,Bainbridge and Waller eventually met with the Polish underground and were given shelter, food, clothes and money travelling on through Wahreszno onto Rypin the three crossed through Mlawa and Makow before crossing the frontier near Ostrow on the night of February 24th 1941. After they crossed the Soviet Russian frontier and were immediately surrounded by twenty Russian guards with dogs and night flares ,mistaken for Poles they were severely mistreated and imprisoned at Lomza for the first month before being moved on to Minsk and Moscow.Each soldier was in solitary confinement during their internment Only when Russia entered the war were they released on 8 July 1941 and sent home.

All three men were awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for their remarkable escape.  Bill Roberts rejoined the DLI (Polar Bears) After the war he joined the Prison Service and worked in Durham until his retirement in 1982. Bill Roberts  died on 3 October 1994

 

The infomation contained in this report is to be treated as MOST SECRET..

4458632 Pte W Hodgson 6th Durham Light Infantry 

 

 The above document refers to 4458632 Pte W Hodgson of The 6th Battalion Durham Light Infantry who was captured at 1800hrs n the 28th June 1942.Pte Hodgson was captured following the rearguard actions of 151Brigade near Mersa Matruh.Pte Hodgson was born on the 28th April 1918 and enlisted in the Durhams on the 15th December 1939,following on from his peace time profession where he was employed as a builders labourer.Pte Hodgson originated from Sunderland and resided at No 8 Jackson Street,Sunderland.

Following his capture Hodgson found himself imprisoned in various Camps locationions and designations.At the camp in Benghazi his stay ranged from the beginning of July to the end of October 1942 moving on to Tripoli from October until the 14th November 1942.During his time at Tripoli Hodgson accompanied by two other prisoners wriggled under the wire and made a dash for freedom.The group managed to travel ten miles towards Tunis before they were recaptured at a road block.Returned to captivity he was sent to  Camp 66,at  Capua from the 14th to 20th November 1942  moving again to Camp 70 at Monte Urano from the 20th November 1942 until the  middle of May 1943.Following another brief move to Camp 102 at  Aquila from May until the  end of June 1943,Pte W Hodgson was returned to Camp 70, Monte Urano: June until 10th/11th  September 1943  from where he  escaped. 
The  Escape. came as a consequence of the Italian capitulation, with the Italian guards deserting the camp men of the Coldstream Guards were put on guard duties until the arrival of the Germans.Although all of the British Prisoners had been told not to escape Pte W Hodgson and a naval rating called W. Heslop took the opportunity to slip away on one of the organised walks.He last saw Heslop on the 20th  September  1943. He continued on alone and reached the British Lines near Attessa (?) on 15 November 1943, where he gave himself up to an Indian Division throughout his journey he was supplied with food by the local peasants. Pte Hodgson was recommended for a Mention in Dispatches for his fine effort.

 4467081 Pte F Millward 16th Durham Light Infantry 

 The above document refers to the escape of 4467081 Pte Frederick Millward who enlisted into the 16th battalion THe Durham Light Infantry on the 26th July 1940.Born on the 19th July 1910 Frederick was a carpet weaver before the war and lived at 2 Forster Street, Kinver, Stourbridge, Staffordshire.4467081 Pte Frederick Millward was captured at Sedjenane in Tunisia on March 2nd 1943.At 0900hrs the order was given to retreat but unfortunately not all companies received the order in time and as a result Pte Millward found himself cut off. Pte Millward spent the first eight days of captivity in Biserta before he was sent to Camp 98 in Sicily where he arrived on 15th March 1943 the stay at this camp was very short and on the 10th April 1943 he was on the move once again this time to Camp 53 at Macerata which he reached  on the 12th April 1943. Pte Millward took advantage of the Italian Capitulation/armistice to escape along with several other prisoners held at the camp at that time.Despite being told to remain in camp by a RAMC officer the group cut through the wire and escaped in small groups of two or three persons.Frederick Millward was in the company  of three other men two from the Royal Artillery and one from the engineers.The Royal Engineers Cpl C Humpheries sustained a leg injury and could go no further .They last saw him  on the 12th August two miles outside a village named Force(?) which is situated about 24 km from Ascoli.The escapers carried on and Pte Millward ,Gnr A Gilmore and Gnr N E T Sturgess sucessfully reached the safety of British lines.No gallantry award was recommended on this occasion.

 

For those in Peril on the Sea

Any soldier who found himself a prisoner of the Enemy would expect to be treated with compassion and respect in line with the terms and conditions set out in the Geneva convention, on the whole this is what most Durham men received but there were of course exceptions but who amongst those Durham men loaded aboard the Italian transport vessel The Scillin could for tell the tragic consequences which lay ahead of them at the hands of a British submarine?

 The Italian cargo/passenger ship Scillin  was en route from Tripoli to Sicily with about 815 Commonwealth prisoners-of-war on board including men from several Durham Light Infantry battalions, when she was sunk on November 14th 1942 18 Km north of Milazzo by the British submarine Sahib

. The Captain Lt. John Bromage later told a court of enquiry that he  believed he was attacking a troop transport carrying Italian soldiers. The Ministry of Defence kept this incident a closely guarded secret for fifty-four years, telling relatives a packs of lies, maintaining that they had died while prisoners-of-war in Italian camps or were simply 'lost at sea'. It was not until 1996, after repeated requests for information from the families and some excellent work by Mr Brian Sim that the truth finally came out.The British submarine Captain had been notified of exactly what cargo the Scillin was carrying when she sighted the vessel at 19.29hrs on The 14th November 1942. The conditions in the hold of the Scillin were terrible. It was so crowded none of the Prisoners could lie down and half the men had dysentery  a great many more were seasick. The only air and light came in through a small hatch. which was kept open during the day and battened down at night

The Submarine Sahib moved up Moon and brought the Scillin to with 12 rounds from the Deck Gun. She was in a sinking state when the Sahib fired the Torpedo into her Engine room. She sank in less than 2 minutes breaking her back as she took on more water. There were 27 Allied survivors;1 Officer and 26 O.Rs. 36 Italians were also picked up.787 Allied P.O.W. died on the ship, which was the highest number of P.O.W. Casualties from the six Italian ships sunk in the Mediterranean during the period Dec 1941 - Nov 1942 .Durham Light Infantrymen lost on the Scillin at this time were;-

 

 

 4462357 Pte George Adams Son of Frederick and Jane Adams, of Gateshead, Co. Durham 6th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Age 29 Pnl 68 Alamein Memorial

4538224 Pte Joseph Appleyard Son of Joseph and Alice Appleyard, of Middleton, Leeds, Yorkshire; husband of Harriet Appleyard, of Middleton. 6th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Age 27 Pnl 68 Alamein Memorial

 4464452 L/Cpl Frank Brook  1st battalion The Durham Light Infantry Att HQ 10th Corps Age 30 Pnl 68 Alamein Memorial

4459083 Pte Edward Burton  1st battalion The Durham Light Infantry Age 23 Pnl 68 Alamein Memorial

4468137 Pte Alfred Barnfield Son of Mr. and Mrs. J. G. Barnfield, of Hartlepool, Co. Durham. 6th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Age 35 Pnl 68 Alamein Memorial

4465789 Pte William Buckle  6th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Age 31 Pnl 68 Alamein Memorial

7889745 Pte Andrew Carrol Son of Mrs. E. Carroll, of New Washington, Co. Durham 6th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Age 25 Pnl 68 Alamein Memorial

4462616 Pte William Colwell Son of Mr. and Mrs. H. Colwell, of Leadgate, Co. Durham; husband of Eva Colwell, of Consett, Co. Durham. 6th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Age 28 Pnl 68 Alamein Memorial

4462409 Pte Josiah Dawson Son of Mary A. Dawson, of South Shields, Co. Durham. 6th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Age 29 Pnl 68 Alamein Memorial

4460598 Cpl Alfred Hewson Son of William and Florence Hewson; husband of Margaret Hewson, of Gateshead, Co. Durham 6th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Age 26
Pnl 67 Alamein Memorial

4464320 Pte James Higgins Son of Mortimer and Elizabeth Higgins, of Gateshead, Co. Durham 6th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Age 22 Pnl 69 Alamein Memorial

4453565 Pte Thomas William Jackson Son of Fredrick and Emily Jackson, of Hull. 6th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Age 22 Pnl 69 Alamein Memorial

4454663 Sgt Norman Kay Son of Thomas and Sarah Kay; husband of Doris Kay, of Etherley, Co. Durham 6th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Age 25 Pnl 67 Alamein Memorial

4462478 Pte Robert Leng Husband of Jane Hannah Leng, of Roker, Sunderland, Co. Durham 6th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Age 28 Pnl 69 Alamein Memorial

4458208 Pte Thomas Henry Longstaff   6th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Age 23 Pnl 69 Alamein Memorial

4460428 Pte Andrew Lowe Son of Thomas and Sarah Jane Lowe, of Ancoats, Manchester 1st Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Age 25 Pnl 69 Alamein Memorial

4462502 Pte Wilfred McDonald 6th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Age 27 Pnl 69 Alamein Memorial

4449656 Sgt Thomas Edward  Morris  6th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Age 28 Pnl 67 Alamein Memorial

4464345 Pte Thomas Wilkinson Morris 6th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Age 29
Pnl 69 Alamein Memorial 

4615463  Pte George Palfreyman Son of Mr. and Mrs. G. Palfreyman, of Pontefract, Yorkshire 6th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Age 22 Pnl 70 Alamein Memorial

4455750 Pte Norman Pedelty Son of Edmund Willan Pedelty, and of Mary Jane Pedelty, of Roddymoore, Co. Durham 6th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Age 22 Pnl 70 Alamein Memorial

2987710 Pte Edward Reilly Son of Hugh and Bridget Reilly, of Glasgow 6th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Age 27 Pnl 70 Alamein Memorial

4460690 Pte Charles William Selley  6th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Age 22
Pnl 70 Alamein Memorial

2987722 Pte Peter Soutar Son of Walter and Isabella Hamilton Soutar, of Glasgow 6th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Age 27 Pnl 70 Alamein Memorial

4462608 L/Cpl Thomas Allsopp Waller  Son of William Henry and Sarah Waller, of Sunderland, Co. Durham; husband of Winifred Mary Waller, of Sunderland 6th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Age 26 Pnl 69 Alamein Memorial

4457384 Pte Norman Burn  Son of Robert and Elizabeth Burn, of Monkwearmouth, Sunderland, Co. Durham 8th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Age 24 Pnl 68 Alamein Memorial

4455679 Pte William Cavanagh  Son of William and Elizabeth Cavanagh, of Birtley, Co. Durham8th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Age 22 Pnl 68 Alamein Memorial

4457402 Pte William Henry Downey  Son of William H. and Catherine Downey, of Sunderland, Co. Durham 8th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Age 23 Pnl 68 Alamein Memorial

4458863 Pte Joseph Edwards  8th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Age 25 Pnl 68 Alamein Memorial

4468062 Pte James Everson  8th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Att North Reg Age 33 Pnl 68 Alamein Memorial

4457412 Pte John Frost Son of Thomas and Mary Frost, of Sunderland, Co. Durham 8th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Age 24 Pnl 68 Alamein Memorial

4455659 Cpl John Norfolk Hall  Son of John Herbert and Audrey Elizabeth Hall, of Darlington, Co. Durham 8th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Age 21 Pnl 67 Alamein Memorial

3191189 Pte Thomas McAdam  2nd Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Age 24
Pnl 69 Alamein Memorial

4464806 L.Cpl Eric Stanley Miller  Son of Edward and Emily S. Miller, of Yeadon, Yorkshire.8th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Age 29 Pnl 67 Alamein Memorial

4461393 Pte Robert N Punchion  Son of Ralph and Margaret Punchion, of South Shields, Co. Durham; husband of Henrietta Punchion, of South Shields. 8th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Age 26 Pnl 70 Alamein Memorial

2987711 Pte Joseph Richmond  Son of James and Janet Richmond, of Glasgow 8th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Age 27 Pnl 70 Alamein Memorial

2987614 Pte Robert Riddall  Husband of Jessie Riddall, of New Cumnock, Ayrshire8th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Age 28 Pnl 70 Alamein Memorial

4461420 Pte Mathew Stephenson Son of Jemima Stephenson, and stepson of Herbert Clark, of New Hartley, Northumberland 8th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Age 27
Pnl 70 Alamein Memorial

4461456 Pte Ralph Younger  Son of Ralph and Frances Younger, of Gateshead, Co. Durham 8th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Age 27 Pnl 70 Alamein Memorial

748809 Cpl James Flamson  9th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Age 40
Pnl 67 Alamein Memorial

4462170 Pte Fred W Jones  Son of Frederick Duncan Jones, and of Annie Jones, of Wallasey, Cheshire 9th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Age 29 Pnl 69 Alamein Memorial

4468417 Pte William A Morgan  Son of Mr. and Mrs. H. Morgan, of Ushaw Moor, Co. Durham 9th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Age 21 Pnl 69 Alamein Memorial

4452981 Pte William Nicholson  Son of Joseph and Margaret Nicholson, of Gateshead, Co. Durham9th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Age 21 Pnl 69 Alamein Memorial

4458329 Pte Robert Rice  Husband of Annie Rice, of West Hartlepool, Co. Durham 9th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Age 33 Pnl 70 Alamein Memorial

4457473 Pte Evan Thomas Rourke  9th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Age 23 Pnl 70 Alamein Memorial


NINO BIXIO (August 17, 1942)

Italian troop transport (7,137 tons) was sunk in the Mediterranean between Libya and Sicily, by the British submarine HMS Turbulent. She was carrying predominantly New Zealand prisoners of war and around 400 French P.O.W.s captured in North Africa. The Nino Bixio was hit by two torpedoes, one exploding in the prisoners hold and killing many. The injured were brought up on deck and attended to by medical officers. The badly damaged Nino Bixio was taken in tow by one of its escorting destroyers and towed to Navarino in southern Greece. There the dead prisoners were buried, the survivours being shipped, via Corinth, to a prisoner of war camp near Bari in Italy. A total of six Durham Light Infantrymen lost their lives;-

 4457355 Sgt Clifford Landreth Turner The 9th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Age 24 Pnl 67 Alamein Memorial.

4919612 Pte James Meakins Son of Wilfred and Phoebe Meakins, of Chadderton, Lancashire; husband of Gwendoline Mary Meakins, of Chadderton The 9th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry  Age 25 Pnl 69 Alamein Memorial.

4463757  Pte James William Price Son of Thomas Henry and Alice Price, of Pallion, Sunderland. Co. Durham The 9th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Age 30 Pnl 70 Alamein War Memorial

4466532 Pte Patrick Morgan Son of Michael Morgan, and of Mary Morgan, of High Clarence, Co. Durham The 8th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Age 32 Phaleron War Cemetery Special Memorial 9 Row B Grave No 17

4461386 Pte Roger Walter Peel Son of Joseph and Elizabeth Peel, of Bedlington Station, Northumberland; husband of Edna Peel, of Bedlington Age 25 The 8th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Age 32 Phaleron War Cemetery Special Memorial 9 Row B Grave No 16

4458150 Pte W Moodie Son of Mrs. E. Moody, of Ryhope, Co. Durham The 8th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Aged 23 Pnl 69 The Alamein Memorial

Alamein Memorial images by kind permission of Mick and his team at Britishwargraves.

Military Medal award  5951812 Sgt James Hood 16th Durham.Light.Inf

 5951812 Sgt James Hood The 16th Durham Light Infantry

After his capture at Sedjanane on 17th February 1943 Hood was sent via CAPUA to LATERINA (Camp82) Entrained for Germanyon 17th September 1943 HOOD and two others jumped from the train north of FLORENCE after another Prisoner of War had managed to unfasten one of the doors. Reaching PISTOIA they stayed with two New Zealand officers until November 1st and then moved to FIRENZOULA. Following two unsuccessful attempts to reach Allied lines.HOOD returned to Balsorano but at the end of March he made another effort this time reaching TORRICE.On 31 May 1944 he met advancing British Forces in this area.

SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, 14.SEPTEMBER, 1944

Mentioned in Despatches

3244382 L/Cpl.J.H.Hunter 1st Battalion The Durham Light Infantry.

3244382 L/Cpl Hunter of the 1st DLI was captured during actions at Fort Capuzzo on the 15th May 1941.Following his capture L/Cpl Hunter was sent via Benghazi,Brindisi and Servigliano to CAMPO 53 Whilst L/Cpl Hunter was at Servigliano he was part of a group of prisoners who constructed a tunnel and made good their escape after putting on Civilian clothes they had obtained during their time at Benghazi.L/Cpl Hunter remained at large for no longer than 24 hours before he was recaptured some 50kms away from the Camp.

CAMPO 53 at Sforza costa which was on the railway line 12 miles south of Macerata close to the east coast of Italy in the Marche region. The camp itself was about one mile from the town railway station. After the Italian capitulation Campo 53 was not liberated and there was considerable confusion within the Camp as to what should be done.L/Cpl Hunter took advantage of the confusion and together with five other Prisoners of War broke down a door and escaped from the camp. L/Cpl Hunter and one other prisoner decided to head South and after walking for over three weeks rejoined British forces at Casacalenda.Mentioned in Despatches London Gazette 15th June 1944.

4343244 Sgt Jack Horsman MM A Thousand Miles from Freedom

 

 

 

Jack Horsman joined the British Army in 1935 at the age of 15 having lied about his age he joined The East Yorks Regiment in a bid to escape the poverty and high unemployment of his native North East.Living in Howden-le-Wear with his family at 20 Bridge Street Jack,Son of John Robert Horsman, and of Martha Horsman (nee Kelly),  was glad of the life the Army offered him and he soon excelled at sport and Boxing in particular however after his father made representations to his local MP regarding his underage enlistment, Jack was discharged from the Army in 1936.

Still without a permanent job he  got by doing odd jobs and eventually became a handyman.In 1939 joined his local Territorial Army Unit The 6th Durham Light Infantry promoted Corporal on the outbreak of war he was sent to France as part of the BEF his exploits were recorded in a 1942 publication `A Thousand Miles to Freedom` a shorter version recording the events is reproduced above from records held at the National Archives(WO 373/60).

Cpl Jack Horsman returned to England following his escape travelling from Gibralter in November 1940 and was promoted Serjeant following his award of the Military Medal .Owing to the after effects of his experiences in Captivity and his torture at the hands of Francos pro-Nazi guards he became unfit for active service and was discharged from the army on August 28th 1942 at this time he was serving with the 16th DLI.

Jack Horsmans brother George Horsman also served with The Durham Light Infantry .As part of `B` Company 1st Durham Light Infantry 4452933 George Horsman lost his life on the SS Shuntien which was torpedoed by a German U-Boat he was 24 and died on the 23rd December 1941.Jack Horsman for a time became an actor featuring in at least one war time production Nine Men (1943) The Nine men of the title are a British WWII Army patrol stuck in a desert fort during the African campaign. The Men must defend the fort against the Italian and German troops until they cam be relieved which in some ways mirrored the experiences of his brother George who fought at Capuzzo.

Massacre at Château D’Audrieu , Normandy ,France..8th June 1944

When you are captured by an enemy in war you should be well treated. Even In war there are "rules". On 8 June, Evan Hayton (20) and William Barlow (21), both Privates in 6 DLI, were captured during the preliminary attacks following D-Day. They should hove been taken prisoner and sent to a prisoner-of-war (POW) camp ad specified in the Geneva convention. Instead they were shot by soldiers of the German SS, along with mor than twenty Canadians.

On June 8, in the surrounding clearings, forests and orchards of the Château, 24 members of the 3rd Canadian Division were executed: 22 from the Royal Winnipeg Rifles and two from the Queen's Own Rifles of Canada. Two British soldiers from The Durham Light Infantry were shot along with them. One group of the POWs (consisting of 7 platoon of the Royal Winnipeg Rifle's A Company plus the two DLI soldiers) had been captured near Brouay; most of the remaining men fell into SS hands near Putot.

They were searched then taken to the rear of the Château beginning at 2:15 p.m. It was later determined that some were killed in groups of three: they were interrogated, taken down a path in the woods to one clearing or another, turned so their backs would face their small firing squad  or  forced to lay on their stomachs and rest on their elbows then  shot from behind. In the late afternoon, 13 men from 9 platoon of the Winnipeg's A Company were led en masse to an orchard, lined up and shot.Although some of the Canadians bodies were discovered late on the 8th June by elements of the Dorset regiment the two Durhams were found two weeks after the event when the Chateau and its grounds were finally cleared.

4987501 Pte William Henry Barlow The 6th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Murdered by SS Troops 8th June 1944  The son of Herbert and Phoebe Barlow, of Worksop, Nottinghamshire.Aged 21 He rests in good company at Hottot -les -Bagues War Cemetery Section II Row F Grave 4

14617934 Pte Evan Hayton (Right)The 6th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Murdered by SS Troops 8th June 1944  The son of James and Marjorie Hayton, of Bescar, Lancashire, England.Aged 20 He rests in good company at Beny-sur-Mere Canadian War Cemetery Section 4 Row G Grave 9

 The families of those two soldiers were told that they had been "killed in Action" by the Army .They did not tell the families that  the men had been murdered in Cold blood. The families did not learn the truth about the executions until 1994 - 50 years later, when the relevant war files were opened.Post-mortems  revealed that the bodies had sustained small-calibre bullet wounds to the head, face, and chest at close range

Hände hoch Tommy!

For many Durham Light Infantrymen there was no chance of an escape but instead they faced up to the reality of spending their war behind the wire,together with their comrades who did manage to flee captivity many filled in questionaires after the war detailing their capture and subsequent moves and work assignments up until their liberation.Below are details from some of their accounts.My thanks to Mr Brian Sim for his continuous support.

4452959 Pte George Adamson The 2nd Battalion The Durham Light Infantry

George Adamson was born on the 28th September 1920 Son of Richard Robert Adamson, and of Elizabeth Adamson, of Redcar,his home address prior to enlistment was 1 Railway Terrace,Redcar,Yorks,England.George enlisted pre-war into the Durham Light Infantry his enlistment date was recorded as 3rd May 1938.Pte Adamson fought in France with the 2nd Durham Light Infantry in 1940 as part of the illfated British Expeditionary Force.George was wounded in the fierce battle of St Venant and was captured by German forces on May 27th 1940.For George the War was over.The Germans took George to a Hospital at St Pol where his wounds were treated George recorded he arrived at the hospital on the same day as his capture (27th May 1940) he remained in hospital until June 24th 1940 when he was moved to Stalag VIA at Hemer in Germany arriving on the 29th June 1940.

Pte George Adamson left Hemer for his new camp Stalag VIIIB at Lamsdorf on the 3rd November 1940 arriving at Lamsdorf on the 5th November.After a brief 10 day stay Adamson found himself at the Work camp at Greislau employed in road making from Greislau George found himself at Oehringen and employed in coal mining,George suffered a hand injury which was treated by camp medical personnel (Lamsdorf 2 May 42-28 May 1942),George ended his time in coalmining on May 10th 1942 but his time back at Lamsdorf was short on the 29th May George Adamson was moved to Sternberg where he was working in a Timber factory there is no end date listed so we can assume this was Pte Adamsons `Lot`for the rest of the War,he records he did not complete any successful escape attempts but does state he was interrogated shortly after his capture with regard to his unit and division he was not aware of any acts of collaboration nor did he witness any acts of sabotage.The years in captivity finally ended for Pte George Adamson in 1945 when he and other prisoners were liberated from Stalag XIIIC (Widen 9th April 1945-6th May 1945) on May 6th 1945.Pte Adamson was on his way home at last sadly there would be no happy ending to this story as Pte George Adamson died on the 4th December 1945 aged just 25 years he rests today Plot E. Row 7. Grave 9 Redcar Cemetery.

 

 

Hände hoch Tommy!

 4443022 CSM Herbert Arthur Neeve The 11th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry

Herbert Arthur Neeve was born on the 25th April 1903 he resided at 145 Queen Street,South Bank,Middlesborough,Yorks.At the age of 20 Arthur enlisted into the Durham Light Infantry issued with the Regimental number of 4443022 on the 17th October 1923 he continued to serve until November 1930 when he was transferred to the Army reserve.During his time in Civvie Street he was employed as a locomotive driver and at times acted as fireman.

When war came Herbert Arthur Neeve was recalled to the Colours on September 3rd 1939 rejoining The Durham Light Infantry .As part of the ill equipped 11th Durham Light Infantry (23rd Division) he was posted to France as part of the BEF.

During the battles around Ficheux on the 20th May 1940 CSM Neeve was captured and was to spend the rest of his war  `Behind the Wire`. On his PoW questionaire Herbert Arthur Neeve recorded that during his time at Stalag XXB at Marienburg  (July 1940-September 1940) there was a plague of fleas around the camp which made life even more uncomfortable during this time Herbert Arthur Neeve joined a Non-Working protest following his time working at Dirschau and Simonsdorf (July 1940) working camps where he had been put to work marking roads,this resulted in his Red Cross parcels being witheld for three weeks.CSM Neeve`s next move was into Stalag XXa at Thorn where he spent the next three long years (September 1940-September 1943)

In September 1943 Neeve was moved into Bavaria where he was placed at Stalag 383 at Hohenfels here he remained until April 1945 .On the 17th April 1945 Herbert was herded along with his fellow PoW`s  on what was termed `The Line of March` being eventually freed by the advancing American Forces on the 3rd May 1945.After almost five years 4443022 CSM  Herbert Albert Neeve returned home to his home in the North East of England.

Military Medal 4451272 Bandsman Robert Pratt 1st Durham Light Inf

4451272 Bandsman  Robert Pratt The 1st Battalion The Durham Light Infantry

Following his capture at Fort Capuzzo on the 15th May 1941 Robert Pratt was imprisoned at BENGHAZI,BRINDISI,SERVIGLIANO and MACERATA (Camp 53 Italy).On the 15th September 1943 when the sentries had deserted he made his way to POLOMBARO.Although he was recaptured on the 26th October 1943 and sent to CHIETI(Camp 21),he escaped the following night by climbing over the wall.Whilst making a second attempt to reach Allied lines he was again caught on the 24th December 1943.Breaking open the door of a truck,Robert Pratt and seven other prisoners regained their freedom.Bandsman Pratt was returning to the PENNA area to warn his companions that the Germans knew of their presence when he was arrested at BRITOLI on the 6th January 1944 and sent to AQUILA.Two months later after being transferred to LATERINA,Pratt (by posing as a workman) walked out of the camp unchallenged

When during the next four months he was seriously ill,Robert Pratt was nursed by a friendly Italian and on the 10th July 1944 he was able to report to Allied forces near BUCINE.

We regret to inform you........Missing? Prisoner?.....Dead ?

The War Office issued regular casualty lists throughout the War .These lists were based on what little information was available at the time . The dreaded visit by the telegram boy was every families nightmare. Local press often published small snapshots of soldiers in the hope that families could gain more information from those returning from the battlefield on the ultimate fate which had befell their relative.. Soldiers below featured in the Sunderland Shipping Gazette and Echo during 1940.

Were the notifications right? Not always the fate of the soldiers above were as follows;-

4454636 Pte  Michael Dakers Harrison of Duray Street, Houghton le Spring was safe but a Prisoner of War he was listed as PoW 15261 at Stalag 344 in 1945.

 4459495 Pte A H Holt. Arthur Holt of Markham Street, Sunderland  was safe but a Prisoner of War he was listed as PoW 4716 at Stalag XX-B in 1945

4457978 Pte Stanley Colman of Wells Road, Boldon Colliery was safe but a Prisoner of War he was listed as PoW 17384 at Stalag 344 in 1945 

4453485 Pte A Jewkes (20) of Frank Avenue Deneside Estate was safe but a Prisoner of War he was listed as PoW 4436 at Stalag 344 in 1945.

Captured May 1940 4443317 Sjt R Henderson  The Durham Light Inf

 Robert Henderson spent five years as a prisoner of war after he was captured by the Germans in 1940. Born in 1902 Robert was 37 years of age when War came.Employed as a miner Robert was also a part time soldier spending his weekends as a member of one of the DLI Territorial battalions
 4443317 Sgt Robert Henderson  left his wife, Elizabeth, and their three sons and went with his unit to northern France where he faced the power of the German Blitzkrieg in May 1940.
Sgt Henderson kept a small journal and recorded some of the events, he wrote: “I scrambled through the hedge and had crawled about 20 yards when I got my first sight of the Jerries.
A party of them had just managed to surprise and capture one of our small groups further down the road and they were almost between me and my own group.
I had no time to think about it, I just began firing as rapidly at everything dressed in field grey, my group were doing the same thing, then I darted back and rejoined them. I have never been so bloody frightened and mad all at the same time.”
Seperated from his unit during the retreat towards the beaches Robert recalled being captured by German soldiers who almost ran over him in a tank.After three hungry days hiding on a farm near the border of Belgium he and another soldier crawled through a hedge almost being run over by a Panzer in the process, his journal tells how their captor gave him and the other British soldier a cigarette before informing them in fairly good English ‘For you, the war is over’.
It certainly was. Sgt Henderson now POW 5663 spent five years in prison and work camps in Poland and Bavaria while his family back in Houghton-le- Spring waited anxiously for news To pass the time, prisoners made gardens to grow vegetables, organised football games and put on shows such as Dick Whittington, The Mikado and wrote their own plays.
Sgt Henderson even sketched some of the prisons he was kept at and wrote poetry about his wartime experiences.all these were kept in an album along with a wide selection of photographs from his days in captivity which was just as well as like many men Robert Henderson  talked  little about what happened to him when he got back .In 1945 Robert was liberated from Stalag 383 Hohenfels Bavaria Germany

(Sjt Henderson`s army number 4443317 appears in Army Form B 358 enlistment book, Durham Light Infantry, Book no. 9, covering numbers  4443001 - 4444000, Giving an estimated enlistment  of between 1st  October 1923 - 13th  January 1925)