Old Battalions Never Die..The New 1st Durham Light Infantry
The 1st DLI who were almost wiped out on Kos in 1943 with only some 60 men managing to escape were facing an uncertain future,the brave men of this pre-war elite battalion were no more either dead or captured during the early desert battles and the fiasco that was Kos.
During October 1943 the remnants of the 1st DLI were at the Infantry Base Depot at Geneifa battalion strength at this time was nine officers and one hundred and twenty other ranks,their numbers being boosted by those 1st DLI men who had remained on Malta.The battalion hoped it would be going home. To be refitted or simply disbanded was not known at this time but it was pointed out that there were over a thousand Durham Light Infantry extra regimentally employed throughout the middle east alone although some due to wounds were of low medical catagory others were destined to rejoin 6th 8th and 9th DLI .Older members of the battalion were due for repatriation ( more experienced NCO`s were taken home in preperation for D-Day to bolster 50Div) .
Reforming in the Desert 16th March 1944
4468284 Private E Darwin of the 1st Battalion The Durham Light Infantry settles down to read his mail.Pte Darwin was one of the men to escape from the inferno on Kos
He had served with the battalion /regiment for three years and seven months when this photograph was taken by Lieut Keys on the 16th March 1944.Before he joined the regiment Private Darwin lived at no 19 Carlisle Crescent,Shotton Colliery in Durham
Photograph of Pte E Darwin Middle East March 1944
In the photograph on the left we have officers of the 1st DLI Left to Right Lt Welsh,Major Browne and Major May photograph again dated 16th March 1944
In the photograph to the right Lt Col Hugh Vaux inspects the desert cookhouse as the midday meal is prepared.photograph again dated 16th March 1944
The mail was always welcomed by both officers and men alike in the photograph above we have Corporal G A Woodfine of 20 Buckingham Terrace Bishop Auckland acts as mail Cpl for the day also in the photograph is Lt Colonel Vaux(right) Major May (left) and RSM Scott (2nd Left)Photograph dated 16th March 1944
Cpl P H Thorogood (Right) who would win a well deserved MM in Italy awaits the dreaded `needle` as the battalion once again prepares for duties in the frontline Photograph by kind permission of Son Barry and Grandaughter Zoe Thank You)
Italy...back in the line
On 21st November the battalion strength was down to 16 officers and just over 100 other ranks,1st DLI were now stationed at Mena near Cairo. Four officers and one hundred and fifty nine other ranks joined from 17th DLI in England the base camps were scoured and DLI men were diverted to 1st DLI.March 1944 saw the battalion up to strength once more, men from all types of regiments and establishments joined 1st DLI but still over a third of the men were original Durham Light Infantrymen. Initially it was planned to send 1st DLI to
1st battalion DLI mortars in action during July 1944
The 1st DLI are reported to have started three months of hard foot slogging which was described as unspectacular but hard with mounting casualty lists.On 2nd July the 1st DLI were I believe at the Cardinals Palace near San Giovanni at the end of their three month trek/slog they faced the Gothic Line.The `New` 1st DLI were posted alongside 4/10 Baluch Reg and 2/4th Gurkhas(10th Indian Div) in June 1944 they were in the Tiber Valley east of Lake Trasimene. The first action of the `New` battalion was a few miles North of Perugia.On 10th July against a feature known as`Wop`(North of Trestina).The 2/4 Gurkhas, led by Lieut.-Colonel G. A. Fullerton, D.S.O., took one company of Durham Light Infantry under their command, and crossed the minefields, and against very strong opposition fought their way up the opposite hillside to this key German position. The main opposition for the battalion came around the village church, which was stormed after ferocious hand-to-hand fighting. The remainder of the 1st Durham Light Infantry, following through in close support, consolidated and exploited their gains.
Throughout the beginning of July the fighting although described in the Regimental histories as unspectacular none the less took quite a toll in men.On the 15th July 1944 Lieutenant Walter Peat Howard, Pte James Edward Lines,Pte Alan Bradley and Cpl William Frederick Bennett were killed during patrol actions when a wire laying party were caught out in the open by enemy mortars.One of the other men of Lieutenant Howard`s patrol L/Cpl Phillip Henry Thorogood (middle of the group right)was wounded as he attempted to bring in Howard and other casualties from the patrol.Details of those who died that day are as follows;-
300228 Lieutenant Walter Peat Howard,The 1st Battalion The Durham Light Infantry,sAged 26 He lies in good company in Assisi War Cemetery Section IX Row A,Grave No 5 .
4985717 Pte James Edward Lines,The 1st Battalion The Durham Light Infantry,son of He lies in good company in Assisi War Cemetery Section IX Row A,Grave No 1.
3603998 Pte Alan Bradley,The 1st Battalion The Durham Light Infantry,son of He lies in good company in Assisi War Cemetery Section IX Row A,Grave No 3.
Cpl William Frederick Bennett The 1st Battalion The Durham Light Infantry,s He lies in good company in Assisi War Cemetery Section IX Row A,Grave No 2.
Cpl William Frederick Bennett formerly of the Essex Regiment killed in Action serving with the 1st DLI in Italy.
Military Medal Action 6237878 A/Sgt Gordon Albert Collins 1st D.L.I
6237878 A/Sgt Gordon Albert Collins The 1st Battalion The Durham Light Infantry
During the advance of the 10th Indian Infantry Brigade on 10th July 1944 `C` Company 1st Durham Light Infantry was ordered to clear the village of Trestina and capture the Hill beyond.During this action the Company was subjected to intense enemy mortar and machine gun fire causing severe casualties A/Sgt Collins completely regardless of the enemy fire led his section into an attack on a machine gun post in a house on the hill.Leaving his section in support he moved to a very close range and with his Thompson SMG demoralised the enemy,entered the house and took them prisoner.Much of the success of the Company attack was due to his actions.This NCO showed great gallantry and devotion to duty setting a fine example to his men.
Military Cross Action 264666 Lieut Robert Jeffery Welsh 1st Durham.L.I
264666 Lietenant Robert Jeffery Welsh The 1st Battalion The Durham Light Infantry
During the advance of The 10th Indian Brigade on the 10th July 1944 `C` Company 1st DLI was ordered to clear the village of TRESTINA and capture the hill behind.Advancing on the village the Company was subjected to intense enemy mortar and machine gun fire,which disorganised and pinned the Company to the ground causing severe casualties.Lieut Welsh finding that his Company Commander was missing and the two other Officers wounded took command,rallied some fifty men splendidly and made a plan for another attack.Lieutenant Welsh led the attack with great energy clearing the village of the enemy and capturing the objective against strong opposition but with few casualties.He consolidated and despite counter attacks he held the objective until assistance arrived some hours later.Thirty prisoners were taken and much enemy equipment.
Throughout the action Lieut Welsh led his men with great coolness,determination and Military skill setting a fine example to all.
Military Cross Action T/Capt Russell Wilmot Evans 1st Durham.L.Inf
255811 WS Lieut /Temp Captain Russell Wilmot Evans 1st Battalion The Durham Light Infantry
This officer has always put up an extremely fine performance in action.The most outstanding of which have been-On the night of the 14th/15th December his platoon,the carriers,were operating dismounted under Command of `A` Company in an attack on Pt.169 (254229) which with one platoon of `A` Company they had half captured by first light.They were in close contact with the enemy and were sniped and mortared throughout the day,but held on inflicting casualties.His determination example and leadership were largely responcible for his platoon holding on.
On the night of 27th/28th December `B` Company commander and one subaltern were wounded in an exposed position on the Senio at RENAZZI (M236257).Captain Evans promptly went down and took command of a badly shaken Company which he rallied and steadied until relieved four days later.His leadership and example again being of the first order.
Finally at the end of March he reformed the fourth rifle company completing the job on 14th April.On the 18th April he took his company in against an enemy position in the area of ASCOLENE (Sheet 88-1 SW 1:25,000 2048) where they captured over 20 prisoners of war and killed at least 10 enemy for the loss of one killed-this was largely due to Capt Evans leadership and dash which surprised the enemy.
At all times in action this officer has shown complete disregard for his own personal safety, and has by his example, steadiness and leadership been an inspiration to the men under his command.
Military Medal Action 4755419 Cpl Phillip Henry Thorogood 1st D.L.I.
4755419 Cpl Phillip Henry Thorogood The 1st Battalion The Durham Light Infantry
This NCO has been quite outstanding in action since the battalion arrived in Italy.Whenever there have been casualties no matter how heavy the fire he has always gone straight out to fetch them in,saving several lives by his prompt action.His most gallant performance was on the 15th July 1944 on Monte Cedrone when a signal line party was mortared,the NCO in charge was killed and two other signallers wounded.An officer and his batman went out to help and were both killed.Cpl Thorogood then went out regardless of hispersonal safety under contnued heavy observed mortar and semi-automatic fire and brought in both wounded men undoubtedly saving their lives and being wounded himself whilst carrying the second casualty.He nevertheless refused medical attention until he had pulled the bodies to a place from which they could be evacuated.
Since returning from hospital although handicapped by the old wound in his right hand he has gone out as NCO in charge of stretcher bearers to Companies and by his magnificent example and devotion to duty greatly encouraged the other stretcher bearers when ever there has been casualties
(Cpl Thorogood photographed left of group next to a Field Ambulance in either Egypt or possibly Italy 44-45)
Monte Cedrone and onwards
On the 16th July 1944 10th Indian took Monte Cedrone three battalions advanced to the high ground overlooking Citta di Castello from the west. The 1st Durham Light Infantry stormed Monte Cedrone, taking 38 prisoners, while 2/4 Gurkhas battered their way into Uppiano. 3/10 Baluchis completed the task by seizing Monte Arnato, half-way between the Gurkha and Durham Light Infantry positions
A patrol of the 1st DLI near Citta di Castello in July 1944(Standing right is Sgt John Patrick Mann MM identified by his daughter Vivienne)
The 1st Durham Light Infantry of 10th Brigade, had prior to this Monte Cedrone operation been engaged in a cat and mouse game with a German Unit in what was known as The Arena which was the broken ground between San Maria di Tiberina ridge and the river a tree framed depression between the two ridges held by the opposing forces the outcrops of rock, thick foliage and deceptive folds in the ground made "The Arena" a death-trap for the unwary. The Durham Light Infantry proved excellent stalkers; patrols seldom came back empty-handed.
14632624 Private John Lish was part of the `New` 1st battalion the Durham Light Infantry which served in Italy unfortunately Pte Lish is recorded as being KIA on the 17th July 1944 Son of Robert and Mary Lish, of
The presence of mines was always on the minds of the DLI patrols waiting unseen to catch the unlucky or the unwary .One such incident occurred in mid July when Captain Mitchell a South African officer attached to the 1st DLI had his leg blown off below the knee after he trod on a mine,realising he would be an hinderance to the returning patrol he ordered them to return without him and deliver the important information they had gathered concerning the enemies current position and strength.Mitchell was captured.
Similar operations in the
Military Medal Action 4982424 Sgt John Patrick Mann 1st D.L.I
4982424 Sergeant John Patrick Mann The 1st Battalion The Durham Light Infantry
This NCO was platoon Sergeant of the patrol platoon during the operation from Perugia at the beginning of July until the end of August.For most of this time he commanded the platoon as the Platoon Commander had been wounded.He went out on fourteen patrols both fighting and recce commanding ten himself.On Mount Cedrone he took out three fighting patrols on successive days.In these patrols five enemy were definately killed and three prisoners captured,besides many other casualties,which must have been inflicted on the enemy but could not be confirmed.Only one man was killed in all the above.On 7th August when Captain Mitchell was commanding a fighting patrol he had a foot blown off on a Schu mine,Sgt Mann attempted to bring him back although under fire and close to the enemy until ordered to to retire by Captain Mitchell.The only other wounded man in the patrol was successfully brought back.
These patrols produced much valuable information and throughout Sgt Mann showed complete disregard for his personal safety,on three occasions showing himself to draw fire for the others to observe.His leadership and example were an inspiration to his patrols.
Photograph of Sgt John Patrick Mann MM (Above right)supplied by his proud daughter Vivienne.My thanks to Vivienne for her kind permission to publish it here on the website.
Military Cross Action 278370 Lt Harold Gordon Ferguson 1st D.L.I
Lieutenant Harold Gordon Ferguson The 1st Battalion The Durham Light Infantry
On 15th September 1944 Lt Ferguson was commanding a daylight fighting patrol to test the enemy strength and reactions in the hilly and broken ground near Bulciano.He got his patrol to within 100 yards of the objective when the enemy reated vigourously bringing down intensive mortar and artillery fire,and opening up with Spandaus from the flank.One man was killed and four wounded.
Realising the impossibility of remaining in this position Lt Ferguson with great skill and under cover of smoke withdrew his patrol including all of the wounded men to another position about 100 yards back.The continued shelling which lasted for some three hours,pinned him to the ground until darkness fell,and one more man was wounded.In the darkness of a moonless night he successfully withdrew his patrol and the wounded about two miles to a farm at the foot of the hill,the top of which was occupied by his battalion.He twice twice went back personally to assist wounded men.He occupied a position and sent back for stretcher bearers who came out from battalion.He was then able to withdraw into the battalion area bringing with him all fwounded and their arms.
During all this Lt Ferguson showed coolness,determination and presence of mind.His skillful leadership and example under the difficult and the trying conditions experienced by his patrol was in the best tradition of an officer of the British Army,and he was entirely responsible for saving the wounded men.
At the beginning of October 1944 The 1st Battalion Durham Light Infantry found themselves transferred to a more central sector moving East as part of the force sent to relieve 4th Indian Division, The battalion now back under the command of Lieutenant Colonel May since September had done much in this short period of time to re-establish the battalion as a fighting force.
On the 7th October 1944 1st DLI was on the left of 5th Corps at Sogliano al Rubicone which is situated between the Savio and Rubicone rivers.Operating on this flank 1st DLI participated in the attack on Monte Farneto which despite its name is more of a ridge rising to over 1,500 feet. The 46th and 10th Indian Divisions were moving on parallel axis at this time. That evening (7thOct) 10 Ind Div including 1st DLI attacked across the Fiumicino towards Monte Gattona this objective was captured during the course or the following day The Durhams most notable part in the attack was the capture on the night of 9th/10th October of the enemy positions on the slippery slopes of Monte Spaccato which was carried out in torrential rain and took the German defenders completely by surprise.They climbed the South East shoulder of Monte Farneto moving through Croce to Monte Spaccato During a period of ground mist the Durhams, , found a number of gaps in the enemy's defences and filtered through. When the sun broke out, the Germans, going about their morning chores, found Captain James Goring Gerard Gray`s "A" Company 1st DLI embedded in their midst reaching their objective with very few casualties.`C` Company on the battalions left were less fortunate Fierce hand-to-hand fighting followed. All company officers became casualties, including Major Roy Menzies the Company commander who fell victim to enemy snipers,
156765 Major Thomas Roy Menzies The 1st Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Killed in Action 10th October 1944 was the son of William and Lily Menzies, of Cramlington, Northumberland. M.A. (Hons.), D.Th.P.T.He was aged 26.He lies in good company in Coriano Ridge War Cemetery Section XV Row C Grave 4.
Pte Clifford Barker The 1st Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Killed in Action 10th October 1944 was the son Annie E Barker of Leeds,Yorkshire, He was aged 21.He lies in good company in Coriano Ridge War Cemetery Section XV Row E Grave 5.
4461673 Corporal Charles Barnham Bell The 1st Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Killed in Action 10th October 1944 was the son of George and Hannah Bell of Ferryhill Co Durham..He was aged 30.He lies in good company in Coriano Ridge War Cemetery Section XV Row G Grave 3.
14322903 L/Corporal Arthur Brown The 1st Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Killed in Action 10th October 1944 was the son of Harold and Ethel Brown of Clitheroe Lancashire..He was aged 21.He lies in good company in Coriano Ridge War Cemetery Section XV Row C Grave 5.
14632596 Pte Percy William Godfrey The 1st Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Killed in Action 10th October 1944 was the son of John and Eva Godfrey of Felling Co Durham..He was aged 21.He lies in good company in Coriano Ridge War Cemetery Section XV Row C Grave 7.
The Durhams desperately clung to their positions however `C` Company were forced to fall back and regroup at `B` Companies reserve position.The battalions headquarters and the regimental aid post which were situated in two houses near Croce although not directly observed they found themselves under heavy acurate artillery fire it was later discovered that the fire was directed onto the DLI positions by a Priest in a nearby church tower he was subsequently captured bu the 2/4 Gurkhas.Despite `C` Companies setback `A` Company managed to consolidate their newly won ground indeed a platoon commanded by Lieutenant Ditchburn managed to advance well forward of the main Company positions and it was only a shortage of ammunition which forced the platoon back to the main company positions.During this action Sgt Ernest Pluck , Pte Wilfred Hobkinson and Pte Roy Albert Gerry accounted for over twenty Germans killed for the loss of two DLI killed.The 1st Durham Light Infantry lost no time in exploiting their success at Monte Spaccato and when on the 11th October `B` Company pushed forward and occupied the castle of Monteleone. On October 12th a daylight patrol worked across the
As the advance continued 1stDLI came under the wing of 25th Indian Brigade for a while when the battalion advanced from Monteleone to Sorrivoli they reached a point near Montereale where the 1st DLI could plainly see the rooftops and spires of Cesena which was the objectives for 16th DLI at this time, despite a request from the battalion to assist its sister the 16th DLI it was refused. Instead the two battalions met up informerly later and in more peaceful surroundings Sogliano and Montefiore nr Gemmano .
Military Medal Action 6024842 L/Sgt Arthur Frederick Pluck 1st D.L.I
Lance Sergeant Arthur Frederick Pluck The 1st Battalion The Durham Light Infantry
On th 10th October 1944 L/Sgt Pluck was commanding a section in `A` Company during the attack on Monte Spaccato.After gaining the objective his platoon was in an outpost position around a farm.For four hours they were subjected to heavy mortar and small arms fire from three sdides at a distance of about 200 yards.During this time there were four casualties,all of whom L/Sgt Pluck dragged back to cover behind the farm from where the stretcher bearers could evacuate them.One of the other section commanders was killed,and L/Sgt Pluck took over this section as well as his own.
After this period the platoon was strongly counter attacked forcing it to withdraw.L/Sgt Pluck stayed behind with two Bren gunners and gave covering fire,inflicting many casualties and remaininguntil the enemy were within about 20 yards before finally retiring with the two Bren gunners.
During the whole of this day L/Sgt Pluck set a magnificent example to his men by going around and encouraging them with complete disregard for his own personal safety Without his actions the wounded would not have been evacuated and the platoon would have in all probability been overun.
6024842 Lance Sgt Arthur Frederick Pluck was originally from Bridlington he was a former member of The Essex regiment before he joined The 1st Durham Light Infantry.The story does not have a happy ending for on the 25th November 1944, during the crossing of the River Montone, he lost both his feet when he stepped on a German mine. He died in hospital four days later. He was 29 years old. he was the son of Frank and Maud Pluck; husband of Dorothy Pluck, of Bridlington, Yorkshire .Ernest Pluck is buried in Cesena War Cemetery he lies today in good company in Section VII Row E Grave 8.
Military Medal Action 4980097 Pte Wilfred Hobkinson 1st D.L.I
4980097 Pte Wilfred Hobkinson The 1st Battalion The Durham Light Infantry
On the 10th October 1944 Pte Hobkinson was a Bren gunner in `A` Company during the attack on Monte Spaccato.He was in the forward platoon,which after gaining its objective was in an outpost position around a farm.For four hours they were subjected to heavy mortar and small arms fire from three sides.During this period his section commander was killed and he took charge of the section.
After this the platoon was strongly counter attacked forcing it to withdraw.Pte Hobkinson remained behind with an NCO and another Bren gunner,who was subsequently killed,and gave covering fire whilst the remainder of the Platoon withdrew.He continued to fire his gun until the enemy were within 20yards and personally accounted for 6 killed and others wounded.As he withdrew he threw his grenades and inflicted further casualties on the enemy.He set a fine example during the whole of this day,Keeping his Bren firing with great coolness and complete disregard for his personal safety.But for his actions his platoon might well have been overun.
4980097 Pte Wilfred Hobkinson a former member of The Sherwood Forresters prior to joining The 1st Durham Light Infantry was reported killed in action on the 25th November 1944 he was aged just 24.He lies in good company at Forli Cemetery Section V Row D Grave 23.The CWGC hold no next of kin details
The other Bren gunner refered to in Hobkinsons recommendation was 5682264 Pte Roy Albert Gerry formerly of The Somerset Light Infantry prior to joining 1st DLI he was killed in action a day later on the 11th October 1944 he was just 22 He lies in good company at Coriano Ridge War Cemetery Section XV Row C Grave 6
The 1st Durham Light Infantry were taken out of the line for a one month period to allow them to recuperate ,what followed on their return would be a new type of warfare leaving behind the mountains and ridges which they had fought over with such distinction the DLI as part of 10th Indian Division were to establish a bridgehead over the Montone river to enable the other assault divisions to deploy for an attack on Faenza.The ground around the Montone was flat and open heavily cultivated with drainage ditches criss crossing through the vineyards,orchards and farms which populated the countryside.The river itself was really a sludgy stream usually around thirty feet wide but the soft mud banks provided extra width giving an obstacle of about two hundred feet added to this problem was the fact that the Germans had blown the banks of the river creating a flooded area of a further 100 yards and blown the bridges then we can really begin to see what kind of problems the 1st DLI were to face.
The 1st Durham Light Infantrywere ordered to use assault craft to cross the river on the early evening of the 24th November 1944 the area had previously been reported free of mines a report which unfortunately was wrong .At around 2200hrs the leadingcompany carrying their assault craft in preperation for the assault ran into a dense minefield which resulted in almost half becoming casualties (wounded) Sappers worked at first light on the 25th November and cleared over one hundred and fifty mines from the undergrowth clearing pathways to enable the battalion to continue their assault.On the 25th November 1944 the 1st DLI were heavily engaged as they crossed the Montone but they succeeded in forming a bridgehead with a holding perimiter of over 1000 yards deep(Later extended by 2nd/4th Gurkhas) During the battle a platoon of `C` Company under Sgt James Albert McGarey (Dunkirk Veteran with the 8th DLI in 1940) faced heavy resistance as it fought for a farm at La Provosta and McGarey had to call down an Artillery barage on his own position and though two Durham Light Infantrymen were wounded in the bombardment the Germans were forced to withdraw due to its ferocity .
Those listed as dead on the 25th November 1944 were as follows (with others no doubt succumbing to wounds sustained at a later date)
4128645 Pte Sam Lee Buckley The 1st Battalion the Durham Light Infantry.Formerly of The Cheshire Regt At peace in Good company at Cesena War Cemetery Section VII Row E Grave 7
4980097 Pte Wilfed Hobkinson MM The 1st Battalion the Durham Light Infantry.Formerly of The Sherwood Forresters. At peace in Good company at Forri War Cemetery Section V Row D Grave 23
6923136 Pte Ronald Arthur Howard The 1st Battalion the Durham Light Infantry.Formerly of The Rifle Brigade. Son of Thomas James Howard, and of Louisa Emily Howard, of Twickenham, Middlesex. Age 22.At peace in Good company at Forli War Cemetery Section V Row C Grave 2
4921600 Pte William Thomas Read The 1st Battalion the Durham Light Infantry.Formerly of The South Staffs Regt. Age 30.At peace in Good company at Forli War Cemetery Section V Row C Grave 3
6340945 Pte Alfred Joseph Roberts The 1st Battalion the Durham Light Infantry.Formerly of The Cheshire Regt . .At peace in Good company at Forli War Cemetery Section V Row C Grave 1
4544323 Pte Willie Roberts The 1st Battalion the Durham Light Infantry.Formerly of The West Yorkshire Regt . Age 24 At peace in Good company at Forli War Cemetery Section V Row D Grave 21
During this action it had begun to rain heavily and coupled with the fact that the battalion were being heavily shelled almost constantly ,evacuating the wounded was no easy task .The 1st Battalions Medical officer was 248190 Captain Marcus Slade Howe of the RAMC he had joined the battalion after Kos in 1943 and was a great asset to not only the 1st DLI but all units whose wounded he happened to come into contact with.His willingness to go forward and treat wounded where they lay was an inspiration to all and when setting up his Regimental Aid Posts he would insist on them being situated as close to the front line as possible and needless to say because of his insistance many men owed their lives to this very brave man.
On the 27th November 1944 a German self propelled gun shelled a farmhouse being held by Sgt McGareys section of `C` Company a direct hit on the farmhouse caused the forward facing wall to collapse inwards on the section who were sheltering from the heavy rain one man was killed when he was buried beneath the rubble Pte James Hubert Franklin is the only 1st DLInfantryman listed as killed that day .
5784147 Pte James Hubert Franklin was formerly with The Royal Nolfolk Regiment prior to joining The 1st DLI.He was the son of Archibald Hubert and Elizabeth May Franklin, of Salford, Oxfordshire.He was aged 23.He lies in good company in Forli War Cemetery, Section V Row D Grave 17.
On the morning of the 30th November 1944 the 1st DLI were preparing for the final phase of the battle for the Montone bridgehead.323152 Lieutenant Frank Walker of the Green Howards att to 1st Durham Light Infantry was to lead a platoon of `C` Company against the small hamlet of La Capanna immediately prior to the attack Lieutenant Walker received the news that his only brother 300085 Lieutenant George Henry Walker had been killed on the 29th August 1944 whilst serving with the Royal Engineers(Buried Ancona War Cemetery Section IV Row D Grave 17) Despite the news and his impending repatriation Lieutenant Walker was determined to lead his men in this attack. As the platoon were advancing towards their objective a German sniper concealed in a Haystack shot dead the brave Lieutenant and three other men of Walkers section one other man was died later in the day all five rest at Forli War Cemetery .Those men killed during the attack were;-
323152 Lieutenant Frank Walker Green Howards Att 1st Durham Light Infantry the son of Ernest and Elizabeth Walker of Middlesborough Yorkshire.Aged 26 He lies in good company in Forli War Cemetery Section V Row D Grave 15.
6469284 Corporal Arthur Frank William Farley The 1st Durham Light Infantry formerly of The Royal Fusiliers Aged 24 He lies in good company in Forli War Cemetery Section V Row D Grave 16.
11050694 Pte Leslie William Conway The 1st Durham Light Infantry Son of Lily Conway, of Droylsden, Lancashire Aged 23 He lies in good company in Forli War Cemetery Section V Row D Grave 20.
14647782 Pte Walter Edward James The 1st Durham Light Infantry the son of Mr. and Mrs. J. H. James, of Thurmaston, Leicestershire Aged 20 He lies in good company in Forli War Cemetery Section V Row D Grave 18.
5775036 Pte Leslie Patrick Smith The1st Durham Light Infantry formerly of The Royal Nolfolk Regiment. The son of Sidney A. and Hilda M. Smith, of Baconsthorpe, Norfolk. Aged 23 He lies in good company in Forli War Cemetery Section V Row D Grave 19.
The objective was taken and these were the only recorded casualties the battalion suffered that day.
Military Medal Action 4447574 Sgt James Albert McGarey 1st D.L.I
4447574 Sgt James Albert McGarey The 1st Battalion The Durham Light Infantry
At about 15;30hrs on 25th November 1944 Sgt Mcgarey was commanding a platoon of `C` Company in an attack on the farm La Provosta (413274).His platoon was held up by heavy spandau and mortar fire which killed two and wounded another.By himself Sgt Mcgarey worked his way forward to the farm,covered by a section,and cleared the building with his Thompson Machine Gun and grenades,killing five Germans.This allowed another section toget forward and occupy the buildings.Shortly after this an enemy sniper started firing from a nearby tree.Sgt McGarey took over a Bren gun and killed him.
Throughout the whole of this day Sgt McGarey set a magnificent example with complete disregard for his own personal safety.It was entirely due to his leadership that the platoon gained its objective.
Later on 27th November 1944 Sgt McGareys platoon was holding the area of a farm(419283) near C.PTE.DI.S.Georgio when the house was shelled by a SP gun which demolished the front causing it to collapse inwards.As it was raining at the time the majority of his platoon except for listening posts were inside the building.One man was killed and another man buried.Sgt Mcgarey rallied his shaken men extracted the wounded man and a bren whichhad been buried and got them into alternative defensive positions.During all this time the area was being heavily shelled and mortared.Sgt McGarey walked round completely disregarding this,checking positions and encouraging his platoon.His example and thoroughness did much to restore confidence to the men....Originally recommended for a DCM.
Military Medal Action 4469462 Cpl Jonathon Calvert 1st D.L.I.
4469462 Cpl Jonathon Calvert The 1st Battalion The Durham Light Infantry
At about 0200hrs on the 25th November 1944 No 1 platoon of `A` Company was the leading platoon to cross the River Montone.The banks of the river were heavily mined and while going down to the boat five men including the Platoon Sgt and L/Sgt were blown up,receiving severe injuries from which two subsequently died.Several others were affected by the blast including the platoon commander who subsequently collapsed.Cpl Calvert was personally responsible for evacuating these casualties,leading each party of Stretcher bearers through the minefield with complete disregard for his own personal safety,after getting all the wounded away he assumed command of the platoon being the only NCO left.
After crossing the Montone Cpl Calvert led the platoon in an attack on a house and occupied the position.This house was continuously and heavily shelled and mortared for several hours.Many of the men were in positions dug outside the house.Throughout this period,when two were killed and three wounded,Cpl Calvert continued to visit these positions and encouraged the men giving no thought for his own safety and by his leadership undoubtedly held the platoon together.At this time it was raining and the troops wet through and lying in water.
D.C.M Action 6020150 Sergeant Frederick Arthur Gooden, 1st DLI
On the 30th November 1944 Sgt Gooden was commanding No4 Platoon of `B` Company in the attack on three houses in the La Capanna area His task was to take the second house after the capture of the first by another platoon On seeing the success signal from the first house he went forward and found the Platoon Commander dead, and the platoon rather disorganised . He immediately brought up his own platoon under heavy fire, organised the defence of this house and consolidated the position. As soon as he had done this, he led his platoonon to attack the second house, which was his own objective, actually going in first and clearing the building himself. The enemy then brought down heavy artillery fire down on the house scoring at least two direct hits, but Sergeant Gooden coolly got two of his Brens into action and engaged the enemy who had withdrawn about 150 yards. This fire inflicted several casualties on the enemy and forced them to withdraw still further. He finally directed very accurate covering fire for the third platoon in their attack and materially helped them to gain their objective.
Throughout the whole of this action Sergeant Gooden led his platoon with considerable dash and energy. His example and disregard for personal safety under heavy fire and in frightful weather conditions was largely responsible for the success of the attack
By December the fighting had moved on to the araa between the Lamone and Senio Valleys.46th Divison had been involved in some of the bitterest fighting of the campaign so far.On the 11th December 1944 the 10th Indian Division were ordered to relieve them and take up the attack.On the 13th December 1944 the 1st DLI found themselves across the Lamone Valley near Quartolo,South West of Faenza the 1st DLI had as their objectives three farms The Casa Barbiera,Casa Pozzo and Casa Pozzetti.It was to be a two company attack with `A` Company attacking Casa Barbiera and `B` Company taking the other two,`A` Company were bolstered by men of the carrier platoon dismounted and used as regular infantrymen.`C` Company would follow in reserve.
On the 14th December the 1st DLI attacked from Quartolo to Pergola. The plan was for 1st DLI (as part of 10th Indian Div)to take the ridge and road 1000 yards north of Pergola and the high ground nearly a mile north and north-west of Pideura. Then after taking these objectives, they were to cross the Senio.Two of the 1st DLI`s assault companies crossed the River Canova without too much trouble but when both `A` and `B` Companies ran into unmarked minefields the advance was halted.`C` Company under Major A.M.M.Macaulay who were in reserve at this time were ordered forward to support the attack but suffered severe losses when the Germans laid down heavy defensive fire,For the third time in less than two months `C` Company found all its officers had become casualties dead or wounded .
A German machine gun nest hidden in a haystack was causing considerable problems for the men of `A` Company Pte Albert Holmes who was in possesion of a Lifebuoy flame thrower set fire to the haystack and killed the crew and considerably eased the plight of his comrades most of whom were still stuck in an unmarked mine field.
Although their objectives on Pergola were unobtainable at this time some of the Durhams managed fight their way to each objective but in too few numbers they were overwhelmed and most were killed .Secondary objectives known as points 147 and 168 were reached and the 1st DLI managed to hold on to this ground .Such was the close proximity of both friend and foe at this time the Division were reluctant to call down any artillery or air strikes however much to the horror of the men of `A` Company their commanding officer of Major J G G Gray called down supporting fire on his own positions justifying it later with the fact that the shelling did more harm to the Germans than his own men!
The Pergola ridge, was still threatened on both sides—by 5 NZ Brigade on the east and 25 Indian Brigade on the west—and the enemy's withdrawal was inevitable especially when the NZ division moved through Celle and up the Senio enabling the 10th Indian Division to move once again.On the night of the 15th December `A` and `C` Companies, free of the minefields, were able to move to the top of the Pergola Ridge.Once they reached these objectives they found the enemy had gone.
Once again casualties had been high even after reinforcements the battalion ,still down to three companies, had only fifty effective men in each .After a week in reserve in the Columbara-Pergola area the 1st Durham Light Infantry moved to the area around Tebano where wintry gales restricted them to fighting patrols which were uncomfortable to say the least with river crossings in semi frozen rivers often up to the mens shoulders and having to fight against prepared positions in clothing which by now was frozen solid! On Christmas morning at around 0200hrs the farm house been used as battalion headquarters received a direct hit completely demolishing two of the rooms mercifully no casualties were sustained on this occasion.The same could not be said on the 27th/28th December 1944 when `B` Company came under severe mortar attack ,both their main position and a forward observation post consisting of three other ranks and Platoon Commander Mike Hodgson were hit with several wounded and one man killed.`B` Company positions were on the lower exposed slopes and the wounded could not be reached without considerable danger to those attempting their rescue. Their eventual rescue was completed by a group of volunteer stretcher bearers from the Pioneer platoon led by Padre Parr in his medical jeep.The Padre drove the jeep as far forward as possible before continuing on foot with his group of bearers.The brave group managed to bring in all the wounded to the company area and before first light were able to evacuate the four most serious casualties to the Regimental Aid Post despite them being constantly mortared .
On the 28th December an effort to move tanks up to Tebano was made but the operation was called off when the leading two vehicles became bogged down in full view of the enemy.What was ordered next was sheer madness ,much against his better judgement Colonel May was ordered to provide a protective guard/patrol for the two tanks one NCO and four men from the anti-tank platoon were allocated within one hour of their posting all had become casualties killed and wounded. Two men are recorded killed/died over this period they were;-
14328727 Pte John Farrell The 1st Battalion The Durham Light Infantry.Son of John Thomas Farrell and Jane Farrell, of Gateshead, Co. Durham.He lies in good company in Forli War Cemetery Section IV Row A Grave 5
3866386 Pte Edward Ryder, The 1st Battalion The Durham Light Infantry formerly of The Loyal Regiment Son of Edward Morrison Ryder and Ellen Ryder, of Redvales, Lancashire He lies in good company in Forli War Cemetery Section V Row C Grave 11.
New years eve 1944 was a beautiful night with almost a full moon there was no official truce but a there was very little in the way of `offensive` action.Through the still of the night could be heard German voices singing the carol Silent Night the song echoing across the river until midnight when the sky was lit up by a tremendous firework display as the Germans fire every conceivable type of tracer,flare,shell etc into the clear night sky.Although they did not know it at the time this was a farewell celebration for the 1st DLI who were withdrawn on the night of the 1st January 1945 for a well earned rest near Forli.On the 3rd January the battalion sat down to a late Christmas lunch and an extra weeks supply of beer which was most graciously received
There would be no extended rest period the 1st DLI patched up were back in early February deployed on the snow covered mountain sector in front of Castel del Rio where it fought a patrol war against elements of a German parachute unit. Just before returning to the plains the 1st DLI received some good quality reinforcements many of them Durham or Tyneside born, some had been volunteers in 1939 into the (DLI) Anti Aircraft or Coastal Defence Batteries RA,now these units were being disbanded the 1st DLI welcomed them back into the Regimental fold.For the first time in monthes 1st DLI had four full rifle companies ready for action.
The final action for 1st DLI would involve the Sillaro Crossing of April 1945.The miserable Italian winter had departed with what almost amounted to dramatic suddenness. A procession of dry sunny days, beginning in early February, enabled the final offensive against the Germans to be launched several weeks earlier than expected. This was planned in three phases—the first being an attack by the Eighth Army designed to draw as many German divisions as possible down to dm Adriatic coast; the second involving the Fifth Army in an offensive from the mountains to capture Bologna and then to move into the Po Valley,culminating in the third which was a joint sweep into the Po Valley by both of the attacking allied Armies.
The Eighth Army's offensive began early in April and it was well under way by the time that the 10th Indian Division, and with it the 1st Durham Light Infantry Battalion, joined the fight once more. .Joining the hunt might perhaps be a more accurate phrase; for the Germans were staggering dizzily under an avalanche of blows. There was, indeed, little they could do to stem this tide. The 1st Battalion The Durham Light Infantry crossed the River Sillaro near Lugo on the night of the 15th April 1945 and pushed ahead the following day against light resistance. During the day some fighter-bombers attacked the German positions nearby and one, flying low, was winged by small arms fire. It landed in a field near the Battalion's R.A.P but it had scarcely done so before Marcus Howe had jumped into a jeep, driven up to the plane and rescued the pilot. " That's service for you " was the pilots comment! On the 17th April one company reached the village of Portonovo to find that the Germans had just pulled out and that the Italian Partisans were busily shaving the heads of all the women who had " collaborated "with them. The company commander, Captain Norman Benson, was most distressed that he was unable to intervene. The same night the whole Battalion crossed the next river—. the Qaderna—on the right of the New Zealanders who put in a highly spectacular attack with a regiment of crocodiles(Flame throwing tanks), about fifty wasps'(Flame throwing Bren Carriers and some two hundred and fifty guns in support.
Yet there was still "one more river to cross" before the 1st Battalion could say it had fired its last shot in anger; and this obstacle was negotiated two days later. Once across the Battalion found itself held up just short of its objective by German rearguards; but as the Divisional Commander wanted the opposition dispersed before dark the leading companies were ordered back whilst two fresh Battalions were pushed in, supported by the whole of the divisional artillery. D ' Company, whose wireless set was dead' because the aerial rod was shot off, were only pulled back in the nick of time, just before the barrage started! Although they were unaware of the fact this was the Battalion's last battle of the war. ahead of them other troops of the 10th Division pushed on and were, indeed, involved in some of the campaign's bitterest fighting when crossing the Indice river. but despite being at notice to move, varying from twenty-four hours' to three, the 1st Durham Light Infantry never again went into action. News of the Armistice in Italy reached them at about 7 p.m. on the 2nd of May whilst in comfortable billets in farms near Ferrara. They had come a long way since the day when a few scattered remnants of this fine Pre-War battalion escaped the hell of Kos reformed they fought with pride and honour which was in itself a tribute to the men who had fought and died throughout those dark days of the second world war .
The 1st DLI would go on and many of its number would see action in other wars such as Korea and Borneo her descendants would serve with distinction in Northern Ireland,Bosnia,Iraq and Afghanistan...but these are other stories which I am sure will be covered elsewhere
D.C.M Action 4459243 Sergeant David Greenwell Ridley, 1st DLI
On the night 14/15 December 1944 Sergeant Ridley was in command of No.3 Platoon 'A' Company in a night attack on Pt.168 and Casa Bianca (254229). No.3 Platoon was in reserve. No.2 Platoon, the left leading Platoon, ran onto a Schu Minefield, suffered several casualties and withdrew to the reserve Platoon area. Sergeant Ridley personaly went into the minefield three times to bring out casualties. This he did inspit of considerable mortar and Spandau fire. No.3 Platoon was then ordered up on the right to exploit behind the right forward Platoon which had gained a foothold on Pt.168. The enemy were holding positions less than one hundred yards away, but No.3 Platoon dug in successfully. They were under constant Spandau and grenade fire from very close quarters, but due to the inspiring leadership of Sergeant Ridley stuck to their positions. All other NCO's were wounded and eventually he was hit also, but he continued tirelessly to visit his pits and encourage the men with complete disregard for his own personal safety. He personally accounted for three enemy, and would not go back to the RAP until 24 hrs later when the Platoon was relieved
4459243 Warrant Officer II David Greenwell RIDLEY, D.C.M. was born in October 1919 at Pelton Fell the son of a railwayworker.After leaving school he intially worked at the local colliery before moving to the Royal Ordnance Factory at Birtley.He enlisted in the Durham Light Infantry on January 15th 1940 and after basic training at Brancepeth and Willington he joined the DLI Depot and continued to serve with them until late 1942 when he joined 17th DLI at Folkestone . On December 13th 1943 he was posted to The Sherwood Foresters his time with this unit was relatively short and he rejoined the 1st Durham Light Infantry on April 21st 1944. He won a DCM with the unit in Italy rescuing comrades from a minefield and continued to serve as a regular soldier until July 20th 1946 .David`s career with the DLI at this was far from over following his return to Civilian live he had returned to Birtley but in 1951 he joined the Territorial Army and served with 8th Durham Light Infantry from August 30th 1951 until October 29th 1965. In 1966 he was back in uniform again serving with the Army Cadet Force (DLI) until 1978 when he finally retired.David Ridley lived at Great Lumley,Chester le Street and died in 2001.
Military Medal Action 4461764 Pte Arthur Holmes 1st D.L.I.
During recent operations Pte Holmes who is a member of the Carrier Platoon,has frequently distinguished himself in close combat with the enemy.Throughout the whole period his conduct and bearing have been of the highest order.
On the night 14th-15th December 1944 `A` Company was ordered to capture Casa Bianca(Map Ref 253228 Italy sheet 991 NW Castel Bolognese).Pte Holmes was attached to No1 Platoon as a lifebuoy Flame thrower operator.No1 Platoon was held up by a well dugin Spandau position underneath a haystack.He immediately went forward alone,under heavy fire and set fire to the haystack and the house nearby with his flame thrower,thereby silencing the Spandau and killing its crew.
Later in the night this platoon suffered many casualties in a mine field which surrounded the house.Pte Holmes having exhausted his flame thrower fuel immediately volunteered to help evacuate the casualties.He repeatedly entered the minefield with complete disregard for his own personal safety and evacuated the wounded thereby ensuring that all casualties were brought to a place of safety as soon as possible.
Later on the night of the 27th December `B` Company was holding a Salient in the bend of R.Senio at C.Renazzi 236257 under constant fire from three sides and suffered many casualties.Pte Holmes volunteered to go forward as a reinforcement for the forward platoon.On arrival he immediately assumed command of a section.During the next four days this platoon remained in this position under constant and heavy fire.Throughout this period,Pte Holmes showed outstanding leadership.By his own personal example of steadiness and disregard for danger,he inspired the men of his section,and undoubtedly contributed largely to the successful holding of the salient.
Military Medal Action 6024332 L/Cpl Lewis Gilbert Bull 1st D.L.I.
6024332 Lance Corporal Lewis Gilbert Bull The 1st Battalion The Durham Light Infantry
On the night of the 14th/15th December 1944 `C` Company,reserve Company in the battalion attack,was heavilly shelled while waiting on the start line 150yards North of Duecento(251222).This caused seven casualties.During the shelling L/Cpl Bull as NCO in charge of stretcher bearers,continued to attendto the wounded and evacuate them with complete disregard for his own safety.
Later,just after dawn on the 15th December on Pt 147 his company commander Major Macaulay was wounded by a rifle grenade losing a foot.L/Cpl Bull went forward,being shot at by small arms fire and rifle grenades,hastily dressed the wound and brought the officer back to a place where he could complete the dressing.He then organised the other stretcher bearers and carried the officer back across the open to a house from which he could be evacuated by Jeep.
Finally on the 16th December near Casa Bianco (254229) a Company Sgt Major walked into the Schu-Minefield and had a foot blown off.L/Cpl Bull without hesitation went out to the wounded man dressed his wounds and carried him to safety.Thirty five minutes later a Sergeant had a foot blown off in another minefield nearby,and again L/Cpl Bull went into the minefield dressed the wound and pulled the sergeant out.
Throughout the whole action L/Cpl Bulls coolness,example,and thoroughness with complete disregard for his own personal safety both under fire and in the minefield saved the lives of several men and ensured the quickest possible evacuation for all the casualties.
Military Medal Action 14408790 Pte Lawrence Shackleton 1st D.L.I
14408790 Pte Lawrence Shackleton The 1st Battalion The Durham Light Infantry
On the 16th April 1945 at Pascolene (Sheet 88 I S.W 1;25,000 2048) 6Pl `B` Company were advancing north astride the road to some enemy occupied positions when within 200 yrds of these positions the platoon came under spandau and rifle fire from their right.Under covering fire from a Churchill tank two assault sections began to work round to the left towards the original objective.Almost immediately the enemy in a house brought accurate spanday and rifle fire to bear causing several casualties.Pte Shackleton,a bren gunner immediately dropped on to one knee and returned the fire silencing a spandau and enabling the remainder to gain cover.As his section commander had been wounded and the L/Cpl(2 i/c section) killed he took charge of the section and led it on to the objective.He continued to lead the section with great dash for the remainder of the day.Throughout he showed complete disregard for his own personal safety and undoubtedly saved further casualties by his prompt action.His leadership and example was largely responsible for getting the platoon forward without any undue delay and was an inspiration to his comrades.
Military Cross Second Award (Bar) T/Major James Goring Gray 1st D.L.I
114080 T/Major James Goring Gerald Grey The 1st Durham Light Infantry
On the night of the 14th/15th December 1944 Major Gray was commanding `A` Company in an attack on Pt 168 and Casa Bianca(254229)Two platoons were directed onto Casa Bianca.these ran onto minefields and heavy spanday.mortar and artillery fire and after suffering casualties withdrew and lost touch with T/Major Gray.The carrier platoon which was dismounted and under command of `A` Company reached point 168 and captured half the feature.Major Grayaccordingly took his remaining platoon commanded by a sergeant and reinforced the carrier platoon but could not clear the whole of Pt 168.
When daylight cameMajor Gray had in all about 30 men on the feature in very close contact with the enemy the nearest German positions being only 30 yards away.`C` Company was moved up to point 147 just before first light to support `A` Company but had all officers killed or wounded.Major Gray made his way over to their positions across very open ground and reorganised them to conform to his own.Throughout the day both Companies were subjected to heavy small arms,mortar and artillery fire but held firm inflicting a number of casualties on the enemy and even taking three further weapons pits.Major Gray was largely responsible for this taking on a post himself and killing the four Germans occupying it.
It was almost entirely due to Major Gray`s determination leadership and outstanding example with complete disregard for his own personal safety that the position was held and the casualties inflicted on the enemy
4982424 Sgt John Patrick Mann Italian Campaign Photograph Album.
The following photographs all feature Sgt John Patrick Mann MM.They are supplied and reproduced here by the kind permission of his proud daughter Vivienne who has also kindly supplied the research into their origins.
The following is from Viviennes research;- These were Photographs taken by British official photographers of No 2 Army Film & Photographic Unit of the British Army during the campaigns in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, the Balkans and Austria 1942 - 1946.Entitled
1st Bn ?A day in the life of an infantryman? Only one of the photographs within that batch is available for viewing on the site - Image Number: NA 17472- which shows an
infantryman who is also on the photographs I have of my dad (Sgt Mann MM). I was therefore able to identify the photographer and the date:
Production Date:30 July 1944
No 2 Army Film & Photographic Unit
Object Type:Official photograph
Description:`An infantryman heats a mess tin of water in a forward position, 30 July 1944` immediately below
Below is NA17479 with Sgt John Patrick Mann MM on the left.
Below is NA17477 with Sgt John Patrick Mann MM on the right,left is the Durham Light Infantry featured on the first photograph...if anyone can identify him please get in touch.
Below Sgt John Patrick Mann on the left..on the right?..Who is he?
Below NA17473 Sgt John Patrick Mann is on the left of our unknown Durham Light Infantryman.