North West Europe 1944-45

 

 Officers and men of `A` Company  The 6th Durham Light Infantry Douet 11th June 1944

 

 Normandy: A Bren-gunner, Private W Wheatley of 'A' Company, 6th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry, 50th  Division, giving supporting fire from a ruined house in Douet, near Bayeux, Normandy 11th June 1944

Patrol of 6th DLI in Douet on the 11th June 1944 The leading soldier carrying the Bren Gun is Pte Albert Goddard. He served in the 6th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry during World War 2. He served in the North Africa, Sicily and North West Europe Campaigns.He was awarded the 39-45 Star,Africa Star, Italy Star and France and Germany star campaign medals.Albert Goddard died in 1991.Information supplied by his Grandson Mark Goddard

Military Medal Action 4459754 L/Cpl Joseph Wear 6th Durham L.Inf.

 4459754 Lance Corporal Joseph Wear The 6th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry

On 10th June 1944 at CONDE SUR SEULLE L/Cpl Wear was acting as company signaller to one of the forward companies.For four hours his company were engaged in driving off a determined enemy counter attack with Tanks and Infantry.The area of Coy HQ was throughout the action under heavy mortar fire causing casualties to personnel but L/Cpl Wear continued to man his wireless set and clearly and calmly sent back all information to Battalion Hq.In addition there being an Artillery OP in that area he relayed fire orders back from the Company commander

Later in the day when wireless communication with other companies had broken down L/Cpl Wear had to undertake the task of passingback information for two other companies as well as his own.

whilst others were busily digging in against heavy mortar fire L/Cpl Wear was seen sitting above ground calmly working his set.This NCO`s behaviour throughout the entire day was of the highest order,he displayed outstanding devotion to duty under the most difficult circumstances and it was entirely due to his efforts that communication between HQ and the forward companies was maintained

Joseph Wear was born in July 1919 in Blaydon, near Gateshead. Joseph never knew his father, who had left home before he was born, and his mother worked as a cleaner to survive. When Joseph was 14 years old, he left school and began work as a grocery boy. He later worked as a general labourer in a chemical works and was an amateur athete with the Blaydon Harriers.

Joseph Wear was conscripted into the Army in February 1940 and went to the DLI’s Depot at Brancepeth Castle, outside Durham City. After finishing his basic training, 4459754 Private Wear was posted to `B' Company, 6th Battalion DLI at Chipping Norton, where the battalion was rebuilding after returning after Dunkirk. He was then trained as a signaller.

In May 1941, 6 DLI sailed for the Middle East and saw service in Cyprus and Iraq, the Western Desert and Sicily(Where he was wounded). When 6 DLI returned home from Sicily to prepare for D-Day, Joseph Wear was promoted to Lance Corporal and landed in Normandy on 6 June 1944. Three days later, during a clash with a German Panzer Division, Joseph Wear was awarded the Military Medal for his bravery.After Normandy at this time he lived at 36 Thomas Terrace in Blaydon, Joseph Wear remained with 6 DLI throughout its long advance across France and Belgium and into Holland, seeing action at Gheel and the Albert Canal crossing on the way. In November 1944, he returned to England with 6 DLI and was based at Skipton until the battalion was stood down.

Joseph Wear was demobilised from the Army in March 1946 and returned to his prewar job.


Battle for St Pierre  Normandy June 1944 8th Durham Light Infantry

The 8th DLI moved off on the 9th June 1944 heading in a South West direction they came upon the village of Audrieu which according to reconnaissance reports was held in force by the Germans. A decision was made to bypass the village to Point 103 which was an important feature overlooking the village of St Pierre. As the 8th DLI reached point 103 a plan had been formulated to take St Pierre to enable the advance to proceed to the area of Tessel Bretteville.

The advance began at 1745hrs on the 10th June with `C` Company moving forward behind a rather weak smoke screen closely followed by `D` Company. In the village itself the Germans waited ready with their machine guns and mortars for the unsuspecting companies. Immediately the Companies came into view the Germans opened fire inflicting casualties amongst `C` Company 4618214 Lance Sgt Kenneth Ogden a native of Huddersfield and formerly of  the KOYLI was amongst the first to fall as both companies suffered from the heavy concentration of fire being laid down by the German defenders. Still the 8th DLI pushed forward hand to hand close combat ensued within the neat back gardens and orchards of the village and after a short but bloody engagement a series of red and green flares signalled that `C` and `D` companies had succeeded in driving the Germans out of the village `A` and `B` Companies were now ordered forwards to help prepare defences against a possible counter attack.

Although the Germans had been forced from the village they still held strong mortar and machine gun positions which overlooked the 8th DLI and brought down a constant stream of very accurate fire which added to the Durham’s already high casualty lists.

During the fighting for control of the village the cost in men particularly officers was high  `C` Company commander Major J A Leybourne , Lt J A Hannah and Lieut G Galvin were wounded Lieutenant J D Mould was killed. `D` Company  also suffered heavily in particular 18 platoon who were caught by the Germans withering machine gun fire.Lieutenant  P Lawn of 16 Platoon also received wounds during the attack from which he later died.The Germans although driven from the village still held commanding views of the 8th DLI`s positions and were able to direct very accurate shell fire from their positions around Fontenay-le-Pesnel. A reconnaissance patrol by elements of `A` Company during the night had found the nearby bridge over the river Seulles heavily guarded with large numbers of enemy troops but apart from the almost constant mortar fire the expected counter attack did not materialise that night.

285608 Lieutenant P Lawn (Left) sustained wounds during the attack on St Pierre and died on the 16th June 1944 The son of Dr. John Gunson Lawn and Winifred Mary Lawn, of Golders Green, Middlesex.He was 23 yrs and lies today in good company in Bayeux Cemetery Section X. Row F. Grave 25.

At around 0615hrs on the 11th June the German bombardment of the DLI positions intensified this was the beginning of the German counter attack .The germans launced a full scale attack on the positions held by `C` Company now commanded by Captain J Wheatley the already weakened company were quickly overrun and `A` Company who were positioned directly behind `C` reported large numbers of enemy troops approaching their positions it was at this time that `A` Company lost Lieutenant H Waggott killed.Lieutenant P M Laws the battalion Intelligence officer gathered the survivors of `C` Company and despite being wounded gave covering fire with a bren gun until the men were able to fall back to stronger positions.`D` Company too were under heavy attack from SS troops and despite temporally halting the advance found the need to fall back after one of its platoons were cut off .German infantry and tanks moved around the battalions left flank to engage `B` Company who started to fall back, Pte Protano refused an order to fall back and rained constant fire from his Bren gun into the oncoming tanks and infantry once the battalion had managed to stem the advance on the position the men of `B`Company returned to find Pte Protano still there and busying himself with the dressing of the wounded in his section.Tank support from the 24th Lancers was swift in coming to the aid of 8th DLI but when the lead tank was knocked out completely blocking the village road it forced the remaining tanks into the open where they were easily targeted by the Germans accurate artillery fire .              86523 Lieutenant Harry Waggot (above) KIA at St Pierre on the 11th June 1944 husband of Marjory Mary Waggott, of Chester-le-Street, Co. Durham.He was aged 27 and lies today in good company in Hottot Les Bagues Cemetery Section 2 Row B Grave 13.

Back in the village the scene was one of carnage as men fought street by street,Captain J Wheatley returned to St Pierre to gather fresh orders as he spoke with Lieutenant English a German mortar bomb landed between the two.Captain J Wheatley took the full blast of the bomb whilst Lt English received not a scratch,despite being evacuated to the regimental aid post Captain J Wheatley who had fought so gallantly with the battalion in the Western Desert and at Primosole in Sicily died shortly after.

130394 Captain John Nicholson  Wheatley(left) died of wounds sustained at St Pierre on the 11th June 1944 an officer of the Royal Ulster Rifles he was attached to 8th DLI he was the son of Arthur and Evelyn Wheatley, of Reading, Berkshire He was 24 years old.He lies today in good company in Jerusalem War Cemetery Chouain Row A Grave 13

 Photograph of Capt Wheatleys Grave (Below)

Meanwhile Lieutenant Laws made his way through the village taking up various positions and putting his excellent marksmanship skills to good use by sniping at the advancing Germans .Lieutenant Laws was later awarded a Military cross..`A` Company and battalion HQ on the right of the battalion positions were now coming under intense German fire everyman available batmen cooks valets all stood alongside the men of `A` Company in a bid to drive the Germans back but it was only  when Captain Walker the battalion Adjutant jumped aboard  a tank and using its Besa machine gun to good effect did the German attack falter and break.Sgt S P Wallbanks also drove back three enemy tanks with a Piat after its No1 had been killed.

At mid-day it was possible to reorganise the surviving companies despite losing their commanding position near the Church at the St Pierre –Fontenay-le-Pesnel cross roads the battalion still held most of the village `C` and `A` Company survivors were put under the direct command of Major Beattie `B` Company were secure in their original positions but `D` Company were pulled back to occupy houses in the North of St Pierre.A fighting patrol by a platoon of `A` Company supported by a troop of tanks managed to shoot up a enemy position enabling some men of the battalions anti-tank platoon to recover two guns and carriers lost in the initial German counter attack. The rest of the night passed relatively peacefully

 The Sherwood Rangers relieved the 24th Lancers who had lost a considerable amount of tanks in the previous days battle but during an O group they lost their CO, Adjutant, Intelligence and signals officer when a shell landed nearby killing them instantly. At around 1900hrs another strong counter attack was launched against the 8th DLI in St Pierre German Armour including Tigers approached from the east and coupled with artillery fire they were able to inflict severe casualties on the British armour without ever coming into retaliatory range, The Tigers then moved on `B` Company positions and used their machine guns with murderous effect inflicting heavy casualties upon the helpless infantrymen. Amongst the casualties were `B` Companies commander Major Clapton who mortally wounded lay undiscovered until the 12th June and died shortly after. The battalions anti tank gunners reacted heroically as they attempted to stop the advance of the German armour and although at one stage the Germans had succeeded in completely surrounding the 8th DLI in St Pierre but as night fell the Durham’s still held the village. Once again the night passed quietly and the expected German follow up did not materialise .Never the less with other failures in the invasion plan it was decided to withdraw 8th DLI from the village along with its Armoured support with the 8th DLI reverting to 151 Bde  reserve. The village of St Pierre did not fall until several days later and this was accomplished by another DLI battalion the 10th DLI.

50972 Major Thomas Lionel Ashburner Clapton (above right)  8th DLI died of wounds on the 12th June 1944 .He was aged 32years.He was the son of Lieut.-Comdr. Thomas Clapton, R.N., and Mildred Ashburner Clapton; husband of Rosemary Clapton, of Bradpole, Bridport, Dorsetshire He lies at peace in good company in Bayeux Cemetery Section XI Row J Grave 24

Military Cross Action 216759 Lieutenant  Peter Malcolm Laws 8th DLI

216759 WS/LIEUTENANT PETER MALCOLM LAWS 8TH DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY

On the morning of 10th June 1944,8 DLI were heavily counterattacked by tanks and infantry in St Pierrre`C` Company were overrun  an all  the Company Officers became casualties .Lt Laws the battalion went forward and took command of the remnants and with complete disregard for his own safety quickly reorganised  them and temporarily restored the situation.

The situation became worse and a further withdrawal took place. Lt Laws remained behind to cover their withdrawal and used a Bren Gun with great effect against the enemy at very close  range. He was wounded in the groin and though unable to carry the Bren Gun continued to use a rifle. When the Company was established on the rear line he himself withdrew and though weak refused to be evacuated and took up a position in an OP and continued to snipe the enemy. He was later evacuated .His personal courage and devotion to duty were quite outstanding and a fine example to all ranks during a very critical and trying time.

Military Medal Action Cpl David Dennis Michael (MM) 8th DLI

 4032841 Cpl David Dennis Michael The 8th Durham Light Infantry (2nd Award Bar)

Announced in the London Gazette dated 31st August 1944 "On 11th June 44 at ST PIERRE Cpl Michael's company was ordered to restore the situation on the right flank of the Bn which had been pushed back as a result of an enemy counter attack. Cpl Michael's platoon commander was killed and his platoon Sgt missing. Cpl Michael immediately took over command and under extremely heavy M.G. and arty fire continued to lead his platoon forward, twice they were pinned to the ground by fire but each time Cpl Michael found a way round until their objective was reached. Here he immediately organised the defence of the position which was successfully held. Cpl Michael throughout the action displayed great personal courage and fine powers of leadership and it was due to his actions and personal example that the task was successfully accomplished

2nd award as Cpl Michael had originally won a Military Medal at Mareth .There were only three awards of the MM with a 2nd Award (Bar) made to the DLI in WW2 all to the 8th Battalion.


Military Medal Action 5953442 Cpl Stanley Brydges 8th Durham.L.Inf

 


Cpl Brydges was Battalion Medical Orderly working in thr RAP during the action at St Pierre between June 9th and June 13th During this action the RAP was constantly under fire from enemy Artillery fire and was twice surrounded and under fire from enemy tanks and Infantry.

Although the house in which the RAP was located was hit by mortar and shell fire and was subject to a hail of machine gun fire.Cpl Brydges carried on with his work and the care of the wounded with outstanding gallantry and disregard for his own safety.By his coolness and courage this NCO was instrumental in saving the lives of many of his comrades

St Pierre Ian English remembers

As D Company pushed inland, the bikes were quietly forgotten.

"We came up to this crossroads, and we should have got astride this road but there was a Spandau in the hedge over there, " says Ian English then a highly decorated Lieutenant in the 8th Durham Light Infantry, . "That's when it brought home to me the differences between the desert and Normandy. the fields of fire in Normandy were short and you could easily mop up men and this German was firing at anything that moved from across the road, and you couldn't see the blighter."

The Durhams made good progress but the following morning, the Germans fought back. Today, in the peace of the tight streets, it is impossible to imagine the noise and violence of those June days in 1944. The whizz of the shells, the boom of the mortars, the cries of the men as All hell broke loose!

C Company were over-run, Capt Wheatley came running back for further instructions a mortar bomb landed between them Wheatley was killed instantly whilst Lieut English was unscathed. "The position here became very sticky indeed and after an hour or so I ordered 18 platoon to move back a bit, " At the entrance of a farmyard. "We could just see some of the Germans milling about round the corner down the Rue de Cristot. Then three tanks appeared driving five or six cows in front of them. The Piat man got down here to see if he could hit the tank. The Piat was a good weapon and if it hit the tank it penetrated the armour and burnt the inside. But it had a fault which, in my experience, occurred only twice. Once was in England in training. And the other was here, at this moment. The baseplate of the projectile came back and hit the operator on the head and killed him." History doesn't remember the name of the Durham Light Infantryman who died on this spot, although his remains will lie in one of the numerous war cemeteries in the district.

It was left to Sergeant Stephen Wallbanks from Chester-le-Street to take the place of the dead man  firing three shots which rather startled the cows. One skidded beneath the leading tank's tracks and although the tank was undamaged it was enough to end the Germans' advance. Things quietened off, Then there was some firing, and I saw a German officer being carried along by two of his men, pouring with blood. Three Germans lay dead alongside one Durham Light Infantryman,4031588 Private David Cropper, who had killed these Germans but had also been killed in the cross fire.Pte David Cropper is buried  in Tillysur-Seulles. He was aged 32. According to the CWGC No next of kin, no "additional information"  listed although we know now he initially enlisted in the Kings Shropshire Light Infantry.

Captain W S Williamson an 8th Durham Light Infantry Officer visited St Pierre in 1948 and was told more of the incident which occured shortly after the battalion entered the village.She described how four British soldiers came to her house and then withdrew to a nearby orchard.Shortly afterwards a German officer with eight men arrived to ask whether she had seen any British troops? She answered `No` and as she closed the door the party of Germans walked off along the road.Almost immediately the shooting started.When the Frenchwoman peered cautiosly out of her window she saw the German officer bleeding from several wounds limping along the road.In the road not far from her house were the bodies of four German soldiers and that of Pte David Cropper of the DLI."I am sure" she told Captain Williamson "that he came from the orchard to shoot these Boches He was a very brave man to fight with nine of them "

The following day's events unfold before Ian English`s eyes "This time the Germans attacked with tanks across the fields My batman and I tried to make it across this orchard. It was bad, with shelling and mortaring. We got to the hedge and found one of our anti-tank guns without a crew, but I suddenly released that we didn't have any idea how to work the damn thing. I came crashing back through this orchard to get some help, and I must confess I thought to myself what am I doing here when I could have had a training job." (Having been offered such a post following his escape from German Captivity following his capture in the desert)

Eventually the replacement crew got the anti-tank gun going. There were three or four Panzer tanks , and we certainly did some damage to them." The following day, the Battle of St Pierre was over. It had cost the DLI five officers and 31 other ranks with another 130 wounded. The battle finished with the order to withdraw. After all the effort we had put into this place we were very disappointed to give it up, and to this day I'm not sure why. The Battle of Mareth was the worst battle I was in, but St Pierre was fairly bad. But then when we got mobile through France doing 20 or 30 miles a day, rounding up Germans, that was great. It's funny how things can change quickly in war.

Having been awarded the Military Cross - his second - for his actions in Normandy, Ian English's combat ended three months later when he was wounded at Gheel in Belgium I really do believe that I had a guardian angel somewhere, There were two or three occasions when I could have been shot when I was captured in the Desert, I fired at them, but instead of shooting me on the spot they took me prisoner.

 Ian English visited Jerusalem Cemetery, near Tilly-sur-Seulles with the Northern Echo who ran a feature on it. To him, "it's the most evocative place in Normandy". Jerusalem is one of the smallest of the United Kingdom's war cemeteries, with 48 graves - 23 of them belong to members of the Durham Light Infantry. Three of them are of its padres and one is of Jack Banks, who was only 16.

Ian English stood in front of Grave A13 which belongs to his friend Capt John Wheatley who was blown up only yards from him. "I'll show you the chap who was my driver from December 1939 to June 1942, " he says. He moves slowly past Wheatley and Banks to B14 where lies 4546300 Pte Kenneth Stanger, who also has no next of kin listed died 20th July 1944(Formerly of the West Yorkshire Regt), Looking sadly around him Ian English Sighed and gasped: "I knew just about half of them."

In September 1944 English was wounded near Gheel, Belgium, but on recovering from his wounds  rejoined 8 DLI at Keighley, Yorkshire, in April 1945. He was demobilised the following year, but continued to serve as a territorial until 1961. After graduating in Agriculture from Selwyn College, Cambridge, he became a consultant to the fertiliser firm Fisons, from which he retired in the 1970s. In his spare time he enjoyed ornithology, beekeeping and growing vegetables. Ian English was a founder member of the Monte San Martino Trust, set up to raise funds for the assistance of Italian peasants, and particularly to help with the education of their children. Sponsored "freedom walks" are organised regularly and follow the escape route used by the PoWs in 1943. He published Assisted Passage (1994), an account of his wartime adventures in Italy, and was co-author, with Major Peter J Lewis, of Into Battle with the Durhams (1949 and 1990). He also edited Home by Christmas (1997), the experiences of 600 prisoners of war who marched out of camp at Fontanellato. Ian English, died on March 30,2006

MILITARY MEDAL ACTION 3718643 L/SGT STEPHEN PRESCOTT WALLBANKS  8th DLI

  3718643 L/Sgt Stephen Prescott Wallbanks The  8th Battalion Durham Light Infantry

On the morning of 10th June 1944 the battalion position in St Pierre was heavily counter attacked by tanks and Infantry and the Front Line defences were penetrated.Whilst `D` Company were reorganising in a rear position a tank approached down the village street followed by infantry and the PIAT number one was killed but Sgt Wallbanks without hesitation and despite a hail of machine gun fire and shrapnel from enemy mortars and artillery took over the PIAT.He fired three shots but failed to hit the tank as the enemy had driven cattle ahead of the tank.By his actions however he caused the tank to withdraw.Throughout the action Sgt Wallbanks by his courage,devotion to duty and cheerfulness set a fine example to the men of his platoon and did much to restore the critical situation.

Sergeant Stephen Prescott Wallbanks was born in Lincolnshire, he was a plumber before he joined the Kings Own Royal Regiment before moving onto the 8th Battalion DLI. During World War two he  fought in North Africa, Sicily and in Normandy. On 10 June 1944 at St. Pierre, he gained the Military Medal when 8 DLI was attacked by three German tanks.At Gheel in Belgium on 9 September 1944, Stephen Wallbanks was killed in action during the crossing under heavy fire of the Albert Canal. He was 25 years old, the husband of Mary Doreen Wallbanks, of Alderley Edge, Cheshire. Stephen lies in good company in Gheel (Geel) churchyard British Plot Grave 26.

 

MILITARY MEDAL ACTION 14657868 Pte Francis Protano 8th Durh.L.I

14657868 Pte Francis Protano The 8th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry

On the 10th June 1944 at St Pierre `B` Company 8th Durham Light Infantry were attacked and partially over run by tanks.
Pte Protano`s section came under particularly heavy machine gun fire and all but Pte Protano were either killed or wounded.
Although neighbouring section posts were forced to withdraw Pte Protano remained at his post returning fire with a bren gun which he had taken from one of the wounded.
The enemy tanks were finally driven off and the remainder of the companies were able to come forward and reoccupy their positions.Pte Protano throughout the action showed outstanding courage and by his actions was undoubtedly instrumental in saving the lives of his wounded comrades


Military Medal Action 4462172 Pte John Cawley 8th Durh.L.I

 4462172 Pte John Cawley The 8th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry

On the evening of the 11th June 1944 the Germans attacked the area of St Pierre with tanks.After the action had been going on for about an hour it was found that the crew of an A/Tank Gun had not reached their position.In order to keep the approaching tanks out of the Company area it was essential that this gun be manned.
Pte Cawley led the crew up,crawling over ground which was continually being swept by the fire of the tanks machine guns.He then helped to fire the gun at the tanks which were only 250yards away.It was not possible to see the tanks when down behind the gun so he stood up in full view of the tanks and directed the fire of the gun.It was through Pte Cawleys great example and complete disregard for personal safety that the enemy tanks were prevented from breaking into the company position

Military Medal Action 3910474 Cpl Bryniog Thomas 8th Durham.L.Inf

 3910474 CPL BRYNIOG THOMAS THE 8th DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY

During the morning of 12th June 1944 Cpl Thomas`s section which was holding a position near St Pierre came under very heavy mortar, Artillery and Sniper fire and were pinned to their trenches .Cpl Thomas seized a Bren Gun and ran across to the nearest tree which he climbed, though he was shot at the whole time. He kept a look out for enemy snipers and as soon as they were spotted he engaged them and personally killed three. He then rejoined his section successfully reorganised it and by moving amongst his men encouraged and steadied them

The platoon Sgt became a casualty and he took over command. During the whole action he set a magnificent example to his men by his cheerfulness courage and devotion to duty maintaining a high morale in his men by his disregard of his own personal safety whilst under heavy fire

 

The Killing Fields of France 1944

On the 13th June 1944 6th DLI were on the main Tilley-Bayeux road as they began their advance in the direction of Le-Pont-de Guillette. As they turned to the right at this point `A` Company ( who were lead company ) were heavily engaged by mortars and machine guns this heavy and completely unexpected attack inflicted  heavy casualties  amongst the leading section ,only Pte Ken Lodge was not either wounded or killed.

Major Wood decided to put in a company attack with Major Atkinson’s `B` Company following the line of a small stream nearby but as they advanced a German nebelwerfer opened up and its rocket projectiles fell into the leading section of `B` Company causing horrific casualties with two men killed and six wounded amongst the wounded was Lt J L Bell who would later die from his injuries. A troop of tanks were brought up to support the two reserve platoons however the Germans were well dug in and concealed and despite Major Atkinson’s attempts at  reorganising his Company the Durham’s attack was beaten back.

Remnants of `A` and `B` Companies who had made contact with each other took up positions to the left and right of the old track leading to the farmhouse as  `C` and `D` Companies who had been sent forward began to dig in astride the Tilly  main road which was just left of `A` Companies left but at 20;30hrs  the battalion were ordered to move to Folliot ,moving back through the South Wales Borderers the 6th DLI spent the night at this location. Casualties for the day were seven dead and forty two wounded many seriously

6th Durham Light Infantry Casualties on this day were;-

Pte Eddie Baker 5682586  Son of Albert Robert and Lillie Baker, of Stoke Gabriel, Devon He originally enlisted into The Somerset Light Infantry he was  21 years old

Pte Eddie Baker 6th DLI relaxing at home in the garden prior to D-Day 1944.Photographs  supplied courtesy of Lynn Thomas

Eddie lies in good company in  TILLY-SUR-SEULLES WAR CEMETERY Section  XI.  Row A.  Grave 7.

+

Pte Cyril Frederick Bennett 5509153 Son of George and Maud Bennett; husband of Gwendoline Louvain Bennett, of Spittal, Pembrokeshire.Aged 30

Cpl William Brown 4464920 Son of Ezra Jubilee Brown and Lena Brown; husband of Isabella Brown, of Bradford, Yorkshire. Aged 28

Pte William Albert Charles Causley  5442318 Son of Albert John and Mildred Causley; husband of Lilian Vera Causley, of Paddington, London Aged 30

Cpl Herbert Thomas Crumpton  5442095 Son of Albert Edward and Sarah Jane Crumpton, of Bristol; husband of Violet Grace Hay Crumpton, of Greenbank, Bristol.Born 24th July 1914 he was previously employed as a carrige cleaner before his enlistment formerly of The Duke of Cornwell Light Infantry.He married Violet on 29th July 1939 at St Annes Church,Greenbank,Bristol he was aged 29.

Pte Edward Albert Fenwick 14675146 Son of Thomas and Lillian Fenwick, of Birtley, Co. Durham Aged 18

Pte Edward Albert Fenwick 14675146 is commemorated on the War Memorial in his home town of Birtley.

 

 

Cpl Edward Maurice Firth  4466436 Son of Joseph and Jane Firth; husband of Rosanna Mellin Firth, of Bellshill, Lanarkshire Aged 33

Pte Terrence Garvey  5506000 Son of Edward Francis and Norah May Garvey, of Hartlepool, Co. Durham Aged 22

Pte Elias Sterio  3965821 Son of Elias Metro Sterio and Sarah Ellen Sterio, of Cardiff; husband of Bridget Sterio, of Cardiff. Formerly of The Welch Regt.`A` Company 6th DLI Aged 24

Pte Elias Sterio Killed in Action 13th June 1944

Pte Lionel Terence Webb  14388987 Son of Ernest Edward and Emily May Webb, of Coventry Aged 20

Pte Joseph Wilkes 5117232 Aged 30

Lieutenant J L Bell 117948 Son of Alexander Dunlop Bell and Nora Bell, of Godstone, Surrey. B.A. (Oxon.). Somerset Light Infantry attached to The 6th Durham Light Infantry died of Wounds on the 19th June 1944 he was Aged 25

 

Scholarship was his love but War was his duty.Africa.Sicily Normandy

Lieutenant John Lawrence Bell died of wounds which he received in Normandy on the 13th June 1944 serving with The 6th Durham Light Infantry he lies today at Mill Hill Churchyard Row 10 Grave no7 (St Pauls)

 Personal recollections of Le Pont de la Guillette


'EDDIE always said that 13 was his lucky number, but he wasn't lucky that day," says Ken Lodge. "On the 13th, we walked into the unknown."
Ken, now 78, has just laid a poppy by the white headstone belonging to Private Eddie Fenwick. He was 18 when he died on June 13, 1944.
"I can remember the date we met," says Ken. "It was November 18, 1943. We were called up and I met him at Brancepeth Camp and we became good friends."
Ken came from Pelton; Eddie came from Birtley, and their training was targeted at the invasion of Normandy.
"He lasted a week, Eddie," says Ken, the warm May sunshine making his forehead beneath his beret as moist as his eyes. "He was just in front of me. I think I heard him say something like 'mother', I don't know. Then he was just lying there...


"And Bennett (Private Cyril Bennett, 30, Son of George and Maud Bennett; husband of Gwendoline Louvain Bennett, of Spittal, Pembrokeshire.) was lying in a ditch as if he had just rolled into it, and the lad behind was hit in both legs and the chap opposite had his wrist smashed open - I could see all the bones in his wrist - and I could hear the bullets buzzing as they went into the ground.
"They come so close you can feel them burn you. They sting a bit with their speed.
"I was the only man in my section of eight that was not killed or hit."
The 6th Battalion had been moving south down the road from Bayeux to Tilly-sur-Seulles. A Company had turned off towards Le Pont de la Guillette and walked straight into an ambush.
"The Germans were waiting for us at the top of the bank. I never hit the ground so fast in all my life," he says.
"I honestly thought I was gone."
"I played dead. All went quiet. Very slowly, I crawled backwards, gradually shedding my cumbersome equipment."
"Then I got to the bank and stood up and ran like the clappers and I had to scale trees that had been blown over by the artillery and the men lying under them," he says, barely stopping for breath. "I was absolutely terrified."
"I made it to safety. Four dead, three severely injured, and me without a scratch."
"We went back to that area a couple of days later and the boys were black, still lying there," he says, "and I recognised Eddie by his red hair..."

The line was strongly held by the opposing German forces, this was apparent throughout the day’s actions, and the next morning would bring more heavy casualties in these Killing Fields of France

Verrieres June 14th 1944

The 6th DLI were ordered to advance and occupy Hottot and the village of Verrieres the attack was to be supported by RAF Typhoons and a Barrage laid down by 50 Division artillery.

Advance through the Cornfield

The advance began at 10;15hrs on the morning of 14th June 1944 `C` and `D` Companies led either side of the Folliot-Verrieres road.`B` and `D` Companies following behind in reserve.The battalion were supported by a squadron of tanks from 4/7 Dragoon Guards.After crossing the start line the companies spread out in open formation,Immediately North of the village of Verrieres the battalion advanced through a field of standing corn the advance had progressed well up until now the only sound was the birds and the swish of the corn as the men of 6DLI advance rifes to the port,bayonets fixed.Running North East to South West was a wood in front of this was a ditch un-be-known to the Durhams the ditch was held in strength by men of the Elite German SS Unit Panzer Lehr.As the Durhams advanced the Germans opened up with machine gun and rifle fire which cut down the advancing Durhams with devastating effect the leading companies bore the brunt of theis heavy fire and casualties rose alarmingly.The men hit the ground to find what cover they could.Pte Ernest Harvey recalled "..the companies were slaughtered as the first wave were mown down those moving up behind them were also hit..the cries of the lads were `Mother..Mother` I know its strange but everyone cried for their mother...I stayed down I could`nt move ..if I moved ..I`d be shot simple as that..I remember the corn ..it looked as though it had been cut with shears..Eventually two tanks blasted the hedge..and we took the German positions ..I looked around it was like a scene from the first world war ..Carnage.The sergeant told me to go and take the ammo from the pouches of the dead and wounded ..I was just about to start  when a voice said "Leave them alone,don`t touch them ..it was the Padre there were tears streaming from his eyes..just as I turned away I saw this German making a run for it across the field and someone started firing at him..until the Padre knocked the gun from his hands with the words "There`s been enough killing for one day..I remember the sergeant and he had words.."

Snipers were also proving a problem Sgt Bert Davies recalled how some of the snipers were tied or in some cases chained to trees .Sgt Ingram had been across the cornfield and back again when he turned to warn Sgt Davies about the snipers at that moment Sgt Davies heard a `Ping` as Sgt Ingram spun around and hit the ground a sniper had hit him in the head,Sgt Ingram was taken to the Regimental aid post and thankfully survived his wounds .

Sergeant Ingram recieves treatment at the Regimental Aid Post  June 14th 1944

The advance had been held up and despite laying down further barrages on the German positions and sending in the reserve companies which again took heavy casualties it was five hours before the position was taken.At 1600hrs the battalion found twelve Spandaus some of which had been fired from cover on a fixed axis .the German positions were that well prepared only a direct hit would have had any effect.

`B` Company advancing into Verrieres through the remnants of `C` &`D` Companies encountered no further opposition however as they paused at a track near the cross roads at Les le Gallios crossroads to allow elements of `D` Company to cover them on the right a German tank was sighted covering the road and opened fire pinning down the remnants of `D` Company.`B` Company advanced to within two hundred yards of the main road before they too came under intense machine gun fire from concealed German positions.Major Atkinson sent forward his left hand platoon (`B` Company) under the cover of the hedgerows one section suceeded in reaching the road before it was cut off losing four men killed and two wounded.The surviving members of the section were cut off from their company when Major Wood ordered all companies to withdraw to the line of the track North of Verrieres where they dug in for the night.

Digging in ..men of The Durham Light Infantry

Casualties had indeed been heavy with 6th DLI recording Twenty -Three killed,sixty two wounded and fifteen missing.This brought total battalion casualties since D-Day to 1 officer killed (DOW) nine officers wounded,thirty other ranks killed one hundred and twenty six other ranks wounded and a furthertwenty six missing.After the attack on Verrieres  `A` and what was left of `C` company were combined to form a single composite Company thus `B` Company was commanded by Major Atkinson,`C` Company by Cpt R Bousfield whilst `D` Company were under Cpt A H Sandwith

Major Renton `Spike` Galloway MC from Jesmond,Newcastle was wounded in the left arm at Verrieres on 14th June 1944 .He returned to 6th Durham light infantry on the 2nd August 1944 where he took over command of `A` Company He was killed in action near Le Plessis Grimault on the 12th August 1944 ,eye witnesses reported  he was killed by a german shell which clipped the trees and exploded above  killing Mr Galloway and four other ranks he was 32years old

He is at peace in  ST. MANVIEU WAR CEMETERY, CHEUX Grave 15 Row 9

 Pte John Burns  6th Durham Light Infantry  KiA June  14th 1944

 

Name:BURNS, JOHN
Initials:J
Nationality:United Kingdom
Rank:Private
Regiment/Service:Durham Light Infantry
Unit Text:6th Bn.
Age:19
Date of Death:14/06/1944
Service No:14614336
Additional information:Son of John and Catherine Burns, of West Hartlepool, Co. Durham.
Casualty Type:Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference:XV. G. 19.
Cemetery:Bayeux War Cemetery

 

 

Pte John Burns was one of Twenty Six members of The 6th Durhams who died that day.John lived at 51 South Street,West Hartlepool and was a former pupil of St Josephs prior to joining up he had previously been employed at Hartlepools Co-Operative Society.He was the son of John and Catherine Burns and was aged 19yrs when he was killed in action in the area of Verrieres

 

The letter which was received by Johns parents from his CO Major R G Atkinson `B` Company 6th DLI outlining the circumstances of Pte Burns death . Documents courtesy of Mr Brian Carter

The Official notification of Pte Burns death from Army Records Documents courtesy of Mr Brian Carter

Notification  from Grave Registration unit (War Office from August 1945) giving details of Pte Burns final resting place in Bayeux Cemetery Documents courtesy of Mr Brian Carter

A WW2 Memorial Scroll of a Type which would have been received by Pte Burns Family

The Grave of Private John Burns `B` Company 6th Durham Light Infantry taken in June 2008 by my son James

ROLL OF HONOUR 6th DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY WEDNESDAY JUNE 14th 1944

 For many families the events of Wednesday June 14th 1944 would have tragic consequences My own Grandmother would simply not believe that her son would not be coming home .Twenty six other men of the 6th Durham Light Infantry died in France that day,although battalion histories give the total at Verrieres as twenty three,perhaps the other three died elsewhere whatever the location or cause all twenty six are recorded in this section.May they rest in peace,side by side as they were once in life..they lie in good company.

   ROLL OF HONOUR 6th DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY WEDNESDAY JUNE 14th 1944

 Pte Charles Frederick Alderman 5436444 formerly of The Duke of Cornwalls Light Infantry now 6th Durham Light Infantry died 14/06/1944 aged 28 yrs He lies today in Bayeux War Cemetery Section XIV Row G Grave 4

+

Pte Peter Lonsdale Arnold 14640995 The 6th Durham Light Infantry was the Son of Percy Sidney and Lilla Edith Arnold, of 30 Weavers Road,Wellingborough, Northamptonshire he died on the 14/06/1944 he was aged 20yrs.Today he lies in Bayeux War Cemetery Section XV Row G Grave 25

+

 

Pte Norman Barrett 4457087 The 6th Durham Light Infantry was the son of John and Ellen Barrett and dear husband of Elsie Barrett.He died on the 14/06/1944 he was aged 25yrs.Today he lies in Bayeux War Cemetery Section XI Row L Grave 18 

+

Pte Arthur Blakiston Bradley 14675224 The 6th Durham Light Infantry was the son of John Blakiston Bradley and Isabella Bradley, of South Shields, Co. Durham.He died on the 14/06/1944 he was aged 18yrs.Today he lies in Bayeux War Cemetery Section XI Row M Grave 4.

+

 

Pte John Burns 14614336 The 6th Durham Light Infantry was the son of  John and Catherine Burns, of West Hartlepool, Co. Durham.He died on the 14/06/1944 he was aged 19 yrs.Today he lies in Bayeux War Cemetery Section XV Row G Grave 19.

+

Cpl Ronald Davies 14265884 The 6th Durham Light Infantry was the son of Walter William and Emily Victoria Davies, of Quarry Bank, Staffordshire.He died on the 14/06/1944 he was aged 21 yrs.Today he lies in Bayeux War Cemetery Section XV Row G Grave 24

+

_

Staff Sgt Arnold Dawson  4457405 The 6th Durham Light Infantry was the son of Joseph Henry and Ellen Dawson, of Crook, Co. Durham..He died on the 14/06/1944 he was aged 25 yrs.Today he lies in Bayeux War Cemetery Section XV Row G Grave 11

+

 

Corporal George Kinross Bolton Dewar 2987596 formerly of the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders now 6th Durham Light Infantry Son of Thomas and Agnes Dewar, of 17 Burnside Avenue Plean, Stirlingshire.He died on the 14/06/1944 he was aged 24 yrs.Today he lies in Bayeux War Cemetery Section XV Row F Grave 24.

+

Pte Issac Dickinson 3709546 formerly of The Kings Own Royal Regiment  now 6th Durham Light Infantry Son of Isaac Dickinson and of Sarah Dickinson (nee Stewart); husband of Gladys Winifred Dickinson, of Walthamstow, Essex. He died on the 14/06/1944 he was aged 32 yrs.Today he lies in Bayeux War Cemetery Section XV Row G Grave 6.

+

Pte Edward Ford 14646069 The 6th Durham Light Infantry was the son Son of Mr. and Mrs. A. H. Ford, of Walthamstow, Essex.He died on the 14/06/1944 he was aged 19 yrs.Today he lies in Bayeux War Cemetery Section XV Row G Grave 7

 Pte John Charles French 14553664 The 6th Durham Light Infantry was the son of John William and Jane Margarette French, of South Lambeth, London.He died on the 14/06/1944 he was aged 19yrs.He lies today in Bayeux War Cemetery Section XV Row G Grave 5

+

Corporal John William Sawyers Gibson 4450472 The 6th Durham Light Infantry a pre war regular with both the 2nd and 1st Battalions he transferred to the 6th DLI in preparation for D-Day. The son of Catherine Gibson and James Patrick Sawyers brother to Mary, Nora ,Ada, Jenny and Charlie of Covent Gardens Sunderland,Co Durham. Estranged husband of Florence May Henry Gibson, of Aston, Birmingham.He died on the 14/06/1944.He was 27yrs he lies today in Bayeux War Cemetery Section XV Row G Grave 1.

+

 L/Cpl Richard Albert Hale 4928765.formerly of  the South Staffordshire Regiment now The 6th Durham Light Infantry was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Hale, of Wolverhampton; husband of Lilian Irene Hale, of Wolverhampton .He died on the 14/06/1944 he was aged 23yrs.He lies today in Bayeux War Cemetery Section XV Row G Grave 15

+

 Pte Trevor Vivian Humphries 14647282 The 6th Durham Light Infantry was the son of Albert and Euphemia Agnes Humphries, of Springwood, Liverpool .He died on the 14/06/1944 he was aged 21yrs.He lies today in Bayeux War Cemetery Section XV Row F Grave 25

+

 Pte John Atkinson Jackson 14349489 The 6th Durham Light Infantry was the son of son of Henry and Elizabeth Jackson, of Carlisle. He died on the 14/06/1944 he was aged 30yrs.He lies today in Bayeux War Cemetery Section XV Row G Grave 13

+

Pte Thomas Henry Rees Jenkins 3962714 formerly of the Welch Regiment now The 6th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry. Son of Jonah Jenkins and of Minnie Jenkins, of Clifford, Herefordshire.He died on the 14/06/1944 he was aged 24yrs.He lies today in Bayeux War Cemetery Section XV Row G Grave 3

+

Pte Harry Taylor King 14207855 The 6th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry.Son of Daniel and May Elisabeth King, of 25 Lawrences Road,Foleshill, Warwickshire.He died on the 14/06/1944 he was aged 24yrs.He lies today in Bayeux War Cemetery Section XI Row G Grave 17.

+

 

L/Cpl Richard Arthur Layfield 14655419 The 6th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry.Son of Arthur and Frances Lilian Layfield, of Irchester, Northamptonshire He died on the 14/06/1944 he was aged 20yrs.He lies today in Bayeux War Cemetery Section XI Row G Grave 14.

+

Sergeant Andrew Moralee 4459252. The 6th Battalion Durham Light Infantry.Husband of M. A. Moralee, of Grange Villa, nr Chester le Street ,Co. Durham He died on the 14/06/1944 he was aged 26yrs.He lies today in Ryes War Cemetery,Bazenville  Section V Row C Grave 4

+

Pte Harold Oakley 14675212  The 6th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry.Son of Harold and Elizabeth Oakley, of Sunderland, Co. Durham He died on the 14/06/1944 he was aged 18yrs he lies today in Bayeux War Cemetery Section XI Row M Grave 8.

+

 Pte Rex John Olver 4979990 formerly of The Sherwood Forresters now The 6th Battalion Durham Light Infantry.Son of Cpl. Frank Leslie Olver who served in The Royal Warwickshire Regt and was killed in action in France and Flanders on 14th January, 1917,and Blanche Louie Olver. Rex John Olver lived at 14 Florence Street,Thorneywood, Notinghamshire he died on the 14/06/1944 he was aged 27yrs he  lies today in Bayeux War Cemetery Section XI Row L Grave 23

+

Pte Victor Pearson 3387978 formerly The East Lancashire Regiment now 6th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Son of Mr. and Mrs. R. W. Pearson, of Marton, Blackpool, Lancashire.He was aged 25yrs he  lies today in Bayeux War Cemetery Section XIV Row H Grave 22.

+

 Douglas Harry Saban 4464458 MM The 6th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry. Son of Alfred M. and Florence S. Saban, of Walthamstow, Essex. Pte Saban won the Military Medal for actions in Sicily in 1943.He died on the 14/06/1944 aged 28years.He lies at peace in Bayeux War Cemetery Section XV Row J Grave 10

 

Pte George Guy Spendlove  5443068 formerly of The Duke of Cornwall Light Infantry now The 6th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry . Son of Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Spendlove, of Barking, Essex.He died on the 14/06/1944 aged 30yrs. He lies at peace in Bayeux War Cemetery Section XV Row H Grave 24.

+

Pte George Thornton 4622231 formerly of The Duke of Wellingtons Regiment now The 6th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry.He died on the 14/06/1944 aged 31yrs.He lies at peace in Bayeux War Cemetery Section XI Row M Grave 9

+

 

Pte Harry John Williams 5187896 formerly of The Gloucester Regiment now The 6th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry.Son of Ellen Williams, and stepson of F. Dungate, of Wokingham, Berkshire He died on the 14/06/1944 aged 34yrs.He lies at peace in Tilly sur Seulles War Cemetery Section 2 Row E Grave 13.

+

Distinguished Conduct Medal Action CSM James Nicholson Howson

 4453668 Warrant Officer Class II (CSM) James Nicholson Howson, 6DLI

On 16th June 1944 at Verrieres 'D' Company 6 DLI advancing behind an artillery barrage was suddenly pinned down by MMG and Mortar fire from a flank. OC 'D' Company was seriously wounded and most of Company HQ became casualties.

CSM Howson though severely wounded in the arm and suffering from loss of blood took command of the company and pinpointed the enemy fire as coming from an infantry strongpoint supported by a tank in a farmhouse. CSM Howson crawled back to the FOO whom he found dead and his signaller badly wounded, so he himself directed the artillery on to the target and by so doing silenced the enemy post.
CSM Howson then returned to his company and had a tourniquet applied to his wounded arm. He refused to be evacuated to the RAP, although now weak from loss of blood, until he had organised the defence of 'D' Company.CSM Howson by his general bearing, initiative and loyalty in battle has set an example of highest degree.

9th DLI Lingevres,The Night before........

Whilst 6th Durham Light Infantry were given the tasks of Hottot and Verrieres it was left to 9th DLI to secure the neighbouring village of Lingevres.The cornfield in which the Durhams had to cross had,just like that at Verrieres, been carefully prepared with the corn cut down to  prepare an excellent killing field in which the Germans could lie in wait in their concealed positions at the edge of the wood for the unsuspecting infantry.

Colonel H. Woods, Commanding Officer of the 9th. Bn. Durham Light Infantry  was ordered to take and hold the village of Lingevres on the 14th. June. 1944  Colonel Woods was more than a little concerned at the speed in which this operation had been arranged and feared very heavy casualties should the Germans be lying in wait but it was pointed out that if sucessful this  could in effect  cut the German front line in half and out flank Tilly.

 On the 13th June . 'B' Company who were in the area of Bernieres Bocage had been ordered to recce the area to ascertain the disposition and strength of the German Forces holding Lingevres. At this time they were supported by elements of 4/7 Dragoon Guards

 The fighting patrol ran  into a well concealed and defended German position in the woods to the north of Lingevres. Two of the 4/7th.RDG's Shermans were knocked out and 'B' Coy suffered nine fatal casualties including 3 Lieutenants ,  many more were wounded including the Company Commander Major J L Kennedy. 5727411 L/Cpl Leslie William Smith won a Military Medal for this action bringing in the wounded under constant heavy fire.

Roll of Honour 9th DLI 13th June 1944

4133425 PTE HENRY BROWNRIGG  9th DLI Son of Henry and Elizabeth Brownrigg; husband of Ida May Brownrigg, of Sale, Cheshire.

6140017 SGT CHARLES FREDERICK COOK  9th DLI Son of Harry and Laura E. M. Cook, of Barnes, Surrey

299471 LIEUTENANT JOHN DUNN  9th DLI Son of John Beattie Dunn, and of Mary Isabella Arkless Dunn, of Walker, Newcastle-on-Tyne

4694381 PTE ARTHUR ELLIS  9th DLI was the son of Frederick and Annie Elizabeth Ellis, of Huddersfield,Yorkshire .Formerly a member of The Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry he lies in good company in Section XV Row G Grave 23 Bayeux British War Cemetery.He was 27.

14436278 PTE EDWARD THOMAS HINDMARSH  9th DLI

237981 LIEUTENANT IAN LANSDOWNE ROANTREE  9th DLI Son of E. H. and Elena Roantree; husband of Elsie Roantree, of Darlington, Co. Durham

299465 LIEUTENANT GEORGE SCHOFIELD  9th DLI Son of John Thomas Schofield and Mary Elizabeth Schofield; husband of Gwendolene Schofield, of Hebburn, Co. Durham

4463808 PTE ALFRED COVELL SHIELDS 9th DLI Son of Robert and Alice Shields, of South Shields, Co. Durham

14572005 PTE CLIFFORD CYRIL  WRAIGHT  Son of Percy Robert and Mary Elizabeth Wraight, of Hammersmith, London

All now lie at Peace in Bayeux British Cemetery

 

Military Medal Action 4864126 Private John Hibble 9th Durham.L.Inf

 4864126 Pte John Hibble The 9th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry

On the 13th June 1944 South East of Bernieres Bocage `C` Company 9th btn Durham Light Infantry was in a forward position holding a small road.The company was under heavy mortar and machine gunfire and sustained a number of casualties.Pte Hibble a stretcher bearer moved out into the open on his own without orders and brought in wounded under fire.He was the only stretcher bearer in the company and showed great courage and devotion to duty.On the following day (14th June 1944) he went forward under heavy shell fire and brought in wounded men theeby saving many lives.Throughout the whole action Pte Hibble`s gallant conduct and bearing was a great encouragement and a fine example to his comrades.

Military Medal Action 5727411 A/U/L/Cpl. Leslie Smith 9th DLI

  5727411 A/U/L/Cpl. Leslie Smith 9th DLI  

       London Gazette 31st August 1944. Recommendation states: ‘5727411 A/U/L/Cpl. Leslie Smith, 9th Bn. The Durham Light Infantry.’ ‘On the afternoon of the 13th June 1944 near Bernieres-Bocage there were two sections of carriers in support of B Coy. 9 D.L.I. During the attack the carrier commander’s carrier was hit by an anti tank shell. In the confusion immediately following L/Cpl. Smith was conspicuous in rallying the carriers. Eventually the carriers were withdrawn behind B Coy. H.Q. L/Cpl. Smith then volunteered to collect the wounded. In face of enemy M.G. fire he drove in front of the enemy posts four times. He drove the carrier himself and collected the wounded without help other than smoke and supporting fire from a troop of tanks behind him. It was not until he satisfied himself that all that could be done had been done that Cpl. Smith returned to his own lines. His example was an inspiration to those who witnessed him and he showed great devotion to duty and a complete disregard of his own safety’

Military Cross Action 203059 Lieut  Peter Wilfred Burrell Thomson Attached 9DLI

 Military Cross Action 203059 Lieut  Peter Wilfred Burrell Thomson Attached 9DLI

Military Cross Action 203059 Lieut(Act Capt) Peter Wilfred Burrell Thomson Lieutenant (Acting Captain) Peter Wilfred Burrell Thomson (203059) 6th Btn Royal Sussex Regiment attached to 9th Btn Durham Light Infantry (Birmingham).

On the 13th June 1944 Captain Thomson was in command of "A' Coy, when he was ordered to make an exploratory attack on the German positions.  He came under attack and was wounded but he was able to extricate his Coy. He was taken prisoner but as he and the Germans sheltered in the roadside, he was able to persuade the Germans to surrender. This they agreed to providing they would decide when.

This he agreed to. Later as the fighting became fiercer and as the Devons attacked, Captain Thomson was asked to hold up a white flag as the German officer shouted to the oncoming troops that it was a British officer who held the flag.

When the Devons arrived the 30 to 49 German troops surrendered to Captain Thomson, who led the troops back to captivity and was himself taken to the R.A.P.

For this action the Military Cross was awarded. Confirmation of these events was verified by Captain J.J. Casey, 9th Btn Durham Light Infantry."

My sincere thanks to Captain Thomsons cousin Nick Thomson for this information and photograph displayed here.

The Main attack...Lingevres June 14th 1944

The main attack was timed for 10:15 hrs. on the 14th.June 1944. At the same time as the attack on Lingevres was taking place, the 6th.Bn. Durham Light Infantry with the support of B Sqn. 4/7th. RDG would be attacking the neighbouring village of Verrieres. (situated to the north west of Lingevres). The 9th.Bn. DLI would be supported by 'A' Sqn. 4/7th. RDG. They would have the support of  the Divisional Artillery and a fighter /bomber squadron of Typhoons. The plan was for the infantry to advance behind a creeping barrage tactics which had not changed since World War 1,  and firstly capture the heavily defended woods which `B` Company had ran into the previous evening, then to take the village of Lingevres itself. That was the basic plan. The battalion ,however, had not been given enough time to recce their intended objective and therefore did not fully appreciate the depth and overall strength of the enemy positions which would prove catastrophic in the opening stages of the battle.

The Artillery and Air support opened up .The Typhoons which were armed with both bombs and  10 rockets each attacked the enemy held positions in the woods. Then the 9th Durhams crossed the start line into the  large cornfield, with the corn standing tall it gave the men a false sense of security as they advanced through it line abreast,rifles across their chests bayonets fixed ,first world war fashion.

It  was to be a two company attack, 'A' Coy. on the left together with the remnants of` `B`Company, these would be led by Lt Colonel Woods.Major Mogg who was at this time second in command would lead 'C' Coy. on the right. Three DLI Bren Gun Carriers were to the right rear of 'A' Coy. The C.O  Colonel Woods ,Intelligence Officer  John Reid plus a driver, were in one, Lt.John Williams, Sgt.Charles Eagles and  Pte A. Mortimer from `S` Company  Assault Pioneer Pl. were in the second, Cpl Sowerby drove the third. They were supported by the Shermans of 'A' Sqn 4/7 Dragoon Guards.

The Tanks and Infantry advanced towards the enemy held woods. For the first few minutes the advance went well with only the sound of the swishing corn, but as the barrage began to move beyond the woods and land on the village behind. a German panzer opened fire from the woods and destroyed a Sherman of the 4/7 RDG A second panzer  opened fire from the other side of the woods  and then followed a deadly hail of small arms fire sweeping the forward ranks of the DLI`s rifle companies  Men were falling all around and most of the officers of 'A' & 'C' Companies became casualities . Major Charles D'Arcy-Irvine was wounded in the head, his Company Sgt Major was hit in the legs and abdomen Lieutenant D S Taylor was hit in the chest,Captain Barclay Lowe was hit in the shoulder, all around the DLI were being slaughtered but still they pressed forward.

Lt Colonel Woods reached the edge of the wood and realised `A` Company had been decimated he called for `B` Company to pass through  `A` Company but they too suffered  heavy casualties 

 Major Mogg reported that he was making progress and receiving fewer casualties on the  right flank.Lt Col Woods ordered the Major to push on while he would attempt to extricate what was left of `A` and `B` Companies and reinforce those of Major Mogg on the right who had now called up `D` Company to support the attack.

Lt Colonel Woods was killed when his carrier was hit by a mortar bomb,his Intelligence officer Lieutenant John Reid escaped relatively unharmed.Major John Mogg now found himself in command of the 9th.Bn.Durham Light Infantry. Major Mogg ordered 'C' & 'D' companies, on the right, to press on with the attack in the direction of the village. They would have the support of 'A' Sqn. 4/7th.Royal Dragoon Guards. Lt.A. Morrison, 4/7th.RDG, was ordered, by Major d'Avigord-Goldsmid, to advance on the village with his 4th Troop, to assist the 9th Durhams. He could see the Durhams advancing down a lane into the village. Morrison's tank lead the way with Cpl Johnson's and then Sgt Harris's 'Firefly', behind. The Durhams and Dragoons pressed on and fought their way into  Lingevres.

The German defenders were determined to hold on to this key position and fought for every yard. Sniping was a particular problem facing the DLI, but a burst from a tank's Browning or a few rounds from one of the tank guns soon sorted out these hold ups. What remained of the Durhams and the 4/7th. RDG's now found themselves in charge of the village, which they prepared for the inevitable German Counter attack. Lt.Morrison advanced with his tanks to the area of the war memorial, next to the church but German artillery were now ranging onto the village. Lt. Morrison placed a 'Firefly' commanded by  Sgt. Harris facing the approach road from the direction of Tilly, Cpl. Johnsons tank was defending the road to Verrieres (which was under attack by 6DLI & 'B' Sqn.4/7th.RDG) whilst  Lt. Morrison's tank faced in the direction of,and covered the roads to Longraye & Balleroy, by the war memorial.


Within minutes Sgt. Harris was engaging a German, 50 ton, Panther tank, with his 17 Pounder gun. The Panther burst into flames. 'A'Sqn. commander spoke to Lt. Morrison on the wireless to tell him that he was to meet the acting 9DLI commander in the western end of the church. The Durhams M.O. had set up an advanced dressing station/First Aid Post by the western door of the church and it was here that Lt. Morrison met Major Mogg. Mogg asked him the position of his tanks and from that Mogg was able to plan the defence of the village.


Major Mogg sent what remained of 9DLI's 'D' Coy, now down to two platoons,due to heavy casualties, to take up a line of defence facing down the Tilly road. 'C' Coy would do the same towards the Lonraye road. The remains of 'A' & 'B' Coys were to be held in reserve. The 9th DLI were to defend the village against German infantry infiltration, prevent the tanks from becoming exposed to assault by the  German infantry and also to act as enemy tank spotters. They would be able to hear the approach of enemy armour long before it was seen. The Tanks likewise would support the infantry`s  positions, and use their firepower to prevent the enemy armour from breaking into the village.


By this time Major Kenneth Swann, of the 86th.{Herefordshire Yeomanry] Battery, Royal Artillery, was also in the village in his R.A Command Sherman tank. He was the FOO [Forward Observation Officer] for his battery. Major Mogg arranged a defensive fire plan with him in which Mogg also positioned the Battalion's Anti Tank Guns, under the command of Capt. K H Whittaker. Two of these guns were quickly put out of action by German artillery fire. However the guns were positioned just in time to meet a heavy German counter attack by Tigers and Panzer Mk IV`s.The combined efforts of the battalions anti tank gunners and the tank support of The RDG accounted for a total of nine enemy tanks destroyed or disabled. It was during this action that  Captain Whittaker despite being wounded won a second Military Cross.

Military Medal Action 4453489 Sgt Harry Burton 9th Durham.L.I

 4453489 Sgt Harry Burton The 9th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry

At Lingevres (Mr 805685) on the 14th June 1944 after immediate consolidation of the captured village.Sgt Burton`s anti tank gun was sited on an open road.As two enemy tanks approached down the road he engaged them and knocked out the leading tank.Almost immediately his gun received a direct hit blowing up the gun and ammunition.Sgt Burton then withdrew his detachment and although wounded continued to visit and help other anti tank guns in the area showing complete disregard for his own safety and setting a fine example to his platoon.

 

Military Medal Action 3386258 Sergeant Robert Hey 9th Durham.L.Inf

3386258 Sergeant Robert Hey The 9th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry

On 14th June 1944 one and a half Coys of the Btn captured the village of LINGEVERES. Sgt Heys Platoon was ordered to occupy a ridge just forward of the village while the rest of the force was in a reserve slope position in the rear.This platoon was attacked repeatedly for a period of seven hours and eventually had four tanks between them and the main battalion position.The platoon did not waver at any time and continued to fight on when surrounded.This was largely due to Lieutenant Dunn the platoon commander and when he was killed due to Sgt Hey the platoon Sergeant.He showed great personal courage and was an inspiration to the men in the platoon.By holding his platoon in this position he was largely responsible for enabling the rest of the force to hold on until relieved by another battalion.

 

 

Military Cross Action 180597 Captain K H Whitaker 9th Durham.L.Inf

 180597 Captain K H Whitaker The 9th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry 2nd Award (Bar)

At Lingevres (MR 805685) on 14th June 1944 the battalion was ordered to attack on a two company front.The two right hand Coys succeeded in gaining their objective whilst the two left hand companies failed to push on.Captain Whitaker was ordered to bring all his battalion anti-tank guns to the right hand position.This he did in a very short time and was responsible for getting the guns into position.Within 15 minutes the two Companys were attacked by enemy Tiger and Mk IV tanks.Captain Whitaker was wounded almost at once but repeatedly visited his guns and his devotion to duty was largely responsible for beating off tank attacks for a period of seven hours and in conjunction with a troop of our own tanks for the destruction of nine enemy tanks.He showed great courage under fire and great endurance when he had every reason to be evacuated as a casualty

Tragedy in the Flower Garden 15th June 1944

 

4449759 Sgt O M Stewart  MM ,  eventually, like my uncle `Bill` left 1st DLI and took his place with 6th DLI in Normandy,Sadly like `Bill` Sgt Obidiah Matthew Stewart would die in the Bocage of Normandy.

On the 15th June 1944 Sgt Stewart ,who had been awarded a Military Medal with 1 DLI,was serving with the 6th DLI sniper section.Whilst  he was in the grounds of a French Chateau near Verrieres  looking for enemy soldiers ,the enemy he was seeking were hiding in Rhododendrons and surprised Sgt Stewart and he was killed. The son of Robert and Eliza Ann Stewart. of Ferryhill, Co. Durham  he also lies in good company at Bayeux War Cemetery Section XV. Row G. Grave 16. The original cross on his grave has the intial `D` instead of the `O` which was later rectified. Obidiah Matthew Stewart lived at 22 Church Street, Ferryhill Station.

44449759 O M Stewart (below) photographed as a young Lance Corporal possibly in India or the Sudan pre-war. He also served in China.

 

Lingevres 14th June 1944 Roll of Honour.

67184 Lieutenant Colonel Humphrey Reginald Woods, D.S.O, M.C & Bar.(Below) The King's Royal Rifle Corps Commanding Officer of the 9th.Bn. Durham L.I  Killed in action on 14th.June 1944, aged 28. Son of Colonel Reginald Herbert Woods, O.B.E.,M.C., and Ivy Oswald Woods, of
Stevenage, Hertfordshire. He lies in good company Plot XV.F.26 Bayeux War Cemetery.



14416985 Private Derek Patrick Billett, 9th.Bn.Durham L.I Killed in action on 14th.June 1944, aged 19 He was the son of Leonard Ernest and Olga Billett, of Brighton, Sussex.
He lies in good company  Plot XI.L.21. Bayeux War Cemetery

3389792 Private Joseph Bratherton, 9th.Bn. Durham L.I Killed in action on 14th.June 1944, aged 28. He was the son of Jack and Mary Bratherton; Nephew of Walter Boardman, of
Warrington, Lancashire He lies in good company Plot XV.H.2 Bayeux War Cemetery.

5732827 Private Arthur William Brown, 9th.Bn. Durham L.I Killed in action on 14th.June 1944, aged 22 He was the son of Arthur and Annie Brown ,of Nechells, Birmingham.He lies in good company Plot XV.F.22 Bayeux War Cemetery

4470151 Private Charles Alfred Coldicott, 9th. Bn. Durham L.I Killed in action on 14th.June 1944, aged 21 Son of William Henry and Elizabeth Coldicott, of Durham He lies in good company Plot XV.J.1 Bayeux War Cemetery

41297909 Private James Conlon, 9th.Bn. Durham L.I Killed in action on 14th.June 1944, aged 23 The son of Michael Conlon, and of Mary Helen Conlon, of Broughton, Cheshire. He lies in good company plot XV.J.6 Bayeux War Cemetery
  
3717334 Corporal Peter Evans, 9th. Bn. Durham L.I Killed in action on 14th.June 1944, aged 24. He was the son of James and Florence Evans; Husband of Florance Evans, of Kensington, Liverpool. He lies in good company Plot XIV.H.23 Bayeux War Cemetery

3911431 Sergeant William Henry James Gwilliam, 9th.Bn. Durham L.I Killed in action on 14th.June 1944, aged 27 Son of Thomas Rees Gwilliam and Mary Gwilliam; Husband of Georgina Gwilliam of Bootle, Lancashire. He lies in good company Plot XV.H.11 Bayeux War Cemetery

4917336 Private Arthur Samuel Horton, 9th.Bn. Durham L.I Killed in action on 14th.June 1944, aged 23 Son of Arthur Enock and Annie Alice Horton. He lies in good company Plot XIV.J.20 Bayeux War Cemetery.

14590933 Private Stanley Illingsworth, 9th.Bn. Durham L.I Killed in action on 14th.June 1944, aged 20. Son of Mary Myers, of Oxspring, Yorkshire He lies in good company Plot XIV.G.5 Bayeux War Cemetery

14285195 Private Elmer Alwyne Jones, 9th.Bn. Durham L.I Killed on the 14th.June 1944, aged 20 Son of Margaret Jones, of Bromley, Kent He lies in good company Plot XI.M.3 Bayeux War Cemetery

14202619 Private Albert Kitchen, 9th.Bn. Durham L.I Killed on the 14th.June 1944, aged 22
Son of Albert and Grace Mabel Kitchen, of Leeds, Yorkshire He lies in good company Plot XV.J.7 Bayeux War Cemetery

3453199 Lance Corporal William Knox, 9th.Bn. Durham L.I Killed in action on 14th.June 1944, aged 26 Son of Roger and Esther Knox, of Pelton Fell, Co. Durham. He lies in good company Plot XI.L. 22 Bayeux War Cemetery

4202646 Private William Hugh Lewis, 9th.Bn. Durham L.I Killed on the 14th.June 1944, aged 29 Son of John and Jane Ann Lewis, of Holyhead, Anglesey He lies in good company Plot XV.J.9 Bayeux War Cemetery

4040010 Private Jack Lynch, 9th. Bn Durham L.I Killed in action on 14th.June 1944, aged 26
son of James and Mary Lynch, of Merthyr Tydfil, Glamorgan He lies in good company Plot XIV.G.4 Bayeux War Cemetery

4468585 Private John Robert Mahan, 9th.Bn. Durham L.I Killed on the 14th.June 1944, aged 19 Son of Jane Mahan, and Stepson of Benjamin Chicken, of Ushaw Moor, Co. Durham
He lies in good company Plot XV.H.23 Bayeux War Cemetery

5344659 Private William Thomas Medhurst, 9th.Bn. Durham L.I Killed on the 14th.June 1944, aged 30 Son of Michael Frank and Edith Medhurst; Husband of Gwendoline Edith Lilian Medhurst, of Dartford, Kent. He lies in good company Plot XI.M.7 Bayeux War Cemetery

5443374 Private William Henry Melhuish, 9th.Bn. Durham L.I Killed on the 14th.June 1944, aged 29 Son of William and Lilian Melhuish, of Exeter He is buried in Plot XV.H.19 Bayeux War Cemetery  



6208208 Private Arthur Mortimer, (Below) 'S' Coy. 9th. Bn. Durham L.I. Birth 6 Jan 1916 in Christchurch Street, Marylebone, London  Killed in action on 14th June 1944, Aged 28 He was the son of George Thomas Mortimer and Sophie Mortimer,of
Edgware, Middlesex. He lies in good company plot  XV.H.10 Bayeux War Cemetery 

 

  6285811 Private James Henry Fredrick Nicholls, 9th.Bn. Durham L.I Killed in action on 14th.June 1944, aged 27 Husband of Rosetta Elizebeth Nicholls, of Highbury, London
He lies in good company Plot XI.M.6 Bayeux War Cemetery.

5046309 Private Edward Quigley, 9th.Bn. Durham L.I Killed on the 14th.June 1944, aged 31
Son of John Quigley, and of Emma Quigley, of Newbold, Northamptonshire He lies in good company Plot XV.J.2 Bayeux War Cemetery  

 

 5387111 Pte William Ernest Roff ,9th.Bn. Durham L.I Killed on the 14th.June 1944, aged 26
Son of Albert and Amy Elizabeth Roff; Husband of Celestine Betsy Ellen Roff, of Houghton Conquest, Bedfordshire He lies in good company Plot XV.G.17 Bayeux War Cemetery

14569673 Private Alfred Cyril Rolfe, 9th.Bn. Durham L.I Killed on the 14th.June 1944, aged 21
Son of Alfred Cyril and Elizabeth Rolfe, of Bledlow, Bucks. He lies in good company Plot XIV.H.23 Bayeux War Cemetery 

  

4460695 Corporal Charles Beresford Simpson, M.M , 9th Bn. Durham L.I Killed in action on 14th.June 1944, aged 28 Son of Charles and Lucy Simpson, of Washington Station, Co. Durham,Husband of Gladys Simpson, of Kimblesworth, Co. Durham. He lies in good company Plot XI.L.25 Bayeux War Cemetery

14647308 Private George William Smith, 9th. Bn. Durham L.I Killed in action on the 14th.June 1944, aged 20 He was the son of James and Dorothy Smith; Husband of Winifred Smith, of
Holloway, London He lies in good company Plot XV.H.12 Bayeux War Cemetery.



14397769 Private Charles Henry Swann, 9th.Bn. Durham L.I Killed in action on the 14th.June 1944, aged 35 Son of Richard and Florence Swann; Husband of Florence May Swann, of
West Walsall, Staffordshire. He lies in good company Plot XV.J.8 Bayeux War Cemetery

 3717032 Lance Corporal Thomas Tedford, 9th.Bn.Durham L.I Killed in action on 14th.June 1944, aged 24 Son of George Tedford, and Annie Tedford, of Liverpool He lies in good company Plot XV.J.4 Bayeux War Cemetery

14247218 Corporal John Thomas Tranter, (Below) 9th.Bn. Durham L.I killed in action on 14th.June 1944, aged 20 Son of William and Fanny Tranter; Husband of Miriam Tranter, of Wolverhampton. He lies in good company Plot XV.H.20 Bayeux War Cemetery

5837178 Private Lewis Albert Turner,  (Below) 9th. Bn. Durham L.I `S` Company Killed in action on 14th.June 1944, aged 21 He was the son of Arthur & Rose Minnie Turner, of Fordham, Cambridgeshire.He lies in good company Plot XV.J.3 Bayeux War Cemetery.

 

4463337 Lance Corporal George Watson, 9th.Bn. Durham L.I Killed in action on 14th.June 1944, aged 31 son of Robert and Jane Watson, of Wrekenton, Co. Durham He lies in good company Plot XV.H.25 Bayeux War Cemetery

14340664 Private Thomas James William Wrighton, 9th.Bn. Durham L.I Killed on the 14th.June 1944, aged 33 Son of Thomas and Louisa Wrighton; Husband of Vera Regina Wrighton of 2 Moorlands Avenue Kenilworth ,Warwickshire. (left an estate of £728.2s.1d)He lies in good company Plot XV.G.2 Bayeux War Cemetery

4455464 Private Joseph Sands Vernon, 9th.Bn. Durham L.I Killed in action on 14th.June 1944, aged 23THe son of James and Evelyn Vernon, Houghton-Le-Spring, Co. Durham He lies in good company Plot XI.M.5 Bayeux War Cemetery

4464185 Sergeant Joseph William Young, M.M, 9th.Bn.Durham L.I Killed in action on 14th.June 1944, aged 24 Son of John and Florence Clara Young, of Forest Hall, Northumberland. He lies in good company Plot XI.L.26 Bayeux War Cemetery

I remember those bloody cornfields...Lingevres and Verrieres

  

Reminiscent of the first world war they walked across the field line abreast at this time Pte `Harry` Vanderwolfe was in D Company 9th DLI a Bodmin lad he had transferred to the Durham`s from the 1st  Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry prior to D Day originally No 2 on the Bren Gun he had became No1 due to the Bren Gunner being killed on June 13th 1944.Advancing across the cornfield, on the morning of 14th June 1944,towards the village of Lingevres Pte Harold Vanderwolfe recalled there was a sniper in the Lingevres Church Tower `Watch the Tower!` yelled the Corporal A sniper had already been responsible for killing the Artillery FOO who had been attached to Harold`s section of twelve men. Another sniper was concealed in the branches of a tree despite an order not to fire Harold opened up with his Bren Gun the section Corporal yelled " no firing " "Sniper!" Harold called back, just then the sniper fell dead from the tree. This was the first man Pte Vanderwolfe had killed the sight of this German falling from the tree haunted Harry for many years after it was only when he returned to Lingevres many years after the war that the `Ghost` was laid to rest.
Advancing further along the road they encountered a group of about 20-25 German soldiers under orders from the section Corporal they opened fire and Pte Vanderwolfe with his Bren no doubt accounted for  a few yet none preyed on his mind as much as that first sniper. German tanks had been on the high ground during the attack these were now making their way down into the village. Major Mogg who had taken over command following the death of Lt Colonel Woods saw the danger and rounded up three riflemen and a Bren Gunner (Pte Vanderwolfe)  who together with a Lieutenant and Major Mogg went  forward to try and destroy the two tanks, which were now in plain view, with two Piat`s .
The Germans were unaware of the small patrol hugging the hedge the men halted near a shrine which had railings around they were now only fifteen or so yards away from the two enemy tanks. Major Mogg fired his Piat and was successful in destroying one of the tanks but the Lieutenant was only able to disable the second blowing off a track. Unbeknown to the patrol a third tank which had, until now, been hidden from view was just around the bend alerted by the explosions it lurched into action. The small group of Durhams turned and ran down the small hill and threw themselves into a ditch near to the Churchyard, fire from the third tank supplemented by fire from the damaged tank which was still operational started to destroy  the headstones in the Churchyard  hurling huge chunks of concrete through the air effectively pinning the men down where they lay.
Shortly afterwards other tanks appeared and it looked as if Pte Vanderwolfe and the other DLI with him would either be killed or at best taken prisoner the Germans could be clearly heard talking yet the small group remained undetected only yards away. Only the encouragement of their Scottish Corporal gave them the strength to carry on and just when it seemed things were hopeless the British Artillery opened up once again forcing the tanks to scatter and as the barrage lifted once again they  were alone.
It was now quite late the village was taken but from 600 who had gone into action 22 Officers and 226 men were casualties out of Pte Vanderwolfe`s section of 12 men only three remained it wasn`t until they were relieved from the line that night that the total cost in men which the battalion suffered was realised.
 Pte Vanderwolfe was wounded on August 12th 1944 and eventually evacuated to England, Harold George 'Harry` Vanderwolfe returned to his hometown of Bodwin and Wells  Following the war he joined the staff at St Lawrence's Hospital, where he became Acting Senior Nursing Officer. Mr Vanderwolfe became a North Cornwall District Councillor in the 1980s and in 1991 he joined Bodmin Town Council, twice serving as mayor and retired from local politics in June 2014 aged 89,He was interviewed by the Imperial War Museum in 1993.

Cpl Thomas Thompson a seasoned veteran of both the 1st and 9th DLI  remembers the aftermath of the Lingevres cornfield action as a member of `B` Company 9th DLI he recalled how the shrapnel had set fire to parts of the corn where the dead lay unburied. Two or three men including Cpl Thompson were detailed to recover the dead from the cornfield and deliver them to the Padre. identifying men of your own company was dirty unpleasant work not helped by the USAAF who mistakenly straffed those employed in this most harrowing of tasks Cpl Thompson recalled "We had to drop them from the stretchers ,they were dead of course but still, and jump into a slit trench, we took them (dead) to the Padre who had a tough job like ,he was taking the stuff off them and putting them in blankets he had a full time job did the Padre" 4463337 Lance Cpl George Watson was killed that day (14th June 1944) he was Cpl Thompsons best friend. There was obviously a lot of resentment amongst the men in the way the Durham`s had sustained these large numbers of casualties but as Cpl George Thompson recalled "You just had to grin and bear it!"

VERRIERES

.The 6th DLI were about to advance through a cornfield where the enemy were entrenched Derek Thomlinson remembered he had four chaps on the left flank and four on the right with himself, Thomlinson, in the middle everything was going quite smoothly when the enemy opened fire in what we knew was considerable force The DLI were grounded the men couldnt go forward and certainly could`nt go back ,Thomlinson`s attempts to get to his men resulted in him being wounded in the legs, the tanks could it seemed not break through either.4457087 Pte Norman Barrett, Thomlinson`s batman who was next to him was killed and the Company Sgt Major lying nearby although alive had lost an arm. A stretcher bearer very bravely attended to his officer, Thomlinson recalled they were all very brave they seemed to have a charmed life as they went around the cornfield .Thomlinson , half pulled half crawled to the drainage ditch where he was put on a stretcher and taken to an aid post. There the medics and doctors attempted to do what they could before he was whisked back to the beaches and put on a transport to England where his wounds resulted in him being admitted to a hospital in Scotland.

Pte George Richardson was a signalman with 6DLI  he remembered a viaduct just before Condes sur Seulle a small copse near the viaduct manned by a platoon and one officer they were heavily engaged with quite a few casualties. B and D Company were heavily engaged Sgt Weir was present when a German Tank knocked out the DLI anti tank guns the supporting infantry began to move towards the DLI positions. Richardson suggested to the officer that artillery could be called down on the German positions  after consulting his map the Officer passed the coordinates to Richardson who relayed them via his radio to the supporting artillery commander. They were effectively bringing the fire down on their own position with only a three minute delay. One hour later the DLI went forward again there were plenty of German dead but no tank. About six men with Richardson became casualties. Weir and Richardson were given two days leave and headed into Bayeux for haircuts where they were promptly arrested by Redcaps on suspicion of being deserters!
Just 48 hours later the division was on the move forward of Condes advancing through the bocage each DLI battalion took its turn in reserve .On the 14th June the corn was high ready for cropping emerging from the bocage the DLI men advanced a mere twenty yards when they were suddenly caught by heavy Spandau fire .The Company commander killed his batman who attempted to protect him was also hit and lying alongside the Company Sgt Major was hit and seriously wounded .A Captain approached Richardson and asked for a report Richardson simply pointed out the bodies of the Durham`s lying in the field the Captain urged the Durhams on again.Tank support helped them span the field and when the German positions were reached they were deep in a sunken ditch. The feeling amongst the men was the DLI had been sacrificed there was no recce and no incling that the Germans had been dug in such well prepared positions.The field was cleared of the dead and wounded and for those new to action this was a babtisim of fire none would forget.

L/Cpl Harry Wilkinson remembers machine guns,rifle and shell fire which seemed to come from everywhere a soldier opposite shouted Wilkie you are hit Wilkinson replied "Had`a`way am alreet" then looking down he noticed his battledress was crimson and blood was dripping from his rifle bolt he had been hit in the cheek his lower ear was also missing flesh. There was no time to stop a tank was brewing up nearby he gave what covering fire he could as the crew struggled to free a trapped crewmate With fixed bayonets the battalion had been ordered to advance line abreast with only the high corn providing a false sense of  cover. Wilkinson had been  philosophical he had no control over his fate if he was hit he was hit. As those around fell calls were constantly made for stretcher bearers as the line became visably more bedraggled as the soldiers were shot out. A lot of men were lost,recalled L/Cpl Wilkinson. the Germans had used strings to pull the triggers of the MGs in the sunken ditch and had utilised tank periscopes to good effect.When the battle was over it was with a great sense of relief that they dug in and hoped a strong counter attack would not materialise

Sgt Joseph Weir remembered digging in with German Tanks advancing and the artillery being called down. The corn was tremendously high the hedgerow too .We were crawling I had a wireless on my back crawling and God was definately with me that day,as we crawled I came across a couple of bodies, paratroopers who had been killed on June 6th trying to take these cross roads 8 days later they were still here .The officer was down both the Corporal and the Sergeant were dead Three companies had entered that field all were now flat on their belly`s crawling through this cornfield if you stood up you would surely lose your head everyone from the battalion remembers that bloody cornfield .

6th Durham Light Infantry `Normandy 44` Snapshots

 A few snapshots not from a professional photographer but possibly taken by a fellow soldier the images appear to show soldiers awaiting a meal in a field `somewhere in France` June 1944

 

 Photograph below is marked `Pte Jigger Johnson` 6th DLI Normandy 1944

 The following is a sequence of photographs taken on June 14th 1944 one featuring Major Galloway already features above but is reproduced here as the soldier next to him is Sgt Ingram who cannot be seen in the original posted image.

Above;-The scene of carnage on June 14th 1944

 Above;-German Prisoners taken  on June 14th 1944 are searched near the RAP.

 

 Above;-A carrier appears on the left of the photograph as the Padre surveys the wounded on June 14th 1944

Above and Below Wounded are loaded into a Ambulance for evacuation beyond the RAP on  June 14th 1944

 

Above;-Major Galloway takes up his seat in the Ambulance  June 14th 1944

 

Above and Below (2) ;-Major Galloway and Sgt Ingram  June 14th 1944

 

 

Above;-The scene above at the RAP prior to evacuation Sgt Ingram sits next to the Padre with another stretcher case alongside  June 14th 1944

Moving stores to the front....by Horse 6th DLI..

6th Durham Light Infantry moving up stores using local transport (Horses) Press photograph from The Daily Mail

Above ;- Advancing through a ruined Normandy Village a DLI patrol with Bren Gunner

Military Medal Action 2987639 W/Cpl L/Sgt Duncan Montgomery 6th DLI

2987639 W/Cpl L/Sgt Duncan Montgomery 6th Battalion The Durham light Infantry

On 15th June when 6th DLI advanced from CONDES SUR SEULLES the two leading companies came under extremely heavy MMG and Mortar fire from the area of FONT DE LA GUILLETTE and suffered many casualties.

Sgt Montgomery in charge of a forward RAP constantly went forward under the heavy fire in a jeep ambulance to collect and attend to the wounded. When his jeep was blown up on an anti tank mine, though considerably shaken Sgt Montgomery carried out his task by carrying back the wounded until all were safely evacuated.

On many previous and subsequent occasions Sgt Montgomery has distinguished himself by collecting wounded under fire without regard for his own personal safety. the battalion owes much to this NCO`s unfailing devotion to duty.

Sgt Montgomery originally enlisted into  The Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders but was transferred to the Durham Light Infantry.

Falkirk Herald - Saturday 29 July 1944 (Right)     

   To be one of the few recipients of The Military Medal accorded the additional honour of having the ribbon pinned on his breast by General Montgomery was the fortune which came the way of a Falkirk infantryman Sergeant Duncan Montgomery last week.

At a field investiture in Normandy Sergeant Montgomery, whose wife, a Stenhousemuir  girl, resides with her parents Mr and Mrs  Alex. Weir  King Street, was unexpectedly presented to General Montgomery, who attached the ribbon of the M.M., and at the same time extended his personal compliments.

Mrs Montgomery told a " Herald " correspondent that her husband. who was in the employment of Mr Gavin Bell, fishmonger, before Joining up more than four years ago and has been through the North African campaign, gave a slight hint In a letter a week or two ago ' that she might hear some interesting news some day. " It may not ;come to anything," he wrote, " so don't say anything about it."

In a letter to hand at the end of last week Mrs Montgomery, whose father, Mr Alex. Weir, is the well, known former Ochilview footballer and ex-Scottish referee, learned a little more of the honour bestowed upon her husband. The letter contained the personal congratulatory note of the Brigadier, who commented upon the well-deserved immediate distinction " conferred.

Sergeant Montgomery's parents reside in Randyford Street, Falkirk. Four of their five, sons are In the forces. two in the army, one in the RAF and one in the navy.

 

It is my painful duty to inform you.............

 In 1944, unlike today, God was important to the Generation of young soldiers fighting Nazi Tyranny in the killing fields of France. The vital task of keeping track of who was killed and where they had fallen often fell to their comrades and officers but perhaps the greater burden of the task fell on the shoulders of the various battalion Chaplains .Facing the same dangers as the fighting men these unarmed men of many different faiths recovered the wounded, comforted the dying and performed the last rites before ensuring in most cases a Christian burial for those killed.
The Chaplain as well as his spiritual duties completed burial returns, complied with identification and registration procedures including the fingerprinting of the dead which were sent with the mans personal belongings, again recovered by the padre, back  to the Graves Registration Units following up behind the front line troops. The bodies were then sewn into Army blankets there were no coffins available on the front line.Before every major offensive a consignment of blank white Crosses were delivered and left in the general area what the young men advancing into battle thought of these deliveries are not known but it would hardly have inspired them!
Once the bodies of the dead were  buried then the evening task was to write the letters informing the families that their sons would not be returning. Even the enemy were treated with the same respect as their own men all men being equal in death.

 In this section we have already mentioned Padre Hawksworth, Padre Nesbitt and Padre Skinner, in the 9th battalion Durham Light Infantry we had Padre R W Kerr Rachd (Right) who had joined the battalion shortly before the great battle at Mareth and had soldiered on with his beloved Durham`s ever since. At Lingevres on June 14th 1944  it was Padre Kerr who buried the men who had fallen that day from the Commanding Officer Lt Colonel Woods to the ordinary Privates ,each  one equally  treated with the greatest respect and dignity possible in front line conditions. Each man`s details meticulously recorded along with his location and his earthly possessions so that when the War Cemetery`s were eventually constructed these men could be brought from their field graves and laid to rest in what we see today as the immaculate CWGC cemeteries throughout the Normandy area.

Below is the field grave of Lt Colonel Woods Commanding officer of 9th DLI who was killed on June 14th 1944 at Lingevres his body was recovered and buried by Padre Kerr. Below the photograph is a map and shows the field burials he presided over .

 Below is Reverend RW Kerr`s map showing the map references of the graves please click on the image for a larger version.

 THE ARMY BOOK 152 (CORRESPONDANCE NOTES) OF Rev R W KERR Royal Army Chaplain Department attached 9th DLI

 This is the fascinating book of an Army Chaplain serving with the Durham Light Infantry it give a grim insight  into the recovery and burial of the Durham Light Infantrymen killed in and around Lingevres in June 1944.The page below records the area where these men originally fell and where they lay until recovered by the  Padre RW Kerr . Mr Dunn ,G Smith and Sgt Gwilliam recovered near the Tiger Tanks .Laycock in the woods in `C` Companies position. Pte Mortimer Right of the road from Tilly...Lynch and Illingworth 50yds left of the Church...L/Cpl Watson...all meticulously documented

 Below the areas map reference for Lt George Schofield who died of his wounds 14th June 1944  Lt Dunn and the Commanding Officer Lt Colonel Humphrey Woods listed alongside 14416985 Pte D Billett.5732827 Pte A Brown.5344659 Pte A Medhurst.14647308 Pte G Smith,3911431 Sgt N Gwilliam and 3717334 Cpl P Evans

 Below the list continues however this differs slightly the Reverend Kerr ,the bodies recovered now documents the casualties possessions the monetary amounts in French Francs all neatly listed and tallied in preparation for their return to the casualties families via the GRU.

 Below one of those possibly responsible for the deaths of those DLI listed above an SS Obergefreiter (SS Rottenfurhrer) Otto Berger of the Panzer Grenadier Regt Lehr killed on the 16th June. A scribbled note reminding the Padre that alongside Sgt Gwilliam is buried an unknown private .

 Below more casualties recorded on the right on the left side is noted what, if any personal possessions were recovered. The map references record the burials.

The Lord he moves in Mysterious ways.....

The Rev. GERARD NESBITT 163330..........
 was a British army Chaplain 4th Class a member of the Royal Army Chaplains Department attached to The 8th Durham Light Infantry .The son of Stephen and Jane Nesbitt, of Felling-on-Tyne, Co. Durham.Padre Nesbitt was a popular member of the battalion a friend to each man irrespective of which faith that man followed He was killed on the 5th July 1944 he was 33years of age .His  appointment to the armed forces was dated the 30th December 1940 and appeared in the London Gazette on the 10th January 1941 .He was a winner of the French Croix de Guerre and was also Mentioned in Dispatches confirmed in the London Gazette 12th January 1944 Pg 12. He is buried At Jerusalem War Cemetery,Chouain Row B Grave number 1


This extract was taken from 8th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry by Major Lewis and Major English;-
"Padre Nesbitt was killed today he was killed by a stray shell whilst burying the dead just behind the 9 th DLI positions. Padre Nesbitt had been with the 8th DLI since the end of 1940 and was well loved by all ranks whether of Roman Catholic faith or not his quiet manner yet very strong personality impressed all those who came in contact with him. Always cheerful and willing to help anyone in trouble, he was regarded as a personal friend by many. He was a great example of courage and fortitude and his death deeply affected all members of the Battalion. All the old officers of the 8th DLI headed by the CO went back to attend the funeral at 149 Field Ambulance…"

Father Gerard Nesbitt,CF,Ph.D
Extract of his Obituary published in the Catholic Herald in 1944
Few Army Chaplins in this war have experienced so exhausting a time or witnessed so much active fighting as did Father Gerard Nesbitt whose death in action was announced last week in the Catholic Herald.He was Chaplain to the Durham Light Infantry in the famous 50tith Division and within a few weeks of joining the Army he accompanied his regiment to Cyprus then Palestine,Iraq and he was present with his soldiers in every battle from El Alamein to the Invasion of Sicily.

More perhaps than the fighting soldier Fr Nesbitt was brought face to face continually with the tragedies of battle,in the burial grounds among the minefields at the casualty clearing stations and at the base hospitals.The experience made him older more serious and it was only with difficulty that one could get him to talk about Egypt,Africa or Sicily. He was endowed with great personal courage and his esteem for the men of The 50th Division and especially the DLI was second to none,not even to General Montgomery`s.

Once when things were quiet in North Africa Fr Nesbitt took the opportunity of going to a base hospital to have an injury to his knee attended to.He was there only a day or two when he heard  that his regiment was to take part in an Invasion of Sicily. He got up from bed and went straight back to his beloved DLI.

He had many narrow escapes from German shells and small arms fire in the Middle East and Sicily but in England whilst awaiting the opening of the second front he expressed his presentiment that he would not return home alive.He set out for France with a profound sense of loyalty to his men and a high sense of duty.

Fr Nesbitt was twice recommended for the MC and he was mentioned in dispatches once.St Cuthberts Grammer School,Ushaw College and The Venerable English College,Rome may be justly proud of such a brave good priest.May he rest in peace

The Rev. CECIL JAMES HAWKSWORTH 90874

 

War Memorial Kingsclere, Hampshire.

The Rev. CECIL JAMES HAWKSWORTH 90874  was a also a British army Chaplain 4th Class a member of the Royal Army Chaplains Department but he was attached to  The 6th Durham Light Infantry .The husband of Diana Hawksworth, of Kingsclere, Hampshire. A.K.C.Padre Hawksworth also was a popular member of his battalion He died on the 7th July 1944, shortly before he had attended the funeral of his friend Gerard Nesbitt,the motorcycle he was riding was in collision with a tank he sustained injuries of which he later died, he was 35 years of age .His  appointment to the armed forces was contained in the London Gazette dated the 30th June 1939  He too is buried At Jerusalem War Cemetery,Chouain Row B Grave number 2.Side by side with his friend Padre Gerard Nesbitt.
Extract from the Faithful Sixth(DLI) by Harry Moses;-
"On the 6th/7th July 1944 the 6th Battalion the DLI suffered a real loss with the tragic death of Padre Hawksworth,the Church of England padre.He was seriously injured whilst riding a motorcycle.He was taken to 149 Field Ambulance but later died of his injuries.He had been with the Battalion since the end of the Sicilian Campaign and his loss was felt deeply by all officers and other ranks.his funeral was held later in the 50th Divisional cemetery.."
So both died in 149 Field Ambulance and just to add a little irony to the tale Padre G Markham (Cannon Markham) who joined 8th DLI at this time stated `My first job with the DLI was to bury my predessors Padre Nesbitt who was killed by a shell whilst conducting the funeral service of other men ,and another Padre who had been accidentally killed a day or so before!` both Padres now lie together in good company in Jerusalem Cemetery.
The Lord does indeed  move in Mysterious ways.....

Beyond St Pierre 8th DLI `The Bocage`

Two days after the 8th DLI were withdrawn from St Pierre they received a draft of reinforcements consisting of 11 Officers and 190 other ranks such were their casualties in the first weeks following the invasion.

On June 15th 1944 the 8th DLI were back in the Line this time they replaced the Glosters who had in turn just relieved the 9th DLI at Lingevres .Mid-day on the 15th saw both `A` and `D` Companies established as forward units . `C` and `B` Companies in reserve positions were dug in some four hundred yards behind them .The first night the war diary records that a strong German patrol approached `D` Company`s position L/Sgt Wallbanks fire some flare bombs from his mortars but not one of the flares developed it was thought due to the soaking they received as they splashed ashore on D-Day.

On the 16th June the 8th DLI mortars supported an attack by the 6th DLI who were moving up towards Tilly-sur-Seulles but the rest of the battalion did not have to wait long for further action. On the 18th June 1944 they were ordered forward to occupy an area near The Parc-de-la-Mare which lay a mile or so to the South -East of Lingevres. There was to be no artillery bombardment no creeping barrage instead 8th DLI were to move along the Tilly-Lingevres road with `B` Company taking the lead followed by `C` Company after three quarters of a mile they were to turn onto a minor road towards The Parc-de-la-Mare. With `A` and `D` Companies following on the advance started well with `B` Company crossing the start line at 0730hrs .

Four hundred yards south of Parc de la Mere the leading section of B Company came upon a party of Germans who were taken completely by surprise using stens and brens the section accounted for over a dozen of the enemy (dead or wounded) the rest retreated to the Chateau du Cordillion where they quickly retaliated and brought down a very heavy and extremely accurate mortar barrage onto the B Company positions resulting in a number of casualties including 5622757 CSM Ben Moscow who had previously saw service with The Devonshire Regiment

5622757 Company Sgt Major Benjamin Moscow was the son of Wally and Annie Moscow, of Enfield, Middlesex; husband of Gladys Rita Moscow, of Chingford, Essex.He lies in good company in Bayeux Cemetery Section XV. Row H.Grave 16.

A heavy German barrage into the trees above the DLI positions caused considerable casualties amongst the men of the battalion but 164854 Captain John Gibson Walker is the only recorded fatality in the attack an officer of the KSLI he was attached to 8DLI as The Battalion Adjutant.The other men wounded in the attack were victims of the large splinters that were hurled in every direction due to the shells bursting in the trees even men in deep slit trenches ,usually effective cover for anything but a direct hit ,were caught in the blast.

Military Cross Action 292472 WS/ Lieutenant Robert Allen 6th DLI

 Military Cross Action 292472 WS/Lt  Robert Allen attached  6th Durham.Light .Infantry

During the attack against strong enemy positions at LE PLESSIS - GRIMAULT on 9th August 1944 Lieutenant Allen was commanding a platoon of one of the leading Companies .Being aware of the immanence of the attack the enemy put down heavy defensive artillery fire on the approaches to the start line and on the start line itself in the hope of breaking up the attack. This however did not deter Lieutenant Allen who coolly formed up his platoon and crossed the start line at the appropriate time.
The enemy defensive fire, continued and it was particularly heavy on Lieutenant Allen`s front which was on the left of the Battalion,but so close up behind the barrage did Lieutenant Allen move his Platoon that most of the enemy fire fell behind him.
Shortly before reaching the final objective Lieutenant Allen who was working along a covered approach and was detached from the remainder of hiss company, bumped up against an enemy position. Without any further delay he ordered his men forward to capture it. To accomplish this task he only had at hi disposal two weak sections but so quick was he to take advantage of the barrage that the enemy were taken completely by surprise ,and a locality manned by Germans  over a platoon in strength and including two officer was captured.
Lieutenant Allen heroic leadership and personal bravery were a fine example to his men and the capture of the strong enemy position on the left flank before it had time to put up any organised resistance greatly contributed to the success of the operation as a whole.

Military Medal Action 4036554 Pte Martin Henry Cambridge 6th DLI

 4036554 Pte Martin Henry Cambridge The 6th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry

In the course of the attack on enemy positions at Le Connardiere on 9th August 1944 a Platoon Commander of `A` Company 6th Durham Light Infantry asked for volunteers to go forward of the company to clear a housein an orchard from which harassing machine gun fire was coming.
Private Cambridge immediately volunteered and went forward with a bren gun firing from the hip he advanced into the house and cleared it chasing out five Germans.He showed no fear whatsoever and advanced on the house across about 40 yards of open ground which was under fire the whole way.
Throughout the whole of the attack Pte Cambridge kept up the same superb standard of courage and was a fine and inspiring example to all his comrades.

        Military Medal Action 14244985 Pte (A/Cpl) Mathew Lawrence Morgan 6th DLI

 14244985 Pte (A/Cpl) Mathew Lawrence Morgan The 6th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry

On the 9th August 1944 at Plessis de Grimault Cpl Morgan was in command of a section of `B` Company which was the leading company in the attack.
The enemy, seeing that the attack was imminent brought down heavy defensive artillery fire and on the start line being reached Cpl Morgan`s platoon commander, platoon Sergeant and several other personnel were wounded and unable to carry on.
As it was not possible to send out orders to the sections of this platoon they were therefore left to carry on,on their own initiative.
For Cpl Morgan`s section there was no need for further orders, no encouragement was needed and during the whole of the ensuing battle which lasted for two hours Cpl Morgan was to be seen to the forefront leading and encouraging his men on.

Matthew Lawrence Morgan was born on 10th November 1923 on New Durham Rd Sunderland, County Durham, and had previosly been employed as a miner and a shop assistant, He then applied for service with the Territorial Army on 6th August 1942 but was embodied into the newly formed General Service Corps (GSC). Following his basic training he initially joined The Royal Artillery and became 14244985 Gnr Morgan being posted to the 99th Liverpool Welch Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery. Gnr Morgan was then invalided due to a traffic accident on 28th October 1943, and spent a considerable time recovering Following his recovery he was posted to the  6th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry on the 10th February 1944. Morgan then saw service in North West Europe from the invasion of Normandy until their disbandment in October 1944 when he joined The Cameronians  (6th Batt)

 Morgan was decorated with the Military Medal for his bravery in the field on the 9th August 1944 at Plessis de Grimault when in command of a section of 'B' Company 6th DLI, which was the leading company in the attack where he led his men with fixed bayonets and firing from the hip.

The original recommendation was for a Distinguished Conduct Medal which was then down graded to the Military Medal stating that he was serving as a Cpl with the 6th Battalion Durham Light Infantry within the 151st Durham Brigade of the 50th Division, and cotinued as follows:

He and his men were invariably on top of the enemy positions before the enemy had time to recover from the barrage: bearing down on the enemy with fixed bayonets and firing from the hip, they overran and captured many enemy posts and took many prisoners.

Corporal Morgan's bravery and determination to close with the enemy, and his fine personal example filled his men with eagerness and enthusiasm for the fight. Without thought for his own personal safety from enemy artillery, mortar and small arms fire, he showed superb coolness and courage in leading his men on and was the first to reach the final objective. His magnificent courage and outstanding leadership greatly contributed to the complete defeat of the enemy.'

Morgan?s award was published in the London Gazette for 1st March 1945. He had been posted home on 6th February 1945 and was then discharged on 15th April 1946 having been awarded his Military Medal,France Germany Star,39/45 Star and War Medal. He later became a general labourer in a factory in Sunderland where he lived,
Matthew Lawrence Morgan died on 27th October 1988.

 

Distinguished Conduct Medal Action 3453673 Sgt  Stanley Howe 9th DLI

3453673 Sergeant (A/WOII) Stanley Howe, 9th DLI

On 12th August 1944 near La Plesses the 9 DLI were ordered to attack Pt. 262 feature. CSM Howe's Company was Forward Company. The objective was strongly held and throughout the advance the Company was heavily shelled and mortared. On arrival on the objective, one platoon was cut off, both their officer and Platoon Sergeant killed, whilst CSM Howe who was forward with the leading platoon arrived on the objective with 12 men. The situation was serious as it could be seen that a counter-attack was imminent. CSM Howe made his way through heavy fire to the other platoon which was cut off. On arrival he re-organised it and with it he again fought his way onto the objective. When the enemy counter-attacked it was decisively beaten off.

Throughout this entire action CSM Howe displayed personal courage and powers of leadership of the highest order and it was due to his initiative that the Comapny gained and held his objective

CSM  Howe, was born in Gibraltar Lane.DEnton At the time of his award Stanley`s parents stilll occupied the house indeed it was whilst living here that Stanleys father Thomas Howe also won a Distinguised Conduct medal for services in the first World War .

 As a boy Stanley attended  Haughton St. Mary’s School, and played in the school’s football and cricket teams.Previously Stanley Howe had served with the Lancashire Fusiliers before his posting to the Durhams.Stanley married and had two daughters whom ,along with his father and mother in law, (Mrs Maidment) accompanied him to London for the presentation of the medal  which was presented to him by the King The local press noted at the time " They arrived at the Palace about 9-45 a.m., and were shown into a fine room in the right wing of the Palace, where about 280 Servicemen were waiting..The King spoke with all in turn"

GHEEL (7th September-9th SEPTEMBER)

The 6th DLI`s stay in Brussels ended late on the 7th September 1944 when orders were received to move out next day at 0900hrs.The Guards Armoured Division had already forced a crossing over the Albert Canal at Beeringen the 69 Brigade were ordered to force another crossing I believe between the areas of Steelen and Herenthals (Het Punt)
The 151Brigade were to make a further crossing and secure a bridgehead near Steeleen this was forced by 8DLI with 6DLI to move through and capture Gheel.
Two patrols were sent forward by 6DLI .Each patrol consisted of
One section of machine gunners (2Cheshires),One Carrier section,One mortar section and a platoon each from B Coy (Capt W T A Davey) and C Company ( Capt Ian Daw MC ).The two patrols cleared the woods at De Scootersche,Bosschen,Tessenderloo and Kerkensberg. The patrols then moved on protected by the high embankments of the Canal where they identified and engaged German targets including one German gun crew who were identified by a Belgian who notified the sub section commander Sgt Pickin of the Cheshires whose machine gunners killed the crew. Capt Ian Daw was hit by a burst of machine gun fire and died from his wounds. The 8th DLI despite heavy resistance carried out its bridgehead task and when the Gallant men of the RE put a Class 9 Bridge across the canal it was planned that 6DLI would move across on the morning of the 9th Sept 1944.The 61st Recce Regt crossed ahead of the 6th DLI ant its C Squadron was heavily engaged near a place called Doornboom D Company 6DLI were to move across next but were delayed when enemy fire damaged the bridge ,once again it was left to the RE to make good the damage and get the Battalion moving again .It was 1100hrs before D Company led the battalion over the canal with most companies then dispersed to the south of Gheel supported by C Sqdn 61 Recce on their right reporting enemy movements.
German prisoners revealed that Gheel had been reinforced with large numbers of men believed to be ground troops from Luftwaffe units together with other reports from captured personnel of 4th Flieger,572nd Grenadier Regt and 101st Grenadier Regt
It was obvious to men of the 6DLI that a hard fight was ahead of them.Casualties on the 9th Sept were light with two men killed and four wounded.


Name IAN ALMERIC DAW,
Initials:I A
Nationality:United Kingdom
Rank:Captain
Regiment/ServiceDevonshire Regiment
Secondary Regiment Durham Light Infantry
Secondary Unit Text:attd. 6th Bn.
Age:27
Date of Death:09/09/1944
Service No:176829
Awards:M C .(Awarded by Montgomery on 16th July 1944)

Lieutenant (temporary Captain) Ian Almeric.Daw
(176829), The Devonshire Regiment (attd. The
Durham Light Infantry), (Surbiton).
SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, 31 AUGUST, 1944
Additional information:Son of Fleet Surgeon William Henry Daw, R.N., and of Gertrude Chancey Daw, of Surbiton, Surrey.
 
 

The undermentioned Cadets, from 161st &
163rd O.C.T.U's, to be 2nd Lts., except as
otherwise stated. 8th Mar. 1941 Ian Almeric DAW (176829).) SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, 28 MARCH, 1941
Grave/Memorial Reference:X. 18. 7.
Cemetery:
BRUSSELS TOWN CEMETERY


Name:WILLIAM EDWARD GILBRIDE,
Initials:W E
Nationality:United Kingdom
Rank:Private
Regiment/Service Durham Light Infantry
Unit Text:6th Bn.
Age:23
Date of Death:09/09/1944
Service No:4453083
Additional information:Son of John and Frances Gilbride, of South Shields, Co. Durham.
Grave/Memorial Reference:II. B. 1.
                               Cemetery:
LEOPOLDSBURG WAR CEMETERY
Distinguished Conduct Medal Action 44526600 Sergeant G .H.Self, 8th DLI

 44526600 Sergeant George Henry Self, 8th DLI

On 8th September 1944 near Gheel, 44526600 Sergeant Self was Platoon Commander of the assault platoon which was detailed to making the initial crossing over the Albert Canal. During the crossing all of the Officers of his Company were either killed or wounded but together with the Sergeant Major, he succeeded in taking the objective against heavy opposition and taking a number of prisoners. Having taken up their position they were subjected to heavy mortar and machine-gun fire. Sergeant Self himself, taking a couple of men, went out and silenced two Spandau nests. During the night they were heavily counter-attacked. During this very difficult period by his own personal example he held his men together when out of touch with the remainder of the Battalion and defended his position with great skill although suffering many casualties. The enemy was driven back leaving many dead on the field.

The next dat the Company was moved forward and the Acting Company Commander was taken prisoner. Sergeant Self at once took command of the Company and although over-run by tanks and a large number of enemy infantry, he inflicted heavy losses on the enemy and succeeded in getting the majority of his men back through enemy lines to safety, where they took up defensive positions and helped repulse the strong enemy counter-attacks.

Sergeant Self was an inspiration to all those around him by his complete disregard for his own personal safety and calmness in very trying circumstances when he suddenly found himself in command of the Company.

Gheel 10th September 1944 and beyond

Sunday September 10th…The pontoon bridge came under heavy fire throughout the morning ,forward companies of 6 DLI also reported heavy fire all the signs that the Germans were preparing a counter-attack. The Company on the left flank(B Company I believe) first reported enemy infantry supported by tanks advancing on their position. During a particularly fierce engagement Lieut Allen of the forward platoon was killed, during this time orders were given that the attack on Gheel was to commence with artillery and tank support, D Company would attack from the left with C Company on their right whilst A & B Company moved up to support the forward two. At the same time 9DLI would press home their attack to the right of 6DLI the attack would start at 1330hrs.

As the battalion approached the start line they were engaged by heavy fire as the Germans began an attack of their own sweeping through and overrunning A Company positions the advance was only stemmed by two sections of the Battalions carriers and great efforts by C Company who fought their way up through A Companies positions and reached the original start line. Casualties up to this point were heavy.D Company under Major Wood despite being aware of the situation ordered his men forward following the Creeping Barrage and supported by armour. A & C Companies were regrouped into one composite company(Due to high Casualties) and they too advanced at 1410hrs the armoured support reported enemy in a trench or depression so low that the tanks were unable to bring down fire upon them it was left to D Company to move with artillery support to flush out the Germans which they managed to do with the Germans falling back in the Direction of Elsum.9DLI had come up in support of the composite company as D Company moved into Gheel itself, bitter hand to hand fighting ensued with each house fought for along the way .Objectives for D Company had been the Church and a position just south of the station both were taken but not without heavy losses, B Company were ordered to move through D Company and consolidate the area. Battalion mortars were set up in readiness for the expected counter attack which came at 2020hrs following heavy German shelling the Germans attacked in numbers swamping 6DLI positions. A patrol from D Company ran into a German patrol and after a short fire fight fifteen Durhams were captured Five Officers and Thirty other ranks had been killed already that day with a further sixty seven wounded four of whom would die, another forty two were missing .At 0100hrs on the 11th the Germans put in another counterattack which virtually cut off all of the forward companies and which now threatened Brigade HQ which was hurridly withdrawn back across the river.8DLI were now pushing up to the left of the 6DLI together with 9DLI they were finding life very difficult. At 1050hrs D Company 6DLI reported German tanks which were engaged by artillery fire.B & D Companies were dangerously low on both food and ammunition Captain Harrison commandeered a number of jeeps and loaded them with food and ammunition and set off at 1350hrs to try and reach the cut off companies a task he succeeded in. Encouraged by this Major Field of S Company 6 DLI sent fifty men and six carriers to reinforce these companies .One carrier was destroyed almost immediately by German Artillery fire another was disabled but the men were unhurt .They reached the 6DLI companies and began the task of evacuating the wounded which were sent back down the line with a number of German POW`s.A spotter in the church tower reported more German Infantry creeping through the hedgerows and accurate artillery fire was brought down upon them once again at one point the battalion lost one of its two remaining anti tank guns but a quick counter attack recaptured it,at this time the Durhams were under heavy machine gun fire from strong German position behind a knocked out German SP gun nearby was a disabled carrier belonging to one of the 50Div sapper companies still packed with explosives.The tank support opened up targeting the carrier which exploded killing all the germans sheltering at this position. Word was received at 1430hrs that 6DLI were to be relieved how that was to be done would be a problem as most were still cut off, However D Company attempted to fight its way out and after a bitter struggle succeeded C and A Companies did not get out and it was assumed that they had either been taken prisoner or worse killed in action. Two days later ,however Lieut Seggie brought out the remaining men from both Companies after they had fought from house to house and street to street. With 151 Brigade withdrawn the 15th Scottish Div made an attack on Gheel and found the town was empty the enemy had withdrawn.

 

Military Medal Action 3655988 A /Sgt William Horrocks 6th Durham.L.i

 3655988 Corporal (A/Sgt) William Horrocks The 6th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry

On 10th September at GHEEL Cpl Horrocks was commanding an outpost section.During the night the platoon was passed through his post but was unable to reach its objective and withdrew onto Cpl Horrocks post.The following morning the position was attacked the Platoon Commander was wounded and Cpl Horrocks took command.During the day the position became untenable and Cpl Horrocks was ordered to withdraw to the main Company position.This he succesfully acomplished despite having to move over open ground swept with fire.By dark that evening there were no Officers or senior NCO`s left in the Company and Cpl Horrocks took over command of the Company until another officer arrived next morning.

Cpl Horrocks displayed outstanding powers of leadership throughout a long and difficult period His personal courage and example was to a great extent responsible for keeping his company intact whilst under continual enemy fire.

 A sincere thank you to Peter Horrocks for the photograph of his father,William,and his permission to display it here.

Military Medal Action 3711853 Pte. John Redman 6th Durham.Light.Inf.

 3711853 Pte John Redman `C` Coy The 6th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry

At Mont Pincon on 12 Aug 44 and Gheel 11 Sep 44, Pte Redman was one of ‘C’ Coy 6 DLI SBs during Bn attacks on both places. He distinguished himself on each occasion by being present wherever there were casualties. At Mont Pincon he showed complete disregard for his own personal safety by crawling forward across open bullet swept country under intense mortar fire to attend the wounded of his Company. Having dressed their wounds he remained with them until others, following his example, crawled forward and assisted him in bringing the wounded back. Pte Redmans gallantry and devotion to duty has always been of the highest order. He has set an excellent example and his actions have been instrumental in saving many valuable lives.

John Redman was born in Manchester on 9th January 1918. Johns original enlistment was in the King’s Own Royal Regiment in January 1938, he served in Palestine with this unit being awarded the General Service Medal clasp Palestine his dates of service in Palestine were  between  September 1938-April 1939;his war service was recorded as India, May 1939-July 1941, Iraq,North Africa Sicily July 1941-August 1943; and N.W. Europe, June-December 1944.

 John Redman was transferred to the 6th Battalion Durham Light Infantry in April 1943. Serving with the 6th DLI as a stretcher bearer John was wounded in action, 19th  June 1944, but still went on to earn a Military Medal for  his bravery in action on the 12 August and the 11th September 1944 his  award of  the Military Medal was announced in the London Gazette on the 29th  March 1945.A further Mention in Despatches was announced on the 9th  August 1945 

John Redman was posted home in December 1944, he was placed in Section ‘B’ Reserve in August 1946

Nijmegen October 1944 `The Island`

Whilst at BOEKEL at the beginning of October 1944 news reached the Durham Battalions of the failure of the Airborne operation to seize and hold the bridge at Arnhem.The barrier into the lower Rhine remained.

On the morning of the 2nd October 1944 the 50th Division of whom 6th,8th and 9th Durham Light Infantry were part were ordered to the NIJMEGEN area.Here they occupied a stretch of low lying ground located between Arnhem and Nijmegen which was known as the Island.The ground itself was susceptible to flooding and the digging of any form of trench was impossible .The whole area was overlooked by the higher ground around Arnhem and was shelled almost constantly by a very determined enemy who still commanded it.In particular the enemy held orchards around Haldaren and the factory complex at Huize Kamstjatka were proving a particlar problem whose main target was the Nijmegen Bridge through which all essential traffic had to flow.Miraculously the shelling had caused little damage to the bridge structure itself.

One attempt by other units had already been made to dislodge the German forces in this area which had failed but it was planned to have a second effort on the 4th October 1944 in which the 151 Durham Brigade would play a lead role.

The area around the factory and Orchards was held by men of the 9th Panzer and 10th SS Panzer Divisions.The attack commenced at 1400hrs with 151 brigade on the right and 231 on the left.The Durham Brigade was tasked with securing the area around  the Baal area in which the Haldaren Factory was situated a second objective of the orchards was also selected for the DLI battalions.With 8th DLI on the right and 9th DLI on the left supported by Tanks, machine gun and artillery fire the advance progressed well `D` Company of the 9th DLI moved quickly just behind the creeping barrage with `C` Company alongside heading for the road fork on the Bemmel-Baal road in preperation for the attack on the orchards which were running North West of Mariendaal.A delay was encountered by `C` Company when they stumbled on a heavily defended ditch south-east of Houtakker calling down supporting Artillery fire the delay was a brief one as the Germans were blasted from the ditch As `C` Company  approached the orchard they observed the  lateral road which crossed on the far side ,`C` Company were under strict orders not to advance over it, as this was the area on which the British artillery bombardment would fall On reaching the edge of the orchard, German machine guns opened up from the area beyond the road .One platoon of `C` Company led by 4076840 Sgt Frederick Andrews was cut off from the remainder of `C` Company who were suffering heavy casualties yet he still led his platoon under heavy enemy fire on to the objective immediately deploying his platoon, whilst leaving a section for fire support  he led the remaining two sections of his platoon on a lightening frontal assault into the heart of the enemy positions killing three of the enemy ,taking a further ten taken prisoner, and routing the  remainder .Other sections too ran into the heavy machine gun fire L/Sgt Stanley Martin`s section suffered heavy casualties yet he like Sgt Andrews led his remaining men in a determined charge taking ten prisoners as his section were consolidating they again came under fire from another German machine gun a further 50 yards away he rallied the surviving members of his section  and once again stormed forward taking the position and securing a furthertwenty six prisoners.Both Sgt Andrews and L/Sgt Martin were awarded Military Medals for their courage and leadership.

The second phase was now entered   `A` Company of the 9th DLI sweeping around the left flank of  `D`` Company in an attempt to attack the orchard just to the South of Baal ran into heavy machine gun fire from both the orchard and the surrounding houses the fire inflict severe casualties amongst the advancing ranks of `A` Company all three platoon commanders were killed and the Company Commander Capt J H W Hudson wounded.Rallied under the new command of Captain P W B Thomson the company tried a new approach with the help of a troop of tanks they swung back and to the right of `D` Company`s positions and stormed the German positions after a fierce confrontation `A` Company reached their objective.On the left `B` Company passed through the decimated ranks of `C` Company and knocked out two German Half tracks  as it fought its way into Baal.At 1645hrs all companies had reached their planned objectives but 9thDLI had suffered some 60 casualties in total with at least 13 other ranks killed.

4277032 Pte Robert Charlton 9th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Son of Robert and Elizabeth Pickering Charlton, of Gosforth, Newcastle-on-Tyne; husband of Jennie Charlton, of Gosforth.formerly of The Northumberland Fusiliers.Died  4th October 1944 Aged 32 He lies in good company  Section 12 Row C Grave 15 at Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery.

3913251 L/Cpl Walter Dransfield 9th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Son of Austin and Agnes Dransfield, of Burnley, Lancashire formerly of The South Wales Borderers.Died  4th October 1944 Aged 29 He lies in good company  Section 12 Row C Grave 17 at Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery.

 

14696554 Pte Middleton Jones Foster 9th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Son of Fred and Elizabeth Foster, of Broom, Co. Durham.formerly of The General Service Corps.Aged 19 Died 4th October 1944 He lies in good company  Section 7 Row B Grave 4 at Jonkerbos War Cemetery.

14530694 Pte George Gillespie 9th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Son of James and Margaret Gillespie, of Falkirk, Stirlinghsire.formerly of The General Service Corps.Died  4th October 1944 Aged 20 He lies in good company  Section 12 Row C Grave 12 at Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery.

4542256 Pte Arthur Hobson 9th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Son of William and Elsie Hobson; husband of Winifred Hobson, of Leicester.formerly of The West Yorkshire Regiment.Died  4th October 1944 Aged 29  He lies in good company  Section 12 Row C Grave 10 at Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery.

 2390858 Pte Denis McManmon 9th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Son of Denis and Alice McManmon; husband of Ann McManmon, of Whittle-le-Woods, Lancashire.formerly of The Royal Corps of Signals .Died 4th October 1944 aged 32 He lies in good company  Section 12 Row A Grave 6 at Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery.

14403257 Pte James Roberts 9th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Son of Albert E. and Rachel Roberts, of Acton, Middlesex .formerly of The General Service Corps .Died  4th October 1944 Aged 20 He lies in good company  Section 12 Row B Grave 5 at Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery.

14579873 Pte Samuel Gerald Robins 9th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Son of Edwin and Doris Robins, of Par, Cornwall .formerly of The General sevice Corps .Died  4th October 1944 Aged 19 He lies in good company  Section 12 Row A Grave 16 at Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery.

4618859 Cpl Stanley Rowland 9th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Son of Joseph Henry and Leah Rowland, of Sheffield formerly of The Duke of Wellingtons Regiment Died  4th October 1944 Aged 26  He lies in good company  Section 12 Row B Grave 1 at Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery.

1830028 Pte Christopher John Russell 9th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Foster-son of William and Caroline J. Turner, of Trewern, Montgomeryshire.formerly of The Royal Artillery.Died  4th October 1944 Aged 36 He lies in good company  Section 12 Row C Grave 15 at Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery.

 

14306211 Pte James Arthur Steadman 9th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Son of Arthur John and Mary Josephine Steadman, of Southwater, Sussex  formerly of The General Service Corps Died  4th October 1944 Aged  21 He lies in good company  Section 12 Row A Grave 1 at Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery.

14615400 Pte Jack Thompson 9th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Son of Sydney F. and Sarah K. Thompson, of Chorlton-on-Medlock, Manchester .formerly of The General Service Corps.Died 4th October 1944 Aged 21 He lies in good company  Section 12 Row A Grave 2 at Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery.

 

 

 

 14669154 Pte John Thompstone 9th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry Son of Tom and Catherine Thompstone, of Salford, Lancashire.formerly of The General Service Corps .Died  4th October 1944 Aged 20 He lies in good company  Section 12 Row A Grave 13 at Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery.

Military Medal Action 3133454 Corporal James Ferguson 6th DLI

 3133454 Corporal James Ferguson The 6th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry

At Elst on the 16th October 1944 about twenty enemy attacked `A` Companies forward position. The attack was preceded by heavy mortaring and shelling of the Platoon area.
It was obvious that the enemy were endeavouring to infiltrate to the rear of Cpl Ferguson`s section. This NCO decided to take the offensive. Throwing a smoke grenade to cover his movement he charged round the enemy`s left flank
He killed three enemy with his Sten gun ant took four prisoners two of which were wounded. He himself was severely wounded.
His leadership and example to a section that was in a slit trench and had been subjected to heavy fire was of a very high standard.The remainder of the enemy scattered in disorder.
Virtually by his offensive action he succeeded in preventing the enemy gaining possession of useful ground and his example, initiative and anxiety to get to grips with the enemy was of a very high order

 

Into the Fatherland

Private Watkins of the 9th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry, aims his Bren gun from a dugout in the garden of a house in Gangelt, on the Dutch/German border, 17th  December 1944

1945

 

 

 

Men of the 9th Durham Light Infantry clearing resistance in the village of Weseke, 29 March 1945

January 1945 9th Durham Light Infantry 7th Armoured Division.

At the beginning of January, Patrol activity was carried out by both sides both by day and by night any sightings of enemy troops brought down a sharp artillery barrage on their positions . During the morning of the 8th January, two snipers from the 9th DLI equipped with snow suits penetrated the German perimiter around Isenbruch. On their return journey they reported shooting three German soldiers they found in a house but were driven back by five more who appeared from the side building .

A further raid to grab a German prisoner was organised with Lieutenant R H E Hill leading one section of `D` Company advancing ahead of two platoons of `C` Company under the cover of an Artillery barrage which was targeting all known German positions in the area including Isenbruch, Havert and Schalbruch Lieutenant Hill set off from Millen and reached a house which was situated about half way to the planned objective.Once seized the two platoons of `C` Company then attempted to advance through the `D` Company positions however during the attack German Mortars fell near the house causing casualties, Lieutenant Hill was amongst the wounded. Undeterred `C` Company pressed on in a bid to establish a platoon to the east of Isenbruch in order to provide a sound base for the second platoon to press on to their objective. As the two platoons of `C` Company advanced the snow which had been falling gently when the advance began started to fall much more heavily hiding the dykes and ditches which were filled with ice water this was not all the snow hid, a freshly sown minefield hidden by the snow caused havoc with `C` Companies leading platoon and only three men succeeded in crossing it safely. Amongst these three were Pte William Forster who turned back and edged his way back through the minefield in a bid to lead out a group of eleven men who were stranded in the centre of the mine field as the party were moving to the edge of the minefield an enemy tank was sighted and a decision was made to withdraw back through the mines. Unfortunately more casualties were suffered including Pte Forster who had his leg broken and his foot blown off.

Ironically the tank, which had forced their return, was a wreck which had been destroyed in an earlier action.Captain H W Ashton of `C` Company took a party of stretcher bearers out into the minefield and brought in three badly wounded men,Pte Forster was not amongst them he had presumed that these were enemy troops and did not cry out but kept himself hidden until these men had passed .Pte Forster then set about crawling back to his own lines and remarkably despite the seriousness of his wounds completed the journey successfully although it took him over 12 hours to crawl the 1000yard distance back to the Durham`s lines

 

Military Medal Action 3774710 Pte William Foster 9th Durh.L.I

3774710 Private William Foster The 9th Battalion the Durham Light Infantry

At ISENBRUCH on the night of 8th/9th January 1945 the Platoon to which Pte Foster belonged was taking part in a night raid on the village.

A short distance from the enemy wire defences the party ran on to a minefield and suffered heavy casualties. This soldier and three others were the only ones who succeeded in crossing the minefield and immediately Pte Foster, regardless of any personal danger returned and collected the remainder of the Platoon which consisted of eleven men, and tried to lead them through the minefield by another route. Further casualties were caused including Pte Foster himself who had his leg broken and part of his foot blown off. When the raid was over a party was sent out to bring in the wounded men but he thought they were enemy and did not attract their attention he was in terrible pain but started to crawl back to our lines a distance of 1000yards actually observing on the way in spite of pain and extreme cold the movements of two parties of Germans which he reported later to his unit. Twelve hours it took Pte Foster to reach the forward platoon of his battalion bringing back valuable information and still dragging his bren gun with him. Such courage and endurance in the face of overwhelming adversity is quite beyond praise.

William Holden Foster was born 11th January 1918 .Originally enlisted into the King's Regiment on the 15/11/1939.Sent to 4th Holding Battalion 10/4/1940 followed by a posting to the 50th Holding Battalion 6/6/1940.He was transferred to the 10th Durham Light Infantry 6/9/1940 following their decimation in France,

He served in Iceland and landed with the battalion in Normandy.Following the disbandment of the 10th DLI William joined  9th DLI,with whom he won the Military Medal. William was discharged 16/5/1946 under KRs 1940 Para 390 (xvi).He died in Chester in 1997 aged 79 years. 

Distinguished Conduct Medal Action 4455621 Sergeant Thomas Myers 9DLI

4455621 Sergeant Thomas Myers, The 9th Battalion The  Durham Light Infantry

At St. Joost on the evening of 21st January 1945, Sergeant Myers was platoon Sergeant of a platoon engaged in clearing the village. The platoon had cleared several houses when Sergeant Myers was sent back to Company HQ to report on the situation. The enemy at this point was on three sides of the company and the position was confused. After leaving Company HQ this NCO was informed that approximately 20 Germans were between hin and his platoon coming in his direction. He immediately ran some twenty yards across bullet swept ground to the corner of a house where he waited for the enemy to appear. He allowed them to approach within fifteen yards and then opened up with his Sten, killing or wounding eight or nine. The remainder took cover behind the house. The NCO waited for developments and saw a German with an MG leading the enemy from behind the house. He again waited until they were all in view, and then threw three or four grenades at the party inflicting more casualties and causing the rest to disappear. Sergeant Myers then continued on his way to his platoon. On the way he encountered two more enemy at point blank range whom he shot and killed .

Sergeant Myers thus single handed inflicted over a dozen casualties on the enemy, and by his courage and determination fought his way back to his platoon, preventing the enemy from completely encircling his Company, and enabling them to withdraw without fighting their way out.

Military Medal Action  1805436 Pte George Martin 9th Durh.L.I.

 1805436 Pte George Martin The 9th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry.

At St Joost on 21st January 1945 Pte Martin was at Platoon headquarters of a Platoon engaged in the clearing of the village.All members of the Platoon Hq were either killed or wounded with the exception of Pte Martin.

This soldier however was quite undaunted and continued to advance on his own.He saw the enemy attempting to cut off the remainder of his platoon and without hesitation he ran at them firing his bren gun from the hip,killing and wounding several and causing the remainder to flee.

By his gallant action Pte Martin undoubtedly saved the lives of several of his comrades and allowed the advance to continue.

Military Medal Action  3654968 Pte Thomas Forster 9th DLI

 3654968 Pte Thomas Forster The 9th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry

In the area of Dietren –Holland on the 15th January 1945 when the 9th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry attacked the German Forces occupying the town of DIETREN. Pte Forster who was employed in the battalion as a signaller, without consideration for personal safety or regard to his own life showed outstanding courage and devotion to duty. During the first two days of the operation the enemy artillery and mortar fire was so concentrated and intense between the main body and the forward troops that it was difficult for the engineers to build a bridge to enable transport to bring up the vitally needed wireless batteries and ammunition which were urgently needed to enable the battalion to push forward and take the next objective. Pte Forster volunteered to walk through the intensely shelled area and endeavour to carry the wireless batteries up to the forward positions. This he did and in all he walked and crawled the distance of two miles seven times each time carrying up either batteries or wireless sets until at last the necessary equipment had been carried up to ensure that communication was kept throughout the battalion

Military Medal Action 14406734 A/Cpl Frederick Emmanuel Oliver 9th DLI

14406734 A/Corporal Frederick Emmanuel Oliver The 9th Durham Light Infantry

On January 16th 1945 during the attack across country on Dieteren Corporal Oliver`s section were leading a platoon .At the first canal crossing after launching their Kapok Pontoon Bridge they were held up by strong enemy fire from a weapon pit on the far side of the canal.Cpl Oliver without any thought of personal safety immediately dashed across the bridge and attacked the weapon pit single handed .He succeeded in killing one German and forced the other three to surrender.By his outstanding example of personal bravery Cpl Oliver`s platoon were able to cross the bridge without further hinderance. During the whole action Cpl Oliver set a very high standard of Bravery and leadership until being wounded and ordered back by his platoon commmander.

Cpl Frederick Oliver was a native of West Hartlepool who after initial training within the General Service Corps saw service in North West Europe with the 9th Durham Light Infantry where he was awarded a Military Medal for bravery on the morning of January 16th 1945.The circumstances of the award had not been known as his original citation had been `lost` according to the National Archives.It was only through his daughter Christine who has kindly allowed me to use her copy to fully document the event here that a missing piece of the Regiments history has been restored and Fred takes his rightful place amongst his comrades who fought on that day.As a footnote Freds elder brother George Oliver was the sole survivor of the submaraine H49 which was depth charged of the dutch coast.  He spent the rest of the war as POW near Milag POW.

My sincere thanks to Cpl Olivers family in particular his daughter Christine  who has kindly supplied the information and photograph shown in this section.Remembered with love and honour.

Military Cross Action 276860 (T)Capt Horace Wallace Ashton 9th DLI

 276860 (T)Capt Horace Wallace Ashton The 9th Durham.Light.Infantry

At Dieteren on 16th January 1945 9 Bn Durham Light Infantry had captured the village when the enemy counter attacked the bridge site at the rear of the battalion.

Capt ASHTON was ordered to take a platoon and deal with the enemy.On reaching the area of the bridge some sixty Germans were observed in the vicinity.About forty were moving towards the bridge and the other twenty were seen near a barn.

Captain Ashton ordered one section to engage the party of forty with fire,and he himself led the other two sections in a charge against the party near the Barn.

After a short fierce hand to hand struggle the enemy fled leaving five or six dead on the field and eight prisoners in our hands.

Capt ASHTON then took up a defensive position round the barn and directed artillery fire on to the party of forty with such accuracy that the enemy withdrew leaving several dead and wounded.

By his quick and resolute actions this officer averted a serious threat to the building of the bridge which was indispensable for the sucess of the operation.

Capt. Horace Wallace Ashton MC. Durham Light Infantry

 Horace Wallace Ashton married Catherine Watt Gilstin of Sunderland, Co. Durham  at High Lane. He had volunteered for the Army in 1939 and rose to the rank of Captain. He was a proud and private man and although he talked about the Army in his latter years,  the family never really knew why he was awarded the MC. and  other campaign medals.

Horace Wallace Ashton had three children and became an Overall Manufacturer mainly for the Ministry of Defence. He was a founder member of High Lane British Legion . Horace Wallace Ashton died in the late 1990's.

Military Cross Action 73112 (t) Major A.G.R.Noble 9th Durham.L.Inf

 73112 (T) Major Anthony Geoffrey Radcliffe Noble The 9th Durham Light Infantry

Near DIETEREN on 16th January 1945 Major NOBLE was commanding a companyin the attack on the village.The attack involved the crossing of two canals.On reachingthe second canal the leading platoon came under heavy enemy MG fire from the far side and was forced to take cover.
Realising the momentum of attack was likely to be stopped.Major NOBLE in spite of the heavy fire immediately ran forward and rallied the men.He then lead the platoon into and across the canal and charged the enemy.He succeeded in killing two and the remainder fled.He continued the charge on to the final objective with such determination and vigour that the enemy was thoroughly routed,thirty prisoners being taken and more than twenty enemy killed.
A few hours later this company attacked SCHILBERG during darkness and fierce hand to hand fighting developed.
During the whole of the attack however this officer showed such splendid powers of leadership and command that control was never lost and the action was entirely successful.

Throughout two very difficult days of continuous fighting this ooficer led his company with exceptional skill and courage,and on several occasions personally led the attack on to enemy positions with the bayonet

Military Medal Action  4349380 Sgt Andrew Cameron 9th DLI

 4349380 Sgt Andrew Cameron The 9th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry

At GEMEN on the 29th March 1945 Sgt Cameron was in command of a section of carriers which was ordered to carry out a patrol on the right flank of the battalion the object of which was to see if this flank was clear and if not to contain the enemy in that area until another battalion came up to clear the area.
Sgt Cameron took his patrol roughly a mile along the road and then came under HE mortar fire from a house three hundred yards in front, and also rifle and MG fire from a large copse on his left flank. He immediately got his crews in dismounted action, and for half an hour neutralised the positions with three brens and a 2” mortar.
At the end of this period the enemy ceased fire and Sgt Cameron on his own initiative decided to clear the house immediately to his front and then the copse to his left. He ordered the section to return to their carriers and firing on the move to make their way to the house which they did. When close to the house Sgt Cameron led one crew dismounted into the house and took five prisoners.
On returning to the carriers the enemy again opened up with MG fire and wounded two of their own prisoners. Sgt Cameron then ordered the section to return to the house they had just cleared and make it a firm base. The house by this time was under fire from three sides. The section established themselves`s in the house as Sgt Cameron then crawled a hundred yards across the open with a Piat covered by the rest of the section. Spasmodic enemy MG fire was coming from the copse during this time but was silenced when Sgt Cameron fired two Piat rounds at the enemy positions. He then moved across to another house from which fire was coming and set it on fire with his remaining bomb. he then returned to the section and led them through the copse and on to the farm house under cover of three brens, taking in all one officer and sixty other ranks as Prisoners of War who were all armed with rifles MG or bazookas.
By his personal courage, leadership and initiative Sgt Cameron cleared the area of a nearly company strength of German Infantry with only one carrier section.

Military Cross Action 138090 (T) Major George Reginald Lanning 9DLI

 138090 WS Captain/T/Major George Reginald Lanning  9th Battalion Durham.Light.Inf

At STADTLOHN on 30th March 1945 Major LANNING`s Company was ordered to pass through `D` Company which had captured an objective in the centre of the town,and he was to seize a bridge over the river which runs to the North of the town.As the town was a mass of rubble from bombing no tank support was avaiable and the fighting consisted of desperate hand to hand combat against two Bns of good German Infantry
Major LANNING handled his company with so much skill and so effectively that he cleared three hundred yards of the town of which every inch was held very stubbornly by the enemy,taking 30 Prisoners of War and killing or wounding an equal number.He was always in the thick of the fighting and walking about in such a cool and calm way that he was a great inspiration to all who saw him.
He reached a point 150 yards from the bridge with his reserve platoon,and found the enemy well dug in around the bridge with a hundred yards of open ground to cross.He decided to make a final assault with his reserve platoon and crawled forward twenty five yards with a wireless set to where he could obtain observation of the whole area and directed the artillery fire on to the enemy near the bridge with some shells falling very close to him.When he finished the shoot he raced back to his platoon across the open and led them straight on to the bridge on the double before the enemy had time to recover.
He personally killed four of the enemy with his sten gun and captured the remainder.Without any doubt his very great personal courage and skill enabled the bridge to be captured intact and the advance of an armoured Regiment to continue far earlier than could have been the case if a less vigorous attack had taken place.

Military Medal Action  406570 L/Sgt Reginald Joseph Tavener 9th DLI.

 406570 L/Sgt Reginald Joseph Taverner The 9th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry

At WILDESHAUSEN on 12th April 1945 this NCO was Acting Platoon Sergeant of 10 Platoon of `B` Company. The previous night (11th/12th April) had seen a partially successful counter attack by the enemy and all ranks were very tired. About midday on the 12th April when the company was waiting to be relieved a strong Bosch patrol came on to the company’s  position amongst the houses at the head of the town and shortly afterwards sniping from mortar bombs small arms and panzerfausts  began, thus making the relief a very hazardous operation. The exact enemy position was not located for some time until this NCO spotted that it was in a house, which owing to its position, was difficult to fire at effectively either from a tank or mortar.
L/Sgt Tavener immediately took the Platoon Piat and riding on top of a tank over an exposed level crossing to a covered position, from where  the tank was unable to help owing to the proximity of enemy panzerfausts,he then fired 5 Piat bombs from various places in adjacent houses at the house and succeeded in driving the enemy out, who were then dispersed by small arms fire from the platoon area.
This action by Sgt Tavener with complete disregard for his own safety instilled a great spirit into the men who were very tired and enabled the relief to proceed. This NCO has shown a very good example for many months and has behaved exceptionally well particularly under difficult conditions. 
 

 

Croix de Guerre with Silver Star RSM Edward Joseph Greening 6 DLI

 7605361 RSM Edward Joseph Greening The 6th Durham Light Infantry

RSM Greening has served in the capacity of WO Class 1 with this battalion the whole of this present campaign.  During this time he has proved himself an inspiration and example to all ranks.  Showing complete disregard for his own personal safety at all times, RSM Greening has largely been responsible for the efficient organisation of Bn HQ in the field, ensuring constant supplies of ammunition to forward sub units engaged in fighting. At Mont PINCON the Bn moved up on foot during daylight on one road, which was under extremely heavy shellfire to take part in the attack against the enemy held area of LE PLESSIS GRIMAULT.  Many casualties were incurred by the Bn during this move.  RSM Greening with shells falling constantly along the line of the road, for three hours, oblivious to his own danger, walked about encouraging the men forward and controlling the move of the entire Bn with complete success.  Again during the same battle, a forward coy in close contact with the enemy under MG and small armes fire ran short of ammuition, RSM Greening immediately organised a carrying party which he personally lead forward under difficlt circumstances and succeeded in getting the ammunition forward.  As a result of this action the coy were able to hold the position which they had taken earlier and beat off all enemy counter attacks.

Soldiers Crosses

There are  crosses by the censor,  Far too many so it seems,There are crosses in his letters, From the Lady of his dreams,

There`s a Cross that's worn by Heroes, Who have faced a stream of Lead,There`s a cross when he is wounded,  And a cross when he is dead..........

On August 9th 1944 during the Battle of Mont Pincon near a place called Le Plessis-Grimault . an attack was planned for the night of 8th Aug however whilst at Roucamps the attack was postponed until 1100am on the next day 9th Aug 1944. The 6th DLI  marched over Mont Pincon to the forming up area at Le Plessis all the way they were under heavy German Artillery and Mortar fire when they reached the start line  Lt PD White and four other ranks had already been wounded and evacuated. Behind a creeping barrage the DLI moved forwarded supported by tanks whose fire power also added to the barrage . At 2.30pm La Cannardiere was reached casualties were at this point described as `light` However once on the objective and before the 6th DLI could dig in the German produced a counter barrage which caught the DLI in the open A Company Capt   RE Evans,, Sgt Fradley, Cpl Jenkins were  killed and 12 men wounded Major Browne of `D` Company was mortally wounded and  died soon after , Lieutenant  Atkinson was also wounded as ` D` Company`s numbers dwindled to one officer and 34 other ranks. The carrier platoon were dismounted and sent forward to thicken up the defences one platoon/patrol going forward under fire to Cauville where they took a small bridge and observed enemy troop movement. Gradually the Germans began to surrender some in numbers of 20 men and more but the DLI had suffered heavily again Two Officers dead seven other ranks killed fifty three wounded (Three died later as a result of these wounds) On the day those killed were ; Captain R E Evans KIA,Sgt Fradley KIA (Listed by CWGC as died on the 8th Aug) Cpl Jenkins KIA Major Browne KIA,L/Sgt Maddocks, L/Cpl Sully, Pte Butcher, Pte Churston Pte England and  Pte J R Maddison

 Below the crosses are prepared for members of the Durham Light Infantry killed in Action on August 9th 1944 .