EYEWITNESS MEMORIES

This part of the site features a selection of first-person memories of the 16th Durham Light Infantry in 1940-46. The transcribed print items are at left. Also included there are some highly evocative articles that were first published in the Battalion Magazine Geordie in 1945-46. Special thanks again to Alex ‘Jock’ Gray for loaning me his set of these now very rare magazines from which some of these items have been transcribed. I was lucky enough to be involved in the latter stages of the Imperial War Museum’s DLI Oral History project and interviewed several 16 DLI veterans at great length in 1999-2004. These interviews, and most of the many others conducted by the IWM across all the DLI battalions, are now freely available to listen to online at the IWM site. Direct links to the interviews I undertook and some brief background information are at right below. Copy and paste the link into your browser and it should open directly into the IWM site and reveal a Youtube-style audio player. Please use the search function on the IWM site to further explore their full DLI interview collection.

Written or Transcribed

A Beds and Herts NCO joins the 16th DLI at Edinburgh in July 1940: Cpl W Jimmy James

Pte T Tunney’s Call-Up, December 1941

C and D Companies at Winchelsea, Sussex in 1942 and a Visit from General Mongomery, CQMS W ‘Jimmy’ James

Annoted Photographs of the Troops’ Billets at Winchelsea

C Company at Winchelsea, Pte George Forster

C Company at Winchelsea, Pte T Tunney

Christmas Day 1942, CQMS W ‘Jimmy’ James

Christmas Day 1942 by CSM George Gates

A Soldier’s Thoughts, New Year’s Morning 1943--At Sea, A 1945 Poem by CSM W ‘Jimmy’ James

Battle of Sedjenane Eyewitness Index Page

Prelude to Salerno, a 1945 Poem by CSM W ‘Jimmy’ James

Hospital Hill, Salerno, 15/9/43, the eyewitness account of Mortar Platoon Sergeant John Henderson.

With the 16 DLI Regimental Aid Post at Salerno, September 1943, by Padre G Meek

Christmas Day 1943 by Major Alan Hay

Pte John Bowery, D Company 1943-44

Repatriated POW, a 1944 Newspaper Interview with Pte Albert Pike, ex-B Company, 16 DLI

A Reporter Goes to Brancepeth Camp, 1945

‘There Was the Yanks, the Russians and Me and Ben’ POW Pte Tom Tunney in Bad Schmiedeberg, Germany, April 30th 1945

Changing of the Ceremonial Guard at Vienna, October 1945, by Major L E Stringer.

RSM E Thomasson’s Thoughts on Leaving the Battalion, November 1945.

A Report and Attendance List for First 16 DLI All Ranks Reunion, in 1947, at the Three Tuns Hotel, Durham

My 16 DLI audio interviews online at the IWM site

Sgt Charles Bray. Ex Beds and Herts, D Company 16 DLI, 1940-43. Taken POW at Sedjenane 2/3/43.
http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/80024563

Pte Lesley Brown, Signal Platoon 16 DLI, 1943-45. http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/80024568

L/Sgt Joseph Drake MM. Enlisted direct to 16 DLI, July 1940. Awarded Military Medal for actions at Sedjenane on 3/3/43.
http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/80024567

Pte Alex ‘Jock’ Grey, Despatch Rider, HQ Coy, 16 DLI, 1940-46. Ex Beds and Herts, with the Battalion from the first to last.
http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/80020526

CSM W ‘Jimmy’ James, ex Beds and Herts, with the battalion from July 1940 through to Salerno, HQ and D Companies.
http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/80024594

Sgt John Lewindon MM. Awarded Military Medal for actions at Salerno in 9/43. HQ and D Companies. Ex Beds and Herts. With the Battalion from the beginning in 1940 to disbandment in 1946.
http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/80024564

Pte Oswald Stanley McDonald. B Company, enlisted 1/42, captured Sedjenane 2/3/43.
http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/80029118

Pte Ernie Scriven. Enlisted direct to 16 DLI, 7/40, served in the Signal Platoon, HQ Coy through to 1946.
http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/80024557

Pte Tom Tunney. Enlisted DLI 12/41. Captured Sedjenane 2/3/43. This interview was recorded very informally and with poor sound quality in 1995, before I even knew there was a IWM DLI oral history project. However, it was the basis and starting point for everything on this site.
http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/80019434

Of the very many more 16 DLI interviews conducted by others on the IWM site, all of which are now priceless, I must mention that of my father’s C Coy platoon mate Pte George Forster, seriously wounded on 2/3/43:
http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/80012555

And Pte Syd Shutt, B Coy, captured 2/3/43, who was also from Thornley, Co Durham:
http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/80017284
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