Pte Jack Roach and Friends, Damascus 1944

On the 21st February 1944, the 16th DLI embarked from Naples aboard the MV Sobieski for Port Said and spent the next four months refitting and retraining in the Middle East, before returning to the Italy on July 3rd 1944. This photograph of four B Company men was taken in Damascus in June 1944 and features, left to right: Bob Craig, Jack Roach, Len Dewick and Jimmy Britland. Photograph, identifications and much of the detail below courtesy of Jack Roach’s son, David Roach. Jack Roach and Jimmy Britland also feature on the April 1944 B Company Platoon photograph. Initially serving in the Pioneer Corps from 1939 (Army Number 13043548) Pte Jack Roach was with the 16th Battalion from the start in Scotland in July 1940 and was wounded and taken POW on October 10th 1944. Assigned the German POW Number 139507, in early 1945 he was held at Stalag 7A at Moosburg. The 1946 Battalion History, page 46, records the incident in which he was captured as follows:

‘The little hamlet of La Crocetta was set at the foot of the Balignano Spur which, in turn, was on the extremity of a narrow ridge stretching from Longiano towards Route 9. At this time the Division was advancing with two Brigades up and, on the right, the Battalion was ordered to seize the Balignano feature that night. A patrol of ten man from Baker Company had been sent out almost immediately the Company arrived in La Crocetta and, from this patrol, only one man returned, with reports that the rest had been wounded or captured by the enemy who appeared to be holding the enemy in some strength. On receipt of this information the CO ordered Baker Company to attack and capture Balignano before it got dark....’

There is a Pte L Dewick DLI (Army Number 14579247) listed as POW at in Germany in early 1945, so it seems very likely that the Len Dewick in the photo above was also on this patrol and taken POW.

FOUR MEN OF B COMPANY, 16th DLI, DAMASCUS, JUNE 1944

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