In April, whilst stationed at Rye, Colonel Murray was posted and Lt/Col. R F Ware MC assumed command. The Battalion took part in exercise 'Harold' in August and marched 150 miles (a popular remark was, 'Who said we were mechanised!'). It was in the Rye--Winchelsea area that the Battalion crossed swords for the one and only time with a very famous Field Marshal (3). Results: many weird and wonderful men of rank from the Army Catering Corps were to be seen working in C and D Coy cookhouse.

October brought rumours of complete mobilisation. This was followed by intense activity in the BOR, QM's and the RAP. Inoculations, G1098, and addresses of next-of-kin were the chief topic of conversation and morale was never higher (4). On December 6th the Battalion bade farewell to Rye. Many a Durham made faithful promises--no more women for me--the Officers said a fond farewell to their 'training headquarters' that well known cafe 'Simon the Pieman'. In passing, it is worth mentioning here that a mysterious body of men commanded by Lt Buck Ryan now appeared in the Battalion, pulling a small gun. This party later became known as the Anti-tank Platoon.

Camberley became our next scene of activity and many weird and wonderful signs appeared on the vehicles, whilst mysterious bars known as towing bars were welded on to the Carriers, bringing alarm and despondency to the Anti-tank Platoon. Conferences were held at all hours of the day and night, counter order and disorder reigned supreme. Eventually, the Battalion became well organised and, at dawn one morning, the MT moved off by road under Lt Richardson's command. The Carriers disappeared the same night by rail under Lt Mynheer--both to an unknown destination. On the night of the 22nd December at about 0001 hours the Battalion entrained at Farnborough Station and arrived next morning at Liverpool. Embarkation was carried out fairly successfully and the evening of the 23rd found us anchored in the Mersey.

Christmas morning at 1125 hours the convoy set sail for the well known 'unknown destination.' On this day above all days one is supposed to have a feeling of good fellowship and good cheer to mankind in general. Did we have it? Did we…

Editor's Note. We are indebted to Captain A E Newman MBE and Captain T H Mynheer MM for this article.

Notes:

(1) Lt Colonel J G Morrogh-Bernard MBE (East Yorks Regt) was the first CO of the Battalion, from July to December 1940. Lt Col E C Sebag Montifiore (DLI) took over temporarily between December 1940 and March 1941. Lt Col A S P Murray (Grenadier Guards) assumed command in March 1941 and served through to May 1942.

(2) ‘QM’ was the 16th DLI’s Quartermaster, A E ‘Bert’ Newman.

(3) General Montgomery had his HQ at Winchelsea for a few days in July 1942.

(4) ‘BOR’ was the Battalion Orderly Room, ‘RAP’ was the Regimental Aid Post and the ‘G1098’ form was the key piece of paperwork in the Quartermaster’s Office for recording kit and equipment.

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Click to enlarge Tom Turnbull  Rye 1942

Left to right, Pte Tom Turnbull of Sunderland, Pte Alfred Pike of Sunderland and Pte Bill Hitch of Wingate, all of B Company, 16th DLI. This photograph was taken outside the cookhouse in Rye, which was demolished soon afterwards by a German bomb. All three men were seriously wounded in the Battle of Sedjenane. Pte Pike lost an arm, was made POW and repatriated to the UK from Germany in late 1943. Tom Turnbull returned to the Battalion, was wounded a second time in Italy and finished the war as a Sergeant in D Company. Courtesy of Tom Turnbull. Click the images to enlarge.

Below the menu for the officers’ Christmas dinner aboard the MV Staffordshire onh December 25th 1942. Courtesy Gordon Harris.
click to enlarge MV Staffordshire Christmas Menu