SISTER BATTALIONS

On the 2nd September 1939 the adjutant of the 8th DLI reported to his Brigade commander that the total strength of the battalion stood at fifty four officers and 1100 men  it was now that the battalion was told to form a duplicate battalion of the eighth,  which would become The 11th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry under the command of Major John Bramwell.

Similar scenes were being re-enacted at the HQ of the 6th DLI where it was announced that their surplus would become The 10th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry  

Meanwhile over with the 9th DLI they too had been ordered to form what initially would be the 12th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry however shortly after it became The 1st Tyneside Scottish and though all three battalions formed part of 70th Brigade of the 23rd Division, only the 10th and 11th Battalions would remain with the regiment with the 1st Tyneside Scottish coming under the wing of its new parent regiment The Black Watch.

 The 23rd Division was a second line Territorial Division and was a duplicate (on paper) of the 50th Division. Despite the initial numbers of men these battalions had , following the various selection processes ,reserved occupations, specialist transfers etc they were much weakened battalions ,poorly manned and equipped, that were ordered to France on the 23rd March 1940 with advance units arriving by the 10th April 1940 .

  As the 23rd (Northumbrian) Division embarked for France it was still greatly under   strength and consisted of only two brigades unlike its sister division the 50th (Tyne Tees) Division. Both  of the Durham Battalions transports were hired from civilian companies they had no Bren Carriers, no 3`` Mortars and no radio equipment of any description, of the 2000 men of the Division 1300 had not yet fired a Bren gun, 400 had yet to complete the basic rifle war course!

     The British Government`s plan was  to use the Division behind the frontline in the construction role working on the  air fields, this role it was envisaged would keep the 10th & 11th DLI occupied for an estimated three to five months .After this  the whole Division would be brought home to complete its training and bring it up to war strength.

On the 24th April 1940 the 10th & 11th DLI were at Le Havre ,divisional artillery and support units had not made the journey and remained in Britain.They moved on to a tented camp in an Orchard at Nuncq near St Pol. Here they worked in shifts on the airfield, rifle companies worked four days then trained for two with one day of rest.

 What ever the plan was they forgot one important factor…….The Germans

Onslaught 1940

The 10th Battalion were ordered to another airfield near Abbeville to do this transport had to be borrowed from other units in their division,the move was completed on the 14th May 1940 their stay lasted ...three days!

The 10th and 11th DLI were ordered next into areas along The Canal du Nord where they were to prepare defensive positions here they did what they could but with no picks,shovels or wire their efforts were never going to be enough.Twenty four hours later they were withdrawn once again to the area around Arras where they were given a line covering the south-east of the town,the two battalions were no sooner in position when they were ordered to withdraw once again through Wancourt to Thetus near Vimy the withdrawl was well under way when counter orders were recieved ordering them back to the Arras area,around Saultry,Beaumetz and Lattre this would be a further sixteen to twenty mile march on top of the distances the two battalions had already covered,some of the men had been marching non-stop since 1900hrs the previous evening! With this in mind Brigadier Kirkup made the decision to ferry his battalions to their new positions at night, in stages using what ever meagre transport was available.Whilst awaiting their transport the men of the 10th DLI laid up at Mercatel whilst the majority of the 11th DLI were at Wancourt

  On the 20th May 1940 the transport was hit by the Luftwaffe and although the 10th DLI (less one company under the command of the Tyneside Scottish) had managed to reach Lattre the 11th DLI were still in disaray,one company had not received the amended orders and were at Thelus,two other companies were attempting to re-join the battalion after spending the night at Ficheux.The rest of the battalion were marching onto Beaumetz when the German Armoured Column which had broken the line south of Arras fell upon the marching column from all sides.At 0830hrs those members of 11DLI still awaiting transport were also attacked after a short period,in which the only fire the Durhams could muster came from their rifles, those not already dead or wounded were swiftly rounded up and made prisoners.Colonel John Bramwell the CO was captured at Wancourt,Colonel Swinburne of the Tyneside Scottish was also captured near Fincheux.

 The 10th DLI did not escape the onslaught either with both  `B` and `C` Companies caught in the open and despite accounting for several German tank commanders who were foolish enough to raise their heads they were quickly overun `C` Company including (56131) Captain John Wilson Kipling were wiped out with no survivours.Captain Kipling was the son of Charles and Isabella Harrison Kipling; husband of Doris Kipling, of Spennymoor, Co. Durham he is buried Plot 8. Row C. Grave 8 of Bucquoy Road,Cemetery,Ficheux .

Distinguished Conduct Medal Action 4449491 Sgt John Metheringham

4449491 Sgt John Metheringham 10th Durham Light Infantry

Citation reads;- On 27th May 1940 the Battalion Transport was heavily bombed and machine gunned by hostile aircraft. Five men were buried under debris, and this rescue was due to the Non-Commissioned Officer(4449491 Sgt John Metheringham) who led a rescue party under fire. His example of coolness and courage was outstanding. During the withdrawal to Dunkirk from the Arras area, this Non-Commissioned Officer set a magnificent example of courage and determination in carrying out his duties , carrying out many journeys during day and night in country known to be investigated by hostile AFV's and subject to hostile air attack.Original recomendation was for a Military Medal.London Gazette 11th July 1940.




On the 08th  August 1940 ,  Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail reported.......

Company Sergeant Major John William Brown Metheringham of the Durham Light Infantry (25) (Right) whose home is it 192 Jesmond Gardens. West Hartlepool. has been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal  for his service with the BE F  in Belgium  and France. C S.M. Metheringham  is the elder son of Mr and Mrs John William Metheringham, and his wife. who lives with his parents. was formerly Miss Edith Walker An old boy of Church Square School, he enlisted as a boy and completed eight years service with the D L.I. in April 1939. He was recalled to the Colours  last December and went to France early this year. A Sergeant when he earned the D.C M., the award coincided with his promotion to CSM The DLI is something of a tradition with the Metheringham  family. Mr. J. W. Metheringham .senior (Died 27th Feb 1944), served with the County  regiment in France throughout  the last war along with two brother/s and four cousins, and, his younger Son Bugler James David Methringham  (21). is at present serving with the DLI Next month Bugler Metheringham will complete .five  years service  with the regiment.


John Metheringham transferred to the 30th RNF on the 29th June 1942 transferring back to the DLI  on the 18th March 1943 Discharged on the 2nd February 1946 after working with the DLI Cadet Battalion.

                                              Confusion 1940

 

 4457510 L/Cpl Alan H Watcham of  the10th Durham Light Infantry

Confusion quickly spread and groups of men not yet killed,wounded or captured attempted to break free from the German onslaught  4457510 L/Cpl Alan H Watcham of  the10th Durham Light Infantry was part of a group of twenty five officers and men with a single bren carrier who found themselves lost somewhere south of Arras relying on local intelligence from French locals that the Germans had not yet penetrated the area they carried on moving forwards but were quickly surrounded and made prisoners by German forces who despite what the locals had said were well established in the area.The unlucky group were disarmed placed against a wall and a machine gun was set up in front of them.After a short while the tense atmosphere relaxed a little and their German captors gave the terrified DLI prisoners a drink of water later that night L/Cpl Watcham saw a vast dust cloud in the distance as it moved closer he recognised the marching column as men of the 10th & 11th Durham Light Infantry captured the previous night.L/Cpl Watcham spent the rest of the war in captivity he was given the PoW number 7767 and in 1945 he was freed from  Stalag 20B at Marienburg /Malbork in Poland.

Military Medal Action 4448808 Pte George Chambers Dean 11th D.L.I

4448808 Pte George Chambers Dean The 11th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry  

For conspicious gallantry and outstanding devotion to duty as a despatch rider.On 27th May 1940 in the vicinity of Meteren when the composite battalion of the 10th and 11th btns The Durham Light Infantry were marching in dispersed order on the roads congested with refugees and with an enemy attack approaching this despatch rider did excellent work as a mobile guide.On this and many other occasions the determination and personal disregard for danger of this young soldier ensured the tactical cohesion of his unit and its maintainance as a fighting entity.

George Chambers Dean was born in Washington Co Durham on the 29th June 1915.Pre war he worked as a Plater and Electric Welder .George joined the Territorial Army battalions of The Durham Light Infantry on the 2nd April 1931.He served with the Durhams from that time ,seeing service with the BEF in France,(Dunkirk ) and with the 11th DLI in Iceland,until 26th November 1942 when he was transferred to REME with whom he served until 1946.George Chambers Dean died in 1991.

ONE MANS TALE ...THOMAS DABNER 11th DLI

On the 21st May 1940 Pte Thomas Cyril Wallace Dabner 4457133 was a member of 11th DLI he was driving his truck near Beaumetz when he was captured by German forces,he was ordered to load up his truck with the battalions wounded and follow closely behind German tanks as they went into action. There was a full moon that night and as they approached a cross-roads Dabner saw his chance to escape at high speed and driving with considerable skill he was able to escape his captives and meet up with a British Field Ambulance unit where he sought treatment for his wounded cargo .This small group in due course reached Dunkirk where they embarked for England on the 28th May 1940.

Thomas Dabner continued to serve with the 11th DLI seeing out fifteen months service with the battalion in Iceland before moving on to the 16th DLI.Awarded the Military Medal for his escapades in France Thomas Dabner  who lived at No 6 The Esplanade West in Sunderland was promoted to sergeant .He was killed in Action serving with the 16th DLI at Gemano on the 12th September 1944 he was 26.

Part of the Sunderland Echo which broke the news of Thomas Dabner`s Military Medal,Thomas Dabner was the son of Thomas Wallace Dabner and Doris Elizabeth Dabner, of Sunderland, Co  Durham He lies at peace and in good company in section XIV Row J Grave 4 of CORIANO RIDGE WAR CEMETERY,Italy

Military Medal Action 4457133 Pte Thomas Cyril Walter Dabner The 11th DLI

For conspicuous gallantry and daring initiative whilst in the hands of the enemy during the night of 21st May 1940 in the vicinity of Beaumetz.This Private soldier who was driving a truck was ambushed and captured.The enemy,after disarming him,loaded his truck with British wounded and ordered him to follow a tank into action.After continuing for some distance during the night which was moonlit,he escaped with his truck at a road junction.Driving at high speed and with considerable skill he eventually found and reported to a field ambulance to whom he delivered his wounded who gave verification of this daring feet.

Distinguished Conduct Medal Action CSM Alexander Hall 11th DLI

7041717 Sergeant (A/CSM WOII) Alexander Hall, 11th Bn. Durham Light Infantry

 For conspicuous gallantry, leadership and coolness under fire.At Bulschamp on 30th May 1940 7041717 Sergeant Alexander Hall's platoon occupied a position in a rearguard action, which it was essential to hold to ensure the safety of other Troops. Under heavy shell fire, enemy bombing and machine gun fire, he kept a grip on the situation and by his fine example and resource steadied his own and neighbouring troops at a critical moment. Having completed his task, he withdrew under orders and occupied another position in perfect order. London Gazette 20th December 1940

ONE THAT DID`NT GET AWAY PTE FRANK JACKSON 4458047

Pte Frank Jackson 4458047 originated from Sheffield and lived at 108 Barrie Crescent in Sheffield  born on 25th April 1919. He enlisted in the Durham Light Infantry on the 20th October 1939 and  served with the Regiments 10th Battalion ,his brother William also served with the Durham Light Infantry (believed to be 6th DLI also captured during the retreat after being wounded). In 1940 during the withdrawl to Dunkirk he was captured by the advancing Germans on the 21st May 1940 and made a Prisoner of War like so many DLI men he was to spend the rest of the war in German PoW Camp. He was marched along with many others to Poland and from June 6th 1940 spent nearly three months (6th June- August 1940) at Stalag 20A Thorn before moving on to Stalag XXb-84 in Marienburg .His PoW record shows he was put to work at the camps at Elbing( Elbag Poland) from September 1940 until May 1942 then  at Konigsdorf (Bavaria)until September 1942 onto Altfelde until January 1943 before returning  once more to Elbing .

 He spoke little of this time  and all his son Stuart has is a postcard and a group photograph.The post card was sent by  his father ,Frank,to his mum's brother who was living in Wenlock Road in South Shields. Pte Frank Jackson was given the POW number of 9377 Frank was thought to have been released by the Russians in 1945 and repatriated from one of the Odessa ports to Greenock,Scotland.However  details have just come to light that Pte Frank Jackson infact escaped from his German captives on January 28th 1945 as they were being marched from Marcot into Karthaus in Germany he was aided by a Polish women  and once the PoW column had moved on Frank moved from wood to wood until he met the advancing Russian forces.

Frank is photographed above with fellow prisoners of Stalag XXB (20B) back row end right he was 21years old at the time.Anyone recognise a relative? My thanks to Stuart for his continued support in providing this photograph 

One little story Frank did tell to Stuart was after they set sail from Odessa, while on board ship, they were told they had to carry out an abandon ship drill (in case of submarine attack or some such disaster). This entailed getting into lifeboats and rowing some few hundred yards away from the ship. After a while they were supposed to row back again but they were all so weak and ill after their long years in captivity that they couldn't get back so had to be rescued by some of the ships crew in another boat..

Letter reproduced by kind permission of Mr Stuart Jackson,Frank`s son,PoW report researched and provided by Mr Brian Simms.

ICELAND 1940-42

The 10th and 11th DLI  both  served  in Iceland.Reconstituted and reinforced 10th DLI arrived on the 16th September 1940 at Reykjavik where its Companies were scattered over a wide area, the Southern most company was at Akranes whilst the most extreme Northern personnel were at Skagastrond with another company at Blondous,another at Borganes together with the battalion HQ.
The 11th were stationed around Reykjavik where it took over billets from The Royal Regiment of Canada,like 10DLI the 11th Battalion personnel were well dispersed with posts at Thingvettlar Lake(possible Sea plane Landings), and at Hafnafjordur.
Colonel Marley (10DLI)on a tour of the tiny village Skagastrond remarked to his guide Corporal Lowe how respectful the Icelanders were with each touching their hats as a remark of respect as he passed by,it was not until later that Colonel Marley found out it was not he who was the object of their respect but Corporal Lowe who was regarded by villagers as a sort of unofficial Mayor of the village!
During one particularly blustery day the roof blew off one of 11 DLI`s huts,turned over the brazier and burnt the outpost to the ground forcing the occupants to seek shelter at a distant Farm.
In February 1941 heavy snow with drifts of six to seven feet high were not uncommon and 10DLI managed to lose a man for three hours when he was found it was established he had not even gone beyond the perimeter fence but had stumbled around in the snow going around in circles!
Many of the coast watch posts had been set up jointly with the Navy who had direct telephone communication with their own headquarters and regularly monitered the various signals..One night Force signals in Reykjavik picked up strange signals apparently in code and quite a scare was started until it was discovered that two companies of the 10th DLI one at Blondous the other at Reykosloli were playing each other at darts and the Geordie and Durham lads were using the telephone system to relay the scores!
In August Iceland was visited by Churchill who gave his customary V sign salute and was answered by a few of the `Durham’s`more traditional version.
At the end of 1941 the 11th DLI returned home to the UK with 10 DLI joining them in the new year (1942)from that time it was agreed that Iceland was to become an `American` responsibility

NWE JUNE-AUGUST 1944 10th & 11th DLI Back in Action

The 10th and 11th DLI came ashore on the 12th June 1944 six days after D-Day as part of 70Bde.On the 16th June 1944 the 10th Durham’s put in an attack on St Pierre which 8DLI had attempted to clear the week before. The 10th advanced through the village and found it empty however the Germans were hidden in the fields and orchards sniping and bringing down artillery fire onto the 10th DLI positions on the 18thJune Lieutenant Delaney put in a company attack and took a number of prisoners the battalions first of the campaign..`A` Company were involved in an action on 20th June where the Germans brought up tanks which were promptly dispatched by the battalions anti-tank gunners. The 10th DLI moved in close support with 11th DLI on to Cristot on the 23rdJune however after a bloody battle in which both battalions came under very accurate shellfire they moved forward once more. On the 25thJune they were ordered to attempt to capture Rauray Ridge (between Tilly sur Seulles and Caen).The plan was for 11th DLI to mount the initial assault and for 10th DLI to attack through them. On the 26th June 1944,the DLI advanced to Fontenay le Pesnel where 10DLI halted whilst as planned 11th DLI pressed on supported by tanks of the Sherwood Rangers but without proper recce they were ordered to advance with fixed bayonets across a field where only that morning the Germans had brought down a fierce bombardment which knocked out a number of British armoured vehicles the Germans lay in wait with concealed machine gun posts and 88`s dug well in, the 11th DLI advanced bravely but suffered severe casualties.

Men of the Durham Light Infantry`s Anti Tank platoon survey a knocked out German Panther 1944

After savage fighting the 11th DLI secured Rauray with the 10th DLI advancing through them as planned on the 28th June despite heavy mortar and artillery fire the 10th DLI pressed on but after three days almost continuous fighting they were relieved by the Tyneside Scottish (Black Watch).
The 1st July brought the Germans first real counter attack in strength since the start of the campaign with 10th DLI out of the line it  fell to the 11th DLI and the Tyneside Scottish to hold back the Germans in their sector, at the end of the day despite heavy losses they still, miraculously, held the same ground. The 2nd July brought 10th DLI back into the line whilst 11th DLI and Tyneside Scottish came out for a three day break.

On the 7th July the 10th DLI were once again in a position to press on, moving up to Tilly to take over positions from the 8th & 9th DLI both of course members of the fiftieth division with 11th DLI in reserve .As they did so the regiment had five battalions the 6th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th fighting side by side (six if you consider that before the Tyneside Scottish had come under the wing of the Black Watch it had been the old 12th DLI).
On the 11th July the 50th DIV launched their attack on the Juvigny-Hottot Road, the 10th DLI were ordered to seize a wood nearby which had a prominent Chateau some 300yds in front of it and was held by strong German forces. `C` and `B` Companies of the 10th DLI were ordered to advance and take the Chateau `C` Company advanced first but were only partially successful their support of flame throwing tanks outpaced them and eventually lost direction the German defenders, who had initially fled in terror, were able to return to their positions and waited until `C` Company had advanced across the open ground before opening fire and inflicting heavy casualties on the men. `B` Company having intercepted the German reinforcements heading for the chateau were more successful and reached and secured the objective the 10th DLI remained in close quarters with the Germans until the 13th July when they were in turn relieved by 11th DLI.During the 11th July 1944 the 10th DLI lost a total of 17 men killed in France most were buried at Tilly sur Seulles Thirteen of the casualties that day lie at rest at Tilly the remaining lie at Hottot

 

Military Cross Action Cdn/165 Lieutenant William Alan James (Canloan)

Cdn/165 Lieutenant W A James (Canloan)  att 11th Durham Light Infantry

On 28  June 1944 at RAURAY, 8865, Lieut James was commanding a leading platoon in the attack.Shortly after leaving the start line he was wounded in the head. He carried on and led his platoon, which had suffered many casualties onto the objective. Later he was wounded again.He did not go back to the RAP until his platoon was re-organized. He returned immediately he had had his wounds dressed and held the position against counter-attack. He displayed very fine leadership throughout the whole action.

William James was a member of the Royal Canadian Infantry Corps, he died while serving with the Durham Light Infantry as a CANLOAN Officer. Son of Alan and Mabel Hagerman James, of Grosse Isle, Manitoba. Husband of Olive Elizabeth James. Reported as killed in action on July 1st, 1944 it is unclear if this was a direct result of the wounds he received on June 28th as documented in his citation.At rest HOTTOT-LES-BAGUES WAR CEMETERY; Calvados, France Section I Row A Grave 12.

Distinguished Conduct Medal Action CSM  William Turnbull Rochester

4447931 CSM  William Turnbull Rochester

 

 At Rauray, Normandy, on 28 June and 1 July 1944, as Company Sergeant Major of "D" Company 11th Battalion Durham Light Infantry, 4447931 WO CL2 William Turnbull Rochester was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal when he "showed the highest standard of devotion to duty and example. He was CSM of a very young Company who took their objectives after suffering heavy casualties. Throughout, his example and steadiness, in the face of determined counter-attack, instilled great confidence". All the officers were killed or wounded but "with their Warrant Officer present the Company remained cheerful, stood firm and held on". Later CSM Rochester was badly wounded by a mortar bomb.  William Rochester was born in Seaham in 1913, he was a miner before he enlisted, aged 16, as a Regular soldier in the DLI in 1930. Before the Second World War, he served with the 2nd Durham Light Infantry in India (1935), Sudan and at home.After his discharge, he worked at the Royal Ordnance Factory in Birtley and took on the voluntary post of Civil Defence Officer, teaching rescue and first aid. Bill Rochester retired in 1978 to live in Birtley. He died in 2000.

Military Medal Action 4459474 A/CORPORAL J.W.PEARSON,10th DLI 

4459474 A/CORPORAL J.W.PEARSON, 10TH.BN., DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY

Military Medal, GVIR awarded to 4459474 A/Cpl. James William Pearson,10th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry  James William Pearson came from Doncaster, Yorkshire :

 Immediate Award of the Military Medal - London Gazette of 19 October 1944 for the Normandy Campaign : "On 28 June 1944, after the attack on the ring contour 110, near Rauray, Map ref:8865, a man of the Carrier Platoon was severely wounded bringing up ammunition. He managed to get out of his carrier but was run over by a tank and his foot was crushed. At this time the position came under shell fire,Spandau fire and fire from snipers. Corporal Pearson, asking another man to cover him, left his covered position and went forward under very heavy fire with complete disregard for his own safety. He dressed his wounds,picked up the man,  and carried him back, still under heavy mortar and machine-gun fire. He then returned to command his section. He was an inspiration to his men whose admiration and praise for his action have been unbounded." Corporal Pearson was himself later severely wounded in the head by shrapnel, in the fighting near Caen, where casualties were very heavy. He was invalided to England.Also awarded the 1939/45 Star; France and Germany Star; Defence Medal; War Medal 1939/45 which would have been all unnamed as issued

 10th DLI Mixed Fortunes August 1944

The 10th and 11th DLI spent six weeks at Emieville but with the Americans and Canadians pushing on in other sectors 70 Brigade too were eager to advance the bridgehead was left far behind but the danger of mines was a constant worry and progress hampered by bridges blown either by the retreating Germans or by The Allied air forces desperate to cut off any German lines of retreat.On the 18th August 1944 the Durhams had reached Mezidon on the River Dives,but at Mezidon the wheel of fortune turned against the DLI once more.

The town itself was clear of the enemy, but it was dominated by a hill ,the Mont  la Vigne, which overlooked Mezidon being situated some four miles beyond It soon became clear to the Durhams that it was upon this ground that the enemy had chosen to stand. The advance through Mezidon was led by the 10th Battalion and the Tyneside Scottish (Old 12th DLI)with the 11th in reserve. and it was not long before bitter resistance was encountered and a fierce encounter battle ensued. Up till now the country had been pretty flat, but the advance had now reached the first of a range of thickly wooded hills. The road ran along the edge of the range, but between it and the Mont de la Vigne there were some six hundred yards of open fields intersected by two streams, each about twenty feet wide and although fordable, they had  sheer banks up to twenty feet high. At the top of the hill was a chateau in a thick wood and below it an orchard sloping away towards the flat plain. On the 18th/19th August 1944 the leading company of 10th DLI ran into trouble as soon as it reached the orchard, where it was met with withering spandau fire from close range. 284905 Captain Harry Keith Sanderson, the company commander and formerly of The Royal Artillery, was hit in the face as he rushed into the orchard. Captain Sanderson was the son of Harry Herbert and Maude Annie Sanderson, of Hull .The Company suffered heavily and lost most of its officers,including 138536 Lieut John Rudd Mackie and 300704 Lieut Albert Henry Herring .It was decided to put in a two company attack as soon as artillery support could be arranged the support secured the operation was ready to start at 20;30hrs.

The artillery barrage appeared to be very effective and apart from some fire at the second stream,  the Companies hads little difficulty in reaching the orchard. However as ` D' Company approached all hell was let loose from Spandaus and small arms firing from the hedgerows. Those not immediately killed or wounded  blazed away at the hedgerows. The battalion history states 249834 Lieut Clifford Vincent Thomas got  within thirty yards of one post, threw a grenade into it, got up to assault it, but was, killed outright by small arms fire  Most of the Company had by this time closed in and were racing into the orchard firing from the hip and swearing profanely. Captain Riley, its commander, was hit by a bullet through the shoulder, but the Company carried on up the side of the orchard. 4450404 Sergeant Frederick William Brown,  cleared a cottage on the way single handed and enabled the 10th DLI to advance and reorganise just below the chateau for their final assault.

As the last shells from the supporting barrage came down the Regimental history The DLI at War states `Private Jenn alone attacked three Germans in a post and took them prisoner. and Sergeant Brown and Private Ward did great work in clearing it. The 10th DLI  captured fourteen prisoners in the chateau itself,including the German company commander and another officer. Corporal Fisher and Lance-Corporal Rupert Edwards both did extremely well in the attack, the latter knocking out several machine gun posts single-handed." 

The the price in men had been heavy. There were only about forty or so of 'D' Company left to reorganise around the chateau and ammunition was short.  'C' Company casualties had also been heavy. One officer killed and four more wounded. Major Richard Oliver Mason, the company commander, was posted as missing after personally attacking a position with a grenade. He was the last of the original company commanders and had commanded 'C' Company since its formation as a young soldiers' company in England he had been awarded a MC for an earlier action on the 11th July 1944. It was learned later that he had been wounded and captured and, later still, that the German hospital to which he went was overrun by The British Second Army so his spell as a PoW was brief following his release he was evacuated back to England.

 It was left to Sergeant Green and Sergeant Fullerton, with some eight men, to reach the Company's objective which they successfully did and for the rest of the Company to fight their way through to join them as soon as they possibly could. By this time it was darkand the newly won positions would not be easy to hold because of a ridge which extended to the left of the  chateau and  overlooked it. Moreover, the ridge was thickly wooded and still occupied by the enemy. There was no road up to the chateau and German patrols had already been encountered in the woods.

 The streams in the area were difficult to cross in the dark and  it took some time to bring up any food or ammunition .Evacuating  the numerous casualties was also a big problem. Everyone was tired and hungry but just as the food began to arrive, between 0300hrs and 0400hrs in the morning a German counter-attack was launched down the ridge and directed at the left of the two DLI Companies. The attack was well organised and carried out by troops who obviously knew the ground well.There was no doubt that the enemy had intended to hold these positions  and its loss had deprived them of a commanding view of the surrounding countryside. This strong counter attack brought a confused melee of hand-to-hand fighting in the pitch blackness of the French countryside. The Germans brought down a heavy Artillery and mortar barrage and managed to infiltrated one of the DLI companies under cover of it. Many of the attacking German Infantry called out in English and some were  mistaken for troops of another Brigade who the DLI were expecting to move up on their left flank but these troops had never even arrived in the area having been  delayed by the streams. From then the situation rapidly deteriorated for the 10th DLI companies, the Germans were liberally supplied with automatic weapons and the forward DLI companies were desperately short of ammunition. Gradually each company in turn was forced back, fighting a desperate action against a better equipped enemy and when a second German company appeared, at first light, all DLI who remained were ordered to fight their way out in small groups if possible.

This they successfully did and, as the sun came up, the battered companies took up new positions and consolidated a firm front at the foot of the hill. The battle was over. The Germans did not attempt to dislodge the Durhams and within twenty-four hours the Battalion had not only been relieved, but had received the sad and, indeed, bitter news that the battle of Mont de la Vigne had in fact been its last. 

Military Medal Action 4450404 Sgt Frederick William Brown 10th DLI

 4450404 Sergeant Frederick William Brown The 10th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry

During the attack on Mt la Vigne on the 18th August 1944 the reserve section of the platoon of which Sgt Brown was platoon Sergeant was held up by MG and rifle fire from a house. Sgt Brown cleared this house on his own killing the occupants and enabling the section to advance.

On reaching the objective Sergeant Brown showed the greatest courage and and determination in entering and clearing a chateau which contained enemy in strong positions.He alone accounted for three enemy.

During the night he volunteered to go out on patrol into a wood suspected to contain a number of the enemy.This he did alone prefering not to risk the lives of the other men.

During this recce he was wounded in a hand to hand combat with the enemy,but he got away and brought valuable information to his Coy Hq. Throughout the day his cheerfulness keeness and total disregard for his personal safety were an inspiration to his platoon  under very trying circumstances.

Military Medal Action 4073790 L/Cpl Rupert Edwards 10th DLI

 4073790 L/Cpl Rupert Edwards The 10th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry.

On 18th August 1944 in the attack on Mt la Vigne 312283 L/Cpl Edwards platoon came under very heavy machine gun fire.Though held up L/Cpl Edwards with the greatest of courage and determination alone went forward on his own initiative and covered by smoke tackled single handed and liquidated two enemy machine posts killing all the enemy machine gunners.

On this occasion and throughout the action L/Cpl Edwards showed the very highest standard of bravery and was an inspiration to his comrades who were throughout the action subjected to very heavy fire and suffered considerable casualties.It was largely due to his action and example that the attack of his platoon reached its objective.

We regret to inform..........10th DLI casualties 18 -19 August 1944

The Commonwealth War Graves Commision tend the graves of at least thirty five members of the 10th DLI who lost their lives on the 18th/19th August 1944 most during the actions in/around Mt la Vigne these men were;-

4451922 L/Cpl George Banks,10th Battalion Durham Light Infantry The son of Joseph and Bessie Banks; husband of Sheila Banks, of West Auckland, Co. Durham.He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Bayeux Memorial Pnl 17 Col1 19/08/1944 He was aged 23 yrs

14203484 L/Cpl Walter John Frederick Batt 10th Battalion Durham Light Infantry The son of George Batt, and of Emily Jane Batt, of Kingsbury, Middlesex.He lies in good company  at La Delivrande War Cemetery,Douvres Section I Row C Grave 4 19/08/1944 He was aged 21 yrs.

4470617 PTe Norman Bell 10th Battalion Durham Light Infantry The son of Frances Octavius and Elisabeth Ann Bell, of Seaburn, Sunderland, Co. Durham He lies in good company  at La Banneville-la-Campagne War Cemetery, Section 15 Row E Grave 17  19/08/1944 He was aged 19 yrs

14553941 Pte Leslie Carr 10th Battalion Durham Light Infantry The son of William and Margaret Carr, of Sunderland, Co. Durham He lies in good company  at La Banneville-la-Campagne War Cemetery, Section 15 Row E Grave 12  19/08/1944 He was aged 20 yrs

6024511 Pte Leonard Thomas  Clements 10th Battalion Durham Light Infantry The son of Mr. and Mrs. T. G. Clements, of Walthamstow, Essex; husband of Doris Mary Clements, of Walthamstow He lies in good company  at St Desir War Cemetery, Section 111 Row F Grave 5  19/08/1944 He was aged 28 yrs

4468929 Pte Ernest Norman Cox 10th Battalion Durham Light Infantry The son of John George and Mary Ann Cox, of Darlington, Co. Durham He lies in good company  at La Banneville-la-Campagne War Cemetery, Section 15 Row E Grave 1 19/08/1944 He was aged 21 yrs

4119969 Pte Arnold Edwards 10th Battalion Durham Light Infantry Husband of Emily Edwards, of Halebarns, Altrincham, Cheshire He lies in good company  at Bayeux War Cemetery, Section 15 Row M Grave 5 19/08/1944 He was aged 38 yrs

14679939 Pte Frederick William Fathers 10th Battalion Durham Light Infantry Son of Frederick Thomas Fathers and Ethel Fathers, of East Ham, Essex He lies in good company  at St Desir War Cemetery, Section 111 Row F Grave 6 19/08/1944 He was aged 19 yrs

5682611 L/Cpl Edward Joseph John Foy 10th Battalion Durham Light Infantry the son of Thomas and Annie Foy, of Glasgow; nephew of George Fairbairn, of Glasgow He lies in good company at La Delivrande War Cemetery,Douvres Section IV Row E Grave 4 18/08/1944 He was aged 21 yrs.

4039309 Pte Frank Arthur Fricker 10th Battalion Durham Light Infantry Husband of Marjorie Fricker, of Rugby, Warwickshire He lies in good company  at La Banneville-la-Campagne War Cemetery, Section 15 Row E Grave 15 19/08/1944 He was aged 28 yrs

 14701899 Pte Thomas George 10th Battalion Durham Light Infantry Son of Arthur and Lilian George, of Parkstone, DorsetshireHe lies in good company  at La Banneville-la-Campagne War Cemetery, Section 15 Row E Grave 10 19/08/1944 He was aged 18 yrs

4461162 Pte Eric William Gilderdale 10th Battalion Durham Light Infantry Son of Joseph and Jessie Gilderdale, of Bradford, Yorkshire; husband of Edna Gilderdale, of Eccleshill, Bradford He lies in good company  at Bayeux War Cemetery, Section 15 Row M Grave 4 Died 19/08/1944 He was aged 28 yrs.

4461530 Pte Ivor Griffies 10th Battalion Durham Light Infantry The son of William James Griffies and Harriet Annie Griffies, of Prestbury, Cheshire He has no known Grave and is commemorated on the Bayeux Memorial Pnl 17 Col 1,  19/08/1944 He was aged 29 yrs

300704 Lieutenant  Albert Henry Herring 10th Battalion Durham Light Infantry Husband of Jeanne Herring, of Kingston-on-Thames, Surrey. He lies in good company  at La Banneville-la-Campagne War Cemetery, Section 15 Row E Grave 18 .19/08/1944 He was aged 29 yrs.

14499233 Pte Brian Henry Hoath 10th Battalion Durham Light Infantry The son of Alfred John and Maud Millie Hoath, of Chislehurst, Kent .He has no known Grave and is commemorated on the Bayeux Memorial Pnl 17 Col 1,  19/08/1944 He was aged 18 yrs.

14679269 Pte John Jackson 10th Battalion Durham Light Infantry  He lies in good company  at St Desir War Cemetery, Section 111 Row F Grave 3 19/08/1944 He was aged 19 yrs.

14683049 Pte John Arthur James 10th Battalion Durham Light Infantry Son of Arthur and Hilda James of Yardley, Birmingham He lies alone the only WW2 casualty in the Churchyard St Loup-de-Frisbois Churchyard, 19/08/1944 He was aged 18 yrs

14688538 Pte Henry Charles John Johnson 10th Battalion Durham Light Infantry The son of  Henry John Johnson, and of Kate Elizabeth Johnson, of West Brompton, London He has no known Grave and is commemorated on the Bayeux Memorial Pnl 17 Col 1,  19/08/1944 He was aged 19 yrs.

4464334 Pte John Edward Knox 10th Battalion Durham Light Infantry The son of  John and Frances Knox, of Fenham, Newcastle-on-Tyne He lies in good company  at Ranville War Cemetery, Section 1X Row E Grave 23  19/08/1944 He was aged 24 yrs.

138536 Lieutenant John Rudd Mackie 10th Battalion Durham Light Infantry The son of  John Rudd Mackie and Dorothy Blanche Mackie, of South Shields, Co. Durham; husband of Olive Mackie, of South Shields.He lies in good company  at La Banneville-la-Campagne War Cemetery, Section 15 Row E Grave 9 KIA 19/08/1944 He was aged 27 yrs.

14569097 Pte Frank Marshall 10th Battalion Durham Light Infantry The son of George Albert and Dora Marshall He has no known Grave and is commemorated on the Bayeux Memorial Pnl 17 Col 1,  19/08/1944 He was aged 19 yrs.

4469078 Cpl James McKenna 10th Battalion Durham Light Infantry  He has no known Grave and is commemorated on the Bayeux Memorial Pnl 17 Col 1,  18/08/1944 He was aged 20 yrs.

4036486 Cpl Frederick Owen Mucklow 10th Battalion Durham Light Infantry The son of Frederick Mucklow, and of Mary Mucklow, of Kidderminster, Worcestershire; husband of Doris Mucklow He lies in good company  at La Banneville-la-Campagne War Cemetery, Section 15 Row E Grave 2 19/08/1944 He was aged 26 yrs

14700790 Pte Donald Edwin Thomas Overington 10th Battalion Durham Light Infantry The son of Thomas and Lottie Overington, of Gomshall, Surrey He has no known Grave and is commemorated on the Bayeux Memorial Pnl 17 Col 1,  18/08/1944 He was aged 18 yrs.

14387699 Pte Ellis Owen 10th Battalion Durham Light Infantry The son of of David and Grace Owen, of CaernarvonHe lies in good company  at La Banneville-la-Campagne War Cemetery, Section 15 Row E Grave 16  19/08/1944 He was aged 20 yrs

14688862 Pte Reginald Leslie Penney 10th Battalion Durham Light Infantry The son of Thomas and Frances Ellen Penney, of Detling Hill, Kent He lies in good company  at La Banneville-la-Campagne War Cemetery, Section 15 Row E Grave 11 19/08/1944 He was aged 18 yrs

14411497 Pte Frederick Michael Ryan 10th Battalion Durham Light Infantry The son of  Henry Ryan, and of Mary Ryan, of Mavis Enderby, Lincolnshire He lies in good company  at La Banneville-la-Campagne War Cemetery, Section 15 Row E Grave 14  19/08/1944 He was aged 19 yrs

284905 Captain Harry Keith Sanderson 10th Battalion Durham Light Infantry formerly of The Royal Artillery  The son of Harry Herbert and Maude Annie Sanderson, of HullHe lies in good company  at La Banneville-la-Campagne War Cemetery, Section 15 Row E Grave 7 19/08/1944 He was aged 26 yrs

5679700 Cpl Ronnie Slocomb 10th Battalion Durham Light Infantry The son of Son of Benjamin Cooper Slocombe and Alice Slocombe, of Blaina, Monmouthshire; husband of Myrtle May Slocombe, of Blaina He lies in good company  at St Desir War Cemetery, Section 111 Row F Grave 1 19/08/1944 He was aged 29 yrs.

4036765 L/Sgt John Taylor 10th Battalion Durham Light Infantry The son of Thomas and Maude Taylor, of Blackwell, Gloucestershire He has no known Grave and is commemorated on the Bayeux Memorial Pnl 17 Col 1,  18/08/1944 He was aged 24 yrs

249834 Lieutenant Clifford Vincent Thomas 10th Battalion Durham Light Infantry The son Clifford Edward and Rosa Thomas; husband of Joyce Thomas, of St. Marychurch, Torquay, Devon He lies in good company  at La Banneville-la-Campagne War Cemetery, Section 15 Row E Grave 13  19/08/1944 He was aged 23 yrs

4470005 Pte John George Trueman 10th Battalion Durham Light Infantry The son of Henry and Jane Trueman, of Bishop Auckland, Co. Durham He lies in good company  at La Banneville-la-Campagne War Cemetery, Section 15 Row E Grave 5 KIA 19/08/1944 He was aged 22 yrs

3775564 Pte George Walsh 10th Battalion Durham Light Infantry The son of Cecil Herbert and Mabel Walsh, of Fairfield, LiverpoolHe lies in good company  at Bayeux War Cemetery, Section XXIV Row C Grave 11 19/08/1944 He was aged 27 yrs

4037083 Pte John Welch 10th Battalion Durham Light Infantry The son of James and Sarah Anne Welch, of Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent. He lies in good company  at La Ranville War Cemetery, Section IV Row A Grave 3 19/08/1944 He was aged 28 yrs

4035711 Pte Richard Eric Williams 10th Battalion Durham Light Infantry Richard and Ethel May Williams, of Bayston Hill, Shropshire; husband of Ivy Gertrude Williams, of Bayston Hill. He lies in good company  at Lisieux Communal Cemetery Cemetery, Section A Terr Row A Grave 4 19/08/1944 He was aged 26 yrs

The End of the Line..Disbandment

On the 19th of August orders were received that 70 Brigade was to be disbanded. It was a decision which had  been taken some time before the DLI were plunged into this last battle .The original planning for the invasion had envisaged the breaking up of  certain formations  to deal with the general manpower shortage.  Montgomery himself told the Brigade, it was better to have a slightly smaller army of divisions up to strength than a large one with divisions short of men.Little comfort for these men who had seen so many of their friends fall during this campaign.

         For the 10th and 11th DLI Battalions this was the end, there would be no reformed battalions later their history was at an end and it was now a question of withdrawing them to a rest area until the arrangements for the final break-up were complete.  For four long years both Battalions had toiled hard to make themselves fit for war and now, after barely three months of active fighting, those who had been comrades  for all this time were to say goodbye.

The blow was perhaps particularly unwelcome to the 11th Battalion who, unlike the depleted 10th DLI and the Tyneside Scottish, were once again at full strength and according to their commanders at `maximum fighting efficiency`. However orders are orders, and it was perhaps some consolation that during the final disbandment in September 1944, it was possible to dispatch full rifle companies complete with its own officers to their new battalions/Regiments. Not all went to battalions of the Durham Light Infantry and, indeed, most of the 11th Battalion were divided amongst the Green Howards Dorsets, the East Yorks and the Devons. Many of fthe 10th Durham Light Infantry personnel however, found their way to 151 Brigade and the 6th 8th and 9th DLI. These men were able to carry on the traditions of the Durham Light Infantry however fate had a cruel twist for these battalions also.