Gheel the Last battle/ Help wanted

Discussion in 'Durham Light Infantry' started by Verrieres, Jan 30, 2009.

  1. Verrieres

    Verrieres no longer a member

    Good morning Jim,

    I have already read some of your website; its very good. I will take great pleasure in reading the rest. I also read your thread on the Meikle family, which was absolutely fantastic.

    I have read a great deal about the exploits of the 6, 8 and 9 Bn, DLI in WWII and have been in contact with Harry Moses, the author of many books about the DLI. Have you and Harry ever collaborated/swapped information?

    Kind regards,


    Hi Steve,
    Yes Harry is busy with a new book which is out soon on the 2nd Battalion The Durham Light Infantry,he was very interested in some of the information I have on the web site and wanted to know if he could perhaps use some of it.The information is of course supplied by the families of the veterans concerned and whilst I had no problems with this I directed him to the families concerned and acted merely as a go between hopefully they were able to help him with whatever queries he had.Harrys books,for me,are fantastic reading and I have also attended a couple of his `War Talks`the last one being on 2DLI.When Harry has written the books he donates his research and notes etc to the Durham Records Office where they can be viewed (Not a great lover of this system and prefered the paper achive being kept at the museum but understand the need for the move but disagree with their charge system and their refusal to allow the use of digital cameras!).I`ve sent the E-Mail regarding Sgt Boyd and Gheel ,it hasnt returned(yet!) so hopefully its still a live address.Were your relatives with the Durhams?
    Best Wishes
  2. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    Hello Jim,

    Harry said the book he was working on was about the 2nd Bn Durham Light Infantry during the years 1920-1955 and I will certainly be acquiring it. The reason I asked about the two of you collaborating originates from the shared passion for and knowledge about the Durham’s you both have.

    As for my family, I was born in Gosforth, Northumberland (and I refer to the pre- 1974 boundaries here). However, both sides of my mother’s family were originally based in Co Durham in the late 19th and/or early 20th century, Embleton and Teams, Gateshead respectively and moved to Northumberland. My dad’s family were from Newcastle.

    One of my great granddad’s was killed during WWI at the Battle of the Lys and although living in Teams, Gateshead, was serving with the 4th Bn [Royal] Northumberland Fusiliers, 149th Infantry Brigade, 50th (Northumbrian) Division. As you are probably well aware, the 149th Infantry Brigade left 50 Div when the latter was reorganised into a Motorised Division in 1938; albeit the 4RNF stayed with 50 Div as its reconnaissance battalion until 23 June 1940.

    My dad’s oldest brother was killed during WWII during the BEF’s withdrawal from the Bulscamp area towards Dunkirk, serving with the 72nd Field Regiment, RA, Divisional Troops of 50 Div.

    I have other relatives that served, some of whom were wounded (one seriously) and I will be investigating all of their service histories. I also understand that one of my wife’s (she’s a Yorkshire girl) granddads may have served with the 4th Bn East Yorkshire Regiment, 150th Infantry Brigade, 50 Div during WWI; another to investigate.

    I think that you can now see where my interest in 50 Div comes from even though, as yet, I have discovered no direct family connection with the Durham’s. Given that the old 149th Brigade Battalions’ did not serve as Infantry in WWII, a lot of Northumbrians joined the Durham’s, examples being the Meikle Twins, Major ‘Spike’ Galloway MC and Private Adam Wakenshaw VC, and consequently it is the Durham’s within 50 Div that I have a particular interest in.

    If this was the USA 50 Div and particularly the 6th, 8th and 9th Bn’s Durham Light Infantry, who were there throughout, would have been eulogised, but that doesn’t appear to happen here in dear old Blighty. The work you and Harry undertake keeps their sacrifices, achievements and memory in the public domain (a permanent record) and I for one believe that it is very important to do so.

    I’ve now said more than I intended, got carried away, but I too share your (and Harry’s) passion.

    Best wishes,

  3. Verrieres

    Verrieres no longer a member

    Hi Steve I can see where your interest originated now,The mention of the old boundaries made me smile because I still refer to this as Old Co Durham.
    As I told Harry his books are my Bible and I eagerly await his next book,which will be a Great follow on to John Sheens `The Steel of the DLI` which deals with the 2nd DLI in WW1.
    As you have said it is important to keep the memory of these men alive and I always encourage relatives to retell their DLI relatives stories.This is one of the things that draws me to this forum with some cracking stuff ,related by the men who were there,The Veterans!

    Best Wishes
  4. Verrieres

    Verrieres no longer a member

    Verrieres (Jim),

    Thanks for adding to the information I provided; being able to read the citation for Sgt EP Boyd’s MM is fantastic. The work that Ramacal and you are doing to get the headstone and CWGC database amended is highly commendable.

    Although not a member of the Axis history forum I have read bits and pieces about 50 Div on there and came across this:

    “hi, i wonder if anybody could help me.

    my grandad was serjeant of the 6th battalion of the DLI, EUGENE PATRICK BOYD he died on the sunday the 10th of september 1944. does anyone know if there is any books or information about the 6 battalion on that day. any information would be much appreciated thank you anthony.

    Given that the lad contacted you for information about his granddad would you like the pleasure of contacting him regarding the MM, etc. on the above e-mail address; assuming it works?

    Kind regards,


    Hi Steve,
    Heres the reply from Sgt Boyds grandson.Well done to all!
    Hi Jim.
    Thank you so much for your e-mail, I haven't been as involved as
    I would of liked the last couple of months with hunting information on my
    grandfather, however your email has now got me eager to pursue it again. I
    was gob smacked when I read that information about my grandfather and the
    events of the 9th September where did you get that information from? I
    really appreciate you taking the time to email the CWGC to ask to amend the
    error, (fingers crossed). This means an awful lot to me and my family, we
    were always told he was brave for what he did and that's why were trying to
    hunt down exactly what happened there on the 9th and leading up to it. I
    read there maybe a book coming out next year about the details and events
    that took place, do you know whether my grandfathers battalion will be
    mentioned or even his name be mentioned for his actions? If you hear any
    information on the 6th battalion, my grandfather or if the CWCG reply to
    you, is there any chance you could email me please, sorry for all the
    questions....! once again I thank you for what you are doing and for
    emailing me, I am truly chuffed to bits!

    hope to speak to you soon

    Anthony Boyd
  5. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    Jim, Message #24: Great result!

    Ramacal probably refers to the book Anthony Boyd mentions in an earlier mail.

    "The book will be called 'Autumn Gale'... I know this will be a 'must have'...Just received an e-mail back from Mr Didden. The book will not be ready until the late summer/early Autumn of 2011."

  6. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA Patron



    I have just e-mailed a copy of the citation and a photo of the headstone to CWGC today. Let's try and get the details amended.:)

    At least the database can reflect the award in a short space of time.

    Cheers - Rob


    Received an e-mail from CWGC yesterday in response to mine of 6th December 2010, regarding the missing MM citation on their records and headstone. A successful conclusion, although the Headstone is in perfect condition and will not be replaced and inscribed with the MM in my lifetime.

    This is their reply dated 26 January 2011.

    Thank you for your e mail of 6 December. Please accept our apologies for the delay in reply: due to the high volume of enquiries received by our offices we currently have a backlog we are working to clear.

    Thank you for the documentation which you have kindly provided: we have now added the award of the Military Medal to our records as seen below. At such time as the headstone is due for replacement in the future, it will be engraved with the ‘MM’.

    Awards: M M
    Unit: 6th Bn.
    Regiment: Durham Light Infantry
    Service No: 3957584
    Age: 27
    Date of Death: 10 September 1944
    Commemoration: GEEL WAR CEMETERY

    Thank you for your interest in this matter.

    Yours sincerely,

    Julie Somay (Mrs)
    Enquiries Section

    Commonwealth War Graves Commission
    Head Office
    2 Marlow Road
    SL6 7DX
  7. Verrieres

    Verrieres no longer a member

    Hi Rob,
    Same reply received by myself (Almost anyway)yesterday I`ve e-mailed his Grandson Anthony and forwarded the E-Mail. Good Result all round although looking at his headstone I think theres more than enough room to add the `MM` now?.
    Best Wishes

    With regard to our details of Sergeant E P Boyd, I can confirm that we had not been informed of the fact that he had received the award of the Military Medal. This has now been added to our records and, at such time as the headstone is due for replacement in the future, it will be engraved with the ‘MM’
  8. daverobson33

    daverobson33 Junior Member

    I have just became a member of the forum after coming across it on an internet search.
    I have been looking for information on the 6th DLI especially the events of the 10th September 1944.
    My Father was with the 6th Bn. & was taken prisoner at Geel on September 10th.
    He was taken with others to Stalag 7A at Moosburg near Munich.
    All I can remember him telling me was that after coming under attack in Geel, the remainder of B Company (he was the wireless operator) regrouped in a farmhouse just outside the town, unfortunately, they were again attacked by a large enemy unit & captured.

    I once had the pleasure of meeting Harry Moses at a DLI Sunday at the Cathedral in 1993 & look forward to learning more of my Fathers time with the Durhams.

    I've attached the only photos I have of my Father's wartime service, one taken in April 1944 & the other in hospital, November 1945

    Best Regards,


    Attached Files:

  9. Verrieres

    Verrieres no longer a member

  10. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    Welcome to the forum Dave.

    The resident Durham Light Infantry expert is Jim (handle 'Verrieres'), whose uncle Billy was also in the 6DLI in NW Europe; unfortunately KIA.

    I had family in the 50th (Northumbrian) Division, of which 6DLI was part throughout WWII.

    Have you got your dad's service records? If so, this would be an excellent start in understanding your dad's service! If not, but you wish to obtain them, just post again and I (or someone) will provide details of how you can obtain these.

    Harry Moses book 'The Faithful Sixth' is the 6DLI's Battalion history for WWI and WWII, and covers the Gheel action from the 6DLI's perspective. This is out of print now, but pops up on Amazon now and again!

    Post again and let us know what information you have, what information you want and we'll assist you...


  11. daverobson33

    daverobson33 Junior Member

    Thank you both for the welcome.
    Unfortunately, I don't have my dad's service records, all I have is a photocopy of his discharge certificate.

    His details are;
    Private Stanley Alexander Robson
    Army No. 14658731

    B Company (I think) 6th DLI

    POW No. 88442, Stalag 7A


  12. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    Hello Dave,

    You will probably need his service records to make real progress and here is a link that should assist with that task: Army Personnel Centre - British Army Website

    If your dad is still with us you will need his authority to obtain his records, or if not you may need his death certificate before applying. The above link will guide you regarding needs and the fee(s) - £30 for the service records. It can take up to circa 9 months to get a response, so be prepared to be patient.

    When you have his service records, post them on this thread and someone will come along to assist. There are a lot of of members of this forum who will help you with insights!

    Interestingly his Army number is that of the General Service Corps - block 14200001 to 15000000.

    There is also a book about DLI POW's in WWII, which may have some information about POW's taken at Gheel. I have not read this book so can't confirm. It is called 'For you Tommy the War is Over...' and is by Ian R English and Harry Moses.

    In the meantime, if you need any information about 6DLI please post again or send a PM (personal message)... (which reminds me that I have some providing of information to do for two other forum members!).


  13. daverobson33

    daverobson33 Junior Member


    Thanks very much for your reply.
    I'll apply for my dad's records & hopefully get back to you in a few months.
    You mention my dad's number being in the GSC block. The only previous service that he had was as a member of the local Home Guard unit.
    When he was called up he actually had to report to Brancepeth Camp in his Home Guard uniform & believe it or not, he was wearing the same uniform throughout the war.
    The only new uniform he received was when he was in hospital during 1945. I've posted a photo at the start of my post showing his white shirt & red hospital tie. He was in hospital for quite a few months after his release from Stalag 7A, recovering from shrapnel & bayonet injuries & weighing 6 stone!
    I've attached a scan of his discharge cert which so far is the only record I have of his service.
    He once told me that in the early 60's he had made up a small scrapbook of photos & had included his ID discs & POW tags, he had took this to work to show other ex-servicemen & some piece of filth had stolen it out of his locker. How I wish I could have seen it!

    Best Regards,

    Attached Files:

  14. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    Hello Dave,

    You are already starting to rebuild your dad's service story and fascinating stuff it is... so the low life that stole his scrapbook can go '*!?* **!!' - erh, I mean, only end up jealous of a real hero again!

    During the fighting at Gheel on the 10 September 1944, the 6DLI lost 30 other ranks KIA, 67 wounded, of which 4 died later and 42 missing (one believed dead); a lot of these would have been taken POW. Additionally, various Officers were also KIA and wounded. From his injuries it is easy to see how he became a POW... shrapnel & bayonet injuries, & ending up weighing 6 stone; he must have been tough to survive that!!

    His stint with the Home Guard may explain the GSC Army number, but I am no expert on these matters. Regardless of where he started his service, the fact that he ended up at Brancepeth and in the DLI was really good. At least he ended up in the local regiment, in a truly great Division; so many men didn't.

    Is your dad still with us?

    I look forward to seeing his service records in due course.


  15. daverobson33

    daverobson33 Junior Member

    Hi Steve,

    Thanks for all the information, I appreciate it.

    My dad passed away in August 1993, he had been looking forward to taking part in the 50th anniversary of D-Day in 1994, I was to follow over & after the official parades we were going to travel around France & Belgium in the car for a week or two.

    I've just came across his photos of the DLI reunion of 1990, there's a great shot of him with his former Company Commander Major "Reggie" Atkinson MC. It was the first time they'd met since September 1944!

    Could I please ask your advice?
    Could you or anyone else reading this let me know the best place to enquire to for a copy of the 6th DLI war diaries for June to September 1944?

    Thanks again for all the help.

  16. Verrieres

    Verrieres no longer a member

    His stint with the Home Guard may explain the GSC Army number, but I am no expert on these matters.

    In 1942 the 'General Service Corps' were formed for the initial training of all new recruits. From 1942 the new recruits were allocated a number in a series beginning 14,000,000 replacing the `Army number blocks` system (of 1920) which in turn had replaced the `Regimental` numbers

    Could I please ask your advice?
    Could you or anyone else reading this let me know the best place to enquire to for a copy of the 6th DLI war diaries for June to September 1944?

    Have a word with Drew (Andy) I`m sure he will be able to help you next time he visits the NA. Major R G Atkinson was the CO of `B` Company just if you had any lingering doubts as to your Dads Company

  17. daverobson33

    daverobson33 Junior Member

    Hi Jim,

    Thanks for the advice, I'll contact Andy as you suggest to see if he is able to help.

    One of the proudest days of my life was in June 1994 when the D-Day veterans were being presented with Overlord medals by the French Government.
    As my dad was sadly no longer with us, his medal was accepted on his behalf by none other than Captain Richard Annand VC! He even followed the presentation with a speech about my dad, I have it on video tape & really must try to convert it to disc.

    I've attached a photo of the DLI Reunion of 1990 when my dad met his company commander Major Atkinson for the first time in 46 years.

    Attached Files:

  18. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA Patron

    There will be a new book be published next year (last info from Jack Didden last week release date will be about April 2011) about the battle at Gheel and surroundings by Maarten Swarts and Jack Didden (in The Netherlands well known by researchers for their publications about the battle along the Dutch/Belgium border and Noord-Brabant. The book will be called 'Autumn Gale'.
    See also Jack Didden, schrijver van historische en kinderboeken... I know this will be a 'must have'...

    After a long delay, this book is due for publication in November 2012.
  19. daverobson33

    daverobson33 Junior Member

    Thanks for the information!

    I'll be sure to obtain a copy.
  20. petedavo

    petedavo New Member

    My Grand Uncle died on 9th September 1944

    I don't know anything about him other than what I found on the CWGC website

    "Cpl Peter Davidson 4468160 8th Battalion Durham Light Infantry died 9/9/44 aged 33" buried in "Brussels Town Cemetery"

    "Son of James Arnott Davidson and Elizabeth Davidson; husband of Sarah Davidson, of Gateshead, Co."

    As my Dad (also named James Arnott Davidson) was sent to Fairbridge Farm in Western Australia as a "child migrant" we have no family history of what happened (nor whatever happened to his wife or any children). When Dad finally contacted relatives in England, his father had passed away, and his Aunt knew nothing other her brother died in battle, and that Sarah's maiden name was Armstrong and they she 'went back to Ireland'.

    I don't know if the 8th was with the 6th in Gheel,
    Searching the "date of his death and DLi" only brings up the battle for Gheel thou.
    If anyone has any light to shed on this, it would be most appreciated

    Peter Davidson


    Attached Files:

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