This section of the site will build into a general explanation of how a World War Two British Army Battalion was organised. Here I will place Officers’ lists for various periods in the Battalion’s history, plus some basic information on the strength, weapons and organisation of the unit and its place within the larger structures of its Brigade and Division.

Every British Army soldier was assigned his own unique Army Number, making him the smallest of small cogs in a very large military machine. Life for him in an operational infantry Battalion revolved around his Section, which was part of his Platoon which was part of his Company, which was part of a Battalion, which was part of a Brigade, which was part of a Division, which was part of a Corps, which was part of an Army.

Respectively for my father in early 1943, these were: Pte T Tunney, 4469365, 7 Section, 15 Platoon, C Company, 16th DLI, 139 Brigade, 46th Division, British 5th Corps, British First Army. His original identification tags are pictured at left.

If you are researching a relative’s wartime service in any Army unit vital clues can often be gleaned from surviving correspondence: a soldier’s wartime address (for examples, see the Letters and Documents section of the site) will often include his Company and even his Platoon number. This is absolutely crucial information which can then be cross-referenced against any published unit history or War Diary (held at the Public Records Office/National Archives, at Kew). Officers are fairly visible in official documents, but unfortunately these very rarely mention Other Ranks by name.

To begin though, it is important to understand both how the Army’s numbering system was applied to DLI recruits as they enlisted and how the Battalion they eventually joined was organised.

Army Numbers A General Introduction

Anatomy of an Infantry Battalion

The Active Service Battalions of the DLI 1939-45 A Brief Guide

Arranged by consecutive Army Number, DLI Other Rank POWs from circa 4464000 to 4470700, including: 16th DLI recruits to Edinburgh in July 1940, Brancepeth Camp in December 1941 and R Company of the 16th DLI at Folkstone in January 1942

DLI Other Ranks POWS arranged by consecutive German POW Number (unfinished)

DLI Officer POWs, all WW2 Battalions, arranged alphabetically by surname (unfinished)

A Listing of 16th DLI Officers, July 1941

A Listing of 16th DLI Officers, Warrant Officers and Colour Sergeants, May 1942

A Listing of 16th DLI Officers in November 1942

A Listing of 16th DLI Officers in May 1945

Chain of Command: the Commanding Officers of the 16th DLI, 139 Brigade and the 46th Division, 1940-46

Anatomy of an Infantry Division

16th DLI Officer POWs 1943-45

The Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment NCOs: the backbone of the 16th DLI from July 1940.

Pte T Tunney 4469365 id tags
Charles Bray, 5950691, 16 DLI
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