Lance Sergeant John Wintershausen MM, Photographs

Lance Sergeant John Wintershausen (3969216) was awarded the Military Medal for his actions with the Pioneer Platoon of the 16th DLI on September 17th 1943. To read the full citation of his award click here. The photographs on the following pages (click on the hyperlinks) are all courtesy of his son Paul:

John Wintershausen, wearing battle dress with no rank or regimental insignia, probably taken early in the war, plus three portrait photographs.

In Italy, September 1943

Greece 1945, a group of 16 DLI men posing with a Nazi flag, plus a photo of the very same flag in 2009

Another group of 16 DLI men with the Nazi flag

Patras, Greece February 1945 and with two 16 DLI friends

An informal pose in the street, with holstered pistol, beret and US issue jacket

At a cafe table in Austria in 1945 with fellow 16 DLI NCOs.

The Military Medal and Campaign Medals of John Wintershausen

More 2009 pictures of the 16 DLI German flag

Paul has also written these details of his father’s Army service. I have added a few additional notes at the bottom, as per the numbered brackets:

‘Dad, John William Wintershausen, was the son of an English woman, Julia, and a Belgian man, Paul John Wintershausen. He was brought up in Walthamstow, East London, and was a master carpenter. He was born on 27th May 1917 and died on 6th October 1970. It is interesting to note that everything I have about Dad spells his name without the middle ‘s’. We have always been Wintershausen, but Dad’s Army records omit this letter.

‘When he was called up, Dad wanted to go into the Navy with Mum’s brother (George Hedges), who was Dad’s best mate. Indeed, George went into the navy (and was killed serving on HMS Neptune), but Dad was refused because he was half Belgian. Dad then enlisted in the army (1).

‘Mum thinks that when he first left home, he went to Wales, and shortly after shipped to Africa. Mum says she didn’t see him for six years, most of which she believes he was abroad. At some point, he was an MP in Norfolk. He worked there with a civilian police sergeant called George Babcock, whose son, Ray, had a pig farm.

‘I know Dad was in North Africa at some point, but whether that was with the DLI, I can’t be sure. He spoke of being in Alexandria, waiting to go to Italy (2). Also, I found a picture in a book called ‘The Second Year of the War in Pictures’ that shows many men arriving in Egypt from Greece in April 1941, and I’m absolutely sure Dad is there! Dad told a story that he and a mate were out on a motor bike in North Africa and they came upon what they thought was a land mine that appeared very different to anything they had seen before. Dad stopped, picked it up and they gingerly carried it back to base. They then set about dismantling it and found out how to do this without it exploding. Apparently they later discovered that a couple of experts in England had also tried to dismantle one of these mines, and had blown themselves up.

‘In Italy, Dad told of the landings at Salerno, and the battle at Monte Cassino. At some point here, he had a portrait done by an Italian artist. This is framed and on the wall at home. Dad told the story of being without meat rations for many days and they found a pig, slaughtered it to feed the men. They all sat watching it slaughtered and were all covered in blood when it was killed.

‘The story told about the flag is that when they secured Athens, Dad climbed onto the roof of the royal palace, which had been the Gestapo HQ, and took the flag down. That is why he was the one who brought the flag home.’ (3)


(1) HMS Neptune was an RN cruiser. Stoker George Hedges, from Clapton, east London, was one of the 766 casualties when the vessel was sunk by mines on 19/12/41 (there was only one survivor). John Wintershausen’s Army number, 3969216, indicates that he originally enlisted in the Welch Regiment.

(2) My guess is that John Wintershausen probably joined the 16th DLI as part of a reinforcement draft sometime after March 1943 following earlier service in the desert war with other units.

(3) The captured Nazi flag also features in this 1945 photograph

which includes my father’s old friend Harvey Hurst of C Company, 16 DLI.

It is very probable that there are several other photos featuring 16 DLI men posing with the flag. Further details welcome.
J Wintershausen beret, 1945