L/Cpl Norman Bland, 16th DLI, Local Newpaper Item May 1943

Northeast newspapers such as The Middlesborough Evening Gazette, The Sunderland Echo and The Newcastle Evening Chronicle all had regular columns such as the one above listing the latest casualties from their local areas. Notice however that the soldierís specific regiment is often not mentioned and his specific battalion never is. Fixing a soldierís unit for a modern day researcher thus becomes a matter of cross-referencing with other sources and much detective work. Norman Bland served with B Company, 16th DLI and was picked out on the 1942 B Company photograph by his fellow early 1942 recruit Tom Turnbull. He was hospitalised between 22nd April and 3rd October 1943, so his wounds must have been far more serious that his account in the letter on the previous page. The transcript of that letter is as follows:

Date 27/04/43

Dear Ma, Dad and all,

I am now laid in bed in hospital having been slightly injured by a few fragments of a mortar shell slung over by Jerry. There's nothing to worry about I am fit and well elsewhere but can not walk owing to both ankles and calves being in Plaster of Paris They are not broken or anything like that, I've just got a few small flesh wounds. Otherwise I am having the time of my life, getting all my meals brought to bed for me waited on hand and foot. Iíll be having an easy time for the next few weeks I expect so don't worry I'm ok.

Love from Norman

PS I got hurt the day before Good Friday.

After hospitalisation through to October 1943, Norman Bland served with No 25 Town Major in Italy. The Town Majorís job was to allocate accomodation, billets etc, in local houses in towns occupied by the Army. The following items were also supplied by Norman Blandís son, Peter:

A June 1944 photograph of the staff of No 25 Town Major in Italy

An Army Form listing Norman Blandís service with the 16th DLI and entitlement to the Africa Star Medal.

Norman Bland with four friends, date and location uncertain, but possibly 16th DLI, further details requested.

Norman Bland, Evening Gazette