Pte Percy Wilson, ‘A’ Company, 16 DLI

From Ryton, near Blaydon, Newcastle upon Tyne, Percy Wilson volunteered for service in the Durham Light Infantry at Fenham Barracks, Newcastle on 2/12/40, with the Army Number 4468279. To see this number in the sequence of DLI Army numbers click here.

Previously Percy was a miner at Greenside Colliery. The items on this and the following pages were kindly provided by his son Barrie.

The photograph at left, shows Pte Percy Wilson in pre-war issue service dress. Battledress replaced service dress from 1938, but due to shortages of supply, service dress continued to be used during the early war years. I would guess therefore that this photograph was taken very early in his Army career. The detail below, from Percy’s AB 64 paybook, notes his transfer from No 4 Infantry Training Centre at Brancepeth to A Company, 16 DLI with effect from 11/4/42.

A reinforcement draft of 80 Other Ranks from Brancepeth to the 16th DLI at Rye is noted in the DLI war diary (incidentally my father, Pte T Tunney, was also part of this draft). As Percy would have done his basic training in early 1941, he must have been at Brancepeth either as part of the staff or on a training course in early 1942.

Percy Wilson was wounded and taken POW during the Battle of Sedjenane on 27/2/43. ‘A’ Company was the leading company during the initial dawn advance on the German-held hills north of Sedjenane and suffered many casualties, including Sergeant Major John Plemper and the company’s second in command who lead them that morning, Captain D B Stark, who were both killed. The account by Royal Artillery Forward Observation Officer, Captain Harry Craggs MC, of what happened that morning can be read on this page.

Percy Wilson was a POW in Italy (camps to be confirmed, as he was wounded he may have gone via the POW hospital PG 206). In late 1943 was transferred to Germany, with the German POW number 75509. In early 1945 he is listed as being at Stalag 8C, at Kunau Kz Sprottau/Sagan.

On the following three pages are details scanned from Percy’s AB 64 paybook detailing his training and leaves taken, plus his DLI record of service certificate and a postwar photo with two unidentified DLI friends. It seems Percy must have volunteered for extra service at the close of World War Two, since he wasn’t finally demobbed until 1948, serving a grand total of seven years and 97 days with the Colours. He returned to the pit postwar, but his subsequent health was seriously affected by his POW deprivations in 1943-45.

AB64 detail Percy Wilson 16 DLI
Pte Percy Wilson, 16 DLI, in service dress