L/Cpl W Townsend, Campaign Medals

L/Cpl Wilfred Townsend, Mortar Platoon, ‘HQ’ and ‘S’ Company, 16 DLI, 1940-46

Enlisting in July 1940, L/Cpl Wilfred Townsend (4467119) is another of the very few men who served with the 16th DLI through all of its campaigns through to disbandment. Townsend’s home address is listed in the 1946 Old Comrades’ Association members’ booklet as 13 Broadyates Road, South Yardley, Birmingham. As a mortar platoon man, he would have been in HQ Company until mid-1943 and then in the newly formed S (for Support) Company. He could well be on this 1942 photograph of the Mortar Platoon His Army Number in the sequence of other 16th DLI 1940 recruits can be seen here.

The photograph of his campaign medals above is courtesy of Lars Ahlkvist. The display was presumably made up by Townsend himself. It’s notable that the DLI shoulder titles at the top of the image are the conventional ‘Durham LI’ style of the other active and home service battalions The ‘Durham Light Infantry’ ‘Guards-style pattern of the 16th DLI is illustrated on the homepage. After the 16th DLI disbanded, many men were assigned to the 1st Battalion and others waited out their demob date with the 4th Holding Battalion, at Sedgefield, so it seems that Townsend was wearing this pattern shoulder flash at the end of his service. I like the fact that his well-worn 46th Division ‘Oak Tree’ flash has obviously been picked from his battledress--you can still see the needle marks! Townsend was awarded the full array of campaign medals possible for anyone serving in the 16th DLI and these are listed on the display. As ever, it is important to distinguish between campaign medals, awarded for service of a specific period an/or in a specific campaign and Gallantry awards, given for acts of exceptional bravery. Note the First Army clasp on his Africa Star Medal.

NEXT IMAGE: the 1945 16 DLI Leaving Certificate of L/Cpl Townsend, signed by Capt Harry Mynheer MM.