C Coy 16 DLI Sedjenane Survivors, 1944

C Company, 16 DLI, Sedjenane Veterans still with the Company in April 1944

This photograph was taken at Er Rama, Palestine in April 1944 and is reproduced here with the kind permission of the Trustees of the DLI Museum and the Durham County Record Office, where it is catalogued as Ref No. D/DLI 2/16/6.

Indicating the tremendous toll of casualties endured by the Battalion in North Africa and Italy, these 17 soldiers pictured here were the only men still serving with C Company, 16 DLI in April 1944 of the 120 or so who sailed away to war in December 1942.

The caption provided by the Durham Record Office is as follows: ‘Group photograph of men of 'C' Company, 16th Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry 'M.E.F.' [Middle East Force], the remainder of the original 'C' Company which left England for Algiers:

Back row: Privates J Hughes, W Ridley, A Laws, H Massingham, A Carter, P McClare, J McNally, W A Miller.

Middle row: Privates F Robinson, F Ward, Sergeant J Dunn, Lieutenant A Pearson, Sergeant J Christie (KIA 0/9/44), Privates J Leonard, H T Fisher.

Front row: Privates F. Wright, C E Johnson.

Survivors of 'C' Company from Sedjenane action: Miller, Robinson, Ward, Johnson. Remaining men came as reinforcements after Sedjenane or from MT section.’

I would quibble just a little with the last paragraph of the caption: Jack Christie (a Lance Corporal in 3/43), Jimmy Hughes, Arthur Laws and Harry Massingham were all in my father’s 15 Platoon according to his fellow platoon mates George Forster (seriously wounded in the battle) and Les Bernard (who in 1944-45 was serving in Italy with the 1st Battalion DLI, eventually as a Sergeant).

Lt Arthur Pearson was the Company Sgt Sergeant Major of C Company in 3/43 and was the only one of the four rifle company CSMs to survive the Sedjenane Battle. Then commissioned, he was awarded the MC for his actions on 3/9/44.

The long-serving HQ Company Orderly Room clerk Duggie Wakefield told me in 1999 about talking to a ‘Batman Miller’ just prior to the Sedjenane battle. Miller said he was worried about what might happen. ‘Stick with Sergeant Major Pearson and you’ll be all right!’ was Wakefield’s reply. This must be the W A Miller pictured above, who, I understand, also donated this and the other 1944 C Company photographs reproduced on this site to the DLI Museum.

Next: Company HQ, C Company 16 DLI, a 1944 Photograph.