Geordie Magazine Original  Heading

Italy, the Middle East, Greece and Austria

Note: this being the final edition we have made every effort to present a fairly lucid picture of the remainder of the Battalion's activities, by connecting together the names of towns and various dates compiled from the War Diary. The Editor.

The voyage was uneventful and on arrival at Bizerta Docks we proceeded to march to the Divisional. concentration area and, from here, we did training in the form of route marches. Frequent conferences were held, these in respect of an exercise which came to known as 'Jennifer'.

The enemy paid numerous aerial visits to the dock area and from our location we had a grandstand view. Nevertheless, it was unwise to stand about in the open because of falling shrapnel--one man was heard to remark 'B---- this, I'm going in my bivvy!'

Towards the end of August our training included street fighting, embarking and disembarking from various types of landing craft. On the last day of the month we moved to the Assembly area near La Pecherie. By the afternoon of September 5th the entire Battalion were embarked aboard various ships in readiness for the invasion of Italy. In view of the capitulation of this country speculation was rife as to the reception that awaited us on the beaches South of Salerno.

On the 9th, C and A Coys landed on Green Beach and made their way with extreme difficulty to the Assembly Area about a quarter of a mile from the beach. Red Beach was still under very heavy fire from its German defenders. The remainder of the Battalion landed on the 10th without mishap and by noon concentration was complete. Our first job was to relieve the 6th Yorks and Lancs who were in the are of the hospital at La Mennold. We marched through Salerno, which was being shelled at intervals and by 20:10 hrs we had completed the relief. Before many hours had passed, B Coy moved forward to occupy Parato passing through the Carriers who had been skirmishing with the enemy. Trouble was encountered before the objective could be reached and the Coy took up the best positions available. At dawn the enemy put in an attack which, after pushing B Coy back a short way, was held and infiltration was prevented.

Persistent mortaring of B Coy continued throughout the day but no further attack developed. During the night the enemy succeeded in getting an MG to a commanding point--the C Coy Pimple, but, this was nullified by a swift counter-attack. BHQ was shelled twice and the shelling of Salerno increased considerably. On the night of the 15th D Coy were attacked by a company of Panzer Grenadiers, but this was broken up by a bayonet charge and a 3" mortar barrage dispersed the remainder of the enemy, inflicting heavy casualties. It later became known that the night of the 15th was considered the climax of 'the Battle for the Bridgehead' as the Germans had attacked along the whole of the Divisional front. We were relieved by the 2nd Coldstream Guards and moved to the Brigade rest area at S. Leonardo.


Major Jimmy Johnson MC

Above, Major Jimmy Johnson MC, who commanded B Company 16th DLI at Salerno. Major Johnson was awarded the MC for escaping to Spain after capture in 1940 while serving with the Royal Welch Fusiliers. Johnson went on to command the 2nd/4th King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (another 46th Division unit) from February 1944 and was awarded the DSO during his service with them. Photograph via Jimmy James. Item on Major Frank Duffy MC, below courtesy of The Middlesborough Evening Gazette. The Salerno Times newspaper at right, click on the image for an enlargement, was published on the beachhead on 16/9/43. This is copied from a very battered original loaned by Captain Gordon Harris of the Signal Platoon.
Salerno Times 16/9/43