The Durham Light Infantry

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The Durham Light Infantry
extracted from "The Territorial Battalions, A Pictorial History 1859-1985" by Ray Westlake
further details are given on these battalions in appropriate sections of the site

5th Battalion

The 1st Durham Rifle Volunteer Corps was formed at Stockton-on-Tees in 1860, and in 1880 was amalgamated with other Durham corps, from Darlington, Castle Eden and Middlesbrough, to form a battalion of eight companies.

The 1st Durhams later became the 1st Volunteer Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry and as such gained the battle honour `South Africa 1900-02' for the services of its members during the Boer War.

The 50 was extended to three battalions for war service in 1914. The 1/5th went to France as part of the 50th Division in 1915 and after seeing a great deal of action on the Western Front was reduced to a training cadre in July 1918. The 2/5th served in Salonika as a garrison battalion from October 1916, while the 3/5th formed the 5th (Reserve) Battalion.

For the Second World War, the 5th Durhams were required to serve in an antiaircraft role, and was divided, first as 1/5th and 2/5th, and subsequently as 54th and 55th Searchlight Regiments, Royal Artillery.

6th Battalion

The 6th was formed in 1860 as one of Durhams several rifle volunteer admin battalions. Numbered as 2nd, the battalion was consolidated as the 2nd Durham Rifle Volunteer Corps in 1880. It consisted of six companies and had its headquarters at Bishop Auckland. The 2nd Corps later became the 2nd Volunteer Battalion, Durham Light Infantry, and as such was awarded the battle honour, `South Africa 1900-02'.

During the First World War, the 1/6th suffered heavy casualties at Ypres and as a result was temporarily amalgamated with the 8th Durhams to form 6th/8th Battalion. The 2/6th, as part of the 59th Division, served in France as a garrison guard battalion, and We 3/6th became part of the 5th (Reserve) Battalion in 1916.

In 1940, the battalion went to France with the BEF. It later fought at El Alamein and was to take part in the June 1944 assault landings in Normandy. The battalion is now represented by the 7th Light Infantry (Volunteers).

7th Battalion

During 1860, five companies of rifle volunteers were raised in Sunderland, and

subsequently merged as the 3rd Durham Rifle Volunteer Corps. As the 3rd (Sunderland) Volunteer Battalion, Durham Light Infantry, the corps contributed a large number to the several volunteer service companies that went to serve with the regular troop in South Africa.

In 1915, the 1/7th went to France, where it became the pioneer battalion of the 50th Division, and later the 8th Division. The 2/7th remained in the UK until October 1918, when it was sent to North Russia. The 3/7th was also formed which in 1916 became part of the 5th (Reserve) Battalion. The 7th DLI was converted and transferred in 1936 as 47 AA Battalion, Royal Engineers.

8th Battalion

The 8th Durham Light Infantry was originally the 4th Durham Rifle Volunteer Corps, which had been formed in 1860 by the amalgamation of several Durham rifle companies. The 4th consisted of ten companies, many of which dated from the beginning of the Volunteer Movement in 1859.

In 1887 the 4th Durham RVC became the 4th Volunteer Battalion, Durham Light Infantry, and in 1908 its C Company transferred as the Durham University Contingent of the Officers Training Corps. The remainder of the battalion provided the 8th Durham Light Infantry which saw active service throughout France and Belgium during the First World War.

In the Second World War, the battalion served in N Africa, and in 1944 was involved in the assault landings in Normandy. The 8th DLI is now represented by part of the 7th Light Infantry (Volunteers).

9th Battalion

In 1880 the 5th Durham Rifle Volunteer Corps was formed by the amalgamation of several rifle volunteer units from the Gateshead, South Shields, Blaydon Burn and Winlaton areas. The 5th later became the 5th Volunteer Battalion, Durham Light Infantry, and in 1908 the regiment's 9th Territorial Battalion.

Members of the battalion served in South Africa during the Boer War. In 1914 three battalions were provided for war service, two members gaining the Victoria Cross while serving in France.

In the Second World War the battalion also saw service in N Africa, Sicily and NW Europe. Another Victoria Cross was awarded to a member of the 9th Durhams, Pte. Adam Wakenshaw, for his part in an action at Mersa Matruh in the Western Desert on 27 June 1942. Wakenshaw was killed that day and is buried in the El Alamein War Cemetery in Egypt.

In 1948 the battalion was converted as the 17th Battalion, Parachute Regiment. This battalion is now represented as part of the 4th (Volunteer) Battalion of the Regiment.

10th Battalion

Formed in 1939 as a duplicate of the 6th Battalion at Bishop Auckland, the battalion served in France during 1940, in Iceland, and in NW Europe from 1944.

11th Battalion

Formed as a duplicate of the 8th Battalion in 1939, the battalion fought in NW Europe during 1944, having previously served in Iceland and with the BEF in 1940.

12th Battalion

Formed in 1939 as a duplicate of the 9th Battalion DLI and desginated 12th (Tyneside Scottish) Battalion. The title "Tyneside Scottish" was a revival of that used during the First World War by the several service battalions of the Northumberland Fusiliers that were raised by Scotsmen in the Tyneside area.

Before the end of 1939, the battalion was transferred to the Black Watch and re-named the 1st Battalion the Tyneside Scottish. As such it went with the BEF to France in 1940, served in Iceland between October 1940 and December 1941, and fought in NW Europe during 1944. The battalion was transferred to the Royal Artillery as 670 LAA Regiment in


Monday, 14 May, 2012 16:58

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