Durham Light Infantry Officer POWs 1939-45, Listed Alphabetically by Surname (Unfinished)

The more I study WW2 German POW numbers the more confusing the subject becomes. My main (unfinished) consecutive listing of Other Ranks DLI German POW Numbers runs from 4 to over 294,000, obviously with very many gaps!

The major benefit of arranging these numbers into one long sequence is that we get to discover who exactly was standing alongside who on the day their German POW numbers were issued. I discuss this in more detail here.

However, when looking at British officer POW numbers it becomes particularly obvious that these POW numbers were not always unique and specific to a particular soldier. Sometimes the same number seems to have been used for different soldiers, sailors and airmen, of various nationalities both officers and other ranks, at different camps.

This is a separate issue from the accidental issue of identical POW numbers to consecutive servicemen during their induction into a camp which, as can be seen from the main listing, also happens quite often.

Sometimes, it seems, most probably at their first Oflag camp. the officers were assigned their own blocks of officers-only numbers. But sometimes they did not. For instance, looking at known Sedjenane 16 DLI officer POWs captured in February-March 1943, B Coy CO Major Keith Hillas was assigned the suspiciously low German POW number 1426 after transfer from Italy in late 1943, whereas most of the B Coy Other Ranks captured alongside him had numbers in the range of 139000, 155000 and 222000 and upwards. Hillas was obviously within an officers only batch of POW numbers: he must have gone from Italy directly to an Oflag camp. And 16 DLI Carrier Platoon Lt Brian Lax become German POW 2532, another very low number for that time of the war.

If I threaded these officer POW numbers into my existing Other Ranks sequence they would both be in among DLI Other Ranks taken POW with the BEF in France in 1940! Which cannot be correct.

That said looking at this Stalag 4B part of my main consecutive POW numbers listing

263436 O79 Leather, Capt K M W, 44935, 1st DLI, captured Kos, late 1943
263437 079 Kirby, Lt-Col R F, 14963, DLI
263438 079 Thorpe, Capt J H, 170247, DLI

263441 4B Groves, Sgt R, 4459782, DLI
263442 4B Kilty, Cpl R, 4460887, DLI
263443 4F Cook, Pte C H, 4619727, DLI

Capt K M W Leather's POW number, 263436, does seem to fit in with the Other Ranks listing and thus I have left it there. He must have had his number assigned at Stalag 4B, an Other Ranks camp, and then been sent to his first Oflag. So, sometimes, the officers’ numbers are in sequence with those of the Other Ranks and sometimes they are not.

All of which is the long way round of saying that I am now compiling a DLI officers only consecutive POW numbers list and a DLI officers only alphabetical listing. I will then thread entries from these into the big Other Ranks consecutive numbers listing only when it appears that the chronology for this is correct.

I have already compiled a brief listing of known 16th DLI Officer POWs here. This new listing aims to cover all DLI officer POWs of all the Durham Light Infantry active service battalions in 1939-45.

I will also be adding as much extra information as possible to each officer's name listed and, very selectively, including some non DLI officers into the officers' consecutive POW numbers listing, particularly those who have written books or had books written about them and/or achieved fame in their postwar civilian lives.

This part of the project is at a very early stage and there are many gaps and omissions at present. Currently I am working on adding information into the alphabetical listing. I will add a consecutive numbers listing in due course.

DLI Officers POWs 1939-45, surnames A to K

DLI Officers POWs 1939-45, surnames L to Z


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