No 4 Infantry Training Centre, Brancepeth, December 1941.

The sequence of numbers beginning 4469100 and ending at around 4469400 is the training draft inducted into No 4 Infantry Training Centre at Brancepth (4 ITC), the Durham Light Infantry Depot, in December 1941--which, of course included my father, Thomas Tunney, Army number 4469365. Notice how these names are almost all in surname alphabetical order within the sequence 4469100 and 4469400, representing around 300 raw recruits.

As published in this format for the first time here, there's a real sense of how these young recruits must have been lined up in the Brancepeth Castle Great Hall before being called out by surname to have their DLI number assigned. My father's December DLI Association membership card ('for the duration') and his original 4469365 ID tags from those days have been published here.

His account of being called up to Brancepeth in December 1941 can be read on this page. At least 80 of these men were posted to the 16th DLI on the completion of their basic training in April 1942. Those known to have served in the 16th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry are listed as such--but many names still have to be confirmed. Others went as reinforcement drafts in 1942, to the 6th, 8th and 9th Battalions DLI fighting in the desert. Many eventually found themselves far from their DLI roots fighting with other units (several volunteered for the new airborne forces and two of these ex-DLI paratroopers were killed on D-Day) and many were killed, wounded and taken POW during the Sedjenane Battle of February-March 1943, the Sidi Barka action of April 1943 and the subsequent 16 DLI actions in Tunisia, Italy and Greece. Others eventually went from the DLI to other units of the 46th Division in Italy. And a significant number were posted to the India-Burma theatre--and not only to 2 DLI. Details of those who fought with the Chindits in early 1943 are drawn from this excellent web site:

I have listed every name and number I am aware of, principally fatal casualties, gallantry award holders and POWs, but would be most grateful if anyone out there can provide more names and numbers or add any further details, photographs and documents regarding these December 1941 recruits. What are the stories behind these names and the many missing names and numbers between them?

Most of these men were in the building trade and most seem to have been from Durham, Northumberland and Yorkshire. This is a snapshot of just one draft of Britain's World War Two citizen Army and the information that can be added the more fascinating it will become.

Armstrong, Pte Robert, 4469115. Died 2/3/43, serving with 16 DLI, aged 23. No CWGC Next of Kin details. Born Sunderland, enlisted Sunderland. Medjez-el-Bab Memorial, Face 28. See the 1942 B Coy photo.
Photograph, Sunderland Echo, 2/4/43, p 5: 'Pte R Armstrong, DLI, 60 Bell Street, late of Peacock Street...reported missing in North Africa.'

Atkinson, Pte L, 4469118, Stalag 344 in 1945, POW No 81836.
Photograph, Sunderland Echo. 6/4/43, p 5: 'Pte L Atkinson (22) DLI, 11 Fourstones Road, Ford Estate, reported missing in North Africa.'
SE 4/5/43, p 4 'prisoner of war in Italian hands.'

Bannister, Pte F W E, 4469120, 16th DLI. POW in Italy, 1943. Escaped from PG 53 at Italian Armistice.

Bateman, Pte Herbert, 4469121, DLI. Enlisted 4 ITC, Brancepeth, 12/41. Bricklayer, of 22 High St, Carrville, Durham. Captured 2/3/43, Sedjenane. PG 66, PG 53, Italy; Stalag 7A, 17A Germany. Stalag 398 Pupping, Austria, Arb Kdo C2735/L, Vichtenstein 22/12/43 to 6/5/45, farm work. POW No 155041.

Beamson, L/Sgt Joseph Noel, 4469122. Died 3/7/44, serving with 10 DLI. Son of Ralph and Annie Beamson, of New Silksworth, Co Durham; husband of Gladys Beamson, of New Silksworth. Hottot-les-Bagues War Cemetery, IX G 11.
In Memoriam (Roll of Honor), Sunderland Echo, 3/7/45, p 6.
In Memoriam (Roll of Honor), Sunderland Echo, 3/7/47, p 6.

Boylen, Pte Derrick Thomas, 4469129. Enlisted DLI, 4 ITC Brancepeth, 12/41. Re-enforcement draft to India, 1942. Served with the 142 Commando/13th Bn Kings (Liverpool) Regiment in Burma on first Chindit expedition, 'Operation Longcloth' and successfully regained India, 1943. See this external site:

Brett, Pte John, 4469131. Died 17/5/44, serving with 16 DLI, aged 23. Son of Patrick and Margaret Brett, of Blaydon, Co Durham. Sidon War Cemetery, Lebanon, 1 D 11.

Brown, Pte Wesley, 4469134, 16 DLI. Enlisted 4 ITC, Brancepeth, 11/12/41. Bricklayer, of 43 Rock St, Middlesbrough. Captured 27/2/43, Sedjenane. PG 66 Italy, 8/3/43 to 21/6/43; PG 53 21/6/43 to 22/9/43; Stalag 7A 15/10/43 to 5/11/43; Stalag 17A 5/11/43 to 4/4/45. POW No 154737.

Bullock, Pte Jack, 4469137. Posted to 11 DLI and served in Iceland and NW Europe from 6/44. Later served in Devonshire Regiment after disbandment of 11 DLI.

Circa 4469100-4469410 Consecutive DLI Army Numbers
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