10th Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry, War Diary November 1939

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7th November 1939

“C” Company, commanded by Capt Kipling, relieved “A” Company, commanded by Lt. Robinson, at “Westholme”, Staindrop Road, Darlington and assumed the First-Line role under the Civil Defence Scheme.

10th November 1939

Capt. T.H. Willcox – 7th Battalion DLI Reserve

Lt. G.L. Robson – 7th Battalion DLI Reserve

Lt. G.W.O. Rudd – 6th Battalion DLI Reserve

had been posted to 10th Battalion and reported for duty. Strength of the Battalion was now shown as 15 Officers and 494 Other Ranks.

12th November 1939

The Adjutant (Capt. C.R.M. Hutchinson) left to attend Senior Officers’ School for six weeks and was replaced by Lt. T. ff Chamberlain – attached to 2nd Battalion DLI – who assumed those duties on 13th November.

14th November 1939

Companies commenced a fortnight’s intensive Tests Of Elementary Training (T.O.E.T.) in preparation for range firing at Whitburn.

“B” Company, commanded by Lt. R.W. Wilkinson, relieved “C” Company at Darlington and assumed the role of First-Line Troops under the Civil Defence Scheme.

15th November 1939

A fatigue party of 20 men was provided daily for the Prisoner of War Camp at Windlestone Hall.

Considerable research has been done into the history of this Camp – almost entirely without success. This location – the family home of the Eden Family – was a satellite Camp of the Harperley PoW Camp Number 93, and was a relatively short distance from that institution. The Eden family archives, held at Birmingham University, were searched by University staff for any mention of the wartime activities there but apart from a brief mention in one family letter, no details were forthcoming, despite the efforts of the Birmingham staff.

Despite persistent local stories of a group of German Nurses in residence, the British Government has always flatly denied that female prisoners were held there. It is known that later during the War the Camp held German Officers – albeit personal eyewitness testimony, from a reliable source, in direct conversation with the researcher, confirmed that a group of females were held at that location. Their nationality and origins were not known for certain, but their presence was observed by the eyewitness – the driver of the daily rations truck from Harperley Camp – sadly now deceased. Subsequently, thanks to other research, it can be confirmed that a group of German Nurses, taken prisoner in Germany, were held at the Camp for some months - probably in 1944/5

As far as can be discovered, the only file on the Camp held at The National Archives – of which a copy has been obtained - concerns the delays in repatriation and retraining of those held there. Further enquiries to the staff at Kew produced no further results.

The question remains as to what the 10th Battalion men were doing at the Camp, and who were the prisoners (or detainees) held there in November 1939?

21st November 1939

“D” Company, commanded by Capt. T.H. Willcox, relieved “B” Company at Darlington and assumed the role of First-Line Troops under the Civil Defence Scheme.

22nd November 1939

69 Other Ranks – all in Category “C” – were posted to the 10th Battalion from the “parent” 6th Battalion.

27th November 1939

The whole Battalion, including “D” Company, proceeded to the ranges at Whitburn. The Rifle Course set out in Appendix 3 of the Small Arms Training Pamphlet No. 18 was fired by 260 Other Ranks.

During the stay at Whitburn the duties at Darlington under the Civil Defence Scheme were assumed by 11th Battalion DLI.

2/Lt. P. Dickinson and 2/Lt. A.J. Smith reported to the Battalion for duty, having been posted from the Officers’ Emergency Reserve.

29th November 1939

The Battalion returned to Bishop Auckland from Whitburn, every man, except the Militia entrants, having fired the Rifle Course.

On the same day “E” Company – comprising the Militia entrants - proceeded to Whitburn to fire the Rifle Course. This Company was described as following the training programme as undergone by regular recruits. This comment is important, given the later War Diary entries, following the period in action in May 1940, stating that a proportion of the Brigade had not fired the standard Rifle Course.

The 69 Category “C” transferees from 6th Battalion rejoined the Battalion at Bishop Auckland, having spent the two days, while the main body were at Whitburn, based at Windlestone Hall PoW Camp.

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