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The 16th Durham Light Infantry in Italy, 1943 - 1945 (ePub)

WWII British History Italian Front in WWII

By Peter Hart
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
File Size: 13.4 MB (.epub)
Pages: 224
ISBN: 9781473811379
Published: 13th October 2010

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The Second World War is vanishing into the pages of history. The veterans were once all around us, but their numbers are fast diminishing. While still in their prime many recorded their memories with Peter Hart for the Imperial War Museum. As these old soldiers now fade away their voices from the front are still strong with a rare power to bring the horrors of war back to vivid life.

The 16th Durham Light Infantry were supposed to be just an 'ordinary' battalion. But their experiences as they fought their way up through Italy show that there is no such thing as 'ordinary'. They struggled to break out from Salerno, then across the countless rivers and mountain ranges that seemed to spring up to bar their way to victory. They learnt their military skills the hard way facing determined German opposition every step of the way. These were no 'D-Day Dodgers' but heroes in their own right. But there was another battle being fought as they struggled to maintain their morale day by day, as their friends died and their seemed to be no end in sight. This is their story.

Peter Hart was born in 1955. After attending Liverpool University he has worked as the Oral Historian at the Imperial War Museum since 1981, He is responsible for interviewing veterans of all conflicts from the Great War to the present day. His previous books include 1918: A Very British Victory, The Somme, 1916, Aces Falling: War Above the Trenches, 1918 and Jutland, 1916. His Voices from the Front series with Pen & Sword includes, The 16th Durham Light Infantry, The 2nd Norfolk regiment and the South Notts Hussars. He is married with two children and lives in North London

As seen in...

Britain at War Magazine

They learnt their military skills the hard way facing determined German opposition every step of the way. These were no "D-Day Dodgers" but heroes in their own right. But there was another battle being fought as they struggled to maintain their morale day by day, as their friends died and their seemed to be no end in the sight.

Spartacus review

Filled with memories from veterans recorded whilst in their prime by the Imperial War Museum.
Peter has collected together a collection of personal memories and stories to give the reader an insight into the horrors, hardship and sacrifice made during WW2.
The 16th DLI were supposed to be just an ordinary battalion but the experiences of these men as they fought their way up through Italy shows that there was no such thing as an ordinary battalion.
From many different backgrounds and counties the 16th DLI learnt their military skills the hard way facing strong German opposition every step of the way. and were proud to be known as "The Durhams".

An excellent read

WW2 Connection, Les Tanner

This is the first book I’ve read in the Voices from the Front series. It’s based on an Oral History project that recorded the memories of many old Durham veterans. Peter Hart has been the Oral History specialist at the Imperial War Museum for many years, so is probably better placed to write a book like this than anyone else.

I’m glad that such a prominent book has been written about this Battalion for two reasons. Firstly, the 16th Durham Light Infantry were a service Battalion, and hence largely made up of soldiers who were conscripted into the Army during the wartime. Secondly, the Battalion served in Italy rather than in North West Europe, and the Italian campaign has received a chronic lack of attention from Historians over the years.

Excerpts from oral history interviews are interwoven with commentary on the overall history of the war, which provides good context. The interviews with junior officers and other ranks are particularly welcome, as these are two sections of the Army whose experiences are often maligned. And the experiences of the 16th Durhams were quite remarkable – unusually for a conscript Battalion, the unit seems to have developed a very strong espirit-du-corps, forged through tought fighting up the spine of Italy.

What I really find interesting are the little human stories that really give us an idea of what it was like to fight as a foot soldier in the Second World War, and not necessarily the stories about fighting. Its thoughts about uniforms and rations, officer-men relations, the locals and even fireworks displays on VE Day that really make a book like this stand out.

I cannot help but think how blessed we historians would be if a book like this was written about every Army unit during the Second World War. Oral History is a fantastic way of capturing not only the memories of an important generation, but also the essence and tone of their life experiences. The Voices from the Front series is very commendably indeed.

Daly History Blog

WWII veterans were once all around us, but their numbers are fast diminishing. While still in their prime many recorded their memories with Peter Hart for the Imperial War Museum. As these old soldiers now fade away their voices from the front are still strong with a rare power to bring the horrors of war back to vivid life.

reenactingww2

'Voices from the Front' is an apt summation of the latest in the series from experienced war historian Peter Hart. Hours upon hours of interviews with those who served in the 16th Battalion have been quoted - as Hart himself puts it, "these veterans have opened up their lives to allow us to better understand the reality of the Second World War." The author respectfully yet skillfully links these quotes, direct from the soldiers themselves, to give the reader a first-person, chronological insight of the efforts of the DLI heroes, from the initial 1943 landing at Salerno, and the struggles of crossing Italy's hazardous rivers and mountains whilst facing constant German attack, all the way through to eventual victory. For these brave men, they tell us in their own words about the daily struggle to maintain morale as friends and comrades died around them. This really is their story.

carl (customer review)

About Peter Hart

Peter Hart was born in 1955. After attending Liverpool University he has worked as the Oral Historian at the Imperial War Museum since 1981. He is responsible for interviewing veterans of all conflicts from the Great War to the present day.

He is married with two deceptively lovely children and lives in North London.

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