This part of the project began as an attempt to list the POW numbers allocated by the Germans to British soldiers in the same immediate sequence as my father's Stalag 4B number, 227987. That listing is virtually complete now and can accessed from the Stalag 4B Numbers Index Page. However, as my research progressed, I was struck by how little published information there seems to be on the rationale behind the allocation of these German POW numbers.

Looking at known 16th DLI POWs, who were captured in Tunisia in March 1943, I was intrigued to discover how widely their German POW numbers were spread across several distinct number blocks, often several tens of thousands of numbers apart, depending on the camp they were sent to in Germany. Take for instance the following 16th DLI POWs, all of whom were taken POW at Sedjenane, Tunisia in Febuary-March 1943 and who all arrived in Germany in September 1943 after the Italian capitulation:

6443 18A Walton, Pte F, 4469683, DLI
7532 18A Grove, Cpl D, 5951769, DLI
34770 8A Mulvana, Pte H, 4469003, 16 DLI, HQ Coy, Carrier Platoon, captured 3/43
139873 11A Harris, Cpl H, 5951873, 16th DLI, captured Sedjenane, Tunisia, 2/3/43
154350 398 Graham, Cpl J G W, 4469519, D Coy, 16 DLI, captured Sedjenane, Tunisia, 2/3/43
227079 4D McDonald, Oswald Stanley, 4469285, 16 DLI, B Company, captured Sedjenane 2/3/43.

The gap between Walton's POW number, 6443, and McDonald's, 227079, is over 200,000 and yet they arrived in Germany at roughly the same time. Looking at the bigger picture, there were well over 3,000 Durham Light Infantry POWs taken prisoner in the various campaigns fought by the Regiment as a whole in Europe, North Africa and Italy in 1939-45. The active service DLI battalions involved were:

1st Battalion: 1940-42 Desert Camapign, 1942 Malta, 1943 Aegean Islands (Kos), 1943-45 Italy.

2nd Battalion: 1940 France and then subsequently fought in Burma.

6th, 8th & 9th, the famed 151 Brigade of the 50th Division: France and Belgium 1940, North Africa, Sicily and NW Europe.

10th and 11th Battalions: France and Belgium 1940, NW Europe 1944-45. Also the former 12th DLI was redesignated as the ‘Tyneside Scottish’ within the Black Watch prior to WW2.

16th Battalion: Tunisia 1943; Italy, Greece 1943-45 (also the 18th DLI had a brief frontline role as a ‘beach brick’ in Italy).

Obviously, my particular interest is the 16th Battalion, but there's no way from looking at the bare 1945 War Office list to discover which specific DLI battalion a soldier was serving with at the time of his capture. So, I'm taking the long way around and sampling from the entire alphabetical list. This new consecutive listing by number, Other Ranks only at present, is currently incomplete, but as it grows it should prove useful to readers wishing to get a rough idea of where and with whom a particular DLI soldier was when his German POW number was allocated. The alphabetical, War Office register I’m rearranging consecutively is that from March 1945, so DLI POWs who died in captivity, those who successfully escaped, and those who were repatriated before this date are generally not included.

Contrary to how so many people still insist on writing about World War Two, these men's experiences didn't take place in a social vacuum. Their lives were inextricably entwined with and defined by the other people they were with at each stage of the war. There was no privacy either in the wartime Army or in a POW camp. Compiled here for the first time, this listing gives a fascinating snapshot of who was exactly with who else from the regiment on the day they were allocated their German POW numbers.

I'll be adding, very selectively, some non-DLI POW numbers into the numbers sequence, namely: known Sedjenane POWs of other units; a selection of those of soldiers with ‘446’ series DLI numbers, who were transferred to other units (for more on this, see the Army Numbers section of the site) , and also the names and numbers of some of the many German-held POWs who either wrote books or had books written about them postwar. I will reviewing some of these books in this section of the site. Further names and any and all further information on any of the POWs already listed gratefully received. Note this project is in its early stages so there are very many gaps at present. Click on the hyperlinks below to go to the specific number sequence. Or use the site search button at above right to find a particular name or number.

DLI Officer POWs 1939-45, alphabetically listed by surname (unfinished)

DLI Other Ranks German POW Numbers circa 0--2999 DLI German POW Numbers circa 3000

DLI POW Numbers circa 6000 DLI POW Numbers circa 9000 DLI POW Numbers circa 15000

DLI German POW Numbers circa 18000, DLI German POW Numbers Circa 32000 DLI POW Numbers circa 50000

DLI Stalag Numbers circa 75000 DLI Stalag Numbers circa 81000 DLI Numbers circa 124000

DLI German POW Numbers circa 138000 DLI German POW Numbers circa 153000

DLI German Stalag 4B POW Numbers circa 220000, including Camp E 715 Auschwitz

POW Numbers 227000--294000 main index page the numbers listed here include many non DLI POWs. This page also includes a brief introduction to the subject of POWs transferred from Italy to Germany in September 1943.


Durham Light Infantry Other Ranks WW2 German POW Numbers (unfinished) Rearranged in Numerical Sequence
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