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Durham County Record Office: the official archive service for County Durham and Darlington

Oral History - Listen to the Soldier

You can now listen to oral history recordings of over 200 Durham Light Infantry (DLI) soldiers online, on the Imperial War Museums Sound archive.

Discover the largest, most comprehensive and wide-ranging oral history collection in the world relating to a British infantry regiment during the Second World War.

About the Listen to the Soldier project

Listen to the Soldier was a partnership project between the former DLI Museum, the Imperial War Museum and Durham County Record Office. It ran from 2008 to 2009, generously supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. 

The project was the result of 20 years of collaboration between the DLI Museum and the Sound Archive of the Imperial War Museum.

Listen to the Soldier provided:

  • detailed, searchable catalogues of hundreds of hours of digitised oral history recordings
  • biographies of the DLI veterans who were interviewed
  • new access for listeners in County Durham

These recordings cover every campaign fought by the Durhams in five years of war from the beaches of Dunkirk in 1940 to D-Day and the final victory in Berlin. They provide listeners with a unique insight into what it was really like to be an infantryman during the Second World War as veterans reflect on their experiences from recruitment to active service and as prisoners of war.

The oral history collection adds an extra dimension to the Second World War battalion histories, war diaries and photographs in the regimental archive.

Some of the veterans interviewed also talk about their schooldays, work and army training before the Second World War, providing a valuable record of life in County Durham in the 1920s and 1930s.

The Listen to the Soldier collection includes about 20 sound recordings of Durham Light Infantrymen who served in the First World War.

Listen to Extracts Online

You can listen to some extracts that were published when the Listen to the Soldier project was completed in 2009.

Listen to the Complete Interviews Online

Initially the Listen to the Soldier project provided access to the DLI oral history recordings at:

  • branches of the Imperial War Museum
  • Durham County Record Office Search Room

Now the Imperial War Museums Sound archive is freely accessible online.

The interviews with each soldier are divided into a number of reels. 

There is a summary of the contents of each reel.

These summaries are held in a database which you can search by keyword, for example soldier's name, place, battalion, date or subject.

You can then select the appropriate reel to play. 

If you want to listen to the sound recordings in the Record Office you can use one of our public access PCs. Please bring your own headphones.

For more information contact Imperial War Museums.