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

9th Battalion DLI: VE Day

Part of an online exhibition from Durham County Record Office commemorating the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe on 8 May 1945

Soldiers from B Company, 9th Battalion Durham Light Infantry in Kangaroo armoured carrier, Germany, late March 1945 (D/DLI Acc: 10050)

During the war, the Durham Light Infantry (DLI) Depot at Brancepeth Castle printed a newsletter with lists of casualties, awards and promotions, plus snippets from letters and reports from the Regiment's battalions at home and overseas. These extracts are from a report written by an officer of the 9th Battalion DLI. 

DLI Newsletter, No 45, October 1945 

5 May 1945 
'The End for us!! At 0800 hours the unconditional surrender to Field Marshal Montgomery of all troops facing us was accepted. It was over then as we knew it must be. How did we feel - quiet, thankful - thankful too for a good night's kip'.

7 May 1945
'At 13.30 hours the Colonel's voice came over the air "They've packed up - all German forces have surrendered unconditionally - effective from the 9th, but no further offensive action will be taken"'. 

8 May 1945
'V.E. Day. Our expected move [into Denmark] did not come off and we celebrated the day at Had Marschen [Hademarschen] town just south of the Kiel Canal. Verey lights, flares, Bofors and bonfires were the order of the day whilst the Officers and Sergeants did themselves well and everyone did what they could to mark the occasion. We were still operational, however, and that does tend to cramp one's style in these affairs. This then was the end of the campaign for us.' 

Four soldiers from ‘D’ Company, 9th Battalion DLI during the advance on Hamburg, April 1945. Photograph is from Roy Griffiths’ album (D/DLI 7/273/15(32))
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Four soldiers from 'D' Company, 9th Battalion DLI during the advance on Hamburg, April 1945. 
This photograph is from Roy Griffiths' album (D/DLI 7/273/15(32).

Private Jim Ratcliffe served with 'C' Company 9th Battalion DLI from Sicily to the end of the war. He wrote an account of his experiences in the 1990s (D/DLI 2/9/341). 

'A German soldier came down the road waving his arms, carrying a Spandau [sub-machine gun] and shouting to us... "Tommy! War finished" ... We all started shaking hands and congratulating each other at coming through it safely... Needless to say the night was one to remember... Some of the rifle company lads got drunk with German troops who, the previous day, would have been trying to kill each other. I think everyone, including the German troops, were glad it was over.'

Back to 'We have come through' - remembering VE Day 1945 exhibition homepage.