'I went down to the Reception Office one day to find out if there were any more DLI in and found that one of my despatch riders, L/Cpl Eaglestone, was in the next ward to me. Naturally I looked him up and learned that he had been returning to me with a message from "B" Echelon when a shell had caught two of them at the crossroads. He had escaped with a leg wound but the other poor lad had been killed outright.’

He also recounts that ‘old Frank Rogers looked in to see me one afternoon,’ This was presumably Sgt Rogers of 16 DLI.

After transfer from the 100th to the 95th General Hospital, he runs into another senior 16 DLI NCO, CSM ‘Tubby’ Baker:

‘I met Sgt Major Baker on my second day there, we had always been good friends in the Battalion. At the hospital we went for our daily walk together, smoking cigarettes until we were almost sick. Capt Ryan having obliged with a few buckshee tins of 50. The Sgt Major had been hit by a little piece of shrapnel from a mine the very first day, in fact he was only on Italian soil for about 5 minutes. Although the wound was very small and healed in about a fortnight, it has resulted in him losing the use of his hand. Subsequently he was downgraded to Cat “C” and was evacuated to the UK a week after I left hospital. He had your address and promised to write to you when he got to England. I wonder if he did?’

The Captain Ryan referred to in the letter was Captain Frank Ryan of the 16 DLI Anti-Tank Platoon, who must have also been wounded around this time, too.

Towards the close of his 31/12/43 letter Sgt Henderson writes this wonderfully heartfelt tribute to the memory of his Company Commander in 1942-43, Captain T G L Ballance MC, killed in action on 4/12/43. I have also placed this quote on this page featuring a larger format version of the photograph at right, of Captain Ballance and Sgt Henderson on exercise in England in 1942.

‘They say there is no sentiment in the army. Don't you believe it. The spirit of the old 16th was an sentimental as it was fine. A spirit which wins wars.

‘I was talking to an officer only yesterday who joined the Btn after I left. He told me that Major Ballance died from shrapnel wounds, living only a few hours after he was hit. If I have done any hero worshipping in this war, he has been the object of it. Can you wonder that his death is not just another battle casualty to me? At least one person will remember him as a man of keen judgement and human understanding.'

Sgt John Henderson Photo Index Page

16 DLI Photo Index Page
Capt Ballance, Sgt Henderson, Pte Turner, 16 DLI
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