After his return from France, Thomas Abbott was posted to Wembley on 25/6/40. These details of his service in 1940-45 have been extracted from official documents supplied to me by his grandson, Andrew Cummings.

In the aftermath of Dunkirk, the invasion scare was in full swing and the decision was made to form 50 new infantry battalions, of with the 16th DLI was one. It seems that Wembley was some kind of staging area in connection with this. I have seen documents of at least one 16 DLI recruit who joined the Army at Wembley before going to Scotland.

Abbott was posted to 16 DLI on 4/7/40. The main cadre of Beds and Herts NCOs destined for the 16th DLI had arrived from Kempston Barracks, Bedford to Edinburgh in late June

See this page of the site.

and had already put up the tented camp for the new recruits who arrived in three big batches during the course of July.

As a trained veteran, Abbott would be involved in training these recruits and also probably, as a clerk, dealing with the huge admin task that forming the Battalion entailed. He was appointed Unpaid Acting Sgt from 15/7/40 and appointed paid Sgt from 5/8/40.

He would have served in HQ Company in either the Admin Platoon, or Battalion HQ.

He was attached temporarily to the Holding Battalion, Scots Guards in London, probably on similar admin work sorting out recruits and reservists. His moves after this, Dunfermline, Dalkeith and Thetford are exactly those locations of the 16th DLI, so he seems to be back with the unit after leave from 6-12/9/40.

He was confirmed in the War Substantive rank of Cpl (Acting Sgt) by 11/40.

He was posted to HQ I39 Infantry Brigade from 7/4/41, this was effectively a move upstairs, 139 Brigade was the next stage in authority for the three infantry battalions: 2/5th Foresters, 2/5th Leicesters and 16 DLI, the Brigade HQ was always in the same area as the three battalions. Presumably this was admin work in his trained specialisation as a clerk.

On 14/10/41 he was posted to 4 ITC--No 4 Infantry Training Centre, at Brancepeth in Durham, the depot of the DLI, where new DLI recruits were trained.

He then undertook a driving course, 11/11/41-to 30/12/41. Since he was already a trained driver, this could well be training as a driving mechanic to be qualified to train other soldiers.

He was at 4 ITC, Brancepeth until 10/11/41, when he was posted back to 16 DLI: 'Posted on strength 16 DLI with effect from 14/10/41' but he did not go to the Battalion, then based at Shorncliffe Barracks, Kent, until 10/11/41. He may well have been assigned to a group of recruits and took them down to Kent as a draft when they were fully trained.

From 30/12/41 to 21/2/42 he's on a 'DM School' instruction course at Harrogate, a driver mechanic course and qualifies as a 'Q2' instructor.

He embarked for service overseas with 16 DLI from 23/12/42, this is the date in all the documents I've seen, when the Battalion went aboard the troopship SS Staffordshire in Liverpool, but the ship actually sailed on 25/12/43.

Sgt T Abbott, 16 DLI, service dress.

Sgt Thomas Abbott, 16 DLI, Record of Service Details, and Another Portrait Photograph
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Photograph courtesy Andrew Cummings