L/Cpl Ben Di Duca, 4466417, 16 DLI

Bragia ‘Ben’ DiDuca was born on the 2 February 1911 in Hartlepool, Co Durham, the son of first generation Italian immigrants who had an ice cream business in the area. In 1940, he was living with his wife, Arminia (nee Facchini), at 3 Stranton Place, West Hartlepool, Co Durham.

He was one of the original recruits to the newly formed 16th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry, enlisting in Edinburgh, on 26/7/40, with the Army number 4466417. To see his army number in sequence with other known 16 DLI recruits, click here.

After his death, sometime in the 1980s, his widow Arminia moved to Canada. This fascinating collection of documents is courtesy of Brian Douglas of Ontario, Canada, to whom very many thanks for both saving them and for taking the trouble to make them available here.

From the documents, it's clear that, after his basic training, Ben served in D Company from early 1941. It's thus possible that he features as one of the many unidentified faces on the 1942 group photograph of D Company, 16 DLI, which is featured on this page of the site. If you can spot him, let me know!

This also means that he would have one of the recruits under the training of ex-Beds and Herts D Company NCOs, Charles Bray and W 'Jimmy' James, whose memories, documents and photographs feature very strongly elsewhere on the site. How these things do link up, even after almost 80 years.

Di Duca was already a driver before he enlisted and seems to have latterly served as a driver in the Battalion's MT section, as the Battalion moved from the South Coast to embark at Liverpool for North Africa aboard the MV Staffordshire, in December 1942. After service in the 16 DLI he was seconded to serve as an Army interpreter in Italy. As the documents show, he was attached to both 2 Independent Parachute Brigade and the Special Investigation Branch of the Army during his time as an interpreter.

The documents are arranged in a broadly chronological order. Click on the links:

Pages from Ben Di Duca's AB64 paybook.

Army Vehicles Maintenance Manual, stamped 16 DLI and dated March 1941.

A 16 DLI Christmas card for December, 1941, addressed to his wife, at 3 Stranton Place, West Hartlepool.

His 17 Platoon, D Coy 16 DLI rifle range score card for marksmanship, June-July 1942.

'HQ Guard' roster, for 13th-14th' listing several known D Company soldiers, who feature on the 1942 D Coy photograph.

This could possibly for the period before the Battalion went aboard, or for the early days of D Company's period in the frontline in Tunisia in early 1943.

The reverse of the guard roster: an itemised ammunition cargo load listing for an individual MT truck, totalling no less than 24 individual boxes of ammunition.

Not the wide range of stores, ranging from .303 ammunition to No 68 and No 69 grenades. My guess is that this document dates from January 1943 in Tunisia, when supplies had to be trucked up at night from B Echelon at Sedjenane to the Green Hill positions.

A Pass issued to Pte B Di Duca, 'DLI attached 2nd Independent Parachute Brigade Group', for the purpose of proceeding to Bari, 9-12/10/44.

Rail warrant, for a journey dated 16/10/44, from Naples to Castellamare. From this document it seems that at this point Di Duca was attached to Headquarters, 46th Infantry Division.

US Fifth Army Pass, dated 28th April 1945 to 8th May 1945, authorizing L/Cpl Di Duca's presence in the city area of Bologna, Italy, signed by CSM Edmondson, 78 Section, Special Investigation Branch.

Soldier's Release Book Reference, dated 11/12/45, No 4 Holding Battalion, Sedgefield, miltary conduct: 'Exemplary'.

DLI Record of service Card, stamped 18/12/45 and listing his service from 26/7/40 to 10/3/46.


DiDuca 16 DLI paybook page
AB64 Cover
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