Amazing collection of soldiers’ photographs, letters and diaries under the spotlight - and here’s how to find out more

The remarkable lives of North East soldiers will be spotlighted at a talk later this month.

By Chris Cordner
Thursday, 18 April, 2019, 11:00
DLI soldiers march up Owengate. Ref no: (D/DLI 2/1/280 (607)) Photo; Durham County Record Office.

The archives of the Durham Light Infantry make for fascinating reading.

And people can find out for themselves by getting along to a talk which is being planned by the Durham County Record Office at County Hall in Durham.

The Band and Colours of the 106th Bombay Light Infantry, India, 1869. Ref no: D/DLI 2/2/153/1.

There’s diaries, letters and photographs and each tells a tale of a soldier’s life. The archive includes official regimental records, covering thousands of photographs and items of personal correspondence.

As well as introducing the collection, the talk will tell people how to find documents within it.

It will also spotlight some of the highlights that people can expect to find, including the story of Jimmy Durham - a Sudanese boy who was adopted by the DLI in the 1880s.

The talk is one of a series of regular Branching Out courses which are held for people who are familiar with the basics of family history and want to find out more about specific subjects.

Trench pianist Barney McArdle, of the 7th Battalion DLI, France, 1915. D/DLI 2/7/18/84. Photo; Durham County Record Office.

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After the hour-long talk, people can spend the second half of the session using the Record Office’s research facilities, with support from an archivist.

Dawn Layland, education and outreach archivist, said: “Since it was transferred to us in 1998, the DLI Archive has become one of the Record Office’s most searched collections.

“It is an amazing collection, containing both official records and personal documents of soldiers, including photographs, diaries and letters.”

The talk runs twice on Thursday, April 25, from 10am to 12pm and from 6pm to 8pm.

The 9th Battalion Colours, Cologne, Germany, 1919. Ref no: D/DLI 2/9/298. Photo: Durham County Record Office.

Places are priced at £10 and they must be booked in advance from the Record Office’s online shop.

Interested people can find the shop at https://recordofficeshop.durham.gov.uk/pgHome, or call 03000 267 619.