2 London Irish Rifles - January 1943
1st January - TUNISIA.
Battalion established observation post on Pt 366 (577167).
Kittyhawk crashed at 646164. American pilot brought in by Lieutenant A G Lees.
Lieutenant Gibbons and section of H Company patrol farms east of company positions during the day.
1800 Lieutenant McGranahan and section of F Company search Farms 6618 from 1800hrs and 0430 2/1/43.
2nd January - TUNISIA.
AM Companies patrol area during hours of darkness.
PM Battalion digging in. Indents rendered for wire and mines.
1900 Lieutenant Cooper and 1 section of F Company on 36-hour patrol to 7718 (Patrol Bovril).
1900 Lieutenant Kinch and 1 section of F Company on 36-hour patrol to 7414 (Patrol Oxo).
3rd January - TUNISIA.
1800 Captain Grant and section of G Company on 36-hour patrol to 7716 (Patrol Indigo).
1800 Lieutenant Pottinger and section of G Company on 36-hour patrol to 7415 (Patrol Scarlet).
1800 Lieutenant Cowdy and section of H Company on standing patrol to 578192.
1900 1 officer and four other ranks of E Company patrol area locally.
2359 1 officer and four other ranks of G Company patrol area locally.
4th January - TUNISIA.
0900 Carrier platoon less carriers patrol areas 6315/6517.
4 patrols by companies in local area.
5th January - TUNISIA.
1100 Patrol Scarlet returned with two men of Patrol Indigo.
1100 Report of Patrol Indigo by Lance-Corporal Piddington and Lance-Corporal Furr – 20 enemy encountered at farms in area 7716. Patrol fired on by light machine gun. Three tanks seen in vicinity of farm. Captain Grant, Sergeant Silverman, Rifleman Sherriff, Rifleman Scanlon failed to return.
1800 Lieutenant Fletcher and patrol want to bring back wounded officer (identity not established) from farm 665190.
6th January - TUNISIA.
0930 Lieutenant Lees and section go to bring back wounded officer from farm 665190. Reported he had been taken to Bou Arada by French occupant of farm.
1000 Battalion vicinity machine gunned by two Messerschmitts.
Five local patrols by rifle companies and carrier platoon during hours of darkness.
7th January - TUNISIA.
Six patrols in area by companies after dark.
8th January - TUNISIA.
1200 Commanding officer attended Army Commander’s conference at Tebourksouk.
2000 F Company at five hours notice to move.
9th January - TUNISIA.
0930 1 platoon from H and F Companies on day patrol 0930-1730 hrs.
1730 1 platoon of G Company patrol and company in wait for enemy. Mines laid. Enemy armoured cars observed but no contact made.
10th January - TUNISIA.
1250 F Company at 2 hrs notice to move to take over Inniskillings’ positions.
1310 E Company day patrol help Recce Corps to round up 12 Arabs for interrogation.
1605 H Company at 30 minute notice under command 2 Tps C Squadron, 2nd Lothians.
2359 F Company moved to 6th Inniskillings’ positions.
11th January - TUNISIA.
0100 E Company at normal conditions.
1230 H Company relieve crew of tanks of A Squadron, 2nd Lothians. Under fire from enemy anti-tank guns and were bogged either side of Goubellat-Bou Arada road. H Company were ordered to attack farms 651176 and 662173.
1300 G Company moved off to support H Company.
1530 H Company took first objective.
1612 8 tanks withdraw into Goubellat.
1700 G Company took over first objective from H Company
1700 H Company come under heavy machine gun and mortar fire and were unable to advance past Wadi 6617.
1800 E Company ordered to withdraw to original battalion position. G Company also moved back leaving one platoon to patrol area of battle.
Result of battle: 2nd Lothians had nine tanks knocked out or bogged. H Company had three killed and 12 wounded. Casualties were inflicted by the enemy. Enemy identification Hermann Goerring Regiment (12th machine gun company).
2355 H and G Companies returned to former positions by TCV.
12th January - TUNISIA.
1800 Lieutenant Lees and Lieutenant Rawlings and a patrol of carriers platoon and E Company go to fetch back wounded from point 663185.
13th January - TUNISIA.
0900 Day patrol under Lieutenant Beechey under mortar fire from farm 655145. Patrol retired to Wadi 6216. No casualties.
Patrol (Gluckstein) under Lieutenant Stigant contacted enemy at 672197 about 30 strong and were fired on my light machine gun.
Patrol (Salmon) under second Lieutenant McKenna contacted several enemy at farm 663174. Dispersed by hand grenades. No casualties.
No contact made by local night patrols.
2100 Battalion ordered by brigade to prepare for move to high ground south-east of Bou Arada.
14th January - TUNISIA.
1100 Commanding officer went to Recce new area.
1620 Day patrol of E Company under Captain Carrigan mortar bombed in area 6314 and took refuge in wadi suffering two casualties.
15th January - TUNISIA.
2300 5th Battalion Northants (11th Brigade, 78 Division) took over battalion area.
16th January - TUNISIA.
0200 Battalion crossed start point. Other units in support 17th Medium Royal Artillery 152 Forward Regiment. 72 anti-tank.
0600 Battalion HQ established on farm 505987.
1800 Battalion moves to new forming up area. Arrived 2000 hrs. Battalion HQ established farm 615015.
18th January - TUNISIA.
0725 6th Inniskilling Fusiliers attack on right flank.
1200 Battalion HQ bombed and machine-gunned by three enemy aircraft. 2 casualties, 2 vehicles destroyed and 4 M/Cs.
1505 1 section of carriers and two detachments of mortars detailed to report to 1st Royal Irish Fusiliers
1530 F Company and 2 anti-tank guns moved out under command of 26 Armoured Brigade.
1540 Area near battalion HQ bombed. No damage done. 1 Junker 88 brought down.
1700 Battalion less E Company ordered to relieve two companies of Rifle Brigade at 6599/6699.
1900 F Company under command of battalion established Point 281 G Company Pt 325(658997) H Company Pt 326 (664995).
19th January - TUNISIA.
0900 Battalion ordered to move on right of Royal Irish Fusiliers positions area 259 (638070) and hill 640065.
1200 Companies moved to new area by march route via Bou Arada.
1500 G Company shelled area farm 633039. Second Lieutenant Hardwick wounded.
1800 Battalion in position as ordered. Battalion HQ established in Wadi 635072.
2300 Commanding officer to report to Brigade at 0100 hrs. Battalion ready to move. Intelligence Officer accompanied Commanding Officer.
20th January - TUNISIA.
0145 Intelligence Officer returns with information that battalion is to attack Point 286 and Point 279 (6506). F Company 286. G & E Companies 279. H Company in reserve at 682069.
0245 Commanding Officer returns and gives orders for battalion to move from road and tank junction 47056 at 0430 hrs. Order of march – G,F,E and H followed by Bn HQ.
0420 F Company commander issued orders that 11 Platoon would take Hill 286 from the front supported by 12 Platoon on the right flank and 10 Platoon on the left flank.
0520 Battalion HQ established on rear of Point 279 with E Company on left.
0545 Machine gun fire heard on left forward of battalion HQ. The adjutant, Captain Laister, wounded.
0600 Battalion HQ retired about 100 yards and dug in.
0700 G Company report in position on Hill 286 and required assistance.
0715 F Company 11 Platoon retired from Hill 351 (652079) with enemy prisoners of war.
0730 Enemy using combined mortar and shell fire.
0730 F Company re-formed and move around west of Point 279 with objective Point 286.
0745 G Company moved back from Point 286 under heavy enemy mortar fire.
0830 A Squadron, 17/21st Lancers report 6 vehicles (tanks or self-propelled guns) moving around west at 6704.
0900 3 tanks north-east of Point 286.
0915 F Company retired from Point 286 with heavy casualties from mortar and machine gun fire. Lieutenant McGranaham killed. Captain Ekin and Lieutenant Pottinger died from injuries. Company reforms in wadi 648057.
0920 14 Junker 87s dive bombed guns at 630075.
0930 G Company retired to forward slopes of Point 279 behind smoke screen ordered by accompanying FOO, 152 Field Regiment.
0930 E Company ordered to take Point 286.
0940 Point 286 and forward slopes of 279 heavily mortared by enemy.
0950 17/21st Lancers report six enemy tanks moving North to South. 2000 yards Goubellat-Bou Arada Road.
1000 Runner reported that Captain Costello and four other ranks were on Point 286.
1000 Self-propelled guns reported firing from Argoub El Mahalla.
1100 E Company suffer heavy casualties in advance to Point 286 and retire with G Company to wadi 648057.
1100 Battalion reorganizes.
1115 H Company ordered to rendezvous at battalion HQ.
1145 Commanding Officer hold Order Group with gunners, Major Steele 17/21 Lancers and Captain Lofting and orders H Company to occupy Point 286 supported from west of Point 279 by 1 troop of 17/21st Lancers B Battery, 152 Forward Regiment giving support with fire on Argoub El Mahalla, Barker, Red Roof Farm and Cactus Plantation from 1225 to 1235.
1145 It is reported that Point 286 is clear of enemy.
1230 H Company take up position on Point 286 after being heavily shelled and mortared. Captain Henderson killed, Captain Lofting wounded.
1230 E & F Companies move up to Point 279 to support H Company.
1230 Battalion HQ established in wadi 648057.
1230 Reported Lieutenant Beechey killed, Major Tebbitt wounded, 2/Lieutenant McKenna missing.
1258 Junker 87s dive-bombed road 468075 and 12th Royal Horse Artillery gun positions.
1335 16/5th Lancers reported company of infantry facing south-south-west 7306.
1345 Prisoners of war taken by H Company at 6606. Identified as Medical Unit of 24th Marsh Battalion.
1355 A Squadron 17/21st Lancers ordered to remain where they are – west of Point 279.
1530 Prisoners of war brought in by H Company at 6606. Identified as Medical Unit 24th Marsh Battalion. (Prisoner said that when F Company attacked in AM only a platoon was on the hill. Battalion was then rushed up.)
1810 H Company in position on reverse slopes of point 286. 75 grenades, wire and tools taken up to them by carriers.
E Company casualties – Captain Carrigan killed, Lieutenant Rawlings and Lieutenant Joseph injured.
2200 Rations brought up for battalion and prepared by orderly room staff and RAP in culvert under road at battalion HQ.
21th January - TUNISIA.
0100 Battalion attacked by tanks and infantry. Tanks came around west of Point 279 firing tracer west across road. Infantry came over the hill. Battalion retires to high ground 6306/6307. Enemy tanks come round south of Point 279 giving enfilade fire down wadi of old battalion HQ also firing machine guns and 75mm west of road. 3 tanks cross road and take up position in field 645057. They fire on farm 643057. Fire returned by LIR in wadi and from south. Some of our remaining transport driven away or set on fire by enemy.
0400 Enemy retire.
0430 Commanding Officer gives orders from farm 629058. Battalion to take up defensive positions on hill 209 (639071) with battalion HQ in wadi 635072.
1500 Junker 87s dive bomb guns in area. Enemy also attempt to shell guns. Heavy shelling of enemy positions and guns by our 25 pounders during the day.
1530 Commanding Officer re-organises battalion defensive positions. Battalion HQ personnel also man positions on high ground 635069.
1800 Companies and battalion HQ did in. Battalion now in reserve, primary role – defensive, secondary- counter attack.
22th January - TUNISIA.
1800 Companies wire positions.
23th January - TUNISIA.
56 reinforcements arrived.
Digging, wiring and mine laying, as usual on company positions.
Own artillery firing periodically during day and night.
24th January - TUNISIA.
6 Officers and 96 reinforcements arrive.
1830 Fairly heavy enemy artillery shelling. Shells falling in F Company positions. One corporal killed. Own artillery replied very much more vigorously.
25th January - TUNISIA.
0400 Enemy shelling. Shells again fall in F Company area - no damage.
1000 1 officer reinforcement (attached Canadian).
2130 16 Platoon H Company proceed to Hill 683 to protect C Battery, Royal Horse Artillery.
2330 17 Platoon H Company proceed to area 5808 to patrol and stop suspected enemy infiltrations. Two natives in party.
26th January - TUNISIA.
Arab Sheik arrested by 17 Platoon in hills. No sign of enemy.
3 officers and 92 other ranks reinforcements arrive.
27th January - TUNISIA.
2100 Remainder of H Company move to Hill 683 to take up a company position. Task to defend battery to carry out systematic patrolling day and night.
2200 Remainder of battalion less F Company move to foot of hills area 5906. Task – counter attack to north-east should attack come from north-west. Back up H Company should they become involved.
F Company remain in position in role to protect brigade HQ.
2350 Digging in new positions.
28th January - TUNISIA.
1800 Observation point established 597062.
F Company take over Hill 640065 from Grenadier Guards.
2000 Battalion HQ and E Company move to rest area 5704. Old area taken over by Rifle Brigade. Digging.
29th January - TUNISIA.
0600 F Company arrive being relieved by a company of 6th Inniskilling Fusiliers.
30th January - TUNISIA.
0630 G Company arrive in battalion rest area having been relieved by Rifle Brigade.
1030 H Company arrive.
31th January - TUNISIA.
Second-in-command Major DCJ Manners assumes appointment.
G Company relieve E Company as Stand By Company.
Mobile bath unit in operation at Gaffour. Half battalion have bathed.