Following a short rest period, on 26th May 1944, the Irish Brigade again took up the lead of the 8th Army’s advance northwards.
After crossing the Liri at Ceprano, the Faughs moved onto Strangalogalli and, after taking a cross country path, the Irish Rifles successfully assaulted Hill 255 close to the Strangalogalli to Ripi road and then broke through stubborn defensive positions at San Giovanni. This opened the road towards Ripi and from this point onwards, all German forces in the area rapidly withdrew to new defensive lines to the north of Rome.
“The next day, the 18th May, was more peaceful. 36 Brigade were to go through us to see what could be done with the Hitler Line. Our only task was Colin Gibbs and F Company of the Irish Rifles, with some tanks, doing a sweep on our own flank. Some equipment was destroyed and a few Huns shot, otherwise nothing of note occurred….”
“The next day, the 26th May, we started off to the wars again. It was interesting driving through the much vaunted Hitler Line, which had been turned so quickly. There was nothing wrong with it either. It was a maze of earthworks, anti-tank ditches and all the rest of the paraphernalia. That fine outflanking movement, which the French did and the very determined thrust through Pontecorvo by the Canadians was what really put paid to it…”
“We were given the task of striking north at once to capture Strangolagalli. As soon as the Faughs had changed their armour, they started probing forward. The country, during the next three days, proved to be worst tank country we had ever met. It was a very hard test on an Armoured Regiment trained in the desert. The work they put in to getting their tanks across this abominable country was most praiseworthy….”
Our task for the next day, the 30th May, was to turn east and advance on Ripi. The Irish Rifles was best placed to lead and it was also their turn. The Skins were to follow and the Faughs were to remain in reserve. It was obviously only a one battalion task anyhow.
The Irish Rifles’ objective was San Giovanni, and to do what they could about Ripi afterwards.