The 8th Army’s rapid advance toward Florence came to a grinding halt in mid June 1944 due to stubborn resistance from German defensive positions on the west side of Lake Trasimene.
On 21st June, the Irish Rifles attacked Sanfatucchio with Canadian tank support and bitter hand to hand fighting continued throughout the day before the Skins were brought up to join them on Pucciarelli Ridge. After two days of consolidation by both the advance battalions, the Faughs successfully attacked towards Pescia and Ranciano, and this contributed to a break through the defensive lines right across the Trasimene sector.
By the end of the month, the Irish Brigade had become severely depleted after six weeks of constant action and they were withdrawn for rest moving back to the Rome area.
“On 20th June, I went out on a reconnaissance with John Kerr, John Horsfall and Colonel Bob Purvis, the CO of the Canadian tanks. After I had put everybody in the picture, I had a look around from one or two viewpoints. This part of the country afforded most excellent OPs from my point of view. One could see the battlefield from several different view angles….”
“In the early afternoon of 21st June, the Skins were directed on Pucciarelli. to the right of the Irish Rifles. They met a fair amount of opposition there during the morning.
I went to see John Horsfall about six o’clock in the evening. I had started off with John McClinton driving my Dingo, but we pulled up fairly quickly on our hocks when we saw what was coming down on the road in front, and changed on to a tank….”
“The 23rd June was a modified edition of the previous day on both the battalions’ fronts. Repelling counter attacks, winkling Bosche out of houses, keeping up pretty intensive harassing fire with three inch mortars and four point two inch mortars was the order of the day. Bosche prisoners later confirmed that we had done a lot of damage by this….”
“The brigade had now shot its bolt. We were to clamp down where we were and 36 Brigade was to go through. It had been a very hard battle these few days. It was as hard as the Gustav Line and, what was worse, we were not expecting it. There was also this advance party business. I really think that in spite of all this, the end of our 270 mile advance was marked by as fine a demonstration of leadership and guts as one may expect to see anywhere….”