Irish Brigade

The story of the 38th (Irish) Brigade in the Second World War

Faugh a Ballagh        Nec Aspera Terrent         Quis Separabit


The Plan

As I have said before, various attempts had been made from December onwards to break through the Garigliano, the Rapido (Gari), Cassino and the Monastery. None of them had achieved more than a limited success and all had really failed in their object. The time had now come when this sort of thing had got to stop. This time, it must succeed right up to the hilt, and we were to be the hilt.

In outline, the plan was to attack between the Monastery and the sea, a frontage of about nineteen miles. Everything to the north of this was to be held as lightly as possible so that we had a big concentration of troops and everything else available. When I was in the 5th Army on this front in the winter, it had seemed to me that on two or three occasions when we achieved a “break in” under most difficult circumstances, that the breakthrough could have been made if only a fresh division or two had been lined up behind to go through at the right moment. They always attacked on too broad a front to do this. Places were captured with great gallantry and suffered serious losses but results might have been better. This state of affairs was not going to be permitted this time.

In the Liri Valley, the Poles were to attack the Monastery from the north west, in fact from those hill positions that the Skins used to sit on, and also to break through the mountains in a south westerly direction with the idea of cutting Route Six behind Cassino. The 4th British and 8th Indian Divisions were to force a frontal crossing over the Rapido (Gari). The 5th Army, with the French and American Corps, were to strike up in a north westerly direction capturing Mount Maio and Ausonia with the idea of turning the southern bastion of the Liri Valley between San Giorgio and San Ambroglio. The Americans were to strike north west from the Minturno – Castelforte area. A very effective deception plan was also being run about this time, which suggested that the Canadian Corps were going to land on the Lido di Roma. I believe this took in the Bosche completely and he retained invaluable reserves to meet this bogus threat. The people in the Anzio Bridgehead were to stay put until out advance had really got well under way. They were going to debouch when we got somewhere near Frosinone.

To return to our particular sector. We were to break through from the bridgehead formed by the 4th British Division, while the Canadian Corps were to do the same through the 8th Division. We were to swing to the right, with the idea of eventually joining up with the Poles on Route Six about Piedimonte, while the Canadians were to go straight ahead towards Pignatoro and Pontecorvo, which would automatically link them with a successful French push. The ultimate concentration, therefore, converging against the Liri Valley from all directions was getting on to be something like two armies.

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