The Irish Brigade continued their advance in early June 1944 as the whole German Army hurriedly moved northwards to re-establish a strong defensive line near to Lake Trasimeno.

At the start of the month, the Irish Rifles entered the mountaintop lair of San Oreste, where Field Marshal Kesselring had established his HQ, before moving on towards Orvieto. At the same time, some elements of the Faughs were detached from the brigade on a variety of assignments, before they joined a spearhead advance led by 56 Recce Regiment, which took them to the southern shore of Lake Trasimene.

In the midst of the advance northwards, on 12th June, Pat Scott took the opportunity to accompany a body of men from all three battalions for a memorable visit to the Vatican and an audience with Pope Pius.

San Oreste.

“The 1st of June was a memorable day as the whole Division came into reserve. The weather was lovely, the climate pleasant and we were in a good part of the country. Frosinone had just been captured. Frosinone had always been looked upon as one of the big land marks to be reached. It was good news. The brigade was well placed in villages and farms and we all made ourselves most comfortable….”

The Faughs detached from the Brigade.

“On the 10th June, we started a period of sending detachments here and there.

The South Africans were doing the brunt of the work to our front, while we had to clear up their right rear. Our right flank was very much in the air as 6th Armoured Division was a long way behind. The Faughs were put under command of 9th Armoured Brigade for a final guard role towards Orte….”

Meeting the Pope.

“While this lull had been on, I had gone back to Rome with Dan Kelleher to see how the Pope would react to a formal visit from the Irish Brigade. The advance was going so quickly that it seemed a question of now or never. Everyone in the brigade of all denominations seemed to think that it would be a good thing to do. The Pope thought it would be a good idea too….”

The Irish Rifles’ advance.

“At four o’clock we had to start back for the wars and fetched up late that evening to find the Irish Rifles at it. They had already waded into battle and seized Civitella by 330pm. They got into the village without opposition other than shelling, to find the Bosche in strength just outside on several dominating ridges. Their objective for the next day was Pianicciale….”

North of Orvieto.

“The situation on our flanks was, as usual, pretty obscure. There was some doubt where the South Africans were on our left; some thought they were in Orvieto, among them two members of Brigade HQ – Jack White, an LO, and Sinnock, the No 2 Signal Officer. In some previous incarnation, they had heard of Orvieto wine, and quite rightly wanted to get us some….”

Read ‘Battles at Trasimene’ here.


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments