Due to Nelson Russell’s ill health, Pat Scott took over as Brigade Commander on 19th February 1944.
Along with the rest of 78 Infantry Division, the Irish Brigade spent the following month in 5th Army reserve ready to support any breakthrough across the Gustav Line defensive positions, but due to the failure of the assaults, the brigade were able to celebrate Barrosa Day and St Patrick’s Day in traditional style out of the line.
“It was a great day for me, the 18th of February, when I got back to the brigade and started seeing all of the old faces again. I began in good style because, when I arrived at Divisional HQ to see the General, I ran into three of my late battalion of the Irish Rifles, now highly placed officials at Brigade HQ. I was glad to see my training had stood them in such good stead in a hard school, and I think I detected some signs of apprehension when they began to suspect that my presence meant more than a friendly visit….”
“Needless to say, the Division had not been brought over behind the Cassino front for nothing. The New Zealand Corps, working under the Fifth Army, and consisting of 4th Indian and 2nd New Zealand Divisions, were to capture Cassino and the Monastery, while our role was to break through the bridgehead, which they would have formed….”
“The 5th of March found the Faughs celebrating Barrosa Day in no uncertain manner – in fact, the most fantastic things occurred:
To visualise what happened in the Battalion, the memorable 5th March 1944, take the Braemar Gathering, a Varsity Rag and a football final at Wembley and a mock battle on Salisbury Plain.
Mix and stir well…”
“Patrick’s Day was the next orgy. We started the day by being placed at four hours notice to move. I had made a secret arrangement with the General that nothing short of a calamity would cause him to move the brigade before late on the 18th. I kept this secret pact to myself for obvious reasons but was glad I had it when I saw the shape the party was taking. Italy is a country of unlimited, cheap and potent wine and sometimes worse…”