We were relieved on the following night, 5th/6th December and made our way towards rest area, feeling that a good job had been well done.
For it had been well done. The whole Brigade had been magnificent.
I do not know of any period of more concentrated fighting – seven days and nights battling with no respite.
We were sorry to be parted from our good companions – the 4th Armoured Brigade – who had been our chief prop in every battle. They were better than first class.
The casualties since we landed in Italy have been 36 officers and 823 Other Ranks,. This cannot be considered light but there had been heavy and continuous with the Brigade always in the forefront of the battle.
The quality of the casualties has also been very high. The Irish Brigade has given of its best and there are now gaps in its ranks which will be difficult to replace and impossible to forget.
This brings me to the end of my third account of the Battles of the Brigade. They have been written in varied surroundings, the first in a 160lb tent in a very hot and dusty olive grove near Sousse, where sweat and ink were almost equally blended. The second in Sicily in much pleasanter surroundings – on Tindari heights overlooking the Mediterranean, with a pleasant breeze. The third had been hastily scribbled with cold fingers in a stone flagged farmhouse, with no fire in the middle of the Appenines, surrounded by snow and mist. I will not prophesise about number four.
Nelson Russell, December 1943.
Special Order of the Day.
I wish all ranks of the Irish Brigade as happy Christmas as may be possible.
It has been well earned by your hard fighting in the Italian campaign at
The capture of Petacciato.
The crossing of the Trigno.
The capture of San Salvo.
The crossing of the Sangro and the destruction of the enemy Winter Line.
The advance from the Sangro to the Moro.
All were important victories, but history was made when the Irish Brigade and the 4th Armoured Brigade smashed the Sangro Winter Line and a famous Army waited and watched, confident of our success.
We have enhanced a great reputation, which is an achievement.
Well everyone, and may Good Luck and Victory be with you in 1944.
N Russell, Brigadier,
Commander 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade.
In the Field, 22nd December 1943.