Captain Michael Tasker in Tunisia and Italy


We were pleased to see the story of Michael Tasker being featured in the recent BBC documentary series, ‘A House Through Time’ and noted the references to his service with the 2nd Battalion London Irish Rifles (2 LIR) during the Second World War. In the making of the programme, we were able to help the producers trace some part of Mike Tasker’s service from the time he joined up with the Irish Brigade in Tunisia in January 1943 until he was transferred out to a new role in December 1944.

The view east from Stuka Ridge.

Lieutenant Tasker had originally been commissioned into the West Yorkshire Regiment and joined 2 LIR on 26th January 1943 after the battalion had suffered massive casualties at Hill 286/279 north of Bou Arada.

Initially, he joined H Company as a platoon commander before transferring to G Company after the desperately hard fighting fighting at Stuka Ridge at the end of February 1943. Now, as a Captain, he took over as the officer in command of the Anti Tank platoon at the end of March and retained this position in S Company throughout the rest of the Tunisian campaign.

There is even an excellent image of Michael Tasker leading the way in Tunis in May 1943 – Faugh a Ballagh !

The 1st Army Victory Parade in Tunis, 20th May 1943. (NA 3042) Copyright: © IWM. 


Captain Tasker continued with the A/Tank platoon throughout the Sicilian campaign before coming down with malaria at the end of August 1943 but he was back with the battalion when they were resting on the north coast of the island as shown when relaxing with his fellow officers at Patti before they headed off to Taranto in September 1943.

Michael Tasker (circled) with 2 LIR at Patti in Sicily during September 1943.

The view from Pt 771, Monte Castellone, towards Monte Cassino.


At this point, as one of the more experienced officers in the battalion, Captain Tasker took over as Second in Command (2 i/c) of one of the rifle companies in December 1943 at the end of the Adriatic campaign and, for a period in early 1944, acted as Company Commander before reverting to 2 i/c in March 1944.

Michael continued in this role throughout the battalion’s time on the summit of Monte Castellone looking down on the abbey of Monte Cassino and the fighting period to break through the Gustav Line in the Liri Valley during May 1944, and then, as a platoon commander, during the bitter fighting on the western shores of Lake Trasimene in June 1944. After resting in Egypt, he did not return with the battalion when they travelled back from Alexandria to Italy in September 1944 but he did come back for a few weeks, again as a platoon commander, when the Irish Brigade were positioned in the mountains north of Florence during November/December 1944 before leaving the brigade for good on 5th December 1944.

It seems that Michael Tasker stayed in Italy during the whole of 1945 and into early 1946, taking a staff job in Rome and where he met his future wife, Penelope, who he married in Naples in March 1946 before they returned home together to Yorkshire.

The Tasker family would emigrate to the United States in the 1950s.

Michael Tasker in the 1960s.

 

Relatively unheralded, perhaps, but it is clear that Michael Tasker did his bit and certainly left his mark on the war-time history of the London Irish Rifles.



 

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