The early morning of 3rd August saw the end of the fighting in Centuripe and Nelson Russell reviewed the outcome:

“Centuripe was in our hands. It was a difficult operation in difficult country against a determined enemy. The chief credit was due to the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, who bore the brunt of the fighting and fought determinedly all day.

The Royal Irish Fusiliers pushed steadily on through the north end of the town, and first light saw them in possession of the commanding features with carrier patrols feeling their way towards their next objective, the Salso River.”

The view northwards from Centuripe towards Etna.

CQMS Edmund O’Sullivan remembered entering the town:

“When we took Centuripe, I followed closely behind and entered the town in the early morning of its capture. I was not allowed to progress far as the battalion had to clear up pockets of resistance. Dysentery had me in its grip and I was in desperate need of a latrine. I knocked at the nearest house and stumbled out: ‘Scusati, il gabinetto?’ The lady went into the house and brought out a brown earthenware pot and held it out to me. I shook my head, saying: ‘Grazie.’ I saw a young man and, approaching him, I said: ‘Dove si trove il gabbinetto.’ Looking puzzled, he motioned me to follow him. We went to the outskirts of the town and climbed down steps and along a steep path. There before us was a vast culvert lined with metal. With municipal pride he pointed to it and said: ‘Il gabbinetto’…” 

Captain Percy Hamilton entered the town with HQ Coy, 6 Innisks and had a different perspective:

“The press report of the taking of the town was typical. The write up we got, was deserved, but as I said, the carriers came up with the rations in the morning, so the picture published of “Bren carriers rushing in to capture Centuripe” is misleading. Another thing – at no time before or after the battle did I ever hear the troops cal the place, “Cherry Ripe”, the name given to it by some misinformed correspondent. Of course, one has to excuse these people a little as they only arrived in the afternoon, several hours after their beloved carriers! One of our officers, posed in front of a door as if just bursting into it; another told the fellow if he wanted action photos, he could come and get them when there was some action on.”

L/Cpl Swainson entering Centuripe with HQ Coy, 6 Innisks.

During our visit to Centuripe in July 2014, we were delighted to have been escorted around the town by archaeologist and local historian, Giacomo Biondi and were also honoured to meet with his father, Salvatore, who had witnessed the final assaults of 6 Innisks up the sheer cliff face on the south side of the town.

We were certainly delighted to return to Centuripe to thank the townspeople for the hospitable welcome that they had given to the men of the Irish Brigade despite the desperate circumstances of the time.

Giacomo Biondi explaining how the Skins climbed up the cliff face into Centuripe.


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