Eyewitness accounts

Nelson Russell was Commanding Officer of the Irish Brigade from July 1942 to February 1944, having been commissioned into the Royal Irish Fusiliers during the First World War.

Tunisia, November 1942 to May 1943.

Sicily, July 1943 to August 1943.

Italy, September 1943 to December 1943.

Pat Scott was Commanding Officer of the Irish Brigade from February 1944 to May 1945, and continued in that role whilst undertaking peacekeeping duties during the post war period. He had previously been commanding officer of both 1 Royal Irish Fusiliers and 2 London Irish Rifles in Tunisia, as well as 12 and 128 Brigades in Italy.

Italy, March 1944 to July 1945.

John Horsfall was Officer Commanding (OC), D Company of the 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers (1 RIrF) during the Tunisian campaign of late 1942/early 1943 and was wounded on Point 622 at the end of April 1943.

Major Horsfall returned to the Irish Brigade in the spring of 1944 when he became Second in Command of the 2nd Battalion, London Irish Rifles (2 LIR) before he assumed command in May 1944. He served in that capacity until July 1944 when he returned to 1 RIrF as their Commanding Officer before he was wounded again in Northern Italy during December 1944.

Excerpts of Lieut Colonel Horsfall’s accounts of some of the most important battle periods for the Irish Brigade in Tunisia and Italy.

Lieut-Col H.E.N. ‘Bala’ Bredin was the Commanding Officer of the 6th Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers during the fighting advance of the Irish Brigade at the Gustav Line near Cassino in May 1944.

Some of Bala Bredin’s memories of the fighting in Italy can be found here.

Bala Bredin had previously been Second in Command of the 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers before becoming Commanding Officer of the 2nd Battalion, London Irish Rifles in August 1944. He would be awarded two DSOs for his leadership of both the Skins and the London Irish in Italy.

Lieut-Col Jeffreys was Commanding Officer of the 2nd Battalion, London Irish Rifles (2 LIR) from July 1942 to March 1943 during the Irish Brigade’s preparations for the North African campaign and the first few months of bitter fighting in Tunisia.

Lieut-Col Jeffreys’ war diary account of the disastrous fighting period for 2 LIR on Hill 286 near Bou Arada during January 1943.

Mervyn Davies was Officer Commanding of E Company 2 LIR during 1944 and 1945, and led them in the attack at Casa Sinagoga on 16th May 1944.

He was later awarded the Military Cross for his actions at Monte Spaduro in October 1944, where he was wounded.

The German raid on Il Calvario, 19 January 1944.

Casa Sinagoga, 16 May 1944.

Hill 255, 29 May 1944.

Nicholas Mosley was a Platoon Commander with E Company 2 LIR from December 1943 to July 1945. Lieutenant Mosley was wounded near Cassino on 16th May 1944 and, after his return to the battalion, he was awarded the Military Cross for his actions near Monte Spaduro in October 1944.

Captain Nicholas Mosley’s personal account of his actions at Monte Spaduro.

Desmond Woods was Officer Commanding, H Company 2 LIR from October 1943 until June 1944 during the Irish Brigade’s advances from Termoli to the Moro River, and from Cassino to Lake Trasimene, where he was wounded and left the brigade. Major Woods was awarded a bar to the Military Cross for his actions in leading his battalion at Casa Sinagoga on 16th May 1944.

Major Desmond Woods’ account of his time with the London Irish Rifles in Italy.

Percy Hamilton served as an officer with 6 Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in Tunisia and Italy, and was awarded a Military Cross for his actions at Pucciarelli Ridge on the evening of 21st/22nd June 1944.

Captain Percy Hamilton’s memoirs.

Lawrence (Lawrie) Franklyn-Vaile was serving as an officer with 1 Royal Irish Fusiliers, when he was killed in action on 17th May 1944 in the Liri Valley whilst commanding C Company.

Letters that Lawrie Franklyn-Vaile sent to his wife from Italy up to the time of his death in May 1944.

David Schayek served with 6 Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers during the latter part of the Tunisian campaign and then in Sicily and the first part of the advance along the Adriatic coast where, in early November 1943, he was severely wounded near San Salvo. For his actions there, Captain Schayek was awarded the Military Cross.

Captain David Schayek’s personal account of the Skins’ attack on Djebel Mahdi during April 1943.

Sergeant Robbie Robinson was a platoon commander with the Faughs from November 1942 to October 1944 serving in the campaigns in Tunisia, Sicily and peninsular Italy. He was severely wounded twice and would be awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.

 Sergeant Robbie Robinson’s memoir “Glimpses of War”.

Charles Ward joined the 2nd Battalion, London Irish Rifles (2 LIR) on 18th October 1939 along with Edmund O’Sullivan with whom he served in G Company during their period of training across England, Scotland and Wales.

As a platoon sergeant, Charles travelled with 2 LIR to Tunisia in November 1942 and was with the battalion during the Irish Brigade’s campaign period north of Bou Arada from December 1942 to March 1943.

Following the capitulation of all Axis forces in North Africa, Charles injured his knee and after being medically downgraded in the middle of 1943, he transferred to the cipher section of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) with whom he served for the rest of the war in Algeria and Italy. It was while he was with SOE that Charles met his future wife, Margaret, who was in the signals section of SOE.

Sergeant Charles Ward’s diary entries that describe 2 LIR’s time in the front line north of Bou Arada.

Strome Galloway, a Canadian officer, joined the Irish Brigade in Tunisia during February 1943 and spent the next two months as second in command of F Company, 2nd Battalion, London Irish Rifles (2 LIR).

During this period, he maintained a diary of his experiences, including a detailed account of the German attack on 2 LIR’s positions on Stuka Ridge to the north of Bou Arada.

Captain Strome Galloway’s account of the events of 26th February 1943 at Stuke Ridge.

In early 1943, Colin Gunner was posted to North Africa with 1st Bttn, Kensington Regiment, who were the MG support to the 78th Division during their campaigns in Tunisia and Italy. After over a year in close support to the Irish Brigade, Lieutenant Gunner was transferred to the 1st Bttn, Royal Irish Fusiliers with whom he served during the rest of the campaign.

Lieutenant Colin Gunner’s account of the final advance of the Faughs at Argenta.

Edmund O’Sullivan served as CQMS with E Company of the 2nd Battalion, London Irish Rifles from November 1942 to May 1945 and travelled the whole route of the Irish Brigade from Algiers to Austria.

CQMS Edmund O’Sullivan’s account of his time with the London Irish Rifles.

Accounts of units of the 78th Division, including the Irish Brigade during Operation Buckland that led to the final comprehensive defeat of German forces in Italy..

Accounts of the final offensive in Northern Italy, April 1945.


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