Irish Brigade

The story of the 38th (Irish) Brigade in the Second World War

Faugh a Ballagh        Nec Aspera Terrent         Quis Separabit


1 Royal Irish Fusiliers

The Destruction of the Enemy South of the River Po.

At five o’clock on 23rd April, the Battalion commenced moving forward to an assembly area just south of the Bailey Bridge being constructed over the Po di Volano near Fossalta.

Enemy resistance was stiffening and he was increasing his defence of the canal barriers in the path of our advance. It was essential for the Hun to make an all out effort to keep us from cutting his last escape route to the landing stages at Zocca and Ro on the River Po. There was a large number of Huns – the remnants of 76 Panzer Corps – in the pocket east of Ferrara still to get out and cross the Po. This night was to be their last chance.

As the 1st Battalion, London Irish Rifles had managed to get into Tamara, the final objective of the Brigade was the village of Saletta. The Inniskillings were to go first and push due north after capturing the town. The Battalion was ordered to follow the Inniskillings turn north west in Saletta and advance up the road to the village of Ruina, just short of the River Po.

By early morning on the 24th, ‘A’ and ‘B’ Companies were advancing slowly but surely up the road to Ruina. The opposition became stronger and stronger until the enemy finally succeeded in halting the advance of the Companies on the Canale Fossetta, just over two thousand yards from the Po. During this advance, ‘B’ Company demolished a 75 mm A/Tk gun with a PIAT. The main point of resistance was from the main bridge, where the road crossed over the canal. Here, A/Tk guns, SPs, tanks and infantry held up all our attempts to push on or by pass them. These enemy positions were bombed and strafed by aircraft, shelled continuously and subjected to all types of fire during the afternoon, but still the enemy held on, keeping open the escape route to the Po.

During the late afternoon, the London Irish , as part of the Kangaroo Army, advanced away to our left to try and reach Po and cut off the enemy.

Before dawn on the 25th, an all out assault was made on the canal and the bridge was captured intact. After that, it was a swift advance up to our final objectives and ‘C’ Company reached Ruina about 1000 hours. Soon after that, the Companies occupied Borgo Mola and Gesniti on the banks of the Po and immediately commenced searching for all the Huns, who had missed the last boat across the Po. By late evening, over a hundred prisoners had been captured by the Battalion.

A few more prisoners were rounded up the next day but the attention of every man in the Battalion was centred on the flood banks of the Po. Here was to be found a scene of utter devastation and destruction, proving beyond all doubt that a major victory had been achieved in destroying the enemy on the banks and to the south of the Po. Tanks, guns, armoured cars and all makes and types of cars and lorries littered the floodbanks and approaches of the Po. All the men in the Battalion had a marvellous time attempting to make some of these cars go and those that were intact provided endless amusement during the dew days the Battalion stayed in its present positions.

Total victory was now achieved and the Faughs could rest on their Laurels.



 

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