Irish Brigade

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

Faugh a Ballagh        Nec Aspera Terrent         Quis Separabit


CQMS Edmund O’Sullivan with the London Irish Rifles.

Edmund O’Sullivan was called up in October 1939 to join the 2nd Battalion, London Irish Rifles and he would proudly serve with them for nearly 7 years.

After basic training, Edmund was posted as a Rifleman into G Company under its OC, Major Colin Gibbs as the Battalion spent 2 years on home front duties. The Battalion would be based across England and Wales before joining up with the newly created 38 (Irish) Brigade in early 1942 and then in Scotland completed their intensive preparations for overseas front line service.

By November 1942, Edmund had become Company Quarter Master Sergeant of E Company, a most responsible position, the appointment confirmed on the eve of the Battalion’s journey to join the 1st Army in North Africa.

Over the next 2 1/2 years. CQMS O’Sullivan completed the full journey of the Irish Brigade, from their initial arrival in Algiers on 22nd November 1942 to the advance to the Po River that led to the final capitulation of all Axis forces in Italy on 2nd May 1945, apart from a 4 month period in late 1944 when he was hospitalised and slowly recovered from pneumonia in Alexandria. He had rejoined his Battalion in December 1944 when they were based in the mountains north of Florence.

After advancing into Austria, the Irish Brigade undertook peace keeping duties in the Carinthia area before spending a relaxing nine months north of Villach. During this period, Edmund was promoted to RQMS and was heavily responsible for the eventual disbandment of 2 LIR. On 8th March 1946, he would leave Austria for good to return home to his family.

His time with the London Irish Rifles was a remarkable period and one which Edmund would later record in detail and these can be read over the following pages.

The testimonial provided by his Commanding Officer, Lt-Colonel John Horsfall DSO MC, in January 1946 sums up the period for which Edmund served in order to fight tyranny.

“RQMS O’Sullivan has rendered outstanding and devoted services to our Brigade through three campaigns….

…..I strongly recommend him as a man of exceptional worth.”


Home Front – October 1939 to November 1942.

Joining the London Irish Rifles.

Day 2.

The making of Rosie.

Training on Centre Court.

Invasion alerts.

From Lowestoft to Haverfordwest.

Onto Goodwood.

Joining the Irish Brigade.

Operation Dryshod and Ready for War.


Algeria/Tunisia – November 1942 to July 1943.

Setting sail from Glasgow.

Arrival in Algiers.

Christmas in Tunisia.

Point 286.

Stuka Ridge.

Rest and Recovery.

North of Medjez-el-Bab.

Entering Tunis.

Rest and Renewed Training.


Sicily – August 1943 to September 1943.

Stormy Mediterranean Crossings.

The Sicilian Campaign.


Italian Mainland – September 1943 to May 1945.

From Termoli to the Trigno.

Crossing the Sangro River.

Interlude at Campobasso.

Meeting the new OC.

German raid at Montenero.

In clear sight of Vesuvius.

Defensive Positions at San Angelo.

Ascending Monte Castellone.

The Liri Valley.

North of Rome.

Onto Egypt.

Hospitalised in Alexandria.

Out of the Line.

Back to the London Irish at last.

Resting in Forli.

St Patrick’s Day.

From  Argenta to Austria.

Peace at last.


Austria – May 1945 to March 1946.

Home on Leave.

At Ease in London.

The Atomic Sergeant Major.

RQMS Edmund O’Sullivan goes home.