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- Point 286, Tunisia – Jan 1943 by Lt-Col Jeffreys
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Distinguished Service Order (DSO)
LT-COL HEN (‘BALA’) BREDIN, DSO, MC. APR 1945 – ARGENTA GAP.
One of the most decorated combat officers in the British Army during the Second World War, Lieutenant Colonel Humphrey Edgar Nicholson (Bala) Bredin was nominated in May 1945 for a bar to the DSO he had been awarded when commanding 6th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers at Piumarola in May 1944. The citation said:
“Lt-Col Bredin commanded 2 LIR (2nd Battalion of the London Irish Rifles) during the period 12-25 April ’45 when 78 Division advanced from the Santerno to the Po. This Bn was mounted in Kangaroos (adapted armoured cars/tanks) of 4 Hussars and affiliated to the 9 Lancers. On four occasions, this force was launched through the leading elements of the division (78th Infantry Division) in order to exploit success. On each occasion, outstanding results were achieved, the enemy’s defences being penetrated and havoc and confusion caused in his back areas. In particular, on April 18th, the force was launched between 36 and 38 Bdes (brigades) in the Consandolo area (Map Reference 237651) and executed a dashing advance of 10,000 yds (yards), capturing the bridges over the Fossa Sabbiosola near Coltra (Map Reference 246677) from the SW (south-west) and reaching the Scolo Bolognese between Portomaggiore (Map Reference 263699) and S (Santa) Nicolo Ferrarese (Map Reference 186714). A bridgehead was established over this obstacle.In the action, medium arty (artillery) was overrun, tanks, SPs and 88 mm’s destroyed or captured and many prisoners taken.
Again, on 21 April, the force advancing in the late afternoon and late into the night in bright moonlight seized bridges over the Po Di Volano at Cona (Map Reference 191820) and over the canal at Quartesana (Map Reference 213823). This constituted an advance of 8,000 yds against stiff opposition. Again, the enemy were thoroughly disorganised and all types of equipment seized and many prisoners taken. These fine successes in a type of operation entirely new to the participants were very largely due to the outstanding skill and powers of command shown by Col Bredin. In these fast-moving battles, he always had a thorough grasp of the situation and acted with admirable speed. Such was the confidence of his Bn (battalion) in his leadership that they cheerfully and enthusiastically embarked upon tasks which might have appeared foolhardy under less inspiring leadership. Lt-Col Bredin’s co-operation with his fellow C.O. of the 9 Lancers was a model of what should be done in these circumstances.”
Reproduced courtesy of the London Irish Rifles
Photograph taken by Paul H Lunnon www.paul-h-lunnon.co.uk
LT-COL JH (JOHN) COLDWELL-HORSFALL, MC. MAY 1944 – CASA SINAGOGA.
Major John Henry Coldwell-Horsfall took over command of the 2nd Battalion of the London Irish Rifles on 15 May 1944 following the death of the battalion’s commander Ion Goff.
“On the afternoon of 15 May, the C.O. (Commanding Officer) of the Bn (battalion) was killed on recce. When Major Coldwell-Horsfall arrived to take over command that evening, the situation was very confused as the breakthrough of the Gustav Line had just begun. Major Coldwell-Horsfall completed the plan to capture Sinagoga (825177) next morning with considerable skill. On 16 May, Major Coldwell-Horsfall commanded his Bn with great skill and set a magnificent example of personal bravery and leadership. During the action, his Bn captured many P.W. (prisoners of war) and knocked out a number of enemy SP guns and captured their objective with outstanding speed. The success of this operation was largely due to Major Coldwell-Horsfall’s excellent leadership.”
The DSO was awarded on 26 October 1944. Coldwell-Horsfall had previously been awarded an MC with bar for his valour during the British Army’s retreat to Dunkirk in May/June 1940 and for his leadership of D Company of the 1st Battalion of the Royal Irish Fusiliers in bitter fighting on Kef El-Tior on 23 April 1943 where he was wounded by a German grenade. He was seriously injured by a mortar in December 1944, but returned to command the 2nd Battalion of the London Irish Rifles in May 1945.
MAJOR JW (JAMES) DUNNILL. APR 1943 – HEIDOUS, TUNISIA.
Major Dunnill’s citation written by Lt-Col Scott said:
“This officer has on several occasions since 1 Jan ’43 acted with distinction in the face of the enemy when commanding his Coy. In particular at Heidous on 23 Apr ’43, when his Coy was ordered to capture the village in a night attack, Major Dunnill’s leadership, determination and personal courage were outstanding. When his platoons were held up by enemy fire, Major Dunnill led an assault with Coy HQ in which he was slightly wounded. The forward platoons then held the Germans by fire while Major Dunnill organised another assaulting party. Under heavy fire Major Dunnill led a fresh attack with a small party, a splinter hitting him on the temple. He thereupon seized a Bren Gun and silenced an enemy MG post that was holding up his advance. When this sortie failed, Major Dunnill and one man began to stalk enemy MG positions killing the occupants of several enemy positions. Major Dunnill then came under mortar fire and was wounded in the foot and the Rifleman with him was knocked senseless. However, he gained high ground where he was attacked by some Germans. Waiting until they came near, Major Dunnill then threw his last 36 Grenade into their midst. In the resultant confusion he withdrew and was later ordered to the RAP by the Commanding Officer. The gallant action of his Coy was undoubtedly due to Major Dunnill’s splendid example which has always inspired his men in action.”
Major Dunnill was subsequently promoted to commander of the 1st Battalion of the Royal Irish Fusiliers. He was taken prisoner during the Battle of Lake Trasimeno.
LT-COL TPD (PAT) SCOTT. NOV 1942 to MAY 1943 – TUNISIA.
Lt-Col Scott’s citation for his DSO written by Brigadier Russell in May 1943 said:“Lt-Col Scott has carried out consistent good work during the Tunisian campaign which includes:a) Making the 1st Bttn Royal Irish Fusiliers into a first class fighting machine.b) Taking over a unit (2nd Bttn London Irish Rifles) which has been severely handled and pulling it together again.c) Temporarily taking over the Brigade for 3-4 weeks. In the latter case which included a delicate period Feb 26/28 ’43 at Bou Arada – Col Scott handled his Brigade with skill and determination and restored a situation which at one time looked threatening. Although I can quote no specific act of gallantry on the part of this officer, his devotion to duty has been of a high order and the good work done has been entirely due to this officer’s very considerable personality and powers of leadership. I recommend that he should be awarded a periodical DSO for his valuable services.”
Member of the British Empire (MBE)
LIEUTENANT D AITKENHEAD.
Lieutenant Aitkenhead was Quartermaster for the 2nd Battalion of the London Irish Rifles during all its campaigns in North Africa and Italy.
“This officer has been employed as QM during three campaigns. His devotion to duty and hard work has been outstanding. His initiatives in overcoming all difficulties and ensuring that the Bttn has never been without essential needs, despite adverse weather conditions and difficult country have been outstanding throughout the fighting in Italy. His foresight and hard work cannot be too highly praised and have resulted in the smooth and efficient working of the maintenance of the Bttn. I strongly recommend the award of the MBE.”
CAPTAIN RG (RODNEY) COCKBURN.
“Capt Cockburn commands HQ Coy of his Battalion and as such is normally in charge of Bttn A Echelon and recce parties in battle.
During April ’45, his Battalion was involved in four attacks mounted in Kangaroos, involving rapid advances by day and by night.Largely due to Capt Cockburn’s untiring work, improvisation and persistence in the face of great difficulties, the Battalion always received its correct food, ammunition and transport almost before each attack had finished.During the battles in the Liri Valley and Lake Trasimeno of May and June ’44, and the winter campaign in the San Clemente area, he has maintained a very high standard in his effort for the welfare of the troops in battle, often in dangerous conditions of shell and mortar fire. At all times, Capt Cockburn by his zeal and outstanding efficiency has been an inspiration to all those with whom he has come in contact.”
Military Cross (MC)
LIEUTENANT JH ALLAN. APR 1945 – ARGENTA GAP.
Lt Allan’s citation written by Lt-Col Bredin said:
“At Cona on the night of 21-22 Apr ’45, Lt Allan commanded the reserve platoon of his company. The other platoons had suffered 16 casualties attempting to seize the bridge over the Po Di Volana in the face of heavy machine gun and bazooka fire and from a 150mm gun sited covering the bridge at a range of 100 yards. Lt Allan’s platoon was ordered to seize the bridge at all costs. Leading his platoon in the most gallant manner he dashed across and in one rush seized the bridge and a house on the other side killing several of the enemy and taking 12 prisoners.The 150mm gun was also captured intact. This officer’s actions are worthy of the highest praise. He showed immense dash, gallantry and tirelessness not only on this occasion but throughout the operations between the Rivers Santerno and the Po where because of the speed of the operations platoon commanders were able to get very little rest.”
MAJOR RW (RONNIE) BOYD. JUN 1944 – SANFATUCCHIO.
The citation for Major Boyd’s MC written by Lt-Col Horsfall said:
“Major Boyd led E Company in the attack on Sanfatucchio – San Felice. The main brunt of this severe battle fell on E Company for they had the task of breaking into the town from the rear which necessitated a most difficult approach. They were under small arms and mortar fire as soon as they moved from the start line. In spite of numerous casualties, Major Boyd led his company forward.They were pinned down at close range by very heavy M.G. fire very close to the north side of the village. He inspired his whole company to charge the village and they broke into the houses where furious fighting prevailed which lasted for nearly two hours. E Company captured nearly all the village alone killing a large number of Germans, capturing about twenty with severe losses to themselves. On this objective being captured, the attack on the left was held up by heavy fire from the right flank which included direct SP guns. Major Boyd having located these new centres of resistance launched a new attack. They were held up in the corn where furious fighting began with grenades and small arms.This, Major Boyd eventually cleared up and personally led a charge on their new objective which they eventually broke into. About seventeen more prisoners were captured, mostly wounded, and seven killed. At this stage, Major Boyd had lost nearly half his men – practically all close range small arms casualties. He spent the next two hours resisting a local counterattack by a German company. Another counterattack developed after dark when a force of Germans penetrated H Company’s positions. Major Boyd restored the situation after a fierce grenade battle in the dark. Major Boyd’s conduct throughout these operations has been exemplary and his personal dash and fearlessness an inspiration to his men.”
Major Boyd was killed during the Battle for Monte Spaduro in October 1944.
LIEUTENANT MOW (MICHAEL) CLARKE. AUG 1943 – SIMETO RIVER.
The citation for Lt Clarke’s MC written by Lt-Col Rogers said:
“This officer displayed the most outstanding courage on 5/6 Aug ’43 when the Bn was establishing a bridgehead on the R.Simeto. His company on the left of the attack was disorganised due to the activities of snipers and a local enemy counter attack. Lieut Clarke reorganised all his available men and attacked with determination two enemy strong points inflicted casualties on them and forced the occupants to retire. His prompt action at a critical moment undoubtedly prevented a serious situation arising. Later Lieut Clarke led a reconnaissance patrol which brought back valuable information. This officer’s bearing and disregard for personal safety throughout the operation was an inspiration to all his men and was undoubtedly one of the factors in the success of the attack.”
CAPTAIN GE COLE. OCT 1944 – MONTE SPADURO.
Capt Cole’s MC citation written by Lt-Col Bredin said:
“This officer has been adjutant of his battalion since before the May offensive in Italy. During the operations on Monte Spaduro in October and Monte Grande in November and December his work, in conditions of personal danger and discomfort, has been outstanding. On many occasions, his care, tact, and sheer disregard for his own safety and comfort has saved his battalion casualties and fatigue. During the battle at Spinello on 24 Oct ’44 he personally maintained close touch on the wireless with his brigade headquarters in spite of several direct hits from heavy guns on his command post. During the May and June battles from Cassino to Trasimeno he never spared himself, and was largely instrumental in the arrangements which resulted in his battalion keeping close on the heels of the enemy. For devotion to duty when all others are overcome by the fatigue or strain of the battle, this officer’s record shows a very fine example.”
CAPTAIN J LILLIE-COSTELLO. JAN 1943 – HILL 286, BOU ARADA.
Captain Lillie-Costello was commended for his valour during the battle of Hill 279 and Hill 286. His citation for an MC, written by Lt-Col Jeffreys said:
“On 21 January ’43 on Pt 286, 3 miles north of Bou Arada, Captain Costello led his company across a very bare and exposed feature which was under very heavy Mortar and Machine Gun fire. He was an outstanding example of coolness and his leadership enabled the feature to be taken. During the action, an enemy Machine Gun was causing considerable casualties. Capt Costello took his Bren Gun from the dead gunner and in the open mounted the gun onto the dead man’s back and engaged the enemy’s Machine Gun until it stopped firing. When the majority of his Company was driven off the feature by the heavy fire, Capt Costello stayed with a few of his men and held it until the arrival of reinforcements.”
MAJOR DHM (MERVYN) DAVIES. OCT 1944 – MONTE SPADURO.
Temporary Major David Herbert Mervyn Davies was a company commander of the 2nd Battalion of the London Irish Rifles during the battalion’s attack on Monte Spaduro (Monte Spadura) in October 1944. His MC citation from 2nd Battalion commander Lieutenant Colonel HEN Bredin said:
“On 23 October ’44, Maj Davies’ company was ordered to capture Spinello Farm in the Monte Spaduro area. The attack was carried out over open ground in daylight. Maj Davies brought his company very close up under the covering artillery and mortar fire and assaulted the farm, moving himself with the leading platoon. During very close and bitter fighting amongst the farm buildings, he was wounded by a grenade in the legs and arm. Only after the farm had been finally cleared of its very determined garrison and Maj Davies had reported its capture on his wireless did he allow himself to be taken to the RAP, after all other wounded had been evacuated. The success of this operation was largely due to the careful planning and personal gallantry of this officer, and the repercussions of this success were vital to the success of the Divisional attack on Monte Spaduro.”
Mervyn Davies’ MC was approved by Field Marshall Alexander on 12 April 1945.
CAPTAIN RHYS-EVANS (RAMC). NOV 43 to MAY 1945 – ITALY.
“Capt Evans has been RMO of a battalion since November ’43. During January ’45 in the bleakest conditions of snow and ice, by his energy and forethought he kept the sick rate of the battalion at a very satisfactorily low figure. No thought or discomfort deterred him from visiting the foremost platoons frequently.
During many battles including the Sangro in Nov ’43, Liri Valley in May ’44 and particularly at Monte Spaduro in Oct ’44 his work in the RAP tending casualties under very heavy fire has been a very high example of consistent devotion to duty.
Out of battle his study of psychology, his constant efforts to educate the troops medically and to prevent diseases makes him a very valued member of the battalion staff and all that an RMO should be.”
CAPTAIN DW (DESMOND) FAY (TWICE).
Desmond William Fay was a lieutenant and a platoon commander in E Company of the 2nd Battalion of the London Irish Rifles.
MAY 1944 – CASA SINAGOGA.
His first MC citation written by battalion commander Lt-Col John Coldwell-Horsfall said:
“This officer commanded his platoon of E Company during the Bn (battalion) attack on Colle Monache. E Coy (company) met heavy M.G. (machine-gun) fire from left, front and flank. By his skilful leadership of his Pl (platoon) and personal conduct, Lieut. Fay stormed these positions and both killed and captured a considerable number of Germans. During the final attack on the objective, Lt. Fay was ordered to exploit round and beyond. This he did with great speed and entirely liquidated the crew of a German A.Tk (anti-tank) gun and reduced the remainder of the garrison to surrender. His example throughout was an inspiration to his Pl.”
The MC was approved by General Harold Alexander on 26 October 1944.
OCTOBER 1944 – MONTE SPADURO.
Desmond Fay’s second citation was written by Lt-Col Bredin and said:
“On 23 Oct ’44, Lt Fay was ordered to take a recce patrol to ascertain the strength and dispositions of the garrison of Spinello Farm on the Monte Spaduro area. This farm was known to have a minefield in front of it. Going out about midday with a Sergeant (Farthing) and 2 Rfn he advanced to a point some 80 yds from the farm over extremely difficult country under view from the flank and very precipitous. He left his 2 Rfn under cover and advanced with the Sgt over open grassland to the farm at the front edge of which he found a slit trench which contained 3 Germans one of whom he shot, the second escaped whilst the third he took prisoner and brought back to Bn HQ. The garrison although over 30 men strong and backed up by a Coy on a nearby feature were completely taken by surprise. This prisoner gave much information which helped greatly in the capture of the farm which took place two or three hours later. Having had to crawl a good proportion of the way Lt Fay was very exhausted by the end of the patrol. Later in the afternoon, he took part in a daylight attack on the farm and took over command of the company when his Coy Commander was wounded. During the early part of the night he beat off four attacks with his depleted Company and was a source of encouragement and inspiration to all, organising and improving the consolidation of his position. The gallantry and enterprise which Lt Fay showed both in his patrol and his defence of the farm was quite out of the ordinary and can seldom have been surpassed.”
MAJOR G FITZGERALD. AUG 1943 to MAY 1945 – SICILY/ITALY.
The citation for Major Fitzgerald’s MC, written by Lt-Col Horsfall said:
“Maj Fitzgerald joined the 2/LIR in Aug ’43 in Sicily. Since that time, he has fought in every battle in which the Regiment has taken part. Before being given command of a Coy last August he commanded the A.Tk platoon and was continuously in action in the Liri Valley and the pursuit actions that followed. In the battles around Lake Trasimeno, the successful outcome for the Regiment was largely due to Maj Fitzgerald handling his guns at the closest ranges and engaging and silencing enemy strongpoints. His methods with his 6 pounders became a by word in the Regiment. Since then, he has shown himself to be an outstanding Coy commander particularly in the difficult hill fighting around Monte Le Pieve last winter. During the Po Valley campaign at Cona, on the night of 22 Apr 45, Maj Fitzgerald was ordered to capture the bridge over the Po Di Volano. In the darkness the tanks with his Coy could only give support if properly guided into position. The bridge was defended by a Coy of Germans with bazookas and a 150mm Medium Gun. The bridge was stormed after most of the leading Pl were killed or wounded but could not be secured until the immediate vicinity was cleared. Major Fitzgerald did this personally and after some hours confused fighting the enemy who had not been captured was driven from the village. The fact that this Coy achieved it objectives was very notable in view of the strength of the enemy and there being no chance of reconnaissance and all the difficulties and confusion arising in fighting in a built up area. The success of the operation was due to Maj Fitzgerald’s great personal initiative at the critical moment and his courage which is of a pattern with all his past conduct in the Regiment and has won him the devotion and admiration of all who have served with him.”
MAJOR J FITZGERALD. AUG 1943 – SIMETO RIVER.
The citation for Major Fitzgerald’s MC written by Lt-Col Rogers said:
“This officer was commanding F Company in a two Coy attack to secure a bridgehead over the River Simeto on the afternoon of 5 Aug ’43. He led his Coy with great dash and gallantry throughout the attack. Some disorganisation was apparent after the bridgehead had been gained owing to the activity of enemy snipers and loss of officers and NCOs during the attack. It was at this point that Major Fitzgerald realising that the attack might become serious took charge and with great coolness and efficiency directed the reorganisation of the two companies thus ensuring the complete success of the operation. His personal courage and disregard for personal safety were of the highest order.”
LIEUTENANT J GARTSIDE. JUN 1944 – SANFATUCCHIO.
Lt Gartside’s citation for his MC written by Lt-Col Horsfall said:
“Lieut J Gartside commanded 13 Pl of G Coy throughout the battle of Sanfatucchio. The day after the capture of this feature, a new attack was launched to clear the vital ridge of 410904. Lt Gartside’s platoon and a troop of tanks alone could be spared for this task. The area in question contained two groups of buildings which were held by a German company at least seventy strong. Lt Gartside organised this attack admirably: by skilful use of ground and cover he worked his way close to the first objective. He personally led his men in the attack when the enemy put up a fierce resistance with grenades and small arms. Lt Gartside and his platoon charged the buildings and broke in. The fight lasted half an hour and each house had to be stormed in turn. The whole battle lasted an hour and a half, 17 wounded prisoners were taken, many others wounded, 12 were killed in the house and the others scattered in flight through the corn. Such results with such a small force were due to Lieut Gartside’s courage and resolute leadership and its issue affected vitally not only the holding of the Bn sector, but also future operations of the Brigade.”
MAJOR CAF (COLIN) GIBBS. JUN 1944 – PUCCHIARELLI RIDGE.
An outstanding fighting company commander, Major Gibbs played a prominent role in practically all the 2nd Battalion of the London Irish Rifles’ battles during the Second World War until he took a training position in Bierut during August 1944. As commander of F Company during the attack on the Sanfatucchio ridge in June 1944, Gibbs and his men was took possession of Casa Montenara, just north of the village on 22 June. He then agreed with the commander of the 2nd Battalion John Coldwell-Horsfall that his company would remain in the Casa during a dawn bombardment of the farm and surrounding area at 0530 on 24 June that preceded the attack on German positions by the Faughs. By the end of the battle, F Company had fewer than 30 men left. Lt-Colonel Horsfall’s citation for Major Gibbs’ MC said:
“Throughout the Italian campaign, Major Gibbs has been commanding F Company. At all times, he has led his company with great skill and personal courage and his whole company reflect his personal conduct. The achievements of F Company in the Battle of Sanfatucchio from 21st to 24th June ’44 were notable. In the initial attack Major Gibbs had the task of seizing the high ground (in the) rear of the enemy strong points prior to the assault. This difficult job, they did in the face of stiff opposition. Major Gibbs personally led the assault on one group of houses which were cleared with bomb, smoke and small arms. After this, the company was pinned down by fire from many MGs short of their objective. Major Gibbs realised that if he could not get on, the whole attack with H Company on the right would be in jeopardy. He rallied his men and personally led them on until they got to grips with the enemy killing many and capturing others. After three hours of hand to hand fighting, crawling up ditches and through the corn they had stormed their objective. Major Gibbs was then ordered to attack the S.(San) Felice crossroads. This he did and came under fire immediately from SPs and about a company of Germans in that area. Major Gibbs worked his troop of tanks round the left in enfilade and as soon as they open fired, charged with one platoon through the corn. The platoon commander was killed and seventeen of his men hit, but they never stopped and slew many Germans at point blank range and survivors surrendered. If this attack had not succeeded the whole Bttn position and H Company holding the cemetery would have been in great danger. Major Gibbs’ conduct the next day was of (a) similar pattern, he organised his depleted coy admirably and broke into a number of most important buildings on the heels of the enemy. Within an hour he successfully resisted a violent counterattack calling down mortar fire on his own position owing to the closeness of the range. His company was engaged with the Germans at 100 yards range all that night and the next day and the next night. During that time, they accounted for eleven Germans. (On) The morning of the 24th June when the Irish Fusiliers continued their attack, Major Gibbs was given the option of pulling out as his position was within 100 yds of the barrage opening line. This he refused to do and at zero hour under the barrage was engaging with the enemy with everything he had including A.Tk weapons. This effort made the task of the attackers here a much easier one. Major Gibbs’ personal conduct throughout has been most gallant and his men never flagged with his cheerfulness to keep them going in spite of their trying and prolonged ordeal aid-less.”
RSM GIRVIN. NOV 1942 to MAY 1945 – N.AFRICA/SICILY/ITALY.
The citation for RSM Girvin’s MC written by Lt-Col Bredin said:
“This warrant officer of 21 years service has been RSM of his Battalion since June 1943. He has taken part in every battle which the Battalion has fought in N.Africa, Sicily and Italy, being previously a CSM. During the offensive of May and June ’44 his main concern. as is usual, was the supply of every type of ammunition to the Battalion. This he achieved by every method of transport including mule in the conditions of the greatest difficulty and danger owing to enemy demolitions and heavy harassing fire. During the breaking of the Gustav and Hitler Lines and at the Battle of Sanfatucchio the Bn used unusually large quantities of ammunition but were never short owing to RSM Girvin’s ingenuity and devotion to duty. Before the Battalion’s attack at Sinagoga, his work in organising and encouraging the Battalion in a forward forming up position under heavy artillery and mortar fire contributed very greatly to the spirit in which the men went into a successful attack. During all these campaigns he has carried out his duties with skill and devotion, being only concerned with the success of his Battalion.”
CAPTAIN HC GRAYDON (RA ChD). JAN 1943 – HILL 279, BOU ARADA.
The citation for Captain Graydon’s MC, written by Lt-Col Jefferys said:
“During the action by 2nd Battalion London Irish Rifles on Point 279, the Rev Harry Graydon moved amongst the foremost troops encouraging the fit and tending the wounded. Under very heavy enemy fire he showed a complete disregard for his own personal safety.
His gallantry was an outstanding example to all who saw him.”
MAJOR JD (JOHN) LOFTING (TWICE).
MAR 1945 – SENIO RIVER.
Major Lofting’s first citation, written by Lt-Col Bredin said:
“On the Senio river near Cotignola on 22 Mar ’45, Major Lofting’s Company was ordered to carry out a raid, He spared no effort to ensure by meticulous planning and enthusiasm that this venture would be a success. During the operation he stationed himself in a post from where he could best control the operation but which was also some ten feet from an enemy post which had to be subdued to ensure the success of the raid. A grenade duel started in which Major Lofting took a leading part, at the same time issuing orders and instructions for the success of the raid. The raid was a complete success yielding 5 prisoners, whilst the enemy post near Major Lofting’s position was neutralised and could take no part in hindering the raid. Major Lofting was on the site of the recently captured enemy position organising the consolidation within seconds of the termination of the assault. It was with the greatest difficulty that he was dissuaded from taking part in the assault. This incident is typical of several others that have occurred during Major Lofting’s two years as a Rifle Coy Commander. He has been twice wounded. This officer’s personal courage, enthusiasm and devotion to duty is quite exceptional and the high fighting spirit of his Company reflects admirably his personality.
APR 1945 – ARGENTA GAP.
John Lofting’s second citation, also written by Lt-Col Bredin said:
“In the thrust northward from the Santerno to the Conselice Canal by armoured forces and infantry in Kangaroos. Major Lofting’s company was supporting one of the leading tank squadrons. On approaching the Conselice Canal through scattered resistance, it was found that the village of Cavamento on the near bank was strongly held by enemy infantry whilst the bridge was partially blown. Without hesitation Major Lofting decided to make a quick bridgehead, making the fullest use of the protection given by his Kangaroos, supported by the tanks from the near bank, whilst containing the enemy in Cavamento with his reserve platoon. His was a very bold decision. A bridgehead was rapidly achieved much to the surprise of the enemy who were mostly caught off their guard by the speed of the operation. Over 100 enemy were either killed, wounded or captured, whilst two anti-tank guns and several carts full of enemy equipment were captured as the enemy were trying to evacuate them. On two other occasions during the advance to the River Po, Major Lofting’s company has by its dash and swiftness into action achieved great success against the enemy. These successes are all in very large part due to the drive, gallantry and fighting spirit of Major Lofting who after 2 years as a rifle company commander is still an enthusiastic and inspiring example to his company.”
CAPTAIN F LYNESS. DEC 1943 to OCT 1944 – ITALY.
The citation for Capt Lyness’ MC written by Lt-Col Bredin said:
“Capt Lyness has fought since almost the beginning of the North African campaign without a break. He was a platoon commander until after the Sangro battles of Dec ’43 when he became a liaison officer for a few months. During the Sicilian campaign and early Italian campaign his patrolling was outstanding, particular on occasions on the Simeto River in Sicily when he showed great gallantry under heavy fire in extricating a patrol of another regiment from a very difficult position and bringing it and its wounded officer back to our lines. In the positions at Monte Castellone at Cassino he acted as liaison officer at Brigade HQ, his job being to contact battalions in exposed positions on the slopes of Monte Cairo. He carried out his duties for a month running considerable risks from the heavy shell and mortar fire which were a feature of the area. During the battles of May and June ’44 from Cassino to Trasimeno he was the Bn Intelligence Officer, His skill, gallantry and cheerfulness under heavy fire in mobile battles was most marked and the work done by him in observing enemy movements and recording information had a great bearing on the battalion’s successful advance. In the battle on Monte Spaduro in October ’44 and the holding positions in the Sillaro valley his work has been of the highest order and his devotion to duty in spite of obvious strain brought on by such a long continuous period of active operations has been unstinting.”
LIEUTENANT HG MONTGOMERIE (TWICE).
JUN 1944 – SANFATUCCHIO.
Lt Montgomerie’s first citation written by Lt-Col Horsfall said:
“In the attack on Sanfatucchio on 21st June ’44, the two leading Coys were held up by enemy MG fire from a strong enemy position on a group of farm buildings outside the town. With tank support the buildings were assaulted from both side by 2/Lt Montgomorie’s and one of the right hand platoons. The assault was made in the face of very heavy MG fire which caused numerous casualties. 2/Lt Montgomorie led his Pl with such dash and determination that they were able to burst into the farms. He played a prominent part in the clearing of the buildings showing complete indifference to danger. Later in the day during the advance beyond the village his Pl were under constant MG and mortar fire from the flank. He led one section off to a fire position to support his platoon and then returned under heavy fire to lead the remainder of his platoon to capture his objective. In this attack, five enemy were killed and nine taken prisoner. This officer’s gallant conduct and skilful leadership was instrumental in achieving the success of his platoon in capturing their objectives over difficult terrain, stubbornly defended by a numerous enemy.”
DEC 1944 – CASA TAMAGNIN.
Lt Montgomorie’s second citation written by Lt-Col Bredin said:
“During Dec ’44 the farm of Casa Tamagnin was a strong enemy outpost and patrol base about 800 yards in front of our positions. The enemy’s presence in it formed a definite threat to our positions and an attempt by a company to raid it by night was repulsed in mid Dec. In the last week of Dec a series of recce patrols by night and by day was led by Lt Montgomorie to discover the enemy’s dispositions and habits around Casa Tamagnin. During the course of these patrols Lt Montgomorie and two men lay up one night for one hour within 15 yards of the farm and on another disconnected three enemy booby traps. As a result of the information gained on these patrols, Lt Montgomorie and six men covered by various covering parties, entered the farm which consisted of two buildings at 0830 hrs on a bright sunny morning. Both buildings were set on fire by incendiary grenades and approximately 25 enemy of 1 Para. Division were driven out of the houses, four of whom were seen to be killed or badly wounded. Although the farm was overlooked by a strongly occupied enemy ridge about 250 yards away. Lt Montgomorie succeeded in withdrawing his party and all covering parties without a single casualty back up the hill to our own positions. It is worthy of mention that the operation had been planned for the previous morning but was postponed after four casualties had been sustained over one of our own booby traps during the approach to the farm. The bold and resolute leadership of this officer coupled with the skill and perseverance he showed in all his work leading up to the raid on the farm was almost entirely responsible for the success of this venture and is worthy of the highest praise.”
LIEUTENANT N (NICHOLAS) MOSLEY. OCT 1944 – MONTE SPADURO.
Nicholas Mosley joined the 2nd Battalion of the London Irish Rifles at the end of 1943. He was a platoon commander in the battalion’s E Company when he was wounded in the arm just before the start of the London Irish attack on Sinagoga on the morning of 16 May 1944. His MC citation written by 2nd Battalion of the London Irish commanding officer Lieutenant-Colonel HEN Bredin, is based on his conduct during the battle for Monte Spadura in October 1944. It says:
“During the attack on Casa Spinello near Monte Spaduro (Spadura) on the evening of 23 October ’44, Lt Mosley commanded the assault platoon which was first into the farm buildings. After bitter fighting amongst the buildings, they were cleared of the enemy except for two who maintained resistance from beneath the floor of a building. Lt Mosley personally disposed of these two with his tommy-gun and a grenade. His company commander becoming a casualty, Lt Mosley took over temporary command of the Coy (Company) and rapidly prepared for counter attack under very heavy shelling and mortaring. Another officer arrived and took over command of the Coy, but Lt Mosley, throughout three counter attacks which followed in the early part of the night, behaved with the greatest gallantry, exposing himself frequently to enemy fire with complete disregard for his own safety, in order to direct fire and to keep alert his men, who were very tired. This officer’s leadership, gallantry and tirelessness was in large part responsible for the capture and still more in the holding of this important position.”
The MC was approved by Field Marshall Harold Alexander on 12 April 1945.
LIEUTENANT EM SALTER. MAR 1945 – SENIO RIVER.
The citation for Lt Salter’s MC written by Lt-Col Bredin said:
“On the 22nd March ’45 on the Senio river near Cotignola, Lt Salter was in charge of a raiding party to wipe out an enemy post whose snipers had been causing much trouble. He personally led the assaulting group up the flood bank and stood on top giving covering fire while the raiding party doubled over. He was immediately wounded in the shoulder by a bullet. He remained with the covering party and directed very effective fire on the German positions on the opposite bank of the river thus enabling the raiding party to kill one German, severely wounding another and capturing five others, one of whom was wounded. He remained commanding the Platoon and refused to leave until receiving a direct order from his Company Commander. His covering fire was so effective that not a single man of the six who went over the bank was wounded by small arms fire, although four were slightly wounded by rifle grenades from the enemy side. The success of this raid was largely due to the gallant example and leadership and careful planning of Lt Salter.”
CAPTAIN LJ (‘DOC’) SAMUELS (RAMC). OCT 1943 – SAN SALVO.
Captain Samuel’s citation for his MC written by Lt-Col Rogers said:
“This officer has been employed as RMO throughout this and the previous campaign. His first consideration has been the wounded and his succour has on many occasions been rendered with complete disregard to personal danger. During the attack across the River Trigno on 27/28 Oct ’43 he tended the wounded under very heavy fire for five hours and there is no doubt he saved many lives. During this time he supervised evacuation across the river under continual enemy shelling. His cheerfulness and courage under the worst conditions have been an inspiration and example to all. I strongly recommend the award of an MC.”
LIEUTENANT HND SEYMOUR. AUG 1943 – CASA SPINELLO, SICILY.
Lt Seymour’s citation for his MC, written by Lt-Col Rogers said:
“Lieut Seymour led his Pl with great dash and gallantry in the attack on the Sperina feature in the early hours of 12 Aug ’43. He personally accounted for two enemy MG posts with his revolver and grenades, reached his objective with 12 men and quickly occupied it. He then collected the remainder of his Pl under heavy fire and proceeded to become offensive again in spite of the fact that the Coy on the right had failed to reach their objective, his flank was “in the air” and he was under extremely heavy fire. He showed himself continuously to draw fire and locate enemy posts and was able to locate and silence many snipers. Later in the day, the right Coy tried to capture their original objective. 15 men succeeded in reaching Lt Seymour. He immediately took charge and led the party augmented by one of his own sections to capture and clear all the other Coy’s objectives. This he did. Throughout a hard night’s fighting Lt Seymour’s aggressiveness, cheerfulness and outstanding leadership was an inspiration to all under his command. He was completely fearless. He personally accounted for 4 MG posts and his command silenced many snipers and neutralised other MGs. In addition he captured 27 prisoners. This officer’s outstanding behaviour is deserving of high recognition and I strongly recommend an immediate award of a DSO.”
This was later amended to an MC.
MAJOR JD STEWART, MBE. DEC 1944 to MAY 1945 – ITALY.
Major Stewart’s citation for his MC written by Brigadier Scott said:
“On 16 Dec ’44, Major Stewart took over command of the 6 Royal West Kents in the difficult position on the slopes of Monte Grande. Although in one of the worst shelled areas, Major Stewart was hardly ever indoors during the day. He walked fearlessly amongst his men looking for any small thing that might improve their positions or decrease their danger. This cheerfulness, courage and efficiency did much to maintain the morale of his men during a period of heavy shelling and extremely cold and bad weather. Major Stewart took over command of 2/LIR on 12 Jan ’45. Here again he showed an enthusiasm and aptitude for work that was a source of great inspiration; he daily visited troops in the most forward positions, on two occasions coming under the fire of snipers. Nothing, however, seemed to interfere with this officer’s desire and enthusiasm to inspire and lead the troops under his command. Major Stewart commanded a rifle company throughout the Sicilian campaign and for nearly six months in Italy. He was Brigade Major for a year and now has commanded in action for periods of a month, two infantry battalions. On 10 May ’45 he became GSO1 Division in the absence on leave on leave of the GSO.
He has, by his cheerful bearing, tact, personal leadership and courage been a source of great inspiration in whatever capacity he has been employed. Although he has had no respite since Sicily his energy has never flagged and his personal bearing under fire has set the highest standard.”
LIEUTENANT JHC TAYLOR. APR 1945 – ARGENTA GAP.
Lt Taylor’s citation written by Lt-Col Bredin said:
“In the night attack which developed on the night 18-19 Apr ’45 over the Fossa Sabiosola
North of Argenta, Lt Taylor was commanding one of the leading platoons of his Company. With little opportunity for reconnaissance he led his platoon with great dash on to the objective given to him. Hearing from prisoners that there were many of the enemy in the next farm about 500yds farther on he asked for permission to attack and such was the speed of this action that he captured four officers and seventy men and a bridgehead over the next canal in the neighbourhood of Coltra.
Next evening in the vicinity of Portomaggiore he held an important sector of a bridgehead against repeated fighting patrols of the enemy and heavy shellfire until dangerously wounded by sniper fire in the early morning.
The dash, leadership, and praiseworthy initiative of this officer was a very fine example to his men and was largely instrumental in the rapid advance of the Battalion with relatively light casualties. Through his type of action the enemy was given no rest and pinned finally against the River Po.”
LIEUTENANT JD WHITE. OCT 1943 – TERMOLI.
Lt Wilson’s citation written by Lt-Col Rogers said:
“Subsequent to the action which secured Termoli on 6 Oct ’43, touch had been lost with the enemy. It was vital to regain contact and Lieut White was sent forward on 9 Oct with his Pl to gain contact and bring in information of the enemy’s position. Handling his Pl boldly, Lieut White went forward about 7,000 yards, staying out throughout the hours of daylight. He and his Pl were continually under heavy mortar fire. Despite this, he made a valuable reconnaissance of the ground in addition to discovering several enemy MG positions by showing himself in order to draw their fire. His high powers of leadership and disregard for personal safety were responsible for the success of the patrol and the gaining of the required information. I strongly recommend the immediate award of the MC.”
LIEUTENANT TWH WILSON. NOV 1943 – SANGRO RIVER.
“During the attack on Fossacesia on 30 Nov ’43, this officer was responsible for dealing with a particularly heavily defended part of the village. Due to Lt Wilson’s leadership, the task was rapidly executed despite the fact that he was badly shaken when the first house he entered received a direct hit by a shell. Two days later on the Treglio ridge, Lt Wilson and his platoon beat off two counter attacks and this played an important part in holding the ground already won.
This officer later took over command of another Coy, when all its officers had been wounded, and for three tiring days led it with great skill and determination.
He has been tireless and set a high example to all. I strongly recommend the award of the MC.”
MAJOR AD (DESMOND) WOODS. MAY 1944 – CASA SINAGOGA.
Adam Desmond Woods was born at Malahide near Dublin on 14 June 1917. After schooling at Sebergh, he entered Sandhurst and was commissioned into the Royal Ulster Rifles (RUR) in 1938. He served in the RUR during the Arab Revolt against British rule and was awarded an MC for gallantry. Woods joined the 2nd Battalion of the London Irish Rifles at Termoli in September 1943 and took command of H Company. Woods commanded H Company during the 2nd Battalion’s attack on German positions around Sinagoga on 16 May 1944. “In the assault on the fortified village of Sinagoga, Woods took part of his company in ahead of the tanks under intense small arms and shellfire, and neutralised the German anti-tank weapons,” according to Woods’ obituary published by the Daily Telegraph on 4 September 2002. “H Company’s capture of the village was largely responsible for the success of the operation but Woods lost two platoon officers and two-thirds of his company in reaching the objective.” His MC citation, written by Lt-Col John Coldwell-Horsfall said:
“On 16 May ’44, this officer commanding H Coy, led the attack on the centre of the Pytchley Line at Sinagoga. Of all three forward Coys in this attack, he encountered the fiercest resistance. However, by skilful handling of his Company and by his personal example, in spite of severe losses, the enemy strong points were overcome. In the attack on the village itself, which was strongly held, he took part of his company in ahead of the tanks and this alone largely neutralised the enemy A.Tk weapons which then could not be served. During the whole battle, Major Woods Company was under very heavy fire and their capture of the village was very largely responsible for the success of the operation.”
For his outstanding leadership during the battle, Woods was awarded a bar to his MC. He was wounded in the leg by a stick grenade in fighting around San Felice church and cemetery during the Battle of Trasimeno on 21 June 1944, where he was mentioned in dispatches. Woods was subsequently medically-downgraded but he volunteered to serve in the Gruppi Cremona, an Italian division. He served in the army after the war until retirement in 1958. Subsequently, Woods served as county commandant of the Ulster Special Constabulary (B Specials) until they were dissolved. After, he was the first commanding officer of the 3rd (County Down) Battalion of the Ulster Defence Regiment. Desmond Woods died on 17 August 2002.
MAJOR IP YATES. MAY 1944 – HILL 255 NEAR TO RIPI.
Lieutenant Ivan Parker Yates, a former officer in the Royal Welch Regiment, was the motor transport officer for the 2nd Battalion of the London Irish Rifles during the attacks on the German rearguard following the breakthrough into the upper Liri Valley. Lt Yates’ citation, written by battalion commander Lt-Col John Coldwell-Horsfall said:
“This officer is the Bttn (battalion) MTO (motor transport officer). On the night of 29 May ’44, the battalion had the task of capturing Hill 255 north-west of Ceprano. This hill was strongly defended and approaches to it by vehicle were very bad. The assault went in at midnight and a very large amount of ammunition was expended by the leading companies which had to be replenished immediately. Lieut Yates took it upon himself to bring forward the company carriers. He got them forward up a very bad track under heavy mortar fire and also the fire of at least three German M.Gs (machine guns) at a range or about 500 yards, who could not fail to see and hear the carriers on the top of the ridge in the bright moonlight. The leading carrier being hit, caught fire and ammunition started exploding. This blocked the track. Lieut Yates worked ceaselessly, and personally dug the vehicle clear and towed it out at very great personal risk not only from the burning carrier but from the fact that he was a target for all available German weapons within range. Having achieved this, he delivered the remaining carriers to the forward companies which were still under fire. It was very remarkable that Lieut Yates survived this action and he has throughout gone completely outside his duty to render best possible service to the Bn. He has set an example which has been an inspiration to all throughout this offensive and this is but one of many incidents of personal self-sacrifice on his part. Throughout, none have worked harder or exposed themselves to greater danger than Lieut Yates. His devotion to duty has been such that the Bn Colour Sergeants sent a deputation to the C.O. drawing attention to his conduct.”
Yates’ MC was approved in December 1944. The colour sergeants mentioned in the citation were Edmund O’Sullivan, E Company Quartermaster Sergeant (CQMS) and the CQMSs of F, G, H, S and HQ company in the 2nd Battalion of the London Irish Rifles.
A letter, probably in O’Sullivan’s hand, said: “To the Adjutant. Sir, We the undersigned NCOs respectfully ask you to draw the attention of the Commanding Officer to the work performed by Lieut. I Yates during the present offensive. We are of the opinion that his untiring efforts were a great factor in the smooth running of the administration of the battalion. With entire disregard of his personal safety, he maintained contact with the Battalion throughout the many hazards of the advance. We humbly suggest that when the commanding officer is reviewing recommendations for decorations, that Lt. Yates’ name will be given due consideration. We are Sir, Your Obedient Servants.” Testimonial of Major Yates’s bravery signed by the Battalion’s QMSs
Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM)
CORPORAL J ADAMS. MAY 1944 – COLLE MONACHE.
“On 16 May 1944. during the battalion attack on Colle Monache, Corporal Adams was commanding a section in 14 Platoon, which was the right forward Coy of G Company (the right forward Coy).The Coy was being subjected to heavy shelling and small arms fire and after advancing about 500 yards, 14 Platoon had all its NCOs and its Platoon Commander made casualties with the sole exception of Cpl Adams.
Cpl Adams immediately assumed command of the platoon, reorganised his sections and pressed on with great personal courage, which heartened his men and enabled him to lead them onto the capture of the final objective.
On the right of the final objective, was a Mark IV Tank with infantry dug in around it, creating a strong point. Cpl Adams, without hesitation and ignoring completely the enemy fire, personally led….
His dedication and his great personal courage alone made possible the capture of that particular objective.
He was later wounded himself and evacuated.”
RIFLEMAN H CHALMERS. MAY 1944 – CASA SINAGOGA.
“Rfn Chalmers is the Bren Gunner of a section of 17 Pl H Coy. During the attack through the Gustav Line at Colle Monache, Rfn Chalmers’ section commander was wounded. The Bren group at this stage was apart from the rest of the section who were pinned down by close range small arms fire from Germans in buildings close by. There was also a determined group of Germans firing at the rest of platoon from the trenches to the right flank and the whole advance was temporarily held. Rfn Chalmers then without any orders to do so decided to destroy the latter position. This necessitated crawling 100 yds up a ditch and then an assault across another 60 yds. This he did, although under heavy fire all the time from a variety of directions. He then charged across the open by himself firing his Bren Gun from the hip. The German position comprised of eight men and two MGs. Rifleman Chalmers killed one and the rest surrendered. This act of gallantry was carried out not because he was ordered to do it but purely because he conceived it was his duty to do it. Rfn Chalmers was alone responsible for dislodging this post and enabling the battalion to advance and force an entry into the village. His conduct through the whole of this battle was exemplary and his merry attitude and his determination to close with the enemy had an inspiring effect not only on his section after the loss of their leader but throughout the whole platoon.”
CSM GJ (GEORGE) CHARNICK. 1944/45 – ITALY.
“During Apr ’45, CSM Charnick was CSM of a Rifle Coy. On three occasions in the attack on the bridge over the Conselice Canal south of Lavenzola, in the overrunning of an enemy battery of 150 mm guns near Coltra and the attack on the bridge at Quartesena he showed great courage, resourcefulness and leadership under fire. His cheerfulness and willingness to carry out any task was a constant source of encouragement to the men of his Coy.
In Oct 1944, in the attack on Casa Spinello, he took charge of a difficult situation when all three officers of a rifle Coy had been killed, and despite darkness, rain and mud, enemy minefields and heavy fire he consolidated the position, supplying the position with ammunition and personally evacuating one casualty from the interior of an uncharted minefield. In Nov 43 in the attack on Fossacesia on the Sangro, CSM Charnick showed great gallantry in engaging and destroying single-handedly an enemy post which had been holding up his Company’s advance and causing casualties. CSM Charnick has been CSM of a rifle Company since Mar 1943, has been wounded, has fought in every important battle in which the Battalion has been involved since the beginning of the North African campaign and has been once previously unsuccessfully recommended for a decoration. He has shown himself to be the type of Warrant Officer who is a credit to the traditions of his Regiment and the Infantry.”
L/CORPORAL GREGORY. AUG 1943 – SIMETO RIVER.
“This Rfn displayed great courage and coolness during the attack on the afternoon of 5 Aug ’43. Under heavy fire he brought his 2” mortar into action to engage an enemy strong point in a hut. Still under heavy fire he continued to engage the enemy till he ran out of ammunition and was ordered to withdraw. He then found a rifle and with L/Cpl Brodie formed a centre of resistance against an enemy counter attack. He kept up continuous fire with his rifle and helped to beat off four attacks against his position. After L/Cpl Brodie had been wounded and taken back, Rfn Gregory remained and sniped the enemy although his position was an exposed one. His courage and disregard for personal safety was of the highest order and he was an inspiration to his company and the Battalion.”
SERGEANT S KELLY. NOV/DEC 1943 – SANGRO RIVER.
“On 30 Nov ’43, during the attack on Fossacesia, Sgt Kelly personally accounted for three enemy posts which were holding up the attack. On entering the town the leading tanks became divorced from the infantry, Sgt Kelly quickly appreciated the situation and led his platoon to their support clearing a way for them through the town. This enabled the tanks to take up dominating positions on the further side of the town. On 2 Dec on the Treglio Ridge, Sgt Kelly led his platoon under heavy MG fire in a bayonet charged dislodging the enemy from their positions and consolidating. Here although running short of ammunition the platoon beat off a determined enemy counter attack. During this counter attack Sgt Kelly was wounded but refused to leave until the position was firmly established. Throughout, Sgt Kelly has shown great powers of leadership and complete disregard for personal safety. His example has been inspiration to all. I strongly recommend the award of the DCM.“
L/SERGEANT H SYE. OCT 1944 – MONTE SPADURO.
“On 21 Oct ’44 on the occasion of H Coy’s night attack on Hill 387 of Monte Pieve the u/m NCO was at the outset Pl Sgt. Early in the attack his platoon which was leading the Coy came under intensive small arms fire and heavy shelling. Considerable casualties were caused and the Pl commander killed. L/Sgt Sye immediately rallied the few remaining men of his platoon and continued to press up the steep slopes towards the objective. All the time he was facing heavy MG fire and grenades at short range, but despite this he pressed on with total disregard for his personal safety. By crawling forward he attacked single-handedly one MG post and killed or wounded all of its occupants. Not content with this feat, he tried twice more to reach another MG post but was severely wounded in the attempt. Throughout this attack, as on so many previous occasions L/Sgt Sye behaved with great personal courage and the highest quality of leadership.”
Military Medal (MM)
L/SERGEANT J BARRATT. JUN 1944 – SANFATUCCHIO.
“On 21 Jun ’44 L/Sgt Barratt was Platoon Commander of 7 Platoon for the assault on Sanfatucchio. Throughout this battle, Sgt Barratt showed the highest powers of leadership and his personal example and skills made the success of his platoon that day possible. During the assault on the first objective, the village itself, the platoon came under very heavy machine gun fire from many houses in the village and were pinned down. However, by skilful use of smoke and fire from the tanks this NCO worked his way forward into one of the buildings and totally destroyed a post of seven men and two machine guns. They were then fired onto from other buildings close by, but by resolute leadership Sgt Barratt cleared them successively using grenade, SMG, and other small arms. In all, his platoon took eleven prisoners and killed at least eight Germans. It was the great effort of Sgt Barratt and his platoon in securing a foothold in the town which made its ultimate capture possible.”
RIFLEMAN J BEAN. MAY 1944 – CASA SINAGOGA.
“On 16 May ’44, Rfn Bean was with the Bren group of the No 3 Section H Company 2/LIR when the Bn had the task of breaking through the Gustav Line at Sinagoga. Rfn Bean was with the leading section of H Coy who were in the centre. The company came under heavy fire from the start line onwards but his skilful use of the Bren and Tommy guns overcame three positions, killing some Germans and capturing others. At this stage Rfn Bean was wounded in the arm. His Pl (16 Pl) was finally ordered to attack the southern half of Sinagoga. Very heavy small arms fire was coming from here and heavy shell fire went on all the time. Cpl Barnes went ahead towards the village while Rfn Bean shot at those positions he could see. The section overcame the first part in this way. Rfn Bean then went with Cpl Barnes round the building to where an SP gun was firing at our tanks. There was heavy small arms fire at point blank range. Cpl Barnes went in with grenades and Rfn Bean kept up shooting. Cpl Barnes was then killed and Bean reorganised the section which had got split up and got into other buildings. After further firing the surviving enemy surrendered.
Bean’s actions played a valuable part in reducing a very strong position and he behaved most gallantly throughout. He was never deterred by the very heavy enemy fire and his conduct throughout was an inspiring example to the rest of his section.”
L/CORPORAL BELLIS. APR 1945 – ARGENTA GAP.
“Sgt Bellis joined the Irish Brigade (6 Inniskillings) at the end of the Tunisian campaign since which time he has fought with distinction in every action and battle in which the Brigade took part as a member of a Rifle platoon. During his time in the Innsikillings he was known as a first rate NCO with a magnificent bearing in action. He joined 2 LIR on the disbandment of 6 Inniskillings and went to F Coy where his worth became evident immediately and in the difficult days in the mountains around Monte Le Pieve he was a tower of strength in his Coy both in his coolness and cheerfulness when conditions were as bad as they could be and casualties heavy. In the costly battle of Monte Spaduro he greatly distinguished himself in the capture of the crucial point of Spinella, the fall of which decided the battle – after his Coy commander and platoon commander became casualties his guidance of his Platoon was largely responsible for the successful holding of that key point – he himself being wounded in the face and head. After 4 months in hospital he returned in time for the Po Valley campaign in which he further distinguished himself in several Coy actions and in particular at the severe fight at Cona – on the 21 Apr where the capture of the vital bridge over the Po Di Volano was achieved largely due to the determined leadership of Sgt Bellis at the crucial moment when most of his platoon were killed or wounded by the very determined German resistance.
His personal intervention saved the day and is a typical example of this NCO’s conduct in all his past actions and earned himself a great name both in the Inniskillings and the London Irish Rifles.”
L/CORPORAL R BROWN. JUN 1944 – SANFATUCCHIO.
“This NCO is in charge of E Coy stretcher bearers. He was conspicuous for his very gallant conduct during the battle for the Sanfatucchio/Pucciarelli ridge on 21/22 June and 23rd June ’44. During the attack on the 21st Jun, L/Cpl Brown had to deal with thirty casualties which nearly all occurred under close small arms fire. He dealt with nearly all these cases himself totally disregarding cover while dressing the wounded and organising their evacuation.
His conduct was an inspiration to the remaining stretcher bearers, two of whom had already been hit. He worked throughout ceaselessly under fire from very close range and L/Cpl Brown’s conduct has been an inspiration to his Coy. Due to his efforts, four or five gravely wounded men were evacuated from under the walls of Sanfatucchio where the company was pinned down for over an hour. These men may owe their lives to L/Cpl Brown.”
RIFLEMAN R BURTON. FEB 1943 – BOU ARADA.
“During the battle for the high ground north of Bou Arada on 26 Feb ’43, the platoon to which Rfn Burton belongs was surrounded by the enemy. Under very heavy enemy fire Rfn Burton broke through the enemy positions and made his way to Company HQ. During the course of the battle, on his own initiative, he prepared tea and food and carried it under fire to the forward Platoons. To do this it was necessary for him to make several journeys to and fro. His outstanding fearlessness was a great example to the remainder of his Company.”
SERGEANT H DONAGHY. AUG 1943 – SIMETO RIVER.
“During the attack on Point 253 on 5 Aug ’43, L/Sgt Donaghy was Pl Sgt of No 11 Platoon. Nearing his objective, his Pl commander was killed by fire from an enemy MG post. He handed over his Pl to the next senior NCO and personally stalked and attacked the post wiping it out with grenades. He then came under fire from another post on the flank which he also successfully attacked and neutralised.
His conduct throughout the action was an inspiration to his Coy and showed a complete disregard for his own personal safety.”
CORPORAL EW FLAVELL. OCT 1944 – MONTE SPADURO.
“Cpl Flavell was commanding one of the sections that was giving close fire support during the attack on Casa Spinello on 23 Oct ’44. At about 1900 hours, after the attack had succeeded he was wounded in the thigh. Although he had every opportunity to be evacuated to the RAP he remained at his post keeping his gun firing as counter attacks were beginning to come in.
Another company with extra ammunition and grenades were ordered up to reinforce but ran into a minefield. Cpl Flavell volunteered with the help of another man to guide them around it to his own Coy position. This he accomplished in the dark, over rough country and under heavy defensive fire. Only after this did he allow himself to be evacuated.
This NCO’s gallantry devotion to duty and disregard of the fact that he was in great pain resulted in much needed men and ammunition arriving at the correct spot in time, and is worthy of the highest praise.”
L/CORPORAL K GAFFNEY. AUG 1943 – SIMETO RIVER.
“This NCO was in charge of H Coy wireless set during the attack on the afternoon of 5 Aug ’43. Under the most difficult of circumstances and continual sniping, he helped to carry the set across the River Simeto which was deep and swift. On the arrival at the far bank it was necessary to dismantle the set to get it up the further bank by the side of a waterfall. This was done and the set re-assembled under fire in ten minutes. The maintenance of communication by the NCO and his operator enabled ammunition to be sent to the Company when urgently required and kept me in touch with the situation at a vital period.
The devotion to duty and great courage, coupled with technical skill was largely instrumental in bringing the attack to a successful conclusion”
SERGEANT C GUILD. JUN 1944 – SANFATUCCHIO.
“Sgt Guild commanded 10 Pl of F Coy on 21 Jun ’44 when his platoon came under heavy MG fire from the western outskirts of Sanfatucchio and was pinned down. Sgt Guild ran forward under heavy fire and, from an exposed position, engaged the post with his rifle, silencing it. He then led a section round to a flank and knocked out another post which was holding up the platoon on his right. Later in the day his platoon had to advance on their objective while subjected to intense mortar and MG fire from their flanks with great skill and determination Sgt Guild seized his objective and held it in spite of repeated attempts to dislodge his platoon by mortar and constant small arms fire from his front.
The personal gallantry and determination of this NCO was a decisive factor in the success achieved by his platoon over difficult ground tenaciously defended by the enemy.”
CSM J HAMILTON. JAN 1943 – HILL 279/286, BOU ARADA.
Hamilton took command of the remnants of 7 Platoon during the London Irish attack on Hill 279 and Hill 286 on 20 January 1943. He led a fresh attack against German positions but was forced to withdraw. CSM Hamilton’s citation written by Lt Col Scott was originally for a DCM, which was later amended to an award of an MM:
“As a Sergeant and a WO, this man has consistently shown a high standard of courage and leadership. In particular at Bou Arada on 21 Jan ’43 his disregard for personal danger in handling his command during an attack on Hill 286 was exceptional until he himself was wounded. Near Bou Arada on 27 Feb he led the carrier platoon in a successful counter attack which entirely restored the local situation.”
RIFLEMAN RW HARRISON. AUG 1943 – SIMETO RIVER.
“In the initial stages of the attack on 5 Aug ’43, this rifleman covered his platoon through a gap, which was covered by snipers, accounting for one. Later when the objective had been reached, he took up a position from which he gave the enemy no respite although he was under fire from his left and the enemy started to counterattack. He stayed at his post until ordered to another position where he acted as Pl runner. In this capacity he brought at least five important messages to his Coy HQ each time across open ground under heavy fire.
His coolness, bravery and complete disregard for his own personal safety throughout four hours of hard fighting was an inspiring example to all others.”
CORPORAL R HOGAN. FEB 1943 – BOU ARADA.
“On the 26 Feb ’43 at about 1000 hours the enemy had captured Stuka Ridge and were in occupation. Tps of F Coy 2 LIR were prisoners or casualties or had retired. The 4.2in mortars and the artillery OP had been over run. Cpl Hogan commander of a 3″ Mortar Det, remained. He went to the 4.2in mortar Det OP and ordered fire down onto the position. This OP was in the middle of the position, thus he was bringing down fire which was likely to kill him in order to restore the situation. He succeeded and survived. His gallantry and cool headedness prevented a break-in.”
RIFLEMAN FE JANES. FEB 1943 – BOU ARADA.
“During the battle for the high ground north of Bou Arada on 26 Feb ’43, an enemy machine gun was inflicting casualties on F Company. Rfn Janes moved forward to an exposed position and stayed there under heavy fire in order to direct the fire of a LMG which was engaging the MG. He stayed in this position for about twenty minutes during which time his steel helmet was struck by an enemy bullet and Rfn Janes knocked unconscious. When he recovered, he continued to direct the fire until the MG had been put out of action. Rfn Janes’ complete disregard of his own personal safety and his determination to destroy the enemy was a magnificent example to the remainder of his platoon.”
CORPORAL G KEEGAN. MAY 1944 – CASA SINAGOGA.
Gerald Keegan was a corporal in E Company and a section leader in the 2nd Battalion of the London Irish Rifles attack on the fortified hamlet of Sinagoga on 16 May 1944. Keegan’s MM citation by the battalion’s commander Major John Coldwell-Horsfall on 21 May said:
“This NCO commanded his section in “E” Coy on 16 May ’44 in the attack on Colle Monache. In overcoming the very determined resistance, Cpl Keegan displayed the utmost bravery and skill in manoeuvring his section to close with the enemy. Later, he organised the evacuation of a wounded rifleman under heavy fire. When his platoon commander was killed, he assumed command and consolidated his position with thoroughness and a cheerfulness which inspired his whole platoon.”
Keegan’s MC was approved on 26 October 1944, but Keegan had already been killed at the end of May during the pursuit of the German rearguard along the Liri Valley. He was 21.
L/CORPORAL T MARTIN. NOV 1943 – SANGRO RIVER.
“During the attack on Fossacesia on 30 Nov ’43, this NCO took command of his Platoon after his Pl Commander and Pl Sgt had both been wounded. L/Cpl Martin grasped this situation instantly and directed the Platoon onto its objective and organised the work of clearing up the enemy defences.
He led the Platoon himself and personally dealt with two strong points. This NCO set a magnificent example and showed great initiative and powers of leadership throughout the attack. I strongly recommend the award.”
CORPORAL EC (EDDIE) MAYO. APR 1943, HEIDOUS, TUNISIA.
The statement from Lieutenant-Colonel T P D Scott, commanding officer of the 2nd Battalion of the London Irish Rifles (and later commander of the 38th (Irish) Brigade), supporting Mayo’s recommendation said the following:
“At Heidous on 23 April ’43, in a night attack, this NCO personally destroyed a German MG (machine-gun) post. Later, he rallied his Pl (Platoon) under heavy mortar fire and MG fire and in spite of being wounded in both legs, succeeded in leading a fresh sortie on the enemy. Cpl (Corporal) Mayo had previously distinguished himself at Bou Arada on 20 January in leading his section with great gallantry in an attack on Hill 286, where he was wounded. He had only been back from hospital two weeks before the attack on Heidous. The way his men followed him on this last occasion was a tribute to his previous courage.”
The recommendation for the MM was passed to the Irish Brigade on 12 May 1943 and approved the same day. It was approved by the division on 15 May and by the Army Corps headquarters on 20 May. Mayo was subsequently promoted to platoon sergeant in E Company of the 2nd Battalion. He was killed leading his men in fighting around the hamlet of Sinagoga on 16 May 1944. Mayo had been previously wounded a third time. Because the wound was dressed outside an official dressing station, the wound was not officially recorded and Mayo returned to his unit. By convention, men wounded three times were taken out of front-line action. Mayo, who joined the 2nd Battalion in October 1939, had worked at Ford’s in Dagenham before the war. He was married and aged 24 when he died.
SERGEANT E McNALLY. DEC 1943 – MORO RIVER.
“On 5 Dec ’43 during the advance from St Vito. Sgt McNally was ordered to clear up four MMG positions which were threatening the flank of his Coy. Using one company to give covering fire, Sgt McNally attacked with the other section, but was held up. Sgt McNally then went forward himself and accounted for two of the posts with grenades, killing three of the enemy and making it possible for his men to deal with the other two posts.
Throughout the recent fighting Sgt McNally has set a fine example by his disregard for personal safety and devotion to duty. He has shown marked powers of leadership. I strongly recommend the immediate award of the MM.”
RIFLEMAN JGG MURTAGH. AUG 1943 – SPERINA, SICILY.
“Rfn Murtagh was the Bren Gunner of the leading section in the attack on Sperina on 12 Aug ’43. His platoon was held up by an enemy MG post halfway up a bare coverless slope. Rfn Murtagh immediately engaged the enemy MG post and, although in a very exposed position, silenced it and enabled the platoon to continue its advance, but in doing so he was wounded.
Rfn Murtagh, though wounded, continued to give covering fire for this section throughout a further advance and only gave up when his platoon had successfully reached their objective.
He showed courage and determination of a high order and was a splendid example to all. I strongly recommend the immediate award of the MM.”
CORPORAL PJ O’LEARY. MAR 1945 – SENIO RIVER.
“On 22 March ’45 on the Senio River. Cpl O’Leary led the assaulting group of a raiding group over the bank into the German slit trenches and dugouts. The route over the bank was suspected to contain Schu mines. He commanded the section with great dash, gallantry and skill and out of eight Germans holding the position, killed one, wounded another whom he left for dead and captured and brought back five, one of whom was badly wounded. Four out of his team of five were hit by fragments of grenades. He brought all his section back and completed the entire operation in about one minute. This NCO has on several occasions in the past shown leadership of a high order. Without the tremendous dash and will to conquer shown by Cpl O’Leary in the best traditions of the Irish soldier, the operation would not have been successful.”
L/CORPORAL E O’REILLY. AUG 1943 – SPERINA, SICILY.
“This NCO was with a leading section on the attack on Sperina on 12 Aug ’43. His section was earlier held up by enemy snipers, MGs and Mortars. Using great skill and in spite of continual sniping and MG fire, this NCO stalked an enemy post and single handedly cleared it and took ten prisoners. He then forced two of his prisoners to dismantle an MG in a second post which he had also cleared.
This action was instrumental in allowing the remainder of his Platoon to move forward and reach their objective. L/Cpl O’Reilly set a fine example throughout the day and his skill and daring are deserving of recognition. I recommend the immediate award of the MM.”
RIFLEMAN HJ THRUSH. APR 1945 – ARGENTA GAP.
“During the attack over the Conselice Canal south of Lavenzola on 13 Apr ’45, Rfn Thrush’s Platoon came under heavy small arms fire before crossing the canal. Spotting an enemy machine gun which covered the canal crossings from the other bank he doubled to a fire position engaging it with such accuracy that the platoon was able to cross on their second attempt. He was wounded in the buttock, whilst the butt of his Bren Gun was also hit by a bullet. He remained in action for over an hour after his incident before reporting to the RAP. He refused to be evacuated and was eventually sent to A Echelon. He returned repeatedly with the ration truck trying to obtain permission to rejoin his Platoon. This was granted after his third request and he was very soon in action again. This rifleman’s courage and determination has set a magnificent example to his Platoon.
CORPORAL L TOMKINSON. OCT 1944 – CASA SPINELLO.
“Cpl Tomkinson commanded the right leading section in the attack on Casa Spinello on 23 Oct ’44. His task was to capture and consolidate in the second house on the feature. During the initial assault most of the section were wounded and only Cpl Tomkinson and one Rfn were left to complete the task.
This NCO ran forward on his own round the right hand side of the house disregarding the heavy MG fire that was brought to bear on him from the rear and right of the house, and the grenades that were being thrown from the back. From a position he took up by the right corner of the house, he beat down every opposition from the rear rooms and the back of the house with his sub machine gun and grenades. He then entered the house and started to clear the rear rooms. 14 German prisoners mostly wounded were taken from the positions and rooms which he had silenced.
The determination, gallantry and example of this NCO, who has been fighting continuously since Jan ’43 was quite outstanding and undoubtedly saved his Company many casualties.”
RIFLEMAN EC WARREN. OCT 1944 – MONTE SPADURO.
“On the evening of 21 Oct ’44 H Coy attacked Hill 387 North of Monte Pieve, Rfn Warren was attached to the Coy as a stretcher bearer. The attack went in under extremely heavy small arms and mortar opposition, casualties were high and eventually the remnants of the Coy consolidated what gains had been made.
During all the fighting and through the many hours of darkness, Rfn Warren kept enthusiastically at his job, always cheerful regardless of his own safety and on at least three occasions going forward of our lines to bring in wounded or to make certain whether a comrade was dead or not. Rfn Warren displayed great courage during this engagement, as he has always down in the past and further to doing his job, he is an inspiration to the men around him around him in and out of battle and is very deservedly worthy of recognition for this action.”
RIFLEMAN T WHITESIDE. APR 1943 – HEIDOUS, TUNISIA.
“At Heidous on 23 Apr ’43, when his Coy had been held up after repeated assaults on the village at night, Rfn Whiteside accompanied his Coy Commander in a final attempt to dislodge the enemy from his positions by stalking the remaining posts. Rfn Whiteside preceded his Coy Commander. These two were successful in destroying several enemy posts, during which Whiteside showed complete disregard for personal safety and continued to act with great gallantry until he was knocked senseless by a grenade.”
American Silver Star
CSM GJ CHARNICK.
CSM Charnick’s citation, written by Colonel Bredin said:
“1. Under the provision of AR-600-45 it is recommended that CSM George Charnick 2nd Bttn London Irish Rifles be awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action on 22nd October 1944.
2. On the night of 22/23 October the London Irish Rifles attacked Hill 387. The attack was pressed home forcibly, but after heavy casualties on both sides the LIR had to withdraw slightly, as they had pushed on too far thus exposing their right flank. A supply train followed up the attack but in the dark and under the confusion caused by heavy mortaring and shelling it ran into a minefield.
3a) The terrain was steep – there were few tracks or marked routes – enemy minefields were known to exist but were uncharted or marked.
b) The night was fine, in its early stages, and then poured with rain making visibility nil.
c) The enemy was prepared to resist all attack and fought stubbornly – mortaring of all back areas was nearly continuous.
d) Morale on both sides was high.
e) The battalions had 3 officer and 20 OR casualties, including some bringing up supplies.
f) The effect of this deed was to bring up essential supplies and also save the life of at least one man.
4) To my knowledge the facts as stated in this citation are true.
5) At the time of the incident CSM Charnick held his present rank of W/Warrant Officer Class II.
6) Since the 22 Oct CSM Charnick has continued to serve this battalion with honour, credit and devotion.
7) He has no other awards.
8a) No 7015855 CSM Charnick G, 2nd Bttn London Irish Rifles, Infantry, British Army for gallantry in action on the night of 22nd October in the vicinity of Monte Spaduro.
b) CSM Charnick was left at Battalion HQ to organise ammunition supplies while his company moved to repel an enemy counter attack. During the night his company became heavily engaged and part of it ran in to an enemy minefield. Without guides this warrant officer led up an ammunition party to contact the company who were in a farm which was being counter attacked by the enemy. He delivered the ammunition and himself organised and effected the removal of two wounded officers and two wounded men from the interior of an enemy minefield. All this was done under intense enemy shell and MG fire in the middle of the night over unknown terrain which had only been captured during that evening. CSM Charnick’s energy and gallantry in the face of unknown dangers not only had a great bearing on the success of the operation but saved the life of at least one man.
c) He has served in a front line unit since the beginning of the North African campaign and has been twice wounded. Entered service from 25th April 1939. His home address is Dagenham, Essex, England.”
Mention In Dispatches (1st and 2nd Battalions)
LIEUTENANT D AITKENHEAD
CORPORAL F ALLEN
SERGEANT HE ALLEN
RIFLEMAN H ALLENSTEIN
CAPTAIN HF ANDREWS
LIEUTENANT T BARRY
RIFLEMAN RB BAXTER
L/SERGEANT F BELLIS
SERGEANT E BIRD
RIFLEMAN G BISHOP
RIFLEMAN D BLACK
2/LIEUTENANT FW BRIANT
RIFLEMAN JW BROWN
L/CORPORAL H BUTLER
SERGEANT FD BYRNE
CSM GJ CHARNICK
CSM AF CLARKE
RIFLEMAN SC CLAXTON
RIFLEMAN JF COLLINS
CORPORAL R COOPER
L/CORPORAL MF CORP
C.Q.M.S. E COX
CORPORAL A DONAGHY
MAJOR NW DORRITY
L/CORPORAL WJ DYER
RIFLEMAN JR FAIRMAN
MAJOR G FITZGERALD
RIFLEMAN H FLAHERTY
CSM H FORD
RSM W FRAZER
L/CORPORAL C FURR
MAJOR H ST G GALLAHER
RIFLEMAN S GEDDES
RSM W GIRVIN
LT-COL IM GOFF
LT-COL IH GOOD
CORPORAL WC COUGH
LIEUTENANT W I-I GREEN-ARMYTAGE
RIFLEMAN WJ HAGUE
CORPORAL J HAMILTON
CSM G. H HAWKINS
RIFLEMAN W HENNESSEY
CQMS G. HERLIHY
RQMS J HEWITT.
RIFLEMAN RP HILL
CORPORAL H HOLDEN
CORPORAL D HUGHES
SERGEANT NA JOHNSTON
SERGEANT CII JONES
CQMS CJ JONES
SERGEANT C LEWERS
RIFLEMAN J LIGHTBODY
CORPORAL JW LINEHAN
RIFLEMAN R LINIHAN
MAJOR JD LOFTING
SERGEANT E LOGUE
LIEUTENANT KJ LOVAT
SERGEANT HP MACKENZIE
LIEUTENANT WE MARTIN
RIFLEMAN B MAWDESLEY
CAPTAIN HG MCCLELLAN
LIEUTENANT M MCGRANAHAN
CORPORAL W MCKEE
SERGEANT J MCMILLEN
CQMS JD MEIGHAN
LIEUTENANT CRW MILLEN
CAPTAIN K NEELY (TWICE)
SERGEANT A NORMAN
L/CORPORAL A NORTH
L/SERGEANT C O’CONNOR
CAPTAIN JD O’ROURKE
CQMS E O’SULLIVAN
SERGEANT FJ PARSONS
L/SERGEANT G PERRY
CSM GA PLUMMER
CQMS RN PRUDHOE
SERGEANT RW REECE
LIEUTENANT JV REYNOLDS
CORPORAL WE ROBERT
SCSM AGL ROBINSON
SERGEANT HJ SADLER (ACC)
RIFLEMAN PT SALMON
CAPTAIN SH SHARP
CQMS JE. SHEEHAN
RSM GP SLATTERY
CAPTAIN AW SOUTAR
MAJOR TJ SWEENEY
SGT EC THURSTON
RIFLEMAN G. THOMAS
CAPTAIN PJ TOAL
RIFLEMAN RP TODD
RIFLEMAN EW TURLAND
CQMS WJ TURVEY
CORPORAL C WALLACE
CORPORAL J WALSH
RIFLEMAN LBH WATTS
CAPTAIN RA WIGGER
CAPTAIN T WILSON
MAJOR AD WOODS, M.C
L/SERGEANT WG WOOLF
SERGEANT JW YOUNG