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- They Shall Not Grow Old – 1 London Irish Rifles
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- Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers – “The Skins”
- At Rest in Rome and Egypt
- In Sidi Bishr
- Back To Italy
- With the 5th Army
- Plan to capture Imola
- The Spaduro battles
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- December 1942
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- Officers’ Roll : Nov 1942 to Dec 1943
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- Point 286, Tunisia – Jan 1943 by Lt-Col Jeffreys
- Lieutenant Nick Mosley at Monte Spaduro
- The Skins in Sicily
- Percy Hamilton – On Route to Africa
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- Percy Hamilton – Djebel Mahdi
- Percy Hamilton – Tanngoucha
- Percy Hamilton – Advance To Tunis
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- Thursday 4th November 1943 (1)
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- Saturday 6th November 1943
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- Captain David Schayek – March/April 1943
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- Day 2
- The making of Rosie
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- Resting in Forli
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- The Atomic Sergeant Major
- RQMS Edmund O’Sullivan goes home
- Irish Brigade at Termoli, October 1943
- Termoli. 5/6 October 1943
- Campaign Narrative
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Distinguished Service Order (DSO)
LT-COL HEN (BALA) BREDIN (6 INNISKS). MAY 1944 – VERTECHI/PIUMAROLA.
“Lt Col Bredin when he was in command of his Battalion in an attack on MASSA VERTECHI on 15 May was given the task of leading the Division in the breakthrough of the GUSTAV LINE.
Throughout this operation he commanded his Battalion with the utmost skill and inspired his men by his example of personal gallantry under heavy fire. This difficult operation was entirely successful due to his leadership.
Again on 17 May, Lt Col Bredin was ordered to attack PIUMAROLA where German infantry and tanks had held up an advance all day. At short notice, he planned this attack and was wounded on the start line. In spite of his wounds Col Bredin fought with his Battalion until success was in sight, again showing great gallantry, until he fainted and was evacuated.”
LT-COL JH (JOHN) COLDWELL-HORSFALL, MC (2 LIR). MAY 1944 – SINAGOGA.
“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.”
Military Cross (MC)
MAJOR RW BOYD (2 LIR). JUNE 1944 – SANFATUCCHIO.
“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.”
CAPTAIN DW (DESMOND) FAY (2 LIR). MAY 1944 – SINAGOGA.
“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.”
LIEUTENANT J GARTSIDE (2 LIR). JUNE 1944 – SANFATUCCHIO.
“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 (2 LIR). JUNE 1944 – SANFATUCCHIO/PUCCIARELLI.
“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 aidless.”
MAJOR EJ GRIFFITHS (6 INNISKS). JUNE 1944 – PUCCIARELLI.
“On 21 Jun 1944, D Coy commanded by Major Griffiths was given the task of supporting the right hand Coy in the advance on PUCCIARELLI. During the advance contact was lost with this Coy and Major Griffiths went forward through very heavy Mortar fire to establish this contact and found the forward Coy pinned down by MG fire.
He immediately went to the reserve troop of tanks and ordered them to join his Coy which by this time was also under heavy MG fire.
In spite of this fire, Major Griffiths visited each platoon in turn to organise his advance; his outstanding courage and cheerful determination inspired everyone.
When the advance started, Major Griffiths went to the front of his leading platoon and led his Company forward.
An enemy MG was encountered during this advance which threatened to hold up his Coy, so Major Griffiths himself went forward with greatest courage and determination succeeded in putting the gun out of action – killing or wounding the entire crew, after which the Company was soon on its objective. This feat was only possible by the complete indifference shown by Major Griffiths for his own personal safety and is a typical example of the dash and brilliance shown by this officer at all times.
His determination is reflected in his Company and it is entirely due to him that the Company has done so well in the past.”
CAPTAIN PA HAMILTON (6 INNISKS). JUNE 1944 – PUCCIARELLI.
“On the 21 Jun 1944, the Battalion went through 11 Infantry Brigade to launch an attack on the strong, and well defended TRASIMENO Line – the objective being the village of PUCCIARELLI.
In this action, C Coy commanded by Capt Hamilton was largely responsible for the success of other Coys by assisting them on to their objectives; this being attained by the resourcefulness and untiring work of Capt Hamilton who did not once consider his own personal safety in the constant liaison necessary to make his task possible.
He afterwards led his Coy in a determined assault on a group of houses WEST of the village still very strongly held by MG posts, in order that he himself might take up positions there and so protect the flank of the Battalion.
At first light on the 22 Jun 44 the enemy made very strong efforts to move C Coy from this position by launching a powerful counter attack, which nearly succeeded. It was chiefly the courage and determination of Capt Hamilton – coupled with the cheerful confidence he showed, as with total disregard for his own safety he visited all positions in turn and inspired his men to the extra effort which finally decimated the enemy force to such a degree that the remnants were forced to retreat in disorder.”
FATHER DANIEL KELLEHER (RA Ch D). APR 1944 – CAIRA.
“On the 6th April 1944, Rev Kelleher was at 1 RIrF’s Bttn HQ in the Caira area when heavy shelling was reported in the village of Caira causing several casualties to one of the platoons. Rev Kelleher immediately raced to the village which was under heavy shelling. He found the wounded men and assisted the stretcher bearers in their work, carrying men in his arms, at great personal risk, to the shelter of a ruined building.
He comforted the badly wounded men and assisted the over worked stretcher bearers in applying bandages to their wounds.
His cheerfulness and practical assistance undoubtedly saved the lives of two men and gave fresh proof of his unfailing devotion to duty.”
MAJOR J KERR (6 INNISKS). MAY 1944 – VERTECHI/PIUMAROLA.
“On 15 May, Major Kerr led C Coy with great skill and daring in their successful attack on Pts 67 and 73. At this time he was suffering from acute stomach trouble but carried on until collapsing. He was carried to the RAP on a stretcher, but after taking medicine insisted on returning to lead his Company.
On 17 May, when his Battalion were ordered to capture Piumarola, the CO was wounded on the start line and was evacuated within an hour.
Major Kerr took command of the Battalion, which was faced by enemy tank and infantry opposition which had held up another unit all day. By his skill and gallant example Major Kerr captured his objective and effected a very determined and ambitious consolidation. This bold action played a vital part in the final breakthrough of the GUSTAV LINE.”
LIEUTENANT JV LLOYD (1 RIrF). MAY 1944 – STRANGOLAGALLI.
“On the afternoon of 29 May 44, Lieut Lloyd was point platoon of the company during the advance of STRANGOLAGALLI ridge. Being informed by civilians that a small village was heavily mined and occupied by the Germans he infiltrated a section to the rear of the village and then regardless of the danger from mines and enemy fire, he led a spirited rush into the village and completely routed the small but strongly armed force of Germans, three of whom were killed and two taken prisoner. Realising the importance of clearing the main route through the village for tanks, Lieut Lloyd personally supervised the removal, by prodding of two belts of mines: thus enabling the tanks to come through. This was done under steady mortar fire. By his courage and coolness, and prompt action, Lieut Lloyd eliminated an enemy strong point and hastened the advance of the Battalion.”
LIEUTENANT LM MANSON (1 RIrF). JUNE 1944 – CITTA DELLA PIEVE.
“On 16th June 1944, Lt Manson was in command of thirty men with two 3” Mortars in support. This patrol was under command 9th ARMOURED BRIGADE in their advance NORTHWARDS along ROUTE 71. The force, headed by a squadron of tanks captured MONTELEONE and proceeded towards CITTA DELLA PIEVE.
Approximately one mile short of the town, the tanks were fired on, and a plan was made for the patrol to advance with one troop of the ROYAL WILTSHIRE YEOMANRY and enter the town. Lieut Manson, in command of the force, disposed the infantry on either side of the road and the tanks advanced up the road. En route they encountered and destroyed several enemy strong points. On some occasions the infantry, well to a flank, had to clear a group of buildings without cover from the tanks. On one of these occasions, Lieut Manson personally led his men into the houses, shooting the first German and demoralising the remainder by his decisive planning and the execution of the attack. This particular action produced twelve prisoners. Another time, wireless communications with the tanks failed when it was essential that their fire should be directed onto a strongpoint which was holding up the infantry. Lieut Manson, despite being under heavy MG fire, climbed onto the Troop Leader’s tank and directed their fire so accurately that the opposition was smashed.
On the outskirts of the town, the tanks came under heavy A/Tk fire knocking out one of them. The infantry, covered by the remounted Browning, advanced round the left flank and entered the village which appeared to be hastily evacuated. They were well into the village when orders were received to withdraw to confirm with the tanks’ dispositions. This they did, but on their way out, Lieut Manson met an officer from the 1st Bttn East Surrey Regiment, who informed him that they were following up. Realising the position, he immediately led his men back into CITTA DELLA PIEVE with the intention of holding the village until their arrival. This time, the patrol came under heavy MG fire, were grenaded and suffered casualties. Seeing that the enemy had returned in force, Lieut Manson withdrew his patrol and reported to the CO of 1st BTTN EAST SURREY REGIMENT.
During the whole operation, Lieut Manson’s personal courage and disregard for his own safety was an inspiration to his men. The high standard of his leadership was responsible for the great success of the patrol, which accounted for six dead, and thirty prisoners, all of them in the redoubtable 1ST PARA DIVISION.”
LIEUTENANT HG MONTGOMERIE (2 LIR). JUNE 1944 – SANFATUCCHIO.
“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 was 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.”
MAJOR RB MYLES (6 INNISKS). MAY 1944 – VERTECHI.
“On 15 May 44, Major Myles was ordered to launch an attack on Pt 67, one of the strongly prepared positions in the GUSTAV LINE. His company came under fire from well sited enemy MGs.
Maj Myles went forward personally and alone to pin point the positions. Although heavily engaged by enemy MGs, he calmly continued his reconnaissance of these positions at close range. The information gained, combined with the spirit this example instilled in the men made the capture of the objective an easy matter with few casualties.
Later in the day when he had lost all his Platoon Officers and had only a depleted Coy, he organised his Coy as a fighting Platoon and them to attack JUNO 832173.
His fearless attitude and complete disregard for his own safety and combined with his marked powers of leadership, was undoubtedly responsible for the speedy success on all occasions in which his Company took part.
During the following two days, his outstanding leadership and example continued under all types of enemy fire.”
CAPTAIN JA PETRIE (6 INNISKS). MAY 1944 – VERTECHI/PIUMAROLA.
“During the period 15-20 May 1944, the Battalion made three attacks in the assault on and breakthrough the GUSTAV LINE.
Capt Petrie was RMO throughout this time and always had his RAP well up with the Battalion despite almost continuous heavy shell fire.
During one period of 24 hrs, some 300 casualties received treatment from him. His work was carried out with great courage and devotion far beyond the line of duty.
The ready treatment of wounded at his hands (of his own men and those of other units) was invaluable in maintaining the morale of the Battalion in battle, and his high standard of courage and devotion to duty under the heaviest fire won the admiration of all ranks.”
CAPTAIN JP PHELAN (1 RIrF). JUNE 1944 – MONTEGIOVE.
“On the night of 16/17 June 1944, Capt Phelan was commanding A Company, 1st Bttn Royal Irish Fusiliers, which was under command 56 Recce Regiment. Towards the end of the day, the armour had been held up and it was clear no advance could be made until the height and castle of MONTEGIOVE had been captured. This task was given to A Company.
Realising that speed was essential, Capt Phelan transported one platoon as far as possible by carriers, ordering the remainder of the Company to march to a RV. He himself travelled in a carrier. When they reached the outskirts of the castle grounds, they came under heavy MG and Mortar fire, and Capt Phelan immediately got his forward platoon into a position and organised the neutralisation of the enemy fire so that remainder could form up from the attack.
At 2100 hours the attack started on the castle and it was evident from the start that surprise had been attained. It later transpired that the majority of a Bttn of 755 Grenadier Regiment had been in occupation of the castle since 0800 hours that day, but the attack of A Company so disorganised their defences by its speed and determination, that they did not resist for long. Capt Phelan personally led the attack into the castle courtyard and took part in the hand to hand fighting. This fighting produced 25 prisoners, killed several and many enemy weapons were captured including 7 MG 34’s and 2.75mm A/Tan guns.
The success of this attack was due entirely to Capt Phelan’s planning and drive. His own courage was an inspiration to his Company and his leadership was responsible for the speed and determination of this highly successful attack.”
CAPTAIN GL RICHARDS (1 RIrF). MAY 1944 – CERRO.
“During the attack on the C.TARTA feature on 17 May 1944, Capt Richards MM was commanding the left forward company of the Battalion. As they approached the ridge of the objective, owing to the nature of the ground and the presence of at least one Mark IV tank, the tanks found it impossible to move onto the objective. Thereupon, arranging a skilful fire plan, Capt Richards led his company with great dash up the forward slope onto the objective. He personally led the assault into strongly held buildings and dug the enemy out of their strong points capturing over twenty prisoners. Subsequently, when very heavy mortar and shell fire came down on his objective, his calm behaviour was a model to his men and the consolidation was rapidly completed. His cheerfulness and complete disregard for his own safety inspired his company with a will to fight for and hold their important objective.”
LIEUTENANT JV SORRELL (6 INNISKS). MAY 1944 – VERTECHI.
“On 15 May 1944, Lt Sorrell was commanding a Platoon of C Coy 6 Inniskllings when the Coy was ordered to attack and capture Pt 67.
The leading Platoon was held up by heavy MG fire from the reverse of the Pt 67 for some time before daylight.
Lt Sorrell immediately took his Platoon around the Right Flank, where they were pinned down by three enemy MGs at 25 yds range. He ordered his Platoon to withdraw 50 yards behind the crest whilst he remained awaiting daybreak to observe and pin point the enemy positions. He remained until daybreak and then rejoined the Platoon under MG fire, with detailed information of the enemy posts and Anti Tank guns.
At this stage, the Company Commander became a casualty and Lt Sorrell took command and led the Company in the attack which proved successful, with very few casualties to our troops. The speedy success of the attack and the very few casualties suffered by the company on this occasion was entirely due to the information he obtained and to his excellent leadership.
In an attack some days later further along the LIRI VALLEY, Lt Sorrell’s continuing example and leadership was outstanding.”
MAJOR AD (DESMOND) WOODS (2 LIR). MAY 1944 – SINAGOGA.
“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, his 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.”
MAJOR IP YATES (2 LIR). MAY 1944 – CEPRANO.
“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 MGs (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.”
Distinguished Conduct Medal
CORPORAL J ADAMS (2 LIR). MAY 1944 – SINAGOGA.
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 hearted 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 (2 LIR). MAY 1944 – 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 surrended. 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.”
SERGEANT RC CROSS (1 RIrF). MAY 1944 – STRANGOLAGALLI.
“On the 29 May 44, RIrF advanced towards STRANGOLAGALLI Ridge and the leading company found the road and a village area to be heavily mined with teller mines and anti personnel mines. The forward company became pinned by enemy fire and found progress impossible without the aid of tanks.
Sgt Cross with his Pioneer Platoon at once moved forward to this area and proceeded to clear a track through the minefield. While carrying out this work the Pioneers came under intense mortar and accurate enemy sniping. In spite of three casualties, Sgt Cross coolly continued with his task until a track was cleared for the tanks to go through. Later in the evening a deep ditch prevented any form of tracked or wheeled vehicle from reaching the forward companies. Again under heavy fire, Sgt Cross assiduously got to work to make the route passable and completed a track up an exposed slope to the forward positions.
By his doggedness and complete disregard for his own safety throughout the day Sgt Cross undoubtedly made both the taking and the consolidation of the objective possible. He showed patience, devotion to duty and courage of an outstanding quantity.”
CSM PG PAYNE (1 RIrF). MAY 1944 – CERRO.
“CSM Payne was acting CSM of C Company, 1st Battalion, The Royal Irish Fusiliers during the attack from the Rapido bridgehead to HIGHWAY 6 on 17th May 1944. C Company was right forward company and combined in the attack with a squadron of tanks.
Shortly after crossing the Start Line, the company commander was killed and CSM Payne was entirely responsible for the command and control of the company until the senior platoon commander arrived at Company HQ. During this period they experienced extremely heavy mortar and small arms fire and CSM Payne showed great coolness in handling the company.
Once onto the objective, a great deal of liaison was necessary within the Company and CSM Payne moved fearlessly between platoons under enemy shell and mortar fire until the consolidation was complete.
His fine conduct during an extremely heavy action was to no small measure responsible for the success of the company.”
Military Medal (MM)
FUSILIER SJ ABEL (1 RIrF). JUNE 1944 – PESCIA/RANCIANO.
“On 24th June 1944, the 1st Bttn Royal Irish Fusiliers attacked and captured PESCIA and RANCIANO on the WEST side of LAKE TRASIMENO. During this action, Fusilier Abel was the driver of a stretcher bearing Jeep attached to the RAP, and as such spent the whole day in the evacuation of wounded, with little, if any, respite.
On one occasion, after having been called forward by the leading Company, he was proceeding up the track, and was stopped and told that further up this track the area was swept by Machine Gun fire. This information in no way deterred him from his task, and he carried onto collect two serious casualties. On the return journey his Jeep was sprayed by MG fire, hitting one of the casualties for a second time.
Shortly after this, a casualty was reported along the road to RADIA, an area which had not been cleared of the enemy. Fusilier Abel, fully aware of this situation took his Jeep forward and picked up the casualty proceeded to find a turning place and came face to face with twelve armed Germans. With great coolness he turned his Jeep and arrived safely back in our lines, fortunately unmolested by the enemy.
At all times, and especially under heavy artillery fire, Fusilier Abel drove with the utmost consideration for his passengers, who are indebted to him for a better chance of recovery. In all, he evacuated twenty wounded men, which involved extremely hard work under the most dangerous conditions. His courage and cheerfulness under fire was an inspiration to his comrades and a great encouragement to his charges. He showed a devotion to duty of the highest standard and was undoubtedly responsible for saving the lives of several of the more seriously men.”
L/CORPORAL W AYRE (6 INNISKS). JUNE 1944 – PUCCIARELLI.
“On the 24 Jun 1944, L/Cpl Ayre was with a MMG Section in a house in the village of PUCCIARELLI and the MMG was sited to fire through a bedroom window.
At 0530 hours on 24 Jun, the house sustained several direct hits from an enemy SP gun and a Portee, loaded with ammunition, standing outside the door of the house was hit and burst into flames. This, or another shell, set the house on fire, At this point, the enemy counterattacked and the house in question was heavily machine gunned.
L/Cpl Ayre remained at his post and engaged the enemy until they were so close that he could depress his gun no further. He then leaned out of the window with his gun and continued to engage the enemy killing12 Germans. The blazing roof collapsed on him and he jumped from a window twenty feet above ground level, as this was now his only means of escape. He then took a rifle and fought with a Section until the attack was beaten off.”
L/SERGEANT J BARRATT (2 LIR). JUNE 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 was 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 (2 LIR). MAY 1944 – 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 R BROWN (2 LIR). JUNE 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.”
SERGEANT P BUNTING (ACC attached to 1 RIrF). MAY 1944 – MELFA RIVER.
“On the evening of the 27 May 44, the area of the Administrative Point in the woods NW of the MELFA crossing came under exceptionally heavy shell fire and several cooks who were preparing the evening meal were either killed or wounded. Sgt Bunting, on hearing this, came forward and cooked two company meals under continuous fire. Finding that the CQMS of D Company had been wounded, Sgt Bunting made himself responsible, taking forward the company’s food. On the route forward the driver of the jeep was wounded and, although lacking knowledge of driving, Sgt Bunting too over the wheel and drove the vehicle under fire up an extremely bad track towards the company position. Finally having ditched the jeep, he hurried forward and organised the carrying of the food by porters. The importance of this meal to this forward company after a hard day cannot be over emphasised. Sgt Bunting through his coolness and fixity of purpose showed courage and devotion to duty of the highest order.”
L/CORPORAL FG GIRVAN (1 RIrF). MAY 1944 – CERRO.
“On 17 May 1944, 1st Bttn, Royal Irish Fusiliers was engaged in extending the RAPIDO bridgehead to HIGHWAY 6. L/Cpl Girvan was in charge of the stretcher bearers of C Company, which was right forward company in the attack.
Throughout the attack and during consolidation the company was under constant heavy shell fire and received twenty casualties. L/Cpl Girvan directed the evacuation of these wounded – many of them serious, and who are undoubtedly indebted to him for a better chance of survival – and carried out all duties required of him in a cool calm manner. He gave comfort to the wounded and great encouragement to the remainder of the company.
His disregard for his own personal safety was a fine example to everyone and he showed a devotion to duty which was of the highest order.”
L/SERGEANT AT GOWEN (6 INNISKS). JUNE 1944 – PUCCIARELLI.
“On 24 Jun 44 A Coy left PUCCIARELLI to attack Pt 267 and shortly after crossing the start line. The Sgt commanding No 1 Platoon was wounded and had to leave his Platoon. L/Sgt Gowen took over the platoon immediately being the senior spare NCO in the Coy and without awaiting further instruction, continued the advance without a pause. As the fighting progressed, the whole brunt of the fighting fell on the two forward platoons, and consequently L/Sgt Gowen and his men were committed continuously both to their front and right flank. Nevertheless, Sgt Gowen pushed on relentlessly, overrunning numerous enemy positions and taking 7 prisoners. On the objective, L/Sgt Gowen’s platoon consolidated in a forward position with a tank, covering the right flank. An enemy counterattack with tanks knocked out the tanks in the Coy area, including those in L/Sgt Gowen’s position, which began to explode, rendering his positions untenable. He gave orders to his platoon to withdraw to Coy HQ, himself remaining until last to cover them out, and by his coolness, succeeded in keeping his platoon as an effective fighting force. They reported to Coy HQ and dug new positions behind the other platoon.
L/Sgt Gowen’s personal example and bravery held his platoon together during this difficult period of the enemy’s counterattack, just as his courage and initiative had inspired them earlier during our attack.”
SERGEANT C GUILD (2 LIR). JUNE 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 were 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.
SERGEANT FT HIGGINS (1 RIrF). MAY 1944 – CERRO.
“On 17 May 1944, Sgt Higgins was commanding 13 Platoon, C Company, 1st Bttn, Royal Irish Fusiliers, which was right forward company in the attack from the RAPIDO bridgehead to HIGHWAY 6.
During the advance to objective, both our own artillery fire and the enemy DF barrage were unpleasantly close, but throughout the action Sgt Higgins conducted himself with the utmost coolness and courage.
Nearing the objective, he was wounded in the thigh, although obviously in great pain, he refused to relinquish his command, and led his platoon onto the final objective, where he organised the consolidation before he submitted to evacuation.
Sgt Higgins, by his courage and calmness in command, contributed highly to the success of the attack.”
FUSILIER WG HOBDEN (1 RIrF). JUNE 1944 – PESCIA.
“On 24 June 1944, C Company was the leading company in the attack of the 1st Bttn Royal Irish Fusiliers on PESCIA. Fusilier Hobden was 38 Set Operator in company HQ.
During the action, a Mortar bomb fell beside company HQ, wounding the Company Commander and 18 set operator. This temporarily delayed the advance and it was necessary to contact the tank troop leader in order to keep control.
Fusilier Hobden, who had a complete grasp of the situation, immediately set out, under heavy Mortar fire, and contacted the tanks. He then contacted the reserve troop leader and arranged for his Company Commander, who was not seriously wounded, to be transported forward.
Shortly after this, Fusulier Hobden found that he was out of touch with one of the platoons. Realising that communication at this time was essential, he ran forward to the platoon HQ – a matter of 250 yards – under constant MG fire and passed a vital message. Owing to the fog caused by exploding HE, he returned by a flank and passed through a group of buildings. Looking into one house, he discovered nine armed Germans, one of whom aimed a pistol at him. With great initiative he immediately brought his 38 Set and aerial to the “on guard” position and menaced the enemy. They surrendered.
Throughout the whole action, Fusilier Hobden showed a complete disregard for his own safety and carried out vital tasks of communication under the most dangerous conditions. He was at all times cheerful and always willing to carry out some extra duty. The control of his Company was entirely due to his unceasing efforts and but for him, control would have been lost with the tanks with inevitable confusion.”
CORPORAL G KEEGAN (2 LIR). MAY 1944 – SINAGOGA.
“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 manouevring 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.”
SERGEANT L LEAPER (6 INNISKS). MAY 1944 – PIUMAROLA.
“On 17 May in the attack on Piumarola, and when his officer became a casualty he took over command of the platoon and without heed to his own personal safety led his platoon into action under exceptionally heavy mortar-shell and small arms fire.
Due to his display of outstanding courage and total disregard for his personal safety, he was able to hold his men together and lead his platoon onto the final objective, his platoon suffering only two casualties. Throughout the action, he was resourceful and an inspiration to all ranks under him and of inestimable value to his company.”
L/SERGEANT L MARNELL (1 RIrF). MAY 1944 – STRANGOLAGALLI.
“On 29 May 1944, L/Sgt Marnell was commanding a section of the right forward company in the advance of RIrF from CEPRANO to the STRANGOLAGALLI-RIPI lateral.
Throughout the spasmodic mortaring of his platoon area, he maintained a high standard of personal courage which gave great confidence to his men.
On one occasion, when his section was pinned by enemy MG fire, he personally took a Bren gun to a flank -moving over open ground to do so – and neutralised the resistance allowing his section and platoon to go forward onto the objective and take the MG crew prisoner.
In consolidation, he moved without fear amongst his men, while heavy concentrations were being put down on the company area by Nebelwerfers.
Throughout the battle, his bravery under fire has been a fine inspiration to his men and personal initiative saved several awkward situations.”
SERGEANT HD OWEN (6 INNISKS). MAY 1944 – PIUMAROLA.
“On 16 May 44, Sgt Owens’ Platoon Commander was killed in action and he assumed command of No 1 Platoon.
Throughout the advance of the Battalion along the LIRI VALLEY, this NCO led his Platoon with great dash, and by his example, kept his men together.
During the attack on PIUMAROLA on 17 May 44, Sgt Owens’ Platoon was leading the Company. From the time the Start Line was crossed until the final objective was taken, No 1 Platoon did not stop once.
When the village was reached the Platoon went straight through, capturing 47 German Parachute Troops
Sgt Owens’ dash and disregard for personal safety inspired them to such an extent that the Platoon over ran the German positions so rapidly that our casualties were negligible.”
SERGEANT CE PARKE (1 RIrF). JUNE 1944 – MONTEGIOVE.
“On the night 16/17th June 1944, a Company 1st Bttn Royal Irish Fusiliers was given the task of capturing MONTEGIOVE – a castle on a feature which dominated the whole advance of the 56th Recce Regiment. After a long approach march, the leading platoon, which was commanded by this NCO, came under heavy MG fire on reaching the outskirts of the castle grounds. Sgt Parke’s platoon, which had been lifted in carriers, immediately engaged the enemy and neutralised his fire while the remainder of the Company arrived and concentrated; but for his immediate action the Company would have received heavy casualties, and the impetus of the attack would have been lost.
In the evening attack, Sgt Parke led his platoon with great dash and courage and, despite the darkness, maintained excellent control of his section and kept the Company Commander very well informed. It was this control, which undoubtedly influenced the success of the plan. The total of prisoners taken by Sgt Parke’s platoon was twenty five and several enemy were killed. The Company also took seven MG 34’s and two 75 mm A/Tk guns.
Throughout the action, Sgt Parke showed great courage and initiative and the speed and success of the attack was in no small way attributable to this NCO.”
CORPORAL S PATTON (1 RIrF). JUNE 1944 – CITTA DELLA PIEVE.
“On 16th June 1944, Cpl Patton was i/c of a section of the patrol. Their task was to advance up ROUTE 71 and enter CITTA DELLA PIEVE with one troop of tanks.
About 200 yards short of the village the small force deployed to either side of the road, after coming under heavy Mortar and MG fire. Cpl Patton immediately led his section to a flank whence he directed accurate neutralising fire, thus allowing the entire patrol to advance 200 yards.
When the force reached the outskirts of the village, two MG 34s opened up, pinning the patrol by fire, and causing a definite delay to the advance. Cpl Patton immediately handed his section over to his 2 i/c and taking a Bren Gun, alternately ran and crawled to a flank.
Getting into position behind a wall, he enfiladed one post, killing the crew. This action drew the fire of the other gun, and allowed the patrol to get onto its objective. Although under heavy fire all the time, Cpl Patton maintained his rate of fire.
Throughout the whole of this action, Cpl Patton showed himself to be a leader of distinction, and his initiative undoubtedly saved several lives including that of his patrol commander. His courage was exceptional and his dash and determination inspired his men to make a great success of the action.”
FUSILIER AC PERCY (6 INNISKS). JUNE 1944 – PUCCIARELLI.
“On the 21 Jun 44, Fusilier Percy was with the leading section which gained a foothold in a prominent white house in the village of PUCCIARELLI. Fusilier Percy was with a small party who then pushed forward to clear two outbuildings as they approached two Germans dashed from the outbuildings into an adjoining building on the left where there was an Anti Tank gun. A stick grenade hit Fusilier Percy’s rifle, but he ignored this and immediately followed Fusilier Harding into the house, from which they emerged with the two Germans as prisoners. Eight other enemy broke cover from another exit and made for the top of the village. Fusilier Percy’s prompt action undoubtedly did much to gain the firm footing in this important village, and prevented the Anti-Tank gun continuing to fire at our own tanks, thus saving valuable men and machines. Three days later on 24 Jun 44 during the attack on Pt 267 the Coy was held up in a sunken road by heavy fire from MG34s. Fusilier Percy received bullets through his steel helmet and his boot which luckily did not harm him. In spite of this, he remained as cheerful and aggressive as ever and was among the leading troops onto the final objective.”
SERGEANT S SANDERSON (1 RIrF). MAY 1944 – CERRO.
“Sgt Sanderson was commanding a platoon of D Company during the attack of the 1st Bttn, Royal Irish Fusiliers to extend the RAPIDO bridgehead to HIGHWAY 6.
Shortly after the start of the attack, his platoon was caught in some “shorts” from our own barrage. His steadiness kept the platoon together and, after organising the evacuation of the casualties, he led his platoon forward in the face of heavy enemy mortar fire.
When his men came under fire from a MG 341 he attacked with such determination and success, that they reached their objective well ahead of the supporting tanks.
His own personal conduct was of the highest order and he showed a complete disregard for his own safety which inspired his men.”
CSM JN STOREY (1 RIrF). MAY 1944 – CERRO.
“On 17 May 1944, D Company, 1st Bttn, Royal Irish Fusiliers was left forward company in the Battalion’s attack to extend the RAPIDO bridgehead to HIGHWAY 6.
During the attack, a great deal of liaison was required between platoons, and more important still, between Company HQ and the Tank Squadron Leader. CSM Storey was never inactive. When not making his way between platoons under heavy enemy fire, and when our own barrage was uncomfortably close, he was in close contact with the tanks. On one occasion he went well forward of the company to point out a strong point to the tanks, at a time when enemy mortar fire on the tanks was very heavy.
Throughout the whole battle, he completely disregarded his own safety and was a fine and steadying example to the company, and the success of the attack was in no small way due to his courageous conduct under fire.”
CSM J THOMPSON (6 INNISKS). MAY 1944 – VERTECHI/PIUMAROLA.
“Throughout the attacks during the period 15-17 May 1944 on Pt 67, and further along the LIRI VALLEY this WO was in the forefront of the battle. When his Company was reduced to thirty two men he formed Coy HQ into a fighting platoon and attacked and captured the Company objective.
Under heavy fire, he went out in front on two occasions and fearlessly exposing himself, reconnoitred crossings over sunken obstacles for the supporting tanks.
Al all times under the heaviest fire he was a tower of strength to his Company Commander, being here and there organising and encouraging the men and showing the greatest bravery and disregard for his own personal safety.
To his outstanding work, the success of the Company attack was due.
His personal bravery, clear leadership and unfailing devotion to duty was an example and inspiration to all.”