Irish Brigade

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

Honours and Awards – From Termoli to the Moro



Distinguished Service Order (DSO)

CAPTAIN RG WILKIN (1 RIrF).                                                   DEC 1943 – MORO RIVER.

“On the morning of 4 Dec 43 Captain Wilkin, commanding the Support Company, was ordered to bring up two Vicker’s Machine Guns and two 3rd Mortars to the Battalion, which during the previous night had infiltrated to an area five hundred yards short of the MORO River and from dawn had been fiercely attacked by the enemy. The role of the Battalion was to force the enemy away from the close mountainous country overlooking the MORO River and the Germans were equally determined to hold this commanding ridge.

By 1000 hrs, the Battalion was hard pressed and the enemy had infiltrated machine gun groups to the rear of the Battalion, so severing its line of communication. As he climbed through this broken country with the mule borne ammunition, machine guns and Mortars, a message from the CO told Captain Wilkin that the ammunition situation was desperate and that to hold the position  3” Mortars and Vickers Machine Guns were vital necessities. When the mule train reached a track half a mile short of the Battalion Headquarters a burst of machine gun fire swept the track, killing the leading mule and wounding his muleteer. At the same time, snipers fired at the mule party from a house four hundred yards away. Captain Wilkin was the personification of coolness, he brought a Bren gunner into action against the enemy machine gun, and occasionally sniped, he, with great courage, untied the barrel of a 3” Mortar from the dead mule and loaded it onto another mule. He then said to his NCOs and men, “whatever happens to me, this stuff must get through to the Battalion”.   

Under the protection of his one Bren gun which had, however, silenced the enemy machine gun to the left flank, Captain Wilkin bravely led his mule team up the track. Progress is slow, the enemy sniping was deadly, but they dauntlessly struggled up the mountain track. Two more men were hit and Captain Wilkin and an NCO took over their mules. Four hundred yards short of the Battalion Headquarters a round pierced Captain Wilkin’s right lung and his mule was killed. Refusing any attention, he ordered the mule train to go on and saw them wind up the track to Battalion Headquarters. Knowing the nature of his wound, in deliberately denying himself prompt attention, Captain Wilkin was prepared for the supreme sacrifice in order to carry out his task. Thirty minutes later, what proved to be the Germans final counterattack, was completely broken up by the surprise enfilade fire of these two machine guns and the 3” Mortars added greatly to the destruction of the enemy.      

Captain Wilkin, at present dangerously ill, showed a fortitude and devotion to duty of the first order. By completely ignoring his own safety and by steadfastly carrying his task to completion he turned the day and so enabled the Battalion to throw back the enemy over the MORO River.”  (WO 373/5).



Military Cross (MC)

MAJOR JS CLARKE (1 RIrF).                                                   DEC 1943 – SAN VITO.

“On the night 1 Dec 43, Major Clarke was in command of two Companies whose task was to infiltrate by night to the edge of SAN VITO and to send a patrol into the town. Major Clarke led his two Companies over most difficult country which he was not able to reconnoitre. Having established a base on the high ground overlooking the town, Major Clarke despatched a platoon into the town which killed Germans and created alarm and confusion in the town. At dawn he advanced his force to the lip of the high ground overlooking the town and the main road from the South. This advance wiped out several pockets of enemy resistance. A counter attack estimated two companies in strength was driven in with great force by the Germans. This was repulsed with loss to the enemy including a German Captain. The Germans were determined to remove this threat to their line of withdrawal and for five hours they attacked frontally and from both flanks. For two hours, Major Clarke’s force was completely surrounded but the embattled Companies remained firm although suffering considerable loss. During this period, Major Clarke organised the defence of his position with the utmost calm and personally led a counter attack which cleared up enemy infiltration on the left. His cheerfulness and cool courage as he walked around his position under mortar and machine gun fire inspired the men to hold fast. By holding this ground, Major Clarke’s force must have seriously influenced the enemy’s decision to withdraw from the river line to the South and then the enemy endeavoured to withdraw by the main road, the FOO with Major Clarke was able to scatter his marching troops. Major Clarke’s work in this action deserves the highest praise, in spite of being in grave physical danger, he remained unruffled and sound of judgement revealing the qualities of a great leader.”     (WO 373/5).


MAJOR PJ PROCTOR (1 RIrF).                                                       OCT 1943 – TERMOLI.

“At TERMOLI on 6 October 43, Major Proctor was in command of A Company, partaking in a Battalion attack with a squadron of tanks on enemy positions on the high ground NORTH of San GIACOMO and along the road leading from that point towards TERMOLI. A Coy was moving in rear at the beginning of the attack but when the forward Coys were temporarily held up, Major Proctor at once moved forward on his own initiative up the right flank. Advancing very rapidly in close co-operation with the tanks he moved his Coy into a brick factory which was the first objective. This advance was made in the teeth of fierce opposition of enemy tanks and infantry but so rapid was it that the enemy were thrown off their guard and the strong point in the factory was not seriously defended.

After a brief reorganisation the advance was resumed with A Coy still leading, Opposition from enemy tanks and MGs were encountered but rapidly overcome and by 1530 hours the final objective, Pt 161, was gained and the enemy driven off leaving several wounded prisoners in our hands.

Major Proctor’s work has been consistently of a high order. His leadership and personal example has instilled a high morale into his Coy and his sound judgment has been responsible for many successful actions in the field.”  (WO 373/4).


CAPTAIN LJ SAMUELS (RAMC).                                                OCT 1943 – SAN SALVO.

“This officer has been employed as RMO throughout this and the previous campaign. His first consideration has ben 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.”                         (WO 373/7).


LIEUTENANT DMS SCHAYEK (6 Innisks).                                       NOV 1943 – SAN SALVO.

“In the early stages of the attack on S.SALVO, B Coy was the leading Coy of the Battalion attack on the first objective which was strongly defended by a number of well sited and concealed machine gun posts.

Lieut Schayek led his platoon with distinction onto the first objective which he was first to reach. Single handed he attacked the one of the enemy machine gun posts and with his Tommy gun killed the crew. Although wounded himself twice, he continued to command and lead his platoon until the objective had been finally cleared.

This officer has previously shown himself as a courageous and inspiring leader, both in the North African and the Sicilian campaigns.”   (WO 373/4).


LIEUTENANT JD WHITE (2 LIR).                                                       OCT 1943 – TERMOLI.

“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 (2 LIR).                                         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.”  (WO 373/5).                      



Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM).

SERGEANT S KELLY (2 LIR).                                           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.”                                                                                    (WO 373/5).


CSM R STEVENSON (6 Innisks).                                                   NOV 1943 – SAN SALVO.

“On the morning of 3 Nov 43, the battalion attacked the S.SALVO position from across the R.TRIGNO.

By the time that the advance from the first objective had started, all the officers in A Coy had been killed. CSM Stevenson then took command of the company and without further orders directed it on towards the final objective.

Although the company was attacked by enemy tanks when it was in open country and suffered further considerable casualties, the CSM successfully retained control of the company and subsequently led it on to the attack on S.SALVO, which was ultimately occupied.”  (WO 373/4).



Military Medal (MM)

FUSILIER T BOOT (1 RIrF).                                                       OCT 1943 – TRIGNO RIVER.

“On 26 October 1943, the Battalion was holding TRIGNO bridgehead with three Companies forward and one Company in rear of the river.

During the evening, the enemy who had been shelling the area incessantly for four days put down an intense concentration on the bridge and area South of it cutting all line communication with forward Companies. Fusilier Boot, together with two other line parties were sent out. One man was hit and the concentration prevented the repair of the line by the other two parties who had to return. Fusilier Boot carried on alone ad repaired all the lines. About an hour later the lines were cut again and again repaired by him under heavy fire. During the night and the next day he repeatedly crossed and re-crossed the TRIGNO under enemy observation and repaired all lines although he knew that his action was bound to attract enemy shell fire.

By these actions which showed a complete disregard for his own safety, he maintained good communication within the Battalion at a time when this was vital. On the night 27/28 October while acting as 18 set operator in the attack on SAN SALVO he performed his duties with the maximum efficiency and his fearlessness whilst under intense enemy DF fire was a great inspiration to all about him.”  (WO 373/4).


CORPORAL JR CHATBURN (6 Innisks).                                     NOV 1943 – R. LI COLLI.

“On the 29 Nov 43, D Coy Inniskillings was attacking strongly prepared defensive positions on the R. LI COLLI. Cpl Chatburn went forward alone to search a deep trench system, which the enemy were known to occupy. Although he was fired upon at about 10 yards range he rushed forward and fired his TSMC into the trench. The Germans then attempted to withdraw along a communications trench, but Cpl Chatburn pursued them at the same time shouting to his section to come round their rear. As a result of his display of initiative, one of the enemy was killed, and one officer and 7 ORs were taken prisoner.”  (WO 373/5).


CORPORAL J CLARKE (1 RIrF).                                                    OCT 1943 – SAN SALVO.

“Cpl J Clarke was a section commander of No 9 platoon, A Company on the night of October 27th 1943, during the action in which A Company were a forward company, and No 9 platoon one of the forward platoons.  

The platoon commander and platoon sergeant were both seriously wounded, and Cpl Clarke, although himself wounded in the side by shrapnel, and in pain, took over the platoon. By his personal example and leadership, he kept them together under the extremely heavy fire brought down on them, and took them forward until they had to stop through lack of ammunition. Only then did he allow himself to be helped back.” (WO 373/4).


CSM E CROWLEY (1 RIrF).                                                             DEC 1943 – SAN VITO.

“On the morning 2 Dec 43 CSM Crowley was at Coy HQ of D Coy occupying a position overlooking SAN VITO. This position was being heavily mortared and was swept with enemy machine gun fire.  While the Company Commander was with his forward Platoons a counter attack developed from the wooded country to the rear of the position and heavy fire was brought to bear on Coy HQ and the rear platoon, the officer of which was wounded. Realising the danger of this attack from the rear, CSM Crowley swiftly organised a counter attack with Coy HQ and the rear platoon. He personally led the charge and drove off the enemy. Four Germans were killed and five wounded and the rest scattered amongst the trees. By his prompt action and daring leadership CSM Crowley completely broke up a serious threat to the whole position.

Throughout the rest of the day, this Warrant Officer acted with great courage and was an inspiration to his hard pressed men.”  (WO 373/5).  


FUSILIER RN GALLAGHER (1 RIrF).                                                 OCT 1943 – TERMOLI.

“At TERMOLI on 6 October 1943 Fusilier Gallagher was acting No 1 of a bren group in A Coy during an attack on enemy positions. Throughout the whole operation he showed a most offensive and gallant spirit, dashing forward from his platoon and engaging enemy posts. On one occasion he rushed a post which was holding up the Coy’s advance on the left. Dashing forward firing from his hip, he wounded one German and took two others prisoner. During the assault on a large brick factory he was very much to the fore, always making the best of his bren.  

Fusilier Gallagher’s courageous behaviour and disregard of personal safety was largely responsible for the great success in the action by his Coy.” (WO 373/4).


CORPORAL SR HUGHES (1 RIrF).                                                    DEC 1943 – SAN VITO.

“At approximately 0400 hrs 2 Dec 1943, Cpl Hughes entered SAN VITO as 2-i-c of a patrol led by Lt Day. The main German positions were five miles to the South and the town itself was strongly held by Germans. As the patrol fought their way into the two, tow Germans pounced on the back of a Bren gunner, these Cpl Hughes promptly killed with his Tommy Gun. He then took charge of one Section of the patrol and, advancing boldly down the main street, he took eight German prisoners and killed three German motor cyclists. By this time, the town was in an uproar and finding that Lt Day had been badly wounded by fire from Armoured Cars he collected the Patrol and cleverly hid them in houses until the town was taken by 6 Inns killings twelve hours later.

It is considered that this spirited entry into the town and the havoc wrought by this NCO and his men must have seriously embarrassed the main German forces holding the river to the South. Reports from the men in the patrol prove that Cpl Hughes is a fearless and outstanding leader.”(WO 373/5). 


SERGEANT WJ JACKSON (1 RIrF).                                                   OCT 1943 – TERMOLI.

“At TERMOLI on 6 October 1943 Sgt Jackson was commanding a platoon of A Coy during an attack on enemy positions NORTH of S.GIACOMO.

Throughout the attack Sgt Jackson commanded his platoon on an outstanding manner. He continually directed the fire of his brens onto enemy posts and personally led assault groups to clear these positions. His platoon was the first into a large factory which was well known to be an enemy strong point.

Sgt Jackson’s magnificent leadership, cheery confidence and complete disregard of his own safety were fine inspiration to his men.”  (WO 373/4).


SERGEANT T LYTH (1 RIrF).                                                     DEC 1943 – MORO RIVER.

“On December 4th on the River MORO, Sgt Lyth was in command of a platoon which he led with the utmost bravery and determination. Once, when his platoon was held up by heavy mortar and MG fire and a bren gun number wounded, he took the LMG and worked his way right forward alone. From this new position he silenced an enemy post by his accurate fire and skilful handling of the weapon.

Shortly afterwards in similar circumstances he repeated his performance. When wounded and obviously in considerable pain he carried on for at least 30 minutes, and until properly relieved.

Then making light of his wound and first giving encouragement to his men, he made his own way back to the RAP.

During the preceding fighting on the Rivers TRIGNO and SANGRO, Sgt Lyth commanded a platoon and behaved in the same inspiring manner.”  (WO 373/5).


CORPORAL A LYTTLE (6 Innisks).                                           NOV 1943 – R. LI COLLI.

“On 29 Nov 1943, during the attack by 6 Inniskillings on R. LI COLLI, a platoon of C Coy was being held up by an enemy post occupying a house. Cpl Lyttle with complete disregard to his personal safety made his way to the house by himself, and then rushed at it firing his TSMC from the hip. He succeeded in killing one and two of the enemy thus causing the post to surrender. By this vigorous and decisive action, the further advance of his platoon was able to continue and valuable lives were saved,

This NCO has shown outstanding powers of leadership and initiative both during the Italian and the Sicilian campaigns.”  (WO 373/5).


FUSILIER P MADDEN (6 Innisks).                                                  NOV 1943 – R. LI COLLI.

On the 29 Nov 1943, during the initial attack on R. LI COLLI, L/Cpl Madden showed outstanding courage by clearing an enemy machine gun post alone. His section being pinned to the ground by MG fire he crawled round to the rear of the enemy position by himself and took it, killing the enemy with a grenade.

During the SAN VITO attack, his leadership was also outstanding. Here he took single handed one of two enemy posts who were firing on his section, and having accomplished this, he led a successful on the other one. On gaining the centre of SAN VITO town his section was sniped from the roof of a house. L/Cpl Madden placed his section under cover, then climbed to the top of the house, and dealt with the sniper.”   (WO 373/5).


L/CORPORAL T MARTIN (2 LIR).                                              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 grapsed 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 of the MM.”     


SERGEANT E MCNALLY (2 LIR).                                                   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.”                                (WO 373/5).


CSM J MEEHAN (1 RIrF).                                                             OCT 1943 – SAN SALVO.

“On the night 27/28 Oct CSM Meehan was CSM of B Coy which was the left forward Coy in the first attack by the Battalion on SAN SALVO.

Very early in the attack, concentrated enemy MMG and Artillery fire inflicted casualties amongst the leaders in the Coy and caused some confusion. CSM Meehan at once took control of the situation. Having found the rear Platoon without a Commander, he took command and personally brought home their bren guns into fire positions, from which, under his direction they silenced two enemy automatic weapons. He was then able to lead the Platoon forward. All this time, CSM Meehan was under heavy fire. Having delivered these much needed reinforcements to his Coy Commander, he was informed that the forward Platoon Commander, Lieutenant Glennis had been wounded.

Without hesitation, CSM Meehan worked his way forward to the Platoon which was under heavy MMG fire. He at once reorganised this Platoon into fire positions from which they engaged the enemy MMGs.

He then bandaged the Platoon Commander and two other men and arranged their evacuation.

Throughout the whole of this time and the remainder of the action, CSM Meehan showed complete disregard for his own safety, and with great coolness. His courage and leadership were of the highest order and an inspiration to the whole Coy.”  (WO 373/5).   


FUSILIER D MILLIGAN (6 Innisks).                                                  DEC 1943 – SAN VITO.

On the 3 Dec 1943, the coast road at SAN VITO was cratered, and covered by enemy from surrounding houses. Until this enemy was dislodged, the repair of the road and progress of the tanks was impossible, so that further action in this area was help up. L/Cpl Milligan was a section commander in the platoon ordered to clear the houses. As the leading section emerged from an alley, they came under fire which killed the section commander and wounded the Bren gunner of the section. L/Cpl Milligan immediately seized the Bren gun, mounted it by the dead Corporal and returned the fire. He then quickly organised his section and with the Bren gun led the way past side alleys and streets, and formed the advance guard to the platoon which eventually cleared through to the end of the town and dislodged the enemy. The courage and resourcefulness of L/Cpl Milligan were an example to the platoon and encouraged it in quickly clearing through to the enemy.”  (WO 373/5).


FUSILIER J MULDOON (1 RIrF).                                                       DEC 1943 – SAN VITO.

“On 2 Dec 43, A and D Companies, 1 RIrF had forced a salient into the positions just South of SAN VITO.

Between them and the town was a formidable gully, and on arriving on the lip of this gulley, the forward platoons came under heavy MG and Mortar fire from the opposite side.  One platoon of D Company was ordered to manoeuvre across the gulley to obtain fire positions from which the enemy posts could be successfully engaged. The first section across, of which Fusilier Muldoon was a member, suffered more than 50 per cent casualties and withdrew. Fusilier Muldoon, however, stayed to tend a wounded comrade, whom he carried to a house, still to the enemy side of the gulley. There he remained until a party of Germans approached and he took cover and watched his comrade being carried off.

For the next six hours, Fusilier Muldoon laid up and observed the enemy positions, making a sketch of MMG posts and other enemy positions. This he returned with after a hazardous journey across the ravine and reported to his Company Commander, giving invaluable information for any future attack. He arrived with full kit despite having had to carry a wounded man some considerable distance.

Fusilier Muldoon displayed a devotion to duty of the highest order in remaining on the enemy side of the gulley, sketching enemy positions, particularly as our own artillery was engaging targets close to him, His courage was unquestionable and is action was a great inspiration to his comrades when they saw his return, unhurt, and unperturbed.”   (WO 373/6).    


L/CORPORAL JT POWELL (6 Innisks).                                          NOV 1943 – R. LI COLLI.

On 29 Nov 43, D Coy 6 Inniskillings was attacking strongly prepared defensive positions on the R.LI COLLI. A platoon came under heavy fire from a well sited strong point. L/Cpl Powell asked permission of his platoon commander to carry out a reconnaissance of the place and then forward alone. He did this with great skill and courage, got within close range of the position and then rushed in firing his TSMC. Although he himself received three wounds he succeeded in clearing up the fort, killing three Germans, two of whom were automatic weapons.

By his gallant action, he undoubtedly saved a number of casualties and gave a stirring example of personal initiative and bravery.” (WO 373/5).



 

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