Irish Brigade

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

Faugh a Ballagh        Nec Aspera Terrent         Quis Separabit


Honours and Awards – Senio/Argenta Gap

Distinguished Service Order (DSO).

LT-COL HEN (‘BALA’) BREDIN, DSO, MC, 2 LIR.                            APR 1945 – ARGENTA GAP.

“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 equpment 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.”

LT-COL MJF PALMER, 1 RIrF.                                                 APR 1945 – SANTERNO RIVER.

“Lt-Col Palmer has been commanding 1st Bttn, The Royal Irish Fusiliers since Dec 1944.

On 13 April 1945, the 1 RIrF were ordered to expand the bridgehead over the River SANTERNO in a NW direction. Enemy strong points were encountered along the SCOLO FOSSATONE.

Lt-Col Palmer personally directed the attack on these strong points. By his very quick appreciation of the situation, he was able to effect a considerable element of surprise on the enemy. In spite of the heavy shell fire he continued to direct and encourage his men so that the strong points were taken and the momentum of the attack was delayed for the minimum amount of time.

On this day, the Royal Irish Fusiliers had 3 similar encounters but were nevertheless able to advance 6000 yards in 6 hours and take 87 prisoners. This was to a large extent due to the way in which Lt-Col Palmer kept up amongst his forward troops so that he could keep in touch, and deal with all the unexpected developments in the quickest possible manner.

Lt-Col Palmer’s courage and bearing throughout this day and during the advance from the Senio to the Po was of the highest order. His never failing cheerfulness under all conditions has been a great inspiration to all ranks privileged to serve with him.”

LT COL DM SHAW, 2 INNISKS                                                             APR 1945 – ARGENTA.

“At ARGENTA on 17 April 45 when in command of his battalion with a squadron of tanks under command, Lt-Col Shaw’s conduct of the battle was remarkable.

Although initially directed in a NW direction, he appreciated that by a flanking movement to the SW he would be in position to seal off any enemy still in the ARGENTA gap and to cover the main thrust of the Division in a NW direction.

At the time, Lt-Col Shaw carried out this movement, a strong German counter attack with tanks was being mounted against a very vulnerable part of the Division.

With complete disregard of personal safety, Lt-Col Shaw personally established his Bttn on the bank NW of ARGENTA, and repulsed what was known to be a divisional effort by the Germans to restore their ARGENTA position.

The magnificent fighting spirit which his battalion displayed on this occasion and again when he led them to the CONDOTTO MOTTE was very largely due to the inspiring leadership and courage displayed by Lt-Col Shaw.”


Military Cross (MC).

LIEUTENANT JH ALLAN, 2 LIR.                                                 APR 1945 – ARGENTA GAP.

“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 EH COCHRANE, 2 INNISKS                                                    APR 1945 – ARGENTA.

“Major Cochrane is commanding A Company of the 2nd Bttn Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

On the night 20/21 April 1945, the Battalion moved forward with the intention of forming a bridgehead across FOSSA RIVALDO Canal. Major Cochrane’s company was in rear of C Company whey they (C Coy) came under heavy shell fire. C Company succeeded in crossing the canal, and in doing so all their officers were wounded. Major Cochrane’s company also came under heavy fire and a platoon commander, platoon sergeant and section commander were wounded.

Major Cochrane was ordered to continue the advance and quickly summed up the situation and having placed C Company into position on the canal bank, took over with his own company, the task originally intended for C Company. It was by his personal bearing and calmness that he quickly restored the morale of C Company, who were badly shaken by the loss of their officers.

As a result of Major Cochrane’s actions there was no change in the forward move of the battalion and all tasks were accomplished as originally intended.

Through this long and hard day’s fighting, Major Cochrane’s company suffered heavy casualties and two tanks in support were knocked out, but it was by his personal example and complete disregard for his own personal safety that enabled the company to maintain its fighting spirit and achieve all their objectives under such adverse conditions.”

MAJOR RMD DAWSON, 1 RIrF                                                         MAR 1945 – FILIPONE.

“On the 2nd and 3rd March 1945, during the attack on FILIPONE and VENTI, Major Dawson showed outstanding skill and gallantry for exceeding his duty. He was attached to CREMONA GRUPPO as a Training Instructor but volunteered to go with the assault coy. There was no obligation for him to take any part in the battle. On the first day, when this Coy was stopped by mines and enemy fire, Major Dawson found the tanks, and, riding in the co-driver’s seat of a troop leader’s tank went with them up the beach to indicate the exact enemy positions.

Throughout the two days’ action he remained in the forefront of the battle – going from platoon to platoon under all types of fire and amongst the mines, exposing himself to constant danger, encouraging the infantry leading them in at least four separate assaults, showing them how to consolidate and coordinating the battle. Time and again, he gave the tank commanders just the information they required. He was Commander, Liaison Officer, Recce Officer and Runner all in one. Had it not been for Major Dawson, the operation could not have succeeded in the manner it did.

This Officer most nobly upheld the finest traditions of the British Officer.”

MAJOR G FITZGERALD, 2 LIR.                                 AUG 1943 to MAY 1945 – SICILY/ITALY.

“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 strong points. 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 RSV HOWARD, 1 RIrF.                                                         APR 1945 – ARGENTA.

“On the morning of 17 April 1945, Major RSV Howard commanded C Company, the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers (Princess Victoria’s) during the attack through the ARGENTA GAP.

The advance under fire to the objective was carried out successfully, despite some delay in support from the armour, caused by extensive minefields and numerous natural obstacles, and Major Howard’s Company, inspired in their drive forward by the high standard of his personal courage, accounted for a considerable number of enemy dead and wounded, and took over fifty prisoners, all of them recently committed from a reserve division.

This hardest period in this action had yet to come, and, incessantly throughout the day, the Company was engaged at close range by enemy tanks, armoured cars, assault guns and infantry. C Company withstood all of these sorties under Major Howard’s direction, and in one of the first encounters he was wounded in the arm and side. Not until all possibility of the threat to security of his Company’s position had been evacuated, did Major Howard consider reporting his wounds, and it was several hours after this before he was relieved by his second in command. The fierceness with which the enemy contested the battalion’s advance NE of ARGENTA is proof of the importance which he attached to the holding of these positions and in no small way was the success of the operation due to Major Howard’s courage and leadership.”

MAJOR JD (JOHN) LOFTING, 2 LIR.

MAR 1945 – SENIO RIVER.

“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.

“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.”

LIEUTENANT GH MURRAY, 2 INNISKS                                            APR 1945 – ARGENTA.

“On the 18th April 1945, Lieut Murray’s Coy was engaged in mopping up houses in area 265637. Lt Murray’s platoon was ordered to clear a group of houses that were heavily defended by MG posts in the upper stories and also covered by further MG platoon on a high bank to the west.

Lt Murray personally led his platoon under intense MG fire to within 300 yards from the buildings. The platoon suffered heavy casualties.

Realising he could not get further forward without support, Lt Murray reorganised and having obtained a flame thrower, led the remainder of his platoon in a second assault.

His inspiring leadership and courage enabled his platoon to storm the buildings and capture the occupants.

A few days later, Lt Murray again displayed great courage and devotion to duty, when, though severely wounded, he continued to fight with his platoon until ordered to be evacuated.

The example of Lt Murray’s courage and dash contributed directly to his Company’s success.”

LIEUTENANT EM SALTER, 2 LIR.                                                 MAR 1945 – SENIO RIVER.

“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.”

LIEUTENANT FHK SMITH, 2 INNISKS.                                   APR 1945 – SANTERNO RIVER.

“Lt Smith is in command of 16 Platoon D Company, 2nd Bttn Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. On the 13th April 1945, 16 Platoon was the leading platoon of the company who had the task of clearing the left bank of the SANTERNO River. Lt Smith led his platoon with great dash and during the course of the afternoon cleared three enemy strong points. In all three cases, Lt Smith was leading his section which had come under very heavy machine gun fire, but his dash and complete disregard for personal safety was completely successful in destroying all three posts without suffering any casualties to his own platoon. His handling of the platoon was excellent and dash and bearing throughout was an excellent example. His platoon captured twelve prisoners.

Again on the 18th April 1945, Lt Smith’s platoon was given the task of clearing some enemy posts from the North bank of the RENO River. Lt Smith again led his platoon to complete victory and in spite of withering fire, during which several of his men were wounded, he moved about among his men, encouraging all and setting an example of the highest possible standard.”

LIEUTENANT JHC TAYLOR, 2 LIR.                                           APR 1945 – ARGENTA GAP.

“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 reconnaisance 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 KEG TAYLOR, 1 RIrF.                                            MAR 1945 – SENIO RIVER.

“On 22nd March 1945, Lieut Taylor’s platoon of B Coy, The Royal Irish Fusiliers, was occupying the positions on the reverse side of the EAST flood bank of the R.SENIO.

At approximately 1500 hours a strong enemy attack was launched against his platoon, commencing with vicious grenade duels. Under his leadership, this officer’s platoon stood firm with great determination and no ground was gained by the enemy. Later in the afternoon and after these duels had been taking place for a considerable period, several Germans rushed across the bank and occupied some disused trenches to the flank of Lieut Taylor’s position. This might have developed into a very difficult situation but for his decisive action, and after he had directed fire at the enemy for a time, they took to flight leaving the dead and two wounded, who were eventually evacuated under a Red Cross Flag. The duels continued until dark, during which time, Lieut Taylor personally took one prisoner after a hand to hand struggle, and his platoon had suffered 50 per cent casualties.

Throughout the afternoon, Lieut Taylor displayed great coolness and courage and his leadership held his platoon to their tenacious resistance under the most trying conditions. But for his determination to stand his ground, the violence of the enemy onslaught must have succeeded, and there is proof in the fierceness of this resistance in a prisoner’s report that 25-30 enemy had been evacuated wounded after what proved to have been an unsuccessful and costly company attack.”

MAJOR AJ WILTON, 1 RIrF.                                                                      1944/45 – ITALY.

“Major AJ Wilton, 1st Battalion, The Royal Irish Fusiliers, (Princess Victoria’s) has seen practically continuous service for the past two years, both in this and another Battalion, in the capacity of Mortar Officer and Company Commander.

At all times, his leadership and courage have been on the highest par and on many individual occasions he has demonstrated a skill at command only equalled by the standard of his own personal bearing under enemy fire – one such occasion being the action in the SANFATUCCHIO area in the summer of 1944.

During April, Major Wilton commanded a Company from the RIVER SENIO to the RIVER PO, and has experienced every success in doing so. The successful advance of the Army to the much vaunted PO is now past history, but the proportionate successes on a Company level were due to just such leaders as this officer – a commander who was working in continuous close contact with the enemy, and was subjected to many privations in the cause of a rapid objective.

Major Wilton has at all times displayed the highest qualities of drive and leadership and his personal conduct has been of the utmost value in instilling further enthusiasm and drive into his men in their offensive. His was the example of a courageous officer who was prepared to go to any reasonable lengths to ensure the success of the soldiers fighting beneath his command.”


Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM).

CORPORAL BL BELL, 2 INNISKS.                                                        APR 1945 – ARGENTA.

“On the 17th April 1945, Cpl Bell was commanding a section in 17 Platoon D Company 2nd Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. The task of D Company was to break out of a small bridgehead already formed over the FOSSA MARINA, the first part of the Battalion’s task of cutting Route 16, to seal off the enemy tanks, SP guns and infantry in ARGENTA. Speed in this operation was essential.

When forming up on the perimeter of the bridgehead, the company came under heavy mortar and shell fire. Cpl Bell was not perturbed by this, although the rest of his section was lying down, he walked about giving his final orders, calmly smoking a cigarette. On two occasions he was blown off his feet. His bearing gave the greatest encouragement to his section and platoon.

Shortly afterwards the advance commenced, and Cpl Bell led his section in an attack on two Spandau posts in a group of houses across 300 yards of bullet swept group. The houses were successfully stormed both gun posts were silenced by Cpl Bell, who personally killed the 2 gunners

Cpl Bell was wounded in the arm during this attack but he did not hesitate, without further orders he continued in an assault on another house 100 yards ahead. In spite of heavy small arms fire, this house was taken, the automatic weapons silenced and 6 prisoners captured. Cpl Bell refused to be evacuated.

The platoon then reformed and prepared to attack a house 400 yards away, which had been converted into an enemy strong point, containing several light automatics and an SP Gun or Mark IV tank.

Undeterred by the heavy concentration of fire, Cpl Bell led his section, now reduced to himself and 3 men, across 400 yards of very open country, under heavy and continuous automatic fire. He charged straight for the strong point. Cpl Bell personally destroyed one enemy machine gun before a heavy mortar barrage finally stopped the section, all of the section except one being either killed or wounded.

During this attack, Cpl Bell received a serious wound in his buttock and his right arm all but severed at the elbow.

The platoon commander ordered the section to be evacuated but Cpl Bell, although capable of evacuating himself, continually refused to move until all his section had been taken to safety. He lay under the spasmodic fire of snipers for 2 hours.

This NCO, throughout the day, more than fulfilled the task demanded of him. He continued to lead his section though wounded, he led an advance of nearly 800 yards and it is doubtful, but for his speed and determination that the Battalion could have carried out their important task of cutting Route 16.

Cpl Bell’s self sacrificing actions and inspiring courage was the talk of all who saw him and his name is now a byword in the Battalion.”

CORPORAL E FITZPATRICK, 2 INNISKS.                                                             1945 – ITALY.

“From the time that the Bttn moved to the SENIO in February 1945 until he was wounded on the 21st April 1945, whilst his company was advancing to form a bridgehead over the S.NICOLO FERRARESE Canal, Cpl Fitzpatrick has constantly, by his unflagging fighting spirit and courage, been an inspiration and example to his platoon.

On the SENIO, this NCO would, night after night, leave the dug in positions, and with wither Piat or Bren gun go up to the bank and completely exposing himself, fire at point blank range into enemy dug outs, that he would locate during the day. By these actions, he maintained not only in his own platoon but the whole company the aggressive spirit of defence that was so essential during these months.

On the 14th April 1945, during the Battalion’s advance to LA GIOVECCA, south of ARGENTA, Cpl Fitzpatrick’s platoon was ordered to send out a patrol to reconnoitre the ferry area across the SANTERNO. This patrol was to seize any bridge or ferry that might be found there. Cpl Fitzpatrick, together with his platoon sergeant and members of the platoon until they found out that the enemy had been destroyed. Seeing the enemy in trenches on the opposite side, flying the white flag, they called upon them to. When they would not do so, the patrol waded across and Cpl Fitzpatrick pulled them out of their trenches. Climbing up to the top of the bank, Cpl Fitzpatrick saw a party of twenty Germans out in the open. Firing his Bren gun, he killed three and the rest scattered.

In the early hours of the 19th April 1945, at TOMBA north of ARGENTA, Cpl Fitzpatrick was ordered to take a reconnaissance patrol out along the Northern bank of the RENO to ascertain the SOUTH positions of the enemy, who were thought to be digging in that area. Immediately after the patrol left TOMBA, our own gunners fired a very heavy and close barrage onto both banks of the RENO, to assist in the advance of Commando units up to the Western side of the river. During this barrage, our own troops had been withdrawn from positions on the RENO bank. The patrol was called in and succeeded in regaining the house at TOMBA without casualties, although shells were raining around and on the house.

Throughout this incident Cpl Fitzpatrick remained completely calm and master of the situation, and by his demeanour and leadership, maintained the morale of his men, although they were considerably shaken. After an interval, Cpl Fitzpatrick took his patrol out again, and leading them along the Northern bank of the river, was able to report the area clear.

On the 21st April 1945, when his company was advancing to the S.NICOLO FERRARESE Canal, Cpl Fitzpatrick was badly wounded by mortar fire whilst looking for a place for his platoon to ford a broad dyke.

By his contempt for personal danger, this NCO’s actions have been an outstanding example to the men of his company, and his leadership on patrol or where offensive action has been required, has been most outstanding.”

CSM A ROLSTON, 2 INNISKS.                                                             APR 1945 – ARGENTA.

“At 0130 hrs on 21st April 1945, C Company was the leading company of the Battalion in an attack to form a bridgehead over the Canal at 214755. As the company crossed the Canal, they came under very heavy shell fire. All the officers were wounded and the company suffered severe casualties, and in consequence were badly disorganised. CSM Rolston took over command and skilfully reorganised the company, and formed and held the bridgehead thus enabling the rest of the Battalion to pass through.

Under heavy shell fire he maintained the company in positions by his personal example, until relieved by an officer from another company.

It was entirely due to the personal courage and initiative of CSM Rolston, that the company was able to complete its task, spite of the loss of its officers and the natural confusion and disorganisation caused by this and the numerous casualties suffered in the company.”


Military Medal (MM).

L/CORPORAL BELLIS, 2 LIR.                                                  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.”

CSM A BOYD, 2 INNISKS.                                                               APR 1945 – ARGENTA.

“On the 17 Apr 1945, A Coy was taking part in the Battalion’s attack through the ARGENTA GAP. During the afternoon, the Coy came under shell and machine gun fire from SP guns which were causing many casualties to our tanks. A platoon of Sgt Boyd’s Coy, to which he was performing the duties of CSM, was ordered to advance with the objective of capturing the SP guns, and making contact with the Battalion on the right. This platoon was badly cut up by direct hits caused by armour piercing shells and sustained many casualties. The platoon was forced to withdraw leaving the casualties behind. Sgt Boyd made his way up to the area which was completely exposed to fire from the SP gun and contacted the wounded and one NCO who had remained behind to attend to them. Sgt Boyd moved all round the area looking for the men and getting them together.

Later that afternoon, Sgt Boyd again went forward to the area to contact three men of the company who were taking shelter in a slit trench, and who because of the shock of the preceding incident were unable to take their way back. By his calm and reassuring manner, Sgt Boyd gave confidence to these men and led them safely out of the area.”

CORPORAL I CATHCART, 1 RIrF.                                                  MAR 1945 – COTIGNOLA.

“On 11 March 1945, Cpl Cathcart was in command of a section post of C Company, 1st Bttn The Royal Irish Fusiliers, which was holding a forward position on the EAST bank of the R SENIO, SW of COTIGNOLA.

At approximately 1300 hrs, a shower of grenades landed amongst his men, wounding several. He immediately organised resistance and personally led the counter attack, hurling grenades at the enemy with great speed and accuracy. He then attended to his casualties, whose evacuation he directed with sound judgement.

Shortly afterwards, another attack was made on his post, which was again repulsed, mainly due to his own readiness to lead the resistance. By now, the ammunition situation was serious, and increased by the fact, so fierce had been the enemy attack, that some of the slit trenches had collapsed onto their reserve dump of grenades. Despite further attacks, the post was denied to the enemy until successfully relieved at first dark.

This NCO displayed great personal courage combined with a high quality of leadership which held his section together during a fierce close quarter combat lasting over three hours. It was entirely due to his efforts that the determined efforts by the enemy did not bear fruit.”

FUSILIER EE CLARKE, 2 INNISKS.                                                       APR 1945 – ARGENTA.

“This fusilier is a Bren Gunner in the company and during the last three actions has caused many casualties to the enemy. During the breakout at the SANTERNO Bridgehead he spotted an enemy Spandau post. Without orders he was quickly in position and with his first magazine he killed the crew of the enemy gun. He then joined in the assault, firing from the hip, charging straight for the enemy, as a direct result of this 20 prisoners were taken.

During the enemy counter attack on the 18th April 1945, he got into position, completely in the open on the top of the flood bank, and remained there until he had fired the whole of his ammunition at the enemy who were advancing no more than 30 yards away. It was largely due to his devastating fire that the counter attack was broken up., and his disregard for his own safety was an example to the whole company.”

FUSILIER T ELLIOTT, 1 RIrF.                                                                 APR 1945 – ARGENTA.

“On 21st April 1945, Fusilier Elliott was Despatch Rider to Support Company, 1st Battalion Royal The Irish Fusiliers (Princess Victoria’s) during the attack on PORTOMAGGIORE to secure a bridgehead over the SAN NICOLO Canal.

After the initial footing had been established, Support Company started to move forward with the Battalion heavy weapons to effect consolidation and to assist in exploitation. To this end accurate guiding was essential and Fusilier Elliott was employed in this role. Time after time, he rode from an area in MONTESANTO back to the bridge to collect various sub sections, under continuous shell fire from enemy assault guns. Nothing daunted by the enemy’s discouraging artillery concentrations, he carried out every duty required of him, thereby vitally influencing the speed of the operation. On his final journey from the bridge he and the vehicles which he was escorting ran into a vicious concentration, and he was very seriously wounded. Despite the fact that he was in agony himself, he insisted on his wounded comrades being evacuated before he received any further attention.

By his courageous conduct and devotion to duty before, and his fortitude and patience after, being wounded, Fusilier Elliott was an inspiration to all those who were privileged to work with him, and there is no shadow of doubt but that he considerably influenced the course of the battle – a creditable performance at any time for a Fusilier. This action followed his excellent service in a similar capacity in the SANTERNO bridgehead.”

SERGEANT FJ GILLIGAN, 2 INNISKS                                                        APR 1945 – ARGENTA.

“Sgt Gilligan is platoon sergeant of No 17 Platoon D Coy, 2nd Bttn Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. During the 17th and 18th April 1945, Sgt Gilligan’s platoon fought several hard battles. On the morning of 17 April when forming up for an attack in a group of houses, Sgt Gilligan’s platoon was subjected to a heavy enemy barrage but Sgt Gilligan wandered around his platoon, not bothering about any cover for himself. In this area, each house was a strong point and the area was swept by enemy small arms fire but Sgt Gilligan moved about the battlefield oblivious of bullets. Several times he cleared enemy from positions on his own. Later in the day, a strong point was attacked by this platoon. The platoon consisted of three machine guns and one SP gun. The post was in the open and covered from both flanks by enemy fire. The platoon got within 50 yards of the house but owing to enemy defensive fire casualties were heavy and the final assault was impossible.  The platoon was ordered to withdraw but Gilligan refused to leave his wounded until the stretcher bearers had evacuated all his men. His behaviour throughout was beyond that called for by normal duty and he set such an example that his badly mauled platoon never once lost their dash and high morale which made the battle a complete success, as the enemy in the strong point were later found to be all but destroyed, but for five.”

FUSILIER J GORDON, 1 RIrF.                                                                  APR 1945 – ARGENTA.

“On the morning of 24th April 1945, A Company 1st Battalion, The Royal Irish Fusiliers (Princess Victoria’s) was attacking the SALETTA – RUINA road in the face of a rearguard action fought by enemy tanks and infantry.

Approaching a canal, the company came under heavy machine gun fire and it was imperative that the obstacle be crossed forthwith. In the course of this fire Fusilier Gordon ran over the bank, and although of short stature, plunged unhesitatingly into the water of then unknown depth. He was the first of his platoon to cross and there is no doubt that his action spurred the remainder who quickly followed his example.

Later in the same day, the company was crossing an open field when two enemy tanks confronted them at a range of less than four hundred yards, and forced them to withdraw slightly to the cover of an irrigation ditch. In the course of this withdrawal, Fusilier Gordon‘s Platoon Commander was wounded, and although, he himself reached cover, he immediately returned to assist his officer until the arrival of the Company’s stretcher bearers.

Fusilier Gordon’s conduct throughout the action was of the highest standard and was undoubtedly an inspiration to his comrades. But for his initiative in the first instance there might have been considerable casualties and selfless deed in tending his wounded commander demonstrates his complete contempt of danger.”

SERGEANT TC HODSON, 2 INNISKS.                                                         APR 1945 – ARGENTA.

“On the 13 April 1945 during the advance out of the SANTERNO bridgehead, Sgt Hodson was commanding No 11 Platoon of B Company. This platoon was one of the leading platoons of the Battalion and suddenly came under fire from an organised line of enemy FDLs. The enemy position consisted of a line of six fortified houses running along a road directly across the front. Each house was armed with a Spandau position and around the houses were slit trenches containing bazookas and riflemen. His platoon was engaged by four of the Spadaus. Sgt Hodson quickly sized up the position and led his platoon forward to clear up the right hand house. He then switched left down the road, his whole platoon following him, to mop up the remainder. It was largely due to his outstanding skill and courage that enabled his company to take 56 prisoners and take a large amount of German weapons, including 7 Spandaus and 8 Bazookas.

Again on the 18th and 21st April 1945, Sgt Hodson, by his quick appreciation of the situation and his dash and courage enabled his platoon to break up two strong enemy counter attacks

During the whole period, he has shown a complete disregard for his own personal safety and has always been at the front of his platoon.”

SERGEANT AL HUGHES, 2 INNISKS.                                                  APR 1945 – ARGENTA.

“On the night of 20/21 April 1945, A Coy was advancing with the object of crossing the canal FOSSA SAN NICOLO RIVALDA. Whilst approaching the canal, A Coy was heavily mortared, 7 platoon losing its commander, platoon Sgt and two section commanders. The calm demeanour and disregard for personal safety on the part of Sgt Hughes, who was commanding 9 Platoon, was greatly responsible for the steadying and reorganisation of 7 Platoon and enabled them to carry on with the advance. But for the very quick action on the part of Sgt Hughes, this platoon which had lost all its leaders might have suffered more casualties and become non effective as a fighting unit.

Sgt Hughes organised the crossing of the canal for both platoons under command. Sgt Hughes’s leadership and appreciation of the situation enabled his Company to continue its advance unchecked, until its final objectives had been reached.”

SERGEANT L KELLY, 2 INNISKS                                                                     1945 – ITALY.

“This NCO has been a Pioneer Sergeant for the past eight months. In this capacity he has worked outstandingly hard and tirelessly both in and out of the line. His work in clearing mined areas, on many occasions in close proximity to the enemy, has been invaluable. He has never hesitated to show the utmost courage and disregard for personal danger at all times.

He has accompanied several patrols to the enemy lines, exposing himself to great personal risk at the head of the patrol.

This NCO has shown the greatest possible devotion to duty.”

L/SGT LANG, 1 RIrF.                                                                           APR 1945 – ARGENTA.

“At 0630 hours on the morning of 18 April 1945, L/Sgt Lang’s platoon of D Company, 1stBattalion Royal Irish Fusiliers (Princess Victoria’s) attacked NE of ARGENTA with tanks in support.

During this attack, which was made all the more difficult by extensive minefields – and consequent delay in support from the armour – L/Sgt Lang led his men with customary ability and courage, and every objective fell to his platoon as planned and many prisoners were taken – all from the freshly committed 29th Panzer Grenadier Division – which bears token to the enthusiasm and drive with which had instilled his men.

Later during the day, this NCO was detailed to lead a patrol half a mile into enemy country to a group of farm buildings. On approaching the first farmhouse, he observed the gun –barrel of a German tank protruding from a barn, and on closer inspection, a second tank was seen, camouflaged against another group of huts. Nothing dismayed by a sight which might well be described as discouraging, L/Sgt Lang sighted an LMG in a covering position, and personally led the assault around the rear of the houses. Such was the speed and determination of the attack, that the tank crews were taken prisoner without being able to fire a shot, despite their numerical superiority; and two sound Mark IV tanks, complete in every detail, fell into the hands of the Regiment – a company being despatched immediately to secure the patrol gains.

This action was typical of L/Sgt Lang’s cool courage in the case of the enemy and in a culmination of many instances of gallant conduct during the past eighteen months, when his bravery and leadership have previously resulted in two previous situations.”

L/SGT H LINES, 1 RIrF.                                                                    APR 1945 – ARGENTA.

“On 17 April 1945, C Company, the 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Fusiliers (Princess Victoria’s), attacked NE of ARGENTA. The resistance was that of a determined enemy who realised the strategic importance of the positions which was defending, and the advance over every yard was fiercely contested by infantry, assault guns and tanks.

Lance Sergeant Lines’ Platoons was well to the fore and heavily involved with the enemy. During the engagement, this NCO conducted himself in an exemplary manner, disregarding all thoughts for his safety and continuously encouraging his men under a hail of fire. One particularly heavy concentration seriously wounded one of his men, and unhesitatingly, he went to his assistance, despite the shelling.

Not only did he apply immediate first aid, but shortly afterwards, when another concentration came down on their area, he shielded the wounded man with his own body.

Lance Sergeant Lines’ selfless devotion to duty and to the well being of his men was a vital factor in the ultimate success of his platoon’s attack. His cheerful encouragement during the action greatly helped to keep his men to their task and his personal gallantry was an inspiration to all those who were privileged to fight with him.”

L/CPL WA McCOMISH, 1 RIrF.                                                      MAR 1945 – SENIO RIVER.

“On 22nd March 1945, Lance Corporal McComish was NCO in charge of B Company Signals, 1st Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers, the forward posts of which were situated on the EAST flood banks of the R.SENIO, and its HQ in a farm some two hundred yards distant.

During the night the enemy heavily mortared the Company area and this, combined with the explosion of hundreds of grenades caused breakages in the line on three separate occasions. This tool place when communication between Company and Platoon HQs was vital. On each occasion, he set out alone from Company HQ to repair and relay the line, crossing, in order to do so, an open space of two hundred yards swept by all kinds of enemy fire. On one such occasion, as he was climbing the flood bank to relay a length of line destroyed by grenades, he was struck on the knee by a grenade, which fortunately failed to explode. This in no way deterred him from continuing his hazardous duties, nor prevented him from obtaining a complete grasp of the situation.

L/Cpl McComish, always an outstanding man in the Signal Platoon, has given most valued service to the Battalion during the past two and a half years, and this night’s action during which his courage was an inspiration to all those with whom he came into contact, was the culmination of long, cheerful and conscientious conduct.”

SERGEANT W McCUSKER, 2 INNISKS.                                         MAR 1945 – SENIO RIVER.

“Sgt McCusker was Platoon Sergeant of 13 Platoon, C Coy, 2nd Bttn Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers between 10/13 Mar 45. His Platoon was holding part of the East bank of the SENIO RIVER. The enemy held two footbridges across the river from which they maintained a number of posts on our side of the bank.

On the night of 11 Mar, Sgt McCusker made repeated efforts to destroy the footbridges with a PIAT. Three times during the night, he repelled enemy attempts to cross the footbridges, killing and wounding several of the enemy with PIAT and Bren Gun. This he managed to do despite the fact that the enemy continuously swept the East bank with accurate and sustained Spandau fire and rifle grenades. On the night of 12 Mar, the enemy made very determined effort to cross the footbridge. Six rockets were directed against the East bank where 13 Platoon were in position, two striking the bank destroying three of our weapon pits. Sgt McCusker was blown off the forward slope sustaining injuries from blast. He refused to be evacuated, however, but climbed back on to the forward slope from where he fired a Bren Gun, wounding three more of the enemy.

He then commenced firing a PIAT, first throwing 77 grenades to light up the area. Under direct observation from the far bank and with Spandau fire directed from a distance of 40 yards against him, he fired 8 PIAT bombs from the forward slope, destroying the larger of the two footbridges and damaging the other. He was wounded the next day directing 2” Mortar fire against enemy positions on the West bank.

Sgt McCusker, during these four nights, showed outstanding devotion to duty and courage of the highest order. His example to 13 Platoon was magnificent and had a marked effect towards the determined manner in which 13 Platoon routed the enemy from the East bank and prevented them from maintaining posts there.”

CORPORAL T McKESSICK, 1 RIrF.                                                                 1945 – ITALY.

“Colour Sergeant McKessick is an old and distinguished member of the 1st Battalion, The Royal Irish Fusiliers (Princess Victoria’s). During the early months of the year, in his capacity of Company Quartermaster Sergeant, he was responsible for supplying his men with food and ammunition under the most appalling conditions when the enemy were concentrating the majority of their artillery and mortars on the disruption of our maintenance convoys.

On one occasion, in January 1945, in a blinding snowstorm, this Colour Sergeant was required to move his mules in bounds behind a raiding party, and was at all times immediately available when any requirements were notified. This necessitated the presence of his supply group in extremely dangerous areas, but in no way affected the efficiency of the task in hand.

This action was typical of Colour Sergeant McKessick and only confirms the faith which the Battalion already has in him. Again, in late January this year, he unfailingly brought up supplies to his Company in the MONTE GRANDE sector, disregarding weather conditions and demonstrating the utmost disregard for his own personal safety and comfort.

Colour Sergeant McKessick served this Regiment throughout the French Campaign in 1939/40 as a Platoon Commander and again in North Africa and Sicily. This further service in Italy has completed a record of almost continuous performance in action – in itself no mean achievement. His performance is not only the quick bravery of a younger man but the steadfast courage over a considerable period of a veteran in full possession of the knowledge of his responsibilities. This long record of loyal and distinguished service has proved an inspiration to younger members of the Regiment and there is no shadow of doubt that Colour Sergeant McKessick is one of the main stays of this Battalion.”

SERGEANT AK MORRISON, 2 INNISKS.                                              APR  1945 – ARGENTA.

“On 13th April 1945, C Coy 2nd Bttn Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers was right forward Company clearing the road up to and including the village of LA GIOVECCA.

Sgt Morrison was platoon commander of 14Platoon, C Coy, whose task was to clear the enemy from a number of fortified houses. Sgt Morrison personally led his platoon forward under extremely heavy SA and Shell fire to clear a house which dominated the approaches to the village, Sgt Morrison, himself, led a section into the house, throwing grenades into the lower rooms. They succeeded in killing a number of the enemy, taking the survivors prisoner. He then reorganised his platoon so efficiently that it was able to meet and destroy an enemy counter attack, 30 strong, he again killed a number of Germans and took the remainder prisoner.

Throughout this day of extremely heavy fighting, Sgt Morrison showed exceptional powers of leadership and outstanding personal bravery.”

FUSILIER JJ MURPHY, 2 INNISKS.                                                    APR 1945 – ARGENTA.

“During the morning of the 21st April 1945 at Canal Crossing MR 214735, after C Coy, 2nd Bttn  Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers was caught in an artillery barrage, Fusilier Murphy, who was Bren Gunner in a Rifle Section had many comrades killed and wounded. He went out into the open under intense shell and mortar fire and brought in a number of the wounded. He never wavered and set a great example to his comrades. When ordered to come back to take up a defensive position on a canal bank, Fusilier Murphy took his Bren Gun and searched the canal bank, knowing well that there were several enemy posts there. He assisted in capturing a Spandau position and a complete section of riflemen.

This Fusilier showed tremendous energy, courage and devotion to duty through an extremely heavy action.”

FUSILIER N NICHOLLS, 2 INNISKS                                                     APR 1945 – ARGENTA.

“At about 1500 hrs on the 17th April 1945, during the operations North West of ARGENTA, Fusilier Nicholls’ platoon was ordered to advance with the object of capturing an SP gun that was inflicting casualties on our tanks supporting the advance, and also to make contact with the Bttn on the right.

When Nicholls’ platoon had advanced about 400 yards along the left hand side of the railway, they came under direct fire from an SP gun and tank firing armour piercing “shot”. The platoon had been advancing along a ditch beside the railway. Nicholls’ section was the leading section with the platoon commander at the head of it. One shell fired along the line of the ditch from immediately ahead, from the area of the house at 278626, badly wounded his platoon commander, and wounded four men behind. Nicholls, together with his section commander, and two others ran to a house 50 yards ahead.  This movement was seen by the enemy, who immediately started to fire armour piercing “shot” into the house, and shells along the length of the ditch. The enemy continued to heavily shell the house, the area behind it and the ditch, compelling the remainder of the platoon to withdraw.

Fusilier Nicholls helped to bandage one of his party in the house who had been hit, and then saw that his platoon commander was lying badly wounded in the open behind the house.

Although the enemy were aware of the fact that our troops were in the house, and in the area behind it, and were continuously shelling the house and area heavily by direct observation, Fusilier Nicholls left the house by himself, and went back 50 yards to where his platoon commander was lying. Under heavy fire, Fusilier Nicholls, half dragged, half carried his platoon commander back to the house, and there rendered the first aid which was urgently required.

Fusilier Nicholls, at a time when his platoon had suffered heavy casualties, including the commander, platoon sergeant, and two other NCOs, showed complete contempt for personal danger, and by his act, set a great example of courage and devotion to duty.”

CORPORAL PJ O’LEARY, 2 LIR.                                                    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.”

RIFLEMAN HJ THRUSH, 2 LIR.                                                   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.”



 

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