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 – Sicilian Campaign

Distinguished Service Order (DSO).

LT COL BH BUTLER (1 RIrF).                                                AUG 1943 – SIMETO RIVER.

“Lt-Col Butler’s task was to secure the right half of the RIVER SIMETO bridgehead and much depended on the success of this operation. This officer led his battalion with great gallantry. Throughout a hard day’s fighting, he was tireless in his efforts to ensure success – personally directing the fire of his Anti-Tank Guns and Mortars at centres of resistance; launching attacks and never giving a desperate and determined enemy any loophole. Colonel Butler was under continuous and accurate short range MG and rifle fire and Mortar fire for many hours, but his complete disregard of danger and his inspiring example to his Battalion ensure the success of the operation. This officer had also rendered distinguished service in the attack on CENTURIPE (Aug 2/3) and in the crossing of the river SALSO (Aug 4/5). I strongly recommend the immediate award of the Distinguished Service Order to Lt-Col Butler.”


LT-COL TN GRAZEBROOK (6 Innisks).                                        AUG 1943 – CENTURIPE.

“The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers had the difficult task of capturing the right and Southern part of CENTURIPE, including the precipitous heights of Pt 708 and 709. The success of the operation was largely due to the skill, determination and complete disregard of danger of Lt-Col Grazebrook. In exposed positions and under heavy mortar and MG fire and continual and accurate sniping this Officer handled his Battalion with a sure hand; never relaxing pressure throughout a hard day and overcoming the resistance of a determined enemy in defensive positions. The whole Battalion was inspired by the example and determination of their Commanding Officers. I strongly recommend the immediate award of the Distinguished Service Order to Lt-Col Grazebrook.”



 Military Cross (MC)

LIEUTENANT JB CAMMIADE (1 RIrF).                                       AUG 1943 – CENTURIPE.

“On 3 Aug 43, this Officer was in command of a Platoon of B Coy ordered to move forward from CENTURIPE as a fighting patrol to gain contact with the enemy. Lt Cammiade took sections across the river valley and located two enemy MG posts; in the action which ensued one of these posts was knocked out with its crew and the other withdrew. On 5 Aug 43 on the River SIMETO B Coy was ordered to attach the enemy in the houses covering the road crossing. Lt Cammiade’s Platoon was ordered to attack a large house. He advanced with such speed that his Platoon entered the house and drove out the Germans whilst our own artillery was still firing on the locality. On receiving orders to take a party round the flank and take another building he was unfortunately badly wounded whilst leading his men forward. Lt Cammiade’s example to the whole Coy has been magnificent on all occasions.”


LIEUTENANT M CLARKE (2 LIR).                                             AUG 1943 – SIMETO RIVER.

“This officer displayed the most outstanding courage on 5/6 Aug ’43 when the Bn was establishing a bridgehead on the R.Simeto. His company on the left of the attack was disorganised due to the activities of snipers and a local enemy counter attack. Lieut. Clarke reorganised all his available men and attacked with determination two enemy strong points inflicted casualties on them and forced the occupants to retire. His prompt action at a critical moment undoubtedly prevented a serious situation arising. Later Lieut. Clarke led a reconnaissance patrol which brought back valuable information.This officer’s bearing and disregard for personal safety throughout the operation was an inspiration to all his men and was undoubtedly one of the factors in the success of the attack.”        


CAPTAIN GL CROCKER (6 Innisks).                                         AUG 1943 – CENTURIPE.

“On August 2nd 1943, Major Crocker was ordered to take his Coy into the fortress town of CENTURIPE. After leading his Coy up an almost vertical cliff under heavy cross machine gun fire he then organised it at the summit still under the fire with complete disregard for his personal safety, and led it into the centre of the town where it encountered an equal number of a German parachute unit. In the ensuing hand to hand fighting Maj Crocker continued to display conspicuous gallantry and leadership and conducted the battle with the greatest skill. Although wounded and suffering from loss of blood he refused to leave his Coy and remained with it through the night during which the enemy withdrew.”


LIEUTENANT EBS HEWITT (6 Innisks).                                AUGUST 1943 – CENTURIPE.

“Attack on CENTURIPE 2 Aug 43: During the afternoon, A Coy succeeded in fighting its way against opposition into the centre of the town, and established itself in the main square. At 2030 hours OC A Coy went off to carry out a recce and to coordinate a plan with a second Coy now in the town; during this he was wounded and Lieut Hewitt took over the company. Throughout the evening and night the enemy counter attacked and pressed forward their attack with great determination. Although access to the houses could not be gained, Lieut Hewitt, regardless of personal danger and with an example of courage which was an inspiration to all, succeeded in repelling all attacks and later organised patrols further into the town until his Coy Commander rejoined. Had it not been for this officer’s devotion to duty and power of leadership it is improbable that the hold on the town could have been maintained during the night.”


MAJOR J FITZGERALD (2 LIR).                                              AUG 1943 – SIMETO RIVER.

“This officer was commanding F Company in a two Coy attack to secure a bridgehead over the River Simeto on the afternoon of 5 Aug ’43. He led his Coy with great dash and gallantry throughout the attack. Some disorganisation was apparent after the bridgehead had been gained owing to the activity of enemy snipers and loss of officers and NCOs during the attack. It was at this point that Major Fitzgerald realising that the attack might become serious took charge and with great coolness and efficiency directed the reorganisation of the two companies thus ensuring the complete success of the operation. His personal courage and disregard for personal safety were of the highest order.”  


LIEUTENANT J McCLINTON (6 Innisks).                                 AUG 1943 – CENTURIPE.

“On the 2nd August 1943 during the successful assault on CENTURIPE, D Coy was ordered to capture the ridge which commanded the eastern flank of the town. Lieut McClinton was ordered to attack the farm house on Pt 664 which was the key to the ridge, and which was occupied by a platoon of the enemy and was covered by another platoon position further along the ridge. Although the approaches were extremely difficult and up steep terraced and rocky slopes Lieut McClinton directed and led his platoon, under intense fire, with such skill and determination that he succeeded in capturing the objective. The success of this operation was undoubtedly due to the personal courage and power of leadership of Lieut McClinton.”


LIEUTENANT JE McNALLY (1 RIrF).                                        AUG 1943 – SIMETO RIVER.

“On 5 Aug 43 on the river SIMETO this Officer was commanding a Platoon of A Coy. When the two leading Coys of his Battalion had been held up whilst crossing the river this Officer was ordered to take his Platoon further round to the right flank and get up on the cliff edge beyond the enemy position. In spite of much enemy MG fire and sniping from the rocks, crevices and houses on the opposite side of the river, Lt McNally managed to seize the high ground and establish a bridgehead there, thus enabling the remainder of his Coy to get across and enlarge the bridgehead. This action led to the crumbling of the whole enemy position. Lt McNally’s fine leadership, initiative and disregard of danger were a magnificent example to his men.” 



 Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM).

L/CORPORAL GREGORY (2 LIR).                                         AUG 1943 – SIMETO RIVER.

“This Rifleman displayed great courage and coolness during the attack on the afternoon of 5 Aug ’43. Under heavy fire he brought his 2″ mortar into action to engage an enemy strong point in a hut. Still under heavy fire he continued to engage the enemy till he ran out of ammunition and was ordered to withdraw. He then found a rifle and with L/Cpl Brodie formed a centre of resistance against an enemy counter attack. He kept up continuous fire with his rifle and helped to beat off four attacks against his position. After L/Cpl Brodie had been wounded and taken back, Rfn Gregory remained and sniped the enemy although his position was an exposed one. His courage and disregard for personal safety was of the highest order and he was an inspiration to his company and the Battalion.”  



Military Medal (MM).

L/CORPORAL RH APLING (6 Innisks).                                        AUG 1943 – CENTURIPE.

“On 2 August 1943, during the successful assault on CENTURIPE, D Coy was ordered to capture the ridge which commanded the eastern flank of the town; which was in turn dominated by the farm house on Pt 664. When the platoon detailed to attack the farm went into the assault L/Cpl Apling took the lead, and with great determination and gallantry scaled a high rock terrace at the top of which were two enemy MG posts and closed with them, driving the enemy out. His spirited action was largely instrumental in the capture of this dominating strong point held by a platoon of the enemy. When the enemy counterattacked after a few minutes with grenade and a bayonet charge L/Cpl Apling displayed the greatest coolness and firmly waited for the attack to come on.”


CORPORAL F COOPER (1 RIrF).                                  AUG 1943 – SALSO/SIMETO RIVERS.

“On 4 Aug 43 on the River SALSO, Cpl Cooper was commanding a section of A Coy engaged in an attack on the enemy positions on the opposite bank. During the advance, Cpl Cooper located a sniper shooting at his Coy. Firing his TSMG he closed to 30 yards and shot the sniper dead. Again on 5 Aug 43 on the River SIMETO whilst attacking across the River valley, Cpl Cooper again stalked a German post, dashing forward over the last few yards capturing two Germans in it. Cpl Cooper’s fearless actions and initiative were largely responsible for the success of his Coy in their attacks.”


SERGEANT H DONAGHY (2 LIR).                                           AUG 1943 – SIMETO RIVER.

“During the attack on Point 253 on 5 Aug ’43, L/Sgt Donaghy was Pl Sgt of No 11 Platoon. Nearing his objective, his Pl commander was killed by fire from an enemy MG post. He handed over his Pl to the next senior NCO and personally stalked and attacked the post wiping it out with grenades. He then came under fire from another post on the flank which he also successfully attacked and neutralised. His conduct throughout the action was an inspiration to his Coy and showed a complete disregard for his own personal safety.”                  


L/CORPORAL K GAFFNEY (2 LIR).                                          AUG 1943 – SIMETO RIVER.

“This NCO was in charge of H Coy wireless set during the attack on the afternoon of 5 Aug ’43. Under the most difficult of circumstances and continual sniping he helped to carry the set across the River Simeto which was deep and swift. On the arrival at the far bank it was necessary to dismantle the set to get it up the further bank by the side of a waterfall. This was done and the set re-assembled under fire in ten minutes. The maintenance of communication by the NCO and his operator enabled ammunition to be sent to the Company when urgently required and kept me in touch with the situation at a vital period. The devotion to duty and great courage, coupled with technical skill was largely instrumental in bringing the attack to a successful conclusion.”    


L/CORPORAL KJ GILVEAR (1 RIrF).                                             AUG 1943 – MALETTO.

“During the attack on Mt MALETTO on the morning of 12 Aug 43, this young NCO showed the greatest courage and complete disregard for  his own safety. By crawling forward to a MG post, which had been holding up the advance, he threw a grenade and fired a burst of TSMG into the post causing the four occupants to surrender. Throughout the remainder of the attack he inspired and led his section in a most daring manner. Later in the day, regardless to risk to himself he made his way back to Coy HQ from a very exposed forward under heavy MG Mortar and Shell fire to get ammunition for his section. By his courage and cheerful confidence through this dangerous period, L/Cpl Gilvear kept his section alert and in good spirits at all times.”


RIFLEMAN RW HARRISON (2 LIR).                                    AUG 1943 – SIMETO RIVER.

“In the initial stages of the attack on 5 Aug ’43, this rifleman covered his platoon through a gap, which was covered by snipers, accounting for one. Later when the objective had been reached he took up a position from which he gave the enemy no respite although he was under fire from his left and the enemy started to counterattack. He stayed at his post until ordered to another position where he acted as Pl runner. In this capacity he brought at least five important messages to his Coy HQ each time across open ground under heavy fire. His coolness, bravery and complete disregard for his own personal safety throughout four hours of hard fighting was an inspiring example to all others.” 


CSM JD KEIR (1 RIrF).                                                              AUG 1943 – MALETTO.

“During the night attack on Mt Maletto in the early hours of 12 Aug 43, A Coy, of which this WO is CSM, encountered determined resistance on the lower slopes. When one Platoon of the Coy was heavily engaged in grenade fighting in the trees and terraces in that area CSM Keir accompanied another Platoon around the right flank. Spotting the post from which the main opposition was coming, he crawled forward in the semi darkness by himself and threw two grenades right into the position. This enabled the Platoon to advance and clear the post. Throughout the night attack this WO rendered the greatest assistance to the Coy Officers controlling the men, being always well to the front. CSM Keir also distinguished himself on the crossing of the R.SIMETO on 5 Aug 43 by bringing forward ammunition and food to his Coy whilst under fire. The conduct of this WO in action has been outstanding and has inspired the men of his Coy to respond to his leadership.”


FUSILIER R LAMB (1 RIrF).                                                  AUG 1943 – SIMETO RIVER.

On 5 Aug 43 on the River SIMETO, this NCO was in charge of B Coy’s SBs during an attack on a strongly held enemy locality. The leading troops were held up in the centre of the locality by heavy fire from German Sub MGs and bombs fired from the windows of the most dominating house. Although he was only 50 yards from the house, L/Cpl Lamb moved about, tending the wounded and dressing no less than six men. This NCO displayed devotion to duty regardless of his own safety of a high order.”


RIFLEMAN JGG MURTAGH (2 LIR).                                      AUG 1943 – SPERINA, SICILY.

“Rfn Murtagh was the Bren Gunner of the leading section in the attack on Sperina on 12 Aug ’43. His platoon was held up by an enemy MG post halfway up a bare coverless slope. Rfn Murtagh immediately engaged the enemy MG post and although in a very exposed position silenced it and enabled the platoon to continue its advance, but in doing so he was wounded. Rfn Murtagh, though wounded, continued to give covering fire for this section throughout a further advance and only gave up when his platoon had successfully reached their objective.He showed courage and determination of a high order and was a splendid example to all. I strongly recommend the immediate award of the MM.”    


L/CORPORAL E O’REILLY (2 LIR).                                       AUG 1943 – SPERINA, SICILY.

“This NCO was with a leading section on the attack on Sperina on 12 Aug ’43. His section was earlier held up by enemy snipers, MGs and Mortars. Using great skill and in spite of continual sniping and MG fire, this NCO stalked an enemy post and single handedly cleared it and took ten prisoners. He then forced two of his prisoners to dismantle an MG in a second post which he had also cleared.This action was instrumental in allowing the remainder of his Platoon to move forward and reach their objective. L/Cpl O’Reilly set a fine example throughout the day and his skill and daring are deserving of recognition. I recommend the immediate award of the MM.”    


SERGEANT R PHILLIPS (6 Innisks).                                          AUG 1943 – CENTURIPE.

“On afternoon 2nd August 1943, A Coy was ordered to scale a cliff and occupy the town of CENTURIPE. The coy entered the town under heavy cross machine cross fire. Almost immediately on entering he town the platoon commander of the leading platoon was severely wounded and Sgt Phillips assumed command. He immediately continued the advance and sweeping aside opposition gained the main square where the platoon was attacked by an enemy tank. In spite of this, Sgt Phillips managed to push further forward. The enemy then launched a counter attack which isolated this platoon from the remainder of the Coy. Sgt Phillips, however, displaying powers of leadership above the average, organised his platoon on a strong defensive position without orders of any kind from his Coy Commander and succeeded in repelling all attacks. By his courage and leadership he undoubtedly assisted very materially in the capture of the important position.”     


FUSILIER C SHAW (6 Innisks).                                               AUG 1943 – SIMETO RIVER.

“On the night 5th August 1943, D Coy advanced east of the R.SIMETO to assist in the defence of the bridge ahead already established there. Throughout the whole of that night L/Cpl Shaw, who is a stretcher bearer, went out and collecting wounded from the forward area with complete disregard for his own safety in the face of continual sniping. He established an advance RAP, organised carrier parties across the river and generally displayed a high degree of initiative and devotion to duty, and was responsible for saving the lives of many seriously wounded men.”



 

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