During the the first few weeks of April 1944, all three battalions of the Irish Brigade continued in their defensive positions on the slopes of Monte Castellone. Both 6 Innisks and 2 LIR were situated near the 771 metre summit with an excellent view down over the badly damaged monastery on Monte Cassino, while 1 RIrF were on the lower slopes near to the village of Caira.
After taking over from the French Corps at the end of March, the Skins and Irish Rifles undertook aggressive patrolling activity to assure their exposed positions on the top of Castellone. Meanwhile, the Faughs and Brigade HQ suffered from regular artillery stonks that cleared the ridge tops and came down onto their positions near Caira, which was described as being “the most heavily shelled pinpoint in Italy.”
All supplies to the brigade had to be transported during the night across the Rapido Valley from San Michele by jeep and thence transferred onto mules that would then take a precarious path to the top of Castellone. The respective quartermaster teams and their muleteers undertook outstanding work that continued day and night. Movement for all the forward companies during daylight was well nigh impossible and it was with tremendous relief that the Irish Brigade was finally relieved on 25th/26th April by the Polish Corps, who started to ready themselves for their own assault on the Cassino positions.
The brigade then travelled thirty miles southwards to the picturesque and peaceful village of Formicola for some much needed rest and all the men were able to take extended excursions to the Amalfi coast and Bari.
The Irish Brigade was certainly in good heart at the end of April 1944.
Read Pat Scott’s descriptions of their time in the line at San Angelo and on the slopes of Monte Castellone.
Read CQMS Edmund O’Sullivan’s memories of his daily journeys to and from the summit of Monte Castellone.
25th/26th April: All brigade positions on Monte Castellone are taken over by the Polish Corps.
April 1944 Roll of Honour:
Links to the transcribed April 1944 war diaries:
Day by Day.