The start of April 1945 found the Irish Brigade still at Forli but keenly aware of the imminence of the 8th Army’s attack on German defensive lines south of the River Po.
The training period was interrupted for the Skins on the 2nd of the month when they were again called forward to take up positions on the Senio Floodbank and the Irish Rifles were expected to take over these positions on the 5th but this changeover was cancelled and it was then confirmed that all three battalions of the Brigade were to be brought together in Forli on 7th April.
News started to emerge that assaults of 5 Corps’ units (which included 1 LIR) had commenced across Lake Comacchio and orders came that the opening of 8th Army’s main assault, code-named ‘Buckland’, would be timed for the evening of 9th April 1945…it was yet another ‘D Day’ for the men who had “dodged” the beaches of Normandy.
The Irish Brigade were to join in the attack with the rest of 78th Division, a few days after ‘Buckland’ had been launched.
By 25th April 1945, the Irish Brigade had reached the banks of the River Po and offensive activity finally came to an end for them during the morning of that momentous day. Very few of the men within their ranks had journeyed all the way from Algiers but there was now an opportunity for them for short a pause for reflection to remember the hundreds of their friends and comrades who were unable to join them in their celebration of complete and final victory over tyranny in Southern Europe.
Final Surrender in Italy would be confirmed for 2nd May by which time plans were afoot for the Irish Brigade to advance into Southern Austria to take part in a new chapter of multi national peacekeeping.
April 1945 Roll of Honour:
Links to the transcribed April 1945 war diaries:
Day by Day.