Irish Brigade

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

August 1943

Centuripe.

The start of August 1943 saw the Irish Brigade being brought forward from Catenanuova to support a 78th Division wide assault on the mountaintop town of Centuripe, a key element of the strongly held German defensive positions to the west of Mt Etna and which controlled the only lateral road around the volcanic mountain from Catania.

After two days of abortive attempts by five of 78th Division’s batalions to break through the German strongpoints around the town, on the afternoon of 2nd August the brigade was readied for their attack. 2 LIR (‘Irish Rifles’) targeted a set of hilltops on the left flank of Centuripe, 1 RIrF (‘Faughs’) were to attack via the cemetery into the northern part of the town and 6 Innisks (‘Skins’) were to make their assault up sheer 100 feet cliffs to enter “by the front door”. Due to a miscommunication, the Skins’ attack, which was led by A and C Companies, went in early, but they successfully scaled and secured Point 708. G and F Companies of the Rifles were able to secure two of their targeted peaks, but not the third one, but despite this, the Faughs then joined the attack, albeit slightly behind the agreed timetable, on a single company front led by D Company, and this was followed on by C Company. By the early morning of 3rd August, the whole town was occupied by 1 RIrF.

The following day, the annoucement of the capture of Centuripe was made in the House of Commons by Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and General Montgomery was quoted as saying that “he doubted if any other division in his Army could have carried this operation out successfully”.

Read Brigadier Russell’s account of the Irish Brigade’s assault on Centuripe here.


Salso River crossing.

The capture of Centuripe caused a major change to German defensive positions, and the Irish Brigade was ordered to follow up quickly and on 4th August, both the Rifles and Faughs had reached their next barrier, the River Salso. Tremendous amounts of damage had been caused by the retreating forces, and it took over half a day for the Royal Engineers to deal with a huge crater on the winding road down from Centuripe.

Although the Salso had almost dried up, the crossing of the river during the afternoon, led by the Faughs, was difficult as they were met by snipers and machine gun fire. It took two hours to secure the bridgehead where they were soon joned by the Rifles, and once both battalions moved forward towards the Simeto River, the Skins remained to hold the Salso bridgehead.

Read Brigadier Russell’s account of the brigade’s crossing of the River Salso.


Simeto River. 

The Faughs reached and crossed the water filled, steep banked,  Simeto River in the early morning of 5th August but were met there by strong German defensive positions, and the advancing forces were heavily shelled and mortared. A brigade wide assault, supported by the whole of 78 Division’s artillery capability, started in the afternoon and the Faughs and the Rifles eventually secured their objectives by 9pm that evening.

Read the full account of the brigade’s crossing of the River Simeto.


Attack on Maletto and advance to Randazzo. 

Following four days of intensive battle action, the Irish Brigade was able to rest for six days whilst the other two brigades of 78 Division advanced along the western edge of Mt Etna capturing the towns of Bronte and Aderno.

On 11 August, the brigade moved forward again with the objective of capturing Maletto, with the overall divisional objectives including Mt Macherone, Mt Capella and Mt Sperina. Under command at this point was 8 A & SH from 36 Brigade. The Faughs quickly captured Capella and Mt Maletto, but due to an inability to bring up their full strength, the Rifles were only able to be partially successful in gaining a strong position on Sperina, and they remained under fire. After a Divisional commander review, the Faughs and Skins, who now joined up with them, returned to the attack with the Rifles continuing to support. After an eighteen hour fighting advance, the Faughs were able to fully break through and continue six miles further forward, where they were able to join up with elements of the US 1st Infantry Division, who were advancing from the west.

Read Brigade Russell’s account of the brigade’s advance north to Maletto.

Following this success, the Irish Brigade were brought into reserve as the Allied Armies were able to advance onto Messina, which eventually fell on 17th August 1943 – the campaign having lasted a total of 38 days. From 20th August onwards, men of the brigade were able to move to a rest camp on the north coast of Sicily and, by the end of the month, all men were able to rest and recuperate near to Patti.

Read Captain Percy Hamilton’s account of 6 Innisks’ attack on Centuripe and their advance onto Randazzo.

Read Edmund O’Sullivan’s account of his entry in Centuripe.

Read Generals Evelegh and Montgomery’s notes of congratulations.


Key Dates:

2nd August: Brigade attack on Centuripe.

3rd August: Centuripe captured.

4th August: 1 RIrF/2 LIR cross Salso River.

5th August: 1 RIrF/2 LIR cross Simeto River.

12th August: Brigade wide attack on area near to Maletto.

13th August: 1 RIrF meet with US 1st Infantry Division near to Randazzo.

14th August: Brigade taken into reserve.


August 1943 Roll of Honour: 

1st August – Lieutenant Colin Grant, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

2nd August – Rifleman Bernard Radford, London Irish Rifles.

2nd August – Corporal William Williams, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

2nd August – Corporal Patrick Hanley, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

2nd August – Fusilier William Jones, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

2nd August – Corporal Robert Bates, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

2nd August – Fusilier Stanley Walsh, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

2nd August – Fusilier Haydn Dackins, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

2nd August – Fusilier Michael Beer, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

2nd August – Rifleman Norman Wildgoose, London Irish Rifles.

2nd August – Fusilier Oswald Griffiths, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

2nd August – Fusilier Alfred Butler, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

2nd August – Captain William Hanna, Royal Irish Fusiliers attached from RUR.

2nd August – Lance Corporal John McCrorie, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

3rd August – Rifleman Harry Imbush, London Irish Rifles.

3rd August – Fusilier Thomas Davies, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

3rd August – Fusilier Robert Roberts, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

4th August – Fusilier Daniel Enright, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

4th August – Fusilier David Jones, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

4th August – Lance Sergeant John Loughrey, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

4th August – Fusilier Charles Mulcaster, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

4th August – Fusilier John Williams, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

5th August – Fusilier John Steel, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

5th August – Lieutenant Samuel Morrow, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

5th August – Fusilier Robert Trainor, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

5th August – Sergeant Oswald Henderson, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

5th August – Private Frederick Birch, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers attached from ACC.

5th August – Lance Corporal Samuel Wilde, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

5th August – Fusilier Kenneth Way, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

5th August – Lieutenant Alfred Howells, London Irish Rifles attached from Beds/Herts Regiment.

5th August – Rifleman Robert Chapman, London Irish Rifles.

5th August – Rifleman Arthur Hunt, London Irish Rifles.

5th August – Rifleman Samuel Garratt, London Irish Rifles.

5th August – Rifleman Frederick Sargeant, London Irish Rifles.

5th August – Lance Sergeant Victor Hooke, London Irish Rifles.

5th August – Rifleman Stanley Curwen, London Irish Rifles.

5th August – Rifleman Dawson Patterson, London Irish Rifles.

5th August – Rifleman Augustus Fitzpatrick, London Irish Rifles.

5th August – Rifleman Robert Mark, London Irish Rifles.

5th August – Rifleman Andrew Gardiner, London Irish Rifles.

5th August – Rifleman George Haggerty, London Irish Rifles.

5th August – Corporal James McCrone, London Irish Rifles.

5th August – Rifleman Godfrey Orr, London Irish Rifles.

5th August – Captain Rufus Allen, London Irish Rifles.

5th August – Rifleman Joseph Forde, London Irish Rifles.

5th August – Rifleman William Cathcart, London Irish Rifles.

5th August – Rifleman Ernest Crisp, London Irish Rifles.

5th August – Rifleman Norman Hopkinson, London Irish Rifles.

5th August – Rifleman Robert Lee-Kinch, London Irish Rifles.

5th August – Rifleman William Fitzgerald, London Irish Rifles.

5th August – Corporal John Rodden, London Irish Rifles.

5th August – Rifleman Joe Mullan, London Irish Rifles.

5th August – Fusilier George Hill, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

5th August – Fusilier Christopher Gill, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

5th August – Fusilier Thomas Parsons, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

5th August – Sergeant Michael McGuinness, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

5th August – Fusilier Ernest Bee, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

5th August – Fusilier James McNulty, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

5th August – Fusilier Raymond Nixey, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

5th August – Lance Corporal Peter Graal, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

5th August – Fusilier Thomas Steele, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

5th August – Major Charles O’Farrell, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

6th August – Rifleman Albert Johnston, London Irish Rifles.

6th August – Fusilier Harold Scarse, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

6th August – Rifleman William Cartledge, London Irish Rifles.

6th August – Rifleman William Beavis, London Irish Rifles.

6th August – Rifleman Michael Weir, London Irish Rifles.

6th August – Rifleman Alban Marsh, London Irish Rifles.

6th August – Lance Corporal William Land, London Irish Rifles.

6th August – Rifleman Leslie Whiting, London Irish Rifles.

6th August – Rifleman Thomas Griffiths, London Irish Rifles.

6th August – Rifleman Stanley Osborne, London Irish Rifles.

6th August – Rifleman Frederick Lloyd, London Irish Rifles.

6th August – Rifleman James Rowe, London Irish Rifles.

6th August – Fusilier George Watt, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

6th August – Fusilier Joseph Hall, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

6th August – Major Peter Savage, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers attached from Royal Ulster Rifles.

7th August – Lance Corporal George Worrall, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

8th August – Fusilier Alex Alexander, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

8th August – Fusilier Daniel Aitken, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

8th August – Lance Sergeant Ronald Stanley, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

8th August – Fusilier George Walker, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

8th August – Fusilier John Matthews, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

8th August – Fusilier Charles Skellern, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

8th August – Rifleman John Dooey, London Irish Rifles.

8th August – Corporal Boyle, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

9th August – Corporal Robert Shea, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

9th August – Fusilier John Roberts, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

9th August – Fusilier William Bertrand, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

10th August – Rifleman David McClatchey, London Irish Rifles.

10th August – Rifleman Albert Ewing, London Irish Rifles.

12th August – Fusilier James Purnell, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

12th August – Rifleman James Law, London Irish Rifles.

12th August – Rifleman Albert Roberts, London Irish Rifles.

12th August – Rifleman Leo McRory, London Irish Rifles.

12th August – Rifleman Felix Creaney, London Irish Rifles.

12th August – Major Joseph Fiztgerald, London Irish Rifles.

12th August – Rifleman William Roffey, London Irish Rifles.

12th August – Rifleman Peter Gregory, London Irish Rifles.

12th August – Fusilier George Jones, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

12th August – Fusilier Thomas Gillis, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

12th August – Fusilier Samuel Kennedy, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

12th August – Fusilier William Jackson, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

12th August – Fusilier William Martin, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

12th August – Fusilier Albert Hamlett, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

12th August – Fusilier Reginald Holmes, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

12th August – Fusilier Arthur Edwards, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

12th August – Fusilier Henry Dixon, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

12th August – Lance Corporal John Williams, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

12th August – Fusilier Philip Lloyd, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

13th August – Fusilier Edward Graham, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

13th August – Lieutenant William Bolton, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

13th August – Fusilier Thomas Baybutt, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

14th August – Fusilier George Roby, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

15th August – Rifleman James Murtagh, London Irish Rifles.

18th August – Fusilier William Cooper, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

18th August – Major Henry Garratt, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

20th August – CSM John McKee, London Irish Rifles.

Thanks are due to the web site of M Picholo: http://www.wikisicily.com/catania/index.php


Links to the transcribed August 1943 war diaries.

38 (Irish) Brigade.

6 Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

1 Royal Irish Fusiliers.

2 London Irish Rifles.


Links to the original August 1943 war diaries. 

38 (Irish) Brigade.

6 Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

1 Royal Irish Fusiliers.

2 London Irish Rifles.



Leave a Reply

Be the First to Comment!

Notify of
avatar
wpDiscuz