Irish Brigade

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

December 1943

At the start of December 1943, the Irish Brigade continued its advance northwards, first to Rocca San Giovanni with the Faughs and 2 LIR taking the lead. On 2nd December, two companies of the Faughs, under Major Jimmy Clarke, pushed ahead behind enemy lines towards San Vito, and a patrol led by Lieutenant Day entered the village, and, despite a German defensive onslaught, caused major disruption in the town. Despite this initial assault being largely rebuffed, these forward actions helped to unloosen defensive positions and with additional support from the County of London Yeomnary (CLY) and the Skins, who had to face some bitter street fighting, the brigade was able to take over the village. When the Irish Rifles and the Faughs moved further forward on the following day, there was again some strong counter attacks by Germans in the area, before the brigade were able to reach the River Moro by the morning of 5th December.

At this stage, and after 61 days of concerted front line action, the Irish Brigade was relieved by units of 1 Canadian Infantry Division, and slowly transported south for some much needed rest. Substantial amounts of reinforcements were now required to bring all three battalions back to full strength.

This rest period lasted about two weeks before the brigade started to prepare itself for another spell in the line, this time moving to defensive positions in the mountainous area near to the upper head waters of the River Sangro. Just before Christmas, the Skins were detached from the brigade to come under command of 56 Recce Regiment and later moved to Capracotta, which at 5,000 feet was deep within the high Apennines, and at the end of the month, the Faughs and Rifles moved up to various positions around Castel di Sangro. Starting on New Year’s Eve there was absolutely appalling blizzard conditions right across the region.

The start of 1944 would see the three battalions of the Irish Brigade in varying degrees of discomfort on a wide front with irregular communication links across the brigade.

Read 2 LIR’s account of their advance from Fossacesia to the Moro River.

Read Captain Franklyn-Vaile’s letters home to his wife, Olive, during December 1943.

Read CQMS Edmund O’Sullivan’s memories of the period at rest in the Campobasso area.


Key Dates:

1st December: 2 LIR enter Rocca San Giovanni.

2nd/3rd December: 1 RIrF reach San Vito, and the town is captured with support from 6 Innisks and the CLY.

5th December: The Irish Brigade is relieved by the 1st Canadian Division.

10th December: Lt-Col Grazebrook, Commanding Officer of 6 Innisks, transfers to the War Office in London, and is replaced by Lt-Col Bryar (Kensingtons).

Lt-Col Goff (Kings, Liverpool Regiment) replaces Lt-Col Rogers as Commanding Officer of 2 LIR with Major ‘Bala’ Bredin (RUR) taking over as second in command.

22nd December: 6 Innisks come under command of 56 Recce Regiment before moving later to Capracotta.

31st December: 2 LIR and 1 RIF move to their fixed defensive positions near to Castel di Sangro.


December 1943 Roll of Honour:  

1st December 1943 – Private Kenneth Chinn, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, attached from ACC.

1st December 1943 – Fusilier William Duff, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

1st December 1943 – Major Sydney Bunch MC, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, attached from Lincolnshire Regiment.

1st December 1943 – Rifleman William Coggle, London Irish Rifles.

1st December 1943 – Rifleman William Coughlan, London Irish Rifles.

1st December 1943 – Rifleman Clifford Jones, London Irish Rifles.

1st December 1943 – Sergeant Ernest Oakley, London Irish Rifles.

1st December 1943 – Lance Corporal James McCann, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

2nd December 1943 – Fusilier James Anderson, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

2nd December 1943 – Lance Corporal John Mawhinney, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

2nd December 1943 – Fusilier James Pearce, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

2nd December 1943 – Rifleman Leonard Hawes, London Irish Rifles.

2nd December 1943 – Rifleman Ernest Kingston, London Irish Rifles.

2nd December 1943 – Rifleman Frank Ward, London Irish Rifles.

2nd December 1943 – CQMS Hugh Donaghy MM, London Irish Rifles.

2nd December 1943 – Rifleman Derek Best, London Irish Rifles.

2nd December 1943 – Rifleman William Bingham, London Irish Rifles.

2nd December 1943 – Rifleman Desmond Hull, London Irish Rifles.

2nd December 1943 – Fusilier Edgar Cowan, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

2nd December 1943 – Fusilier Jack Storr, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

2nd December 1943 – Lance Corporal Ronald Martin, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

2nd December 1943 – Fusilier William Bennett, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

2nd December 1943 – Fusilier John Anthony, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

2nd December 1943 – Sergeant  Robert Martin, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

2nd December 1943 – Fusilier Eric Maden, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

2nd December 1943 – Fusilier George Holmes, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

2nd December 1943 – Lieutenant John Day, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

2nd December 1943 – Fusilier Joseph Lempard, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

2nd December 1943 – Fusilier Samuel Roberts, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

3rd December 1943 – Fusilier Albert Smith, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

3rd December 1943 – Fusilier Grange Carter, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

3rd December 1943 – Rifleman Peter Treanor, London Irish Rifles.

3rd December 1943 – Fusilier Arthur Mitchell, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

3rd December 1943 – Corporal Archibald Porter, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

3rd December 1943 – Corporal Charles Watts, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

4th December 1943 – Rifleman John Smillie, London Irish Rifles.

4th December 1943 – Rifleman Joseph Morris, London Irish Rifles.

4th December 1943 – Major Richard Wood MC, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

4th December 1943 – Fusilier Ronald Lane, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

4th December 1943 – Lance Corporal Bertram Rhodes, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

4th December 1943 – Corporal Arthur Aston, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

4th December 1943 – Fusilier John Scarsi, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

4th December 1943 – Fusilier Ernest Watson, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

4th December 1943 – Fusilier Alfred Cooper, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

4th December 1943 – Fusilier Stanley Henderson, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

5th December 1943 – Fusilier John Johansen, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

5th December 1943 – Fusilier Roland Turrington, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

5th December 1943 – Fusilier Henry Barfoot, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

10th December 1943 – Corporal Reginald Bird, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

17th December 1943 – Captain William Lang, Royal Irish Fusiliers, attached from RAMC.

28th December 1943 – Lance Corporal Alexander Chance, London Irish Rifles.

28th December 1943 – Captain Frank Adamson, London Irish Rifles.

28th December 1943 – Lance Corporal Reginald Hammond, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

30th December 1943 – Captain Joseph Beglin, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

30th December 1943 – Corporal David Marshall, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

31st December 1943 – Fusilier Stephen Carter, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

31st December 1943 – Lance Corporal George Frost, London Irish Rifles.

Between 31 December 1943 and 4th January 1944 – Corporal Thomas Sullivan, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.


Links to the transcribed December 1943 war diaries.

38 (Irish) Brigade.

6 Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

1 Royal Irish Fusiliers.

2 London Irish Rifles.


Links to the original December 1943 war diaries.

38 (Irish) Brigade.

6 Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

1 Royal Irish Fusiliers.

2 London Irish Fusiliers.



Leave a Reply

Be the First to Comment!

Notify of
avatar
wpDiscuz