January 1944

The Irish Brigade spent January 1944 in various positions across the 8th Army’s defensive front in the Apennines of central Italy.

Due to communication issues, 6 Innisks had been partly detached from direct brigade command at the end of December and were positioned in the mountain top town of Capracotta. Weather conditions continued to be absolutely appalling and this had led to the death of a number of Skins who had been on patrol. It was with some relief that Polish forces arrived to take over their positions in the middle of the month, and the Skins moving closer to the rest of the brigade.

The other two battalions remained close to Castel di Sangro, the Faughs in and around the town, itself, and taking a lead role in the administration of the area. The Irish Rifles had moved to the mountainous area a few miles to the south, near to the village of Montenero. On the morning of 19th January, it was here that a German raiding party attacked two platoons of E Company on Il Calvario with five riflemen being killed and twenty captured.

It was increasingly clear that some of the defensive lines in the mountain areas were completely untenable and the brigade were extremely pleased to start to move to reserve positions at the end of the month. The start of February 1944 would see the Irish Brigade moving southwards for some rest.

Read 2 LIR’s account of the German raid on their positions on Il Calvario here.

Read Captain Franklyn-Vaile’s letters home to his wife, Olive, during January 1944.

Read CQMS Edmund O’Sullivan’s memories of his time at Montenero.

Key Dates:

14th January: 6 Innisks withdraw from Capracotta to the Forli area and later in the month to Cerro.

19th January: German raid on 2 LIR’s positions near to Montenero.

25th January: 2 LIR withdraw from Montenero.

30th January: Polish forces arrive to relieve 1 RIrF from the Castel di Sangro area.

January 1944 Roll of Honour:

Link to photographs from CWGC Cemeteries.


13th January 1944 – Fusilier William McNamara, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

17th January 1944 – Captain Ronald Wilkin, Royal Irish Fusiliers, attached from the Border Regiment.

19th January 1944 – Rifleman Luke Bradbury, London Irish Rifles.

19th January 1944 – Rifleman James Cullen, London Irish Rifles.

19th January 1944 – Rifleman Christopher Slevin, London Irish Rifles.

19th January 1944 – Rifleman Ronald Smith, London Irish Rifles.

19th January 1944 – Lance Corporal Arthur Webb, London Irish Rifles.

20th January 1944 – Rifleman Thomas Kirkland, London Irish Rifles.

January 1944 War Diaries:

38 (Irish) Brigade.

6 Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

1 Royal Irish Fusiliers.

2 London Irish Rifles.

Day by Day.

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