March 1944

March 1944 would see the Irish Brigade, along with the rest of 78th Division, in full readiness to exploit any breakthrough of the Allied Armies into and along the Liri Valley. In preparation for this, the brigade spent the first part of the month taking part in extensive river training exercises on the Volturno river.

While there, the Faughs commemorated their Regimental Day of Barrosa on 5th March and, when it became clear than the rest of the New Zealand Corps had failed in their frontal assaults on Cassino town and Monte Cassino itself, the whole brigade was able to celebrate St Patrick’s Day in raucous fashion.

This period of relatively benign activity came to an end on 23rd March when the Faughs and Irish Rifles took up positions near to the Gari river, opposite San Angelo in Theodice. Here, they stayed for three days before, following two days of further rest, the whole Irish Brigade started to prepare to move onto the Cassino massif itself to relieve French forces on the summit of Monte Castellone and on its lower slopes in the village of Caira. By the end of March, the brigade had started to take up positions across the Rapido river on the slopes of Monte Castellone.

Read about the Irish Brigade’s training period in early March near to the Volturno River.

Read the Faughs’ account of their commemoration of Barrosa Day.

Read Pat Scott’s account of the Brigade’s St Patrick’s Day festivities.

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

Read CQMS Edmund O’Sullivan’s memories of the Brigade moving up to the Gari river near to San Angelo.

Key Dates:

5th March: The Faughs celebrate Barrosa Day.

17th March: The Irish Brigade celebrate St Patrick’s Day.

23rd March: The Irish Brigade move to defensive positions on the Gari river opposite San Angelo.

26th March: The brigade are relieved by the NZ Corps, and move back to the Mignano area.

29th March: Start of the brigade move to the Castellone sector.

March 1944 Roll of Honour:

Link to photographs from CWGC Cemeteries.


13th March 1944 – Fusilier Robert Nugent, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

23rd March 1944 – Fusilier Brendan Doherty, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

24th March 1944 – Rifleman William Tyndale, London Irish Rifles.

30th March 1944 – Corporal Henry Bryan, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

30th March 1944 – Corporal William Delaney, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

30th March 1944 – Sergeant Robert McWilliams, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

31st March 1944 – Fusilier Leonard Hawkes, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

March 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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