The Irish Brigade spent March 1945 both in and out of the line as the spring time warmth continued to dry the ground and the imminence of coming battle, perhaps the final one for the brigade, was clear to all.
For the first ten days of the month, the three battalions continued training with their prospective armoured support regiments but, on the 5th, the Faughs still had time to commemorate, in the appropriate manner, the 134th anniversary of Sergeant Masterson’s historic battle exploits at Barrosa.
On the evening of the 10th, the brigade was called forward to relieve 56th (London) Division on the high floodbanks of the River Senio. The following two weeks saw a period of close contact with the German defenders, which was described by Brigadier Scott as being closely akin to what had occurred on the Western Front during the First World War. This period also saw raiding parties being sent into German positions, including one undertaken by the Irish Rifles on 22nd March, which took a number of prisoners with some of the newly captured being quite pleased to surrender to Irish hospitality.
On the 26th, the Irish Brigade were relieved by 11 Brigade and returned to Forli and, by agreement with the Divisional Commander, were now able to celebrate St Patrick’s along with the North Irish Horse and the 1st Battalion, London Irish Rifles. There was a massed troop of 72 Pipes and Drums on parade and V Corps Commander, Major General Keightley, himself a former Inniskilling Dragoon, distributed shamrock alongside General Arbuthnot. The consequent additional celebrations of the day remained long in the memory until that same memory was dissipated later in the afternoon.
At the end of March, the Irish Brigade started readying itself for its ultimate challenge as they faced northwards towards the promised lands of the River Po and the wide plains beyond…
One more ‘D Day’ loomed ahead and one thing was sure, the Irish Brigade would be completely ready for the challenge.
View some photographs of the St Patrick’s Day celebrations and their aftermath.
10th/11th March: The Irish Brigade take over Senio Floodbank positions from 56th (London) Division.
21st March: Brigadier Scott is visited by Congresswoman Boothe Luce.
22nd March: 2 LIR conduct a raiding party on German positions.
26th March: The brigade is relieved by 11th Brigade and return to Forli.
29th March: St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Forli.
March 1945 Roll of Honour:
11th March 1945 – Lieutenant Reginald Bartlett, Royal Irish Fusiliers.
11th March 1945 – Corporal John Pottinger, Royal Irish Fusiliers.
12th March 1945 – Fusilier Patrick Fahy, Royal Irish Fusiliers.
15th March 1945 – Sergeant Norman Johnston, London Irish Rifles.
17th March 1945 – Fusilier Eric Severn, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.
18th March 1945 – Fusilier Alexander Price, Royal Irish Fusiliers.
19th March 1945 – Lieutenant George Murray, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.
20th March 1945 – Lieutentant Maurice Young, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.
22nd March 1945 – Fusilier Victor Pywell, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.
22nd March 1945 – Rifleman Norman Irwin, London Irish Rifles.
24th March 1945 – Lieutenant Anthony Robinson, Royal Irish Fusiliers.
26th March 1945 – Rifleman William Hewlett, London Irish Rifles.
29th March 1945 – Fusilier Frederick Masters, Royal Irish Fusiliers.
Links to the transcribed March 1945 war diaries.