September 1943

The Irish Brigade spent the first half of September continuing to recuperate near to Patti on the north coast of Sicily. A variety of training schemes was undertaken by officers and men at both battalion and brigade level, and a large intake of reinforcement drafts of men and officers joined all three battalions.

The news of the invasion of southern Italy on 3rd September was well received and the formal capitulation of Italy during the following week brought additional hope of a breakthrough in the strategic aims of the war in southern Europe. However, this positive outlook was soon tempered by reports of German defensive resilience against the 5th Army’s assault on the beaches at Salerno, just to the south of Naples.

On 17th September, orders were received for an imminent move of the brigade onto the mainland of Italy and, a day later, the first columns of motor vehicles set out for the port of Messina. Marching personnel left Sicily a week later and arrived in Taranto, on the heel of Italy, during 25th September. The next few days was spent consolidating all men and material in an area just to the north of Taranto, before the brigade moved by train to Barletta, arriving there on the last day of the month.

Due to the rapid advance of the 8th Army, it was expected that the Irish Brigade would not face front line action for a week or two, but this soon proved to be wrong.

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

Read Captain Hamilton’s account of 6 Innisks’ journey from Sicily to Taranto.

Key Dates:

18th September: Initial transport columns and battalions recce parties set out for mainland Italy.

24th September: Brigade travel by boat to Taranto.

29th September: Move by train to Barletta, arriving there the next day.

September 1943 War Diaries:

38 (Irish) Brigade.

6 Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

1 Royal Irish Fusiliers.

2 London Irish Rifles.

Day by Day.

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