Irish Brigade

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

Faugh a Ballagh        Nec Aspera Terrent         Quis Separabit


April 1943

The Irish Brigade spent the first few days of April 1943 preparing for their part in a coordinated 78 Division assault on German positions in the mountains north of the Beja to Medjez-el-Bab road. This would be the first time that the division had gone into action as a complete formation.

The brigade’s specific objective on this occasion was the 1,400 foot Djebel Mahdi, and to achieve this, their ranks were further supplemented by 16 Durham Light Infantry, who were on loan from 46 Infantry Division. The attack was timed for the early morning of 7th April and the start of the action was heralded by the firing of 150 guns.

6 Innisks led the attack but in the course of providing close personal support to C Company, who had come under heavy fire, the battalion’s CO, Lt-Col Allen, was killed. Despite signs of a German counter attack, the Skins secured a foothold on the Djebel. 1 RIrF, led by their C and D Companies. then passed through 6 Innisks’ forward positions and, by nightfall, were able to fully consolidate the Irish Brigade’s positions on Djebel Mahdi. On the brigade’s right hand side, both 11 Brigade and 36 Brigade had also been successful in their assaults. Three days later, the brigade was ordered to advance a further five miles to take Djebel Guernat (Guerinat), and with the support of tanks from the North Irish Horse quickly secured their aims. The Oued Zarga to Medjez-el-Bab road was now completely clear of German forces.

Read the Brigade HQ’s summary of the assault on Djebel Mahdi here.

The next task for the Irish Brigade was to move eastwards to launch attacks on the mountains north of Medjez-el-Bab including Tanngoucha and Djebel Ang, where 11 Brigade was battling to withstand sustained German counter attacks. 2 LIR rejoined the brigade and were immediately positioned behind Djebel Bettiour. For their impending teask. the brigade was provided with further temporary support from 5 Buffs, and 56 Recce.

6 Innisks, now commanded by Lt-Col Neville Grazebrook, attacked Tanngoucha on the evening of 15th April, getting half way up the hill, but were forced to withdraw after receiving withering defensive fire from flank positions. At the same time, 1 RIrF attacked Djebel Ang and Kef el Tiour just beyond it, and were heard to utter their war cry “Faugh a Ballagh” as they overwhelmed German resistance on these peaks, before mist prevented further onward progress towards pt 622. After prolonged enemy counter attacks throughout the night, the Faughs were eventually able to consolidate their advanced positions. Meanwhile, the Buffs’ assault on the village of Heidous was driven back, and a further assault by the Skins on Tanngoucha, although initially successful, was followed by a withdrawal, which was forced upon them, before dawn.

New plans were now set for a brigade wide assault, with 6 Innisks to target Tanngoucha again, 1 RIrF to take pt 622 and Butler’s Hill, and 2 LIR to move against the village of Heidous. This new series of attacks was set for the evening of 22nd April.

During that night and the following day (Good Friday) the Skins were able to get half way up Tanngoucha, but although the Faughs got close to their objective, they were forced to withdraw. At the same time, the Rifles failed to capture Heidous.

Without any hope of being reinforced by other infantry units, two days later, the Irish Brigade made a further effort against their three major objectives, and on the afternoon of Easter Sunday, the Faughs, with the support of three Churchills from the North Irish Horse, successfully reached the peak of pt 622, the Skins surmounted Tanngoucha, and that night the LIR captured Heidous, which had by then been evacuated. The next day, news also came that 78 Division’s other attacks in the area had been successful, and that the battle of Longstop had been won.

Over the next few days, although the three battalions of the Irish Brigade were now a much depleted force, they continued to pursue the enemy through the mountains before being relieved by French forces in early May.

During April 1943, the Irish Brigade had seen 130 men killed, with hundreds more wounded or captured.

Read an account of 6 Innisks’ assaults on Tanngoucha.

Read an account of 1 RIrF’s initial assaults on The Kefs/pt 622.

Read an account of 1 RIrF’s final successful attack on pt 622.

Read 2 LIR’s experiences when they returned to the Irish Brigade in April 1943.

Read Edmund O’Sullivan’s account of 2 LIR’s entry into Heidous.

 


Key Dates:

7th April – Successful assault on Djebel Mahdi, during which Lt-Col Heaver Allen, CO of 6 Innisks, was killed.

10th April – Brigade moves to secure Djebel Guernat.

15th April – 2 LIR rejoin the brigade.

15th/16th April – First, largely unsuccessful, brigade wide assaults on Tanngoucha, pt 622 and Heidous.

22nd/23rd April – Further brigade assaults result in partial success.

25th April – Complete and full success for the Irish Brigade as they capture Tanngoucha, pt 622 and Heidous.

26th – 30th April – Pursuit continues.


April 1943 Roll of Honour:

4th April 1943 – Lance Corporal John Rose, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

4th April 1943 – Fusilier Joseph Quirk, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

6th April 1943 – Corporal Ernest Brookes, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

6th July 1943 – Rifleman George Harold Keepin, London Irish Rifles.

7th April 1943 – Lieutenant Colonel Charles Allen, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, attached from RUR.

7th April 1943 – Fusilier James McCarthy, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

7th April 1943 – Fusilier Albert Heath, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

7th April 1943 – Lance Sergeant Wilfred Jones, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

7th April 1943 – Fusilier Joseph Hunt, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

7th April 1943 – Fusilier Clarence Wootton, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

7th April 1943 – Corporal Albert Tinman, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

7th April 1943 – Fusilier Leslie Gidney, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

7th April 1943 – Fusilier Ronald Clough, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

7th April 1943 – Fusilier Sidney Milton, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

7th April 1943 – Fusilier Harry Rice, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

7th April 1943 – Fusilier William Kerr, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

7th April 1943 – Sergeant James Fraser, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

7th April 1943 – Fusilier Walter Gibson, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

7th April 1943 – Sergeant Francis Ford, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

7th April 1943 – Fusilier Kenneth Davis, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

7th April 1943 – Fusilier Arthur Gower, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

7th April 1943 – Fusilier William Trimble, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

7th April 1943 – Fusilier Mathew Coffey, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

7th April 1943 – Fusilier George Evans, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers,

7th April 1943 – Sergeant Herbert Owen, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

7th April 1943 – Fusilier Joseph Robinson, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

7th April 1943 – Fusilier Edward Pickford, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

7th April 1943 – Corporal Samuel Megarity, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

8th April 1943 – Fusilier Harold Ward, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

8th April 1943 – Fusilier Walter Lake, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

8th April 1943 – Fusilier Wilfred Winston, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

9th April 1943 – Lance Sergeant Harold Walls, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

9th April 1943 – Lance Corporal Edwin Nicholls, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

10th April 1943 – Fusilier Fred Nash, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

11th April 1943 – Fusilier Frank Westerman, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

12th April 1943 – Fusilier Walter Corless, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

14th April 1943 – Fusilier Ronald Tickell, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

15th April 1943 – Fusilier Henry Wise, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

15th April 1943 – Lieutenant Philip Slattery, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

16th April 1943 – Captain Nicholas Jefferies MC, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

16th April 1943 – Fusilier Henry Mandy, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

16th April 1943 – Fusilier Thomas Picker, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

16th April 1943 – Sergeant Arthur Fenton, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

16th April 1943 – Rifleman William Carrig, London Irish Rifles.

16th April 1943 – Rifleman Hyman Reuben, London Irish Rifles.

16th April 1943 – Corporal Thomas Addey, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

16th April 1943 – Corporal George Flowers, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

16th April 1943 – Fusilier Robert Curzon, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

16th April 1943 – Fusilier Albert Grice, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

16th April 1943 – Fusilier Isaac Henry, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

17th April 1943 – Fusilier James Grant, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

17th April 1943 – Lance Corporal James McKane, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

17th April 1943 – Fusilier David Crawford, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

17th April 1943 – Fusilier James Wild, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

17th April 1943 – Fusilier George Rabone, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

17th April 1943 – Fusilier George Mason, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

17th April 1943 – Lance Corporal James Given, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

17th April 1943 – Fusilier Wilfred Dicken, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

17th April 1943 – Fusilier Albert Smith, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

18th April 1943 – Fusilier Leslie Bishop, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

18th April 1943 – Fusilier James Jewels, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

20th April 1943 – Rifleman Charles Mizon, London Irish Rifles.

21st April 1943 – Fusilier Albert Sanders, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

21st April 1943 – Lieutenant Henry Emmins, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

21st April 1943 – Fusilier Albert Mallen, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

21st April 1943 – Fusilier George Porter, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

22nd April 1943 – Fusilier William Kellett, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

22nd April 1943 – Lance Corporal Samuel Millard, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

22nd April 1943 – Fusilier Clarence Horsfield, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

22nd April 1943 – Fusilier Henry Vann, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

22nd April 1943 – Lance Corporal Ronald Graham, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

22nd April 1943 – Fusilier Addie Poole, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

22nd April 1943 – Rifleman Thomas Ross, London Irish Rifles.

22nd April 1943 – Corporal Wilfred Palmer, London Irish Rifles.

22nd April 1943 – Rifleman Bertie Watkins, London Irish Rifles.

22nd April 1943 – Lance Corporal Frederick McDonald, London Irish Rifles.

22nd April 1943 – Sergeant Joseph Hobbs, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

22nd April 1943 – Fusilier James Irwin, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

22nd April 1943 – Corporal John Hamilton, London Irish Rifles.

22nd April 1943 – Lance Corporal Arthur Doherty, London Irish Rifles.

22nd April 1943 – Rifleman Richard Linihan, London Irish Rifles.

22nd April 1943 – Rifleman Walter Pasby, London Irish Rifles.

22nd April 1943 – Fusilier Thomas Hesketh, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

22nd April 1943 – Rifleman Robert Mannall, London Irish Rifles.

23rd April 1943 – Lance Sergeant Richard Bride, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

23rd April 1943 – Fusilier Harold Hilton, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

23rd April 1943 – Fusilier John Williamson, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

23rd April 1943 – Captain Edwin Hill, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

23rd April 1943 – Fusilier Patrick Dunne, Royal Irish Fusiliers,

23rd April 1943 – Captain Ian Megginson, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

23rd April 1943 – Fusilier James Hand, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

23rd April 1943 – Rifleman Ronald Potter, London Irish Rifles.

23rd April 1943 – Lieutenant Pierce Mahony Royal Ulster Rifles attached to Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

23rd April 1943 – Corporal Frederick Notley, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

23th April 1943 – Lance Corporal Maurice Schofield, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

24th April 1943 – Lance Corporal Eric Jennings, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

24th April 1943 – Fusilier Francis Bygrave, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

24th April 1943 – Fusilier John Hall, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

24th April 1943 – Lance Corporal Frederick Hall, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

25th April 1943 – Fusilier Henry Boyd, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

25th April 1943 – Lance Sergeant Hugh Blair, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

25th April 1943 – Corporal William Ball, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

25th April 1943 – Lieutenant Peter Sillem, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

25th April 1943 – Fusilier James Tilson, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

25th April 1943 – Fusilier Douglas Constable, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

25th April 1943 – Lance Corporal Michael Rogan, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

25th April 1943 – Fusilier Cyril Willis, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

25th April 1943 – Fusilier John Duval, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

25th April 1943 – Lance Corporal James Clarke, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

25th April 1943 – Fusilier Leonard Keating, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

25th April 1943 – Fusilier Anthony Young, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

26th April 1943 – Fusilier William Alcock,  Royal Irish Fusiliers.

27th April 1943 – Lance Corporal Thomas McMullan, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

27th April 1943 – Fusilier Harold Brown, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

27th April 1943- Fusilier John Campbell, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

27th April 1943 – Sergeant William Heron, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

27th April 1943 – Lance Sergeant Norman Shimwell, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

27th April 1943 – Fusilier Joseph Connell, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

27th April 1943 – Fusilier John Evans, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

27th April 1943 – Fusilier Robert McLaughlan, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

27th April 1943 – Fusilier Frederick Newman, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

27th April 1943 – Fusilier Ronald Parkinson, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

27th April 1943 – Fusilier Frank Persechino, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

27th April 1943 – Fusilier Kevin Rice, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

27th April 1943 – Fusilier George Swanson, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

28th April 1943 – Fusilier Reginald Grosse, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

28th April 1943 – Rifleman Harry McRory, London Irish Rifles.

28th April 1943 – Fusilier John Linton, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

28th April 1943 – Sergeant Arthur Norman, London Irish Rifles.

30th April 1943 – Rifleman Archibald Potton, London Irish Rifles.

30th April 1943 – Fusilier Edward Green, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.


Links to the transcribed April 1943 war diaries.

38 (Irish) Brigade.

6 Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

1 Royal Irish Fusiliers.

2 London Irish Rifles.



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