Irish Brigade

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

February 1943

With the Irish Brigade regaining strength after suffering significant levels of casualties in the battles north of Bou Arada during January, the first two weeks of February 1943 saw all three battalions continuing patrolling activities between Bou Arada and Goubellat.

From the middle of the month, there were widespread German attacks on Allied forces in the south of Tunisia, which culminated in a significant set back for American forces at Kasserine Pass on 19th February. To counteract these advances, and to defend against an imminent German armoured force breakthrough into the rear of 1st Army, large elements of 6 Armoured Brigade were sent south to support the Americans.

In the Bou Arada area, meanwhile, an ad hoc force named ‘Y’ Dvision was created out of the Irish Brigade, 1 Parachute Brigade and a French battalion with artillery support, all coming under the leadership of Brigadier Russell, with officers of 1 Royal Irish Fusiliers (1 RIrF) taking over command of the Irish Brigade.  A reserve was also created out of elements of 1 RIrF, who joined with a squadron of Churchill tanks and a further squadron of armoured cars coming from the Derbyshire Yeomanry

On 26th February, four German battle groups attacked ‘Y’ Division, and while the Parachute Brigade and 6 Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (6 Innisks) held firm in their areas, the widely stretched positions of 2 London Irish Rifles (2 LIR) on Stuka Ridge were largely overrun, but there were sterling defensive actions undertaken by the battalion with close artillery support from the Ayrshire Yeomanry. But it was due to the counterattacking intervention actions of 1 RIrF, 6 Innisks, and Churchills of the North Irish Horse that the brigade’s positions were stabilised. By the end of the day, B Company, 1 RIrF was able to clear Stuka Ridge totally.

Although this attack had been stopped in its tracks, further defensive action was required of 1 RIrF, the Derbyshire Yeonmanry and several Churchill tanks near to El Aroussa and the attacking forces were pushed back to Steamroller Farm. It was here, when they were assaulted by ‘Y’ Division, who joined with a Guards Brigade, 51 Royal Tank Regiment (51 RTR) and an American Combat Team (ACT) that the Germans were eventually forced to retreat in a north easterly direction.

A link to the London Irish Rifles’ account of the German attack on Stuka Ridge can be found here.

A further link to the Irish Brigade’s overview of the action at Stuka Ridge and its aftermath can be found here.

Read Captain Strome Galloway’s account of the German attack on Stuka Farm.

CQMS Edmund O’Sullivan’s account of the attack on Stuka Ridge can be found by clicking here.



Key Dates:

1st February to 15th February – Continuing patrolling activity north of Bou Arada.

16th February – ‘Y’ Division created.

26th February – German attack on Stuka Ridge.


February 1943 Roll of Honour:

3rd February – Fusilier William Kelly, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

9th February – Fusilier Wiliam Ross, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

9th February – Corporal William McCartney, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

9th February – Rifleman James McIntyre, London Irish Rifles.

9th February – Fusilier Denis Flanagan, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

11th February – Rifleman Arthur Barrett, London Irish Rifles.

11th February – Corporal Edward Cunningham, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

11th February – Fusilier Joseph Mansfield, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

18th February – Captain Peter Black, Royal Irish Fusiliers, seconded from RUR.

20th February – Fusilier David Davies, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

20th February – Fusilier William Parker, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

21st February – Lieutenant Raymond Page, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

21st February – Sergeant Michael McDermott, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

22nd February – Rifleman Albert Fitzgibbon, London Irish Rifles.

22nd February – Fusilier John Murphy, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

24th February – Sergeant Ernest Reid, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

25th February – Fusilier Anthony Maguire, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

25th February – Fusilier William Crocker, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

25th February – Corporal Michael De Courcey, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

25th February – Fusilier Max Blundell, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

25th February – Fusilier Barney Needlestein, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

26th February – Corporal Archie Kawalsky, London Irish Rifles.

26th February – Captain Anthony Boyle, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

26th February – Rifleman William Ruddock, London Irish Rifles.

26th February – Company Quarter Master Sergeant Frederick Brooks, London Irish Rifles.

26th February – Rifleman David Scott, London Irish Rifles.

26th February – Rifleman Reginald Brooks, London Irish Rifles.

26th February – Rifleman Stanley Roberts, London Irish Rifles.

26th February  – Rifleman Charles Hamilton, London Irish Rifles.

26th February – Corporal William Dunsmuir, London Irish Rifles.

26th February – Lance Corporal Charles Mills, London Irish Rifles.

26th February – Rifleman James Turner, London Irish Rifles.

26th February – Lance Corporal John Tryers, London Irish Rifles.

26th February – Corporal Stanley Metcalfe, London Irish Rifles.

26th February – Rifleman George Watts, London Irish Rifles.

26th February – Rifleman John Carey, London Irish Rifles.

26th February – Rifleman Thomas Booth, London Irish Rifles.

26th February – Rifleman Dennis Flaherty, London Irish Rifles.

26th February – Rifleman Robert Henderson, London Irish Rifles.

26th February – Corporal Martin McGrath, London Irish Rifles.

26th February – Rifleman Alfred Crush, London Irish Rifles.

26th February – Fusilier James McCabe, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

26th February – Fusilier Ernest Graves, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

26th February – Lance Corporal Robert Reid, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

26th February – Corporal Robert Church, London Irish Rifles.

26th February – Rifleman James Smith, London Irish Rifles.

27th February – Rifleman James Taylor, London Irish Rifles.  Links to photographs from CWGC cemeteries.


Links to the transcribed February 1943 war diaries.

38 (Irish) Brigade.

6 Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

1 Royal Irish Fusiliers.

2 London Irish Rifles.


Links to the original February 1943 war diaries.

38 (Irish) Brigade.

6 Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

1 Royal Irish Fusiliers.

2 London Irish Rifles.



 

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