Irish Brigade

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

January 1943

 During the first ten days of January 1943, all three battalions of the Irish Brigade continued patrolling activity near to Goubellat. Overnight patrols provoked regular fierce fire fights with German patrols who had a similar intention in contesting the large areas of open plain to the south and east of Goubellat, with the wide ranging front line being unsecured for either side.

On 11th January, two companies of 2 LIR took part in an operation to recover eight tanks of 2 Lothian and Border Horse, which had been “bogged down” in the cloying mud south of Goubellat. During the partially successful action, H Coy of 2 LIR moved forward whilst singing “You Are My Sunshine”.

On 13th January the Irish Brigade took part in its first significant encounter of the North African campaign when 6 Royal Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (6 Innisks) led a 6 Armoured Division assault on three hills to the east of the Goubellat to Bou Arada Road, including Two Tree Hill. Although they succeeded in capturing Two Tree Hill, they were forced to retire as they were outnumbered, perhaps 2 to 1, by the defending forces, and their ability to move forward was also hindered by the cloying mud caused by heavy rain over the preceding few days. Click here for a detailed report of this action.

There were further plans to capture Two Tree Hill and its two hilly neighbours on 18th January, this time led by 1 Royal Irish Fusiliers (1 RIrF). Due to a requirement for the enhancement of the artillery plan, the operation was postponed for 24 hours. On the morning of 18th January, the brigade’s positions on Grandstand Hill were attacked by a force, which was estimated to include five infantry battalions and over twenty tanks. A hard fought defensive action by both 6 Innisks and 1 RIrF, with the support of 2 LIR’s mortars and carriers and the brigade’s artillery 17th Field Regiment resulted in the attack being finally repulsed by the early evening.

Two days later on the early morning of 20th January, F and G Companies of 2 LIR led an assault on Pt 279 and Pt 286, just to the south of Grandstand Hill. After heavy fighting, they were able to gain a position on both hill tops, but it soon became clear that due to the concrete nature of the ground, it was impossible to dig in any adequate defensive positions and during the daylight hours of 20th January, the two companies were subject to incessant artillery and mortar bombardment. That night, there was a massive German counter attack, likened to a cavalry charge, and the two other 2 LIR rifle companies, E and H, were brought up as reinforcements but they too suffered heavy casualties from sustained artillery and mortar fire and dive bombing by JU-88s. 2 LIR’s positions were overrun and Pt 286 was re-occupied by the counterattacking forces. Fortunately B Company of 1 RIrF, under James Dunnill, had been positioned by 1 RIrF’s Commanding Officer, Pat Scott, to guard the brigade’s southern flank in case of a German breakthrough and they held firm against the continuing offensive. 2 LIR suffered significant levels of casualties with the commanders of all four rifle companies being either killed or wounded, and a total of 250 London Irishmen being killed, wounded or captured on 20th and 21st January. Clck here for a detailed account of the action.

Later on 21st January and in order to secure the brigade’s positions, 3 Grenadier Guards from 1 Infantry Brigade (Guards) came under command of the Irish Brigade, and they remained with the brigade for seven days.

Plans for the ongoing organisation of the Irish Brigade to ensure a full defensive capablity across the Bou Arada plain were discussed over the following days, but a planned move of 1 Parachute Brigade to support the Irish Brigade was cancelled at short notice. At the end of the month, 6 Armoured Division sent out operational orders for its units to  “establish patrolling ascendency” in the area north of Bou Arada towards Djebel Rihane.

Read 2 LIR’s account of the fighting during January 1943.

Read CQMS Edmund O’Sullivan’s description of the events near to Hill 286 by clicking here.



Key Dates:

1st January to 10th January – Patrolling duties continue for all three battalions to the east of Goubellat and there are regularly encounters with German counter offensive patrols.

11th January – H and G Company of 2 LIR take part in the attempt to recover eight tanks of 2 Lothian and Border Horse, who are “bogged down” near to Goubellat.

13th January – 6 Innisks take part in an attack on Two Tree Hill, Three Tree Hill and Hen House Hill to the east of the Goubellat to Bou Arada road, but after capturing Two Tree Hill are forced to retire.

14th to 17th January – Defensive positions are taken up by the brigade on Grandstand Hill, which is on the east side of the Goubellat to Bou Arada road.

18th January – A day before a planned further attack on Two Tree Hill by 1 RIrF, the brigade’s positions on Grandstand Hill are heavily attacked, but the assault is repulsed by the decisive defensive actions of 1 RIrF and 6 Innisks.

20th / 21st January – 2 LIR attempts to capture Pt 279 and Pt 286, just to the south of Grandstand Hill. They initially capture the two hill tops but suffer heavy casualties in doing so and spend the subsequent daylight hours seeking to dig in to consolidate their gains under heavy mortar and shell fire. They are then counterattacked during the early morning of 21st January by German armoured cars and tanks and their positions are overrun with the overall brigade position only being secured by the timely intervention of 1 RIrF. Over 250 men from 2 LIR are killed, wounded or captured over the two days.

21st January – 3 Grenadier Guards temporarily comes under command of the Irish Brigade and remain with the brigade until 28th January.

22nd to 31st January – For the rest of the month, the brigade undertakes defensive duties and there are significant levels of reorganisation within each battalion due to the high levels of casualties suffered during the earlier part of January.


January 1943 Roll of Honour:

3rd January – Fusilier Frank Lunn, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

4th January – Lieutenant Robert Carruthers, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

4th January – Lieutenant Charles McKee, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

5th January – Lieutenant Charles Sutcliffe, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

6th January – Lance Corporal Joseph Green, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

7th January – Fusilier Alfred Moore, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

9th January – Lance Corporal John Varty, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

10th January – Lieutenant John Andrews, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

10th January – Fusilier George Beggs, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

11th January – Lance Sergeant John Hogan, London Irish Rifles.

11th January – Lance Sergeant James McLoughlin, London Irish Rifles.

11th January – Rifleman John Griffin, London Irish Rifles.

11th January – John Hogan, London Irish Rifles.

12th January – Rifleman Donald Fraser, London Irish Rifles.

13th January – Lieutenant Desmond Warren, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

13th January – Fusilier William Higgins, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

13th January – Fusilier George Sipson, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

13th January – Fusilier Arthur Holbeche, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

13th January – Lance Corporal Patrick Quinn, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

13th January – Fusilier Edward Pusey, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

13th January – Fusilier William Ellis, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

13th January – Fusilier Harry Birds, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

13th January – Fusilier Harry Marlow, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

13th January – Lance Sergeant Joseph Boyle, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

13th January – Fusilier Edward Alcock, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

13th January – Fusilier Derrick Murphy, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

13th January – Fusilier Bruce Ponton, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

13th January – Corporal Wilson Pidcock, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

13th January – Fusilier John Handley, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

13th January – Fusilier John Skinner, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

13th January – Fusilier Frederick Ager, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

13th January – Fusilier James Battersby, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers

13th January –  Corporal George Brownlee, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers

13th January – Sergeant Francis English, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

13th January – Lance Sergeant William Hadden, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

13th January – Corporal Daniel McAteer, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

13th January – Corporal George Osborn, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

13th January – Fusilier Kenneth Dumelow, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

13th January – Fusilier Patrick Fray, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

13th January – Fusilier William King, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

13th January – Fusilier Joseph Martin, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

13th January – Fusilier William Siviter, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

13th January – Fusilier William Twells, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

13th January – Fusilier George Tyler, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

13th January – Fusilier William McNamara, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

15th January – Fusilier Michael McLaughlin, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

15th January – Fusilier Frederick Woodley, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

17th January – Fusilier Ronald Pinchin, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

17th January – Fusilier Frederick Taylor, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

18th January – Sergeant James Voss, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

18th January – Fusilier Herbert Sullivan, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

18th January – Fusilier Walter Chambers, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

18th January – Corporal Raymond Jeffery, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

18th January – Fusilier Robert Patterson, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

18th January –  Fusilier Percy Welbourn, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

18th January – Fusilier John Kitchen, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

18th January – Sergeant Eryl Lloyd, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

18th January – Fusilier William Slater, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

18th January –Corporal James Shortt, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

18th January – Fusilier Alex Webb, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

18th January – Fusilier James McCarthy, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

18th January – Lance Corporal Thomas Rooney, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

18th January – Fusilier Joseph Wood, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

18th January – Lance Corporal James White, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

18th January – Major Peter Murphy, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

18th January – Lance Corporal Richard Cousins, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

18th January-  Fusilier Robert Crawford, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

18th January – Fusilier Jack Casswell, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

18th January – Fusilier Thomas Dangerfield, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

18th January – Fusilier Kenneth Hodson, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

18th January – Fusilier Harry Haywood, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

18th January – Captain Edward Spencer, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

19th January – Fusilier Timothy Casey, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

19th January – Fusilier Kenneth Whalley, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

19th January – Fusilier John Parry, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

19th January – Rifleman David Connery, London Irish Rifles.

19th January – Fusilier Albert Webster, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

19th January – William Tweed, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

19th January  – Fusilier Leonard Boot, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

19th January – Lance Corporal William Harrison, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

20th January – Corporal Edmond Hall, London Irish Rifles.

20th January – Fusilier John Livingstone, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

20th January – Lieutenant Victor Pottinger, London Irish Rifles.

20th January – Rifleman Themistolles Sinodorou, London Irish Rifles.

20th January – Lance Corporal Stanley Meager, London Irish Rifles.

20th January – Rifleman John Baxter, London Irish Rifles.

20th January – Rifleman Robert Wallace, London Irish Rifles.

20th January – Rifleman Walter Viney, London Irish Rifles.

20th January – Sergeant George Rock, London Irish Rifles.

20th January – Lance Corporal Robert Norland, London Irish Rifles.

20th January – Rifleman Joseph Smyth, London Irish Rifles.

20th January – Rifleman Eugene Murphy, London Irish Rifles.

20th January – Sergeant Dennis Griffin, London Irish Rifles.

20th January – Rifleman Herbert Deards, London Irish Rifles.

20th January – Rifleman Dennis Connolly, London Irish Rifles.

20th January – Lieutenant James McGranahan, London Irish Rifles.

20th January – Rifleman William Duncombe, London Irish Rifles.

20th January – Rifleman William McDowell, London Irish Rifles.

20th January – Fusilier William Bakewell, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

20th January – Fusilier William Paddock, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

20th January – Corporal Harry Robinson. London Irish Rifles.

20th January – Sergeant George Atkinson, London Irish Rifles.

20th January – Captain Joseph Carrigan, London Irish Rifles.

20th January – Lance Sergeant Patrick Crouchman, London Irish Rifles.

20th January – Lance Sergeant Joseph Whelan, London Irish Rifles.

20th January – Rifleman Ernest Cooling, London Irish Rifles.

20th January – Lance Corporal Thomas Cram, London Irish Rifles.

20th January – Rifleman William Fourt, London Irish Rifles.

20th January – Rifleman John Hamilton, London Irish Rifles.

20th January – Alfred Harris, London Irish Rifles.

20th January – Lance Corporal Joseph Loughbridge, London Irish Rifles.

20th January – Rifleman Robert McCracken, London Irish Rifles.

20th January – Rifleman James Mills, London Irish Rifles.

20th January – Rifleman Gordon Trivett, London Irish Rifles.

20th January  – Rifleman Frederick Waller, London Irish Rifles.

20th January – Rifleman Philip Williams, London Irish Rifles.

20th January  – Rifleman Edward Gant, London Irish Rifles.

20th January – Captain Harold Hooper, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

20th January – Fusilier Robert Turkington, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

21st January – Rifleman Michael McInerney, London Irish Rifles.

21st January – Fusilier Raymond Turner, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

21st January – Lance Corporal Maurice Rickard, London Irish Rifles.

21st January – Captain Sydney Ekin, London Irish Rifles.

21st January – Rifleman Harold Mangan, London Irish Rifles.

21st January – Rifleman George Wyman, London Irish Rifles.

21st January – Rifleman Herbert Crofts, London Irish Rifles.

21st January – Rifleman Ernest King, London Irish Rifles.

21st January – Reginald McKenna, London Irish Rifles.

21st January –Lieutenant Edward Beechey, London Irish Rifles.

21st January – Lance Corporal Charles Booker, London Irish Rifles.

21st January – Captain Hubert Henderson, London Irish Rifles.

21st January – Rifleman Henry Dunham, London Irish Rifles.

21st January – Rifleman Ronald Figg, London Irish Rifles.

22nd January – Fusilier James Craddock, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

24th January – Lance Sergeant Patrick Ward, London Irish Rifles.

25th January – Corporal Albert Sills, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers

25th January – Lance Corporal George Slocombe, London Irish Rifles.

26th January – Fusilier Alexander Trotter, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

28th January – Fusilier Roy Thorpe, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

29th January – Fusilier William Swan, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

29th January – Rifleman Frank Ware, London Irish Rifles.

31st January – Fusilier Desmond O’Halloran, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Links to photographs from CWGC cemeteries.


Links to the transcribed January 1943 war diaries.

38 (Irish) Brigade.

6 Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

1 Royal Irish Fusiliers.

2 London Irish Rifles.


Links to the original January 1943 war diaries.

38 (Irish) Brigade.

6 Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

1 Royal Irish Fusiliers.

2 London Irish Rfiles.



 

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