New memorials unveiled in Sicily

A pilgrimage organised by the London Irish Rifles returned from Sicily at the end of September after visiting locations where 38 (Irish) Brigade and 168 (London) Brigade fought during July and August 1943.

At that time, the Irish Brigade comprised the 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers (The Faughs); the 6th Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (The Skins) and the 2nd Battalion, London Irish Rifles.

The visitors, led by Colonel Ian Denison OBE, participated in the unveiling at Piedimonte di Etneo of an extension to a memorial engraved with the names of the men of the London Irish Rifles and local residents who died during the Sicily campaign (see above). They met Angelina Vitale, now aged 100, who watched the London Irish Rifles’ 1st Battalion, part of 168 Brigade, march into Piedimonte in September 1943.

The delegation also attended the unveiling ceremony for a new memorial dedicated to the memory of the men of the Irish Brigade who were killed during the Battle of Maletto in August 1943. This was the brigade’s final engagement during the 38-day Sicily campaign.

Pipe Sergeant Gary O’Connor and Piper Gerald Griffin joined the Mayor of Maletto in leading the parade through the town for the Festival of San Vincenzo that evening.

Respects were paid to members of the Irish Brigade who are buried in the Catania Commonwealth Graves Cemetery in Catania where pipers played laments to the dead.

A tour of Irish Brigade battlefields around Mount Etna included a visit to Centuripe which was captured by the brigade on 2-3 August. That was preceded by a meeting between Major (retired) Dick Scott Kerr and Carmelo Giancarlo Scravaglieri, the Mayor of Catenanuova, a town on the Dittaino River which the brigade passed through on its way to Centuripe (see below).

The visit culminated in an official dinner in Piedimonte di Etneo attended by the town Mayor Ignazio Puglisi, Town Councillors and the London Irish delegation.

The Irish Brigade plans to return to Sicily in 2023 to mark the 80th anniversary of the Sicily campaign. Those interested in joining us can contact us from this website.


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