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Irish Brigade

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

Faugh a Ballagh        Nec Aspera Terrent         Quis Separabit


War Diaries – 17th April 1943

Brigade HQ – CHAOUACH.

0001 6 Innisks attacked Tanngoucha (5645) from south west. The objective was reached, but there was a heavy counterattack. Bttn could not dig in as mules (which had been allotted for the attack and were carrying beehives and tools) were shot or bolted under enemy MG and mortar fire. It was also found that enemy snipers and MGs were in strong positions at pt 622.

0600 2 LIR reported Heidous occupied.

0700 6 Innisks were concentrated west of Djebel Bettiour (5444).

A letter on subject of mules was sent to Bttns. The shortage of mules was pointed out and the necessity emphasised of preventing exhaustion of mules and muleteers and casualties from MG and mortar fire by bringing mules up too soon.


1 RIrF – KEF EL TIOUR.

A quiet day. Periodic sniping and mortaring. Lieut WH Lang RAMC joined the Bttns.

Fusilier David Crawford, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Fusilier James Wild, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Fusilier George Mason, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Lance Corporal James Given, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Fusilier Wilfred Dicken, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Fusilier Albert Smith, Royal Irish Fusiliers.


6 Innisks – TANNGOUCHA.

0001 Leading Coys advance under lifting barrage. Unfortunately one gun fails to lift and wounds twelve of D Coy including Captain McCaldin MC and Lieut Lambert Porter.

B and D Coys managed to get on to the objective without much opposition taking 5 Bosche MGs and 16 prisoners. When the barrage lifted, however, a number of enemy Mortars and MMGs opened up from the flanks and could not be silenced.

Tools were now sent forward on mule pack, but in the bright moonlight were spotted and shot up from the flank. The Arab muleteers panicked and the tools never arrived with the Coys. A patrol was sent out from Bttn HQ to silence one MG firing from the left flank, but it was found to be sited in a cave on the cliff face and could not be reached. Another was similarly placed on the cliff face at pt 620 and although Mortar and Piat fire were directed at it, this also could not be dislodged.

Both C and D Coys had had their 18 sets put out of action and Captain Bradley O/C A Coy managed to coordinate these efforts, while B Coy on the left of the objective continued to try and silence flanking MGs.

0430 However, at 0430, it became obvious that the Bttn position would be untenable during daylight owing to these un-destroyed weapons, particularly so, since these Coys had been unable to dig in. The CO then went forward to see how serious the situation really was likely to be under these circumstances and after a recce gave the order to withdraw. A Coy reported a counter attack was developing from the eastern slopes of pt 620 J568455. The Bttn then withdrew under artillery support without serious enemy pressure to the lying up position at J542445. Total casualties 4 ORs killed. Captain McCaldin MC and Lieut GF Lambert Porter and 34 ORs wounded.

The Bttn lay up by day.

1730 Orders were received to relieve 1 East Surrey Regiment on Djebel Ang J5445 and 2 Lancashire Fusiliers on Dar Mahdouna area 5444 and 5344 tonight. Both these Bttns were reduced to the strength of two rifle companies.

1915 After the OC had met with the OC 1 East Surrey Regiment, orders were issued for the relief to take place as follows: A and C Coys under command Captain Bradley with two MMGs and one mortar under command to Djebel Ang  (J5445). B, D and S Coys on Dar Mahdouna and Bttn HQ 538437 and one Coy LIR in support at 546443. Late arrival of mules delayed forward move of the Bttn but relief was completed by 0115hrs.

Fusilier James Grant, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Lance Corporal James McKane, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Fusilier George Rabone, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.


2 LIR.

6 Innisks occupy Tanngoucha – unable to hold owing to mules stampeding and carrying away digging in tools.

0800 Observation post reports movement seen on Tanngoucha – men digging in etc.

0915 Enemy shelling Djebel Bettiour & Djebel Dar Mahdouna.

1000 Sitrep. Unidentified troop movement on Tanngoucha – Engaged by our artillery – Enemy mortared Bettiour and shelled Djebel Dar Mahdouna from general easterly direction. One shrapnel shell burst at approx 500 ft above Djebel El Hamra. Own artillery shelled Tanngoucha at 0945 and Heidous at 1025.

1215 RIrF ask for artillery to counter attack on top south and west slopes of Tanngoucha.

1225 Intensive fire on Tanngoucha.

1230 Commanding Officer goes to Brigade HQ to report on recce.

1330 Company commanders recce Heidous area.

1445 12 enemy bombs in 4 minutes on 543448.

1715 12 enemy bombs in five minutes on Heidous.

1730 6 MEs bomb south-east of Bettiour – Area of fall not seen – Bomb line south-west – north east – 1 shrapnel shell 1 mortar bomb on 543448.

1815 English and American bombers escorted by Aircobras attacked 8 MEs – One ME brought down.

1900 6 Innisks take over G Company positions on Djebel Dar Mahdouna. E Company remain in same position on Djebel Dar Mahdouna – G Company on hills 543444 and 543443. Platoons of H and F companies join their companies. H Company 544446 and F Company 54555”. Battalion HQ 100 yds east of G Company.


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