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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 – 1st to 5th April 1943


1st April

Brigade HQ – BEJA.

6 Innisks send recce patrols to north and south of Djebel Mahel. The patrol on the south had nothing to report, but that on the north observed movement, although there was no contact. 2 Hampshires located a strong locality 4044.

Divisional Admin Order No 16 (issued with Divisional OO No 7 was received).

A letter was sent to Battalions dealing with capture and security of own troops.

Intelligence Summary and Met chart was issued.

During the day, news was received that 36 Brigade and the Goums were making good progress in the northern battle.

1400 In the afternoon, the Brigade Commander and Brigade Major made a recce of the forward areas including Djebel Mahdi and Djebel Mahel.

1600 Commander, 12 Infantry Brigade arrived at this HQ.

1830 Commander, 1 RIrF arrived at this HQ.

A message was received from 78 Division with instructions that staff officers and 2.i.c.s of the Battalions could be put in the picture.

6 Innisks sent out 3 recce patrols. Farm 380417 was reported occupied and some movement was heard in valley 4341. Village (431382) was thought to contain a standing patrol.


1 RIrF – BEJA.

A quiet day. The mines and mine clearance intensive training started.

1800 The CO attended a conference on the impending operation at HQ 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade.

Night quiet. Standing patrols 280481 and 363477 had nothing to report.


6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD.

0530 Stand To. Coy Sitreps – all normal.

Standing patrol at Oued Zarga bridge had nothing to report.

Patrols – night 31 March/1 April – reports as per appendices

1000 Daylight patrols went to recce area north and north east of Plateau Farm.

Very quiet day with little to report. It might be worthy to note, however that the ever welcome NAAFI supplies, which included today an unpopular supply of  Blanco. “Servitor Seavientum” can evidently be translated as “gone but not forgotten.”


2 LIR.

W/Lieutenant JD O’Rourke, RUR joined the battalion.



2nd April

Brigade HQ – BEJA.

Commander 102 Field Regiment  and 46 Recce Regiment and Major General Miller MCA 18 Army Group visited this HQ. The latter had interesting news of the Eighth Army’s progress and of our growing air power in Tunisia. He considered an estimate of the third week in May, as likely to see the end of the campaign to be pessimistic.

1030 Captain Worrall SD officer belonging to Recce Corps came to give any available information regarding the Oued Zarga sector of the front.

1330 A/Q 78 Division visited this HQ to discuss the Q problems of the forthcoming battles.

Intelligence Summary was issued.

During the day, a little movement was seen,


1 RIrF – BEJA.

0600 CO took Coy Commanders over field firing range.

0900 CO carried out recce for impending operations.

A quiet day. Mines and mine clearance programme continued. FD : firing carried out by A Coy.

2/Lt AM Smith and Lt Brown joined the Battalion. Captain JHA Monnsell admitted to hospital.


6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD.

0530 Stand To. Sitreps all normal.

Daylight recce patrol of ground immediately north of Plateau Farm by IO (Captain Hanna). Previous night’s patrols – 156/159.

1630 3 officers and 8 OR reinforcements arrive. The battalion was pleased to welcome back Lieut EBS Hewitt, who was wounded when A Coy attacked pt 286 (Bou Arada). Other officers – Lieuts WS Pollard and PGP Mahoney. The unit is now only five officers below establishment.

1930 Patrol No 160 to Oued Bounded. 161 – to 392407.  162 – pt 355 (415436). 163 – to ascertain if “Third Farm” is occupied.


2 LIR.

Lieutenant E  Condy (RUR) and Lieutenant MDN Webb-Bowen RUR joined the battalion.



3rd April

Brigade HQ – BEJA.

Information was received that Cap Serrat had been occupied by our own troops. During the day, enemy indulged in slight shelling on the Brigade front.

0245 Orders were received from 78 Division that Squadron 56 Recce would relieve B Squadron 46 Recce night 2/3 April.

1430 Brigade Commander, Brigade Major, Staff Captain, Signals Office and Intelligence Officer with Commander and Second in Commands of Battalions attended a cloth model and conference at Divisional HQ. All Commanders gave an outline of their plan for the attack on their own sector of the high ground north of Medjez and BGS 5 Corps gave information of the wider picture.

1800 Conference to discuss future operations was held at Brigade HQ.


1 RIrF – BEJA.

A quiet day. Training continued.

1430 CO and Second in commands went to cloth model conference at Division.

1800 CO to conference at Brigade.


6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD.

0030  Coy Sitreps all normal. Oued Zarga had nothing to report.

0630 Patrols No 161/3 arrived back.

0945 Brigadier Russell arrived together Artillery Brigadier to recce area suitable for Brigade OP. Another quiet day with very little to report.

1145 Enemy put six shells on area between A and D Coys’ positions.

1400 IO and Coy Commanders recce area to the north of Plateau Farm.

Battle course training under Captain Kerr for HQ platoons.

1615/1700 Patrols 165/166 go to Plateau Farm. Patrol 164 to Quarry Farm. 165 to Avenue Farm.


2 LIR.

0800 Battalion Scheme “Magnet”.



4th April

Brigade HQ – BEJA.

During the day, movement of MT and infantry was observed area 4248.

1700 Brigade Commander attended coordinating conference at Divisional HQ.

1740 Order was received from 46 Division for 1 RIrF to revert under command 38 Brigade and 16 DLI also to come under command.

2100 Final conference of O Group was held at Brigade HQ.


1 RIrF – BEJA.

A quiet day.

1900 Battalion moved by march route to concentration area: Farm 4234.

Died on this Day:

Fusilier Joseph Quirk, Royal Irish Fusiliers.


6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD.

0530 All coys normal and nothing to report.

0630 Patrols 164/167 return.

0830 CO holds conference and explains general situation and the role of the Battalion in the near future, which is to attack pt 355 on Djebel Mahdi J414435.

1830 Strong fighting patrol consisting of Lieut Beeching and 16 ORs (5 int. section) went out to recce route to start line.

Coy Commander and other reps went up to gunner OP on D Coy hill to see Mahdi and approach to lying up area J383398.

Died on this Day:

Captain Kenneth Beeching, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Lance Corporal John Rose, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.


2 LIR.

Captain AST Galloway, Captain JO Curry and Lieutenant HJP La Prairie leave and re-join own units.



5th April

Brigade HQ

0630 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade OO No 15 was issued.

1000 5 Sherwood Foresters came under command 38 Brigade by orders of 46 Division.

1700 Divisional Commander visited Brigade HQ and discussed final details.

1800 An Arab who had helped to bring in a Sgt of 6 Innisks, wounded by S Mines while on patrol, was brought to Brigade HQ and then taken by IO and Captain Bradley, 6 Innisks to FSP 46 Division at Beja for interrogation. He gave certain information, which was immediately forwarded to 36 Brigade and 6 Innisks, but was young and not entirely reliable.

1900 Brigade HQ moved to Farm Bordj  325359 and arrived at 2000hrs. 78 Division OO No 7 was received.

2100 First Army Intelligence Instruction No 2 “Control of Civilians” issued”


1 RIrF.

0100 Battalion arrived in new area. Move had been carried out without incident.

Orders and preparations for impending operation.

1600 Mules arrived.

1800 Bttn move by march route to lying up area 390375.

2200 Bttns in new area, move having been carried out without incident. Rations and ammunition brought up by mule.


6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD.

0730 Fighting patrol returned and reported having run into enemy booby trap (teller mine with booby trap) J3941. Lieut Beeching and 2 ORs were killed and 3 ORs wounded.

Throughout the day, coys took reps to vantage points to view ground to SP on Mahdi

1000 O Group conference. Battalion to move off for night march to assembly area at 2130hrs. No transport can be taken.  Battalion is allotted 65 mules. Assembly area J383398. Route cross country via Third Farm 376380. Pioneer platoon to go forward to prepare crossing over gully MR J 387395 and route to be picketed by intelligence section.

1900 Brigadier arrived to see CO.

2130 Battalion moved off in following order – C, Bttn HQ, A, D, B.  B Coy carrying bttn tools.



 

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