War Diaries – 9th April 1943

Brigade HQ.

During the morning there was slight mortaring of Mahdi.

0900 Coordinating conference was held at Command Post.

1300 Captain P Strange, Brigade Signals Officer, was killed while establishing Command OP with Brigade Command. Sweep of 2 Innisks and 6 Hamps commenced.

1600 Coy sweep of 1 RIrF on Mahdi was carried out.

1810 Withdrawal of both Bttns ordered after a successful sweep had been made. 130 PoWs were taken during the day.

2200 Conference was held at CP to discuss operations 10 April. It was explained by Brigade Commander that if infantry were to advance to Djebel Guerinat (4349), but this was not practical politics unless the threat of enemy tanks in the area 4647 was neutralised. It was therefore necessary to use NIH’s Churchills to go in advance of the infantry on the night.

2330 Brigade Commander went to discuss the plan with the Divisional Commander.

2400 Command of sector changed from 38 Brigade to 12 Brigade (HQ at Farm 380368). During the night, 1 RWK took up the positions of 2 Hamps (3943), who retired to area 3840. 6 Black Watch lay up area 1 RIrF  on Mahdi.

In the afternoon, Brigade OO No 17 was produced dealing with reliefs 9/10 April.

1 RIrF.

Quiet day. B Coy did a similar sweep again today with artillery support. Total bag of prisoners 47. On both these sweeps, casualties amount to one killed and two wounded.

6 Innisks – PLATEAU FARM.

0030 CO attends conference at Brigade.

0630 O Group conference discusses sweep over area J 3944, which is still occupied by enemy.

0745 O Group go out and recce area. Adjutant goes to coys and puts them in the picture and warns them to be ready to move at 1000hrs.

0900 CO attends conference at Brigade and sends back message. Zero put back one hour.

0950 O Group returns from recce.

1100 Coys pass SP 392400. Zero is fixed for 1300hrs. Order of march B, Bttn HQ, A, C, D.

Plan A & B to take pt 361 (397447). When A had established fire plan, B Coy to go on to high ground on 3945. In the meantime, C Coy to go along gully running through square 4044. When B Coy had taken their objective, D Coy to clear gully 3944.

Bttn was slowed down during the approach march by shelling of bridge J 392407 with the result that the attack was to be late going in.

The attack was supported by 102 Field Regiment and battery of mediums.

1320 Artillery barrage.

1325 A & B Coys crossed start line.

1405 Coys reached foot of objective where B Coy stayed and covered A Coy, who went round and attacked up east side and took 8 prisoners 1/755 Infantry Regiment.

1445 B Coy went forward covered by D Coy covered from foot of pt 361, but were held up by MMG points and eventually made crossing of open ground between pt 361 and next objective.

A well dug in MMG post held up B Coy for two hours. Eventually they ran out from our Artillery and allowed B Coy to proceed to their next objective. C Coy’s advance was held up by minefield in square J 4044, where three of the Coy suffered casualties. It is indeed lucky that this field was not covered by fire. The Coy eventually was led out of the minefield by prisoners sent back by A Coy.

1625 A & C start up withdrawing covering each other’s route.

1715 B Coy’s second attempt to take their second objective failed and they were ordered to withdraw.

1810 Orders from Brigade for Bttn to start withdrawal. During the sweep, 50 prisoners from 12 and 4 Coy 755 were taken.

1930 Bttn all back at Plateau Farm area (own casualties 2 killed and 12 wounded).

2000 Brigadier arrived and gave CO rough plan for sweep on 10 April over forward slopes of Mahdi.

Lance Sergeant Harold Walls, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Lance Corporal Edwin Nicholls, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

2 LIR.

1900 Battalion Scheme “Moon” 3 company attack at night.

Captain JD Lofting promoted A/Major.