War Diaries – 21st to 25th April 1944

21st April

Brigade HQ – CAIRA (G825246).

Patrols during night heard some enemy movement. Slight shelling and mortaring of forward areas during night. Patrol from 6 Innisks was grenaded on approaching Phantom House (G828226) and an enemy patrol made contact with a standing patrol in front of 6 Innisks left forward platoon at G834224. An exchange of fire took place and grenades were thrown by both sides but there were no casualties.

0600 Heavy shelling right coy 2 LIR.

0710 Right coy 6 Innisks mortared; 2 wounded. Spasmodic shelling and mortaring of forward areas during the day causing three more casualties; otherwise quiet on rest of brigade front. Visibility became perfect during the afternoon and observation was excellent for many miles. Recce parties from bttns of Lwow Brigade leave for own locations. Normal patrolling to take place during the night.

1 RIrF.

1830 Received 38 Brigade Admin Order No 7 (Hand-over and move).

Enemy HF. Routine patrols.


0020 An enemy ammunition dump behind Phantom Ridge was seen to blow up. Enemy was seen to be moving about by the light of the explosions.

0025 Patrol (Mozart) reported in after hearing coughing and movement in area 832211.

0050 D Coy suffered one casualty from enemy mortaring.

0215 Tommy guns and grenade explosions were heard between the Saddle of pt593 and D Coy.

0350 Patrol (Handel) came in and reported enemy movement 80 yards north of Phantom House. On approaching to investigate, an enemy illuminating flare went up.

0500 The standing patrol of the left coy came in and reported that at approximately 0300 hrs, they had had small fire exchanges with enemy, who had approached their positions.

0640 Two enemy were seen repairing the camouflage of their position as 3” mortars opened up on the area. The enemy replied with MG fire.

0710 D Coy suffered two casualties owing to enemy mortars.

0900–1200 There were spasmodic mortar duels with enemy bombs falling in all parts of the bttn area.

1500 A solitary mortar bomb fell in the Bttn HQ area and destroyed some of the War Diary papers.

1710 A recce was made for a lying up area, for two coys in the light of the forthcoming move and the possibility of the whole bttn being unable to cross the Rapido valley before daylight.

2020 Bttn HQ was again mortared. Shamrock was called for.

2100-2200 There were some verey lights seen over the FDLs and some mortar engagements.

2230-2235 Spent smoke shells from our own guns fell in the bttn area. Luckily no casualties were caused.

2335-2345 A parachute flare was seen over the second bottle neck and again our 3” mortars opened up and replied to enemy mortaring.

2353 A flash bearing was taken from MR 829233. This was given to our artillery, who opened up at 0115 hrs on 22nd and their fire was observed to be well placed.

San Michele – During the evening, the CO came up with the Jeep train and the only news from A Echelon was the Polish gunners were still digging in.


0025 G Coy report enemy shelling – 235°M from 834239.

0400 CO and 3 Polish Officers leave Bttn HQ for tour of coy areas.

0500 Patrol Hotspur in. Report that gully 825236 was engaged by our heavy mortars at 2315 hrs. Noise of shouting and mules screaming following. Enemy mortar firing from  that area did not fire again. Otherwise NTR.

0505 F Coy reports CO and party arrived.

0550 Patrol Hasty in. At 0230 heard sounds of men climbing 3-400 yards in front of them. Otherwise NTR.

0559 Mortar Platoon reports CO’s party returning.

0600 Patrol Havoc in. Reports noise of working party to their left up to 2359 hrs. Otherwise NTR.

0620 Heavy enemy mortaring of forward area.

0830 Intentions night 21/22 April: 1. Patrols Janus (1 and 3 C Coy) 827243 – 2045/0500 hrs. 2. Jaguar (1 and 3 F Coy) 828239 – 2045/0500 hrs. 3. Jervis (Battle Patrol) 826237 – 2100/0200 hrs. 4. Juniper (1 and 3 H Coy) 828236 – 0200/0500 hrs. Tasks – Patrols 1,2 and 4 are recce patrols and will report all transport movement heard and any other enemy activity to their front. 3 is an ambush patrol and will frustrate any attempt by the enemy to approach of bttn area.

1730 Sitrep to brigade.

1900 Lieut Hawkins evacuated – suffering from dysentery

22nd April

Brigade HQ – CAIRA (G825246).

Patrols during the night had nothing to report and shelling and mortaring was generally on a reducing scale.

0840 Thirty two bombs on right coy 6 Innisks.

1640 Heavy mortaring 6 Innisks’ area.

6 Innisks report much enemy movement on the lower southern slopes of pt 593 (G835215) during the day. Indication is given of possible new platoon position and enemy unaware that he was overlooked. Possibly fresh enemy defensive measure to guard the gully leading down to the Massa Albanete (G8321). This platoon position was heavily mortared by 3” mortar by 6 Innisks during the afternoon. Again, visibility was perfect during the day and movement had to be cut down to the minimum. Normal patrols during the night.

1 RIrF.

0900 Received addendum No 1 and amendment No 1 to 38 Brigade OO No 33.

Enemy HF. Routine patrols.


0115 An enemy ammunition dump was seen to blow up 6° magnetic from the OP on pt 706.

0125–0300 There were more very lights over the FDLs and MG fire.

0630 A mule that had been wounded by shell fire on the night 19/20 April was located and had to be destroyed.

1520 Enemy movement was observed at MR 832215. These were engaged by our mortars.

1600 OO No 8 was issued to all concerned.

1735 A section of the enemy was seen in the same area and once again engaged by the mortars.

1900 Movement was seen on pt 593. Our 3” mortars opened up and at 1925, enemy was seen running down the hill and out of sight due to the accurate fire.

1935 Eight 75 mm shells fell in the area south west of Bttn HQ.

2000 A party of guides left Bttn HQ, by which the relieving unit would travel across the plain to bttn area.

2043 A big fire was seen on the far side of the Rapido plain on a bearing of 64° magnetic and the burst of enemy shells were also seen in that area.

2115-2230 There was mortaring and artillery activity from both sides and a few flares and spasmodic bursts of MG fire.

2245 Patrol (Leeds) came back with Nothing to Report.

San Michele – Twenty shells landed in the area of A Echelon, causing no casualties but a Jeep was put out of action. The new Indian mule coy (26 Mule Coy) that had taken over arrived somewhat late as they do not allow their mules to proceed forward before dusk. The Jeep train was also late owing to traffic congestion on the road, caused by the Polish transport, which had started to take over this sector.


0220 Patrol Jervis in. Reported noises of enemy working and talking in gully from 2130 to 0200. Own 3” mortars engaged correct target.

0530 All patrols in. NTR.

0600 Sitrep to brigade.

0830 Intentions night 22/23 April: Carry out normal maintenance. Patrols – Gin (1 and 3 F Coy), Sherry (1 and 3 H Coy), Port (1 and 3 H Coy). Objectives, times and tasks as for patrols on night 21/22 April.

1630 H Coy report 12 shells bttn area from 820235. Own mortars replied.

2100 G Coy line reported disconnected.

2140 G Coy line reported OK.

2250 H Coy report movement in front of them. 3” mortars fired DF.

245354 W/Lieut MH Hawkins admitted ADS and posted to x(ii) list.

23rd April

Brigade HQ – CAIRA (G825246).

Patrols during night made no contact. Slight mortaring and shelling of four localities including Caira. Our 3” mortars engaged targets at 834218, Phantom Ridge 828226, and Massa Albanete. Light but constant shelling of Brigade HQ area up to 0200hrs.

1100 Bttn HQ 6 Innisks shelled.

1430 Right coy 6 Innisks mortared.

1500 Right coy 2 LIR shelled. Otherwise quiet day.

Weather clear and fine since dawn.

Visibility perfect over many miles.

Normal patrols during night.

2300 Recce patrols 14 Polish Infantry Bttn arrive at HQ 6 Innisks to recce bttn area preparatory to taking over positions the next night.

Patrols during night from 2 LIR and 1 RIrF made no contact during night. Patrol from 6 Innisks found an enemy minefield at G833219 but made no contact with any enemy patrol which may been patrolling it.

1 RIrF.

0900 Operations order issued (hand-over to 17 Polish Battalion and move to new area).

Enemy HF. Routine patrols.

Read Lawrie Franklyn-Vaile’s letters.


0050 Ten rounds of our own expended smoke shells fell in the bttn area from the same direction as the previous night.

0200 Patrol (London) returned and reported that the track south and south west of 826226 showed signs of use but they made no contact.

0205 Six Polish ORs reported to this HQ having cross the plain from the mule point.

0210 Only 150 gallons of water were brought up during the night as the congestion on the road, only allowed the water Jeep to make one journey. The water Jeep is the CO’s Jeep with a trailer for carrying gallon cans which had been boiled out at B Echelon.

The morning on the whole was comparatively quiet and preparations were put into motion for the forthcoming move.

1100 Bttn HQ was slightly shelled.

1400-1430 Mortaring of D Coy was answered by our mortars.

1630 Four Folke–Wolfes 190 flew over the bttn area. They were engaged by Spitfires.

1755 A fire was started in a wood near Inferno Quarry and was still burning 48 hours later.

2010–2030 The movement of enemy getting in their positions was engaged by our mortars.

2055 Communications reported established with Wrights Corner, Mortar Corner and Dannert Wire Corner where TCPs had been established for the forthcoming move.

2130 The first two Polish jeeps were reported passing Dannert Wire Corner.

2145 Flames were seen on our front but a considerable distance away.

2330 The patrol to 833219 returned and reported a field of Tellermines in the area of their objective. No contact was made.

The CO and the Bttn HQ officers of relieving unit arrived this HQ.

2340-0030 The advance parties of the Poles, who were to relieve the bttn arrived at Bttn HQ.

San Michele – It was notified that the coy dumps at A Echelon would move to B Echelon. The preparations were put in hand. Arrangements were made for taking forward the advance and support groups of the relieving units. In addition to the usual jeep train, eighteen extra jeeps had to be used and all went according to plan.


0200 Patrol Sherry in. Reports that, at 2200 hrs, heard sound of water being drawn from well at 825237. Enemy mortar located 825239. Nebel fired three salvos from 823232.

0510 Patrol Port in. Confirms Nebel reported by Sherry. It fired twice more at 0430 hrs.

0515 Patrols Whisky and Gin in. NTR.

0600 Sitrep to brigade.

0830 Intentions night 23/24 April: Carry out normal maintenance and begin thinning out surplus stores. Standing patrols – Capstan (Battle Patrol) 827244, 2045 – 0500 hrs. Player (one section G Coy) 828820, 2045 – 0500 hrs. Tripod (one section H Coy) 826237, 2100 – 0200 hrs. Trident (one section H Coy) 828236, 0200 – 0500 hrs. Tasks for all patrols – give warnings of enemy attempt to approach our FDLs.

1700 H Coy report enemy shelling. Sound bearing 295°. Nebel reported by left forward platoon. Visible in daylight.

1800 Sitrep to brigade.

24th April

Brigade HQ – CAIRA (G825246).

The day was generally quiet in the brigade sector except for consistent mortaring and shelling of the right coy 6 Innisks during the day. Our heavy mortars and 3” mortars replied and in addition 3” mortars 6 Innisks kept up a steady harassing fire on the Phantom Ridge sector (G828226).

Relief of 6 Innisks by 14 Polish Infantry Brigade commenced about midnight.

Normal standing and protective patrols during the night.

1 RIrF.

1930 Movement Instruction received from Brigade

Enemy HF. Routine patrols.


0245 Patrol to 828228 reported in having seen and heard an enemy standing patrol on the west side of Saddle.

0250 Two Polish Jeeps carrying four 3” mortars failed to report this HQ.

0310 C Coy reports that the showing of their positions to the Poles lasted three hours and owing to language difficulties, it was described as a “hell of a job”, mostly as they had been smoked out by our artillery whilst doing it.

0530 Col Baker visited HQ to see the Battery Commander of the 10 Field Battery, 17 Field Battery, RA.

San Michele – CSM Gibson, who was in control of the jeep and mule trains arrived back but had not received any news of the missing jeeps.

0610 Movement was seen at 833218 and was engaged by our mortars.

The right coy area was spasmodically mortared throughout and our mortars replied.

Preparations for the forthcoming move started in the morning and lasted all day.

1930 By this time, blankets were stacked and all kit was packed ready to move by Jeep.

2115 The Jeeps train 6 Innisks and Polish arrived at Dannert Wire Corner, where they controlled to the next TCP at Mortar Corner. The last and main TCP was at Wrights Corner from which Captain Griffiths controlled all traffic, to and from the bttn area.

2130 5cm bombs fall in A Coy area

2200 There was MG fire from pt 593 and Phantom Ridge.

2210 More expended smoke shells fell in the bttn area.

2225 Marching troops and mules of the Polish bttn were reported to have arrived at Dannert Wire Corner and that the two missing Jeeps of the previous night were in the column.

2240 A Polish armoured recce car was stuck above Dannert Wire Corner and caused a great deal of congestion. This was eventually overcome after great difficulty.

2305 Ten Polish Jeeps had arrived in the bttn area.

2345 Marching personnel of the coy relieving the right forward coy and mules passed Wrights Corner and proceeded up to relieve D Coy.

San Michele/San Pietro – At A and B Echelon, there was packing up of stores onto trucks, which then set off to our new area Formicola, where they arrived in time to see an oil raid on Naples.


0235 Patrol Tripod in. NTR.

0315 G Coy reports enemy gun shelling rear of night positions, 228°M.

0500 Patrols Player, Trident and Capstan in. NTR.

0530 F Coy mortared from sand pits 817242. Direct hit on forward VMG  post – one killed, 2 wounded.

0600 Sitrep to brigade.

0830 Intentions night 24/25 April:Receive advance party of 16 Polish Bttn. Thin out non essential equipment and stores. Standing patrols – Mercury (G Coy) – 827240. Apollo (F Coy) – 828245, Mars (H Coy) – 827236. All patrols: Tasks – break up enemy attack attempting to reach Bttn FDL. Strength – one section. Out – 2045, In – 0430.

1045 F Coy report enemy mortaring. 350° from left forward platoon.

1800 Sitrep to brigade.

1830-1900 Persistent enemy shelling by heavy artillery of gully between F and G Coys. Gun estimated to be at 754238.

Died on this Day:

Rifleman John Dorriss, London Irish Rifles.

25th April

Brigade HQ – CAIRA (G825246).

0100 Recce parties of 16 Polish Bttn arrive at HQ 2 LIR to recce bttn area.

Day was exceptionally quiet after rather a noisy night.

0345 Relief of 6 Innisks complete.

0530 All coys 6 Innisks have cleared the village of Caira but smoke was necessary to give cover and protection for rear coys not being able to cross the Rapido valley to Portella before daylight.

Shelling of Line of Control in the Caira area was heavy during the early part of the night. The mule train of 2 LIR, including recce parties of 16 Polish Bttn and supporting arms, came under fire and some mules stampeded. Four 3”mortars belonging to 16 Polish Bttn were missing to this stampeding.

2030 Marching personnel 16 Polish Bttn leave Portella to take over positions from 2 LIR.

2100 HQ 6 Lwow Brigade arrives at Caira.

2200 HQ 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade less Brigade Commander and Brigade Major leave for divisional concentration area.

1 RIrF.

Enemy HF. Routine patrols.


0030 The personnel relieving the centre coy passed Wrights Corner on the way up to A Coy positions.

0110 The remainder of the relieving unit, followed closely by relieving A/Tk personnel passed Wrights Corner, where owing to the mules and some Polish personnel getting into wrong coys, not to mention the language difficulty, there was a certain amount of confusion. This was eventually cleared up by Captain Griffiths and they all proceeded on their way.

0155 The enemy shelled the bttn area and 4.2 mortars opened up in reply.

0200 B Coy reported that the relief had been completed and that they were on their way down.

0210 HQ Coy personnel left its area and at the same time it was discovered at Wrights Corner that the personnel detailed to guide the bttn across the Rapido valley had misunderstood their orders and had gone back guiding Polish Jeeps.

0253 A Coy handed over and left its area.

0310 C Coy relief completed and they moved off.

0325 The enemy shelled Bttn HQ area.

0335 Four more expended 25 pounder smoke shells fell in Bttn HQ area.

0345 D Coy having changed over, left Bttn HQ area complete.

0350 One officer and orderly from all coys were ordered to close on Bttn HQ and, at this time, the command of the bttn area passed from 6 Innisks to 14 Infantry Bttn. The CO and the remainder of the bttn personnel left Bttn HQ area in Jeeps and picked up TC personnel at the three posts on the way down.

Little regret was felt by the personnel of the bttn as they lengthened the distance between them and Monte Castellone, where they had spent the most uncomfortable time in their army service. To the older members of the bttn, it had a reminiscence of the time spent on Grandstand, North Africa.

Rapido Valley – The journey across the Rapido valley by the marching personnel was not without incident as some of them were shelled and others managed to get mixed up with other outgoing units of the Division.

0545 The personnel, who had already arrived at Inferno Quarry embossed and moved for the new area

0700 Route Six – The column halted off Route Six where breakfast was served. It was then found that C and D Coys had failed to arrive at the em-busing point before sunrise.

1000 Formicola – The main body of the bttn arrived in the Formicola area. Elements of C and D Coys arrived during the rest of the day and by 2000 hrs, there were only 15 ORs unaccounted for. These turned up during the next 24 hours.

The remainder of the day was spent settling down in the new area and where possible to make good some of the sleep lost during the night.


0200-0230 F and G Coys. Brigade and 1 RIrF lines cut. Mule and jeep tracks heavily mortared. Mules dispersed. One Polish Sergeant and two Indians wounded.

0530 All patrols in. NTR.

0630 G Coy reports line through. Personnel of Polish advance party all present. No mules.

Sitrep to brigade.

0830 Intentions night 25/26 April: On completion of relief by 16 Polish Bttn, bttn will withdraw to divisional concentration area. Standing patrols – Venus (F Coy) 828244, Juno (F Coy) 828240, Diana (H Coy) 828237. All patrols: Strength – One section. Task – to break up any enemy attempt to interfere with relief. Time out – 2030 hrs, In when relieved by 16 Polish Infantry Bttn.

1730 Sitrep to brigade.

2030 CO’s control group established at Halfway House to meet incoming Polish Bttn.

2215 Two Polish coys with mule train arrive at Halfway House – CO led first coy to Piccadilly Circus 838237.

Bttn guides brought up second coy. Battle patrol acted as guides from Piccadilly Circus forward. One coy relieved right forward coy (F Coy). Other coys relieved reserve coy (G Coy).

2315 Two more Polish coys arrive to relieve left right forward coy (H Coy), remaining coy to go into brigade reserve in 1 RIrF area.