War Diaries – 6th to 10th April 1944

6th April

Brigade HQ – CAIRA (G 825246).

0800 Intermittent shelling of Caira crossroads 847248 during night. Maintenance convoys arrived safely.

There have been coming up each night on a jeep and mule ….bringing supplies and ammunition to the forward companies. So far, no difficulty had been experienced and practically no casualties. A forward Administration Post has been established at San Michele (G 9023) from which all supplies are brought forward either on jeeps or mules. The enemy was active during the night. The 6 Innisks had an engagement with the enemy at house 828226. Mortar fire was brought down and the enemy withdrew.

Grenades were thrown by D Coy 6 Innisks on enemy approaching the wire.

Hostile mortaring of right coy was heavy during the night.

Forward of Mt Castellone (8324) digging and shouting was heard. The shouting was believed to come from a mortar position, which was shelled and mortared. In front of the left forward coy of 1 RIrF, the enemy attempted to draw fire. He did not succeed in this respect but caused DF to be brought down, which scattered him.

Intentions for night: Local standing and ambush patrols. Small covering party. 6 Innisks to protect RE recce party. REs to see and report on state of track 834223 – Massa Albanete 8321.

1 RIrF.

0320 Sounds of enemy digging in front of D Coy.

0330 Artillery fire on area from which above sounds came.

2132 Direct hit by shell on one of A Coy’s buildings.  Six ORs wounded.  One OR suffering severe shock.

2300 Prearranged shoot by 17 Field Regiment and D Sp Group mortars on area of enemy nightly MG shootings. – No firing from this area during night.

Enemy HF. Routine patrols.


0230 Owing to the enemy blowing up ammunition in the shattered tanks in the bottle neck, the bttn stood to until 0310hrs.

0530 The CO left the Bttn HQ to visit forward coy positions.

0940 The Brigade Commander and Brigade Major paid a visit to Bttn HQ to see the general layout of positions.

Wherever it was possible, the coys spent the morning improving their dug outs with the double purpose of getting more protection and comfort.

1145-1215 The right forward coy was heavily shelled. There were no casualties but the RA OP was evacuated owing to some near misses and later enemy ranging improved and some direct hits were scored.

The afternoon was quiet except for a few shells falling in the bttn area, which caused neither casualties or damage.

2330 The patrol led by Sgt Girr MM, which had left our lines at 2015 hrs returned without contacting the enemy.


0055 Patrol Toffee in. Nothing to report except for shooting of Hamilton target (821256) by 4.2” mortars. F Coy report that Cpl Wyatt killed and Cpl Barrett wounded.

0130 PSM Fraser reports that mines were carried up without mules. None laid owing to time taken in carrying.

0240 Patrol Duggy in. Reports digging heard in area 821239, otherwise nothing to report. Patrol Toffee in. Reports having heard shouting at 821256 when this area was engaged by 4.2” mortars.

0600 Sitrep to brigade.

0835 Intention night 6/7 April: Effect internal relief of left forward coy. Continue laying minefield. Effect normal maintenance and build up reserves of all classes.

Patrols – N (2015-2359) and Punch (0015-0500) – F Coy.

Strength – 1 NCO and 3 ORs. Objective – 827244. Route – in and out through right forward platoon of left forward coy.

Ambush patrol Judy (2015-0400) – F Coy. Strength – one officer and 9 ORS. Objective – 827240. Route –in and out through left forward platoon of right forward coy. Task – protect right flank, internal relief and cover mine laying. Ambush patrol Jill (2015-0400) – one officer and Battle Patrol. Objective – 825236. Task – protect flank left forward relief. Listening post Lizard (2030-0530) – G Coy. Strength – one NCO and 2 ORs. Objective – 833246. Task – give warning  of enemy infiltration between 2 LIR and 1 RIrF.

1455 Six mortar bombs in area 830242.

1500 Two mortar bombs in area 836236.

1800 Sitep to brigade.

1810 Fourteen enemy shells between Bttn HQ and F Coy (including four duds). Sound bearing 285°. Case of unexploded shell 2 foot long, 8” in diameter.

1845 Four shells (17 cm) area Caira.

F Coy report 23 heavy shells (5 duds) in their area from 1755-1845. Sound bearing 230° from 830242.

7th April

Brigade HQ – CAIRA (G 825246).

On the whole, a quiet night. A patrol from 6 Innisks met an enemy patrol at 828228 and grenades were thrown. Enemy dispersed. No casualties. Enemy movement was heard at various points on brigade front and mortared accordingly. Two German bodies and 7 French bodies found at 825234 but no identification. Harassing fire was on a reduced scale, but seemed heavier than of late, especially on the Castellone feature.

1000 6 Innisks reported enemy SP gun moved into position and camouflaged at 820225.

This was mortared heavily and seen to blow up.

Slight harassing fire during day. No casualties. 2 LIR build fresh mule track leading up slopes of Mt Castellone to assist mule transport. Slope is extremely steep and mules fall over unless on a reasonable path. Difficulty has been experienced by all battalions with the muleteers pulling the ropes and dumping their loads and this has necessitated undue supervision and considerable escort to the mule train each night. This practice of dumping stores almost becomes fantastic if there is any shelling in the area.

Intentions for the night – normal patrolling and ambushes.

1 RIrF.

2030 2.i.c. (Major HFW Holmes) came forward and assumed command of Battalion.  CO to attend conferences (Infantry cooperation) at HQ 13 Corps.

Enemy HF. Routine patrols.


The night was quiet.

0500 A patrol led by Sgt Orr reported in without having contacted the enemy.

0645 Owing to a mist reducing visibility the bttn had to ‘stand to’ longer than usual, the mist clearing away about one hour after daybreak.

0940 D Coy observed an enemy SP gun firing on pt 593 from Phantom Ridge. Our mortars were brought into action and 39 hits were observed out of the 70 bombs they fired.

1010 The target was finally seen to blow up.

1450–1725 The few shells and mortar bombs which fell in the bttn area were replied to by our 3” mortars on known enemy positions.

2145 A patrol of A Coy came in with 2 prisoners from 3 Coy 115 Recce, who had been lying up during the day observing our positions. After the normal routine, they were despatched to Brigade HQ.

2200 D Coy’s recce patrol reported enemy movement in front of our positions and a patrol led by Sgt Girr MM went out to investigate this activity but failed to contact the enemy.

2200 A patrol from B Coy was sent to the second battle neck to see if the enemy was forming up for an attack but this did not prove to be the case.

San Michele – During the day, a commotion was caused at A Echelon when the Provost Sgt’s Motor Cycle caught fire and was extinguished with the HQ clerk’s blanket.


0001 Patrol N in. NTR except digging heard at 821239.

0420 Patrol Judy in. NTR.

0430 Patrol Jill in. Reports 9 dead bodies in area 825234 – 2 Germans and the rest French. Approximately 10 days old. No identification. Digging or drilling heard area 821239.

0430 Relief of H Coy fully effected. Pioneer Officer arrived Bttn HQ.

0530 Patrol Lizard in. NTR.

0600 Sitrep to brigade.

0835 Intentions night 7/8 April: Relieve H Coy with E Coy, former to withdraw to B Echelon. Continue laying of minefield. Carry out normal maintenance and building of reserves in forward areas.

Patrols – Recce patrols Beade (2035-0500)- F Coy.  One NCO and 3 ORs. Objective – 827238. Tasks – to give warning of enemy approach. Ambush patrol Jean (2015-0040) – G Coy. One officer and 9 ORs. Objective – 825236. Task – ambush any enemy moving in area of objective. Standing patrol Patience (2015-0530) – H Coy. One NCO and 2 ORs. Objective – 813246. Task – give early warning of enemy approach.

1845 F Coy report mortar fire from Hamilton.

1856 Thirty rounds fired by our 4.2” mortars on Hamilton.

2045 Enemy mortaring – bearing 182° from 833242.

2105 Transport heard – 220° magnetic from 830242.

2359 RSM reports no extra mules. Will try and lay on 30 for tomorrow.

Died on this Day:

Rifleman Robert Barrett, London Irish Rifles.

8th April

Brigade HQ – CAIRA (G 825246).

Two PoWs were captured by a standing patrol from 6 Innisks during the night at 834224. They belonged to 3 Coy 115 Recce. Also, during the night, enemy patrols bumped the forward positions of 6 Innisks and were driven off with grenades. There was heavy mortaring of 6 Innisks area during the night. Two men were killed. Otherwise, only intermittent fire on rest of brigade front. As usual, the day was quiet and slight harassing fire mainly in the Caira village area.

1700 Leaflets in English were dropped on forward positions of 2 LIR and 1 RIrF. They harped on about Churchill’s 1940 speech, saying that he had nothing to offer except blood and tears. Also, it compared Allied bombing losses and the slight slowing up of the advance in Italy.

Patrolling and mine laying are the intentions during night.

1 RIrF.

Leaflets dropped by shell over B Coy.  A few collected in very tattered condition.  Sent to brigade.

Enemy HF. Routine patrols.

Read Lawrie Franklyn-Vaile’s letters.


0015 – 0505 A few mortar bombs fell in the bttn area causing no casualties or damage.

0520 The Battle Patrol returned and reports no contact but the discovery of three unoccupied dug outs at 833222 showing signs of recent occupation.

0525 Twelve mortar bombs fell in Bttn HQ and B Coy areas. A direct hit on a dug out caused the death of 2 ORs and some damage to small arms.

In the morning, B Coy personnel had a change of under clothing and in turn sent back their dirty clothes for washing and circulation to another coy.

1030 At the request of the CMO, the 3” mortars put down 60 bombs on 824224.

1515 A PIAT fixed as a mortar was fired at Phantom House 829226, the bombs fell near the target but the enemy’s reply was mortar bombs on the coy area.

1700 C Coy was heavily shelled. Two ORs being killed and 2 wounded.

1855 Our 3” mortars fired 10 bombs on each of the two saddles in front of our positions.

2000–2240 Enemy MGs and mortars fired on our FDLs from fixed line positions but failed to cause any damage.

2200 A recce patrol to track 830226 returned having made no contact but having heard voices at a position 100 yards south east of Phantom House.

2230 enemy mortar fire wounded ORs.

2245 An enemy MG firing from left of the saddle G828228 was engaged by our mortars.

2300 The relief by C Coy of B Coy took place without interruptions.

2340 The Ambush Patrol returned having seen no enemy.

Died on this Day:

Fusilier Robert Gilliland, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Fusilier Robert Habington, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Corporal Robert Apling MM, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Corporal Albert Lyttle MM, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.


0040 Patrol Jean in. NTR.

0041 F Coy report mortar firing – bearing 240° magnetic from 833244.

0110 Seventeen TAC report above mortar probably at 820235. Engaged.

0200 Inter coy relief completed.

0500 Patrol Beade in. Reports digging and sawing heard 822247.

0510 Patrol Ellen in. Reports heavy lorry at 823 239 at 2100 hrs. At 0200, more lorries and tracked vehicles heard some location moving towards San Lucia.

Twenty mortar bombs on bttn area.

0830 Intention 8/9 April: Carry out closer investigation area 823239 re noise of MT. Start laying 3rd leg of minefield. Effect normal maintenance and ferrying forward reserves of all classes. Patrols – Recce patrol York (2015-2345) – F Coy. One NCO and 3 ORs. Objective – 827244. Task – to give warning of early attempt to penetrate between 2 LIR and 1 RIrF. Patrol Hull to repent at 0015-0500.

Recce patrol Bath (2030-0400) – one officer and Battle Patrol. Objective – 827239. Route – out and in through left platoon right forward company. Task – provide information on which enemy working parties and transport can be engaged by artillery or heavy mortars. Ambush patrol Cowes (2030-0445) – G Coy. Objective – 825236. One officer and 9 ORs. Task – ambush enemy left forward coy area. Listening post Herald (2015-0530) – E Coy. One NCO and 2 ORs. Objective – 833246. Task – give warning of enemy approach between 2 LIR and 6 Innisks.

1445 Five shells in bttn area.

1650 Enemy leaflets seen falling in area 846257.

1810 Enemy shelling left of G Coy. 12 – 14 shells. 250° from 832242.

Died on this Day:

Rifleman Edwin Hull, London Irish Rifles.

9th April

Brigade HQ – CAIRA (G 825246).

6 Innisks had some heavy mortaring and shelling during the night. Four casualties.

2 LIR had a sharp engagement with the two small enemy patrols but nothing serious resulted. Again, they heard MT movement in the Villa St Lucia area (G 8023) during the night. Intermittent shelling of Caira during the day. Intentions for the night are patrolling.

1 RIrF.

0330 C Coy moved to new reserve position 837240.

Enemy HF. Routine patrols.


0230 The recce patrol to track 831221 reported in after having reached its objective. The only signs being voices heard 300 yards to the left.

The rest of the night was comparatively quiet.

0900 The concentration of an alternative Bttn HQ was commenced by the Pioneer Platoon.

1215-1245 Forty Four enemy mortar bombs fell in right coy area, causing only 1 (OR) casualty.

1230 RCs held Divine Service at Bttn HQ which was not interrupted by enemy action.

1245 Own 3” mortars put down 60 bombs in saddles and slopes of Phantom Ridge.

1430 Rain began to fall, which later developed into a downfall, flooding out a great percentage of the dug outs.

1445 One OR was wounded by an enemy mortar bomb in right coy area.

The rest of the afternoon was quiet but wet.

2000 COs’ Orders were held.

2040 An enemy mortar was reported firing from 829225. Twenty bombs were put down by our own 3” mortars and reported to be in the right area.

2150 The minefield at 834224 was reported to be complete and records were sent to Brigade HQ.

2245 Mortars and small arms opened up on enemy seen in the vicinity of 833222.

2255–2310 Exchange of mortar fire.

2315 The Battle Patrol returned with 3 prisoners from 832222 identified as belonging to 115 Recce Bttn (15 PG Division). The patrol reported having been engaged by MGs and light mortars, following the patrol clash. Two of our own troop did not return from this patrol and were believed captured .

San Michele: During the day, great difficulty had been experienced at A Echelon in cooking meals under adverse conditions. The ration party was late in arriving owing to the bad state of the roads.

2345 Own 3” mortars engaged an enemy MG post on the left of saddle 828228.


0130 Patrol Bath reports by radio, mortar heard in rock gully.

0220 Pioneers report minefield prepared for laying.

0400 Patrol Bath in. Contacted and engaged 2 German patrols each 4 men strong. One German wounded but could not be recovered. Estimated 821239 held by 1 platoon. No movement or MT movement heard.

0445 Patrol Cowes in. Heard about 2 trucks and motor cycles moving towards San Lucia at 0430hrs. Patrol York in. Reports digging to,; their front and movement along gulley in southerly direction. Herald in. NTR.

0510 Eighteen shells (8 duds) in valley below Bttn HQ.

0600 Sitrep to brigade.

0845 Spasmodic shelling of Caira.

0900 Intentions night 9/10 April: Attempt ambush enemy patrols believed to be working area 827239. Continue laying of minefield. Effect normal maintenance – build up reserves –clear up items dumped along track on previous nights.

Patrols – Ambush patrol Penguin (2015-0430). F Coy. One officer and 9 ORs. Objective – 817 245. Task – ambush enemy attempting to approach coy front. Ambush patrol attempting to approach coy front. Ambush patrol Owl (2030-0400) – one officer and Battle Patrol. Route – out and in through left forward platoon and left forward coy. Task – Attempt ambush any patrols working in immediate area and provide timely information of enemy activity in area between 821238 and 805231. Recce patrols Pigeon (2215-0030) and Woodcock (0030-0500) – G Coy. Each one officer and 3 ORs. Objective – 828234. Task – give warning enemy approach left flank. Bttn area. Listening post Parrot (E Coy) – One NCO and 3 ORs. Position – 834247. Task – give warning of any enemy attempt to infiltrate between 2 LIR and 1 RIrF.

1900 F Coy report 5 mortar bombs possibly from 817241. Unable to observe owing to rain and mist.

2210 G Coy report 3 shells from our guns landed in coy area.

10th April

Brigade HQ – CAIRA (G 825246).

2 LIR finish laying minefield between Monte Castellone (G 8324) and 6 Innisks complete theirs at G 834224.

Three PoWs were taken from 3 Coy 115 Recce after a patrol clash at 832222 in which grenades were thrown. Two of 6 Innisks patrol are missing. Slight mortaring of brigade area during the night. Three A./Tk guns from Troop 254 A/Tk Battery RA moved into position in area 837228 to support 6 Innisks in case of an attack by tanks. This is a feasible proposition as there is a run in for tanks along the gully leading from Massa Albanete (g 8321).

0930 A daylight patrol found no traces of missing men from 6 Innisks. Slight mortaring and harassing fire mainly during the afternoon. As before, patrolling activity during the night.

1 RIrF.

Enemy HF. Routine patrols.


0147 The Brigade Major reported that from the interrogation of the PoWs, it is learnt that the enemy have an OP in Phantom House and have observed our movements.

0150 B Coy’s recce patrol returns, and reports that enemy position at 829227 and 828227 from which they were engaged with grenades.

0155 Three A/Tk guns 64 Attack Regiment at 823228–836228–835227.

0250 A few mortar bombs fell in right coy area.

0615 Ambush Patrol reports in after seeing a mortar position 50 yards – 100 yards left of Phantom House. Taking advantage of brilliant morning sunshine, the bttn attempts to dry itself out after previous day’s rain.

0930 A daylight patrol left our area to recce the scene of the previous night’s patrol clash and to look for traces of the two missing men, but were unable to advance very far owing to enemy snipers.

0945 Two enemy on Knoll 832221 disappeared when engaged by our snipers.

1500–1525 The light shelling of bttn area was replied to by 3” mortars.

1700 One OR was killed and six ORs wounded by enemy mortar bombs.

1950 CO visited the coys and whilst visiting the position of top right hand coy, his bodyguard was wounded by a mortar bomb.

Major Murdoch was also wounded but stayed with the bttn.

2000 COs’ orders were held.

2357 A Coy patrol returned – Nothing to Report.

San Michele (907226)/San Pietro (9715) – During the day, the main activity was repairs and maintenance tasks at A and B Echelon, prior to OME’s inspection on the 11th April 1944.

A few shells fell in A Echelon area.


0100 Patrol Pigeon in. NTR.

0415 Patrol Owl in. Reports area Bath quiet but movement heard 822245, believe platoon position.

0430 Patrol Penguin in. NTR.

0530 Patrol Woodcock in. NTR.

0600 Sitrep to brigade.

Daily maintenance only partially completed owing to slippery tracks.

0830 Intentions night 10/11 April: Relieve present right forward coy (F) by present reserve coy (E). Effect normal maintenance and clear up loads jettisoned night 9/10 due to slippery tracks. Start laying second minefield area 828236. Patrols – ambush patrol Harrogate (2015-0400) – one officer and Battle Patrol. Objective – 827245. Task – cover relief of forward coy.

Recce patrols Leeds (2015-0100) and Sheffield (0115-0500) – G Coy. One officer and 3 officers. Objective – 829238. Task – give warning of enemy approach bttn area. Recce patrols Coventry (2215-0030) and Doncaster (0030-0500) – G Coy. One officer and 3 ORs. Objective – 828234. Task – as above. Listening post Darlington (2030-0430) – E Coy. One NCO and  2 ORs. Objective – 834247. Task – give warning enemy infiltration on right flank.

1530 F Coy report 6 mortar bombs in coy area.

1540 F Coy report 3 mortar bombs in coy area.

1730 Sitrep to brigade: Wiring of right hand platoon of left forward coy completed and that of left forward platoon of same coy commenced. C/M task Shamrock fired in reply to mortaring at 1530. General salvage tasks conducted in bttn area in few parts not under observation.

264993 W/Lieut W Gentle posted from x(iv) list.

Died on this Day:

Rifleman Walter Stewart, London Irish Rifles.