6th April

Brigade HQ – FORLI 432171.

2 LIR and 1 RIrF carry out individual training. Preparations made for travelling with light scales and experiments and leading tables worked out.


2 Innisks – BORGO.

0050 Near left neighbours heavily shelled.

0900 2 Innisks ‘I’ Summary No 12 issued.

1145 D Coy right platoon report on 8.1 mm mortar firing from 362358. Our own 3” mortars engaged the area.

1200 2 Innisks Movement Order No 3 Amendments issued.

1938 Enemy houses at 363353 were fired on by 2” mortar and screaming was heard afterwards.

2030 Main verey lights seen well over to our left.

2130 Two static lights seen 400 yards off Peters Bank by B Coy.

The enemy started a heavy artillery fire task, which covered an area from the river back to as far back as Divisional HQ. This consisted of guns of all calibres and was on a scale greater than had been known for many months.

2355 Both brigade lines reported out.


2 LIR – ITALY.

0800 Bttn day out in the country. Coys were allowed any dress and any route but were to march to rendezvous at 404127 where a meal would be served and Pipe Band would play.

1435 Coys made their own way back to their billets.


7th April

Brigade HQ – FORLI 432171.

Individual training carried out by 2 LIR and 1 RIrF.

2 Innisks relieved on Senio floodbank by elements 1 Surreys and 56 Recce. Relief completed by 2100 hrs without incident.


2 Innisks – BORGO.

0015 Brigade lines through again.

1115 Our own planes bombed and strafed Cotignola at 1115, 1510 and 1555 hrs. All bombs dropped in the target area but 10 failed to explode. The forward troops, although extremely close to the target, were very pleased with the operation.

1125 B Coy report enemy casualties were caused by the bombing and shouts and screams were heard. 2” mortar and PIAT fired into the area.

Intentions night 7th/8th April 45: Reliefs as known (by Squadron 56 Recce).

1340 Light mortaring of A Coy, one man slightly wounded. Enemy sniper located at 365354.

1400 56 Recce unit commenced moving in.

1520 Bttn HQ, C and S Coys relieved and clear of area.

1540 RAP relieved and went back to Forli independently.

1800 D Coy relieved by 56 Recce.

2100 Bttn complete in former billets in Forli with the exception of the second in command and IO.

W/Lt JM Campbell is promoted to the rank of A/Captain wef 18/3/45.

Major PJ Blake MC assumes command of D Coy. Lt Col DM Shaw resumes command of the bttn.


2 LIR – ITALY.

0830 Bttn HQ prepare for a practise loading of Kangaroos with essential personnel and stores.

0915 Bttn HQ move by TCVs to area 514288 where the practice loading took place.

1230 Bttn HQ returned to billets.

1900 Bttn warned to send recce party to new harbouring area. Recce party to be at road junction 401307 by 1000 hrs 8 April.

Died on this Day:

Rifleman Richard Howarth, London Irish Rifles.



8th April

Brigade HQ – FORLI 432171.

Training by all bttns and preparations continue for travelling on light scales of transport and equipment in future.

 


2 Innisks – FORLI.

0645 Advance Party left Forli for new bttn area 5223 (this was to be C Echelon area for the commanding operation).

0930 Church Service for RCs.

1030 A C of E Service was held in the Forli Stadium. His Grace the Archbishop of York, Dr C Garbett held the service.

1415 The Brigade Commander spoke to the bttn on the forthcoming offensive. The bttn was paraded for this at the Dorchester Football Ground and the Provost Sergeant had orders to keep all civilians and personnel of other units away from the place of Parade.

2230 2 Innisks Instructions and Admin Order issued No 1.


2 LIR – ITALY.

0930 Recce party under Captain RJ Cockburn proceeded on recce of new harbouring area.

1000 Voluntary C of E Service at Forli Stadium. Service held by Archbishop of York.


9th April

Brigade HQ – FORLI 432171.

Individual training and interior economy by bttn in the morning. In the afternoon, Brigade Commander talked to all bttns in turn and gave a forecast of the future. In his talk, he gave the gist of the following information of the plan for the opening of the Spring Offensive in Italy by the Eighth Army.

Resume of Plan for Operation ‘Buckland’.

Enemy – On the assaulting sector, the enemy disposes some ten bttns in the line from 98 Division and half of 362 Division. There is one bttn in reserve to each division and, where all companies of a bttn are in the line, counter attacks on a platoon or section basis might be expected.

Enemy Armour – 26 Panzer Division has some 30 Mark IV tanks in reserve in area Portomaggiore. 504 Tank Bttn has some 30 Tigers stretched between Lake Comacchio and Route 9. 242 Ass Gun Brigade (40 SPs) is also available.

Reserves – 90 PG is somewhere south east of Bologna in Army reserve and 29 PG is possibly available from Rovigo.

Plan – 2 New Zealand Division will assault the Senio south of Cotignola and 8 Indian Division to the north.

56 Division have already started an operation in conjunction with 2 Commando Brigade for clearing the eastern peninsula of the Comacchio lake and also to push westwards along the southern edge of the lake towards Argenta.

78 Division is to be prepared to support 2 NZ and 8 Indian Division in advancing to the River Santerno and to break out of the bridgehead formed by 8 Indian Division over the river, probably on D+2.

1920 Operation ‘Buckland’ commenced.

1930 The officers of 2 Innisks held a party for all officers of the Brigade Group.


1 RIrF – FORLI.

Talk to bttn by Brigade TPD Scott DSO on future role of brigade. Brigade Move Order No 15.


2 Innisks – FORLI.

The bttn spent the morning making final preparations for the move.

1100 Special Orders of the Day received from Field Marshal Alexander, General Mark W Clark and Lt General RL McCreery, to the effect that the Med Spring Offensive had started today. 2 Innisks Movement Order No 4 issued.

1215 The bttn received orders from Brigade HQ to move off at 1315hrs in the assembly area at MR 3755.

1315 The bttn left Forli , the Echelons to their respective sites and the main body to an assembly area at 3835/3835.

1530 The bttn arrived in its assembly area and was quickly established, this being helped by everybody’s familiarity with the area, having operated in it only a few days previously.

2100 The CO and IO attended an ‘O’ Group conference held at Brigade HQ. Little knowledge was obtained apart from the fact that the brigade would move into a concentration area north of Lugo on the 10th. This was passed on to Coy Commanders when the CO returned. The bttn spent a quiet night in reasonable comfort as everybody had been able to fit into buildings in the area.


2 LIR – ITALY.

0930 CO addresses all officers on bttn’s future intentions.

1500 Brigade Commander addresses the bttn.

Bttn now at notice to move on D Day + 1 at ‘F’ Hour + 170 to an assembly area near Bagnacavallo.

1700 D Day. Allied offensive on the Senio River line opens. 2 NZ Division on the left and 8 Indian Division on the right. Bttn’s role will be that of infantry cooperating with tanks and spearheading the Allied advance through the Argenta Gap.

1730 CO, IO, Adjutant and Coy Commanders proceed to conference with ‘Kangaroo’ (4 Hussars) and 9 Lancers’ Commanders.



10th April

Brigade HQ – SENIO RIVERBANKS.

The crossing of the Senio was successful. More opposition was met by 8 Indian Division, especially on the floodbank itself and they suffered fairly heavy casualties. 2 NZ Division met less opposition. The whole depth of the bridgehead is about 2,000 yards and along the line of the Canale Lugo.

0900 Brigade Commander holds a conference to discuss future role of the Brigade Group.

The following officers were present:

Commander, 2 Armoured Brigade.

2 i.c. 2 Armoured Brigade.

CO 4 Hussars.

CO Bays.

CO 11 RHA

CO 17 Field Regiment.

CO 2 Innisks.

CO 2 LIR.

CO 1 RIrF.

CO 214 Field Company.

CO 254 A/Tk Battery.

The following outline plan was made.

Once the bridgehead over the Santerno is made and enlarged by 8 Indian Division in the area Ca Di Lugo (3143). 38 Brigade Group will strike north to the west of the river to try and jump the bridge over the R Reno at 315565.

The attack to break out of the Indian Bridgehead will be done by 1 RIrF left, 2 Innisks right. A mobile force will be held in readiness to go through these two bttns once they have reached the limit of their advance (probably the Scolo Conselice 313, 3253) and continue to the R Reno to force a quick bridgehead.

The Brigade will be grouped as follows:

Break Out Force –

1 RIrF                                                    2 Innisks.

A Squadron Bays.                               B Squadron Bays.

D Support Group MMG Platoon.     C Squadron 51 RTR (Crocodiles).

D Support Group Mortar Rep.          D Support Group MMG Platoon.

Recce Pty RE.                                      D Support Group Mortar Rep.

Scissors Bridge Dozer Troop.             Recce Pty RE.

Mobile Force –                                      Artillery in Immediate Support.

2 LIR.                                                    17 Field Regiment.

2 Troop 209 Battery SP.                    11 RHA.

4 Hussars (Kangaroos).

9 Lancers.

In Reserve.

C Squadron Bays.

SP Troop 254 A/Tk Battery.

Armoured Troop RE.

D Support Group Mortar Platoon.

214 Field Coy.

152 Field Ambulance.

254 A/Tk Battery less Support Troop.

1300 Brigade Group commences to move to concentration area south of Bagnacavello.

Locations:

Brigade HQ 389373, Rear Brigade HQ 434350, 2 Innisks 382353, 2 LIR 385374, 1 RIrF 392363.

D Support Group 378375, 17 Field Regiment 404316, 254 A/Tk Battery 369379.

152 Field Ambulance 387371, 2 Armoured Brigade 489373 (now under command 38 (Irish) Brigade.

Bays 402355, 9 Lancers 500360.

2000 Brigade Commander holds a conference for the Brigade Group. The outline orders for the move of the brigade to the “Wedding Area” area north of Lugo were issued and confirmation of previous plans. The situation on the front was satisfactory and going according to the plan.

Certain difficulties were experienced during the night owing to the tanks and infantry going over separate bridges and the possibility of converging on the same road.


1 RIrF

Bttn move to area 390365. Brigade ‘O’ Groups.


2 Innisks – FORLI.

0500 Reveille and everybody preparing for the move.

0600 An advance party of two reps per coy with the Battle Patrol commander i/c left assembly area to arrange the bttn layout.

0700 The main body of the bttn left by TCV for the assembly area (3440). The journey was full of interest for everybody particularly the part immediately behind the Senio floodbanks where the troops showed the keenest interest in the Bosche positions, which they had been dealing with in the past. Further on, the accuracy by the RAF was commented on and praised.

0930 The bttn arrived in the assembly area and was soon settled in coy areas with the men resting until the next instructions arrived. The remainder of the Brigade Group followed us into the area and was complete by 1430 hrs. The our tanks arrived and B Squadron of the Queens’ Bays were harboured in the bttn area, for those were to be our companions in the coming battle.

1430 The Brigade Commander arrived at Brigade HQ and told us that the Gurkhas were not yet up to the Santerno as there was not much likelihood of a move tonight.

1700 The bttn area was shelled lightly but not by observed shooting and there was not yet sufficient to cause alarm. Everybody got as much rest as possible during the night in preparation for anything that might happen the next day.


2 LIR – ITALY.

0700 Preparations for move forward. Priority stores to F Echelon, essential stores to B Echelon and non essential stores C Echelon.

1200 F Hour.

1450 F + 170. Bttn move off in TCVs to Assembly Area.

1700 Bttn HQ established in farm 385374 with coys in close proximity.

1800 Bttn warned no move before 0730 hrs.