Brigade HQ– CENTURIPE.
0800 E Coy 2 LIR reported to be in Carcarci (H6896).
0900 Two forward coys of each Bttn now over River Simeto at 7095.
0950 Contacted Canadians at 7097.
1100 Enemy approx 100 strong, counter attacked 2 LIR. Attack easily beaten off with heavy casualties to enemy.
1600 Road junction 704955 in our hands, although there was a certain amount of opposition from enemy holding out in the houses around road junction. Bridgehead held as follows – 1 RIrF excl. 705954 – 705944, 2 LIR 701957 – 969964, 6 Innisks in reserve.
Divisional Commander’s Special Order of the Day received.
0100 Bttn advanced. D Coy on the left with Maccarone as their objective, C on the right with order to take 225. Success signals were arranged and the other two coys remained in reserve with Bttn MG, which was to move up to the railway bridge 692952.
0330 C Coy’s success signal went up.
0530 D Coy reported that they had been forced to withdraw. C Coy were still there, but only just over the river and not on 225.
0600 Command post established 700948.
Although C Coy had crossed the river, they had been unable to gain their objective and were held up as the foot of the escarpment. No communication was open to them, and it was difficult to see them owing to the very thick orange groves. A Coy was ordered to assist them and a tremendous fire plan was arranged. A Coy’s leading platoon, under heavy fire, crossed the start line and proceeded down the escarpment into the river bed. A number of enemy MGs opened up on them from the top of the escarpment on the enemy side of the river but led by Lieut McNally and under an effective 3”mortar smoke screen, they managed to get over. From then on, it became a very slow and extremely difficult battle, but they went steadily forward until they reached their objective. From the command post, several Germans could be seen running away from the area, and these provided excellent targets for our MMGs.
1300 Rear Bttn HQ heavily shelled and mortared with the German six barrelled mortar.
Captain CPTD O’Farrell was killed.
1500 Bttn HQ established at the command post. A & C Coys being firmly established on 225, the CO ordered B Coy to sweep along the escarpment from east to west and clear the village while our platoon from A Coy attacked 232.
1600 B Coy crossed the start line. With a strong artillery support and in spite of the very heavy fire that they came up against, they gained their first objective. Our A/Tk came into action for the first time and effectively blasted the top story of the house. While B Coy was advancing on their second objective, they were heavily counter attacked, and some of them had to withdraw. The remainder remained in a very exposed position and did what damage they could.
One platoon under Lt Trousdell attacked 232, they met with such heavy MG fire from their right rear flank while completely in the open and from about 30 yards range that at about 1645, they had to withdraw. They reformed, however, and sent a section to clear up the MG post. When this was done, they attacked again, but evidently the section had missed another MG in the same area, they were again forced to withdraw, owing to this, another MG on the objective and some of own shelling, which was falling amongst them. Another platoon from C Coy under … was sent out to the right and with tremendous support from the rest of A and C. Coy’s brens arrived on the objective at about 1800.
1945 One coy from 6 Innisks came under command and was ordered to attack the village with B Coy’s assistance. By 2030, they had reached both their objectives. The attack had been carried out extremely well and the drill used for clearing the houses was excellent. Opposition was less than before. All the objectives were now in our hands and the bridgehead over the Simeto was formed.
D Coy 6 Innisks under Captain McCaldin also came under command and the two Skin coys came under the local command of Major Savage 6 Innisks, C Coy Commander. Major Savage was later killed. D Coy had also gone into the village and gave some valuable assistance to the Innisks when they were attacking the second objective. When the position was finally consolidated, B & D Coys 1 RIrF were withdrawn across the river.
Captain Hayward, Captain JS Clarke, and Lieut Cammiade were wounded during the course of this action.
6 Innisks – CENTURIPE.
1030 Preparations for crossing second river (Simeto).
CO goes forward to house 688949 for O Group. Enemy shelling this area, wounded Major Little, Captain McPhillips and Captain Duddington and one OR killed and one wounded.
1 Portee burnt out – some ammo saved.
1200 Bttn HQ moves up to Orange Grove 693955.
Rifle Coy also stepped up.
S Coy in large house 688949. Good water here.
1200 Creeping barrage in the vicinity of the Bttn HQ.
One lot.. fell among the HQ. 1 OR wounded (not seriously).
1500 CO goes forward to RIrF and LIR across the river.
1600 C Coy called into the assistance of RIrF. After a change of plans, while preparing to attack St Maria 711953, they were diverted to clear the village of Macaioni 704955, which they did with outstanding success at 1945 – 2045hrs, establishing themselves on YGn 705954.
They took some PoWs. About 30 enemy were seen running away into the hills. These were engaged by MMGs and mortars.
C Coy won the highest praise from the RIrF for their part in the attack.
D Coy crossed the river to the village behind C Coy and relieved coys of the Faughs in that area.
During the night, Major Savage, who had led the attack, was shot accidentally by a fusilier of the RIrF, who mistook his identity.
During the night, the enemy heavily shelled the ridge behind the River Salso causing many casualties in men and vehicles. Innisks A Echelon sustains 1 OR wounded and 1M/C destroyed.
0400 F and G Companies dig in and established along river bank.
0600 E Company move forward to left flank at Carcaci.
0700 Battalion HQ and H Company move to Railway Station at 695958.
0800 E Company established with 9 Platoon on the river bank on the left of F Company. 8 Platoon supporting them and 7 Platoon and Company HQ at Carcaci.
For the remainder of the morning, G Company and the forward Platoon and E Company engaged the enemy across the river with machine gun and rifle fire and the forward companies were shelled and mortared in their positions.
0900 E Company contact the Canadians on our left flank and the general picture is clarified.
1015 E Company report force of about 50 Germans attempting to infiltrate around the left flank of the battalion.
1100 The Brigade Sp Group arrive and engage these enemy with heavy mortars with considerable accuracy causing heavy casualties. As enemy retreats across open country from the hills they are engaged with MMG fire causing them to retreat in disorder well beyond the river.
1300 Commanding Officers’ orders for the attack to form the bridgehead across the River Simeto.
1 RIF on the right
2 LIR on the left of the main Centuripe-Aderno road.
6 Innisks to enlarge the bridgehead once situation is established.
F Company right; H Company left; G Company in support.
E Company and Battalion HQ remain present location.
1500 Artillery barrage commences prior to the attack.
1530 F and H Companies move forward. Great difficulty was experienced clambering up the steep sides of the far river bank and there were only three places in which the companies could get up this forming bottlenecks which had to be crossed. The forward platoon of F Company suffered casualties in the initial stages including the Platoon Commander Lieutenant H G Allen, who was killed.
The other two platoons of F Company worked their way round to the right flank and after fairly heavy fighting took up positions about a hundred yards forward of the river bank where they had the best fields of fire.
H Company on the left had similar difficulties. The leading Platoon managed to gain some ground in front of the river and when it was help up the remaining platoon moved right handed to gain their objective. This they did 16 Platoon sustaining heavy casualties including the Platoon Commander Lieutenant A G Howells, who was killed.
1730 These two forward companies held their positions for the remainder of the afternoon and evening, but were unable to exploit them for the remainder of the afternoon and evening due to the number of snipers who infiltrated forward.
2000 At dusk, G Company moved across the river to assist the forward companies and also brought them reserve ammunition and supplies. Mortars and MMGs are manhandled across the river.
The enemy retired that night to the hills around Aderno.
Two companies of 6 Innisks crossed the river to enlarge the bridgehead.
2200 Situation on Battalion front established as follows:
F Company 703958; G Company 701962; H Company 703961.
E Company and Battalion HQ remain present location.
Topographical note: When the battalion left the assembly area near Catenanuova and moved into the hills on August 1st, there was no period when normal transport, except an occasional jeep when we were in the vicinity of a track, was able to be brought forward to the battalion during the next six days of fighting. Mules were not available and so during the time the battalion fought at Centuripe and forged the two bridgeheads across the Rivers Salso and Simeto, everything had to be carried on the man. All supplies, if the jeeps were unable to bring them forward, were carried by the reserve company and also they had to manhandle the 3” mortars and MMGs and the Brigade Rear link.
Coupled with the difficult country over which the battalion operated, this proved to be the chief difficulty and made the operation a tiring and tedious one.
W/Lieutenant R G Allen (RUR) killed in action.
W/Lieutenant A G Howells (Beds & Herts) killed in action.