16th December

Brigade HQ.

Two platoons of F Coy 2 LIR under Captain Ekin were out for 48 hrs under command of Major Nicholson 16/5 Lancers in area Bou Arada (J6201). The mission was not entirely successful as the enemy got wind of our movements through the agency of Arabs who passed along the road complete with family, mules and baggage and thus were able to see and report our positions. This handicap was especially marked when an ambush had been laid for enemy armoured cars, which warned just in time then turned off the main road into the hills.

TEBOURSOUK.

1800 Brigade HQ left for Farm 342091 and arrived 1900hrs at new HQ Farm J292038. A Echelon left Farm J292038 and exchanged positions with Brigade HQ.

2000 Unidentified aircraft flew low over Brigade Command and fired a burst of MG.


1 RIrF – BOUGIE.

0700 Nos 3 & 4 platoons moved off to forward concentration area. Remainder of Bttn continued acclimatisation training.


6 Innisks – TEBOURSOUK.

2 i/c busy clearing up the remainder of the NAAFI stores and collecting in thousands of francs. It is intended to send Lt Hanna back to Bone for refill of stores.

1300 Capt Ferriss (2 i/c C Coy) arrives back with news of C Coy and collects up NAAFI stores and mail. He also brings a letter to the CO from Maxwell. He says that Lt Cassidy who was sent out on patrol is 48 hrs overdue.

1630 Brigadier arrives. Has just been to Division and is worried by the news that the Adjutant and IO gave Divisional LO about enemy positions they received from Ferriss.

1700 The CO and Adjutant go to Divisional HQ and take letter received from Major Maxwell.

Another fine day.



17th December

Brigade HQ – TEBOURSOUK.

1845 Brigade Commander visited Divisional HQ at Aine Tounga and received orders for 6 Innisks to go forward and cover the Divisional front.

2045 Brigade Commander visited 6 Innisks on return journey and gave Commander verbal order corresponding to Brigade OO No 1.


1 RIrF – BOUGIE.

Preparations for move of Bttn less 3 & 4 platoons to forward concentration area. Acclimatisation training continued.


6 Innisks – TEBOURSOUK.

0545 Lt Hanna leaves for Bone to collect NAAFI stores.

0930 CO decides to have a bath. Before he is more than half undressed first the APN calls to see him and then the Brigadier.

1030 Xmas airmail letters are sent off with the hope they will arrive by Xmas. A general “make and mend” day. The RSM teaches Adjutant to ride a M/C.

1800 D Coy leaves Testour with their Combat Group and take up positions east of the Medjez to Goubellat road.

1830 Pioneers have finished the command post and the CO holds a house warming party for officers of HQ Coy.

2045 Brigadier arrives and warns the CO that the Bttn will be moving up to a line east of the Medjez to Bou Arada road tomorrow night with the intention of sending out patrols to as far east as the general line Pont Du Fahs to Ksar Tyr and to gain patrol ascendancy.

2130 CO holds conference of heads of department in command post.

2350 Brigade operation order No 1 arrives – copy is marked C and attached.


2 LIR.

Commanding officer visited F Company at El Aroussa.



18th December

Brigade HQ – TEBOURSOUK.

Administration Order was issued in conjunction with OO No 1.

Brigade Commander, accompanied by Commander 6 Innisks, proceeded to meet Commander 6 Armoured Division at Farm 553025. First of all, Major Maxwell was encountered at Djelida station (J5603). He reported that it was impossible, owing to Arabs, to move by day in the forward areas. He had seen them engaged in conversation with enemy armoured patrols and pointing towards the exact locations of our positions. Discussions with Divisional Commander largely concerned the need for and the best method of undertaking offensive patrolling.


1 RIrF – BOUGIE/CONSTANTINE.

0700 Bttn crossed start line to move to forward concentration area.

1830 Bttn bivouacked for the night.

2100 Presence of enemy rumoured. Guard doubled.


6 Innisks – TEBOURSOUK.

0645 CO and IO with 2 D/Rs and signals operator, AA guard and driver set off to recce new are with Brigadier.

0800 OC of A and B Coys, and their D/Rs, Provost Sgt and MTO go forward to meet CO at El Aroussa at 0930 hrs.

1000 2 i/c holds conference and ties up ends for move.

1330 CO and IO return from recce.

1500 CO holds conference and issues Bttn OO No 1 marked D.

1730 A Coy moved off to take over from Coy of 2 LIR in area south of Goubellat.

1800 Main column moved off and arrived in new positions as laid down in OO No 1 by 2200hrs. Beautifully clear warm moonlight night which was just as well as the road was tricky and narrow.



19th December

Brigade HQ – TEBOURSOUK.

Brigade Commander made recce of Medjez area with a view to the thrust NE by 6 Armoured Division.


1 RIrF – CONSTANTINE/SOUK ARRAS.

0830 Bttn moved on.

1930 Bttn concentrated and bivouacked in Area B… Twelve M/Cs was handed over to OBO.


6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD.

0800 Difficulty in obtaining situation reports from coys. ie C Coy at Goubellat and A south of Goubellat. 2 i/c spends busy day arranging the Q side of this formidable force now under Command. CO visits A and C Coys and takes IO.

2130 7 Platoon attacked by 30 German infantry who obtain 10 men as prisoners. Before the attack, the Germans bombarded the area with 4.2 Mortar fire and one of the last shots set light to the platoon ammunition dump and probably dazed the section that was captured.

An exaggerated report was first reported to Bttn HQ by A Coy and Carrier Platoon was sent up immediately (25 miles) as mobile reserve.

Lt Cassidy and 2 fusiliers reported missed for 5 days. Lt Cassidy and his platoon went out on patrol. He sent back the platoon less 2 fusiliers as he said he could do the job better without them. He did not return.


2 LIR.

F Company return to battalion after successful patrol activity and take up former positions.



20th December

Brigade HQ – TEBOURSOUK.

It was heard that air OPs would probably be operating in the vicinity of our forward positions.

2130 Commander 2 LIR was called to Brigade HQ and received provisional orders to go forward and occupy area J6529 with a view to Brigade attack on Ksar Tyr (J7630).

During the morning, there was considerable enemy air activity along rd : Bou Arada-El Aroussa. In the afternoon, this was continued and there were also aircraft on rd : El Aroussa-Testour. Movement on these roads was found to be particularly dangerous at 0830 and 1630 when the cloud was low. At 0830 2 ME 109 Fs flew down Le Kef road from Le Kris and machine gunned a French convoy going east. On this day, a letter was issued to the bttns stressing the offensive AA policy that must be adopted throughout the brigade.


1 RIrF – LE KEF.

0800 Bttn moved to last lap.

1200 Bttn halted to await for darkness. Advance parties set out to recce defensive positions.

1930 Bttn restarted.


 6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD.

0830 The CO and IO go to see A Coy along the El Aroussa to Bou Arada road. An ME 109 came out of the low flying clouds and put in a burst of machine gun fire through the car and disappeared within a few seconds. CO was hit on the right side of the head and IO through the skull. Also the AA sentry was slightly wounded. The driver (the only other occupant was not hit and was able to return to Bttn HQ immediately and collect the MO). They were all immediately evacuated to 165 Field Ambulance at Djebedi Ahmed, which was quite near at hand. MO returned and reported that the CO was not serious, Lt Carruthers grave and Fusilier Smith slightly hit. All three were later evacuated to MDS Thibar. Major Allen saw the CO at the Field Ambulance station before he left.

Major Allen spends day with A Coy and returns at 1700hrs. There is a stream of visitors all day and right up to 2359hrs to Bttn HQ of all units under command and from LOs from Brigade and Division. Brigade clamouring for information of A Coy show last night and also require more information of enemy prisoners.

Communication is not easy. A Coy positions are 8 miles in front of Coy HQ, and Coy HQ is 25 miles away from Bttn HQ along a road which is a death trap from the air by day. Bttn HQ is 30 miles forward from Brigade HQ.

Bttn now has under command a Squadron of 16/5 Lancers, Battery 152 Field Regiment, Troop 72 A/Tk Regiment, 2 sections 51 LAA Regiment, Squadron  Derbyshire Yeomanry, 1 section 5 Squadron Royal Engineers, Sub section Divisional Provost Coy, Coy 1 Field Ambulance.

2200 Major Baxter arrived from Corps. He is a camouflage expert. The Pioneers go out with him and during the night erect 18 dummy tanks and 24 slit trenches with the aid of our Pioneer platoon at a point East of El Aroussa.

2300 B Coy takes over from C Coy at Goubellat and report the takeover is complete. C Coy comes back into reserve for a well deserved rest. Maxwell, in particular, has put up a good show and carried out extensive patrols and sent back interesting and useful information.

Major CHB Allen assumes command in place of Lt-Col Maccartney-Filgate evacuated to base. Lt Daly takes over duties temporarily as IO and has a very long day. Sgt Lloyd, Intelligence Sgt, also has a busy day and puts up a good show


2 LIR.

0845 Two Messerschmitt fighters machine-gun transport column and hit one French truck inflicting casualties on road outside battalion HQ.

Battalion is ordered to move to forward area Medjez el-Bab.

1900 E Company moved to new positions.