War Diaries – 1st to 5th December 1942

1st December

Brigade HQ – ALGIERS.

Brigade Commander and Brigade Major left Brigade HQ 795012 proceeding to Bougie ahead of Brigade HQ.

1 RIrF – AT SEA.

The voyage continued, daily training … was carried out as far as possible.

6 Innisks – ALGIERS.

0430 The rest of the Battalion marched 10 miles with full kit to Quai de Passageus.

0900 Bttn arrived at Quai and spent the morning lying in the sun. Ship is expected any minute then not until 1300hrs and then at 1400hrs. The bttn split into two parties. F2 consisting of A & B and part of HQ under Major Wise and F3 C & D Coys and the rest of HQ Coy under the CO.

1430 The bttn embarks for Bone.

1725 The convoy leaves harbour in a most beautiful sunset. The Navy very kindly gives the Army some whisky, gin and beer to be sold at Navy prices. The Doc (Wilson) makes an excellent barman. Great shortage of water on the ship as it had no time to replenish.


1st to 4th

Battalion at unit concentration area.

Unloading supplies from ships in harbour.

2nd December

Brigade HQ – ALGIERS.

0200 Remainder of Brigade HQ under BTO proceeded by road with 17 vehicles to Bougie.

1730 Brigade convoy arrived transit camp Bougie (K5416).

6 Innisks – AT SEA.

Ship along Quai at Bone 1100hrs and troops are very quickly disembarked during an alert and march 1 ½ miles to Tobacco factory.

Major Allen left Algiers for Bone with MIT party. It is found that Captain Kendal taking the transport off J3 landed at Bone on to Souk el Arba.

CO pays many visits to Camp Commandant to find how long we will remain here. General opinion is we shall move forward at once when complete as tactical unit. CO meets Brigadier Gough (ex 1 RIrF), who is commandant at Bone. The town is pretty but dirty and full of unpleasant smells.

3rd December

Brigade HQ – BOUGIE.

1230 Advance HQ consisting of Brigade Commander, BM, IO, BRASCO, 2 LOs, ‘I’ Sgt, and 12 ORs set out in 4 vehicles by road for Souk el Khemis.

1415 Rail party under SC left Bougie for Bone to take over 20 vehicles. A very slow journey was made in wagons marked “chevaux huit, home quarante”.

Road party under BTO left for Bone.

1630 Advance Brigade HQ arrived via Setif at St Arnaud, a distance of 88 miles. Lieut Room and Sgt Paige, had made a very successful recce for resting place night for 3rd/4th Dec. M Le Secretaire was most helpful in finding billets and also in directing the IO to shops in the village where bread and wine could be had. By a coincidence, Advance HQ 1 Guards Brigade spent night 3rd/4th Dec in the same village.

6 Innisks – BONE.

0100 Orders received to send forward as many troops as possible in 9 TCVs. CO finally decides to send forward D Coy and part of HQ in 8 TCVs with ammunition. Lieut Buck(s) spends day trying to find battalion luggage landed at Bone off SS Aviva. He finds some of it in four dumps in different parts of the town, not even sorted into units.

1345 After certain difficulties, the Rowlette force (D Coy, ½ A/Tk platoon, Signals, Mortars and ½ Pioneers) gets away and is told to report to GPO Souk el Khemis for further orders.

2030 CO, Major Maxwell and Adjutant dine with Brigadier Gough, who has a lovely villa on the sea front. C Coy have sea bathe. All Coys march into and visit Bone.

2230 Bombing ….some dropping near bttn billets.

4th December


0805 Advance Brigade HQ left St Arnaud.

1130 Arrived at Constantine where Brigade Commander and BM visited Advance HQ 1st Army.

1630 Arrived on outskirts of Guelma. Lieut Room and Sgt Paige had recced Heliopolis with a view to spending night 4th/5th. Both officers and men were very kindly received by the owner of a farm in this village.

1 RIrF – AT SEA.

2300 The ship was involved in a collision with another ship of the convoy and the alarm was sounded

All men proceeded to six boat stations. Although no signal for abandoning ship was given, some of the crew got into the boats and pushed off. The ship was damaged in one of the forward holds and steamed into Gibraltar 8 miles away. The troops remained at boat stations until arrival into the harbour at approx 0800hrs.

6 Innisks – BONE.

From midnight to dawn, continuous bombing and AA from fire. Bosche drop many parachute flares. Eight or ten bombs drop near bttn billets, which was a veritable death trap in the event of a direct hit. It is a two story building full of glass – tobacco and troops and void of any fire extinguishers.

2100 Adjutant spends three hours trying to phone 6 Armoured Division and when he gets through can’t hear a word.

2115 Bombing starts and soon a patrol ship and ammunition ship explodes with a roar. Raid continues all night with the Hun dropping his load onto the harrying fire. Bttn building is shaken by a close stick of bombs.

5th December


0930 Advance Brigade HQ set out for Souk el Khemis having given M. Lavia a letter of thanks for his hospitality.

1700 Arrived via Souk al Ahras at hideout Gardimaou beyond which no vehicles were allowed in daylight.

1830 Set out for Souk el Khemis.

2140 Arrived at bridge J0223, 39 miles from Gardimaou. Brigade Commander with BM left to report to 6th Armoured Division HQ at 7/736.

1 RIrF – AT SEA.

No 2 hold in which the bulk of the bttn baggage was stored was badly damaged and A Coy living in the mess deck immediately above the hold had to move to a promenade deck.

6 Innisks – BONE.

0400 Bombing ceases.

0915 Lt Cassidy and 50 men dig slit trenches for dockers. Quiet day. Most people busy packing presents they have bought in Bone.

1930 Orders received that a train party would proceed at 0418hrs on 7 Dec 42. At 2240hrs, orders received that the party would proceed at 0418hrs on 6 Dec 42.

2300 Lt Carruthers reported that the M/T party from Algiers was 6 miles outside Bone where it was harbouring for the night.