21st December


1500 Brigade Commander with CRA continued detailed recce of Medjez area.

1800 Brigade Commander and BM set up Advance HQ with HQ 6 Innisks J5213.

2200 Advance party 1 RIrF reported at Brigade HQ. After dark, 1 RIrF moved into position area as shown as B Bttn areas on trace Appendix D.


0200 Bttn installed in defensive positions as per trace for ‘B’.., adopting normal defence routine.

1930 CO attended Brigade ‘O’ Group conference for evening ops.

6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD.

0830 All forward Coys report a quiet night. Lt Duke, B Coy, takes out patrols and confirms rumours that there are enemy in front of coy positions. A Coy report no enemy patrols met during the night.

C Coy has a “make or mend” day in reserve except Maxwell who is acting as 2 i/c. He visits forward coys and arranges patrols for tonight

1400 B Coy are dive bombed for half an hour and suffer three casualties – men in the signals operation but the set is ok.

1655 Major Allen gets warning order to move. There will be a conference at our HQ at 1930 to discuss it.

1950 Brigadier arrives and conference is held, the following attended: OC 152 Field Regiment RA, OC 92 A/Tk Regiment RA, CO 1 RIrF and CO 2 LIR. The new positions are agreed to. 6 Innisks to move up tonight and 2 LIR the night after.

2130 The bttn moves off, and takes up positions around Goubellat.

Died on this day:

Fusilier James Purdy, 6 Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

2 LIR.

0700 Commanding officer went off to recce new area to rendezvous in hills east of Medjez el-Bab with company commanders.

22nd December

Brigade HQ – TALLYHO CORNER (J5217).

1500 Brigade HQ moved to new location J5216. This was bare scrub land east of road and vehicles had to be dispersed and well camouflaged with cuttings of coniferous scrubs. The day was wet and there was no air activity.


1030 Bttn ‘O’ Group conference for evening ops

1800 Bttn transport reloaded tactically to cut down the vehicles employed owing to the air situation over battle area.

The object was to preserve as a reserve about one third of the Bttn ‘F’ transport  in ‘A’ Echelon during active ops so that in the event of severe transport casualties by air attack the bttn could not be without.

1930 CO attended 2nd Brigade ‘O’ Group on impending ops.

 6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD.

0400 Captain Houston OC B Coy is captured. Cpl Doyle states this is how it happened: “Captain Houston went forward driven by Cpl Doyle to look forward for 10 Platoon. After he got out of the car, he walked along the road for 30 yards. He crossed over the road several times and must have passed the enemy patrol before he was captured. Cpl Doyle, who was still in the truck, was pounced on but was able to turn his truck and get away.”

0450 On Cpl Doyle’s information, Major Maxwell and 6 picked men and 1 section of carriers go forward to investigate. A few shots fired, Maxwell attacked with grenades – definitely killed 2 enemy. A piece of grenade – probably thrown by the enemy gets Maxwell in the calf.

Night’s casualties – Two coy commanders, and 20 ORs and not even an identification to show for it.

1000 Adjutant goes to Division. Sees Divisional commander and explains last night’s show. CO spends day going around coys and attends conference at Brigade HQ at 1800hrs.

It is decided to move Bttn HQ after dark to the protection of D Coy. Bttn HQ is not well armed. Most men are specialists and mostly carry pistols.

1800 Bttn HQ moves down the road to Goubellat and harbours in from where B Coy was dive bombed the day before. A fig farm with plenty of cover with a commanding view of enemy positions – the only evidence of the strafing the farm had the day before are two dead cows lying rotting in the yard.

 2 LIR.

1900 Battalion moved by motor transport to area 5012.

23rd December


Again the weather was dull and air activity was slight.

0130/1030 Two 6 Pounder A/Tk guns were destroyed by enemy raids on 6 Innisks positions 681227 and 6923. An account of one operation is attached.

1300 6 Innisks captured 4 German parachutists of 5 Para Regiment at Farm 685126. Interrogation revealed that III/5 Bttn was in area Great Lake J7513, and had been making raids on our positions.

1900 Brigade Commander attended conference at HQ 6 Armoured Division. Continual wet weather had made an armoured push NE out of the question and the plan was therefore cancelled. Brigade Commander received the new plan and with it orders to obtain patrol ascendancy eastwards from road junction 6505-6526.

2200 Commander 2 LIR was summoned to Brigade HQ and received verbal orders corresponding to Brigade OO No 3.


0830 Bttn ‘O’ Group and Guide Parties arrived in forward concentration parties.

1130 News received that the forthcoming op was to be postponed as very heavy rain had rendered all ground other than road impracticable for all vehicles incl tanks.

1500 Bttn ‘O’ Group and Guide Parties withdrawn to bttn positions.

1930 Bttn ‘R’ Group, having waited in vain for further information, withdrew to bttn positions.

6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD.

0600 Five fighting patrols are sent out during the night. The intention being to maintain patrol supremacy on Goubellat Plain, east of Goubellat. One patrol reported at 0600hrs that they had heard firing. The reported A/Tk gun found destroyed and another with the crew missing. There were signs of resistance of both gun crews.

1300 Sgt Maguire of Carrier Platoon, while out in daylight patrol captures 4 German prisoners (the Bttn’s first ones), three are wounded. They were ably interviewed by Lt Daly our German speaking officer, and then the non-wounded men sent to Brigade with all equipment. The prisoners were identified as 3 Parachute Div commanded by Lt-Col Koch. They were depressed because they could find any tanks.

2200 Patrols were sent out to search area east of Goubellat during the night.

24th December


0100 Patrol directives were issued in amplification of OO No 3.

This was another day of dull weather. There was no air activity before 1400hrs.

0930 Brigade Commander and BM and Bttn Commanders and Sp Arms proceeded on a recce of areas laid down in Brigade OO No 3.

1500 Coordinating Conference was held at Farm 513118.

1900 Brigade HQ moved to new location Farm 586199 arriving 2340hrs.

On this day a message of Christmas greetings from the Army Command was received.


0200 CO left for Brigade HQ for further information and orders.

0800 Bttn Guide Parties ordered forward once more.

1000 Bttn Guide Parties left in forward area.

2045 Head of bttn column passed SP.

6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD.

Lt Buck takes out two patrols and searches positions east of A Coy area. Although did not get any prisoners, he brought back a full and comprehensive report about the whereabouts of the enemy.

2 LIR.

0900 Battalion moved by motor transport to 6515. Battalion HQ established at Farm 653130. Motor transport returned to A Echelon area 5012, less essential vehicles.

25th December


Christmas Greetings were received from Divisional and Corps Commanders. Brigade HQ published a Special Order of the Day.

1130 March table was issued for relief of 6 Innisks by 1 RIrF, A truck parked at HQ 6 Innisks, Farm 64231, was sabotaged. The driver found that wires behind the dashboard had been cut and one of the rear tyres had been let down. This is believed to be the work of an Arab who was looking after cattle near the truck.


0715 Tail of bttn column arrived in new location.

0900 Bttn ‘O’ Group – issue of verbal orders for occupation of defensive positions from 6 Innisks in forward area.

0930 Departure of Bttn ‘O’ Group and Guide Parties to recce new area.

2030 Takeover of new position begins.

2359 Takeover reported generally completed.

 6 Innisks – GOUBELLAT.

A and C Coys move to new position north of Goubellat during the night and 2 LIR take over from them. Move was completed by 0725hrs.

1000 CO conference. Bttn will be relieved tonight by 1 RIrF and go into a reserve position behind Goubellat.

1300 Adjutant visits D Coy at 1300hrs and finds a good Xmas dinner being cooked. Coy HQ has roast turkey being carved with a jack knife and stuffed with chopped biscuit and tinned peas, followed by duff flamed with whisky. He then visits Lt George’s platoon and finds they have eleven chickens and 24 bottles of champagne. All this had been given to them by the owner of a French farm.

Royal Irish Fusiliers take over from the bttn during the night and then bttn goes into reserve, after its first taste of battle. We lost 1 killed and several missing. The experience gained has been enormous and the morale of the troops high.

 2 LIR.

Forward observation post established in mosque on Si Attia with assistance of Derbyshire Yeomanry. (6 Armoured Division OP Number 2).

Companies send out local patrols but no contact was made with enemy.

Best wishes for Christmas received from General Officer Commanding; Divisional Command and Brigade Command.

Major J McCann to 6th Battalion Inniskillings as second-in-command.