26th December

Brigade HQ – SIDI MAHMOUD.

Two companies from 2 LIR made a night raid on Farm 714134, which was empty, but bore traces of recent enemy occupation.

German propaganda leaflets (apparently planted, not dropped from the air) were found in coy areas and on sundry sites in the Brigade area. They were inscribed as follows “Qu’est ce que vous preferer mourir avec les Americans, ou, vivre avec Les Allemands?”

A directive on “Information” dealing with patrol reports and general observation was issued to Bttns.

Special Intelligence Detachment of a sergeant and 6 men of the French Army reported to this HQ from FS section, 6 Armoured Division. The detachment was given a directive and members were dispatched to the forward Bttns (1 RIrF, and 2 LIR).

A letter reviewing the brigade dispositions (shown on tracing attached to Appendix P) were suggested.


 1 RIrF – GOUBELLAT.

0730 Sitrep of first night in new area rendered – Nothing to Report.

Day spent in fully settling into new positions and recce of patrol position for the night.


6 Innisks – GOUBELLAT.

A day of “make and mend” and reorganising.


2 LIR.

Battalion HQ moved to Farm 662 140.

Lieutenant C (Charles) J Reidy posted to 6 Armoured Division as liaison officer.

Companies (?) attacked Fm (farm) 714134 but found no enemy. Two men of H Company injured by grenade.

F Company patrol area 695127 to ambush enemy motor transport but have no luck.

H Company patrol area 705147 from 1800 to 0200 hrs, with no result.

Died on this day:

Rifleman Harold Kershaw, 2 London Irish Rifles.



27th December

Brigade HQ – SIDI MAHMOUD.

Orders from 6 Armoured Division to discover specific information, orders to this effect were forwarded to bttns and an LO was attached to forward bttns to bring back early morning patrol reports.

The Liaison Officer from the French Army, Lieut R Doumic arrived for attachment to this HQ.


1 RIrF – GOUBELLAT. RIrF

Sitrep of 26/27 December gives full account of the activities of the bttn of that night.

The day spent in further recce for the patrols for the coming night.

Died on this day:

Lieutenant Desmond Moore, 1 Royal Irish Fusiliers (attached from Worcestershire Regiment).

Fusilier Leonard Thoroughgood, 1 Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Fusilier Thomas Williams, 1 Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Fusilier Daniel Downing, 1 Royal Irish Fusiliers.


6 Innisks – GOUBELLAT.

Another day devoted to administration.


2 LIR.

1400 Observation post observes 8 parachutists in farm 718154 with machine gun. They retire into buildings when fired upon by H Company’s light machine guns.



28th December

Brigade HQ – SIDI MAHMOUD.

1 R IrF reported contact during the night; it became obvious later that our patrols had bumped a party of enemy about a coy strong intent on raiding our positions. (Sitrep and patrol chart 28 Dec attached at Appendix S).

During the night, a strong patrol was met in 6722. It appears that the enemy method was for a fighting patrol to be up while 2 or 3 made a reconnaissance.

38 Brigade’s OO No 4 was issued expressing the intention “to obtain patrol ascendancy in the Goubellat Plain”. A letter on day patrols was dispatched to Bttns.


1 RIrF – GOUBELLAT.

A full account of the events of the previous night continued in Sitrep 0730 hrs on 28th Dec. Lieut OB Moore and three other ranks killed.

0900 D Company moved up to B Company in their positions with a view to attacking enemy as reported by Lt DN Jefferies. With mortar support, they were to clear the enemy reported to be 150-200 strong attacking from the direction of the Wadi 702226. The enemy had thoroughly shut up the OP at 685243 during the night but our troops were not in occupation. D and B Companies advanced from B Coy’s position with their mortars and occupied the high ground without opposition, the enemy having withdrawn. They then altered course southwards and seized the ridge 685230 to 678226 in the face of extremely heavy MG and mortar fire driving the enemy out of defensive localities they had taken up in 2 mosques and other buildings in that area. The enemy then retreated very rapidly south and south east to the foothills. This action which cost the enemy many casualties cost 1 RIrF, one Fusilier of D Coy killed.

1500 B and C Coys after this action took up their positions in the village of Goubellat itself. B Coy 6 Innisks was placed under command and took up position in the farm Bir El Douaik 6423.

Offensive patrolling, hitherto carried out by D Coy, was handed over to A Coy and the plan was altered, it having been found that patrols on the move were too easily betrayed by Arab Nazi sympathisers and local dogs, and was thus very vulnerable.  In the night of 28/29 Dec, therefore, A Coy laid ambushes as follows i) at road 701225, ii) rd junction 680224, iii) crossroads 673227. RE section set booby traps i) in the OP, ii) in buildings 684234, iii) in the abandoned ambulance at 672228 (this ambulance was one of our own, which had been sent out to collect the casualties from B Coy’s patrol action of the night before. The German patrol, which ambushed Lt DB Moore’s patrol, had presumably laid mines in the area. One of these blew up the ambulance as it turned up to B Coy killing the second driver. Artillery defensive fire tasks as shown in attached traces were also prepared for firing on receipt of Verey Light Signals, either from C Coy or from Bttn HQ. The patrols to do this ambush left A Coy after dark and took up their positions while the bttn with B Coy 6 Innisks maintained defensive position in Goubellat. The Brigadier, commander of 30 Light Infantry Brigade, joined Bttn HQ for the night and results were awaited.

Died on this day:

Fusilier Joseph Roche, 1 Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Fusilier Jack Rodin, 1 Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Lance Corporal Samuel Kane, 1 Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Fusilier James Montgomery, 1 Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Fusilier Alfred Robinson, 1 Royal Irish Fusiliers.


 6 Innisks – GOUBELLAT.

Orders received that the Brigade will take up a better position in the hills to our rear.


2 LIR.

0200 E F & Companies attack farm 713157, found no enemy, and were informed by French occupant that Germans had left at 1800 hrs on previous evening.

1500 Observation post observed considerable activity west of Goubellat.



29th December

Brigade HQ – SIDI MAHMOUD.

Fuller reports were received of contact night 27/28 Dec.

On this day, a coy of 1 RIrF had a very successful action (J6824) against enemy force of approx some strength. 50 casualties in killed or wounded were inflicted for the loss of 2 casualties wounded on our side.

Redistribution of 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade took place in accordance with Brigade OO No 4.

2100 Brigade HQ moved from Farm 586199 to Farm 542199. The move was completed without incident. 1 RIrF having left Goubellat booby trapped moved to new position 6325. Arrived 2350 without incident.


1 RIrF – GOUBELLAT.

Sometime about dawn A Coy’s ambushes returned and reported no sign of enemy activity, a party of Germans commanded by a Hauptfeldwebel of the Paratroop Regiment already identified, approached the OP at 685243 to occupy it. The booby trap was set off and they were all killed. On the Hauptfeldwebel was a marked map giving the location of an enemy position in the area of the foothills SW of Ksar-Tyr 7530, which was presented to Brigade HQ.

0800 B Coy moved forward from Goubellat. An account of their activities is attached.

0910  Enemy 10.5 Field Artillery  pinpointed by ‘J’ section, observed from C Coy as two guns firing from area Pt 263, 7419 shelling Goubellat positions for 20 mins causing no damage to positions but killing one fusilier of the Carrier Platoon.

0950 Fire then lifted onto area of B Coy’s original position and by accurate observation fired on a platoon of A Coy as the move west along the road from crossroads 6722.

1030 During the remainder of the day, their fire also fell on B Coy 6 Innisks and was laid on B Coy less one platoon and later one platoon B Coy as recounted in the attached appendix.

During the course of the day, the Commanding Officer recced a new position for the bttn to move to. The Second in Command gave a warning order to the remainder of the bttn and all the Commanding Officers to return to the bttn and all the troops are ready to move and guide parties waiting. The latter were taken out at once by the Adjutant to recce Coy areas by daylight. At the sunset, Bttn transport moved off by ones and two independently and the troops started to march to the new localities at dark.

1800 D Coy, with under command two 2 pounder A/Tk guns, covered the move of the bttn while B Coy 6 Innisks maintained the ambushed laid by A Coy night 28/29 Dec up to 0300 hrs 30 Dec.

2200 The bttn in position, as shown on attached trace in area Douar 6237 with HQ in the village.

The battalion’s account here.

Died on this day:

Fusilier Albert Deakin, 1 Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Fusilier Norman Kyle, 1 Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Fusilier Richard Eales, 1 Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Fusilier Arthur Cross, 1 Royal Irish Fusiliers.


2 LIR.

0100 Battalion moved back to area 5919 by transport.

E Company 5617. F Company 5517. G Company Pt 308 5618. H Company 5519. Battalion HQ 558187.

Standing patrol sent out to Rd Junction 578192.

Companies send out local patrols but do not have luck to contact enemy.



30th December

Brigade HQ – MAHMOUD GAP 5419.

0400 Order was received by LO from 6 Armoured Division for 2 LIR with u/c AA and A/Tk platoon to be prepared to move at 2 hrs notice to area Pichon O7523.

0915 Brigade Commander discussed with Commander 152 Field Regiment, 72 A/Tk Regiment and 151 Battery LAA, details of the Brigade’s artillery layout as affected by 2 LIR proposed move.

On this day, the Brigade Commander wrote letter to 6 Armoured Division pointing out the scattered dispositions of the Irish Brigade and noting that, should 2 LIR have to move to Pichon, he would have one bttn to protect 2 Battery’s Forward Artillery, AA and A/Tk artillery and transport disposed in Brigade A Echelon, along road: El Aroussa – Tallyho Corner 5217. In that event, Brigade “would not be in a position to resist an attack in force”.

6 Armoured Division OO No 5 was received expressing the intention: 6 Armoured Division and troops u/c will hold Medjez-el-Bab.

Letter was received from 6th Armoured Division stressing the necessity for active as well as passive (camouflage) deception. A Deception Officer for the Brigade (Lieut Duke, 6 Innisks) was appointed in accordance with instructions in this letter.

During this period, a good deal of information was collected by Special Intelligence Detachments, especially those with 2 LIR, which collected local farmers with good results.


1 RIrF – DOUAR.

0645 B Coy 6 Innisks arrived in new area. No activity seen. Two enemy recce aircraft at 1000 feet directly over Bttn HQ, but all signs of occupation had been connected.

1130 Enemy guns believed located as before shelled the Goubellat to Medjez-el-Bab road opposite Bttn HQ.

1200 Bttn HQ moved into a hollow ½ mile west along the track from Douar.

1800 B Coy 6 Innisks ceased to be under command and rejoined their battalion.

An account of the patrol account of this night is contained in the attached appendix.


6 Innisks – GOUBELLAT.

0200 The bttn transport arrives.

0215 The marching personnel sent out. It takes the transport column nearly 2 hours to go less than 4 miles.

0400 New farm is established in a farm where there are also some French soldiers. The morning patrol visited all fig farms south of the Goubellat to Mahmoud road, and found nothing.

1100 Enemy shell Goubellat and two enemy M/C combinations seen between Goubellat and Mahmoud.

1120 Enemy shells fall in area Sidi Mahmoud. It is possible 2 LIR who are on our left may be called away tonight. If they do so, we must hold their position as well as our own. Patrols are sent out but nothing is found during the night.

Information is received that 2 LIR will not be moving.

2330 B Coy who have been attached to 1 RIrF returns as Goubellat is now in No Man’s Land. They had to return via Medjez-el-Bab.


2 LIR.

Battalion at two hours notice. Ready to move to Pichon to support French troops.

Lieutenant VC Joseph admitted to ADS 1 Forward Ambulance.



31st December

Brigade HQ – MAHMOUD GAP.

0130 Information was received that 2 LIR were not required to go to Pichon. 38 Brigade OO No 5 was issued “Brigade will hold its own sector of Medjez defences and maintain the initiative by vigorous patrolling”.

1600 F/O Thornton RAF arrived at this HQ bringing Air Tentacle W/T set. Had profitable discussion on Tac/R and air support.

1700 Army Commander visited Brigade HQ. Did not see Brigade Commander who was visiting 1 RIrF but the BM took him to an OP from which he could see the Goubellet Plain. He was insistent on an offensive nature which must characterise our patrols.

During this period, enemy was seen to be using roving guns to engage our positions.


1 RIrF – DOUAR.

1300-1700 Carrier Platoon less two sections with under command one detachment 3” mortars and one platoon D Coy and in support one Troop 152 Field Regiment searched road and adjacent farms from Crossroads 6324 to Rd junction 6222 to farms 634221 without finding enemy. The French told them that the enemy had visited their farm 624221 on the night 30/31 Dec enquiring whether there were any British troops in the locality. From there the Carriers struck north via the Wabi Tabia 6223 to the road on which they had started. On reaching the road, they harboured in the wadi for a short time as they were being shelled. While they were there, a message was received by DR from the second in command, who was leading the battle from Ragouret Lalla Manna 6425, that the enemy were framed by shell fire in the area of the cemetery 652225. It was however impossible for the force to seek out and destroy these enemy as it was already 1715 hrs and time was strictly limited. One section of the Carrier Platoon searched the village of Goubellat, but saw no signs of enemy activity, but there was a derelict civilian car stretched across the main East-West road. The second in command from his OP mentioned above observed considerable enemy activity. Two enemy Platoons were seen moving towards the village from the east. They were shelled by our observed artillery fire and dispersed, some into the farms south of the Rd in the area 6822 and the rest in the cemetery. Heavy casualties were inflicted on them by our artillery fire. About three vehicles, including what was probably an armed column, entered Goubellat during the morning and withdrew at great speed during the afternoon. One M/C combination and several DRs entered it from the east and left it going east. All these targets were heavily shelled and at least one M/C was destroyed.

2000 Patrols were sent out from B Coy with a fighting role to areas north of Goubellat. They encountered no sign of enemy activity.


6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD.

Daly went out with two platoons from C Coy to two farms where Germans were seen during the day. Returned soon after midnight with nothing to report.

CO spends morning going around coys. 2 i/c ties up Q problems and goes to Teboursouk. New RC padre comes to lunch at Bttn HQ and padre with 2 LIR has lunch in command post. Lt Duke is interviewed by CO and is brought into Bttn HQ. CO decides to take Lt McCaldin out of the A/Tk platoon and give him Duke’s platoon.

One platoon of A and one platoon of C came into Bttn HQ for the day for wash, shave, hair cut and rest. This was greatly appreciated.

Men want news. CO and Adjutant decide to produce a bulletin called the “Branch of the Sprig”. First copy is ready for distribution after breakfast.

Died on this day:

Fusilier William Farnan, 6 Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.


2 LIR.

Battalion back to normal under brigade control.

Battalion allotted daily patrol area 56-66-16 from 0800 hrs-1200 hrs.

Quartermaster came back from NAAFI with cigarettes and whiskey for battalion which finishes the old year off nicely and gives us good heart for the New Year.