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 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 2 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 Mc Caldrin 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.
Battalion back to normal under brigade control.
Battalion allotted daily patrol area 56-66-16 from 0800 hrs-1200 hrs.
Quartermaster from NAAFI with cigarettes and whiskey for battalion which finishes the old year off nicely and gives us good heart for the New Year.