War Diaries – 1st December 1943

Brigade HQ – TORINO.

0200 Intentions 1 December. 4 Armoured Brigade with C Squadron 56 Recce Regiment under command 38 Brigade in support to advance at first light along axis – Fossacesia – Rocca 3705 – San Vito 3611.

0500 6 Innisks Sitrep. Some firing, otherwise a quiet night.

0645 1 RIrF Sitrep. Bttn HQ 411057; A Coy 407056; B Coy east end ridge 4106; C Coy, Brigade HQ, D Coy 412058. Gulleys 414068 415063 impassable to tanks.

0800 2 LIR in Rocca (3805).

0945 6 Innisks in Rocca.

0950 17 Indian Brigade now in San Maria. Mozzagrogna and Romagnoli.

1000 6 Innisks astride road 365045.

1200 Brigade HQ closed Torino 446986 and moved to Fossacesia.

1300 2 LIR advancing on road 372073.

1430 Brigade informed Division PoW collecting point at 415023. 11 Brigade providing guard, thence by RASC to collecting point at 445003. Bridges 376049 and 367043 repaired by RE.

1600 2 LIR area 369073 joined by one squadron 44 Royal Tanks.

Remainder tanks between Fossacesia and Rocca. 3 CLY area 3804.

1615 C Squadron 56 Recce Regiment 400090. Bridge 408083 prepared for demolition not blown.

Minefield  200 x 50 North 406084. Minefields coastal area. Crater 120’ 369074 and 2 coys enemy 367072 prevented further advance.

6 Innisks’ locations HQ 396044, Coys 372042, 369038, 363045, 369049.

1900 449 PoW passed through divisional cages.

2000 Brigade HQ established Fossacesia.

2100 Army Command directs headlights to be used up to Fossacesia.

Rum issued authorised.

2115 78 Division intentions 1 / 2  December – 11 Brigade hold line Fossacesia – Fossacesia station. 38 Brigade move 2 LIR and 1 RIrF area 3707. Patrol vigorously to San Vito and line of river south west.

2 Dec –   will continue advance Rocca – San Vito – Ortona with under command 56 Recce Regiment and support by 4 Armoured Brigade.

1 RIrF.

Captain TB Cammiade MC admitted to hospital.  Captain DF Thomason arrived from LOB personnel to act as IO in his absence.  Morning spent resting and recovering booty from the deep dug-outs and entrenchments in the area.

1400 At 1400 hrs, the Battalion moved to area north of the road east of Rocca 3805.  Battalion HQ 385055.

1700 At 1700 hrs, the CO received orders for the advance to San Vito 3611.

2200 At 2200 hrs, the CO gave out his orders.  Lt. MER Pattinson to hospital.

6 Innisks – ROCCA.

The Bttn prepared to continue the advance after breaking through the enemy’s fortifications; the plan being to push on along the main Fossacesia to San Vito road with a regiment of tanks until resistance was met and then issue orders on the spot for dealing with it. A and C Coys were to meet the tanks at road 377047 and 383048 and push along road in that road followed by Bttn HQ, B and D Coys.

0630 Bttn started off, and while leaving, the area was shelled fairly heavily for ten minutes, resulting in four casualties in D Coy.

0800 Coys reached tanks at RV but considerable delay was caused just after starting owing to the bridge at 377047 being demolished. REs were sent for and coys were deployed in protection of the bridge. The REs were very soon on the spot; and using the bulldozer got the road clear by 1230hrs.

Meanwhile, a recce party had found that the next bridge at 367044 was also blown and work was started on that as soon as the first one was finished. While the Bttn was protecting the first bridge. B Coy brought in three PoWs from 3/361 PGR.

1430 Bttn was astride road at 377044 and waiting for the second bridge to be completed (2 PoWs were found here from 56 Werf Regiment).

1500 Orders came through from Brigade not to continue any further owing to a threat that was growing on our left flank, but that another Bttn (2 LIR) would pass through is that night; so the Bttn disposed to cover the bridge, which had been prepared and by 0330hrs were established with Bttn HQ at 364048 and coys at 363048, 369049, and 365042.

1800 2 LIR came through our positions and continued towards San Vito until they were held up by the bridge being blown at 369073, 370044. The advance up to this point had taken place without enemy resistance.

Private Kenneth Chinn, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, attached from ACC.

Fusilier William Duff, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Major Sydney Bunch MC, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, attached from Lincolnshire Regiment.

Lance Corporal James McCann, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

2 LIR.

Intermittent enemy shelling throughout the day in area of Bridge 631795.

0430 E Company report that there are still a few enemy in Rocca.

0800 Barrage to support F Company into Rocca is cancelled and G Company enter village without opposition. A few PWs were taken.

0800 Report from Bde states that a German counter-attack on the Lanciano-Mozzagrogna road last night was successfully repulsed by 2 NZ Division.

1030 E Company join G Company forward of the village of Rocca and advance up the Rocca-San Vito road. Command group follows these two companies.

1500 E Company report enemy in area 355051, strength about one platoon. Civilians also report that the bridge 368074 was blown at 1000 hours today.

1530 Commanding Officer asks for tanks to come forward in support of the companies and one hour later F Company were linked up with them.

1630 Patrols were sent out to find routes across the ravine in front of the forward companies which was deep and narrow with precipitous sides.

F Company and tanks arrive and take up position in general area 362067.

1730 Commanding Officer reports general situation to Bde. Companies have reached ravine at bridge 368074. Bridge blown. Enemy hold Treglio ridge on further side of ravine with about two companies. The ground rises very steeply to those positions and an attack tonight would be difficult.

Bde Commander orders that the battalion must get across, if not at first light then as soon after as possible.

1920 H Company ordered forward. Battalion HQ to remain in Rocca.

Rifleman William Coggle, London Irish Rifles.

Rifleman William Coughlan, London Irish Rifles.

Rifleman Clifford Jones, London Irish Rifles.

Sergeant Ernest Oakley, London Irish Rifles.