War Diaries – 3rd December 1943

Brigade HQ.

0005 1 Canadian Division informed Brigade “F” crossing River Sangro open for down traffic until 0900hrs.

British/Indian division front open for traffic until 1200hrs.

0510 2 LIR reported enemy shelling of bttn area during night. Position firm.

0930 2 LIR established bridgehead area. RE ordered to proceed with bridge construction immediately.

0940 3 CLY and 6 Innisks entering San Vito and occupying enemy positions. Some PoWs. Casualties light. Bomb line altered to line San Vito.

0955 254 A/Tk Battery and 1 RIrF warned to be ready to move.

1020 1 RIrF reported enemy casualties 2 Dec: 4 ORs and another 4 unlocated, 1 officer (Captain ?) Wounded not known, but in proportion to those killed.

1025 4 Armoured Brigade report 40 PoWs identified 361 Pz Grenadier Regiment.

1115 4 Armoured Brigade reported in San Vito 1100hrs.

1200 4 Armoured Brigade reported close fighting in San Vito with some MG fire.Tanks being mortared from beyond river. Large crater 364110. Expected to take 6 hs to fill.

1255 214 Field Company reported crater now passable in tanks. Bridge ready 368074, 1500hrs.

1330 2 LIR reported HQ at 371072.

1400 2 LIR informed of relief. When complete, Bttn to concentrate in area 374087 and await orders.

1500 Brigade HQ closed Fossacesia and reopened same time at 363062.

Sitrep – 6 Innisks. Bttn HQ 365108, 44 PoW identified I Bttn 361 Pz Grenadier Regiment.

1630 6 Innisks remain in San Vito. Snipers left only.

1 RIrF ordered forward at once and make use of daylight.

Special Sitrep 1630 issued.

Intention: 6 Innisks hold San Vito. 1 RIrF right, 2 LIR left advance to River Moro. RE repair road. Tanks to reach River Moro by first light crater San Vito between San Vito and river bridge blown.

2 LIR informed of boundary with 1 RIrF including 1 RIrF 343124, 354116.Then including 2 LIR road to 363109. Main patrol task bridge rear area 3311. D Support Group 3606, 254 A/Tk Battery 3606, C Squadron Recce Regiment 364065.

2353 1 Canadian Division in brigade’s bomb line first light. Lateral road Ortona 3316 – Orsona 2301 from coast to 290096 thence west to Grid 29.

2355 Situation on brigade front at first light 3 December and intentions 4 Dec. See Sitrep.

1 RIrF.

No contact all day.  2 LIR still fighting at first light at bridge 368075 until 6 Innisks went through with armour and occupied San Vito 3611 by 1500 hrs.  CO ordered B & C Coys forward to area 372112 prior to going to Brigade at 1600 hrs.

1600 Battalion HQ to 393097.  Just a forward coy had reported in position at approx 1900 hrs, Adjutant was ordered by CO on 22 set from Brigade to prepare Battalion for move to high ground 3512  NW of San Vito.  Coys warned and lined up on coast rd in following order of march:- B,C,D,A,Bn HQ.

CO arrived back at 1930 hrs and the Battalion moved off.  Road cratered four times before Battalion arrived on High Ground NW of San Vito 3512.  This made carriage of gunners & Battalion rear link sets difficult, although mules were employed for batteries.  Great silence during advance impossible and no contact was made – probably owing to size of our force & smallness of likely posts.

6 Innisks.

Bttn was roused at 0400hrs and embussed at 0505hrs, and joined tanks at road junction north of Fossacesia (351022) at 0615hrs.

0645 Column moved off and the head turned down the southern San Vito road but the leading three tonner had fallen behind and by mistake went into Lanciano and along the northern road with the rest of the column following. Lanciano had only just fallen and was yet unoccupied by infantry.

The column travelled along the northern San Vito road for about three miles before the IO caught up with the head and turned it back; but 3 PoWs were brought back, too, from an MG post, which had been surprised; it caught up with B Coy and 3 CLY without any further incident.

1000 B Company and 3 CLY were making good progress and news came through that they were on the outskirts of the town. The tanks were first in the town and were shelled while entering, but suffered no casualties.

1200 B Coy entered the town, but the coy commander, Capt Clarke MC, was wounded on the outskirts and was prevented from leading his coy in. C Coy followed close behind, B Coy and progress continued with the street fighting going on in our favour, and, by 1500hrs, the Bttn was firmly established in the town with Bttn HQ at 365108 and coys in positions around. Supporting arms moved up and a local patrol was sent out to protect the REs, who set to work clearing demolitions and craters. A patrol was sent out to the bridge at 364118 and reported it to have three spans blown and two gaps. The bridge was over a gully 20 feet deep with steep sides. Total PoWs for the day were 47 from 361 PGR. Our own casualties were 2 ORs, 1 officer (Captain Clarke MC) and 16 ORs wounded.

Fusilier Albert Smith, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Fusilier Grange Carter, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Fusilier Arthur Mitchell, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Corporal Archibald Porter, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Corporal Charles Watts, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

2 LIR.

0530 In conjunction with the attack from Lanciano towards Treglio, G and H companies crossed the ravine in the bridge area followed by F Company and a bridgehead was established.

Companies were disposed as follows:

G Company area 368076.

F Company area 372080.

H Company area 375083.

E Company area 375083.

Battalion HQ at 370073.

1500 Battalion relieved by Canadian Battalion and moves up to a concentration area south of San Vito at 362097.

Commanding Officer’s orders were to move forward and establish one company as early as possible during the night to the high ground to the west about 380105. Using the company as a base, to patrol with a second to the River Moro and to gain information about the bridge 337017 and crossings across the river to the north and south of it.

1900 E Company move forward to establish themselves on the high.

2200 E Company reported in position. H Company ordered forward to contact E and patrol to river.

Rifleman Peter Treanor, London Irish Rifles.