War Diaries – 16th to 20th December 1944

16th December

Brigade HQ – PASSITEMPI 979283.

Patrols from 1 RIrF report Casa Tamagnin occupied and weapon pits occupied at 013302.

1200 Considerable enemy movement was seen in the Casa Muiano sector 022315 and engaged by artillery and MGs.

1205 Fighting bombers bombed and strafed Il Molino Nuovo 028294. Reserves not observed due to smoke.

1900 Digging party from 1 RIrF went out to 013303 to dig slit trenches for future use.

Patrol from 2 LIR to 018292 reached objective. NTR.

1 RIrF – 003301.

0225 Patrol to 16 got off course and wound up under cliffs east of Tamagnin approximately at 013302 where occupied enemy weapon slits were located.

2306 D Coy forward platoon (Lt AJF Parish) reports lowest bullets in concentration from MMGs hitting saddle position of his platoon at 004301.


0730 Own smoke screen laying very thick over bttn positions.

Sitrep: 1900 hrs enemy nearing house Point 156 beaten off by DF. Patrol sent out to sweep area found nothing. Heavy HF on right forward coy during night, especially on house Point 156. Two men missing from forward post at 008290 (E Coy area). 0410 hrs. Heavy MG fire on Bttn HQ house from 0100 to 0300 hrs.

Intentions night 16/17: All night standing patrol to Point 358 (013298). Standing patrols to 017288, 014286 and 015298. Out – first dark, In – midnight.

Fighting patrol to 018289.  Out – 0330 hrs, In – 0530 hrs.

1900 Sitrep: Heavy HF on right forward coy during morning. Own aircraft bombed aircraft bombed forward of bttn positions. Results not observed owing to bad visibility. Noises heard from Tamagnin area at first dark.

17th December

Brigade HQ – PASSITEMPI 979283.

0200 Small enemy patrol approached left coy 2 LIR but withdrew without contact.

1100 Movement seen on track just south of Casa Sillaro and area stonked.

1600 Brigade Commander returns. Lt-Col HEN Bredin DSO MC returns to his own battalion.

1830 Patrol going to take up positions at culvert 017286 found enemy already there. Own patrol returned and DF was brought down.

1900 Patrol to 018290 from 2 LIR was fired on by estimated enemy section from this area. This is thought to be one of the night positions of a platoon occupying Casa Nuova 021289 by day.

1 RIrF – 003301.

0030 B Coy (A/Maj W Plymen) report completion of pits for 2” Mortars on Black Ridge 011307.

1830 B Coy 2” Mortars fired from pits at 011307 put sixty bombs on ridge east of Tamagnin area 016302. Mortar team then withdrew to coy position. Schmeisser fire and grenades observed in area vacated about ½ hour later. Lt JPF Beamish rejoined bttn from hospital.


0700 Heavy smoke screen over bttn positions.

0800 Sitrep: At 0200 hrs, small enemy patrol approached left forward coy but withdrew without contact. Fighting patrol to 018292 NTR.

1000 Intentions 17/18: Standing patrol of 1 and 4 to knoll 015290. Out – first dark, In – midnight.

All night standing patrols to 017288 and 019287. Fighting patrol, 1 officer and 4 to 018290. Out – 0330, In – 0530 hrs. Ambush patrol to area Point 358. Strength 1 and 2. Out – 0200 hrs, In – first light.

1800 CO returned from 38 Brigade HQ and resumed command of bttn.

1900 Sitrep: Movement seen in area Sillaro, which artillery engaged. Heavy HF on road between San Clemente and right forward coy. Standing patrol out last light found enemy in occupation of culvert 017288 and returned under fire. Own DF on culvert.

18th December

Brigade HQ – PASSITEMPI 979283.

Remaining patrols NTR. MGs fired during the night from the direction of Casa Anzellara 023308. Very slight shelling.

0750 Enemy spotted on ridge 008301 and fired on.

1245 Rifle fire heard from Casa Tamagnin 013303.

Spasmodic mortar fire during the day.

1845 Patrol from 2 LIR to culvert 017288 exchanged grenades and SA fire with enemy patrol advancing down road from Casa Nuova. Own patrol withdrew on hearing another enemy patrol coming down river bed and threatening to get in behind them.

In order to stem the flow of enemy nuisance raids and active patrolling, it has been necessary during the past fortnight to increase our own patrolling to the maximum and keep the enemy at bay. Due to the postponement of the impending Corps attack to assist the 8th Army, it was decided to carry out one or two large scale raids to liquidate small enemy platoon positions.

The RIrF planned such a raid on Casa Tamagnin 013303 to be followed by a platoon raid on the house at Pt 166 019303.

2030 D Coy RIrF moved forward to attack Casa Tamagnin. Platoon of C Coy was all ready to move through to attack Pt 166. D Coy reached Tamagnin which consists of two houses. The first house was unoccupied and booby trapped and the second one barricaded and heavily defended. There was heavy MG and Schmeisser fire from this house and supporting MG fire came from the ridge at 0155301 and Casa Cereto area. D Coy, in the meantime, fired into the house with everything they had and two PIATs fired 4 bombs, each scoring hits on house but made no material damage. A final assault by D Coy on the blockaded house was checked by a counter attack coming from the area Pt 342 and ridge at 015301. 3” Mortar DF was brought down and the coy withdrew. Enemy casualties in the house were thought to be about 6.

The platoon raid on Pt 166 was cancelled and a recce patrol went out instead. They were challenged from enemy in the area 018305, who appeared to be able to cover the house at Pt 166 very effectively by fire.

On return to their original positions, D Coy was mortared causing some casualties and so also was the OP from which the CO watched the battle.

The CO and several others were wounded.

The CO – Lt Col J Coldwell-Horsfall DSO MC was peppered in the lower right leg. He remained at the Bttn HQ 1 RIrF until the morning.

1 RIrF – 003301.

0750 C Coy (Major CR Titterton) engaged three enemy, 250 degrees to their front with forty rounds of 2” Mortar HE.

2150 D Coy (A/Major RSV Howard) assaulted Tamagnin 013303. Smaller building cleared and the wall of the main house reached in the face of heavy HE and Schmeisser fire and showers of grenades from upper windows and slits. Assault was covered by fire platoon (Lt AJF Parish) with Brens, TSMGs and PIAT engaging enemy sources of fire. All the while, Lt Parish conducting the fire and passing a running commentary over the phone to command post. Area immediately north of house was booby trapped and wired, causing casualties. Final assault by 2 platoons was prevented by an immediate counter attack from three sides, which came down from Antrim Ridge 014302 and ridge 011303.

2210 3” Mortar DF called for and, still by covered fire platoon, withdrew in good order. Enemy casualties estimated six houses. Own: Major RSV Howard and 9 ORs wounded. All evacuated, a good job by the stretcher bearers. Signals did a good job, even retrieving on the next day the assault cable laid for the show.


0800 Sitrep: Patrol to 018290 fired on by enemy in that area. Patrol estimated enemy section position very alert. Ambush patrol to Point 358 (013298) NTR. Remaining standing patrols NTR. Very slight shelling.

1000 Intentions night 18/19: all night standing patrols to Point 358, culvert 017288 and knoll 015290. Fighting patrol to sweep area from Valley Farm (013288) and gully 014291 to culvert 017288. Out – 1800 hrs, In – 2200 hrs. Recce patrol to gully at 012296. Out – 0300 hrs, In – dawn. Sniper patrol to 015289. Out – last dark, In – dusk 19.

1930 Sitrep: Very misty during day. Heavy HF on road in forward coy area. Standing patrol at culvert 017288 approached by enemy from road and river. Enemy party on road deployed and opened fire on culvert. Grenades and automatic fire return. Standing patrol withdrew and 3” mortars engaged culvert. Fighting patrol sent to reoccupy and hold culvert.

During the evening, the 1 RIrF and bttn’s left flank carried out a coy raid on Tamagnin (013303). Very light signals, MF fire etc from that area were reported by our forward coys when 1 RIrF reached Tamagnin at 2155 hrs.

19th December

Brigade HQ – PASSITEMPI 979283.

Lt Col J Coldwell-Horsfall admitted to ADS. Major M Palmer assumes command of 1 RIrF and is promoted to the rank of Lt Col.

Slight movement by the enemy seen during the day and there was slight mortaring of our positions.

GOC 78 Division visited the Brigade Commander. Brigade Commander then went up to see 1 RIrF in their positions.

1845 2 LIR patrol to the culvert clashed with the enemy, who retired after a short scrap. White flares then went up and enemy DF was brought down on the culvert.

2145 HQ 2 LIR was nebelled. No damage.

1 RIrF – 003301.

0130 Enemy mortar stonk area 005299 killed Lt AJF Parish and 2 ORs and wounded Lt Col JH Horsfall DSO MC and CSM Payne DCM.

1555 Three enemy at Tamagnin 013303 engaged by 3” Mortars.

Captain AJ Wilton joined bttn from ICRU.

Died on this Day:

Fusilier Edward Niblock, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Fusilier John Dickson, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Lieutenant Albert Parish, Royal Irish Fusiliers, attached from Gloucestershire Regiment.


0730 Strep: Patrol to knoll 015290 heard coughing and talking from Sillaro Ridge area during night. Knoll itself fired on by MG from Sillaro Ridge. E Coy platoon area Lucia mortared at 0100 hrs. Fighting patrol to sweep gull 014291 were stalked by enemy patrol but no contact was made. Patrol commander thinks enemy has standing patrol 013292 at night. Culvert patrol reoccupied culvert and had NTR. Enemy mortar HF on H Coy during night.

1000 Intentions night 19/20: Ambush patrol, strength one platoon to area 017288. Out – last light, In – 2300 hrs. Thereafter standing patrol to culvert 017288. All night standing patrols to Point 358 and knoll 015290. Ambush patrol to 013293. Out – first dark, In – 2200 hrs.

2000 Sitrep: Snipers at knoll 015290 saw three enemy at first light crossing ridge up to Point 278 and one man on track to Sillaro at 1400 hrs. Also observed dugouts area 018290, one dugout under haystack. 1845 hrs – patrol clash, area culvert 017288. Two enemy shot at close range. Fighting continues.

2100 Own casualties in patrol clash – 2 wounded. Enemy begin to put down mortar DFs in culvert area. Both sides using grenades and MGs. Patrol now ordered to hold the culvert all night instead of coming in at 2300 hrs. Heavy artillery DF being put down by enemy between Bttn HQ and forward coy. Own artillery and mortars replying.

20th December

Brigade HQ – PASSITEMPI 979283.

Patrol from 2 LIR to Pt 358 014298 at first light reported hearing MT movement of vehicles.

1000 A deserter from 2 Coy, 3 Para Regiment was picked up at Valley Farm 013288 by right coy 2 LIR.

He was a young lad from Luxembourg and was employed in a company as a runner. Consequently, he knew the positions of his coy and answered every question put to him to the best of his advantage. Enemy positions, HQs, supply routes and all other information required concerning I Bttn 3 Para Regiment was forthcoming and enabled us to work a considerable and extensive harassing fire plan.

1945 2 Innisks completed relief of 2 LIR in positions.

2 LIR proceed back to Castro San Martino and prepare to enjoy the Christmas festivities to the full.

An intercept was received during the evening, originated from the 1 Para Mortar Battalion saying that a patrol to liquidate Valley Farm 013288 was cancelled due to deserter and chance of betrayal. The deserter from Luxembourg had mentioned this patrol, its strength, armament, possible times and route. How fantastic that the enemy should confirm a deserter’s statement.

In actual fact, an enemy patrol did approach our standing patrol at 007290 but it withdrew when engaged.

1 RIrF – 003301.

0540 Patrol from 0133307 reports singing in area 019303.

1640 B Coy (A/Maj N Plymen) reports one short 25 pounder in their area during a shoot over Cerere.

1845 Standing Patrol 008300 report lights on the Anzzelara Ridge area 021301.

Lt Col MJF Palmer assumed command of the bttn.

2 Innisks – SAN CLEMENTE.

0830 CO and Adjutant leave for 2 LIR.

0910 Bttn em-bused and leave for Calicano

1345 Bttn arrived and had a hot meal.

1500 C Coy leave for Sasso.

1700 Adjutant instructs the bttn to come forward in the following order: B and 2 platoons of A coy plus MMGs. A Coy and Battle Patrol, Bttn HQ, Support Coy.

1925 A and C Coys reported relieved.

2110 B Coy reports relief completed. Lt Gladitz and 6 men leaving for special patrol forward of Furniture House.


0730 Total casualties from all night patrol battle – 4 wounded. One PoW taken. Identification – 2 Coy, 1 Bttn, 3 Para Regiment, 1 Para Division.

0800 Preparations for handing over of sector to 2 Innisks.

1300 2 Innisks Recce Group arrive in bttn area.

1400 Bttn 2 i/c Major Palmer, takes over command of 1 RIrF during absence of Lt Col Horsfall.

1800 Main body of 2 Innisks arrive bttn area. On relief, coys proceeded by march route to embossing point 975279.

1845 Bttn left em-busing point in transport.

2215 Bttn arrived resting area Castro San Martino (850044).