War Diaries – 21st to 25th December 1944

21st December

Brigade HQ – PASSITEMPI 979283.

0310 Nebel fired again. This time, on left forward coy 2 Innisks.

Slight harassing fire during day.

2045 Patrol from 2 Innisks to gully 017288 returned after fire fight with the enemy and DF brought down on enemy patrol.

1 RIrF – 003301.

0325 3” Mortar report 2 shells short in their area.

0350 B Coy (Major N Plymen) reports shell short in coy area.

1425 D Coy (Captain AJ Wilton) report short shell, area 004300.

Major JS Clarke MC rejoined from hospital. Lt HR Carver joined from hospital.

2 Innisks – SAN CLEMENTE.

0015 B Coy report two Red Verey lights on far side of river.

0316 C Coy (Sasso platoon) report Nebelwerfer. Two salvoes – one at 0250 hrs, one at 0300 hrs. Approx bearing 63 degrees magnetic.

0730 Battle Patrol report clashing with enemy at 007290 at 2200 hrs. Bren guns fired and grenades thrown, enemy withdrawn. No further encounter during the night.

0945 CO leaves to visit B Coy. Returns at 1230 hrs.

1410 CO visits C Coy and returned at 1620 hrs.

1710 Own artillery stonk put down on Casa Sillaro.

1730 B Coy patrol to the gully and report enemy section moving into night positions forward of Nuova haystack.

2045 B Coy in gully at 017288 returns. Enemy approach down south side of wadi. The enemy was allowed to within 10 yards of patrol positions then attacked with grenades, brens and rifle fire. Enemy replied with grenade and MG fire. Own patrol withdrew to Point 156.  Own artillery put down 20 rounds on Casa Nuova. 2” and 3” mortars fired into gully. No casualties.

2105 B Coy area mortared, lines out, lateral line ok.

2115 B Coy patrol returns to gully and reports fresh mortar craters around culvert trenches and some stick grenades but no sign of the enemy.

2315 Two Spandaus from Casa Nuova firing down valley between Bttn HQ and river.

Intentions night 21/22 Dec: All night ambush patrols 011294 and 013291. All night Standing Patrols 017288, 007290, 011289, 005285, latter to be contacted by patrol of 1 East Surreys.


Bttn resting.

Capt WCW Hood took over duties of Bttn IO from Capt F Lyness.

22nd December

Brigade HQ – PASSITEMPI 979283.

0400 Enemy patrol approached standing patrol 2 Innisks by house 013289. A sharp fire fight ensued in which the enemy patrol commander was seriously wounded and take prisoner. He belonged to 2 Coy, 3 Para Regiment.

The Irish Fusiliers had a quiet night on the whole.

0950 Fighter bombers bombed and strafed Casa Cereto 020310.

1230 Fighter bombers strafed Casa Razzaneri and set the houses on fire. Later, the enemy was forced to evacuate the house and were shot up by 1 Surreys’ MMGs and also those of 2 Innisks.

1515 Enemy party was seen working on the bridge 028293 and engaged by MMGs.

1620 Slight shelling HQ 2 Innisks and heavy shelling of area 000287 and San Clemente.

Slight harassing fire on forward coys 1 RIrF.

2200 Enemy patrol made determined attack on gully at 017288 and withdrew.

1 RIrF – 003301.

0940 RAF gave demonstration of accurate dive bombing scoring hits on Cereto 012310 and Anzellara 023307.

Air OP ranged Medium Artillery on Tamagnin 013303.

Lts RRJ Bartlett, DR Dorney and HC Quail joined bttn.

2 Innisks – SAN CLEMENTE.

0205 Patrol of 1 East Surreys contacted at A Coy HQ. Listening post in river. Two enemy seen approaching Furniture House – One wounded and taken prisoner. PoW evacuated.

0715 A Coy area mortared.

0950 Casa Cereto bombed by Rover Joe. C Coy reports successful run with several near misses.

1230 Casa Razzinera bombed by fighter bombers – target well strafed and buildings set on fire by cannon fire.

1250 Request to brigade to Sillaro and enemy Bttn HQ.

1415 B Coy reports 16 enemy evacuate Razzinera houses, 1 East Surreys mortar and MG enemy as they make for Tromba. Two were seen to fall (killed or wounded?) on the side of the 200 yards from Razzinera. Enemy took cover under bridge at Tromba and were engaged by own MMG fire from Point 207.

1515 C Coy report enemy working party at bridge 028293. Engaged by MMG firing from Lucia. Enemy dispersed and some were seen to go into a house at 026294.

1620 Road at Bttn HQ shelled (or heavy mortar).

1650 Heavy enemy bombardment on Bttn HQ area. Bearing  of 109 degrees from Lucia passed to counter battery.

1840 B Coy report one white Verey light from Razzinera house.

1905 B Coy report that ambush patrol on reaching knoll encountered Bosche patrol.

Both saw each other simultaneously and, at some distance, there was an exchange of fire. Bosche returned to Sillaro. Enemy approached from due north. Own patrol returned to original positions.

2103 C Coy report mortar firing from 60 degrees magnetic. CMO engaged three known mortar positions in ara Point 166 020303. C Coy also reported own aircraft bombing Route 9.

2150 C Coy report flashes 200 yards north east of Point 156. Appears to be light mortar firing from Tomba area 0228.

2210 Two loud explosions heard in direction of bridge 0229.

2345 B Coy reported L/Sgt Malone and patrol to 017289 returned. NTR. One man wounded in B Coy area by mortar bomb.

Intentions for the night 22/23 Dec: All night standing patrols 013297, 007200, latter to be contacted by patrol of East Surreys.


Baths and cinema shows arranged.

23rd December

Brigade HQ – PASSITEMPI 979283.

0715 Enemy shelled area 008287 to San Clemente to Pt 287 011288.

Subsequent identification proved these shells to be of 260 mm calibre belonging to an Italian gun firing at maximum range of 9,000 yards.

This shelling lasted till about 1100 hrs.

The first fall of snow occurred today.

About a quarter of inch fell during the day, but increased as the evening drew on.

1600 1 RIrF mortared Tamagnin causing fires, which were soon extinguished.

1 RIrF – 003301.

1805 4.2” Mortar fired on Tamagnin and started a small fire, which quickly went out.

2 Innisks – SAN CLEMENTE.

0020 CO visits A Coy. C Coy patrol returns. NTR. Grenades and MG fire 500 yards forward of Rozzinieri.

0022 C Coy report gun firing on bearing 45 degrees from 009299. Shells firing in 11 Brigade, near river.

0055 CO returns. CO interviewed Sgt Malone (NCO i/c of patrol to 017289).

Patrol report: Patrol reached 017289. Automatics and rifles were fired and grenades thrown. Later at approx 2215 hrs, a vehicle was heard on the road at approx 019288 from which two salvoes of mortar bombs were fired (Target unknown). Vehicle then unknown.

0100 Lt Shields reports two listening posts forward of Point 207. Reported automatics and phosphorous bombs being thrown in area of Razzineri about 2300 hrs.

0500 C Coy reports standing patrol engaged Bosche patrol between Point 342 and Point 358. Bosche patrol (stronger) fanned out and withdrew. Exchange of fire, enemy withdrew. L/Cpl Conley killed.

0535 OC C Coy reports patrol not yet returned. One Bosche suspected hit in engagement.

0625 Lt Giles and patrol to 012291 returns. NTR.

0705 C Coy party to Point 358. Returns with body of L/Cpl Conley.

0715 Bttn HQ heavily shelled bearing of 80 degrees from 007298. Signs 15 cwt knocked out. Fusilier Russ HQ Coy killed.

B Coy area on Point 207 also shelled. Sgt Sutcliffe killed.

0910 B Coy report Tromba being sucked by enemy.

0950 Bttn HQ area again shelled. Hay on north east side of house set on fire. No casualties.

1115 Intermittent shelling of area between Bttn HQ and San Clemente continues.

1600 House on Point 156 report seeing one man Casa di Maletto.

1705 House (Point 156) report 5 enemy moving from haystack at 01952885 (Nuova) towards Sillaro. 3” mortars engaged and score three direct hits on haystack and three bombs fell 50 yards to the right.

2330 East Surreys patrol contacted A Coy standing patrol. All quiet.

Intentions for night 23/24 Dec: Ambush Patrols at 016289 from 0300 hrs to 0400 hrs. 012291 – 2400 hrs to 0100 hrs. Point 358 from 2300 hrs to 2400 hrs and 0400 hrs to 0500 hrs. Standing patrols all night at 007290 and 005285, latter to contact 1 East Surreys.

Died on this Day:

Sergeant Albert Sutcliffe, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers

Fusilier Norman Russ, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Lance Corporal Thomas Conley, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.


Baths and cinema shows arranged.

24th December

Brigade HQ – PASSITEMPI 979283.

Slight shelling during the night which continued at intervals during the day.

Preparations commenced for the Christmas Day festivities. These could only be appreciated to the full by the London Irish, who were back at Castro San Martino in the Brigade Rest Area.

Heavy snow during the night covered the whole countryside in a white pall. The snow stopped during the day. Snow fell again during the night.

1 RIrF – 003301.

NTR. Captain JP Phelan MC rejoined from hospital.

2 Innisks – SAN CLEMENTE.

0015 C Coy patrol to Point 358. No enemy movement seen.

0105 C Coy forward OP report enemy mortar firing onto approx area of bridge at Razzineri. Bearing of 85 degrees.

0300 Three enemy shelling on San Clemente.

0415 B Coy ambush patrol to 014286 returned.

0515 C Coy report patrol to Point 358 returned.

0600 Sitrep passed on to brigade, quarter inch of snow fell during the night.

1005 CO pays a visit to B Coy.

1015 C Coy reports mortar firing on bearing of 103 degrees, firing on Ripiano. CMO East Surreys informed.

1030 Own mortars fired on haystack at Nuova. One direct hit with smoke bomb. Haystack did not catch fire.

1700 A Coy area mortared. Counter mortar blitz Clove.

2315 C Coy report mortar firing on B Coy from direction of Tromba.

2328 Area Tromba mortared by 3” mortars.

Intentions for night 24/25 Dec: Ambush patrols to 017289 from 0300 hrs to 0400 hrs. 012291, 2400 hrs to 0100 hrs. Point 358 from 2300 hrs to 2400 hrs and 0400 hrs to 0500 hrs. All night standing patrol 007290, 005285. Latter to be contacted by 1 East Surreys.


Leave party left for UK. One man each from E, G, H and HQ Coys.

25th December

Brigade HQ – PASSITEMPI 979283

Christmas Day – NTR.

Messages of goodwill were received from nearly all units in the division and cards from many others, who remembered their happy and pleasant association with the Irish Brigade in the past.

Christmas Messages were received from the Commander in Chief from General Mark Clark commanding 15 Army Group and also Lt-Gen SC Kirkman Commander 13 Corps.

Brigade Commander visited 1 RIrF and 2 Innisks during the morning and went round all the coy positions that it was possible to reach during daylight.

The men of Brigade HQ were given an excellent feast considering the difficulties of the situation and both the Divisional Commander and Brigade Commander addressed them wishing them a Happy Christmas. The officers entertained various officers of the Brigade Group at midday and attended a formal dinner in the evening. Three pipers played round the table and the evening finished with the singing of traditional songs of the Irish Brigade.

1 RIrF – 003301.

Quiet policy adopted on Corps level, not a shot fired on either side. Normal protective patrols maintained.

A/Captain McIlhinney relinquished T/Capt on becoming surplus to WE.

2 Innisks – SAN CLEMENTE.

0300 Standing patrol returned from Point 358.

Christmas Greetings messages went to Divisional Commander and Brigade Commander.

Intentions night 25/26 Dec: Patrols for local protection only.


0900 Voluntary Church Parade.

1000 CO’s O Group. Bttn to relieve 1 RIrF on following day. Head of column to pass Firenzuola 0930 hrs.

1200-1300 CO visited coys at Christmas dinners.