11th February

Brigade HQ – BOU ARADA.

152 Field Regiment carried out HF programme on Brigade front and no patrols were out east of the road. Patrol to Fm 645102 had nothing to report.

Intelligence Summary was issued.

Visibility from day OP was bad, but the usual vehicle movement was observed. Enemy made considerable use of horses and carts. This has been noticeable during the recent wet weather.

On this day, a personal message to all troops from GOC 6 Armoured Division was received.

In consequence of Divisional letter 10 Feb, instructions about No Transport Day were issued to bttns.


1 RIrF – GRANDSTAND HILL. 

0215  During the night, heavy rains fell and Bttn HQ, which was in a Nullah by 0215 hrs found itself in places up to 5 feet under a roaring torrent. No patrols were sent out and there was nothing further to report.

1000 Bttn HQ reopened in Arab farm 636076 as it was impossible to work in the river. Almost all government and personal property was salvaged.

Died on this Day:

Corporal Edward Cunningham, Royal Irish Fusiliers.


6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD. 

A very stormy night with heavy rain. The gully we live in is the natural stream for the water from the mountains to travel down. A temporary dam has been made. Will it hold?

0805 The dam bursts and a torrent of water flows down the gully without any warning. For the best account of it, contact ‘Branch of the Sprig’ No 10 dated 11 Feb attached to this diary.

0810 CO has to make a quick plan as how to dispose the two Coys and Bttn HQ. The gully is in view of the enemy.

C and D Coys found temporary areas near gully and Bttn HQ moves to RAP.

1030 Brigadier arrives.

A RE Sergeant recces the situation and decides nothing can be done about the dam. A very wet morning is spent salvaging event wetter and very muddy equipment and belongings from the gully.

Bttn HQ remains in the RAP.

Died on this Day:

Fusilier Joseph Mansfield, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.


2 LIR.

1400 Brigade to form a counter attack group by taking one company from each battalion. Under commander Major DCJ Manners 2nd Battalion London Irish Rifles.

1845 Patrol ‘Sybil’ to farms 642123 – 633105 but had nothing to report.

1900 Patrol ‘Jane’ to 617112, but nothing to report.

Died on this Day:

Rifleman Arthur Barrett, London Irish Rifles.



12th February

Brigade HQ – BOU ARADA.

There were no patrols east of the main road and no sign of enemy west of the road.

Intelligence Summary was issued. This included at Appendix 1 a note on Marsch Bttns and HGJR as well as a sketch showing enemy dispositions and order of battle in Tunisia.

During the day, a marked exodus of Arabs taking families, household goods, flocks and herds was noted was noted east of the Brigade positions. Several reasons were advanced, the most likely of which appeared to be that enemy were requisitioning all livestock and ordering it to the rear.

6 Armoured Division letter “25 pounder Base Ejection Propaganda Shell” was received. It was emphasised that the morale of some Germans and most Italians in Tunisia was low, and that if the gravity of the Axis positions could be brought home to the enemy on our front, desertions might well increase.

6 Armoured Division order was received that Squadron 16/5 Lancers under command 38 Brigade would be relieved by ½ squadron 2 Lothians. Coy resting in area 5704 to come into Divisional reserve. Letter received from 6 Armoured Division stating that First Army recommended a ¾ ton jeep as suitable for towing the 6 pounder.

1500 Brigade Commander and Divisional Commander visited the Bttns; as a result of his tour, the Divisional Commander consider that 6 Innisks should have an urgent priority for wire and step were made to procure an additional allotment that night.

1830 CRA visited Brigade HQ.


1 RIrF – GRANDSTAND HILL.

The events of the night are recorded in detail the Appendix.

This day and the following were ordained by 6 Armoured Division as “no movement days.”  No troops on road, no guns firing, no non essential movement on foot was permitted and wireless silence was imposed.

1703 Four ME Fighter Bombers dropped one 1000kg bomb each, twice in area 626079 and one area 636088. No casualties suffered by the bttn.

1800 CO and 2.i.c. made a half light recce of Grandstand Hill to determine how best to hold it with only two coys.

1900 Bttn O Group Conference on the “pulling out” of one Coy. It was eventually decided in general terms to hold the hill from each end and withdrawing the centre – forward slope Coy.


6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD.

Today and tomorrow are to be no movement days. No vehicles. No M/Cs. No movement of men unless absolutely necessary – no wireless except…watch or in operational emergency – no firing of artillery – no AA except low dive bombing.

The day is given over to administration and drying clothes and cleaning.

Six signallers go to Brigade for course of 19 set.

Two detachments A/Tk platoon go to Brigade for course on 6 pounders. Major Bunch – President FGCM at Brigade HQ.


2 LIR

1645 Messerschmitts bomb areas of G and F Companies. No damage.

1845 Patrol ‘Ham’ to farm 633105 and Wog Huts 638116, nothing to report.

1845 Patrol ‘Beef’ to farm 617112. French farmer said that 4 Germans had driven up to his farm at 1000 hours 12th February.



13th February

Brigade HQ – BOU ARADA. 

No movement was seen west of the main road. A line party was seen on south west slope of Barka and contact with an enemy dug position was gained on south slope Ploughtop.

Brigade Intelligence Summary was issued. This included met chart for February, which was found useful in planning night patrols, and a topographical report on the Goubellat Plain.

0100 Five Canadian Officers arrived this HQ for posting to bttn. All the Canadian Officers in this theatre had come from units training in England and were to be attached to units and formations in Tunisia for a period to gain experience.

During the day, activity was observed in area 6612 and Arabs were calling (presumably cattle dealing) at Farm 718154 on their eastward journey. There was some unidentified activity around Farm 617112, which was to become an enemy HQ on 26 Feb.

1530 Brigade Commander visited 6 Innisks.

1830 Canadian Officers left this HQ on posting to bttns.

½ Squadron 2 Lothians came under command 38 Brigade, as ordered.

A message was received from 6 Armoured Divisions that “there are indications of a possible enemy thrust westward in the next three days.” The information was passed to bttns.

Brigade letter was sent in reply to Divisional letter calling for report on AFVs (Appendix 33).

6 Armoured Division Intelligence Summary contained an explanation of the Arab exodus which had been noted on 12 Feb.  “Enquiries about Arab exodus reveal that the Germans are offering 55 francs a day for working behind the lines, with facilities for buying salt, olive oil, tobacco and clothes. It may be that the Germans, finding the Arabs, having been giving away their positions, have been adopting various methods of removing them from the combat areas.


1 RIrF – GRANDSTAND HILL.  

The events and activities of the night are recorded in the Appendix.

0640 Two recces took place concurrently, one of 2.i.c. and D Coy commander, and the second of CO, OCs A & B Coys and Mortar Officer finally to determine the method of holding Grandstand with two coys only

1830 Work on the transforming of positions already dug into a new two coy defensive position with interconnected section posts (also if possible with communication by trench to platoon HQ in order to cover every approach with fire commenced).

2000 OC D Coy and IO with an RE recce party tied up the details of the broadening of minefield from the front of Grandstand southward to 120 feet.


6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD.

Another day of administration. No conference and no movement during hours of light. Warning order issued from Division of possible enemy thrust west from Pont Du Fahs to Bou Arada in next three days. All coys warned. Fine day with drying wind.


2 LIR.

0930 Commanding Officer’s conference. Move tonight CHQ E Company and 1 platoon same area. one platoon E Company to 16 Platoon area. 1 platoon to H Company’s area, Company HQ H Company to wadi 6307 (part of counter attack force under 2-i-C). G and F Companies same position. 2 anti-tank guns in battalion HQ area.

1900 Fighting patrol ‘Salt’ to farm 617112 but nothing to report.  

2000 Battalion HQ at farm 638078 BHQ transport and carriers in Olive grove 624077. H Company in position in wadi 634014.



14th February

Brigade HQ  – BOU ARADA.

Contain was obtained on the north east slope of Barka, where the enemy were dug in, and movement was observed at W Huts 661083 and south east slope of Ploughtop.

Brigade Intelligence Summary was issued and the conclusion was drawn that the enemy had a platoon position on the reverse slope of Barka with possibly an OP forward and that further north, the enemy had come forward in W Hill area (6608).

There was comparatively little movement during the day. But an OP (?) was spotted at 678088 and Farm 654129 showed signs of occupation.

2340 Message was received from 6 Armoured Division asking for a return of vehicles required to move a Bttn and the time needed to get them. Also, the time required for a relief.  A reply was prepared but no action had, at present, to be taken.

On this day, a letter sent to bttns on the 25 pounder Base Ejection Propaganda shell. This was a copy of 6 Armoured Division letter on the subject.

A letter was sent to bttns dealing with Divisional reserve company 5704 and B Squadron 2 Lothians in Brigade reserve (Location 582016 until ground dries).Tanks were then due to move to 625068 and counter attack plans would be modified accordingly.

6 Armoured Division forwarded a copy of letter on reinforcements from 5 Corps to O2E in which representation were made for wounded officers of 38 Brigade to return to their units when fit.

Orders were received for an Armoured Regimental Group under command 26 Armoured Brigade to move to Siliana. Half Squadron 2 Lothians would no longer be under command 38 Brigade.

Royal Artillery 6 Armoured Division published an order expressing the intention to pretend that the divisional artillery had been reinforced. The object was to conceal the movement of artillery to the south and the method was to employ 3 roving sections night 14/15 Feb and day 15 Feb.


1RIrF – GRANDSTAND HILL. 

The events and activities of the night are recorded in the Appendix.

Am Liaison with 72 A/Tk Regiment RA finally settled to general satisfaction. The layout of A/Tk defences within the bttn area, both 6 pounder and 2 pounder being sited in one scheme.     


6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD.

CO held conference at 1000 hrs to discuss many admin and operational points – the latter based on Divisional Commander’s letter. A Coy to change over with D Coy tonight who will go into reserve area and be at three hours notice less one platoon to go into Divisional reserve.

There is too much movement by day – this to be controlled by bttn and Coy HQ. Slit trenches to be developed into section and platoon localities. Fire discipline – shoot to kill – don’t waste ammo – it is not easy to sit up during a battle. Never fire at extreme range or when the enemy is about to take cover. Keep tidy – alertness at  night – equipment must be worn by all in forward area by night and at Bttn HQ have equipment on or by own side. Pioneer Officer to go round coys with 75 gun and RE mine and explain to coys. Salvage – signallers have collected several reels of wire – will get some more from B Coy positions, Saluting and general smartening up of bttn. Coys warned to keep containers for returns – warning has been received we are going on the bulk returns. Every man must now be especially careful of this 48 hr emergency reserve. Now no reserve for replacement. Armourer to go round and inspect cookers.

1430 CO and Adjutant spend two hours trying to find a place for Bttn HQ. It is felt that it would not be possible to run a battle from this farm. A site is selected – not a good one below D Coy hill. No cover what so ever and a very shallow gully.

Two three ton lorries of…..arrived last night – and three more tonight – 3 are coming tomorrow.

Instructions have been received to make this a strongly held locality. Before, the policy has been to not put down wire so not to give the position away.

Three Canadians joined the bttn yesterday and are posted onto the WE on the unit. Capt Kingsmill, Royal Regiment of Canada is posted to C Coy under Major Little. Lieut Curphey. West Nova Scotia to B Coy under Capt Bayley, and Sgt Sortie Mountie Royal Fusiliers is posted to A Coy under Major Bunch. Sgt Sortie is an expert in explosives. Curphey was in the Dieppe raid and Capt Kingsmill was an Brigade Major in the Canadian Army.

Lt Fielden and one fusilier to go out to see what the mysterious growth of trees on Mehallah are. But they soon return and for another Tommy Gun – and for some more men. He says the enemy unusually lively. Saw 3 and then 10 on pt 286 – they seem to be digging and there was noise of at least a platoon in gully east of 286. The gunners decide this is a … target. After the gunners had finished, Lt Fielden with reinforcements went out again. They reported the shelling had not been without effect and that at least two Germans were killed. Owing to the increase in enemy activity, it was not possible to reach Mehallah.


2 LIR.

1845 Fighting patrol ‘Barley’ to farm 617112 but nothing to report.

1900 Fighting patrol ‘Hops’ to farms 616102/642123/633105, they had nothing to report.



15th February

Brigade HQ – BOU ARADA. 

Four 6-pounders of 72 A/Tk Regiment were replaced in forward area by four infantry 6-pounders.

Half Squadron 2 Lothians ceased to be under command and left Brigade area.

Patrol made contact with a position at W Hill 6608. Enemy movement and a probable position were observed on east side pt 286 and in the gully beyond.

Civilians questioned at Farm 617112 affirmed that Germans used wadis to reach hills to the west in daylight and are and slept in W huts. These farmers were convinced that the Germans meant to infiltrate into the hills with a view to attack.

Intelligence Summary was issued.

During the day, more movement of flocks and herds were reported and a series of built up our dug positions appeared on pt 286. There were also signs of a day OP at Mehallah.

0930 Lieut Harrison (Brigade IO) recced a concentration area for two bttns between Gafour and El Aroussa. This had to be done in case Brigade was relieved on present position.

1030 Col Green, Commander 18 CT visited this HQ. He was recce-ing a counter attack role as 18 CT had been taken from Mezjez area into Corps reserve

2030 Brigade Commander, Brigade Major, Staff Captain and Commander 152 Field Regiment held a conference to discuss the problem of supplying and commanding troops on 6 Armoured Divisional front. It was possible that HQ 6 Armoured Division would move south leaving Brigade Command to control a force consisting of 38 Brigade, 1 Parachute Brigade, 10 Rifle Brigade, 17/21 Lancers (less one squadron), 152 Field Regiment and remainder Divisional Artillery.


1 RIrF – GRANDSTAND HILL.

The events and activities of the night are recorded in the Appendix.

Normal activity – nothing to report.


6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD. 

1000 Patrolling Conference.

Pioneers busy preparing Bttn HQ.


2 LIR.

1845 Patrol ‘Daisy’ to lie up in ambush area 209 (wadi and track) – nothing to report.

1900 Patrol ‘Rose’ to track 618128 via wadi 614127 – nothing to report.