War Diaries – 16th to 20th February 1943

16th February

Brigade HQ – BOU ARADA.

A/Tk 6-pounder practice took place area 4705.

Half Squadron 17/21 Lancers came under command Brigade in area 625068.

B Coy 1 RIrF moved from Grandstand into reserve at 605065.

There was no contact west of main road, though 2 LIR reported noise of tracked vehicles to the north (possibly laying mines on 5 Northamptons’ front). A recce of the north slopes of Bir Rebal, W Hill and Greenpoint revealed nothing; owing to the brightness of the moon it was difficult to get close enough to objectives for accurate observation. Enemy digging parties were spotted at pt 286 and Barka and subsequently shelled.

2300 Enemy patrol visited Streamroller Farm 513118 and killed 2 French soldiers and wounded 4. It appeared, judging from the distance covered, that enemy lay up in the hills west of the main road.

38 Brigade Intelligence Summary was issued. Appendix A para 4 stated: “Recce elements 21 Panzer Division is pushing west from Sidi Bou Zid towards Sbeitla and southwest towards Gafsa. Right flank of First Army is 1 Derbyshire Yeomanry (less two squadrons) operating in area Maknassy. They are in touch with long range desert group of Eighth Army.”

In the morning, movement of cattle and sheep was again observed and there was considerable vehicle activity north and west of the lake. Troop enemy artillery was firing at intervals throughout the day from area 7716.

1000 Brigade Commander visited Divisional HQ to discuss the move of 6 Armoured Division and the position thus created in the Divisional area.

Brigade Major visited 1 RIrF.

1430 Four very large objects (25’ x 12’ x 12’) came at 10mph south east from area 8420 west across country and disappeared behind feature at 8116. Their speed showed them to be mechanical and an observer likened them to large mobile iron cases. It is possible that they were covered 88mm guns, which stand very high off the ground.

1455 Warning order was received that HQ 6 Armoured Division would move night 16/17 Feb to area Maktar and HQ “Tigerforce” would be established at HQ Royal Artillery 495033 to command troops in Divisional area.

6 Armoured Division O 643 was received “For ‘Tigerforce’ read ’Y’ Division.”

Information was received regarding the A/Tk effectiveness of the 2-pounder and ST Mk 74 grenade. This was passed in a letter to bttns.

Major Manners, 3.i.c. 2 LIR had been put in charge of a Brigade counterattack force to be situated in area 6307. The reserve was to consist of two infantry companies, two sections carriers, three detachments mortars, two 2-pounder A/Tk guns, two sections MMG supported by three batteries Field Artillery. Divisional appreciation and plan was received at this HQ.

1600 Brigade Commander visited HQ Royal Artillery.

Tigerforce OO No 1 was issued.

“wef 1330 hrs1 6 Feb, 1 Parachute Brigade, 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade and all troops in Bou Arada sector came under command Tigerforce. Positions as held at present will be held to the last man and the last round, and the enemy harried to the greatest possible extent by offensive action of all kinds.”

The role of 38 brigade is defined in para 6.


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

Normal activity – nothing to report. Captain WJ Saul, the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, reported to this bttn for duty and was held at Bttn HQ pending posting.

6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD. 

Patrolling Conference. It is decided to move Bttn HQ by degrees during the afternoon, Advance Bttn HQ – CO, 2.i.c., Adjutant, IO and Support Officer with 32 employed personnel are forward in hut in ground, which has been made into quite a good HQ by the Pioneers. CO is keen to make this a ‘show HQ’. Orderly Room is named ‘War Office’. Intelligence Office – ‘Ministry of Information’. Cook House – “Ministry of Food’.

2 LIR.

1930 Fighting patrol ‘Red’ to farm 633105/618102 – nothing to report.

pm 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade now part of ‘Y’ Division.

17th February

Brigade HQ – BOU ARADA. 

No contact was made west of main road Goubellat-Bou Arada and recce patrols to Ploughtop and Bir Rabal added nothing to our knowledge of these areas.

Platoon 6 Innisks swept pt 286 and made contact at top 662072. They fired at enemy movement and inflicted casualties

Brigade Intelligence Summary was issued.

6 Armoured Division HQ moved out and ‘Y’ Division was established at 495033. CI Squadron Derbyshire Yeomanry went into Divisional reserve at O 5098.

Counterattack force was strengthened by addition of 2 LIR’s 2-pounders.

Order was received from ‘Y’ Division for 152 Field Regiment to be at 2 hr notice to move from 1600 hrs to join 6 Armoured Division. One field regiment (less two batteries) 46 Division was standing by to relieve.

Message was received from 56 Recce re patrols into the mountains. ‘Y’ Division Admin Order No 1 was received. Intention: “to maintain ‘Y’ Division and attached troops.”


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

Normal activity – nothing to report.

6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD.

Patrolling and Admin Conference 1000 hr. Quiet day.

2 LIR.

1600 Ambush Patrol ‘H’ ‘DE’ to 632128 – nothing to report.

1600 Ambush Patrol ‘Tan’ to 583118 – nothing to report.

18th February

Brigade HQ – BOU ARADA.

Recce patrol to north east to of Gribiana 6705, and south west slopes of Mehallah saw and heard nothing.

Slight activity was observed on Greenpoint and Ploughtop.

1 Parachute Bttn relieved 10 Rifle Brigade on Argoub. 10 Rifle Brigade concentrated in reserve Toutla.

Brigade Intelligence summary was issued.

1220 Low flying cannon attack was made on Brigade HQ by ME 109. There were no casualties.

1800 CRA commander, ‘Y’ Division visited this HQ.

1900/2000 Artillery HF programme was put down to cover noise of move of Squadron 17/21 Lancers from Medjez.

2100 Coy enemy attacked French positions 6894 supported by MGs and mortars.

During the day, little vehicle movement was observed, but visibility was poor after 1230 hrs.

38 Brigade Operation Instruction No 1 was issued “in the event of this Brigade being relieved in order that bttns can make detailed plans.”

Letter was issued to bttns emphasising points which had been raised at a recent Divisional A/Q conference.

Orders were received for half squadron 17/21 Lancers to leave area and revert under command 26 Armoured Brigade

A letter was Army Commander dated 7 Feb was forwarded by ‘Y’ Division, expressing concern at the lack of cooperation between forces of the Allied Armies.

Orders were received for ‘Y’ Division that active infantry patrolling was essential and that an identification must be obtained.


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

As a result of the non achievement of their object by the patrols of the preceding three nights, it was decided to select 10-15 of the best night patrollers of each rifle Coy and from them into a specialised body trained and used exclusively for night patrolling. The “force” to be under command of Capt PR Black, with as 2.i.c. Lieut MW Sutcliffe, the force to be named the ‘Nighthawks’ and the first enterprise of the force, a recce for a battle the following night, to be carried out that night by the commander and 2.i.c.  All plans were settled and the force was to be officially formed on 19 February. Capt WJ Saul, the Royal Winnipeg Rifles posted to A Coy as 2.i.c.

Died on this Day:

Captain Peter Black, Royal Irish Fusiliers, seconded from RUR.

6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD.

1000 Usual Conference. Another quiet day devoted to administration. There is more activity at night and CO keeps enemy alert by using plenty of artillery during the night. Major Knox, A Battery, 152 Field Regiment, sleeps next to CO and both are.. for targets. Patrols indicate targets.

2 LIR.

1900 Recce Patrol ‘Steel’ to huts 607107 and farm 617112 – nothing to report.

2100 Recce Patrol ‘Brass’ to farms 633105/642123/646113/646102 – nothing to report.

19th February

Brigade HQ – BOU ARADA. 

Contact was gained at pt 286, which was held by one platoon.

Half a Squadron 17/21 Lancers reverted under command 26 Armoured Brigade and left the area.

Brigade Intelligence Summary was issued.

During the morning, A/Tk practice took place area 4705.

Poor visibility prevented observation from OPs.

2100 A message was sent to bttns that a S/Sgt from SAS would demonstrate PIAT projector and listen to suggestions for improvement.

C Squadron Derbyshire Yeomanry were placed at 2 hrs notice to rejoin 6 Armoured Division.

Information was received that owing to wet weather C/142 RAC would remain night 19/20 in Divisional reserve El Aroussa.

RA ‘Y’ Division message was received, expressing the intention “to deceive enemy into expecting an attack in Bou Arada sector.”


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

Capt PG Black reported as killed by only un-hit member of his patrol. Lieut MW Sutcliffe wounded.

It was decided that owing to the loss on the same night of the two leaders selected for the ‘Nighthawks’, that the moonlight made patrolling inappropriate, and that as long at any rate that the moon continued in its current phase, patrolling should be confined to deep ‘Standing’ patrols; a moving patrol in the open stood little chance against enemy in dug in positions with heavy automatics on fixed lines, so that the best chance of success was to lie up and catch some of them moving and unprotected.

6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD.

1000 Usual daily Conference.

Very wet day. All roads, except the main roads, are impassable to traffic. D Coy come up during evening and relieve B Coy on pt 279. Lt Curphey, the Canadian, who is in B Coy, however stays with D as he wants to go out patrolling again until he gets a prisoner.

2 LIR.

1800 Patrol ‘London’ to ambush enemy 564091/564105 – nothing to report.

20th February

Brigade HQ – BOU ARADA.

There were no patrols out due to Artillery programme.

Brigade Intelligence Summary was issued. This included a description of German mine laying technique and a general picture of the Brigade front.

1640 During the day, enemy movement was slight, but at 1640 6 men were seen on Greenpoint.

1930 Message was sent to bttns dealing with Brigade boundary, arrangement of HF and patrol liaison with 11 Brigade.


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

Normal activity – nothing to report.

Major JW Dunnill returned to duty from hospital. Lieut WA Teed, North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment CAO posted to A Coy on reporting to duty. Captain GA MacLachlan, 1 Royal Regiment Canada posted.

Died on this Day:

Fusilier David Davies, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Fusilier William Parker, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD.

1000 Conference on patrolling and administration.

The weather clears up a bit and ground is still muddy and M/Cs are un-usable.

2 LIR.

0700 Schmeisser pistol fired at a NCO of E Company platoon 593096.