1st February

Brigade HQ – BOU ARADA. 

A letter was sent to bttns stating that 6 pounder guns were being issued as they became available.

Intelligence Summary issued and the following conclusion drawn: “Enemy appears to be attempting to build up positions (in what strength it is not known) on our North flank. It may be observed that should enemy attack our present positions, he would have to use a plan, which would neutralise our artillery superiority. This might be done from the heights north of our artillery positions with MGs and mortars.”

0830 Two enemy planes on recce fly low over this HQ. Following information reported from 10 RB patrol night 31 Jan/1 Feb, a platoon made daylight recce from 589081 to high ground 5912. There was sign of enemy or digging on the way.

1800 Movement (checked and found to be enemy) was reported at 615165. Farm 615162 was stated by Arabs to be German occupied.

A memorandum was received by Commander 6 Armoured Division Signals “supporting and infantry support by controlled artillery fire.” Comms of FOOs and artillery OPs were discussed and it was emphasised that physical contact between infantry commander and FOO was not the best solution to the problem.

Coy 10 RBs standing by was ordered to move to Argoub and relieve Bttn 1 Parachute Brigade.


1 RIrF – GRANDSTAND HILL.

0530 Bttn HQ commenced moving.

0730 Bttn HQ opened. Old location reopened 640076.

During the day, normal activities continued (ie resting as much as possible, work etc being done by night). Major BH Butler had 24 hr rest at HQ 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade.

It was decided to withdraw C Coy from the exposed forward position it had occupied on Ragoubet Lalla Hanna 6525 since 25 Dec’42 and replace them with B Coy.


6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD.

The patrolling for night 31 Jan/1 Feb is of a purely recce nature as it is our new area.

C Coy send out Lieut Myler, a sergeant and corporal to recce Mehalla C 6707.

D Coy send out Lieut Wood, a sergeant and a corporal to recce Barka J 6705 and J 6706.

0020 Lt Wood, who encountered enemy recce patrol is sent out again with another six men as fighting patrol.

0215 Lt Myler reported back – had also seen enemy recce patrol, in about the same area as D Coy patrol.

0340 Lt Wood reported back – he had not been able to find any enemy.

1000 CO holds usual patrol coordinating conference. The following patrols for night 1/ 2 are arranged. C Coy to send out fighting patrol under Sgt O’Donnell to area where enemy recce patrols were seen last night.

D Coy to establish two watch and warning patrols on forward slopes of pt 279. Capt McCaldin and Lieut Motherwell and 1 OR to go nine miles into enemy territory as far as J 7207 on recce and destructive mission.

1100 CO goes round MG positions with Capt Daly. 2.i.c. visits rear Brigade HQ to fix up small queries.

1130 Staff Captain arrives and asks if we have any queries.

1830 CO watches C Coy go out to night area.

A quiet evening. A warm sunny day.


2 LIR.

E Company move to area 6278 under command of 36 Infantry Brigade.

1840 Patrol ‘Drake’ to farm 641123, but had nothing to report.



2nd February

Brigade HQ – BOU ARADA.

Coy 10 RB moved from 5905 to Argoub as ordered. Patrols reported no movement west of rd Goubellat-Bou Arada, and made no contact east of east of rd though Cactus Farm (686085) was still occupied and there was digging on Mehallah. A mine laying patrol to area 7109 distributed copies of Africa Post.

Brigade Intelligence Summary was issued, including a trace of minefields in the Brigade area.

Command visited 6 Armoured Division and 1 Parachute Brigade (628998).

2 LIR took up positions as given in Intelligence Summary 3 Feb.


1 RIrF – GRANDSTAND HILL. 

The events and activities of this night are contained in the Appendix.

2050 Normal activity – B Coy 6 Innisks ceased to be under command. Capt DR Le P Gethin promoted A/Major wef 22 Jan 43. Lieut MJ Macdonald promoted A/Capt wef same date.


6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD. 

0600 CO sees D Coy come in from their night area.

1000 Patrol coordinating conference. C Coy will send fighting patrol to clean up Barka and D Coy a fighting patrol to clear up Mehalla.

D Coy will also have some watch and warn patrols as last night and send a standing patrol between D and RIrF’s positions.

1030 Warning from Brigade; B Coy still under command 1 RIrF will probably be relieved tonight and go into reserve.

Another NAAFI supply is issued during the morning – each man gets 130 cigarettes (90 Ardath, 40 Woodbine) – a box of matches – a bar of chocolate – a small supply of soap – writing paper and envelopes – chewing gum. Razor blades were all issued to the lucky few. Everyone wants to know where the decent cigarettes get to – the last three issues were State Express 333 cork tipped and Ardath. The favourite cigarette with the troops is definitely Players or Capstans. A fresh supply of Irish whiskey (no Scotch) is allotted to officers.

Adjutant is given 3 bottles of whisky and 2 bottles of lemon squash to allocate to 4 officers. Decides to draw for it and amid much mirth he gets the cordial. But later 2.i.c. produces another bottle of Irish from up his sleeve so all is well.

1200 2.i.c. visits Field Cashier and draws money for coy pay. He comes back with the news the franc is only now worth 200 franc for £1. But to make up for it, we are to get Egyptian notes of colonial allowance. No one can find out what this is, or what colonial allowance we are drawing now.

1800 News gradually trickles through that B Coy are being relieved by a Coy of 2 LIR and that they are going back into reserve, and that they will all get a bath tomorrow from a mobile bath unit at Gafour. This is the first time we have heard of or used a Bath unit since our arrival in this country.

Our water truck has broken down after much hard work over all kinds of hard ground. Brigade are sending a 3 ton water truck round with the ration lorry.

The recent spell of hot weather has awoken the flies from their winter coma – extra precautions must be taken with latrines especially in this gully where we now are.

CO and Capt Little watch Lieut Dicker take Coy out and put them into their night positions.

1900 The party of 1 squadron Parachute Bttn RE attached to us are ordered to go. We are sorry to lose them – they are grand chaps. But one of their Sergeants is out in enemy territory, blowing up vehicles and laying mines.

2130 B Coy report that they have handed over to a company 2 LIR.


2 LIR.

1200 Battalion warned to be prepared to move tonight to 10th Battalion Rifle Brigade area.

1330 Commanding Officers’ conference. Gives orders as follows. Battalion will take over the following positions from 10th Battalion Rifle Brigade, H Company 683/5808 and area to north, E Company 612083 G Company 625089, Battalion HQ 615082, F Company take over from 6th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers at 323/636088 in support of C Battery 152 Field Regiment (Ayrshire Yeomanry).

1410 Commanding Officer and Company Commanders move off to recce new area.

2100 Battalion HQ established 612080, E Company 612080 F Company 632082, G Company 621085, H Company point 683/5808.



3rd February

Brigade HQ – BOU ARADA. 

Intelligence Summary was issued and the following conclusion stated: “Enemy are still opposite us, but as previously thought, they appear possibly to be very thin in the forward areas. Possibly many troops, which were forward, are now in reserve area west or north of Lake Sebkret El Kourzia.

A trace of the Brigade dispositions on this date is attached, at Appendix 5.

0950 Order received from 6 Armoured Division, placing C Squadron Derbyshire Yeomanry, u/c 38 Brigade, for recce on north flank. Remainder Derbyshire Yeomanry were to move to Tebessa u/c II US Corps, night 3/4 Feb.

During the day, observations of artillery and Derbyshire OPs confirmed continued activity in areas 7114, 7115. Farm 731157 was still active and the impression that it was an HQ was strengthened.

1 Parachute Bttn and 1 Commandos Brigade (less one bttn) were to attack south from Bou Arada to cut the main road area O 7588.

1430 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade OO No 11 was issued with intention: “38 Brigade will carry out a diversion on morning 4 Feb in support of this attack.” The plan included an infantry demonstration for a limited distance east from the north end of Grandstand (6507) and a demonstration by two troops of tanks at hill 640065.

On this day, Brigade Command visited 6 Armoured Division.

Information was received that samples of bullet proof tyres were urgently required, and a letter was issued to bttns.


1 RIrF – GRANDSTAND HILL. 

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

1100 CO met with Commander 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade at Farm 628058 and received orders, the detail of which is included in the Appendix.

1430 Bttn O Group met at Bttn HQ and B Coy were ordered to provide one platoon to do the diversion ordered above, and 3” mortar platoon to add more local smoke cover than was provided by the artillery plan.

1930 Codeword ‘Standby’ received.


6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD. 

0115 B Coy report they have reached new positions.

Patrol report for night 2/3 attached.

0600 CO and Padre go out and see D Coy come in from night position. Padre stays with D Coy all day.

1000 CO’s conference. Patrol coordinating conference is left in abeyance – pending result of conference CO is attending at Brigade.

1100 CO and IO attend conference at Brigade.

1500 O Group conference. There is a battle going on around Mansour. As a diversion, a ‘Chinese Attack’ is going to be staged in this area tomorrow. Two troops 16/5 Lancers artillery, with plenty of smoke and platoon of 1 RIrF are directly concerned. Our role is to be prepared for a possible counter attack. 16/5 Lancers are operating in our area.

Main patrols for tonight are as follows: Sgt O’Donnell and 10 men from C Coy to comb Barka and destroy any enemy found there.

Lieut Myler and 10 men from C Coy to comb Mehalla and destroy any enemy found there.

Lieut Wood and three sections of 4 men to lie up and wait until a usual enemy patrol is seen and then engage it and destroy or capture it.

Pioneer Officer is given the task of erecting a cement base at A Echelon for the rest camp – there is plenty of cement available at the farm where the RAP is situated.

Our 2 pounder A/Tk guns are gradually to be replaced by 6 pounder guns as they become available. One has so far arrived. The Armoured Sergeant and another NCO from A/Tk platoon report to 72 A/Tk Regiment for short course on maintenance of the 6 pounder gun.

Died on this Day:

Fusilier William Kelly, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.


2 LIR.

2100 Patrol ‘Lux’ to White Gable Farm but had nothing to report

1900 Patrol ‘Silvo” to farm 617112, but had nothing to report.

0200 Patrol ‘Sunlight’ along path running North and South 5910 but nothing to report.



4th February

Brigade HQ – BOU ARADA.

Fighting patrols to Barka and Mehallah made no contact, but digging was reported on the forward slopes of Birrebal (6609).

A letter was sent to Bttns fixing the patrol boundary between 6 Innisks and 1 RIrF.

Brigade Command wrote a letter to 6 Armoured Division on the subject of Not Yet Diagnosed (NYD). The letter stated as follows: “It is understood that concern is felt at 21 cases of NYD being evacuated during the action of 2 LIR on 21/22 Jan. This is understandable, but at the same time, I think it is desirable that all concerned should be fully in the picture of the movements of this Bttn prior to the action, and the action itself (and so have the right background).

Brigade Commander also wrote letter to 6 Armoured Division asking that the role of A/Tk Regiment might be changed by a Divisional directive.

6 Armoured Division OO No 12 was received, expressing the intention: “6 Armoured Division will deny the use of the rd Pont Du Fahs–Robaa to the enemy between both including rd junction O7894–O7687.”

38 Brigade Intelligence Summary was issued.

During the day, considerable vehicle movement was noticed round the farms in the back areas on 38 Brigade front.


1 RIrF – GRANDSTAND HILL.  

The events and activities of this night are given in the Appendix.

Activities and routines were normal except that the diversion which had been postponed was expected to be required during the afternoon.

1900 2/Lt Smith reported on joining and was posted to B Coy as first posting.


6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD. 

1000 CO Conference of Coy Commanders and Coy deputies. Following patrols laid on for tonight Sgt McAleer and 10 to take fighting patrol to swamp over pt 286 and Barka.

Lt Davidson and 2 ORs to go deep into enemy territory to crossroad J 741051 as opportunity to patrol and recce.

They will be carrying mines and lay them if an opportunity permits.

1030 Brigade Major calls and talks about comms 1st Army one going to run for MMG, 6 pounder A/Tk and then laying and lifting.

1200 Staff Captain calls and CO and Adjutant settle a few points on how to get rid of dud officers – after, it was necessary. Honours and Awards recommendations.

1400 Six signalmen go to Brigade A Echelon for 7 to 10 day course on the 19 set.

1430 CO visits B Coy in their rest area.

1700 CO sees Lieut Davidson and ties up ends about his patrol.

1730 2.i.c. goes off for 24 hrs rest and bath at Brigade HQ.

We are told to send back to Bone for three deserters. It is decided to send Sgt Salt, Orderly Room Sergeant, who needs a rest from bumph and typewriters.

It is hoped while there or on the way he may be able to pick up a few comforts – papers, writing paper, envelopes etc – NAAFI supply is not sufficient.

1800 Fifty men of Bttn HQ and Support Coy go back to rest area – mainly for bath. They will return tomorrow evening.


2 LIR.

1900 Patrol ‘Rags’ to Hir Traifa 640138 – nothing to report.

Standing patrol from dusk to dawn 649088 – nothing to report.

1700 Patrol ‘Bones’ to area point 720 569094, but nothing to report.



5th February

Brigade HQ – BOU ARADA. 

Again no movement was reported west of the road and a patrol north west into the hills found no trace of enemy. A patrol had a brush with a party covering digging on forward slopes of Bir Rabai. There was an enemy patrol south of pt 279 and enemy were again at area 6710.

Intelligence Summary was issued and the following conclusion drawn: “No identification of the enemy on this front has been obtained since the deserter of A.24 on 25 Jan 43. It is probable that a depleted A.24 backed up by a portion HGJR (exact strength and identification unknown) continue to occupy the ground from 68 grid lines to Sebkret el Kourzia.” Information own troops was issued to bttns as Appendix B to Intelligence Summary. During the day, minor vehicle activity was noticed in the back area and at farms in 6913 continued to be active. On this day, a message was sent informing Bttns that 56 Recce Regiment would be operating west of rd Goubellat-Bou Arada as far south as grid line 13. This was made the Brigade north limit of patrolling west of the road.


1 RIrF – GRANDSTAND HILL. 

The events and activities of this night are given in the Appendix.

Activities normal except that great attention was paid to observation of Ber Repoal 6609 as a result of the report by Patrol Alex and as a prelude to Patrol Hope. Some discolourations believed to be the spoil of newly dug slit trenches was noted


6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD. 

Conference at 1000 hrs to discuss patrols for tonight. Lt Dickie and 10 men from C Coy to approach Barka from the east, go over Mehallah and come back over pt 286.

Lt Davidson to go and lie up all day, south and east of Barka in farm and watch for enemy movement.

CO visits MO and A Coy during the morning.

1800 CO holds conference in RAP with Adjutant, MO and Pioneer Officer to sort all and try to fix where all our dead are buried. Good conference and much was accomplished.

1900 CO interviews five Fusiliers, who have been returned to the unit from Casualty Clearing Station. They are shell shocked cases but have to be interviewed and find out how/why things got to CCS and if they are fit to be in fighting unit. Four are found to be genuine cases and in the fifth case a doubtful case and it is suggested he be posted to Pioneer Unit.

2000 CO goes to see B Coy, who have taken over pt 279 from D Coy and D Coy have gone back for 48 hrs rest and baths at Gafour. The baths are much appreciated.


2 LIR.

0645 Mortar and tracer fire and red and white flares observed from battalion HQ approximate to area of 1st Battalion Parachute Regiment.

0940 Area 6607 dive bombed by JU 87s.

1820 Patrol ‘Lyles’ to farm 617112 (report that it had been occupied by 50/60 Germans three day previously).

1830 Patrol ‘Tate’ to ambush enemy using Cross tracks 591140 (nil result).