Brigade HQ – BOU ARADA.
Fighting patrols to Farms 633105 and 617112 had nothing to report. Some west to east movement of enemy vehicles was reported north east of the position.
Brigade Intelligence Summary was issued.
0800 2 LIR captured two men of A.24 at 611082, who had been wounded and stayed behind their coy.
1350 A Coy 1 RIrF advanced to 623090, and found it clear. Trace showing dispositions at Appendix 75.
Thirty men approached pt 286 and took up position. Sign of a relief. Patrol of 1 RIrF with object of harassing enemy supply lines made contact 633134 and inflicted casualties of enemy post of 8 and 2 MGs. Patrol attacked occupants, again laid up and took Cpl and L/Cpl PW. These were 1/A.24 and stated their Bttn was cooperating with I/HGJR.
1 RIrF – REST AREA.
Two patrols were sent out but neither achieved any result.
A Coy moved off to occupy Castle Hill, which it did without opposition.
The events of this night are recorded in detail in the Appendix. A trace is attached showing Bttn layout.
At 1100 hrs, 26 February 1943, orders were issued by Brigade for Major BH Butler, who was then acting CO to hand over command of the Bttn to Major JH Coldwell-Horsfall MC and move with a command group to A Echelon at 528054 and take command of a force consisting of a force consisting of half a squadron of 142 (Suffolk Regiment) RAC, A Coy 1 RIrF and one group of 72 A/Tk Regiment. This force was to deal with the threat created by a force of enemy tanks accompanied by a lorried infantry moving southwards down the road Medjez-el-Bab to El Aroussa. Under orders of ‘Y’ Division, one squadron Derbyshire Yeomanry were already employed in a delaying role in keeping the enemy in debauching into the valley El Aroussa – Bou Arada until such time as the tanks could get into action.
On arrival at A Echelon, it was found that the tank squadron had already moved to deal with the threat under orders from Divisional HQ. After receiving orders from the Divisional Commander, Major Butler eventually contacted OC tank squadron, who was then in action at 489081 and had, by that time, stopped further progress by the enemy’s armoured units and had already knocked out a number of enemy tanks. At approximately 1600 hrs, a staff officer arrived from ‘Y’ Division with orders that the infantry Coy was not to be committed to any forward movement but was to fall back to positions on the road Medjez-el-Bab to El Aroussa for the night covered during the move back by the tanks, who was then to be withdrawn behind the positions as soon as the infantry was established.
At 1830 hrs, A Coy 1 RIrF had established themselves in or around Farm Mtat El Kremguit 481048 when a liaison officer arrived from ‘Y’ Division ordering Major Butler to HQ ‘Y’ Division with A Coy 1 RIrF to form a defensive island at that place for the night. The object of this move was to protect Divisional HQ against an expected attack by a German Parachute Bttn known to be in the mountains to the north. The squadron of tanks was ordered into an anti tank position covering El Aroussa, which was also to form a defensive island. Major Butler and A Coy established themselves at Divisional HQ shortly after dark. During the night 26/27 February, heavy rain fell but no attack developed.
At 1700 hrs 27 February 43, the situation on the road Medjez-el-Bab to El Aroussa having been partially cleared, Major Butler and A Coy were ordered to return to the Bttn.
6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD.
Unusual enemy activity noticed.
0930 Enemy aircraft activity – flying high in air by artillery and vehicles.
0930 Mortar shelling on hills behind.
0945 Mortar shelling on Grandstand.
1000 Mortar shelling on Grandstand.
1300/1340 Mortar bomb on Sidi Aik.
1410 We put down Monkey target on Stop Farm.
1700 3 Stukas dropped bombs in HQ Coy area.
1930 Unusual dog barking in W village. Flashing of torches on Two Tree Hill.
To sum up, the month was one of active patrolling and endurance. The strain is beginning to tell on many of the men and the number of nervous cases is on the increase.
Patrol programme and reports are attached for the month.
1200 9 Platoon take up former positions. 7 Platoon move to Mosque Hill.
1230 Patrol from G Company move to top of Castle Hill.
1530 One company 1st Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers take over Castle Hill from patrol.
1630 Three Junkers 87 dive bomb near road on front of brigade positions.
1900 Battalion HQ moves back to former position in wadi 623077. During the morning the ground east of E Company positions was heavily mortared.