6th February

Brigade HQ – BOU ARADA. 

Patrols to Barka, Mehallah, Greenpoint, W Hill, and Birrabal reported no sign of enemy.

38 Brigade Intelligence Summary was issued and the following conclusion drawn: “In estimating the results of last night’s patrols, the extreme darkness must be remembered. Therefore, Barka cannot be assumed entirely clearly, though present indications point to this conclusion.”

Information own troops was distributed to bttns as Appendix B to above summary: “Following the withdrawal from Djebel Mansour and Djebel Allilica, the intention of 6 Armoured Division is to prevent any advance of enemy NW towards Bou Arada.”

During the day, no movement was seen west of the main road. The back areas showed the usual degree of activity.

1530 Brigade Order was issued for move of A Echelon to Olive Grove (5205). For some time it had been felt that the position of A Echelon at 5216 was exposed, an impression which was borne out by the event of 26 Feb.


1 RIrF – GRANDSTAND HILL.

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

Activity normal. Some enemy movement observed at Farm 640108 and two tanks at Cactus Farm 685087.

1330 CRA 6 Armoured Division lunched at HQ 1 RIrF and told the CO and some of his officers the story of the battle for Djebels Mansour and Allaliqa, which had been taking place south of Bou Arada 6301.

1630 Miss Virginia Cowles authoress of “Looking for Trouble” escorted by Commander, 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade took tea at Bttn HQ and was afterwards shown the ground in Grandstand Hill, occupied by 1 RIrF since 22 Jan ‘43.


6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD.

1000 CO holds conference ref patrols for the night. Davidson, who is staying out today, is returning via Mehallah. Barka and pt 286 after dark and recce anything he has seen during his watch.

Other points brought out at conference – don’t let routine lead to slackness – don’t be surprised – if attacked by tanks, stay in your hole – what measures have Coy ready for immediate action against tanks – 75 grenades only have them primed when tactical situation demands – case required where dumps of 75 grenades are made.

Major Bunch has busy day as President of three Court Martials at Brigade HQ. Fusilier Sandus of this unit is one of the accused and is tried for attempting to desert and W/D M/c and petrol for his own use – he is found guilty.

1800 CO goes to back to Brigade HQ for bath and 24 hrs rest.

During the afternoon, Brigadier brings round Virginia Cowles, the writer and newspaper correspondent, to see the Bttn. She also visits 1 RIrF and 2 LIR.

The fine weather has broken – a drizzly day. We must hope against hope we do not get a downpour or much rain as this gulley will not be inhabitable.


2 LIR.

1400 Patrol ‘Fisher’ to huts 617118 – nothing to report.

0900 Patrol ‘Nelson’ to farm 617112 – nothing to report.



7th February

Brigade HQ – BOU ARADA. 

Miss Virginia Cowles visited bttns and HQ 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade.

Patrols to Hehallah, Beecher’s Brook 678088 and area 6710 found nothing. Patrol to Barka was engaged by MG fire (probably from an ambush.)

During the day, movement was slight, activity continuing in the hills north of the lake.

38 Brigade Intelligence Summary was issued.

A letter was sent to 6 Armoured Division on the subject of “Training of Reinforcements.”  Recent experiences were narrated in detail and certain suggestions mainly on Specialist Training were put forward.


1 RIrF – GRANDSTAND HILL. 

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

Activities normal. Nothing to report.


6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD. 

0030 Lieut Davidson’s patrol reports back in bits. 2.i.c. has difficulty in sorting out the reports and places where they were fired on. Lt Davidson was wounded in both legs and arm. One OR was also wounded, and there are three ORs missing. A quiet day.

1800 C Coy went back to rest area and D Coy take their place.

CO has another night at Brigade HQ. Certain patrol activity during the night.. go into minefield farm.


2 LIR.

2000 Patrol ‘Stockings’ to farm 617112 – nothing to report.

1900 Patrol ‘Socks’ to farms 641123, 633105 – nil result.



8th February

Brigade HQ – BOU ARADA.

Patrols to area 6812, west side Two Tree Hill and Mehallah had no contact, but an enemy patrol was spotted on Barka.

Intelligence Summary was issued. A description of a Panzer KW VI was given in Appendix A, para 6.

56 Recce Regiment patrol was engaged by 2” mortars, LMG, and rifle fire from Farm 642123. Enemy was spotted by heavy mortar from east of the main road. There was an unconfirmed report that the firer of the 2” mortar was in civilian clothes. The owner of this farm had given false information already, probably owing to fear of the enemy, who had recently abducted several French farmers and were reported to have cleared all doubtful civilians out of the area in the early part of the Tunisian campaign.

A letter was received from 6 Armoured Division on the PIAT equipment (Jeffreys Projector). This was said to be an effective A/Tk weapon up to 10 yards.


1 RIrF – GRANDSTAND HILL. 

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

Area near Bttn HQ dive bombed. No casualties. Lt Col TPD Scott went to Brigade HQ for 48 hrs rest, command devolving on Major BH Butler


6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD.

Usual weeks’ conference. Staff Captain calls and settles points with 2.i.c. and adjutant and stays for a cup of tea during the morning.

2.i.c. and Capt Daly do recce to fire on firing range.

0930 The farms around the bttn are bombed by twelve Stukas. No casualties in the bttn. Lieut Wood took up duties yesterday to understudy Adjutant and IO. Takes three summaries during the morning on three fusiliers, who had found their way back to Bone.

1600 Adjutant has tea with 1 RIrF and enjoys some chocolate biscuits made from the Compo rations.

1730 Seven Hurri bombers with six Spitfires make a frequent appearance – it is thought that they are looking for a supposed formation. If enemy tanks in hills east of Goubellat. But later a report is received that they are haystacks.

Two officer recce parties.

Lt McVie to recce Mehallah and Lt Ablett to recce Barka – both had positive reports.


2 LIR.

Sixteen Stukas dive-bombed area from 635048 – Hill 279. One bomb fell near farm 637083.

1020 RAs report possible concentration of enemy tanks in area 673140.

1730 Twelve Hurri-bombers escorted by 8 Spitfires bombed area 6814/6914.

2100 Patrol ‘Oak’ to wadi and high ground 595127.

2000 Patrol ‘Beech’ to farm 633105 – nil result.



9th February

Brigade HQ – BOU ARADA.

A kidnapping patrol to 6710 drew a blank. A line party was seen on Mehallah and own patrols were ambushed at Greenpoint and Barka . Our patrols had been recently using the same routes and appeared to be ready for them.

Intelligence Summary was issued.

Am A/Tk practice for the infantry 6 pounder crews were held area J 4705.

A Echelon moved to Olive Grove 5205.

Note – During the early part of the month infantry 6 pounder crews received training from NCOs of 72 A/Tk Regiment at brigade HQ 592104.

1300 A motor cyclist in leather jacket “looking completely English” rode south to north through 1 RIrF positions. Shots were fired in front of him, but he rode through the minefield 648090 and onto Goubellat.

During the day there was fairly heavy shelling of different points in area 6308 – 6505 from 0820 hrs to 1420 hrs, mostly by Field Artillery from Hir Chelri (7106) or Sidi Mabrouk (7506).

1955 Letter was received from 6 Armoured Division on the Boyes A/Tk rifle. 


1 RIrF – GRANDSTAND HILL. 

Details of the activities of this night are given in the Appendix.

Died on this Day:

Fusilier Wiliam Ross, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Corporal William McCartney, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Fusilier Denis Flanagan, Royal Irish Fusiliers.


6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD.

1000 Usual patrol conference. In the light of Ablett’s recce patrol, it is decided to send C Coy over Barka to destroy or capture all enemy found there. The day is spent tying up an elaborate programme with a wealth of Artillery support. The final details are fixed at conference held at 1430. C Coy are to move up from their rest area to SP battery 1830 and move off at 1845.

1730 Brigadier rings up and cancels the party. It is now too late to lay on any patrols for the night.

1610 We are told to send a guide to Siliana to collect 47 reinforcements at 2000. The guide is informed when he arrives that there are no reinforcements there, but they would probably be at El Aroussa. The guide was too late to see the supply point at El Aroussa and returns empty handed.


2 LIR.

0725 Exchange of shelling by our artillery and Germany artillery.

1800 Twelve JU 87s dive-bombed Guards Brigade and 2nd Lothian & Border Horse Regiment including 7099.

1930 Heavy machine gun fire heard south east of battalion HQ.

1500 Fighting Patrol ‘Eagle’ to Tank Junction 574114 and grid line 13 Tank Junction 593130 – nil result.

2359 Recce Patrol ‘Robin’ to farm 645102 had nothing to report.

1930 Fighting Patrol ‘Rook’ to farm 617112 Roman Ruins 617129 and 617118.

1915 Standing Patrol at Stop Farm 646102. Reached at 2030 hrs. German sentry contacted patrol and gave alarm. Shots were exchanged and patrol dispersed. One man missing.

Died on this Day:

Rifleman James McIntyre, London Irish Rifles.



10th February

Brigade HQ – BOU ARADA.

Enemy was found in Farm 645102.

Kidnapping patrols north east from 648099 drew blank, but an enemy patrol was suspected 6605.

Brigade Intelligence Summary was issued.

During the day, OPs of C Squadron Derbyshire Yeomanry reported considerably more movement than usual north and west of Sebkret El Kourzia. There was a good deal of movement at Farm 714144 and Cactus 735149 and Farm 714134 were also active.

2030 6 Armoured Division forwarded information from a Arab source that a German patrol strength 30-90 passed nightly through village 549166.

A replay was sent to Division, message ref A/Tk rifles. It was decided to retain them.

A letter on non movement period was received from 6 Armoured Division: “In order to deceive the enemy as to our actions and intentions 12 and 13 Feb will be observed ‘as no movement days in the Divisional Area.” Bttns were informed and special measures taken at Brigade HQ to prevent movement in front of the farm.

6 Armoured Divisional letter was received, asking for reports on questions connected with AFVs. 38 Brigade had to answer as follows:

  1. Is there a requirement for 2 pounder HE ?
  2. Is there a requirement for 6 pounder AP/HE even if penetration performance is not up to standard of APCBC?

It was decided that HE shell was useful for close support of infantry and especially against buildings and MG posts.

6 Armoured Division Standing Operation Instruction No 4 “A/Tk gun defence of infantry positions” was received. This was forwarded to bttns on 12 Feb.

Letter was sent to bttns on “No Transport Day 11 Feb.”


1 RIrF – GRANDSTAND HILL.

Details of the activities of this night are given in the Appendix.

Lt-Col TPD Scott resumed command of the bttn on his return from a rest at HQ 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade.

1700 CO and IO attended conference at HQ 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade at which many general points noted in the campaign to date were brought out, a summary of the strengths and lay out of the forces opposed to each other in this theatre was given. The decision was made that in order to provide a Brigade wide reserve – one coy per bttn should be withdrawn from “the line”, into a rest area a little way back, one at a time. In so far as it affected 1 RIrF, it entailed the thinning out of the defences of Grandstand to two coys only, reducing and withdrawing altogether the platoon covering the gap between that hill and pt 279 by night. Patrol policy was also discussed and it was decided that fewer patrols should be sent out, but that by means of preceding all fighting patrols with a recce the previous night, all should be made effective.

Lieut JL Baggs joined and was posted.


6 Innisks  – IN THE FIELD. 

0130 ..arrives with 46 reinforcements, which had arrived at A Echelon.

It is pointed out that Siliana is 30 miles from this unit’s location.

The bttn is now up to WE in ORs but still deficient of six officers. Rifle Coy strengths are A – 105, B – 105, C -104, D – 103.

This is due to the calls of A/Tk platoon and Vickers Guns allotted to bttn without extra strength in men of W/E. This draft consists of a good proportion of fusiliers and 1st reinforcements and B Echelon left in Scotland.

1000 Usual conference. Lt McVie is going to take fighting patrol to Mehallah as a result of his recce patrol. CO spends some time in administrative details.

1030 CO interviews Lieut Clark and Guiler, also CQMS Emerson and Lt Dupe. A Coy went back to rest camp at first light and C Coy took over from them.

1453 Brigadier and Corps Commander visit Bttn.

During the afternoon, Capt Little, Capt Daly and Rowlette found the artillery under instruction of Major Knox, 152 Field Regiment RA.

1530 All patrolling for night is cancelled – it is to be a gunners night. There certainly does not seem to be a shortage of 25 pounder ammunition.

1700 CO accompanied by IO attends conference at Brigade HQ.

1810 Heavy rain starts to fall and hopes of all of us centred on the dam at entrance to gully, but Pioneer Sergeant thinks it will hold.

2115 CO and IO return from Brigade very wet and very cold. O Group Conference is ordered for 1000 hrs, 11 Feb 43.


2 LIR.

0900 Captain TWH Wilson and French interpreter to recce Stop Farm. Body discovered of missing man at 634094. German articles found indicating lying up.

1600 All patrols night 11/12 February cancelled. Only patrol to Stop Farm to bring back body of man killed on previous night.

1600 Corps Commander visited battalion.

Pm Stop Patrol bring back body of man killed the previous night.

(Irish Brigade note: details of those who died with the 2nd Battalion of the London Irish Rifles show that Rifleman James McIntyre died on 9 February and was the only member of the battalion to lose his life in this period.)