War Diaries – 16th to 20th February 1944

16th February


1100 Brigade now established. All vehicles broken down en route reported in bttn areas. 152 Field Ambulance and D Support Group now established in location.

Brigade location statement:

HQ 38 Brigade – N186848.

6 Innisks – N198846.

2 LIR – N189820.

1 RIrF – N190811.

D Support Group 1 Kensingtons – N1880.

17 Field Regiment RA – N193382.

254 A/Tk Battery RA – N1982.

214 Field Company RE – N205815.

294 Coy RASC – N1983.

280 LAA – N176829.

152 Field Ambulance – N 1784.

1 RIrF.

1130 Remaining vehicles arrived (one Ammunition lorry and HQ Coy 3 tonner).

Platoon training.

Read Lawrie Franklyn-Vaile’s letters.

6 Innisks – BELLONA.

Weather fine. Visibility good. Wind fresh.

The bttn spent the day cleaning up after the move, reorganising billets and checking admin points.

1150 A message was received from brigade instituting a one way circuit from the main Capua road–Bellona–Vitulazio and back to the main road. Traces and covering letters were issued to all concerned.

2 LIR.

0630 Morning dry and clear.

1400 CO’s address to officers and NCOs on forthcoming operations.

1630 CO’s Offices.

1700 CO’s O Group for Battalion Exercise tomorrow.

Intention E Company supported by G Company to attack and capture monastery on top of hill at 210830 and to consolidate same. F Company to attack and capture Three Tree Hill (206837) on left of Monastery Hill. H Company to move into reserve positions to support either attack if required. Positions recced by CO during morning.

Exercise to be treated as night exercise. Direction by compass bearing.

Weather:- Dry but cloudy during day.

17th February


Bttns carry out recce for training areas and organise billets and room for as many men as possible. All attached units revert to their own command of formations except for D Support Group and 152 Field Ambulance and section MBU.

1 RIrF.

Platoon training.

6 Innisks – BELLONA.

Weather fine. Visibility good. Wind fresh.

All coys went for route marches in the morning. Later all coy weapons were tested on the range.

0900 The Divisional Commander accompanied by the Brigadier visited the bttn.

1630 The rear party arrived from Busso.

1800 All officers attended the CO’s conference to discuss standing OOs and new amendments.

Baths were available for the coys in the afternoon.

2 LIR.

0630 Morning dry and frosty. Bttn exercise.

0800 Companies and Bttn HQ move off to forming up areas. 2 i/c in charge of exercise.

0830 Companies and Bttn HQ move off to start line in sunken road at 194829.

In position at 0915.

0930 E & F Companies cross Start Line towards their respective objectives.

1015 E Company reports in position by verey light.

1030 E Company moves off from Start Line to occupy height to right of Monastery Hill.

1115 F Company signals “On Objective”. 2 i/c orders H Company to move forward to positions approximately half-way up slope of Three Tree Hill in readiness for possible counter-attack.

1230 Exercise ends. Bttn returns to bttn area.

1330 Bttn back in area.

1600 CO’s conference.

1800 Bttn HQ guard provided by F Company.

Weather:-  Dry and sunny throughout day.

18th February


1100 Division Commander’s address at Caserta cinema for all officers and senior NCOs. He spoke of future operations and a few notes on training. He also spoke of the divisional spirit, a very necessary thing to keep up especially now there was a considerable number of men in the divisional who have arrived only recently.

Concerning future operations, he gave the outline plan. 78 Division is now in 2 NZ Corps and 5 Army reserve. Attacks by 4 Indian Division and 2 NZ Division south of Cassino to capture the town and establish a bridgehead across the Rapido. 78 Division supported by armour to enlarge bridgehead. Attacks by 4 Indian Division to gain high ground around the Cassino Monastery went in at dawn that morning.

1400 Football match between 1 RIrF and 2 LIR took place in the afternoon. Brigade pipe band played. 1 RIrF won.

1 RIrF.

Platoon training.  Divisional Commander at conference announced that this Division was in Army reserve and its probable role would be exploitation of the intended break-through the German Cassino – R. Garigliano line.  Special order of the day by Brigadier N Russell DSO. MC. (APPX).  Brigadier TPD Scott DSO assumed command of 38 (Irish) Inf. Brigade.

6 Innisks – BELLONA.

Weather fine. Visibility good, Wind fresh.

The coys went on route marches and the Snipers and Signals Courses have been resumed.

0945 The Brigadier visited the bttn.

1100 Twenty officers and 20 senior NCOs went to Caserta to hear an address given by the Divisional Commander, Major General Keightley.

D Coy had a kit inspection in the afternoon.

A special ‘order of the day’ was received by Brigadier N Russell DSO MC, commanding 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade.

Lieut RB Miles rejoined this unit and is posted to B Coy.

B Coy held a ‘sing song’ at which vino flowed freely.

2 LIR.

0630 Morning dry and bright.

0930 CO, 2 i/c, adjutant and party of officers and NCOs proceed to Caserta to lecture by Divisional Command.

1230 CO and parties return from Divisional Commanders’ conference.

1400 Football match 2 LIR v 1 RIrF. Score 2 LIR 0 1 RIrF 1.

Brigadier Scott present at match.

1700 CO’s Office.

1730 Bttn HQ Guard supplied by G Company.

Weather:- Dry and cold with strong breeze.

19th February

Brigade HQ.

1030 Brigadier N Russell DSO MC Commander of the Irish Brigade since July 1942 relinquished his command. A great soldier, he was a loss to all. Brigadier TPD Scott DSO took over command of the Brigade.

Training and recreation carried out by bttns. 12 jeeps and 15 x 15 cwts arrive for distribution in the brigade.

1 RIrF.

Platoon training.

Read Lawrie Franklyn-Vaile’s letters.

6 Innisks – BELLONA.

Weather fine and overcast. Visibility good, Wind fresh.

Coys carried out field training, which consisted of section and platoon handling.

1030 Twenty five officers and men went to Naples on a day pass.

The Bttn received an allotment for 50 men to go to the cinema at Capua.

2/Lieut R Phillips MM is appointed town mayor of Bellona,

A Coy held a ‘sing song’ around the cook house fire in the evening.

2 LIR.

0630 Morning dry and cold

0930 CO and 2 i/c carry out recce locally for Bn exercise.

1300 Bn bathing parade.

1430 Two football matches 2 LIR v 25 Forward Battery RA & 2 LIR v RASC Company.


2 LIR 6 256 Forward Battery 2.

2 LIR 3 RASC Company 8.

1700 CO’s Office.

Brigadier Scott DSO appointed to command of brigade.

Brigadier Russell DSO, MC returning to England.

Weather:- Dry and fine throughout the day, with strong breeze.

20th February

Brigade HQ.

Training and recreation. 4 Indian Division attacks successful. Consolidating and regrouping north west of Cassino.

1 RIrF.

Rest day (Sunday).

6 Innisks – BELLONA.

Weather fine. Visibility good. Wind fresh.

The bttn carried out normal training.

0800 Men of the Jewish faith left Bttn HQ for a service in Naples, as advertised in ‘Stars and Stripes’.

0930 A voluntary church service was held for C of Es.

1030 Mass was celebrated by the RCs in Bellona church.

1115 The Brigadier visited the bttn.

In the afternoon, the bttn played a game of football against the 152 Field Ambulance and lost by two goals to one.

2 LIR.

0700 Weather cold and dry.

0930 RC Church Service.

1100 C of E Church Service.

1400 Basketball game – Officers v Sgts.

Result: Sgts 2 Officers 1.

1715 Cinema party returns from Capua.

Weather:- Sunny and dry.