Brigade HQ – BOU ARADA.
No contact was made during the night
0001 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade O.O. No 10 was issued expressing the intention “38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade and attached troops will seize and hold Two Tree Hill and Three Tree Hill features” (Appendix 39). The plan was for 1 RIrF to make the main attack while subsidiary operations were staged by 6 Innisks and 2 LIR to assist the advance by fire. 6 Innisks with in support two Troops A/Tk were to guard against counter penetration on the north. The attack was to be supported by three Field Regiments. A detailed artillery and air support plan were attached as Appendices and enlargements of the battle area with known enemy positions marked were distributed on a wide scale.
0240 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade Administration Instruction No 2 was issued with intention “To maintain the Brigade in the role defined in O.O. No 10 (Appendix 40).
0730 6 Innisks were attacked by infantry east and south east of Grandstand Hill (652029).The day was marked by infantry fighting near areas 6 Innisks (6507) and 1 RIrF (6308) and tank activity in the plain NE of Bou Arada. Our artillery engaged both infantry and tanks with good effect. An account of the action is given in Appendix 41. One valuable document revealing the order of battle of the German forces in Tunisia was taken with a POW of 6 Innisks.
1227 HQ 2 LIR 615014 was dive bombed, 4 vehicles was damaged but the W/T remained in action and other casualties were slight.
1900 Reps RE carried out demolitions on knocked out enemy tanks area 6603 after dark. Much intelligence material (incl identification of II/7 Panzer Regiment) was recovered.
2030 Brigade Commander and OC 3 Squadron Signals with one L.O. moved to Brigade Command Post 638081 with W/T comms to Bttns and 6 Armoured Division. Brigade HQ forward link set became an out station on the Brigade Command net.
(Subsequent to this date, the enemy operation order for the attack was captured (appendix 42). A deserter also revealed that very heavy casualties were suffered from our artillery fire, whose volume came as a complete surprise (only one of the three Field Regiments in the area had broken silence before the battle).
1 RIrF – HILL 329.
0710 An enemy attack was launched on 6 Innisks position on Grandstand squares 6507 – 6508 by infantry advance from the south and north flanks supported by heavy mortar, artillery and MG fire. To give 6 Innisks a backstop and release one Coy for a counterattack role D Coy 1 RIrF took up position on spur 6460.
0830 Tanks first seen in the plain NE of Bou Arada. They numbered 24 and during the day penetrated to a point about 1500 yards SW of Bou Arada. They were turned back before noon, at last eight casualties being inflicted on them. They did not affect the battle in the Bttn area.
1135 Four bursts of MG fire were heard from area 626086. At the same time an artillery OP, having observation over that area, reported a patrol of some sort operating in that area. The CO decided to send one platoon B Coy with under command 1 section Carriers to clear the area of enemy. The enemy however appeared to have been at least one Platoon in strength with several light and heavy MGs. So that as this platoon moved over the skyline was met with heavy fire and driven to ground. Lieut PJ Bryan commanding the platoon finding himself thus surprised and being himself wounded ordered the platoon to withdraw as best possible.
1425 On his platoon’s return, Carrier Platoon in to 2 LIR was put under command and were to RV at once at farm 625078, and another platoon was prepared to move up.
1330 Meanwhile 14 enemy had been observed on Hill at 637089. An OP of two fusiliers of Bttn I Section there was taken prisoner. One later escaped and reported that these troops had been paratroopers.
1620 Commander Carrier Platoon made a recce of the area to be attacked and reported that the enemy’s strength was not more than a Platoon but that it was scattered and dug in on numerous isolated positions and infantry were essential to clear the area, it not being Carrier country. The 3” mortars particularly had had good effect.
1650 CO 1 RIrF on this report decided not to wait for Carrier Platoon 2 LIR and the attack went in with another Platoon B Coy strengthened by one Platoon C Coy.
1810 It seemed quite definite that the enemy, their position having been discovered, were withdrawing with heavy casualties. Defence returned.
1930 A Coy 1 RIrF, which had been loaned to 6 Innisks for use in the event of a counter sweep, returning from making a sweep up to W Village 661084 where they had inflicted heavy damage on the enemy and cleaned him out. Some casualties were suffered by this Coy including the death of Major PC Murphy MC and the wounding of Lieut PJ Slattery. Captain JMO Barstow was also reported killed but the following day was found only to have been wounded. In the words of the CO 6 Innisks: “They did very well.”
2000 OC 1 RIrF heard the report of the force sent to clear area 625086, who stated that the enemy had not been more than 60 in number or with MGs, light and heavy mortars. He planned therefore the next day to put a platoon up there to clean up any remnants and prevent any re-entry into the area by the enemy. The attack on Two Tree Hill was cancelled.
6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD.
0730 Enemy started to attack C Coy from east and south east of Grandstand Hill. Estimated enemy strength 3 Coys.
0735 B Coy also engaged.
0745 Two enemy armoured cars were seen entering farm 648101. These were engaged by our artillery.
0830 Enemy have occupied W Hill, having failed to work south flank of one position. We were later heavily mortared from this position.
0845 Capt Spencer was killed by mortar shell. Capt Daly is sent to command Coy as Capt Wise has also been wounded.
0910 Coy 1 RIrF is sent to cross our flank and position there appears secure.
1015 Our north flank reported to be well held. Enemy infantry who tried to penetrate between B and D Coys were engaged by artillery and suffered heavy casualties. Enemy on high ground to the east were also killed.
1100 To enable 6 Innisks to sweep the front of position in front of Grandstand Hill. A Coy RIrF moved to 649081.
1200 Situation had quietened down and enemy appeared pinned to the ground although they had managed to bring up and put into position several MMG posts, and occupied Plough Hill. By 1225, Plough Hill had been heavily shelled.
1225 Squadron 17/21 Lancers were put under command and D Coy proceeded to sweep the gully to the east of Grandstand Hill. It was found necessary to employ A Coy however and it was not until 1550hrs that the spur and gully were reported clear. 15 POW were taken in this sweep.
1540 No enemy were now apparent to the west but now had established a Coy with 4 MGs in front of Grandstand.
1555 W Hill was heavily shelled by our artillery.
1650 A Coy 1 RIrF commanded by Major Duffy, under command 6 Innisks with 1 troop of Lothians went out to clear W Hill. The tanks returned at 1300hrs with prisoners but the Coy did not return until 1830hrs. Major Murphy was killed and Capt Barstow Coy 2.i.c. missing.
Dusk found the Bttn still intact on their hill. Heavy casualties were inflicted on the enemy and 28 POWs were taken. Identification found I and III Bttns Hermann Goering Regiment, also II Marsch Bttn. All prisoners were willing to talk and all remarked on the weight and accuracy of our artillery, which they said was deadly.
Despite the fact one farm was shelled consistently all day – our casualties were fairly light. The exact figure being Capt Spencer and 8 ORs killed. Capt Wise and 21 ORs wounded and 9 ORs wounded.
Sitrep report sent in at 1900hrs is marked “D” and attached.
2350 C Coy reported green Verey light from W village and they can hear tanks.
D Coy RIrF is put under command. They take over D Coy positions and D Coy 6 Innisks take up position behind and to the left of A Coy.
0725 6th Inniskilling Fusiliers attacked on right flank.
1200 Battalion HQ bombed and machine-gunned by three enemy aircraft. 2 casualties, 2 vehicles destroyed and 4 M/Cs.
1505 1 section of carriers and two detachments of mortars detailed to report to 1st Royal Irish Fusiliers
1530 F Company and 2 anti-tank guns moved out under command 26 Armoured Brigade.
1540 Area near battalion HQ bombed. No damage done. One Junker 88 brought down.
1700 Battalion less E Company ordered to relieve two companies of Rifle Brigade at 6599/6699.
1900 F Company under command of battalion established Point 281 G Company Pt 325(658997) H Company Pt 326 (664995).