Brigade HQ – BOU ARADA.
0030 Enemy counter attacked pt 286 by moonlight with 18 tanks while Bttn was collecting wounded and preparing to evacuate as above.
Enemy infantry was carried on the back of some of the tanks. After very confused fighting, 2 LIR had to evacuate pt 286 and reform west of the main road. Pt 279 (it had been decided to retain) was reoccupied when the tanks had withdrawn. Infantry were very vulnerable to attack on pt 286 as it is a feature on which it is difficult to dig in without pneumatic drills.
The day was devoted to reorganisation and no activity was reported. 3 Grenadier Guards arrived in the area after dark and came under command 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade with positions at pt 279 and south of Grandstand and patrols along main road Goubellat – Bou Arada.
2200 Brigade I.O. and Camp Commandant (with 19 ORs) moved to join Brigade Commander and Brigade Major at farm 629058 where Battle HQ was set up. Commander 152 Field Regiment with a skeleton HQ also moved into this position. The first hour of occupation was spent in bringing artillery fire to bear on tanks which were again reported to be moving in front of Grandstand and pt 286.
Lieut JF Harrison, 1 RIrF and 30 ORs arrived from HQ 6 Armoured Division. Lieut Harrison became an L.O. at Brigade HQ.
1 RIrF – HILL 329.
0120 OC B Coy reported that personnel of 2 LIR were coming back into his position on feature 641066 and asked if any withdrawal had been ordered. HQ 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade was consulted and OC B Coy informed that there was no official withdrawal taking place. It was next reported that enemy tanks were on the road area Pt 229 6405. They could be seen firing of tracer from their MGs southward towards Bou Arada. No information was received from 2 LIR and for a long time, the situation remained obscure. All that was known was that tanks with infantry were attacking the Brigade locality from the south flank. It later became clear that these tanks and infantry had overcome 2 LIR positions on Pt 286 and Pt 279 and that 2 LIR had become disorganised and had withdrawn. Squadron 17/21 Lancers and Squadron 16/5 Lancers went in pursuit of the tanks and they turned north towards the positions of 6 Innisks on Grandstand Hill 653078, where they were found by A/Tk and small arms fire and turned NE, Field artillery then opened fire on them and they broke formation and withdrew east. Meanwhile, although 2 LIR had lost their hold on the positions east of road Goubellat – Bou Arada, but no penetration was made by the enemy over this road after the tanks were beaten back. B Coy 1 RIrF, although a good deal of the enemy fire was passing over its positions, did not become involved in the battle proper and the remainder of the Bttn, although 100% stand to was ordered, held only a watching brief.
0800 B Coy reported as soon as it was light enough to be certain that the enemy was not in occupation of Pt 279. As it seemed possible that this fracas was only the prelude to a further and stronger attack, a general tension was added to the company on (top) of normal routine during the day.
1647 A further attack on the Bttn area was made by twelve JU 87s, one bomb falling 10ft from Bttn HQ and damaging the rear .. carriers but causing no casualties. As a result of this and shelling of the HQ during the previous four days, it was clear that the enemy had its location clearly determined. It was therefore decided to move and the CO, 2.i.c. and I.O. left to make a recce of a new HQ.
Dusk C Coy moved its position to cover the gap on the northern approach area 625079.
2000 D Coy returned from its position at 645080, where it had been in counter attack reserve for 6 Innisks to C Coy’s former position.
B Coy returned from the hill feature 641066 to its own former position.
6 Innsks – IN THE FIELD.
0045 Report from 2 LIR that Pt 286 and Pt 279 are being attacked by enemy tanks.
0110 Tanks are now reported on road Bou Arada – Goubellat.
0115 The Bttn sends out tank hunting parties armed with sticky grenades and 75 grenades. Our tanks are ordered not to move in order to save confusion.
0230 Twelve enemy tanks seem to be sorting themselves out near 2 LIR HQ on road Bou Arada – Goubellat.
0300 Enemy tanks withdraw between Grandstand Hill and Pt 286 under a barrage of artillery 4.2 Mortar Besas etc.
Our position was shelled intermittently all day yesterday.
Grenadier Guards are attached to Brigade and take over Pt 279 and Pt 286.
Heavy shelling of our position all day.
0100 Battalion attacked by tanks and infantry. Tanks came around west of Point 279 firing tracer west across road. Infantry came over the hill. Battalion retires to high ground 6306/6307. Enemy tanks come round south of Point 279 giving enfilade fire down wadi of old battalion HQ also firing machine guns and 75mm west of road. 3 tanks cross road and take up position in field 645057. They fire on farm 643057. Fire returned by LIR in wadi and from south. Some of our remaining transport driven away or set on fire by enemy.
0400 Enemy retire.
0430 Commanding Officer gives orders from farm 629058. Battalion to take up defensive positions on hill 209 (639071) with battalion HQ in wadi 635072.
1500 Junker 87s dive bomb guns in area. Enemy also attempt to shell guns. Heavy shelling of enemy positions and guns by our 25 pounders during the day.
1530 Commanding Officer re-organises battalion defensive positions. Battalion HQ personnel also man positions on high ground 635069.
1800 Companies and battalion HQ did in. Battalion now in reserve, primary role – defensive, secondary- counter attack.