26th January

Brigade HQ – BOU ARADA.

Nothing to Report.

There was no enemy activity throughout the day.


1 RIrF – GRANDSTAND HILL.

A fully detailed account of the happenings of the night are given in the Appendix.

Activity normal – nothing to report.

1100 CO & I.O. attended conference at which patrol policy and the formation of a Brigade School for specialists was discussed. The former was to have as its keynote the discovery of the a) whereabouts b) intention of the German Army, there being at present obscure. The latter was to supply an increase need for Carrier, Mortar, A/Tk etc personnel which was not being met by reinforcements.


6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD.

0930 CO talked to reps from reinforcements – Dig or die – don’t be like the chap if one has run – profit by experience of others – take cover and lie down when shelling starts – patrol leaders to study maps in IO’s office before going out. Thick pants will be got for all.

1000 Conference of Coy Commanders ends – tied up for B Coy patrol party tonight.

1500 Adjutant attends conference at Rear Brigade HQ to discuss possible move. Difficulty of bringing all Brigade F Echelon and TCVs into present areas. Parties arranged for all bttns.

1930 Adjutant and seven ORs from 14 Platoon go back on rest in lorry to A Echelon for 48 hrs, rest at bttn rest camp. QM has erected two 160 lb 1 B tents..baths and showers. The first night, the party get a hot drink and bed.

Died on this Day:

Fusilier Alexander Trotter, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.


2 LIR.

Arab Sheik arrested by 17 Platoon in hills. No sign of enemy.

3 officers and 92 other ranks reinforcements arrive.



27th January

Brigade HQ – BOU ARADA.

Patrol 6 Innisks captured 3 PoWs of AR 90 at 685124, 0300 27 Jan. PoWs were a line party laying cable to a new CP (Appendix 59).

Farms 654123, 654129, and 672104 were reported occupied.

0035 6 Armoured Division issued an order for 3 Grenadier Guards (then under command 38 Brigade) and 8 A & SH to change stations night 28/29 Jan.

1715 Brigade Intelligence Section complete moved to Command Post.

Lt Lavender, RASC was posted to this Brigade.


1 RIrF – GRANDSTAND HILL.

An account of the happenings of the night is given in the Appendix.

1130/1150/1230 At each of these times careless movement by R and O Groups of other units into and out of the Command Post OP resulted in a quick concentration of circa 20 heavy mortar shells on Bttn HQ. There were no serious casualties.


6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD.

Next morning is spent sorting kit and bathing. Afternoon is a kit exchange – weapons checked by Sgt Ganett, carrier Sgt. Boots repaired and studded. Evening spent writing letters, playing cards and reading old newspapers and magazines. Clothes are washed in the stream. Envelopes are in very short supply – only overseas supplies can be obtained from NAAFI. Capt Kendal’s …..never stops playing. QM has good quiet …..going and there is no doubt this 48 hrs rest does the men all the good in the world.


2 LIR.

2100 Remainder of H Company move to hill 683 to take up a company position. Task to defend battery to carry out systematic patrolling day and night.

2200 Remainder of battalion less F Company move to foot of hills area 5906. Task – counter attack to north-east should attack come from north-west. Back up H Company should they become involved.

F Company remain in position in role to protect brigade HQ.

2350 Digging in new positions.



28th January

Brigade HQ – BOU ARADA.

Patrol reported Farm 672129 was still occupied, 3 MGs were located on Barka (6706) and talking was heard on reverse slopes.

1000 Brigade Commander attended a Divisional Conference where orders were issued for re-grouping. 3 Grenadier Guards were not being relieved on leaving the Brigade area and 10 RB were to take up positions on the northern flank.

A letter was sent to bttns stressing the possibilities of inducing the enemy to desert. Copies of Afrika Post were enclosed.

The enemy had been found to be using Arabs equipped with bogus passes as spies. An example of a bogus pass was given in a Brigade letter warning bttns of this danger (Appendix 63).

A letter from Commander 3 Grenadier Guards written on leaving the Brigade area was received.

Brigade Commander wrote D/O letter to Commanders 1 Guards Brigade and 3 Grenadier Guards (Appendix 64, 65a, 65b).

Brigade Order was issued for reliefs 28/29 and 29/30 Jan. This order was later cancelled as 1 Para Brigade which was due to take over the northern flank was diverted from the Brigade front (Appendix 66).

Message was received from 6 Armoured Division confirming that northern patrol boundary 38 Brigade has been extended to grid line 15.

1930 3 Grenadier Guards left Brigade area after dark. Positions were taken over by 6 Innisks.

2300 3 Tellermines were laid on rd Medjez-El Aroussa between A Echelon and A Echelon 1 RIrF (5214). A patrol of 1 RIrF reached Sidi Trade (7110) and inflicted 5 casualties. Farm 672104 was still occupied (Appendix 67). A patrol of 3 Grenadier Guards reported Barka probably held by 4 or 5 sections and OP destroyed at pt 286.


1 RIrF – GRANDSTAND HILL.

Details of the happenings and activities of the night are given in the Appendix.

General – Activity normal. Nothing to report.

1700 CO attended conference at HQ 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade at which it having been given out by Brigade Commander 27 Jan ’43, that 3 Grenadier Guards were leaving the Brigade front on relief by 8 Argylls night 28/29 Jan. The new problems arising from the departure of 3 Grenadier Guards with no relief was discussed. In so far as attached 1 RIrF it was decided that D Coy should be relieved in its position by D Coy 6 Innisks at dusk that evening and take over 3 Coy Grenadier Guards position on Pt 279 6506. Immediately afterwards, while 1 Platoon B Coy.. out its return to cover the gap of 1000 yards between Grandstand and Pt 279, one battalion paratroopers was to take over defence of the western flank of the Brigade, approximate area of 4 track point 6209 the following night.


6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD.

Another quiet day – little enemy shelling. Much time is spent sorting out 99 reinforcements, who arrived last night – many alterations necessary in the NCO promotion roll.

Died on this Day:

Fusilier Roy Thorpe, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.


2 LIR.

1800 Observation point established 597062

F Company take over hill 640065 from Grenadier Guards.

2000 Battalion HQ and E Company move to rest area 5704. Old area taken over by Rifle Brigade. Digging.



29th January

Brigade HQ – BOU ARADA.

During this day, a slight increase in enemy shelling was noticed. A general picture of the Brigade front was attached as Appendix 1 to Intelligence Summary (Appendix 68).

1000 Divisional Conference was held, at which plans were changed as shown in the orders issued.

1645 New orders were issued for the regrouping of 38 Brigade as 1 Para Bttn was not coming under command. Orders of 28 Jan were cancelled (Appendix 69).

6 Armoured Division O.O. No 10 was received. Intention: “6 Armoured Division will hold present positions from excl cross roads O 7669 to Djebel Rihane and will establish patrolling ascendancy in front of these positions.” Policy was as follows: “The enemy will be dominated by energetic offensive patrolling and artillery fire. All positions will be thoroughly wired and mined and slit trenches developed into defensive localities. Position will be held by maximum use of LMG fire, which must be mutually supporting, and the minimum number of troops used, especially by day.” (Appendix 70).

152 Field Regiment O.O. No 4 was received. This gives the artillery plan on the Brigade front.


1 RIrF – GRANDSTAND HILL.

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

General – Activity Normal. Nothing to report.

1200 Another conference was held at HQ 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade at which it was decided that the dispositions of the Brigade as a result of changes the previous night were too “strung-out”. Accordingly it was decided that B Coy 6 Innisks should come under command 1 RIrF in their present positions area 638087, that D Coy 1 RIrF should return from Pt 279 to its former position, the result being that 1 RIrF would straddle the road Goubellat-Bou Arada at Grandstand with five coys, while 6 Innisks with three coys straddled the road south of that and 10 RB covered the northern approach to the Brigade’s rear.


6 Innisks.

A quiet morning – usual 10 o’clock Coy Commanders’ conference to discuss the night’s patrols. It is thought the Parachute Bttn may be coming in behind us tonight and taking over C Coy position.

1200 CO attends conference at advanced Brigade HQ.

1500 O Group conference. The Bttn will move a little further south after dark in a general reshuffle of positions and patrolling areas. Patrolling areas are now: 1 RIrF east and north of rd Goubellat-Bou Arada, 10 RB west and north of the road and this bttn south as far as Bou Arada exclusive.

C Coy will be relieved by Coy 10 RB, who will take over position from F Coy 2 LIR. B Coy will remain in present location – with larger area and come under command 1 RIrF. A Coy will withdraw to Nullah J 633058 by day and patrol farms north of Bou Arada by night. D Coy will withdraw and take over position held by Coy 1 RIrF. They will hold Pt 279 J 6506 by night and withdraw to culvert by day. At night C and D Coys will send out patrols to Mehalla and Barka areas.

2115 Coy 10 RB arrived to take over final coy. They were supposed to have arrived about 1800hrs in order to complete move before full dark.

2130 Brigade and F Coy 2 LIR told changeover would be later than expected.

Between 2115hrs and 2200hrs there is some concern about D Coy. They have not reported going to take over. It eventually turns out that their wireless and signal operators were hurt..enemy shelling and they had no communication.

2215 D Coy report they have taken over.

2210 A Coy move completed.

Advance Bttn HQ with 2.i.c. and I.O. moved off to new areas at 1920hrs.

Died on this Day:

Fusilier William Swan, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.


2 LIR.

0600 F Company arrive being relieved by a company of 6th Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Died on this Day:

Rifleman Frank Ware, London Irish Rifles.



30th January

Brigade HQ – BOU ARADA.

Read adjustments (as per order of 29 Jan) were carried out without incident.

Divisional Commander visited battle HQ (640076).


1 RIrF – GRANDSTAND HILL.

Details of the events of the night are given in the Appendix.

No activity more than routine by daylight.


6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD.

0115 C Coy report they have handed over.

0220 Bttn HQ leaves for new positions and CO calls at Advance Brigade HQ on the way – sees Brigadier and reports move completion. Bttn HQ is now in Nullah with A Coy to the south and C Coy to the north. It is thought the enemy is so far unaware of Nullah. Any how it has not been shelled. It would appear to be a fairly safe place – all the same we are rather thick on the ground.

1000 CO held his usual conference to arrange the nightly patrols and their administrative matters. Reinforcements have arrived without their 48hr tin rations. They say they were never issued with them. CO & I.O. go round the Bttn area during morning and afternoon.

A very warm day – the warmest so far after the coldest night.

Orders received that the Brigade will take up a better position in the hills to our rear.


2 LIR.

0630 G Company arrive in battalion rest area having been relieved by Rifle Brigade.

1030 H Company arrive.



31st January

Brigade HQ – BOU ARADA.

Patrols had no contact, but a position was reported on east end of One Tree Hill.

0300 Messages were sent by 6 Armoured Division (repeated 38 Brigade) on 30 and 31 January ordering the move of an armoured regimental group south to Ebba Ksour N 95 night 31 Jan / 1 Feb. Coy 10 RB were included in the force (it had been found advisable to move elements of 6 Armoured Division to meet armoured threat in the southern sector).

0700 A warning order (ref above orders) was sent to 10 RB. Appendix “A” to 38 Brigade Intelligence Summary for this day contained an interesting W/T intercept from HQ Koch and a note on Italian identifications at 648090 25 Jan.

1730 Battle HQ and Rear Brigade HQ moved to establish a point Brigade HQ at Farm 592014. The movement was completed without incident.

2130 Policy on artillery activity in patrol areas was laid down by HQ RA.  The object was to prevent own artillery from shelling our patrols (Appendix 76).

On this day, a “Personal Message from Commander 1st Army” was received (Appendix 78).

Moves of Brigade HQ – Jan ’43 – are given at Appendix 79.


1 RIrF – GRANDSTAND HILL.

A record of the night’s events and activities is given in the Appendix.

1700 The bttn now had a longer front to the north than to the east and 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade, leaving their HQ at 640076, it was decided to move Bttn HQ to this location. Recce parties left and laid out the new area and all arrangements were made accordingly for a move at dawn the next morning.

1800 Patrol Jane of 1 NCO and 4 men and Mary of 1 NCO and 1 section left road Goubellat-Bou Arada eastward, the former to lie up in area farms 699130 and 700147 and the other in area 5 track junction 6811. The former was found by B Coy 6 Innisks under command 1 RIrF.

1825 Farm 698130 reported to contain 40 enemy and shortly afterwards farm 693132 to contain two enemy Armoured Companies. Shell fire was brought down on this area.

2100 10 light shells (or mortar bombs) fell in Bttn area, two on Grandstand Hill and the remainder west of it. No damage was done.

2200 Patrols Anne and Betsy left, the former of 1 NCO and 2 men to recce area Cactus farm 685087 for an attack the following night, the latter to lie up area cross tracks 6708 to ambush the “night vehicle” and destroy it.

Died on this Day:

Fusilier Desmond O’Halloran, Royal Irish Fusiliers.


6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD.

CO Conference for Coy Commanders at 1000hrs. Support Coy consisting of Mortars, A/Tk and Vickers with a Coy HQ is finally fixed and men transferred to it to complete it from Rifle Coys. Capt Daly is in charge of the Coy with Sgt Fenwick appointed acting unpaid local W/O II as CSM. Padre holds his last service during the morning. He reports to SCF this afternoon and we will get a new padre tomorrow.

A beautifully warm day after another cold night. CO sees D Coy during the morning and goes round with Capt Daly looking at the position of the support weapons.

A very quiet afternoon. The troops, especially A, C & D Coys who patrol all night make the most of a sleep in the sun. Adjutant visits M.O. and M.O. 1 RIrF, who are sharing a farm.

1000 CO holds his usual conference of Coy Commanders to discuss the night’s patrolling and any other points that might arise. It is decided that only recce parties will go out tonight from C/D Coys with 1 Office, 1 Sgt, 1 Cpl to get the lie of new patrol areas and find a way through the minefield.

CO spends a very busy day tracing the Coy areas sighting weapons and liaising 10 RB.

1130 Divisional Commander and Brigadier arrive and talk to CO who just arrives back in time. Divisional Commander asked 2.i.c. what the Bttn would like best of all at this moment. Answer – Rest and sleep.

M.O. starting a course for stretcher bearers. At the moment we are eight deficient despite the fact the M.O. did run courses before leaving Scotland.

Lt Nethersill and nine ORs, 1 Parachute Bttn, are attached to this unit for a few days to go out on patrol or anything else we can find for them.

0200 The bttn transport arrives.

0215 The marching personnel sent out. It takes the transport column nearly 2 hours to go less than 4 miles.

0400 New farm is established in a farm where there are also some French soldiers. The morning patrol visited all fig farms south of the Goubellat to Mahmoud road, and found nothing.

1100 Enemy shell Goubellat and two enemy M/C combinations seen between Goubellat and Mahmoud.

1120 Enemy shells fall in area Sidi Mahmoud. It is possible 2 LIR who are on our left may be called away tonight. If they do so, we must hold their position as well as our own. Patrols are sent out but nothing is found during the night.

Information is received that 2 LIR will not be moving.

2330 B Coy who have been attached to 1 RIrF returns as Goubellat is now in No Man’s Land. They had to return via Medjez-el-Bab.


2 LIR.

Second-in-command Major DCJ Manners assumes appointment.

G Company relieve E Company in Stand By Company.

Mobile bath unit in operation at Gaffour. Half battalion have bathed.