War Diaries – 6th to 10th January 1943

6th January


0800 38 Brigade O.O. No 8 was issued (Appendix 7), which laid down a general directive on patrols (and methods of supporting them by day and night). 6 Innisks and 2 LIR were to share the same patrol area instead of being divided by an East-West boundary line, patrols found by one bttn 3 or 4 days at a time to ensure continuity. Details of counter attack role of Squadron (less two troops) of Lothians were also announced. A Brigade admin announcement was also issued (Appendix 8).

1045 Two ME 109s made a close recce of Brigade HQ (542199) and attacked M.T. on road 542199.

In accordance with new policy, farms west of the road Goubellat-Bou Arada were searched and reported clear.

1300 Platoon leaving farm 648194 was fired on from 654198 by five men on motor cycles and motor cycle combo. There was a short exchange of shots and enemy with one wounded retired to farm 661173.

Brigade Commander sent a letter of thanks to Col Schmalz, Commander, French troops in the Bou Arada area, for his help in bringing in a wounded officer, Lieut Page 6 Innisks on 5 Jan.

Brigade Commander went with Lieut Doumic, French L.O. at Brigade HQ, to deliver the message to col Schmalz’s HQ in Bou Arada (628998).

On this day, a directive on “Intelligence” was issued to Battalions. The main point was “Information is being sent back more fully and promptly than before, but time is wasted and details sometimes forgotten through lack of attention to the form of reports” (Appendix 5).


A detailed account of the events of night given in Appendix.

0030 Lt CF Sutcliffe killed in an accident during the conduct of a relief at D Coy.

0152 359 Battery RA ceases to be in support. D Battery 12 RHA in support.

Minimal activity. Two patrols, Flock and Squib, as documented in Appendix, laying ambushes forward of bttn positions.

1405 B Company reported enemy in the Nullah area Melah 6821. Artillery of D Battery 12 RHA and 5 & 32 Field Artillery Bttns, American forces engaged and scored hits on the target. No subsequent enemy movement was observed and from report contained in Appendix, it is believed that none were there by the time the Artillery engaged them.

6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD.

The new patrolling system was put into force and D Coy proceeded to “stop” at dusk and sent out 3 patrols. The patrols under Lieut McCaldin and Sgt Beecham searched farms but found nothing. Lieut Hodgson’s patrol was fired at with LMGs from each side of Goubellat-Bou Arada road from 25 yards range. There were 5 wounded – all were brought back.

Lieut McKee is now 48hrs overdue. There has been no word of his patrol and the whole patrol of 1 officer and 20 ORs must be considered captured. It is possible that he was caught by armoured cars the same way as Lieut Page’s patrol. Lieut Duke is appointed Brigade Deception Officer.

Died on this day:

Lance Corporal Joseph Green, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

2 LIR.

0930 Lieutenant Lees and section go to bring back wounded officer from farm 665190. Reported he had been taken to Bou Arada by French occupant of farm.

1000 Battalion vicinity machine gunned by two Messerschmitts.

Five local patrols by rifle companies and carrier platoon during hours of darkness.

7th January


Patrol met ambush on road 653166 where enemy was laying in wait with Egg Grenades and two MGs.

Recent patrol reports show that enemy probably had never seriously occupied Goubellat or its immediate vicinity.

During this day, a fair amount of vehicle movement was observed around farms in area 7115.

Information was received (and passed onto Battalions) that “Celanese Triangles” had been used by the enemy to deceive our troops. A letter was sent to bttns stating that frequencies of captured wireless equipment must be noted (Appendix 12).

Copy of Appendix to 5 Corps Intelligence Summary was forwarded to bttns (Appendix 11).

Lieut GH Carr RIrF Def Platoon Commander ceased to hold this appointment.

Lieut RD Room RIrF was appointed Def Platoon Commander. Lieut MC Trousdell 1 RIrF was posted to Brigade HQ as I.O. vice Lieut Room.

38 Brigade Intelligence Summary was issued (Appendix 9).


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

1530 B Coy, less 1 platoon, with under command one section of Carriers carried out a day light search of Arab dwellings NE and SE of Sidi Bou Dib 6725 within 1000 yards radius of it in which the French civilian referred to in Appendix stated there were enemy OPs in support D Battery 12 RHA.

1705 Search completed. B Coy prepared to return to position. An Arab then appeared at Sidi Bou Dib carrying a basket. The I.O. who had been with OC B Coy for the search questioned and searched him and found him to be carrying pinned to the hem of his Burnese six sheets, closely written on both sides, two of which were in cipher, containing military information. At first, it was suspected that he was an enemy spy, but the I.O. looking through the papers observed that the information contained therein concerned the German forces in Tunisia exclusively.

The Arab, further questioned stated that he was a naturalised Frenchman, a Corporal in the French Army, working in the guise of an Arab under the French Colonel Lecourtier. His duty was to pass to and from Tunis bringing information collated by the French Intelligence there to his Colonel. The I.O. being satisfied with his story took him in a vehicle to Brigade HQ where he was recognised by the French L.O. attached to it as one of his own men and passed back immediately to his own Colonel through the normal channels. The reports he brought proved to be of immense value.

Died on this Day:

Fusilier Alfred Moore, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD.

1000 CO spends two hours with Brigadier at command post.

1200 CO briefs B Coy, who are doing patrols tonight. Lieut Duke arrives back from NAAFI with another supply of NAAFI goods. There is still a shortage of soap and note paper, especially envelopes. No green envelopes have yet arrived. These are most urgently required not only for the men but also for the overworked opps who have so much censorship to do.

1500 OCs 2 Lothians and 152 Field Regiment RA are taken up to our OP to view ground with special attention given to areas for tanks. Both arrive at top a little short of breath.

Capt Little, our Carrier Officer, is able to give them much valuable information. Neither the battery under command nor troop 2 Lothians has been able to help so far. They are all itching for a go.

The bttn is now over 100 below strength. No reinforcements have yet arrived since we left Algiers on 1st Dec’42.  These are greatly needed. Platoons are very short and the weapons now carried in a platoon make it hard work for the remaining fusiliers. Especially now being on position on top of a hill, the carrying of ..and rations falls on a very few.

At dusk, B Coy go out to “stop” and search out following standing patrols, Sgt Rultus and 10 fusiliers, Sgt O’Connor and 10 fusiliers, Sgt Glove and 10 fusiliers

2 LIR.

Six patrols in area by companies after dark.

8th January


No contact was gained in local recce or by patrols north of Goubellat.

A patrol of 30 Germans attacked Bou Arada (6201). By 0700 hrs, the position attacked was clear of the enemy. French casualties were slight, enemy unknown. An Arab picked up in 1 RIrF area by Bttn I.O. was brought to Brigade HQ. He was immediately recognised as a Cpl in 4 RTT by Lt Doumic and proved to have come from Tunis in Arab clothes with important information.


0830 Arab corporal was sent to HQ 6 Armoured Division and thence to 5 Corps where he underwent a prolonged interrogation by British and French Intelligence. A letter was sent to 6 Armoured Division in reply to one dated 3 Jan on lessons learnt from the present campaign.

On this day, movement forward of the eastern hills was slight but area 7115 continued to be active.

6 Armoured Division Operational Order (O.O.) No 6 was received. A force will be assembled in area Bou Arada-El Aroussa to meet any enemy attack on Bou Arada.

2200 Letter was sent to bttns on policy of bombing French farms (Appendix 14).


Details of the activities of the night 7/8 Jan are contained in the appendix. Patrols Whisky and Bone consisting of one officer and one platoon at dawn searched wadis leading south from tracks 629241 and 623230. Their report was also negative.

6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD.

0300 Sgt Solly and Sgt Rultus have returned but have had no luck.

0500 Sgt O’Connor is now 2 hrs overdue. The carrier platoon is laid on to go out at dusk with Sgt Solly and Rultus to recce area and find Sgt O’Connor.

0705 Carriers go out and find Sgt O’Connor. He had got lost twice and decided to wait until first light. Probably this was a correct move.

0930 CO and Brigadier brief C Coy who are going out patrolling tonight.

1215 CO leaves for Brigade. He is going to Teboursouk for an address by the Army Commander.

1315 One platoon of D Company goes to 1 Field Ambulance where a bath apparatus has been put at their disposal and it is greatly appreciated.

1730 CO returns and sees C Coy at Bttn Admin HQ before they set off.

1800 CO called to Brigade for conference.

C Coy leave for “stop” and send out two standing patrols under Lieut Buck and Sgt Solly and a small patrol of Lieut Andrews and two fusiliers to recce. All three patrols returned at 0300hrs and 0400hrs as ordered with nothing to report.

2100 CO holds O Group conference at Bttn HQ. Twelve people squash into dug out and receive orders.

The bttn is under 6 hrs notice to move to El Aroussa where a possible German breakthrough is contemplated. B Coy is under 2 hrs notice to move out – rest of bttn at 6 hrs notice wef 0400hrs 9 Jan ’43.

2 LIR.

1200 Commanding officer attended Army Commander’s conference at Teboursouk.

2000 F Company at five hours’ notice to move.

9th January


Night patrols had no contact with the enemy.

0545 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade O.O. No 9 was issued (Appendix 16). There were indications of a possible German thrust south west of Pont Du Fahs (8706) or west against Bou Arada (6201). 6 Innisks was ordered “to be prepared to move to area El Aroussa (4603).”

1030 ME 109 flew low over Brigade HQ.

1530 Copy of a letter was received from HQ RA “Operations – FOOs”. The main problem dealt with was the difficulty of maintaining Artillery Support by FOO batteries during an attack (Appendix 17).

During this day, there were indications to OPs of enemy preparations for an attack west from Pont Du Fahs. There was no close recce by vehicles of the Brigade front. Nor were enemy aircraft active over the Brigade area (Appendix 18).


A detailed account of the activities of this night are given in the Appendix.

Normal activities and improvement of defence position by further digging, wiring and local minefields continued.

0400 The first party of reinforcements arrived at Bttn HQ, comprising Lieut J Ray, Lieut MW Sutcliffe and 2/Lieut CLT Tomkins and 81 ORs. A detailed account of this night is contained in the Appendix. Patrol Killaloe comprised Lieut KM Hunting and 1 OR to find isolated position on route used by enemy in Area 7323 with a view to attack later. This patrol, including Lieut KM Hunting, posted as missing wef 11 Jan.

6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD.

0915 CO attends conference at Brigade. Recce party consisting of CO, IO, 3 DRs, 1 rep per platoon, 2 unit personnel Lieut Daly and RSM go recce after conference.

Rest of bttn have quiet morning with no patrolling for possible move. Lieut Daly has been appointed heavy gun officer. Four Vickers’ M/Gs have been allowed to bttn. So he now commands mortars, 2 pounder A/Tk platoon and Vickers.

There is some difficulty in finding 12 men capable of handling the Vickers. Twelve men are eventually picked with A/Cpl McGowan in charge. Lieut Hodgson, Cheshire Regiment and therefore late machine gunner gets the teams together.

Recce party returns at 1700 hrs. CO attends conference at Brigade at 1915 hrs. 2 LIR are doing patrols tonight and the bttn merely does local protective patrolling.

A quiet night in which at least a fair amount of sleep is had by most people.

Died on this Day:

Lance Corporal John Varty, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

2 LIR.

0930 One platoon from H and F Companies on day patrol 0930-1730 hrs.

1730 One platoon of G company patrol and company in wait for enemy. Mines laid. Enemy armoured cars observed but no contact made.

10th January


Night patrols had no contacts but there were two interesting discoveries: a) at 2215, 2315 and 0015, an Armoured Car with lights followed routes 709187–690211–703225. This looked like a continuous triangular patrol. B) Farm 698173 was strongly wired all round. This farm was at the end of “Page’s Wadi” and was thought to be a patrol base.

The weather was unsuitable for aircraft and there was no enemy air activity.

0830 Enemy attacked O.P. in area 6808. Later enemy of about one company were in area 6606 – 6607 and there were 60 enemy in area 6408. Two coys 10 Rifle Brigade and half a squadron 17/21 Lancers attacked north astride the main road.

1605 Two troops of 17/21 Lancers reported to be nearing their objective.

38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade Summary was issued (Appendix 19). A letter was sent informing bttns of the Regulations now in force to restrict Arab movement (Appendix 20). 6 Innisks were placed at 2 hrs notice to move and one coy 2 LIR with a squadron of 2 Lothians was at ½ hour notice to operate south of Goubellat.

2359 Bttn Commanders were summoned to Brigade HQ. 6 Innisks were ordered by W/T to be prepared to move at 0200hrs on 11 Jan. In this event 2 LIR were to send a Coy to take over their position.

Tracing at Appendix 21 shows Brigade dispositions as they had been since 29 Dec.


0900 Twenty men and 8 vehicles of the enemy were observed by B Coy at 670217. He shelled them with his support artillery and they went to ground.

1400 The enemy had been making use of the low cloud and mist for considerable movement of single vehicles. B Coy observed two in the area of farm 690211 and shelled them. They took shelter in the farm where he pinned them by shellfire, keeping them under observation. No further movement was seen before nightfall.

6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD.

CO holds conference of O Group at 0900 hrs in Bttn Admin HQ in farm. Bttn at 2 hrs notice to move. It will be a difficult job. The hill is now a sea of mud after 5 hrs of rain during the night. IO called to conference at Brigade HQ 1130hrs.

1000 An explosion is heard in C Coy area. A truck has blown up and it is found that Lieut Andrews has been killed. Also one fusilier. Cpl Christie, who was 60 yards away, receives an eye injury. It is expected that the bttn will move tonight.  It is decided to form Coy dumps at bottom of hill and Bttn HQ is moved into bttn admin farm. It has rained hard all the morning and difficulty is experienced in getting guns and vehicles down the hill.

1500 Padre buries the remains of Lieut Andrews and Fusilier Beggs in Bttn HQ farm.

CO writes operations order which he dictates to L/Cpl Slewson (HQ Coy clerk).

Coys busy all afternoon sliding down hill with Coy dumps.

2359 Warning order: Bttn will move at 0200hrs. CO to be at Brigade 2359hrs.

2345 CO leaves for Brigade with I.O. Coys warned to vacate hill and concentrate around their coy dumps on road. Coy vehicles (two per coy and W/T truck) are ordered up.

Died on this Day:

Lieutenant John Andrews, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Fusilier George Beggs, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

2 LIR.

1250 F Company at 2 hrs’ notice to move to take over Inniskillings’ positions.

1310 E Company day patrol help Recce Corps to round up 12 Arabs for interrogation.

1605 H Company at 30 minute notice under command 2 Tps C Squadron, 2nd Lothians.

2359 F Company moved to 6th Inniskillings’ positions.