War Diaries – 16th to 20th January 1944

16th January


RA 78 Division Admin Instruction No 3 received.

78 Division Admin Instruction No 15 issued.

0549 Barrage opened on start line.

0550 CB by mediums. Fired 20 minutes D/F tasks area 036437 (possibly reaction to serial 15 above).

0600 Barrage opened to pts 1154 and 1152. One section MGs fired on road between Alfedena and Barrea. Smoke put down.

0900 Two companies 2 LIR less OP personnel returned to Montenero.

1600 Division ask us in clear on R/T why attack did not go in this morning. We replied ‘postponed owing to weather conditions’. Divisional reply ‘Have plans prepared for time when weather improves’. We answer ‘Everything planned’.

1900 Patrol base established area pt1061 025469.

2200 Patrol reached area 016472 found no enemy and saw no tracks in snow. Line between Montenero and OP area Calvario cut.

Patrol of five engaged own troops on 1081 – no success by either side.

1 RIrF.

0300 Divisional and Brigade Commanders arrived to watch dummy attack.

0540 Barrage opened.  Poor visibility.  Nothing seen from OPs.

1605 Six shells 062495.

2030 A Coy relieved C Coy road junction 0749.  T/Maj. DRY Dawson to hospital.  Routine night patrols.  R. Sangro 4ft.

6 Innisks – FORLI.

Weather fair, rain in the evening, visibility fair, wind fresh.

1400 A Coy left Pescopennataro.

2100 A Coy arrived at Forli.

2 LIR.

0530 All flank protection patrols from E & F companies back in company areas. NTR.

Zero hour for “Chinese” attack.

RA shell targets in area 0147 0248 and Scontrone.

4.2” mortars fired at 014446. Positions at 027488 engaged by MMGs.

0600 Enemy shelled area 044875. 20-30 shells in 15 minutes.

0620 Our shelling stops.

0800 E & F Companies relieved by G & H Companies.

1000 E & F Companies in Montenero.

1500 CO’s orders for operations night 16/17 Jan.

Infm: Enemy believed to be holding Bellaveduta 0147

Intention: To find out if enemy occupy Bellaveduta and his positions.


Phase 1 1730-1900 hrs.

H Company to hold Pt 1,061 with 1 Platoon. Remaining platoons to give flank protection from rear in area of main road Alfedena-Pizzone.

1 Platoon G Company to occupy slopes of Calvario.

Phase II 2200-2300 hrs.

Withdrawal when battle patrol reports in to H Company.

Support from RA 4.2” mortars and 3” mortars.

DF after withdrawn.

1700 Phase I commences

1900 Phase I completed.

2130 Phase II completed. CO & battle patrol now returning to Montenero.

2315 CIO & battle patrol arrive in Montenero.

Withdrawal of H Company completed satisfactorily.

Patrol did not reach objective. Was followed back across River Torto by enemy patrol. Fired on H Company, but gun jammed and enemy escaped.

17th January


0830 Fifty and 60 shells landed Montenero, 33% dud.

0948 Mediums shelled 008485.

1050 Five rounds gun fire by medium on 0048. Enemy gun positions retaliation for shelling of Montenero.

1100 Brigade Commander visited Platoon Commanders’ Course.

Mediums registered 2nd objective Pt 1241, square 9949.

1230 G3 Operations 78 Division arrived at Brigade HQ.

1500 Eighteen enemy shells landed in area 048384.

1515 Eighteen 105mm shells area 048384.

1 RIrF.

0900 Six shells 081479. Strafe Two fired.

1040 Enemy mortared 083503. Strafe Two fired.

1100 CO went on leave.  Major HFW Holmes assumed command.  Routine night patrols.  R. Sangro 4ft.

Died on this Day:

Captain Ronald Wilkin, Royal Irish Fusiliers, attached from the Border Regiment.

6 Innisks – FORLI.

Weather fine and cold, visibility good, wind light.

Personnel at Forli carried out training and bttn duties. FFI inspections.

1400 Security lecture for A and HQ Coys was given by lecturer from FSS.

Allotments were given cinema show.

2 LIR.

0830 E & F Companies relieve G & H Companies in forward positions.

0830 Fifty shells land in Montenero. Mostly 165 and 150 calibre.

0930 G and H Companies return to Montenero. Sweep ground between forward localities and Montenero for possible patrols lurking in the neighbourhood.

1015 Battle patrol goes out to Marsucci 0547 to search for possible enemy observation patrol parties in this area. NTR.

1815 One platoon E Company goes out to 027468 to lie up, supported by a platoon on the forward slopes of Calvario.

2300 All platoons back in company areas. Patrol made no contact.

18th January


0100 Patrol of 1 RIrF engaged enemy patrol at station 073497. No result.

1230 DAQMG 78 Division visited Brigade HQ.

1620 Three figures one in white seen 035496.

1630 Four shells area 031462. No casualties.

1 RIrF.

Routine night patrols.  R. Sangro 4ft.

Read Lawrie Franklyn-Vaile’s letters.

6 Innisks – FORLI.

Weather fine and cold, visibility good, wind light.

1000 Leave party went to Campobasso for three days at the monastery.

The truck which took this party, after depositing the personnel ran over a mine and injured the driver.

Personnel at Forli continued training. Captain JJ McPhillips rejoined this unit and was posted to A Coy as 2.i.c. Lieut AC O’Reilly joined this unit and was posted to S Coy and appointed officer in command Carrier Platoon. One platoon B Coy acted as demonstration platoon for the battle school at Forli.

Major Little OC S Coy evacuated to hospital with influenza.

2 LIR.

0600 Dawn patrol from G Company to Lone Tree and Top Point.

1000 Mule convoy with supplies leaves for forward companies.

CO & IO go up to give verbal orders for tonight’s operations

1130 Fifteen shells land in area Calvario and Banchette. Last land well into the forward platoon locality of F Company. CO gives out verbal orders for operations tonight.

One platoon F Company to lie up just south of Alfedena in area of bend in road 028475 supported by remaining platoons of F Company at 034474 and 030470. Flank protection patrols during the night to 1182 and Banchette.

1400 CO’s orders for the remainder of the battalion. Protection of MT convoy.

One platoon G Company to high ground overlooking main road and 0647.

Jeep patrol along road to escort vehicles in. DF by RA. 4.2” & 3’ mortars.

1900 Convoy of 15 trucks reports in with supplies and rations. 45 refugees evacuated to rear.

2200 F Company reports back in position. NTR.

2359 Convoy returns to H Echelon. T/Major CAF Gibbs admitted to hospital.

19th January


Brigade Commander and BM 1 Carpathian Rifle Brigade attached to Brigade HQ.

0815 Approximately 60 enemy launched small scale attack on two forward platoons 2 LIR in area 0344622. Attack supported by mortar and SA fire of 2nd enemy party. 1st bomb wounded Platoon Sergeant and two Section Commanders. Deep snow delayed CA plans. Retreating enemy dispersed by artillery concentrations. Enemy wore white.

2100 Identification of one wounded German, 1 Coy 576 Regiment.

1 RIrF.

0800 Report from 502 Field Battery of attack by enemy on 2 LIR west of Montnero 0545 at first light.

0900 One platoon C Coy with OP party 502 Field Battery to point 1210 (0944).

1000 Artillery OP in position.  Nothing seen in Montenero direction.

1100 2 LIR report enemy withdrawn, leaving 5 dead, one PW who was identified as 1 Coy 576 Inf Regt (305 Inf. Div).  Platoon C Coy and artillery OP withdrawn from pt 1210.  T/Major DRY Dawson rejoined from hospital.  Routine night patrols.  R. Sangro 4ft.

6 Innisks – FORLI.

Weather fine, light wind, visibility good.

0815 Approximately 60 enemy launched a small scale attack around forward platoons of 2 LIR at Montenero (0545) and 6 Innisks were ordered to have one strong coy standing by to occupy point 1210 (0944). This coy was made up from personnel of A, B, and S Coys and commanded by Major Murdoch (B Coy).

1015 Intelligence Section recced a route from Rionero to this feature and found suitable track for mules.

1245 CO and OC B Coy left to make recce of point 1210 and afterwards continued across country to D Coy at Acquaviva.

1815 This coy was not needed and ordered to stand down.

Lieut Milner joined bttn.

2 LIR.

0200 One platoon G Company returns to Montenero.

0600 Dawn patrol from G Company to Rocky Point and Top Pt 0545.

0830 E Company report enemy raid.

1030 G & H Companies leave in counter-attack on E & F Companies position.

1500 G and H Companies return to Montenero.

1800 CO’s O Group. Operations tomorrow to bring in forward companies to Montenero and all stores.

Died on this Day:

Rifleman Luke Bradbury, London Irish Rifles.

Rifleman James Cullen, London Irish Rifles.

Rifleman Christopher Slevin, London Irish Rifles.

Rifleman Ronald Smith, London Irish Rifles.

Lance Corporal Arthur Webb, London Irish Rifles.

20th January


1000 Brigade Commanders met GOC 78 Division.

1500 Eight shells at intervals of 7 to 10 minutes on Bifurcation 0749.

Amendment training directive No 1 78 Division received.

1 RIrF.

1000 Enemy shelled 083525.

1545 Enemy shelled (18 rounds) road junction 0749.  Strafe Two fired.

Routine night patrols.  R. Sangro 4ft.  Lts RM Manson and RSM Howard joined.

6 Innisks – FORLI.

Weather fine. Visibility good.

0900 Two MMG sections moved from San Vittorino to Castel San Vincenzo (0539). Two 3” mortar sections attached to C Coy established positions in Cerro (0839).

1230 Intelligence Section recced supply route to point 1191 (0942) and a mule track was found from Foci (084414). OC HQ Coy recced billets in Aquaviva for Bttn HQ and HQ Coy. Divisional Commander visited positions at Cerro and San Vincenzo.

1730 CO’s conference on proposed move. DCA visited the bttn and tested new cooks. 6 Innisks OO No 3 (C Coy) issued. Movement instructions for inter coy reliefs issued.

2315 Orders were received from Brigade HQ to recce coy positions at San Vincenzo (0539). Mount Croce (0740) and point 1191 (0942).

2 LIR.

0500 G & H Companies go out to Banchette 033455 and Calvario 035453 respectively to cover return of E and F companies and all their stores.

0730 G and H Companies in position.

1500 E and F Companies in Montenero.

1600 Sergeant Stalker and one section battle patrol goes out to Calvario to lie up and observe.

1830 G and H Companies back in Montenero.

1900 2 i/c reports to brigade for conference.

2330 CO warned to go to brigade. E Company to provide jeep escort and covering party.

Died on this Day:

Rifleman Thomas Kirkland, London Irish Rifles.