War Diaries – 21st to 25th January 1944

21st January


1000 Brigade Commander and CO 2 LIR to meet Army Commander at Carpinone.

1500 C Coy 6 Innisks move completed and HQ established at Cerro.

No enemy activity during the day.

1 RIrF.

Informed of decision to withdraw 2 LIR from Montenero which is considered tactically unsound place to hold.  This battalion and 6 Innisks to readjust positions.  2 LIR to go to brigade reserve at Forli 1443.

Day spent in recce of new positions.  Routine patrols.  R. Sangro 3ft 9ins.

6 Innisks – FORLI.

Weather fine but overcast, wind fresh, visibility good.

0900 One officer and 40 ORs from S Coy left for Mount Croce and all mules and donkeys in San Vittorino were requisitioned to carry their stores up the mountain, which was an hour’s climb. The positions on Mount Croce were manned and the men not on duty were housed in two 160lb tents. Rations were stored in San Vittorino.

1500 C Coy moved its HQ from San Vittorino to Cerro. S Coy received warning order to move to Mount Croce and coy commanders and platoon representatives carried out recce.

The following awards of the MM were announced:

4458929 L/Sgt J Chatburn D Coy,

7015490 Cpl A Lyttle C Coy,

7018185 Cpl D Milligan D Coy,

2618443 L/Cpl J Powell D Coy,

6470130 Cpl P Madden B Coy.

2 LIR.

0500 CO leaves for brigade. Covering party from S Company in position in hills.

0800 E Company goes to Wooded Saddle 044449.

0830 F Company, supported by E Company, goes out to Banchette to observe.

1100 Patrol from S Company to Lone Tree 054463.

1630 E and F Companies return to Montenero.

1720 Lt Searles and one platoon H Company go out to old forward company positions on Calvario to observe and ambush any enemy who may return there. Also to patrol E Company track 035460 and F Company track at 042460.

1730 G Company goes out to area on counter-attack role on Bifurcation. To send out patrols to River Sangro and intervening sector Alfedena Road.

2330 Lt Searles and his platoon report in. NTR.

22nd January


1000 Brigade Commander to San Vincenzo.

1200 Castel di Sangro shelled by enemy artillery.

1340 Five unidentified aircraft bombed and machine gunned area Vandra, causing casualties to MT and personnel.

1600 Six Lightnings machine gunned Vandra causing further casualties.

1800 Brigade Commander to 78 Division HQ.

78 Division OO No 13 received.

1 RIrF.

1010 Enemy shelled 095543.  Strafe Two fired.

1245 Shelling and mortaring 095543.  Strafe Two fired.

1315 Shelling behind and forward of Rionero.  Strafe Two fired.

Orders to coy commanders for readjustment on withdrawal of 2 LIR from Montenero.

2030 C Coy relieved A Coy rd junction 0749.  Routine night patrols.  R. Sangro 3ft 9ins.

Read Lawrie Franklyn-Vaile’s letters.

6 Innisks – FORLI.

Working party from B Coy and Pioneer Platoon went to Mount Croce to prepare positions from the rocks. One platoon from C Coy moved forward to new positions in San Vincenzo.

1340 Five Kitty Bombers (British markings) dropped six bombs in area 159193 near B Echelon and afterwards returned to machine gun the area. No casualties to this unit.

1540 Six Lightnings (American markings) from formation escorting bombers came down and machine gunned the same area. This unit escaped casualties on this occasion.

2 LIR.

0800 G Company reports in.

0815 IO goes out to recce mule track to Rionero by cross country route.

1200 IO returns.

1700 Battle patrol goes out to area 041453 to lie up and observe.

1730 F Company goes out to area 055476 for counter-attack role in Bifurcation. Protective patrols during night to River Sangro.

2130 White verey lights seen over hills.

23rd January


0930 Brigade Commander to Rionero.

1010 1 RIrF report that forward troops area Castel di Sangro encountered enemy positions, 5 strong, during the night in the vicinity of Castel di Sangro. One was killed and another captured. Identification 305 PI Bttn. A quiet day. No further enemy activity.

1 RIrF.

0830 Civilian reported to D Coy that 4 Germans went in house 087527.  Platoon under command Lt C. Totterton went out, killed one, captured one.  Other two escaped across R. Sangro.  PW was a corporal of 2 Coy 305 Pi Btl and stated that his unit was acting as infantry and his patrol had been sent out to lie up during day to locate our positions.

A/Maj JEM McNally rejoined from hospital.  Routine patrols.  R. Sangro 3ft 9ins

6 Innisks – FORLI.

One platoon moved forward to San Vittorino to act as carrier and working party. Bivouacs, water, rations and ammunition were taken forward to Mount Croce, the bivouacs being erected on the reverse slopes. The Brigadier and CO inspected these positions. All supplies had to be carried up the mountain, a carry of 1500 up a very step gradient. Lieut Green joined this unit and was posted to B Coy. Also Lieut CO Beard, 2/Lieut BK Jackson and Lieut AJ Minty.

2 LIR.

0045 Battle patrol reports in. No enemy seen or contact made.

0600 Dawn patrol from E Company goes out to nearby hills. .

0730 F reports in from Montenero. Reported no enemy contacted or observed.

0800 H Company goes out to F Company old position on Alto 0447 to observe. One platoon is detailed from main body of company to move left handed to search old Calvario position.

0930 CO’s O Group goes out on recce of Marsucci area and surrounding hills.

1400 CO’s orders for night operations. G Company to go out on counter-attack role on Bifurcation. To cover patrol to ford across River Sangro at 043492. Patrol from E Company to Top Point 049461. To patrol ground just forward. Battle Patrol to 051470 to lie up and observe. Artillery fire at call.

1700 G Company go out to forward slopes of Silario in c/a role.

1730 H Company report in Montenero.

1800 CO’s verbal orders:

Intention: to keep patrolling high ground forward and prepare to evacuate Montenero.

Method: H Company to Steep Hill. Local patrols in surrounding hills (during day).

1700 Companies to move out to hills forward to protect MT convoy coming in tonight to take away 50 per cent stores. Full 100 per cent protection. IO to provide guides in night guiding. Detailed written orders issued.

1845 Battle patrol goes out to 051470.

1900 G Company report in position.

2000 Patrol from G Company goes out to ford across River Sangro at 043492.

2350 Patrol from battle patrol reports in. NTR.

24th January


0310 Patrol 1 RIrF encountered enemy patrol in the area of station 070505. One enemy killed and from epaulettes identification found to be that of an engineer. He carried no papers  but is certain to be 305 PI Bttn.

1200 Brigade Commander to conference at 78 Division HQ.

1330 Enemy artillery shelled bifurcation area – thought to be a 105 mm gun.

1720 6 Inniskillings’ HQ now established at Cerro.

1 RIrF.

0215 Five enemy approached standing patrol C Coy at 075496.  One killed.  Identified as 305 Pi Btl.

0310 Inaccurate fire on our positions 095543 from rear (about 104540).  SA and 3” mortars fire was returned and enemy disappeared.  Search of area revealed nothing.

0700 Twelve enemy seen one side of river 088544.  Disappeared on being engaged by LMGs.  Search of area revealed nothing.

1200 CO returned from leave and resumed command.

1800 One platoon A Coy occupied position DAVID. Ten shells road junction 0749.  Strafe Two fired.

Routine night patrols.  R. Sangro 3ft 9ins.

Lt FG Jenrick and 2/Lt JV Lloyd joined.

6 Innisks – FORLI.

Weather fine, light cloud, visibility good. Coys continued preparations of new positions. B Coy OO No 1 issued.

2 LIR.

0030 Patrol from G Company reports in. River knee deep. Ford not been used for some time.

0100 Patrol from E Company goes out to Top Point.

0200 1 RIrF report small enemy patrol at Bifurcation. Red verey lights fired and G Company moved forward to ambush and counter-attack. Only small enemy patrol of 5 men. They were quickly dispersed before G Company arrived. 1 enemy killed.

0430 Patrol from E Company reports in. NTR.

0730 G Company comes in to Montenero.

0800 H Company goes out to Steep Hill to observe. 1 section Battle Patrol goes out to recce Marsucci and surrounding features.

1230 This section reports in. NTR.

1300 Two sections Battle Patrol goes out to Top Point and forward features 0447.

1400 CO’s verbal orders to arrange night protection of column. Detailed written orders issued.

1600 These sections report in. NTR.

1630 IO moves of with guides.

1700 Companies move out to positions to protect large MT convoy coming in at 1900.

F Company to Silario.

H Company to 063402.

E Company to 057467.

Battalion HQ to 063461.

G Company to 052462.

1900 Convoy arrives just outside town. Marshalled and led forward one by one. All stores loaded on vehicles and column re-marshalled. No enemy interference.

25th January


1500 Brigade Commander to Cerro to 6 Inniskillings’ HQ. Apart from spasmodic enemy shelling in the area of Castel di Sangro and the bifurcation day was uneventful.

1 RIrF.

0215 Thirteen shells (10 dud) road junction 0749.  Strafe Two fired.

1600 Sixteen shells (2 dud) 75 mm 091537.  Strafe Two fired.

1735 Vehicles 2 LIR forward to Montenero.

1830 DAVID position fully occupied by A Coy.

2330 Vehicles of 2 LIR back from Montenero. C Coy less one platoon, which remained at road junction 0749, back to Rionero.  Routine night patrols.  R. Sangro 3ft 9ins.

Lt EL Gibbon to hospital.

Read Lawrie Franklyn-Vaile’s letters.

6 Innisks – FORLI.

Weather, visibility deteriorating. Preparations made for move of Bttn HQ to new location Cerro. Some personnel of Bttn HQ moved at 1400hrs in order to establish new HQ. Main body left Forli at 1900hrs and arrived at Cerro at 200hrs.

1700 One platoon of C Coy, which had been left in Cerro for security, left to rejoin C Coy in San Vincenzo and A/Tk Platoon for San Vittorino moved into Cerro to man defences. A Coy came under command of 1 RIrF (Tactical). Dispositions were now as follows:

Bttn HQ – Cerro.

A Coy – Forli under command 1 RIrF.

B Coy – Mount Croce.

C Coy – San Vincenzo.

D Coy – Acquaviva and ready to move to move to Pt 1191 on orders from the CO.

Closer liaison was made between VIII Taber (Goums) by sending an interpreter from Bttn Intelligence Section to San Vincenzo, where they had an HQ.

2 LIR.

0010 MT column moves off.

0030 Companies ordered to withdraw.

0130 All companies except F back in Montenero. F Company move further down slopes of Silario in counter-attack role on Bifurcation.

0800 F Company report in. Patrols to road and rail junction 060495 NTR.

1400 CO’s orders to arrange further details of move to Forli and evacuation of Montenero. Detailed written orders issued.

1700 All companies move out to same positions as previous night. Check posts established at 058459 and 067468.

MT control post at Cemetery.

1900 MT convoy consisting of 21 x 3 tonners arrives.

1915 Loading of transport commences.

2100 Check post 3 established at 076466

2100 IO leaves with guides to piquet cross country march route to Rionero.

2305 MT loading complete.

2331 MT control post closes.

2359 E Company commences to withdraw.

W/Lieut JAS Hunter admitted to hospital.