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Irish Brigade

The story of the 38th (Irish) Brigade in the Second World War

Faugh a Ballagh        Nec Aspera Terrent         Quis Separabit


War Diaries – 11th to 15th July 1944


11th July

Brigade HQ – ITALY.

Whole brigade in train for Taranto. Trains were composed completely of cattle trucks and each truck held thirty men including their personal kit and there was considerable overcrowding and discomfort.


1 RIrF.

En route.


6 Innisks – ON TRAIN.

0900 The train had reached Roccasecca near Cassino where it stayed for about two and a half hours. Breakfast was cooked here and most of the bttn managed to get washed and shaved in addition.

1130 Train left Roccasecca and by 1215 hrs was passing the ruins of Cassino and the Monastery. These places drew considerable interest for it was the first time that most of the battalion had seen the places since they passed them in very different circumstances.

1400 Train stopped for a short halt at Sparnise. Here L/Cpl Pidgeon met with a fatal accident through falling under the train as it started.

1645 The train stopped in a siding near Caserta and here a hot meal was prepared.

2030 Another halt was called at Benevento and more M & V, biscuits and tea were served.

Weather was fine and sunny.

Died on this Day:

Lance Corporal Samuel Pidgeon, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.


2 LIR.

0900 Train halts in siding, south of Frosinone.

1200 Train journey continues.



12th July

Brigade HQ – ITALY.

1500 6 Innisks arrive at Taranto station and march to staging area four miles outside Taranto. The other two trains containing 2 LIR and 1 RIrF were not due in until late in the evening and arrangements were made for the troops to sleep on them until the early morning.


6 Innisks – ON TRAIN.

Weather, cloudy but dry.

0600 The train travelled slowly throughout the night and reached Barletta, where a breakfast was served of M & V and tea.

After this, there were no long halts until the bttn arrived in Taranto at 1445 hrs.

The bttn marched to the Transit Camp near the Railway Station, where a hot meal of M & V, rice and tea was served, after which the bttn marched to its own camp, five miles north of Taranto.

1630 Bttn settled down to the task of ‘moving in’. Offices and stores were set up – blankets etc, drawn.

1900 Bttn was settled in and only just in time, for shortly afterwards heavy rain fell. Even so, many tents were washed out, as lack of tentage had necessitated the use of fly sheets as tents.


2 LIR.

0700 Train halted for one hour at Benevento – hot meal of tea and stew served.

1430 Train halt for one hour at Barletta for hot meal



13th July

Brigade HQ – ITALY.

0900 2 LIR and 1 RIrF arrive at staging area together with the remainder of Brigade HQ.

Arrangements were made to borrow transport from static units and ferry 50% of the men into Taranto on day leave.


1 RIrF.

0530 Arrived at Taranto. Breakfast on track side.

1000 Reached Divisional Transit Camp. Clean and settle.


6 Innisks – TARANTO.

Weather fine and warm – but cloudy.

50% of the bttn was allowed into Taranto on day pass until 2030 hrs.

Weapons were cleaned and a general ‘clean up’ was carried out, after the dirty train journey.

The water in short supply in the camp and precautions had to be taken to ensure strict economy in its use.


2 LIR

0600 Train arrived at first destination – at Narsisi Station (Taranto area).

0700 Breakfast at station. Bttn then march 1 mile to Transit Camp.

1200 50% of bttn on leave in Taranto. Also swimming and bath parades.



14th July

Brigade HQ – TARANTO.

Lt-Gen Allfrey, Commander, 5 Corps, spoke to the officers and men of the 6th Bttn Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. He was representing General Alexander, who could not get away as he was too busy. He explained the reason for the disbanding of the battalion and why General Alexander could not come down himself to speak to the battalion. Lt-Gen Allfrey was accompanied by the Brigade Commander, who was in Bari, awaiting a plane to fly him to Cairo.

The return of Lt-Col Bredin and the disbanding of 6 Innisks necessitated a change in COs. Lt-Col Coldwell–Horsfall – an Irish Fusilier – now commanding 2 LIR took over command of 1 RIrF. Lt-Col Bredin (RUR) took over command of 2 LIR. On the amalgamation of the two Inniskilling battalions, Lt-Col Scott would retain command of 2 Innisks.


1 RIrF.

Day leaves to Taranto. Light training and sports.


6 Innisks – TARANTO.

Weather fine with light cloud.

The allotment of leave passes to Taranto was reduced to 50%.

As the bttn had no transport of its own, two x 3 tonners were borrowed and a shuttle service for carrying troops into Taranto was started.

1200 Corps Commander of 5 Corps visited the bttn to speak for General Alexander on the disbanding of the bttn. He expressed great sympathy and assured us that everyone else felt the same – but nothing could be down about now.

2030 A cinema show was shown in the camp area.


2 LIR.

0830 RC church parade.

0930 CO addresses bttn.

1000 Day leaves to Taranto.



15th July

Brigade HQ – TARANTO.

Day leave in Taranto. Bathing parties. Preparations made to load heavy baggage tomorrow on to lighters. Transport loaded up ready to leave first thing in the morning.


1 RIrF.

Continue above.


6 Innisks – TARANTO.

Weather fine and warm.

Normal allotment of day passes were available to Taranto.

During the day, preparations were made for leaving the location and, in the evening, heavy baggage was packed up in crates and loaded onto trucks, ready to move early on 16th July 1944.


2 LIR.

0900 Day of recreation. Leave parties to Taranto.



 

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