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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 June 1944


11th June

Brigade HQ.

One coy 1 RIrF and 3 H push on towards Orte A 6730.

0900 Coy 1 RIrF in Orte. No opposition. Battle patrol went to bridge 730174 and established standing patrol there. 56 Recce occupied Bassano 5862.Slight shelling of 1 RIrF area during the morning mainly by SP guns from River Tiber.

2000 Warning order received from Brigade Group to move forward to concentration area in the Cellano A 4842 – Civitella A 5147 area. Order of march: 2 LIR, D Support Group, 254 A/Tk Battery, 214 Field Company, Brigade HQ, 6 Innisks.

1 RIrF to remain in present area and come under direct command 78 Division. Head of brigade column to pass SP at 0630 hrs on 12th June.


1 RIrF.

0900 C Company reported in Orte with tanks and one battery SP guns in support.

2100 A party has invited to visit Rome – CO, Adjutant and bttn party leave for Rome visit.


6 Innisks

0400 Heavy rain started and it was soon apparent that the bttn, which was sleeping in the open without bivouacs, was in for a wet night.

0800 Bivouacs were issued and attempts were made to get clothes dry.

Rain continued at intervals until 1600 hrs and the bttn did not have a very happy day.

1700 Brigadier visited the bttn and brought with him that the brigade would be moving early on 12th June to the area of Civitella. He also said that the party from each bttn, which was arranged to visit the Pope in the Vatican City would still go on and rejoin the bttn in the new locations.


2 LIR – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

1000 Warning order for bttn representative to meet Staff Captain at road junction 6214 at 1200 hrs for recce of new area.

1030 Brigadier visits Bttn HQ.

2330 Bttn warned for move forward on following morning. Embus at 0530 hrs.



12th June

Brigade HQ.

0630 Head of brigade column passes SP.

1730 Brigade Group in concentration area. Locations as follows: Brigade HQ 486421, 6 Innisks 494424 (less one coy), 2 LIR 487428, D Support Group 484438, 254 A/Tk Battery 463426, 214 Field Company 508445, coy 6 Innisks Graffignano A5343.

Situation – fighting is going on in Bagnoregio A 4448 and to the north east of Civitella. Own troops reached Civitella rd 386607 last night.

Brigade intentions – 1. To form firm base from right 525466 to left 498463 to include Civitella for future moves north along road to Castiglione A 5351.

  1. To patrol north from Civitella to recce possibilities of advance to track 510484 tomorrow.
  2. To hold Graffignano.

Plan – 2 LIR with in support D Support Group mortars and 17 Field Regiment to occupy Civitella. One coy 6 Innisks billeted in Graffignano with one platoon standing to. Position for the whole coy to be recced.

1700 2 LIR reached blown bridge 515448. Diversion for all traffic quickly prepared. Tanks can get across.

1730 Slight mortaring and shelling of Civitella.

1830 6 Innisks coy now in Graffignano.

1845 2 LIR in positions. Many enemy about and seem to be of poor quality. No A/Tk guns or MMGs required at present from supporting arms. 2 LIR HQ now at 515456. Harassing fire on Castiglione by 66 Medium Regiment during the night. 2 LIR to patrol forward during the night.

The Irish Brigade is received by the Pope in special audience.

2000 Brigade Commander visits Divisional Commander at Divisional HQ.

Intentions for 13th August – 2 LIR ordered to advance in the morning as far as Pianicciale A 5148 with full artillery by 17 Field Regiment and 66 Medium Regiment and the armour to then push on to Castiglione.


1 RIrF.

0800 Warning order from brigade to concentrate.

1500 D Coy rejoined bttn.

1800 Battle Patrol rejoined bttn and C Company relieved in Orte.


6 Innisks

Bttn roused at 0430 hrs – breakfast at 0530 hrs and everybody was em-bused by 0630 hrs.

0630 The party from the bttn (mainly Catholics), who were to visit the Pope, left for Rome, taking with them the Bttn Pipe Band. In Rome, the three Bttn bands were Brigaded and played at St Peter’s, whilst the representatives from the bttn paraded before the Pope, who expressed great pleasure and the great crowd that collected showed great enthusiasm.

This party was then left to their own resources in Rome until 1600 hrs when they left to return to their respective bttns.

0645 Bttn column moved off and passed the Brigade SP on time ie 0715 hrs.

The journey was a good one and halts were only occasioned by the worst diversions.

C Coy had their mobile German filed kitchen on tow and this provided a welcome cup of tea for all those near enough in the column to collect it during the short halts.

1530 The bttn arrived complete in the area (4842) and locations were Bttn HQ and all coys 483426. B Echelon being in San Angelo (489419).

1630 The bttn was ordered to send one coy to protect the right flank of brigade by occupying the village of Graffignano A 5242 and this job was made enjoyable by the hospitality of the villagers.


2 LIR – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

0700 Bttn leave area San Oreste (in TCVs).

1100 Bttn HQ arrives farm 505441. Coys in some areas.

1530 Divisional Commander visits Bttn HQ to confer with CO on immediate move forward.

1600 CO’s O Group. Information: Brigade at 516448 demolished. Enemy not in occupation of village Civitella D’Agliano 512462. Intention: Bttn to proceed forward at once to seize village and deny its use to the enemy. F Coy with u/c 2 detachment mortars, to go forward in transport as far as bridge, then to proceed on foot and occupy village. Other coys and supporting arms to move forward as soon as diversion is made. Approximate time to complete diversion – one hour.

1645 CO’s report to Divisional Commander – Objective taken. No opposition. Number of enemy believed north of village. Patrols night 12/13 to gain identifications and prisoners. Two patrols, each of 1 officer and 10 ORs to 490485 and 520490.

1715 Diversion completed. Tanks and SP guns move forward in support of bttn.

2030 CO confers with CO of 56 Recce at Tac HQ (518451) on possible exploitation or, if necessary, defence of ground gained.

2100 Bttn party returned from visit to Vatican City. During the visit, the Pope, speaking in English, addressed the 38 Brigade party of 90 officers and ORs in the audience room of his palace. The party attended mass in St Peter’s Cathedral.

2130 On his return from Vatican City, the Brigadier visited Tac HQ. Bttn O Group warned for 0530 hrs the following morning.



13th June

Brigade HQ.

0345 Battle report from 2 LIR. Left hand patrol met opposition in area A 5147 and sustained one man killed. The other patrol on the right, which went to the track at 525480 did not make contact.

0700 2 LIR commence attack towards Castiglione.

0815 2 LIR report they have reported pt 208 515472.

0900 Recce parties 1 RIrF arrive. The battalion was relieved of its commitments by 36 Brigade and ordered to move forward to concentration area and revert to command 38 Brigade.

0910 2 LIR report enemy appear to be pulling out in a hurry. They are being engaged heavily.

By 1020, 2 LIR were on their objective. The going was slow due to the broken nature of the country and time was taken up in thoroughly searching for and mopping up the enemy. The tanks found difficulty in getting through and supported by fire, while the 6 pioneers of 2 LIR did good work firing over open sights at the retreating enemy. One SP gun was knocked out and many enemy dead were found on the objectives.

C Squadron KOH started moving forward along the road to Castiglione by 1100 hrs. Delayed by blown bridge at 545467. Diversion prepared and tanks able to cross by 1245 hrs. A Squadron 3 KOH move forward.

Both squadrons advance along axis of main road to Castiglione. They reported at 1400 hrs that the enemy was withdrawing with all his guns.

1445 Intentions: 6 Innisks to follow up Squadron 56 Recce and two squadrons 3 KOH on right flank and endeavour to consolidate Castliglione before dark. 2 LIR to be prepared to move to pt 246, 519489, and later when 6 Innisks are successful to face left with right flank at Castiglione.

6 Innisk to move as soon as possible, with B Squadron 3 KOH, plus 4.2” mortars and a troop M 10s in support. One battery M 10s less one troop available if required.

1540 Tanks advancing well. Practically no opposition.

1555 56 Recce and tanks now in Castiglione.

1855 6 Innisks report that one coy is moving up and ½ mile short of Castiglione. Remainder of bttn now on the move.

By 2010 hrs, two coys were established in Castiglione. Bttn HQ at 527505. The remaining two coys were moving into the town.

2045 Tac Brigade moves forward to Castiglione at 527505.

2220 Brigade Commander issues verbal orders.

6 Innisks to advance across on axis Castilgione–Tordimonte had passed Castiglione at 0530 hrs. Task to take over from armour as it progresses. B Squadron 3 KOH, one troop M 10s, one platoon 4.2” mortars and RE recce party in support of 6 Innisks. 2 LIR to follow 6 Innisks, head past Castiglione at 0700 hrs. Task to consolidate bounds behind 6 Innisks.

1 RIrF were delayed in moving up from previous location and are now moving up by night. They will not go to area recced near Civitella but will go straight to a concentration area 5153 – their head passed Castiglione at 0830 hrs.

Main and Rear Brigade to move up to join Tac by 0830 hrs.


1 RIrF.

0530 Recce party to Civitella 5247, where seven prisoners were captured, hiding in the area allotted to the bttn.

0630 Bttn’s time of departure delayed owing to the amount of traffic on main route until 2100 hrs.

2200 Bttn moved off.  C Copy moved independently.


6 Innisks – CASTIGLIONE.

Weather bright and sunny.

As it was obvious that the tactical situation was not serious, it was arranged that the bttn band should play in the village of Graffignano where D Coy were.

1145 The Band played as arranged and was much appreciated by the villagers and after the performance, the Countess (?), who lived in the castle, entertained the band.

1300 CO was called to Brigade HQ for orders and was told that the bttn was to advance on Castiglione, if possible and failing that, to get as far as possible. CO ordered A Coy to stand by before he went to Brigade HQ.

1400 CO called O Group conference and ordered an advance on a one coy front. A Coy to move immediately by TCV to Civitella. Other coys to follow in order, B, C, D, Bttn HQ. CO then went on a jeep with S Coy Commander and IO to the de-busing point where the S Coy Commander was left to guide bttn to assembly area whilst the CO and IO continued recce.

Owing to bridge at 535469 being blown, they had to make deviation along tracks to 547466. Here, it was learned that 56 Recce had reported Castiglione had been evacuated by the enemy and the CO decided to see for himself and drove straight on there.

1545 CO and IO arrived in Castiglione and found some elements of 56 Recce in the town. CO sent back a message to the bttn that he was on the bttn objective and that they would come forward. CO then went back to meet the bttn leaving the IO to recce coy positions.

The civilians were very excited and pleased and established stalls in the main square with wine and cheese sandwiches to give to the troops. Coys were soon in protective positions round the town, but transport did not arrive with food etc until 2200 hrs owing to the need to wait until the REs had prepared a diversion around the blown bridge.

News came back that the tanks, which had gone through the town had pushed on for about four miles and had collected some prisoners and the Battle Patrol was sent out to round them up. When they reached the tanks, they found that they only been able to retain 12 of them, the others having escaped. The tanks asked the Battle Patrol to assist them in clearing the village of Tordimonte , while they were there, as they were being held up by an anti tank gun.

Lieut Greene and the Battle Patrol led his men in and had a sharp engagement with the enemy during which one of our men was killed and one wounded but the Bosche was successfully chased from the village and the anti tank gun put out of action.

2130 B Coy was ordered to a position approximately four miles forward of Castiglione in order to protect the tanks which were to harbour there for the night.

2300 B Coy reported in position.

Casualties – 1 OR killed, 2 ORs wounded.

Died on this Day:

Fusilier  Timothy Cullagh, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.


2 LIR – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

0400 Patrol to 490485 report contact at 510477. Own casualties – 1 OR killed ( F Coy). Patrol to 520490 report no contact with company.

0530 CO’s O Group – H Coy to capture Agliano 518471. G Coy to take La Torricella 519481. Bttn bounds – 512472 (Bishop), 514477 (Curate). Brigade Bounds – 520484 (Deacon), 522492 (Priest), 520504 (Pope). Artillery to fire on 510476 and 510485. One squadron of 3 Hussars (9 Armoured Brigade) to support coys. When objectives taken, coys to face right flank.

0650 Tac HQ move forward to house La Villa 510455.

0810 H Coy report reached Bishop.

0851 Six enemy shells (air bursts) over Tac HQ.

0933 Ops and forward coys report enemy transport moving north along track 505505. Own artillery engage but smoke obscures view of results. G Coy report making good progress towards La Torricella.

Brigade Flank Sitrep: Large town 6000 – 7000 yards north west of our position captured by own troops (Presumably Bagno Regio occupied by 6 SA Armoured Division). French troops occupy Monterado, a high feature south west of Bagno Regio.

1115 Artillery barrage called for on La Tore (pt 246) to the north of G Coy. Enemy infantry with tanks or SP guns reported at 519494. G Coy claim to have inflicted casualties on them with SA fire.

1130 Enemy reported pulling out from 523482.

1135 Brigadier visits Bttn HQ.

1150 One prisoner brought into Bttn HQ. Identification – 365 Infantry Division. Prisoner, who was a Pole, reported that enemy artillery were running out of ammunition.

1215 Divisional Commander visits Bttn HQ.

1315 Telephonic comm. Established with 56 Recce HQ and thence to 38 Brigade Tac HQ.

1320 Liaison officer from 56 Recce reported to Bttn HQ.

1400 G Coy report large number of civilians in front of position. Patrols being sent to investigate.

1405 Enemy shelling in front of Castiglione.

1525 G Coy patrol return with one prisoner.

1530 Enemy transport moving north at 588507 engaged by own artillery.

1615 Tanks (Support Squadron of 6 Innisks) reported in Castiglione. 6 Innisks about one mile behind tanks.

1700 CO’s O Group. Intentions for night 13th/14th June: G and H Coys to extend their positions slightly. G Coy at 520488 and 519482. H Coy at 530489. To remain there for night. E and F Coys move forward to area 516495 and 523482 respectively. E Coy’s defence system to be augmented by VMGs and two troops of tanks. The combined bttn intention being to protect the area south of Castiglione from possible counter attack from left flank.

1750 Prisoner taken by G Coy patrol also identified as belonging to 365 Division.

1830 Brigadier visits Bttn HQ and postpones bttn intentions for the night.

1955 Bttn warned for move forward at 0530 hrs on 14th June.



14th June

Brigade HQ.

0630 6 Innisks now in area 505563. Permission given by Brigade Commander for them to clear 4954 to allow RE to get on with the job of preparing road for traffic.

0900 214 Field Company RE report possible tank crossing at 491584.

1125 HQ 1 RIrF at 501542, HQ 6 Innisks 500570.

Bridgehead to be formed across River Paglia. Boundary of bridgehead; stream and river junction 508568 – up stream to fork 508589 – to stream 500598 – downstream to stream and river junction 485589.

6 Innisks on right, 2 LIR on left.

1 RIrF not to move from present area.

56 Recce will be protecting the right flank towards Corbara 5457.

11 Brigade will pass through up axis Route 71 on morning 15th June.

1700 6 Innisks and 2 LIR on objective.

6 Innisks HQ 492589, coys at 495592 – 500597 – 498585 – 501579.

2 LIR HQ – 464617, coys at 467628, 470629, 468617, 462622.

Many enemy dead reported on objectives.

50 PoW taken so far during whole advance from 1800 hrs, 12th June to 1700 hrs, 14th June.

1800 Main Brigade and Rear Brigade established at 505565.


1 RIrF.

0430 Bttn reached destination but owing to the other bttns having moved faster than expected, the plan was changed and a new area allotted.

0630 Breakfasted and moved off at 0800 hrs.

0930 Bttn reached new area 501542.


6 Innisks – TORDIMONTE.

Weather bright and warm. Slight cloud.

0400 Reveille – bttn was to be clear of Castiglione by 0530 hrs.

0500 Move commenced and bttn continued as far as Tordimonte, which had been cleared by tanks.

The bttn’s role was to follow up a tank advance in the direction of Orvieto but at Tordimonte, battn was ordered not to advance any further as new plans were being made.

1000 While waiting for fresh orders, the CO asks permission to clear buildings at A4856.

1030 This was granted and A Coy sent one platoon forward to search the buildings with the other two platoons standing by to render immediate assistance if opposition was met.

The buildings were, however, found to be clear of the enemy and the platoon returned to the coy.

1100 Brigadier came forward to see the CO and give him new orders, which were that the bttn was to form a bridgehead across the River Paglia at approximately A 4967.

The CO and IO went off immediately on a recce and found that the tanks had already found a suitable crossing for vehicles but as the enemy was shelling this area, the CO decided to make the initial crossing at 5147.

While the recce was being carried out, an area was shelled causing two casualties: 1 OR killed and one wounded.

CO returned from recce and ordered coys to move in order D, C, A, B – C Coy to take the high ground 1000 yards north west of the crossing and D Coy to occupy the feature immediately across the river at the point of the crossing.

1145 Leading coy moved off and soon in occupation of their feature; a few Bosche were seen but did not fight. The Coy Commander, while making a recce for positions, came face to face with three enemy and immediately opened fire with his TMG, killing one and wounding another – the third ran away, but was later caught by one of the platoons.

With D Coy well established, C Coy moved quickly onto their objective – a sharp engagement was had with the enemy in the process, but did not last long and the enemy withdrew, leaving behind nine dead and 5 PoWs for the loss of two of our own men wounded.

1200 While C and D Coys were taking their objectives, A and B Coys were moving down from Tordimonte; the enemy had been shelling spasmodically and one ‘stonk’ of six shells fell among B Coy, killing two ORs and wounding six others.

1230 A Coy moved off to take up a position in support of C Coy and B Coy was held in reserve.

1300 All coys were established in their positions and Bttn HQ moved up to a farm at 498598.

The locations were now as follows:

A Coy–493598, B Coy–503589, C Coy–499601, D Coy–in area 5160, A Echelon–521558, B Echelon–489419.

During the afternoon, 2 LIR advanced on the left and we were left with only our right flank to watch.

Odd groups of disorganised Bosche were still wandering around in the vicinity and small patrols were sent out to search gullies etc. These managed to collect another 12 PoWs.

1800 Brigadier visited the bttn to see the general lay out. Remainder of the night was quiet.

Died on this Day:

Lance Corporal Henry Finch, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Fusilier Thomas Crumley, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Fusilier Thomas Mahoney, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Fusilier John Young, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.


2 LIR – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

0530 Bttn move forward by march route, accompanied by essential operational transport, through and beyond Castiglione.

0910 Bttn halted on road 5054.

Brigadier visits CO. Intentions: 6 Innisks to move forward to cemetery 502558 and cross River Paglia, if possible at ford 485569 and protect 2 LIR’s right flank. 2 LIR to strike north along axis Route 71.

1115 Bttn move to Tordimonte. Bttn HQ in building 504562. Spasmodic enemy shelling of area.

1215 6 Innisks report good progress. Bttn in readiness to move forward when 6 Innisks in position. Report Line:  Horn 516562 – 492570.

1245 Brigadier and Brigade LO visit Bttn HQ. Plans changed as follows – 2 coys to take pt 296, 499596. Two coys in reserve.

Method – to cross River Paglia and proceed under escarpment to approximately 492563, then to strike north east over rising ground and secure objective. Reserve coys only called for, if needed. Code Word for objective – Christmas.

Information: Bttn boundaries – streams Foiano and Fabio. 6 Innisks already across Paglia and securing our right flank over Fabio. 11 Brigade to pass through 38 Brigade on morning of 15th June.

1445 Tanks of 3 Hussars report no enemy infantry or guns encountered in area of bttn future operations. Plans therefore altered. Bttn ordered to cross River Paglia by diversion at 488565 and thence to proceed up Route 71 as far as general area pts 246, 210 and 193 (4662) and seize and hold that area until 11 Brigade pas through on following morning.

1500 E and F Coys to take objectives – G and H Coys in immediate reserve. CO’s Recce party forward in transport.

1600 Tanks (3 Hussars) seen on bttn’s objective firing to north.

1625 E and F Coys reported on objectives. CO liaises with Tank Commander.

1725 Tac HQ at 463628. Coys now leaving present location and moving north west.

1945 Four prisoners surrendered to bttn. Identification – 1 Regiment, 1 Para Division.

1950 Main Bttn HQ joins Tac HQ at 463612.



15th June

Brigade HQ.

0815 One coy 1 RIrF ordered to move, em-bused to move up behind 56 Recce to consolidate their gains. To come under command 56 Recce.

0900 6 Innisks ordered to send mobile patrol to Corbara 5457 to investigate village and recce possible OP site.

1400 Patrol from 6 Innisks went to Corbara and exploited north east. They took 3 PoW, who stated that the remainder of the 30 enemy reported there left at 0500 hrs this morning.

1700 Three carrier patrols from 1 RIrF ordered to report to 9 Armoured Brigade for cooperation during the advance. Brigade Commander orders that they bring 3 officer patrols each with two carriers to RV at Main Divisional at 0545 hrs tomorrow.


1 RIrF.

1200 A Coy placed at immediate notice.

Task to clear Route 79 in conjunction with 56 Recce.

1400 A Coy moved to rendezvous with Recce at 514624 at 1530 hrs.

1600 A Coy proceeded up the road until forward elements bumped into heavy opposition in area 526665.

2100 A Company attacked enemy position after it had been subjected to artillery and mortar fire, enemy withdrew as soon as 8 Platoon made a determined flanking attack. 25 bodies were counted and 2 field guns, 1 A/Tk guns and 3 trucks were captured.

2215 A Company consolidated near the main road where they remained for the night.


6 Innisks – TORDIMONTE.

Weather bright and clear.

0430 Two PoWs were brought in by a scouting party and decided to search the area to our immediate front in case there were still more about.

0800 C and D Coys sent out search parties and brought in two more PoWs.

2/Lieut Foster went on a motor cycle to the village of Corbara where he expected to find one of the search parties; the party had not reached the village and he ran into a platoon of enemy and was captured.

1230 As soon as it became known, search parties were organised; one platoon from B Coy to go along the road leading north from Corbara and one platoon of A Coy to go in carriers to a point on the lateral road four miles to the north in the hope of cutting them off. The CO and IO went with the latter party and as it was in this area that the 56 Recce Regiment was operating, the CO was able to obtain some cooperation from them.

The search was not successful and it was learnt from civilians that the enemy had crossed the road from Corbara in a north easterly direction shortly before B Coy’s platoon came along.

1930 CO went to dinner at Brigade HQ and all officers of the bttn were invited to call at Brigade HQ after dinner.


2 LIR – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

0530 Three prisoners. Identifications – 2 from 1 Regiment, 1 Para Division, 1 from a fusilier bttn.

0800 Five prisoners brought in from G Coy. Identifications – 1027 Lehr Regiment.

0900 Advance parties from 11 Brigade pass through bttn area, followed by main bodies and supporting armour.

1000 Divisional Commander visits Bttn HQ.

1030 Brigadier visits Bttn HQ.



 

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