Skip to content

Irish Brigade

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

Faugh a Ballagh        Nec Aspera Terrent         Quis Separabit


War Diaries – 21st to 25th June 1944

21st June

Brigade HQ.

Situation. 2 LF did not take the village of Sanfatucchio 4089 and were subjected to fairly heavy mortaring and shelling during the night. 1 Surreys on the left managed to get a copy up to Casa Kagone 412886 and put patrols to 389875, which made no contact.

5 Northamptons on the right did not change their positions, which were roughly along the line of the 89 Northing between Sanfatucchio and the lake.

The enemy resistance has been stiffening considerably during the past few days. The parachutists (1/3 Para) put a hard fight in Citta Della Pieve 3785 south and along the whole of the divisional front, there has been a much greater concentration of enemy forces.

Captured maps indicated that the enemy intended to hold a line Gioella 3491 – Frattavecchia 3692 – La Bandita 4092, but obviously his defensive positions were dictated by the ground, which offered a better MLR on the ridge that runs north and south of Sanfatucchio, held by elements of 344 Division.

The situation with 11 Brigade was such that it was now necessary for 2 LIR to attach this ridge and capture the village. All this information was passed to 2 LIR at 0315 hrs.

0400 2 LIR pass SP to concentration area in Macchie 4387. CO goes onto HQ 2 LF to receive latest information and perfect his plan.

0500 11 CAR pass SP to concentration area Macchie and Panicarola (4488).

0630 Brigade HQ move forward to Panicale. HQ established at 453839.

0700 6 Innisks pass SP and move forward to concentration area Panicale.

1 RIrF to move independently and concentrate around Panicarola.

0800 Zero hour for attack by 2 LIR on Sanfatucchio. There was considerable resistance from this village, which was the enemy main defence line and, as was afterwards found out, he had been ordered to hold for three days at all costs.

The attack by 2 LIR supported by B Squadron CAR was completely successful. Heavy fighting took place with fierce exchanges of small arms fire. Most of the opposition came from the west edge of the town. 36 PoWs were taken in all, coming from I Bttn 755 IR, I and II Bttns 754 IR..

2 LIR consolidated their positions after clearing up the western edge of the village and the cemetery at San Felice 405895.

Troop of M 10s (released by 11 Brigade) now going to B Squadron 11 CAR.

A counter attack by about a company came in on the left of the London Irish at about 1625 hrs. The fighting took place mainly in the cemetery area and was successfully repulsed by E Coy.

The bridge at 408920 was captured intact and steps taken by 17 Field Regiment to ensure that it would not be destroyed by the enemy DF.

1900 2 LIR coys positions at 404896–407900–410897–411897. HQ at 413893.

6 Innisks moved up during the early evening to establish the situation on the right of the London Irish. Their objective was Pucciarelli 415906, which they were nearing at 1900 hrs.

MG Platoon from D Support Group to go to 6 Innisks.

Two troops, 6 pounders from 254 A/Tk Battery to go to 6 Innisks.

RE to recce routes north west and south west to Panicarola 4488 to ensure free passage for carriers.

6 Innisks established having met a fair amount of opposition from Pucciarelli HQ at 428896. Coys at 424904 – 417908 – 411904 and 412902.

Both battalions to hold their present position during the night and to consolidate firmly and prepare for strong enemy counter attacks. A/Tk guns and MMGs all reported in position by 2300 hrs.


1 RIrF.

1030 Main Bttn B Coy, S Coy and B Echelon moved forward to general area of 475880.

1600 B Coy now at 448888 as flank protection for 6 Innisks.


6 Innisks – MACCHIE.

Weather fine, but cloudy – sunny later in the day.

CO, IO and OC, S Coy went forward to recce de-busing area and also to learn form from 2 LIR.

0700 Found that progress past Macchie (4386) was not possible and coys had to de-bus and concentrate in area 435865 and wait until 2 LIR attacked Sanfatucchio (4189).

This attack was fought hard as the Bosche was more stubborn than he had been of late.

1130 News received that 2 LIR had entered their village but fighting was still going on.

1130 CO and IO went to CO, 2 LIR in order to tie up the next stage in the advance.

CO went across country to Sanfatucchio from crossroads 416893 and IO went to village in Jeep; both were subjected to accurate shell and mortar fire. Plans were laid by both COs and

1230 Lt Col Kerr returned to the bttn and held an O Group conference at which he told his plan i.e. Bttn would attack Pucciarelli (4190) on a two coy front. A and B leading; C behind A; D behind B with tanks in support (A Squadron, 11 Armoured Brigade).

A and B would take objectives.

1st : Pucciarelli – Right to pt 264 and left to track junction 411902.

2nd: Line of river from 407912 – 417902 and

3rd: Line of river 400917 – 413923 after which C and D Coys would go onto Castliglione 4194.

MMGs and Mortars would report on the bttn start line on capture of first objective.

1330 IO and one platoon A Coy went to recce assembly area.

Remainder of bttn followed on foot and were shown to positions at A Coy – 428898, B Coy – 429899, C Coy – 429897, D Coy – 431899.

Tanks were assembled on track 425896; CO was in tank. Tac HQ in carrier and jeep behind.

Zero hour was at first to be 1500 hrs but 2 LIR on left were counter attacked and all artillery assistance was given to them until it was beaten off and so zero hour was not until 1645 hrs.

1645 A and B Coys crossed start line (stream at 433900) and at the same time, a heavy concentration of enemy shelling fell in bttn area, but little damage was done.

Artillery put down concentration on first objective Z–10 to Z+5 (two regiments).

Enemy continued shelling but most of it fell in rear of bttn area.

1710 Village covered with great clouds of smoke as tanks shot into the houses.

1718 B Coy held up by M/G fire and tanks moved forward to deal with the trouble, which was coming from Red House on their right.

1730-1736 A Coy still advancing, but without tanks on their left.

1740 Enemy MGs giving trouble from farms and tanks moved forward to deal with them.

B Coy out of contact with their tanks and D Coy ordered to send theirs and B Coy told they must push on with this help.

1745 A Coy, almost on objective, called for Artillery Fire on crossroads 416907 – fire came down five minutes later.

Spasmodic mortaring and shelling of bttn area but more trouble come from MGs.

Tanks were not very cooperative, leaving their coys, sometimes for thirty minutes. This caused delay in some cases when coys needed a MG post dealt with.

1748 A Coy held up by heavy M/G fire and Artillery fired on target in spite of closeness of troops, who were only 300 yards away. The shoot was successful.

1818 D Coy were using B Coy’s tanks to assist them on to the objective at 418906, then tanks returned to B Coy, who put up two Green flares to show the tanks where to go to.

1825 A Coy on objective.

1830 B Coy called on tanks to deal with M/G post by Railway Bridge 416905.

1838 Major Irwin OC A Coy wounded and had to be evacuated.

C Coy moved round to left of A Coy to protect the flank.

1915 News came that 2 LIR, on our left, were unlikely to get any further tonight and CO decided that he too would consolidate village of Pucciarelli tonight.

1950 CO asked for more A/Tk guns from Brigade Support Group as only three of our own were effective and was promised two troops 254 A/Tk Battery.

2000 All coys on objective and plans were made for consolidation as quickly as possible in order to get it finished before dark. IO collected all reps of supporting arms and guided them up to the village where they were to meet the CO, who had gone on in his tank to see some of the coy positions. He expected to find C Coy at 414904 and went there first followed by three other tanks. On arrival at these crossroads, he found that the Bosche still occupied the houses there; the first knowledge of this being when a German fired a Schmeiser at him in the turret of the tank and cut the strap of his headphones in two. The track at this point was too narrow to enable the tank to manoeuvre and the turret could not be turned as the gun fired on one of the houses so the CO ordered the tanks behind him to reverse so that the gun could be brought into use. The rear tank (the first one to reverse) blew a track on a Tellermine after moving 50 yards effectively blocking the track, as there were high banks on each side. This meant the other tanks going forward over this difficult track – which was managed eventually by constant manoeuvre, a wary eye being kept on the Bosche at the same time. Eventually they got out and returned to Bttn HQ.

During this time, the Supporting arms’ representatives had been waiting for the CO in the village and as light was failing, a guide was sent to where support weapons were to RV and brought them up while the reps made their own recce for positions – which could be adjusted later if the CO desired: A Coy 414905, B 417905, 413905, D Coy 426903 and Bttn HQ 427896.

Spasmodic shelling and mortaring of coy positions took place during the night; also harassing fire from MGs.

2300 An enemy patrol tried to enter the village but was chased out,

2340 A jeep containing a driver, two signallers and a No 19 Set drove past our forward positions and carried on for a mile before being halted by German sentries. The driver immediately went into reverse and went back down the road followed by bursts from Schmeisser machine posts.

The driver ziz-zagged across the road to avoid these bursts and the machine went off the road and overturned down a six foot drop, the driver and one signaller managed to get away; the other is missing, believed captured.

Enemy casualties – 60 killed, 12 PoWs. Many wounded.

Our own casualties were: Killed – Lieut CJ Horgan, 2 Lieut RRB Roche and seven ORs. Wounded – Major RJT Irwin MC, Lieut JM Campbell, 2/Lieut IF Tilly and 15 ORs. Missing – 4 ORs.

Died on this Day:

Private  Ronald Lush, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, attached from ACC.

Lieutenant Rupert Roche, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, attached from Royal Ulster Rifles.

Corporal John Onions, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Corporal Kenneth Wanklyn, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Fusilier Thomas McLaughlin, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Fusilier James McCreary, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Fusilier Verdun England, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Fusilier Edward Algar, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Fusilier Thomas Roach, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Lieutenant Cornelius Horgan, Royal Irish Fusiliers, attached to the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.


2 LIR – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

0400 Bttn em-bused, ready to move.

0530 Bttn reach de-busing point and ‘married up’ with tanks. Main Bttn HQ established at Macchie 431870.

0630 CO’s orders – Bttn to attack Sanfatucchio 411893 at 0800 hrs in conjunction with 2 LFs.

0705 Brigadier arrives at Bttn HQ, proceeds forward to Tac HQ 424888 to confer with CO.

0755 E and F Coys move forward.

0805 Smoke being laid in forward areas to cover advance of tanks and infantry. Bttn A/Tk guns engaging targets since zero hour.

G and H Coys moving into area vacated by E Coy.

0840 E and F Coys making good progress. G and H Coys following up.

0900 E and F Coys call for DF artillery fire on 411893 (Sanfatucchio).

Map ref checked and recalled for as 400900.

0919 One troop tanks on objective. One troop tanks moving round left of E Coy. E Coy report still held up by fire from west end of objective.

0930 Artillery to put down smoke for E Coy.

0940 F Coy held up by opposition on left.

1010 E Coy report penetration of objective. Depth not yet known.

Information – 1 RIrF concentrating north west of the bttn area. 6 Innisks moving up behind.

1012 F Coy held up by fire from cemetery at 404896. Tanks asked to deal with it.

1017 E Coy report now entering second block of buildings in town.

1115 Objective fully occupied. G and H Company Commanders called to Tac HQ for O Group.

1130 Twelve prisoners (754 PGR ) taken by E Coy in town.

1132 CO asks for 6 Innisks to move into position with the bttn prior to combined move forward with plenty of artillery support.

1145 G Coy moving onto 2nd objective – Report Line 33 (Lateral road 405898 – 424900).

1355 G Coy reporting on left of objective. H Coy reported approaching right hand objective overcoming stiff opposition. Nine more prisoners taken (754 PGR). Main Bttn HQ now at 424885. CO requests dive bombing of Castiglione Del Lago because of heavy artillery and mortar opposition. Major Woods (OC, H Coy) wounded. Captain Craig reports to Bttn HQ to take over H Coy.

1410 6 Innisks and tank support moving up road 4288 and forking right behind Main Bttn HQ along track 424888-429889.

Bttn casualties since 0800 hrs – 1 killed, 2 officers, and approximately 15 ORs wounded.

1430 CO calls for mortar fire on 407907 and road junction 406906.

1445 Flank Information: 6 Innisks joined up with their tanks at track junction 427896 but not yet ready to go forward.

1450 Coys held up 300 yards above 2nd objective but hope to be able to continue the advance at dawn.

1530 One German officer (755 Regiment) brought to Bttn HQ.

1600 Enemy shelling area road 425885.

1603 E Coy request replenishment of 2” and 3” mortar ammunition.

1604 Enemy counter attacking on left flank (H Coy).

1610 Replacement of 18 set and 38 set operators for H Coy called for. Enemy believed to have penetrated H Coy defences, but CO confident that the counter attack can be stopped. Situation confused.

1630 Situation apparently under control – Other coys intact.

1700 6 Innisks begin their attack on right flank.

1732 Seventeen prisoners passed through Bttn HQ to brigade.

1800 6 Innisks reach RL 33. Strong SA opposition.

1820 One wounded German officer and 1 wounded German OR passed through Bttn HQ.

1907 Five more prisoners (755 Gren Regiment) passed through Bttn HQ.

2150 E Coy being counter attacked.

2200 Kensingtons’ MMGs move up to bttn area to support E Coy, now being counter attacked.

2230 Incomplete total of day’s casualties: 5 killed, 55 wounded.

Last light Strep: Bttn HQ – 413893, E Coy – 410897, F Coy – 407900, G Coy – 411897, H Coy – 404896. G Coy now in counter attack role. All A/Tk guns in position. Kensingtons’ VMGs in G Coy’s area,

E Coy was counter attacked but enemy halted at 20 yards distance. 17 Field Regiment, 4.2” and 3” mortars brought down DF tasks on enemy. Tracked vehicles heard forward of F coy at 2135 hrs. Own tanks in H Coy area.

2315 6 Innisks report unable to contact 2 LIR but contacted pocket of enemy between the two bttns. 6 Innisks to make contact with us at first land on 22nd June.

Four prisoners sent back to brigade.

Lt-Colonel John Horsfall at Sanfatucchio.

Died on this Day:

Rifleman Frederick Jones, London Irish Rifles.

Rifleman William Coster, London Irish Rifles.

Rifleman Cyril Sharpe, London Irish Rifles.

Rifleman George Jones, London Irish Rifles.

Rifleman Samuel Wilson, London Irish Rifles.

Rifleman John Higginson, London Irish Rifles.

Rifleman Walter Lewis, London Irish Rifles.

Rifleman Charles Burt, London Irish Rifles.

Rifleman Alfred Woods, London Irish Rifles.

Rifleman William Godfrey, London Irish Rifles.

Rifleman Arthur Boston, London Irish Rifles.

Rifleman Marcus Swallow, London Irish Rifles.

Corporal William Roberts, London Irish Rifles.

Rifleman Cecil Griffiths, London Irish Rifles.

Lance Corporal Leslie Marsh, London Irish Rifles.

Rifleman Geoffrey Marsden, London Irish Rifles.

Lieutenant George Dunseath, Royal Irish Fusiliers, attached to the London Irish Rifles.



22nd June

Brigade HQ.

Situation. 2 LIR were counter attacked twice during the night by parties of about 30 enemy in areas 408902 and 411903. All were repulsed.

6 Innisks were counter attacked at dawn by about a coy of the enemy on the outskirts of Pucciarelli, which was successfully dealt with.

At 0730, a coy of 6 Innisks at 424904 moved forward to 424908. SPs at 407907 seen going into the woods were heavily engaged.

At 0900 hrs, 2 LIR sent one platoon supported by tanks to area 411903 to close the gap between 6 Innisks and themselves and also to shift some enemy who were still occupying two large houses in that area. This was also essential because these two houses, occupied by the enemy, were on top of the ridge, also occupied by the London Irish and gave them a certain amount of observation. Once these two objectives were taken, the enemy would have no observation except from the village of Castiglione Del Lago.

A two platoon attack from G Coy, 2 LIR, supported by tanks went in at 0900 hrs and by 1030 hrs, the situation was cleared up. Considerable opposition was met from MG fire. Locations of 2 LIR are as follows after slight readjustments. Coys at 404896 – 407898 – 410898 – 411893.

At 1050, a counter attack, seen forming up in front of 2 LIR, was dispersed by heavy artillery fire. After this, a junction point was made between 2 LIR and 6 Innisks at 411903 and 6 Innisks sent one coy to this area to ensure the gap well closed.

1710 F Coy, 2 LIR, went forward from its positions to feel forward and find out something more concrete about the enemy. They advanced about 200 yards meeting stiff opposition and from then on remained in close contact – about 150 yards away from the enemy.

They were counterattacked by the enemy soon after getting into position but managed to hold the onslaught.


6 Innisks – PUCCIARELLI.

Weather, bright and clear; enemy continued mortar and artillery fire spasmodically throughout the night.

0530 Secret message received for 7% officers and ORs to be ready for an advance party to leave Tavernelle area early on 25th June for Narni in divisional transport. Nominal rolls were prepared and letters of instruction were sent to officers of C Coy.

0600 Enemy counterattack developed on the village consisting of approximately 40 infantry and 1 heavy SP gun supported by artillery and mortars. The SP gun shot into the house doing considerable damage. The house, containing two MMGs, was severely damaged and set on fire, burying the guns (one was later recovered). A portee and 2 A/Tk guns and a 3” mortar of our own were destroyed; and also one portee of 254 A/Tk Battery.

Close fighting ensued but the enemy did not manage to penetrate beyond the edge of the village.

0845 2 LIR and C Coy extended towards one another in order to close the gap between the two bttns.

0900 C Coy reported that the enemy had been beaten off leaving behind a large number of casualties.

0930 The SP gun was seen moving north west at 407907 and received the attention of the artillery – shots were failing on the target area.

The tanks with C Coy went back to refuel and get more ammunition, afterwards resuming the positions they had in the village before the counter attack.

The enemy continued to shell our positions heavily throughout the day but no further attacks were forthcoming.

Coy Commanders were informed that the present policy was to hold on to present positions until the morning of 24th June, when we could continue in a further attack.

Patrols were sent out at night, which found that the enemy was occupying positions at 412912 and pts 276, 408909. Voices and movement were heard but the enemy was not seen. Standing patrols at 420907 and 425911 but not see or hear a thing.

Our casualties for the day: Killed – 1 OR. Wounded – Lieut JG Prior, 12 ORs. Missing – 6 ORs.

Died on this Day:

Fusilier James Murray, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.


2 LIR – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

0600 Flank Information: 6 Innisks in village Pucciarelli 416906. 2 LIR and 6 Innisks to hold Report Line 33 on day 22nd June. 1 RIrF held in counter attack role or follow up role if enemy withdraw.

0730 Four prisoners (755 Gren Regiment) passed through Bttn HQ.

0800 Total casualties in last 24 hrs: Lieut Dunseath, and 9 ORs killed. Major Woods, Lieut Hunter and 64 ORs wounded. None missing.

0845 CO began local ops to clear gap between bttn and 6 Innisks at 402902. First objective – 412903, 2nd objective – 400901. One platoon of G Coy supported by tank.

Enemy using 10 barrelled mortars at intervals.

0936 Local ops going well. 30 yards from 1st objective. Tanks engaging targets.

1020 1st objective taken. Pushing onto 2nd objective.

1030 Gap between bttn and 6 Innisks now regarded as closed.

1050 Three more prisoners taken.

1055 G Coy report enemy counter attack coming in.

1110 DF fire laid down in front of G Coy. Our tanks move into G Coy’s area.

1125 G Coy consolidated. Tanks and mortars engaging houses 800 yards due north. G Coy area being heavily shelled. H Coy RAP. Jeep forward to pick up 3 wounded prisoners.

1135 One platoon G Coy and MMGs under command H Coy.

1140 Two enemy tanks reported at 423915.

1141 Seven prisoners taken by G Coy in local ops.

Flank Information: 4 Division relieving 36 Brigade today.

1422 Nine more prisoners (755 Gren Regiment).

1645 Main Bttn HQ join Tac HQ in Sanfatucchio.

1715 F Coy seize group of buildings 600 yards to the north of their position.

1945 F Coy report being counter attacked.

2000 3” and 4.2” mortars engage enemy.

2030 Enemy reported to have entered house 402903. Tanks asked to deal with it.

Died on this Day:

Rifleman Daniel Merron, London Irish Rifles.



23rd June

Brigade HQ.

The night was quiet on the whole. Patrols from 2 LIR found the enemy digging in hard and several places were confirmed to be occupied. The 6 Innisks on the left were shelled slightly during the early morning and patrols heard enemy in the houses around 409 909 and generally sounds of the enemy digging in hard.

A 6 Innisks recce patrol to the lake at 432909 during the morning found nothing.

The forward battalions had a quiet day on the whole. There was a spasmodic mortaring and shelling of the whole area and F Coy, 2 LIR, were counter attacked again during the afternoon. Our own 3” and 4.2” mortars kept up a steady harassing fire on the enemy positions and caused considerable damage, a statement confirmed afterwards by prisoners captured when the 1 RIrF attacked. Intentions tomorrow for the 1 RIrF supported by 11 CAR and one coy, 6 Innisks, to attack Pescia 4091 and Ranciano 3991.

11 Brigade to support and protect flanks, 5 Northamptons on right by the lake, and 1 Surreys on left.


1 RIrF.

1000 Warning order from brigade for a bttn attack on the 24th June.

1430 CO issued orders.

2100 All companies moved forward to 4189 and were billeted in houses for the night, near to the start line in area of Sanfatucchio.

2200 Tac HQ moved forward to the same area.

Bttn task – to clear 1500 yards and capture the villages of Pescia and Ranciano.

Supporting arms for the attack were: 3 Field Regiments, 1 Medium Regiment, 1 Squadron Canadian tanks, and 1 Squadron M 10s, 1 Company of 4.2” Mortars. Barrage for 24 minutes and a lift of 200 yards every 6 minutes. 4.2” Mortars to search area of Pescia river throughout the attack.


6 Innisks – PUCCIARELLI.

Fine weather, light cloud.

0830 Message received cutting down bttn advance party of 35 all ranks. An attack was planned against the Trasimeno Line in which this bttn was participating and CO and IO with OC D Coy went to an OP at 474892 from where they could observe the whole of the lake, thus giving a very good view of the ground the bttn would be going over.

1100 CO RIrF visited the bttn to tie up details with CO, 6 Innisks, of tomorrow’s attack.

1215 Bttn area was heavily shelled and mortared – D Coy’s HQ being the chief sufferers – one officer and 5 ORs of Innisks were wounded and 8 ORs from supporting weapons. Because of this, the CO changed the task of D Coy as leading company and substituted A Coy.

2000 CO called an O Group conference and gave the following orders:

Information:

Enemy – known to have five bttns on Trasimeno Line with strong defences in the bed of Rio Pescia 4091. Positions were also known at pt 266 420911.

Own Troops – RIrF were attacking towards Rio Pescia with A Coy. We were to provide right flank protection on a one coy front. 5 Northants would be attacking on our right.

Intentions – 38 Brigade and 5 Northants to make a limited advance to a line approximately 500 yards south of Rio Pescia. 6 Innisks covering right flank of 1 RIrF during advance.

Method – At Z+15, tanks and infantry would leave the assembly area and start moving forward.

A Coy to take as first objective pt 276 (408909), then to push on to pt 267 (409914).

As A Coy leave pt 276, C Coy leave Pucciarelli and move to pt 276.

D Coy be prepared to follow and turn right as flank protection, if necessary.

B Coy to remain in village as firm base.

Tonight two coys 5 Northants relieve B and D Coys, who move to Carraia, 424909 and 417907.

Supporting Arms:

Artillery – 3 Field Regiments, 1 Medium Regiment.

Barrage opens at 0530 hrs on line 400 yards forward of FDLs.

Remains on that point for 24 minutes, then lifts 100 yards every 6 minutes, the start of each lift being indicated by one round smoke from each battery (Tanks and infantry to follow barrage as close as possible). OP to move with C Coy; to go to A Coy on consolidation.

4.2” Mortars.

0545 fire for 15 minutes to 417914, then lift for 15 minutes to 414917, then Rio Pescia for one hour. Thence on call.

3” Mortars.

House at 276, 0535 – 0555 hrs, then lift 200 yards to stream bed 0555 – 0600 hrs, then lift to 262 0600 – 0615 hrs. Any further fire on call.

MMGs.

0545 – 0555 hrs, support attack from village, shooting parallel with railway and not more than 400 yards west.

2 MMGs move with C Coy.

A/Tk.

As many guns as possible – both own and 264 A/Tk Battery – to shoot at houses in line of bttn advance until first artillery lift.

Intercommunications.

A Coy 18 Set will be on 1 RIrF net as they are under command.

Bttn net opens at 0430 hrs.

One extra set will travel with C Coy on bttn net to go forward to A Coy on consolidation.

Bttn Signals to follow C Coy with line and extend to A Coy on consolidation.

2130 D Coy’s position taken over by one coy 5 Northants and D Coy started moving to Carraia.

2200 D Coy established in new positions.

2300 B Coy relieved by one coy 5 Northants and moving to 414905.

2330 B Coy established in new positions, which was evacuated by A Coy, who had moved to 412903 in order to get as much rest as possible.

Enemy continued harassing fire with artillery and mortars until midnight when fire slackened considerably.

Casualties for the day – 1 officer and 4 ORs wounded.

Died on this Day:

Company Sergeant Major Thomas Gordon, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Fusilier James Nelson, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.


2 LIR – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

0600 Total bttn casualties since 0800 hrs on 21st June – 14 killed, approximately 80 wounded.

0900 Lt Col Dunnill and liaison party from 1 RIrF arrive at Tac HQ.

2030 Sitrep – Locations Bttn HQ – 411893, E Coy – 411902, F Coy – 405900, G Coy – 408897, H Coy – 404896. Slight shelling and mortaring during morning. E Coy’s area swept by SA and A/Tk fire at 1100 hrs. Own tanks fired on and neutralised source of trouble. Own mortars in F Coy area engaged houses held by enemy. Enemy seen evacuating casualties from these houses under cover of Red Cross flag. Coy shelled and mortared during afternoon. At 2000 hrs, two enemy vehicles were seen moving north east up road at 402908.

Died on this Day:

Rifleman Ernest Neill, London Irish Rifles.



24th June

Brigade HQ.

Patrols during the night from the forward coy, 2 LIR found that the enemy had pulled back about 300 yards. When a platoon was sent forward to occupy houses, recently evacuated, they found it unoccupied by about 20 Germans. Direct hit on Brigade HQ during the night. 2 ORs wounded.

0445 1 RIrF concentration completed. Two coys, 6 Innisks relieved by 5 Northamptons.

0530 Attack by 1 RIrF on objectives – Pescia and Ranciano – commences. Attack preceded by artillery barrage on the opening line lasting for 24 minutes and then lifting at 10 minutes intervals.

0920 First objective reached. Pescia was cleared by the attacking coy and supported by reserve coy.

Coy, 6 Innisks reached their objective pt 267, 409915. Opposition was strong during the first phase of this attack, mainly from MG and mortar fire. Bttn HQ 1 RIrF was shot up by AP from 88mm gun causing a few casualties. After Pescia and pt 267 had been consolidated, one coy 5 Buffs moved up to Pescia and the remainder of the battalion moving up behind. 5 Buffs were supported by the Wiltshire Yeomanry.

1610 1 RIrF cleared Ranciano and situation cleared up. One coy firmly established in the village.

This village fought extremely well during the day, meeting considerable opposition and inflicting heavy casualties. They were supported by 11 CAR, who as usual put up a magnificent performance. There were very few casualties in the battalion – a total of 40 altogether and no officers killed. A total of 85 PoWs were taken during the day.

Plan for consolidation. 1 RIrF to hold Pescia and Ranciano and road junction 397909. 2 LIR to remain in present location, but push one coy forward to 400905.

17 pounder troop 254 A/Tk Battery to be in support of 1 RIrF.

5 Buffs pushed forward during the evening in the line of the River Pescia where considerable difficulty was found in crossings for the tanks.

The enemy was still fighting hard and putting up a fierce resistance. We had broken his main line, which he had ordered to hold at all costs and was now attempting to stop the rout from setting in.

Considerable damage was inflicted on the enemy by the brigade since the London Irish attacked on 21st June. The London Irish counted a 100 dead along in and around the village of Sanfatucchio and they took 85 PoWs as well.

This is a good example of the damage inflicted by our intense mortaring and shelling and the A/Tk gun platoons figured considerably in demoralising the enemy. They did good work in giving close support fire on to houses and buildings to neutralise enemy MGs and snipers’ positions.


1 RIrF.

0530 B and C Coys were on the Start Line and the Barrage started on time.

Companies moved forward according to the plan with the tanks searching all houses with their 7.5 guns and machine gunning possible FDLs.

0845 B Coy had considerable trouble from their left flank and called for assistance from the guns who put down a 10 minute stonk and B moved forward again and continued until they were pinned down by LMG fire. The tanks had difficulty in locating the bother but as they moved forward the fire ceased and the company moved forward into Ranciano, which was the final objective.

C Company moved forward without a great deal of opposition until they reached the outskirts of Pescia, which was the final objective.

0850 Major Neville Chance was wounded in the left arm by a mortar bomb but carried on until the final objective was reached.

1205 C Coy reported a counter attack was coming in with tank support.

1211 Tanks were sent forward and knocked out a German Mark V Tank and nothing more was seen of the counter attack force.

1550 B Coy have reached final objective. Lieut Lloyd was wounded during the final attack by a shell splinter.

1610 A Coy moved up behind B and was called forward to consolidate in the village.

1630 3” Mortars and machine guns were sent forward to Ranciano.

1700 D Coy, who had been following C Coy during the attack, were reported in position in a reserve area in area of Pescia.

Total number of enemy prisoners taken by bttn were 80 including 2 officers, tow tanks were knocked out by the supporting squadron.

Ten horse drawn wagons were captured in Ranciano.

Died on this Day:

Fusilier Edward McDonnell, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Fusilier Norman Williams, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Corporal Jack Clement, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Fusilier William Allen, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Fusilier Irvin Marsh, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Lance Corporal Thomas McMullan, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Corporal Henry Tuffey, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Corporal Leslie Brown, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Fusilier John Taylor, Royal Irish Fusiliers.


6 Innisks – PUCCIARELLI.

Weather good, but cloudy.

0530 Artillery barrage started and at the times given in the previous day’s orders, the A/Tk guns, MMGs and mortars added their fire.

0545 Tanks and infantry started moving forward. A Coy making good progress from the start.

0640 A Coy reached pt 276 (409909) – their main resistance being from MG posts, which were effectively dealt with by the tanks and cleared up by the infantry.

0645 Enemy replied with a certain amount of artillery and mortar fire but not as much as expected as he was known to have a considerable number of guns opposite us.

0655 Enemy guns continued to fire only spasmodic salvoes and the forward troops continued to meet enemy MG fire.

0720 Enemy artillery fire increased, especially the use of heavier guns – probably 15cm. Heavy concentration on road at 416894.

0745 A Coy continued to advance well and the RIrF on their left were also doing well but had not reached as far as A Coy, as they were being held up by MGs, which needed artillery attention.

The 5 Northants on the right had only been able to advance 300 yards in the face of still opposition.

0835 Enemy artillery concentration continued at intervals on the bttn area.

0845 5 Northants on right were still only at 417914 but making steady progress. This necessitated keeping watch on the right flank and this was done by C Coy, who had followed A Coy and was now established on pt 276 (409909), while A Coy were still fighting their way forward.

5 Northants estimated that there were 2 coys of enemy between them and the main road (Route 71).

0900 News that the RIrF on the left were still doing well and that prisoners had started to come in, 25 being taken so far.

0935 A Coy reached their objective, pt 276 (408915) and the 5 Northants on the right were making better progress, having broken through the enemy’s FDLs.

1005 Brigade informed the bttn that Wiltshire Yeomanry was on Route 71 behind us and had been ordered forward to Pescia ((403912). The RIrF on our left had reached Pescia and from enemy wireless intercepts came the information that the wireless at Ranciano was closing down, possibly indicating withdrawal and a watch was kept for targets.

1135 5 Northants on right again held up and their tanks needed refuelling; this was done and their advance continued.

1210 Information came through that the enemy counterattack was coming in from the west – artillery was informed and it was broken up. 36 Brigade was to pass through 38 Brigade within 2 hours of 38 Brigade reaching its objectives and guides were sent to cross roads 416894 to direct oncoming units to the right tracks.

1230 5 Buffs passed through 2 LIR.

1400 Forward coys were still under constant MG and artillery fire as 36 Brigade had not yet gone forward.

A Panzer Mark V had knocked out 3 of A Coy’s tanks and the tanks had to withdraw behind the hill.

1700 36 Brigade went forward and the situation for us was eased although harassing fire from enemy artillery continued.

1800 The bttn dispositions were now as follows: Bttn HQ – 427896, A Coy – pt 276 (408915), B Coy in village at 415905, C Coy on pt 267 (408910), D Coy – 413913. Food and supplies were sent forward; A Company’s food to remain with C Coy until called forward.

1930 A heavy thunderstorm began and, before very long, all the diggings had filled with water. This stopped the advance of 36 Brigade, who had just formed a bridgehead over the Rio Pescia and the bttn was not able to concentrate prior to going out of the line as was originally intended.

A Coy forced the strong point of a house in their area as the rain made the outside positions untenable. A rum issue was authorised.

2030 While support weapons were going into position, an A/Tk gun officer was machine gunned from a position east of the main road and 1000 yards behind the 5 Northants’ FDLs. The officer was not hit and the machine gun post was disposed of.

During the day, we took 14 prisoners; our casualties were one officer and ten ORs wounded.

1630 Advance party left bttn for B Echelon area in order to be ready for move early on 25th June. Admin points were checked at B Echelon.


2 LIR – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

0800 1 RIrF, supported by C Squadrons 11 CAR, attack enemy positions in front of bttn.

0830 1 RIrF, 300 yards beyond first objective but held up on left.

0845 Eighteen prisoners (755 Regiment) taken by 1 RIrF and passed back through Bttn HQ.

1430 Intentions: Two platoons F Coy to extend their positions further over to the left flank. G Coy to move into the area vacated by the two F Coy platoons. All as safeguard to left flank 1 RIrF.

1600 Bttn casualties so far estimated as 16 killed, 98 wounded, none missing.

Intentions for night 24th/25th June: Patrols around coy areas (a) to provide against any infiltration, b) to round up any disorganized enemy still in area.

Died on this Day:

Rifleman Ronald Verrinder, London Irish Rifles.

Rifleman Frank Parsons, London Irish Rifles.

Rifleman Philip Pearce, London Irish Rifles.



25th June

Brigade HQ.

Plan: 36 Brigade to continue to advance.

38 Brigade will fill in the gap from the right all including pt 267, 409914, to left of 4 British Division. 2 LIR will move coy forward to link up with coy 1 RIrF at pt 259. Move two coys – one to La Villa 392902 and the other to Belvedere 385899. Both coys supported by B Squadron 11 CAR.

A/Tk – Platoon of 17 pounders remain with 1 RIrF, troop of 6 pounders each to 2 LIR and 6 Innisks.

4.2” Mortars – One platoon in support each of 2 LIR and 6 Innisks.1 platoon in support of each battalion.

The night was generally quiet with odd mortaring and shelling.

The situation at La Villa and Belvedere was so obscure that the coys from 2 LIR did not occupy them,

The brigade remained in its present position all day. Very slight mortaring and shelling during the day. During the afternoon, a few 105 mm gun shells landed on the main road between Macchie 4387 and in the gun areas.

Lt Col Dunnill, CO 1 RIrF, was reported to be missing at about 1000 hrs. He left this morning in a tank to visit the forward coys and no news has been heard of him since. Suspicions were assured by the fact that nothing had been heard over him over the air. Small recce patrols went out to try and locate him, but all reported NTR.


1 RIrF.

0900 The CO, the acting IO (Lieut R Gamble) and Major Anderson artillery rep left Tac in the command tank to visit the companies and have not been head of since.

1100 The Adjutant took over command of the bttn and dispatched a carrier patrol to search the area for the tank. Nothing was seen.

1400 Patrol sent across country in the direction of the next village Badia but no trace was found of the party and the patrol returned after being fired on from the village.

1600 IO resumes his role after being in bed for two days. Major N Chance is evacuated as wound has turned septic. Captain Coetzee 2.i.c. takes over command of the company.

2000 A heavy concentration of mortaring on A and B Company area.

Major GL Richards MM was wounded in the right knee and is evacuated. Lieut LM Manson assumes command of the company.

All rifle company commanders are South African.


6 Innisks – PUCCIARELLI.

0600 Advance party left for Narni,

Weather bright and clear.

0930 Brigade Commander called to discuss yesterday’s battle.

He also spoke of the possibility of the brigade clearing an area westward if the relieving units did not arrive quickly enough – this would not take place before tomorrow, the 26th.

Spasmodic shelling of the bttn area was the only activity during the day and the bttn was able to enjoy the lull – making full use of the time available for resting.

Remainder of the day and night was quiet apart from the shelling of the bttn area.


2 LIR – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

0800 Ten enemy prisoners rounded up during night 24th/25th June in area of cemetery 413896. Three more prisoners at dawn in same area. Intermittent shelling and mortaring of all forward coys all day.

1800 8 A & SH pass through bttn area moving forward.



 

Scroll To Top