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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 – 6th to 10th June 1944


6th June

Brigade HQ.

A quiet day. All units in Brigade Group rest in their own areas. 1 RIrF remain in same location. CO 1 RIrF visits Brigade Commander.


1 RIrF.

0800 Admin.

1600 Bttn placed at twenty four hrs notice. B Echelon called forward


6 Innisks – RIPI.

Weather cloudy.

0730 First news of the invasion was brought into the bttn and many were inclined to be sceptical. Nevertheless the next radio broadcast was eagerly awaited and great excitement prevailed when it was found to be true.

The prepared maps of the Intelligence Section were hurried set up and hourly news flashes were published.

1800 The Bttn assembled on a bank overlooking the road near Bttn HQ to see a performance by the Brigade Pipe Band.

The Brigadier, Brigade Major and other well known officers from Brigade HQ were also present.

The band gave an excellent performance which lasted for 45 minutes.

After the performance, the Brigadier stayed to dinner with the CO.


2 LIR – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

1100 Bttn bathing at MBU.



7th June

Brigade HQ.

1500 Warning Order received to prepare to move.

Brigade Commander ordered to go to Divisional Commander.

1700 Brigade Commander receives verbal orders. Brigade to concentrate north of Rome area 747850. 1 RIrF to move at 2000 hrs.

1800 Brigade Commander and small Tac Brigade goes to HQ 1 RIrF.

2000 1 RIrF and Brigade Tac move to concentration area north of Rome.


1 RIrF.

1800 Bttn ordered to move. Recce party to leave at 1930 hrs. Bttn at 2000 hrs.

1930 Recce left for area 7472 seven miles north of Rome.

2000 Bttn left for the above area.


6 Innisks – RIPI.

Weather fine with light cloud.

Nothing of importance occurred during the day – although the usual keen interest was shown in the news and the maps.

1830 Recce party was warned to go forward to recce another concentration area north of Rome.

1900 Sergeants’ Mess held a party.

Orders for the bttn move on the 8th were issued.


2 LIR – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

0800 Bttn at 24 hours’ notice to move forward to concentration area.

1200 Bttn at four hours’ notice. Recce at 1 hour notice to RV at 439393.

1400 Jeep blown up by mine. 4 ORs killed.

1900 Bttn warned for move forward at 0530 hrs the following morning.

Died on this Day:

Rifleman William Smoothy, London Irish Rifles.

Rifleman Frank Long, London Irish Rifles.

Lance Corporal Thomas Isley, London Irish Rifles.

Rifleman Thomas Edwards, London Irish Rifles.



8th June

Brigade HQ.

0200 1 RIrF in concentration area. HQ at F 660820.

0300 Remainder of Brigade Group – due to leave at 0600 hrs – now to leave at 0800 hrs.

0800 Brigade Group moves for concentration area north of Rome.

The amount of traffic on the road was inconceivable and in some cases in the Brigade Group, it took seven hours to go from Ripi to Frosinone a distance of some seven miles.

0830 Recce parties now warned to recce brigade concentration area. HQ at A 765027.

1700 2 LIR begin to arrive in concentration area, after being over nine hours on the road.

2100 One platoon 1 RIrF despatched to guard a hospital in Civita Castellana in which are 580 patients.


1 RIrF.

0200 Bttn passed through Rome and concentrated in the above area for the night 7th/8th August.

0700 Bttn ordered to area Rignano as battle is moving very fast.

1200 Bttn left at 1200 hrs and arrived at 1245 hrs in new area 765027.

1400 One platoon B Coy detached to guard 500 enemy prisoners in Castellana hospital 6810.

2200 D Coy warned to stand by to leave area at 0600 hrs on detachment to a task force under command of 9th Armoured Brigade.


6 Innisks – RIPI.

Weather warm and sunny.

0430 Reveille.

Final preparations for the move were made and coys made their own way to the village of Ripi (520340), which was the nearest point to which TCVs could be brought owing to demolitions.

The Bttn Pipe Band played on the march to the village.

0900 Bttn moved off in transport which had been lined up in the village square – two hours later than the time given in the Brigade March Table owing to the congestion on the roads – everyone was going to Rome.

The first few hours of the journey saw very little progress but later the roads cleared and normal timings were made.

Everyone was pleased to see the very large number of enemy vehicles that had been knocked out along Route 6.

2000 The bttn passed through Rome, which was well policed and no traffic was allowed to stop, with the result that the expected traffic blocks did not occur.

2130 The bttn, now on Route 3, came to a temporary halt and at the same time, enemy aircraft dropped flares over the area. Fortunately no bombs were dropped in the area – the main activity being further west.

2200 Column moved off again and this time, the bttn had an unbroken run to the new area.

2330 Bttn was met by the guides from the advance party and were assembled in the area 770046.


2 LIR – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

0530 Bttn em-bused, ready to move.

0730 Bttn move off. Order of march – Bttn HQ, H, E, F, G and S Coys. Route – Frosinone, along Route 6 to Valmontone through south east suburbs of Rome, then north through Rignano to brigade concentration area at San Oreste.

2100 Bttn arrive in new area. Bttn HQ in farm 771036.



9th June

Brigade HQ.

0200 Brigade Group now complete in concentration area. Brigade HQ – A752032, 2 LIR – A 771036, 1 RIrF – A 765027, 6 Innisks – A 755043, 17 Field Regiment – A 770033, 66 Medium Regiment – A 7603 (this regiment now in support of 38 Brigade), 254 A/Tk Battery A 770041.

2 LIR dispatch one platoon to guard Kesselring’s old HQ at San Oreste A 7804.One coy 1 RIrF now under command 3 KOH for special task. This task to secure bridge across River Tiber leading to Magliano A 7519 to prevent it being destroyed. This task was accomplished.

1200 Civilians report enemy patrols crossing River Tiber into Ponzano and Nazzano. As a protective measure to guard a completely open flank, one coy 2 LIR ordered to occupy San Oreste. One battery 17 Field Regiment ordered to go into action and one platoon D Support Group Mortars to take up positions near San Oreste and cover river bank by fire.

1800 Warning Order received for remainder of 1 RIrF to come under command 9 Armoured Brigade for special task force to advance to Orte A6730.


1 RIrF.

0600 D Coy left for RV with remainder of force.

1700 C Coy warned to move at 0600 on 10th June as part of another force under command B Squadron 3 KOH.

2200 Bttn warning order to move at 0900 hrs.


6 Innisks

0100 The bttn was soon settled in its new area and everybody was glad to relax after the long (but interesting) journey.

News was brought to Bttn HQ of an accident that had occurred on the journey when an American truck ran into one of our carriers. The carrier was damaged and 3 ORs were taken to hospital with injuries; none were found to be serious, however.

0800 Reveille.

The bttn spent the day resting and cleaning up generally.

Great interest was taken in Kesselring’s HQ, which could be plainly seen on Monte Soratte, but which was still burning, the enemy having set fire to it before leaving.

1700 The Brigadier visited the bttn to see if everyone was settled in.

The rest of the night was quiet.


2 LIR – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

0900 One platoon of H Coy detailed to take guard at Kesselrings’s former HQ in San Oreste.

1100 G Coy moved into village San Oreste. E Coy moved to left flank of G Coy, taking up positions on ridge Monte Soratte (7605).

Information: Retreating enemy divisions – HG Division, 4 Para Division and 15 PG Division – moving north on 78 Division’s right flank; Rive Tiber being dividing line between 78 Division and enemy.

G and E Coys now in defensive positions as safe guard against possible enemy patrols crossing the Tiber. 6 SA Armoured Division and 9 British Armoured Brigade north east of 78 Division in area of Viterbo.



10th June

Brigade HQ.

0700 1 RIrF with 3 KOH commence operation. They advanced through Civita Castellana and then turned north towards Orte. They were subjected to long range shelling and from guns believed to be north of Magliano. Air support called for to neutralise these enemy guns.

1800 1 RIrF positions as follows: Bttn HQ and two coys area, 699123, one platoon D Coy at 682200 and remaining two platoons at 712143. Remainder of 3 H Task Force at Vignanello 5821.


1 RIrF.

0600 C Coy move to RV with tanks.

0900 Bttn left for new location.

1530 Bttn has 2 coys and 1 platoon arrived in area 698123 owing to heavy shelling and mortaring of road in bttn area. Troops were de-bused and transport was dispersed.

2000 Transport moved into company areas.

2100 Locations of D and C Coys arrive.

D Coy has 1 platoon at 6820, 1 platoon at Gallase.

C Coy concentrated area Bassanello.

Battle patrol to area 7322 to harass enemy trying to withdraw along road Mignano Niero.


6 Innisks

The weather fine, but cloudy.

1100 CO visited C Squadron, 3 KOH, in order to tie up various points for cooperation in future battles – especially the inter communication.

A large 3 ton trailer had been noticed at Kesselring’s HQ on the way to 3 KOH and, after the visit, the CO and IO went back and collected the trailer, pulling it back with the jeep. This considerably relieved the B Echelon vehicles.

Kesselring’s HQ provided good sport for souvenir hunters and amongst these was the Bttn MTO, who found what appeared to be good wine. He presented a bottle to the CO, who fortunately read the label more carefully and was saved greater disappointment by discovering in time that it was only distilled water for ‘topping up’ batteries.

1500 CO called Coy Commanders together and went over the points discussed with the tank Squadron Commanders.

1700 Brigadier paid a social visit to the bttn.

In the evening, a cinema show was shown at 2 LIR to which members of the bttn went in unit transport.


2 LIR – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

Nothing to Report.



 

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