11th March

Brigade HQ – BOU ARADA.

5 Corps Operational Instruction No 8 received.

221569 Capt H Graydon RA ChD rejoined unit from hospital attached 2 LIR.

Brigade instructions for changeover of vehicles with 1 Guards Brigade issued.

Patrols night 10/11 Mar encountered enemy patrol. Platoon 1 RIrF raided Farm 618112. No enemy seen. Details as in Brigade Intelligence Summary dated 11 March.


1 RIrF – REST AREA.

During the night, the bttn sent out no patrols nor was any incident reported.

0700 OPs again posted deep at 565107 and 6011. One SD man accompanied the latter, another went in search of the destination of the signal cable found at Farm Peladon.

Lieut JS Clarke posted to 18 Army Group Battle School as instructor and struck off strength.

1930 OPs and search party reported above came in. The cables destination was undiscovered and the OPs observed no enemy activity.


6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD.

0200 Sgt Russell took 10 men from D Coy out to pt 286. They crawled up to the top from the SE and got to within 6 yards of a trench containing 3 men manning an MG. Other trenches nearby were occupied and the enemy appeared very alert. It seemed impossible to snaffle any prisoners, so the patrol suddenly opened fire and each man threw a grenade into the various trenches.

The enemy returned fire, but our patrol withdrew safely. Sgt Russell was confident that several casualties were inflicted upon the enemy. He also reported that the occupants of 286 appeared to be more wide awake than formerly and possibly belonged to a new unit. The day was uneventful, with the enemy again very quiet.

After dark, D Coy 1 RIrF relieved A Coy, 1 RIrF, in the farms between Grandstand and Bou Arada.

Another A Coy patrol went out to W Hill and Plough Top, but a thorough search revealed no sign of enemy night positions or standing patrols.

D Coy sent out five men to report on the vehicle activity behind 286 and Barka, but although they lay up for some time in the gully NW of Barka, they heard nothing. Probably, the vehicle did not set out, as the night was very wet and the ground a sea of mud. Another patrol of two men set out to recce enemy dispositions on Lalla Fatma (7007), but had to turn back when only halfway owing to the weather and the state of the ground.

B Coy sent out 1 officer and 10 men (including 4 pioneers) to blow up the Teller Mine dump in Stop Farm, reported by Lt Wood. When about 200 yards from the farm, they were challenged in English and did not fire straightaway. The recce in front then said “We are French, do not fire and the patrol commander decided that the people before him were a German patrol, so he opened fire. One of the enemy came in and threw a grenade. Our patrol was not bunched together at this time but strung out, with only 2/3 men forward. In the darkness, the commander could not get everyone together, and after firing most of his ammunition, decided to withdraw, with the 4/5 men he could find. 2 men were slightly wounded from the patrol. Eventually all struggled back to the Bttn area, with the exception of Sgt Lortie, a Canadian NCO attached to the unit. His body was found near the scene of the action on the following night. Also, one man was missed. It was believed that he was wounded and taken prisoner.

Most of the day was uneventful, but towards dusk, the enemy was seen moving into positions on the forward positions on Mehallah and eight vehicles went onto Gribana, three or four vehicles were heard about 2030 hrs behind pt 286, and shortly after, one of these moved off to the east. Some mortaring of the bttn area then took place, the bombs, six in number, falling o the north side of Si Aek, but no casualties were caused. A mortar flash was suspected at 683077 at 2050 hrs. All the above enemy positions were then heavily engaged by our artillery.


2 LIR.

1015 Small patrols sent out by H Company.

1130 Arabs drove cattle and goats through minefield west of H company’s positions 610060.



12th March

Brigade HQ – BOU ARADA.

Trace of minefields in 38 Brigade area as on 12 March issued.

Vehicle exchange with 1 Guards Brigade took place.

Enemy attacked Minefield Farm. Platoon 6 Innisks beat it off inflicting casualties and taking a PW.


1 RIrF – REST AREA.

0200 Patrol Fanfare sent out.

0915 Part of Patrol Fanfare returned (one Officer, 3 ORs, SD).The cache described in the incident described in the Appendix had been discovered. It was a pile of beehive baskets covered in straw. Two of these baskets contained a German greatcoat each and the straw concealed containing civilian vests, shirts and trousers. The Arabs dwelling in the hut nearby denied all knowledge of them, but two were arrested, one of whom had been seen, on the arrival at Farm 618112 of Patrol Fanfare, waving his arms as though to someone in area pt 251 622127. Under interrogation, they still denied any relationships with the enemy, though admitted some knowledge of their movements. A search, however, revealed on one some bank notes of the “Banque de France”, (which currency not being issued by the civil authorities in N Africa, nor issued by the Allied Forces, can only have been issued by the Axis) and a chit written in Arabic but on German stationery. After a preliminary interrogation, these Arabs were sent under escort to the civil authority for disposal.

1010 The remainder of Patrol Fanfare returned. They had nothing to add but that a search of Farm 618112 revealed four Tellermines and a German respirator definitively not there 10 March 43, and some money and papers. They had also searched the Wadi from 615115 to 619115, but found no trace of the enemy.

0930 Bttn R Group left and after reporting at HQ 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade proceeded to recce Argous El Hanech  7199 and the Koumat El Toutla 6599 as it was intended that 1 RIrF should relieve 10 RB on these positions night 14/15 Feb. This plan was consequently so no details need to be entered into here.

1700 Battalion R Group returned.

1930 OPs reported much suspicious native movement at day area 600134 and at 1800 hrs a large body of natives entered buildings at the base of the hill 593097. Consequently, the Platoon at Sidi Krelif 5907 stood to 100% for the night while B Coy and Bttn HQ stood to 50%.

Dusk Patrol Trumpet set out.


6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD.

2108 D Coy reported a very large explosion and glow from the direction of Mehallah, and it was believed that one of our shells had hit an ammunition dump.

2220 MG fire was heard from Minefield Farm (656055), held by a section of D Coy. Later, a report came from there of a visit of an enemy patrol. Upon sighting the enemy, 7/8 strong, to the east of the farm, Sgt McAleer had the defences manned and the enemy were allowed to come close in. It was hoped that they would be caught in some of the many trip wires about the farm, but four of them entered the yard at the NE corner, whilst the ramasorder carried on along the road, beside the farm walls. As there was a possibility of these men getting into the gully to the west of the farm, where some of D Coy was in position, the section in the farm opened fire. There was brisk engagement for several minutes, until the enemy withdrew. One of them was left in the yard, wounded in the arm. As the corn in the field, east of the farm was fairly long, the enemy soon disappeared from view, and artillery fire was brought down upon them. Before first light, D Coy sent out a patrol to recce the area the area, but no traces of the enemy were found. The prisoner proved to be from a new unit, No 9 Coy of A33 (renamed Panzer Grenadier), which had only been in the positions around Mehallah for 3 days; the impression was gathered from the interrogation of the PW, that this unit was alert and keen, and their morale good. He believed there were 8 artillery guns in support.

During the day, Lt Wood and Capt Ablett left on an MMG and an A/Tk course respectively.

2215  Another patrol to W Hill and Plough Top still found no signs of the enemy. 4 men visited Carrier Farm, lay up to the SE of it, but did not hear or see anything of the enemy.


2 LIR.

PM Spasmodic shelling of battalion area. Captain RG Cockburn, Lieutenant IP Yates and Lieutenant JH Barker join battalion.



13th March

Brigade HQ – BOU ARADA.

Enemy encountered at 649049, details see 38 Brigade Intelligence Summary dated 14 March. Tracing of A/Tk positions in 38 Brigade area as at 13 March issued.

38 Brigade OO No 14 issued.


1 RIrF – REST AREA.

0015 Patrol returned reporting clear of enemy the farms at its objective. On its return journey, however, when it passed an Arab dwelling at 617097. It made a slight noise and had two heavy mortar bombs fired at it from the north. Investigating 2 LIR found nothing later.

1030 A patrol of one officer, and one section went to investigate the Arab movement reported 12 Mar ’43 on Hill 593097 and OPs were posted again at 565107 and area bou.

1500 CO and Adjutant left for O Group conference at HQ 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade. Details of what passed at it are recorded in the Appendix.

1620 The above patrol returned reporting the movement seen as a large household of friendly natives resident in dwellings 593097.

1830 The above OPs returned, but had observed no suspicious movement whatever.


6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD.

Very little shelling or mortar fire. Preparations were commenced for handing over to Sherwood Foresters. A recce party from this Bttn, including the Commanding Officer and the IO arrived towards midnight. After dark, an ambush party of INCO and 11 men took up positions to the east of Minefield Farm, in order to surprise any further patrol, which might feel inclined to visit the farm. However, they waited all night without being favoured with a visit from the Panzer Grenadiers. Once again, a patrol went out to the W Hill – Ploughtop area; they did not come across any Germans, but discovered a pit 5 foot square deep in the saddle of Ploughtop (probably a mortar position).

1930 C Coy sent out a patrol (Capt Rowlette and ten men) to visit Carrier Farm (654129), but they encountered the enemy whilst still on the way. Just before reaching the road going east from near Stop Farm, they found 20/25 men coming towards them, bunched together. Capt Rowlette waited until they were some 10/12 yards away before giving the order to fire. Our patrol opened up with everything they had, including grenades, and the enemy group immediately went to ground. Some fire was returned, but it is certain that several casualties were inflicted on the enemy. Almost immediately, following the exchange of shots, fire was opened upon our patrol from the western side of the main road and Capt Rowlette, fearing that this new enemy patrol intended working to his rear, decided to withdraw his men, whilst holding off the enemy with MG and rifle fire. This was successfully achieved, and the patrol arrived back with 2 minor casualties. Unfortunately, these 2 men received further wounds whilst being evacuated in the field ambulance. This was shot up while travelling through Bou Arada; the source of the firing is not known, but apparently it came from the French troops in the town, who seemed to be shooting at a suspected enemy patrol, just as the ambulance entered the main street.


2 LIR.

0230 Minefield farm attacked by Recce Patrol. Patrol identified as from Skunze Herman Goering Regiment 9 Company 3 Battalion.

1200 F Company send out small patrol to Flat Top 5909. No signs of enemy but a quantity of abandoned damaged equipment found.



14th March

Brigade HQ – BOU ARADA.

78 Division Operational Instruction No 19 regarding reorganisation in the Divisional area received.

38 Brigade relieved in present position by 3 Brigade. 1 RIrF remain under command 3 Brigade.

2788 Squadron RAF Regiment under command 38 Brigade.

Recce parties left for Gafour.


1 RIrF – REST AREA.

Night Nothing to report. No patrols sent out by 1 RIrF.

Day was quiet with normal activity, only varied by some slight preparations in connection with Brigade move.

Captain PM MacLachlan, the Royal Regiment of Canada and Captain WJ Saul, the Royal Winnipeg Rifles left the bttn to return to England having completed their …”concise tour.” Captain MJ McDonald assumed command of HQ Coy.

Dusk Patrols Mayflower and Speedwell set out.


6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD.

Was a very wet and uncomfortable night, as the rain began early and kept on most of the daytime. Any part of the bttn area, where there was any traffic – wheeled or pedestrian – was rapidly transformed into a bog. More mud than uniform was visible upon most of the members of the bttn and it was the lucky few who got through the day with dry blankets or bivvies. The recce party from the Sherwood Foresters was thus put in the picture in more ways than one.

Owing to this interference from the Tunisian weather, the changeover between us and the Foresters was postponed for 24 hours. The enemy was evidently preoccupied with baling out its trenches, as no mortar or gunfire came over during the day. Our own artillery, however, opened up whenever the rain stopped for a few minutes.  During the night, only local protective patrols were put out.


2 LIR.

1200 Advance party of 1st Duke of Wellington’s Regiment arrive at Battalion HQ.

2300 Remainder of Duke of Wellingtons’ arrive by TCV and de-bus at June 601019 and march up to relieve us.



15th March

Brigade HQ – BOU ARADA.

Relief of 38 Brigade during night 14/15 carried out according to plan and without enemy interference. 1 King’s Shropshire Light Infantry relieved 10 RB and 1 Duke of Wellington’s Regiment relived 2 LIR. Recce party left area Gafour for new location near Testour (4420).

Brigade HQ closed present location (Fme Cussac) 1900 hrs and reopened same time south of Testour (442207).


1 RIrF – REST AREA.

The night was quiet – there nothing to report.

0715 Patrol Speedwell returned, having searched and lain up in Farms 633105 from 2300-0400. No enemy was encountered.

0735 Patrol Mayflower returned, having searched Farm 618112 and lain up in it from dusk to dawn. No enemy were encountered but one member of the patrol thought that at 1848 hrs, he had seen six Germans coming down from the hills to the north of the farm and subsequently disappearing into the wadi. No other member of the patrol was, however, able to confirm this.

0845 20 men observed by RA OP entering Farm 628112. They were shelled and no further movement was observed.

1340 Patrol of 9 enemy searched the hillside 590097 for our OP. They were all armed with Schmeissers and were seen to disappear NE along a gully towards Farm 618112.

1600 A man, by his dress a native, was met at 590092. He had been seen earlier in the day, and remarked upon for his blue eyes and pale shin, the command of his bearing and the excellence of his dark bay mare. On the second occasion, he was heard addressing someone in an authoritative tone in Arabic. He then converged, from behind a group of dwellings, followed by definite natives. He descended the hillside on horseback and crossed the plain eastward, eventually entering Farm 633105, having first put his horse free to grass. He was not seen to emerge although the farm was watched by 1 ½ hours.

1605 One scout of the Bttn Intelligence Section, hiding in an Arab village in the NE slopes of Burnt Hill 6009 was searched for by a German, whose suspicions were aroused by the barking of dogs. The Arabs protected him and he was not discovered.

1800 OPs returned and reported the above incidents and also that Farm 618112 showed many new vehicle and foot tracks, the former leading to the farm from the wadi north of it, of estimated 20 vehicles, the latter from wadi 614106 to the farm. All this information was promptly passed to all other units, but line comm, being out of order, it had to be sent by R/T.  The delay this imposed made the warning too late to be given to Patrols Black and White before they left.

1855 Patrol Black encountered a patrol of enemy estimated strength 12 at approximately 620090. Both patrols were walking along the top of the east bank of the wadi and saw each other simultaneously. Both ran for the wadi, but the enemy, being a single file and nearer there than we in extended order, got there first and opened fire, killing two and wounding two. They were all armed with Schmeissers.

During the night, heavy rains fell and Bttn HQ, which was in a Nullah by 0215 hrs found itself in places up to 5 feet under a roaring torrent. No patrols were sent out and there was nothing further to report.

2355 Patrol White returned, having no incident to report, The farms in Square 6310 were clear of enemy.

Died on this Day:

Fusilier Sidney Dobson, Royal Irish Fusiliers.


6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD.

A busy day. Arrangements were completed for the handover and the bttn’s journey to its new area. The Support Group was to be left behind until the Foresters’ own support weapons came up.

During the night, the Foresters took over the Coy positions and the bttn moved off. The journey was not accomplished without incident. The commanding officers’ car overturned into a gully, which contained about the usual quota of mud and water and the occupants, which included the CO and the Intelligence Sergeant made uncomfortable and hasty exits from unusual angles and completed the journey by devious means – including rides on one 3-tonner and a TCV. The roads, particularly from the bttn area to the El Aroussa road were only just passable and various strenuous deeds were wrought on route, many a 3-tonner and TCV being rescued from precarious positions in ditches and gullies alongside the muddy tracks. Needless to say, the order of march suffered somewhat, but eventually and by stages, the whole bttn arrived at its destination just outside Gafour.

Died on this Day:

Fusilier James Forbes, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.


2 LIR.

0445 Battalion marches to Olive Grove 570044.

Major Dunnill joins from 1 RIrF.