War Diaries – 1st to 5th March 1943

1st March

Brigade HQ – BOU ARADA.

The following SD personnel were attached to Bttns: 6 Innisks, Groze (French speaking). 2 LIR, Bell (French and Arabic speaker). 1 RIrF, Priand (French and German speaker).

Results of patrols night 28 Feb/1 Mar see Brigade Intelligence Summary dated 1 March.


The events of the night are recorded in the Appendix. Normal activity continued : preparations continued through the day for the takeover of Castle Hill 622089 from A Coy by Coy 2 LIR.

6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD.

0800 Enemy mortar bombs in front of West Hill J6406 spitfires and hurri-bombers attacked enemy positions.

1510 B Coy mortared on Grandstand 652082.

1550 Sgt W Allen reports position of enemy mortar and behind Mehallah 678088

1605 Warning from Brigade of possible Stuka attack in five minutes – it did not immediately.

2 LIR.

Programme for night 1/2 March. Company 1 Royal Irish Fusiliers take over gully position from E Company 2/LIR and come under command 6 Innisks. H Company 2/LIR take over Stuka Farm positions from C Company 1 RIrF and revert to command of 2/LIR. Carriers of 2/LIR relieve 6th Inniskilling Fusiliers in original position. F Company 2/LIR relieve A Company 1 RIrF on Castle Hill. A Company 1 RIrF to reserve area 6106.

2100 Enemy tank concentration with infantry at 7114. Commanding Officer directs that companies stay in their positions if attacked. C Battery 152 Field Regiment warned and observation posts keep special look out. Reports received that enemy seen in gully 800 yards north of F Company HQ.

Died on this Day:

Sergeant Angus Gardiner, London Irish Rifles.

2nd March

Brigade HQ – BOU ARADA.

Contact made with enemy patrols night 1/2 March. For details, see Brigade Intelligence Summary dated 2 March. Brigade informed Division that C Squadron, 142 RAC will come under command 38 Brigade as soon as possible after dark night 2/3 March.

Propaganda leaflets, distributed over enemy lines by base ejection shells, were fired today. Units were warned that leaflets will serve as safe conduct passes and copies were distributed.


1900 Platoon A Coy occupied Sidi Krelif without opposition (area 5907). Other activity normal – nothing to report.

6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD.

0930 Mortar bombs on Stuka Ridge 635083.

1335 Mortar bombs on ridge east of Bttn HQ 647067. These bombs fell near Capt Bayley, Lieut Ablett, CSM Glover, and Fusilier Gilman, who were driving on a M/C combination to Bttn HQ for patrol conference. A wheel came off the M/C comb and Capt Bayley broke a collar bone – the others were shaken. Due to this accident, Capt Daly will take the fighting patrol to Stop Farm with the Carrier Platoon instead of a platoon from B Coy.

1555 5/6 smoke bombs dropped in line north of West Hill, a few yards from Bttn HQ, These were immediately followed by nine Stukas, which dropped 10/12 bombs of medium calibre on Sidi Aek (638070). No damage done.

2000 The Carrier Platoon led by Capt WAR Daly attacked Stop Farm (647102), known to be occupied by the enemy, and suspected of being a FOP looking on to our Grandstand position. Capt Daly led the first section into the farmyard over a barricade without opposition. Two more sections followed and MG fire, then opened up from 2 of the farm buildings. Grenades were thrown at these and one MG was silenced. 3 were MGs, from outside the farm, then opened fire, all covering the barricade. Small arms fire came from a yard in the farm.

Capt Daly then ordered a section round in one of the outside MGs, which was silenced with grenade. The section commander Sgt Donaldson returned to Capt Daly, and at that moment the latter was hit by a burst of fire and fell to the ground. He still carried on directing the attack but finally, deciding that the enemy fire was too heavy for all his men to get over the barricade, he ordered them to withdraw, and take the wounded with them. The men with him tried to move him, but were unable to do so. They left the farm to the west, and were fired on by another MG, which hit one of the wounded men.

The platoon crept away and lay up for some time in the hope of picking up 3 ORs, who were missing. They did not turn up and the patrol returned to Bttn HQ. 5 ORs were wounded and evacuated. 1 of these died two days later. The patrol reported that just outside the farm was a two barrelled gun, similar to a 17 pounder, with a flash eliminator; in one of the buildings was a wireless or telephone and several enemy (grenades were thrown in here). Estimated casualties inflicted on the enemy: Fifteen 2” MGs were silenced.

1900 A section went out to lay mines at cross roads 6611, but came across trip wire at 668115, over which one man stumbled, causing an explosion 2/3 foot away. This man was stunned for several minutes. The patrol went on; there 15/20 yards further a similar incident occurred. They were badly shaken and two of the men now needed assistance, so the commander decided to return.

2000 A platoon of D Coy, under Lt Clark, visited Carrier Farm (652129). They made a cautious approach, and there being no sign of the enemy, they went in. The farm was deserted, but slit trenches and six coils of barb wire were found. The patrol then lay mines across the road at 650127.

Died on this Day:

Captain William Daly, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Lance Corporal Cubitt Black, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Fusilier Ernest Towle, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

2 LIR.

1800 Number 9 Platoon, E Company on Mosque Hill will be relieved tonight by a platoon of 1 RIrF.

9 Platoon move to Castle Hill under command of F Company 2/LIR. 12 JU 87s bomb area of wadi 6307, again a wasted effort – no damage – no casualties.

Died on this Day:

Rifleman Richard Merley, London Irish Rifles.

3rd March

Brigade HQ – BOU ARADA.

For details of patrols 2/3 Mar and OP reports, see 38 Brigade Intelligence Summary dated 3 March.

38 Brigade Operational Order No 13 issued.

133460 Capt J Hayes, RA ChD taken on the strength of Brigade HQ, and attached 1 Field Ambulance.


C Coy 1 RIrF was to cease to be under command 6 Innisks and come into Divisional reserve as detailed in the Appendix. Patrol Margaret set out into the hills from Sidi Kretif. Captain DN Jefferies awarded the Military Cross.

6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD.

The day was very quiet with no artillery or mortar fire from the enemy.

1500 2 LIR reported that Sgt Miller, one of the men missing from Capt Daly’s patrol, had come into their lines. He was in an exhausted condition, wounded by MG fire in both legs and the back and had crawled back from Stop Farm, a distance of nearly two miles. He was evacuated forthwith.

1930 A patrol of 6 went out to road at 660106, where large vehicle tracks were seen at the side of the road (approx 2’6” wide). They laid mines at this point and returned.

Sgt McAleer was out most of the day along the gully from Bou Arada rd at 646049.He reported likely MG positions and a camouflaged position at 677053, also a suspected  OP at 675074. The latter two were engaged with effect by artillery.

Died on this Day:

Fusilier Douglas Smart, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

2 LIR.

Lieutenant AG Howells appointed Intelligence Officer. Captain TWH Wilson appointed Adjutant vice Captain TC Osborn wounded.

4th March

Brigade HQ – BOU ARADA.

Patrols laid mines at 660105. No contact made. Twenty men seen entering Stop Farm (6410), and engaged by our artillery.

0815-0845 Brigade front from Grandstand (6507) – Mosque (5808) shelled by enemy.

1800 Two platoons 6 Innisks put in an attack against Barka and Pt 286. Four enemy MG posts reported knocked out and fifteen casualties inflicted on enemy. Details see 38 Brigade Intelligence Summary dated 5 March.


The events and activities of this period are given in the Appendix.

6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD.

Grandstand and area 6308 mortared occasionally during the day.

1015 RAP reported that two uniformed figures were seen crossing the plain (approx area 6324), coming from the east. These were brought in, and proved to be two French soldiers (Moroccans), who had escaped from Tunis area. They were conducted to El Aroussa gendarmerie.

1630 Smoke shells laid singly on Grandstand, 640081, 620080 (approx). Immediately, a single enemy fighter flew in from Bou Arada direction, very low and opened fire on the gully 635064. One SAA truck was slightly damaged, the plan then made off eastwards.

D Coy moved into position in readiness for an attack on Koudiat Si Barka (6106).

1800 The attack commenced, 1 Platoon advanced on and cleared W village of Gribana without trouble, and sealed the top of Barka, where there was a little opposition. The main resistance came from some cactus on the eastern slopes and the platoon, which went round that way did not succeed in clearing it. Five MGs opened up on the Coy, 3 of which were put out of action. Owing to some mistake in an order during the action, the platoons withdrew too early, but the enemy was nonetheless engaged with good effect and had the Coy stayed a little longer it is considered that 90% of the enemy would have been mopped up, even in spite of the darkness. Heavy, but inaccurate, mortar fire came from the Germans throughout the action. Our own artillery support was excellent. The action caused a considerable diversion on the Brigade front, a number of known enemy positions were engaged by our artillery, and the smoke screen was sufficient to hide a Brigade. For some time after D Coy had withdrawn, the enemy maintained fire and put up many light signals from Two Tree Hill (678090) and other positions south to Barka. Estimated enemy casualties: 10/15. Most of the positions on Barka were pinpointed for the artillery, as a result of the battle. Our troops suffered 4 minor casualties and 1 carrier (part of mobile reserve) was ditched beyond recovery. The smoke screen actually hid the cactus from which most of opposition came, from the FOO, and consequently this could not be re-engaged.

The attack would have been more successful had the Coy had more officers. The platoon led by an officer did well until he became a casualty, and with a little more leadership the action would have been outstanding.

1930 Patrol of L/Cpl and 2 visited the area of Stop Farm (647102), and found a section position just north of the entrance. Sentries were also patrolling along the side of the Goubellat-Bou Arada road. The farm as later engaged by our artillery.

1930 Patrol of one sergeant and 3 laid another six mines in the area 660106. Those laid the previous night were still there. Total of mines now 21.

Died on this Day:

Fusilier Robert Dougan, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

2 LIR.

Companies send out local patrols to the front of their positions.

5th March

Brigade HQ – BOU ARADA.

Personal message from BGS First Army regarding changeover of 38 (Irish) from 6 Armoured Division to 78 Division received.

Owner of farm 616108 reported than his house was used as an enemy RAP during the recent battle and that 19 killed and 36 enemy wounded had passed through it. He also reported that Farm 617112 had been used as an HQ.


Barrosa Day.

Many Faughs, including Brigadier N Russell MC, commander ‘Y’ Division, Lt-Col TPD Scott, commander 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade and Captain J Norman Adjutant 6 Innisks attended the ceremony of the Barrosa Cup at Bttn HQ as 1830 hrs, a special cup being made for the purpose from the base of a 6 pounder shell.

0530 Patrol Gaiety (A Coy, with, in support Capt GA de MR Pierce, RLG Wood and GM MacLachlan) set out to search the hill-mass west of the bttn position.

1630 The whole of the patrol returned reporting the area clear. The details of this patrol and of the other of the activities of this day and night are recorded in detail in the Appendix.

Died on this Day:

Fusilier James Thompson, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD.

A very quiet day. 2/3 mortar bombs dropped east of Farm 637082 did no damage.

1930 A fusilier recce patrol to Stop Farm could observe no movement of enemy.

1930 A patrol of 3 visited pt 286 (662069), but on skirting around the lower slopes, could neither see nor hear any movement. They moved onto 667068 and lay up for some time. A vehicle was heard to start up in the saddle between Mehallah and Barka accompanied by 2 or 3 commands in German. Otherwise, the patrol was without incident.

NB Between 2200 and 2300 hrs, considerable movement of British vehicles was seen in Bou Arada and along the road from there to our positions. This movement was given away by lights. Some automatic near Bou Arada about 0445hrs proved to be an exchange of fire between our platoon in Nuisance Farm and French troops in the village. It was quite harmless.

2 LIR.

Patrol of E Company cover area along wadi to Mosque Hill.

Local patrols from E and F Companies in front of their positions.

1800 E Company report that their patrol had located a German observation post at 605084. F Company report that their patrol had found a German mortar complete and bombs.