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 March 1944

6th March

Brigade HQ – VILLA VOLTURNO (N 1884).

Battalion carry out organised coy training. Rainy periods during the day.

Snow fell on the higher slopes during the night.

6 Innisks – BELLANO (1686).

Weather fine. Visibility good. Wind light.

The bttn carried out normal training including 30 yards range, route marches, lectures etc.

Sixty officers and men attended a demonstration by 10 Field Battery RA, while the Pioneer Platoon gave lectures and demonstration of mine lifting to 10 Field Battery RA.

1330 The usual party left for Caserta.

1400 The CO held his daily conference. The points were raised:

  1. Normal training under coy arrangements except C Coy, which is on exercise tomorrow.
  2. The Brigade was now on 48 hours notice.
  3. Brigade has been asked for more boats to practise river crossings.
  4. Second in Command recces a new field firing area during the afternoon.
  5. Capua, St Maria and Caserta out of bounds except in organised parties.

There was a guest night in the Officers’ Mess, which was also attended by the Brigadier. L/Cpl Kane and Fusilier McGoldrick entertained on the pipes

1845 A Coy hold a night exercise and returned by 2230.

2200 ‘Last Post’ was played by two members of the RAP, Sgt Scarlett and Cpl Daniels, bring back memories of the promenade at Bangor NI.

More details for the Field Firing Exercise to be held on 7/3/44 were issued.


0630 Heavy rain during night. Morning dry, but cold.

0800 Coy training.

0930 CO and IO proceed on local recce for bttn exercise.

1400 Coy exercise.

1700 CO’s office.

1730 CO’s conference.

Bttn HQ Guard supplied by F Coy.

1800 Weather – dry since early morning. Sky clearing.

7th March

Brigade HQ – VILLA VOLTURNO (N 1884).

Battalions carry out training. The Brigade Commander visits battalions.

6 Innisks – BELLANO (1686).

Weather overcast. Visibility good. Wind light.

C Coy, with a skeleton Bttn HQ and Mortar detachments, carried out an exercise with tanks of the 16/5 Lancers. The remainder of the bttn carried out normal training including 30 yards range, field firing, camouflage and concealment etc. In the afternoon, the usual party left for Caserta and Coys played football.

1520 The Brigadier paid a social visit to the bttn.

Locations and traces of the new training areas was issued by the second in command.


0630 Weather – dry and bright.

0815 CO, Second in Command, Adjutant, Coy Commanders and parties from all coys proceeded to area Falciano Selise to take part in demonstration attack in conjunction with tanks.

1130 Demonstration commences. Troops of Sherman tanks provided by 16/5 Lancers. Points brought out in demonstration-

The use of tanks to give covering fire to infantry carrying out flanking movement and to deal with MG and A/Tk gun positions located by the infantry and reported back to tank commanders. The use of tanks for mopping up buildings, wireless and signal communications between infantry and tank commanders.

1230 Demonstration ends.

1645 CO’s conference.

8th March

Brigade HQ – VILLA VOLTURNO (N 1884).

Fine all day. Battalions carry out training. 2 LIR out all day on battalion exercise. Brigade Commander visits battalions during morning. Allotment of cinema seats in Capua to all battalions during the morning.

6 Innisks – BELLANO (1686).

Weather overcast. Visibility good. Wind light.

0830 A leave party left for Campobasso, the first since we arrived in this area.

B Coy carried out a scheme, using 38 sets, to practise fire control and use of ground. One platoon acted as the enemy and used live ammunition. Other Coys carried out normal training including field firing (PIAT, 2 inch mortar and small arms), route march etc.

There was the usual recreational transport in the afternoon to Caserta and coys played football.

1730 The CO’s conference was held, the points discussed were:

  1. Training plan. Friday – boating, Tuesday – 2 Coys field firing, 2 Coys ‘Hare and Hounds’. Wednesday – Admin Day, CO’s billet and FSMO inspections.
  2. Second in Command and Squadron Leaders from 16/5 Lancers coming tomorrow for conference and supper.
  3. Coys to check next of kin, identity discs, men to be instructed in the making of wills.
  4. Complaint against staff cars with flag flying not being saluted.
  5. Vacancies for fifty men on Thursday, Friday and Saturday mornings for the cinema at Capua.


1st Phase – to secure bridge at 228835. 2nd Phase – to capture features Monastery Hill (210831) and Three Tree Hill (210840)

1200 Bttn, less F Coy and support already in attack, halted at track 241839.

1310 F Coy reported in possession of bridge. Bridge still intact.

1330 CO’s conference to put Phase 2 into operation. G Coy to advance beyond F Coy and capture and consolidate more ground.

1335 Bttn, preceded by G Coy, move forward.

1500 Bttn halted in area, secondary road 228840. Further orders given by CO H Coy to capture Monastery Hill. F Coy in reserve.

1540 Scheme ended. Bttn returns to camp.

1730 CO’s office. Bttn HQ Guard supplied by H Coy.

1800 Weather – fair.

9th March

Brigade HQ – VILLA VOLTURNO (N 1884).

Training and recreation. Brigade Commander visits Battalions during the morning. Weather fine. Cinema allotments Capua.

1 RIrF.

Lawrie Franklyn-Vaile’s letters.

6 Innisks – BELLANO (1686).

Weather showery. Visibility good. Wind light.

Normal training was carried out throughout the bttn and included field fighting.

Section stalks and attack and applications of fire.

0930 Fifty men left for the cinema at Capua. In the afternoon, there was the usual party for the cinema at Caserta and football matches between Coys.

1500 A/RSM held a drill parade for all NCOs up to and including Sergeants.

Baths were available for Coys during the day. Lieut Cassidy visited the bttn today, he was the first PoW of the bttn, who had escaped while passing through the Brenner Pass. It took him five months to reach our lines and he is now waiting to go home.


0700 Bright weather.

0900 FFI Inspections.

1000 Leave parties from all coys proceed to Caserta. G and H Coys also send leave parties to cinema show in Capua.

1630 Brigadier Scott DSO visits Bttn HQ.

1730 CO’s office.

Bttn HQ Guard supplied by S Coy.

1800 Weather – cloudy.

10th March

Brigade HQ – VILLA VOLTURNO (N 1884).

Training and recreation. Night exercises. Roads and tracks now quite dry. Cinema allotment Capua.

6 Innisks – BELLANO (1868).

Weather showery. Visibility good. Wind light,

The coys carried out normal training including boat drill on the Volturno river, field firing etc.

0915 The CO and IO left for Divisional TEWT. Exercise Hustle in area 959130.

There were the usual cinema parties to Caserta and Capua. In the afternoon, the Battalion football team played and beat 1 RIrF by 4 goals to nil.

1800 The full band, pipes and drums played ‘Retreat’:

A/Lt-Col BL Bryar is appointed T/Lt-Col and Substantive Major having held the rank of Lt-Col for three months.

A/Major Kerr is appointed T/Major and Substantive Captain having held the rank of Major for three months.

Captain EW Kendal is transferred to S Coy and assumes command.

Captain HE Mathew is transferred to D Coy and assumes command.

Captain AG Kemp is transferred to D Coy and is appointed as second in command.

Lieut JH Bradfield is transferred to HQ Coy and appointed IO.


0700 Weather – fair.

0815 CO’s lecture on bttn scheme of two days previous.

0930 CO and Second in Command proceed to Divisional TEWT held at Teano.

1000 E and F Coys send leave parties to cinemas at Capua.

1500 Bttn Football final – H Coy v S Coy.

Result S Coy 11 H Coy 5.

Finalist medallions presented to both teams.

1700 CO’s conference.

1730 CO’s office.

Bttn HQ Guard supplied by HQ Coy.

1800 Weather – fair but cloudy..