War Diaries – 11th to 15th March 1945

11th March


When the brigade took over this sector, the numbers of enemy outposts on the opposite side of our bank had been considerably reduced and enemy movement restricted to the minimum.

Enemy outposts existed at 360343, 359340 356339, 327335 and 333333.

All the remaining enemy on our bank had been very effectively dislodged by 169 Brigade and had established section posts along most of the floodbank. Visibility, too, is very restricted due to the low lying country and the abundance of vineyards. Observation of the enemy is only practicable from the nearby houses and some of ours and the enemy MGs are sited on the upper stories of the houses.

The enemy had built many footbridges and rafts across the river, enabling him to man the outposts and it is very difficult for us to engage and destroy the footbridges by artillery and mortar flow and any attempt by our own troops to appear over our own bank causes almost certain casualties.

1000 Brigade Commander visits 2 Innisks and 1 RIrF and goes to 56 Recce in the afternoon.

1300 Grenade duel in 1 RIrF sector took place at 342337 and lasted for about three hours. Three enemy believed killed. Own casualties included three wounded and one officer killed. It was thought that the enemy had crossed over the river during the night and may or may not have a permanent outpost in this sector.

Enemy snipers were active during the day.

1900 2 Innisks erected camouflage screens across the breach in floodbank at 329334 and due crawl trench behind to enable contact to be made during the day between section posts on the floodbank.

2030 56 Recce outpost at 362344 had a bazooka fired at them from far bank. DF put down and PIAT fired at house on opposite bank caused the front of the house to collapse.

1 RIrF – HQ, 353322.

0400 Grenade and Tommy Gun duel D Coy (Captain GR Unwin MC) left platoon area 351333. Enemy driven off. Captain Unwin, Lieut HC Quail wounded. 2 ORs wounded.

0700 C Coy (Major RSV Howard) 2 mortar stonk on enemy position caused by activity enemy SBs.

1305 C Coy section 342338 in grenade duel. One casualty.

1530 Duel still going on. Two more casualties.

1545 Lieut RRJ Bartlett of B Coy shot by sniper and killed while conducting two mortar shoot to assist C Coy section at 342338.

1605 C Coy situation quiet.

Died on this Day:

Lieutenant Reginald Bartlett, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Corporal John Pottinger, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

2 Innisks – GRANAROLA.

0100 B Coy sent a patrol from their platoon at 327333 to the floodbank at 326335. When they were about to cross a single strand of wire at the bottom of the bank, a Spandau opened up on a fixed line on the patrol’s approach route, grenades were also thrown  but these fell short. The Patrol went to ground and a few minutes later, a Spandau fired from another position further right. The Patrol then withdrew and the platoon engaged the positions with LMG and 2” Mortars. The remainder of the night saw normal harassing fire by both sides and grenade duels on the floodbank.

0630 A Troop of Tanks under Bttn Command were relieved by another troop of the Bays and occupied the same area (335325).

1000 2 Innisks ‘I’ Summary issued.

1015 The CO made his routine visit to all coys.

During the day, two men were seen digging in the area of 333336 and were engaged with grenades. Enemy snipers were active and two were located, one in a tree at 326336 and another near the Weir at 333337. Our own snipers were also active and hit a Bosche at 329334. During the night, C Coy erected a sheet 14 foot square across the blow in the floodbank, which was preventing communication between C Coy’s two forward platoons.

2300 B Coy sent out a patrol of one section armed with a PIAT to 323333, these saw no sign of the enemy and returned at 0100 hrs. B Coy also established a listening post at 326334 from dark until dawn. Artillery and Bofors harassed targets on our front during the night.


1400 CO and Coy Commanders proceed to Granarola village to prepare defence position layout in case of emergency.

1800 Lt Col HEN Bredin DSO MC returned from leave.

12th March


Apart from the two incidents reported by 56 Recce and 2 Innisks during the early part of the evening, there was normal floodbank activity and harassing fire of brigade area.

Slight enemy movement seen during the day and engaged by MMGs and PIATs. Two enemy believed hit.

2100 Enemy concentrated mortars and threw grenades on section post 1 RIrF at 34163381 wounding the whole section and making the position untenable.

A counter attack by two sections was unable to restore the situation.

The section post was finally re-established at 34253375.

It is now thought that the enemy must have a permanent outpost on our bank in this sector.

2 Innisks commenced an operation after first dark to eliminate the enemy outpost at 327335 but met strong opposition and suffered casualties.

A section post was successfully established at house 32353320.

A heavy gun, believed 210 mm, harassed San Severo cross roads 327330 between 1930 and 2100 hrs.

1 RIrF – HQ, 353322.

0227 D Coy (Major AJ Wilton) casualties from light mortaring. Two fatal, 1 wounded.

0500 C Coy (Major RSV Howard) right platoon 348338 attacked by enemy, estimated 9 strong. Enemy driven off by SA and grenades. One enemy known died.

0630 Enemy SBs active with Red Cross flags.

1000 Faulty 3’ mortar bomb fell short wounding C Coy cook.

1020 Vickers gun at 349334 shot enemy observer at 353336.

1600 One section with PIAT wounded 2 enemy area 345338.

2100 C Coy (Major RSV Howard) report section post 342338 evacuated after grenade duel, which inflicted four casualties.

2200 C Coy (Major RSV Howard) after preparation by Artillery fire and two mortar.Tow sections, led by Lt HR Carver, attempted to regain the position. Finding it not occupied by the enemy. Lt Carver occupied the post with 1 section but was again forced to withdraw, himself and 4 ORs being wounded in the ensuing grenade dual. After reference to Bttn HQ, an alternative position at 342337 was occupied and the former position made untenable by fire.

Died on this Day:

Fusilier Patrick Fahy, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

2 Innisks – GRANAROLA.

Floodbank activity consisting of grenade duels took place during the night and some verey lights and Rifle grenades were fired down the San Severo road. C Coy observed two enemy crossing the bridge at 330334 and engaged them with SA hitting one. There was light harassing fire with Spandau and Artillery on the bttn front during the night and our own guns replied with our own HF.

0725 Tracked vehicles were heard on the far side of the river on A Coy front, moving north from the weir.

0805 B Coy reported the noise of hammering and sawing approximately 100 yards on the far side of their right platoon. 3” Mortars put a quick concentration down on this area and harassed periodically for the next two hours.

0900 ‘I’ Summary No 3 issued.

0945 Owing to the large number of grenades used each night by coys in the floodbank area, they were finding difficulty in resting their men, as it took most of the day to prepare the grenades, to be used at night. Therefore, a working party from the reserve coy (D) was set to work at Bttn HQ under the RSM and grenades were sent off ready, cleaned and primed

0950 A working party was heard on the far side of the river.

1000 The CO paid his usual routine visit to all coys. Lt Col Bredin DSO MC and 2.i.c. arrived from 2 LIR and visited forward positions of the bttn.

1100 Digging party working in blow at top of B Coy’s road, engaged by 2” Mortar and snipers. Working party then disappeared.

1115 B Coy’s left platoon (11) reports sounds of digging on a sound bearing of 296 degrees.

1145 Brigade Commander visited Bttn HQ and discussed recent activity and future intentions with the CO.

1230 B Coy’s right platoon being relieved by reserve platoon tonight. 6 LOBs sent to A, B, and C Coys for work in Coy HQ, grenade cleaning etc.

1830 Weather report received from Division reports that fog is expected between 2000 hrs and 1100 hrs.

1910 Three shells (2 dud) on Granarola. Information re Polish mine areas and Listening Post, mine area 32233290, 31833246, 31833278. Listening Post 32083288.

1925 HSR from C Coy.

1955 210 mm guns continue to harass B Coys area. CR firing bombard from 36 guns on to known enemy heavy gun position believed guilty. Spandau fire position being visited by Battle Patrol, opened up across B Coy’s front.

2030 Patrol from B Coy reached floodbank and inspected house there. House no longer exists as such and no adequate cover, so section established itself in a house at 32353320 and remained there.

2120 White verey light went up from position being visited by Sgt Doherty.

2130 Spandau and grenades from patrol area.

2140 Battle Patrol returned, 4 casualties, two serious, two light. Also, two of C Coy wounded when they went forward to assist patrol. Enemy brought mortar stonk on area, when cries of wounded were heard.


0900 Major JD Stewart MBE proceeded on leave. Lt Col Bredin resumed command of bttn.

13th March


0645 Bazooka attack on forward positions 56 Recce at 360342 driven off.

1000 Brigade Commander visits 1 RIrF and 2 Innisks.

1100 General Wimberley IMT, visits Brigade Commander. They spoke of many matters including that of Reinforcements for the brigade.

1120 Tanks scored direct hits on enemy positions in bank 32203324.

1200 Col Nowina, Commander 6 Lwow Brigade lunches with Brigade Commander.

1630 Tank shot up enemy OP in house at 354336 and enemy outpost at 353336.

Enemy snipers successfully engaged during the day.

2000 Enemy tracked vehicles heard north of Weir 333337.

2010 Enemy crossing footbridge 329334 engaged causing three casualties.

1 RIrF – 353322.

1200 D Coy (Major AJ Wilton) engaged in grenade duel past 1 ½ hours. No casualties.

1630 Tank (Lieut John North – Queen’s Bays) firing from hull down position on floodbank at 348336 shot up enemy positions on north bank and OP at 354338.

1845 Wasp flamed bank area 351336 was not close enough to be effective but caused screams, verey lights by the dozen.

1900 D Coy (Major AJ Wilton) being stonked by Artillery and Mortar, we replied with 3 and 4.2 Mortars and Artillery.

1920 D Coy report all quiet.

2 Innisks – GRANAROLA.

Report on B Coy Patrol to gap on floodbank – the patrol moved up the axis of the road towards the floodbank for a short distance when it was fired on by rifle grenades. The patrol then lay up for 14 minutes while their 2” mortars engaged the target area, after which they moved on to within 20 yards of the bank. Here, a man’s head was seen to appear in the gap in the bank and more rifle grenades were fired at the patrol. The patrol pressed on and reached the bottom of the bank. There was no wire there and the prisoners with the patrol began to prod for mines, none were found. The enemy was continuously throwing grenades by this time and, as there was nothing further to gain, the patrol returned.

1000 The CO made his usual routine visit to all coys.

1530 The CO made his usual routine visit to all coys.

2110 A number of white verey lights were soon over 11 Platoon area.

2115 C Coy reports one verey light up over 13 Platoon. Enemy stretcher party crossed bridge and took away one stretcher case, believed leg blown off. Success attributed to 77 Grenades, which lit up targets and allowed firers to get to work.

2300 The position cleared by Sgt Doherty has not fired since his attack (confirmed by 11 Platoon Commander who kept a special watch).

2350 B Coy report new Spandau position 60 degree right of tank blow, firing behind C Coy. This tank blow has been cut deeper in the last two days, probably to enable shoot from opposite bank.


0900 CO and IO recce front line positions of 2 Innisks and 1 RIrF.

1100 Director of Military Training, Major General Wimberley visited bttn area.

1400 CO’s O Group: bttn to relieve 1 RIrF on 16 March.

14th March


0200 Enemy fired bazookas into left forward position 56 Recce and movement heard in Catania di Sotto 361343.

1230 Army Commander, Lieut General Sir R McCreery and GOC 78 Division visit Brigade HQ and stayed to lunch. Army Commander visited all three battalions of the brigade during the afternoon.

1550 Tank shot up bank at 33673380 and at 351336. Both shoots drew retaliatory fire.

General enemy movement along whole floodbank during day and all engaged by mortars and MMGs.

2130 Recce patrol from 2 Innisks found enemy outpost position at 323333 occupied and met grenades and rifle grenades.

2345 Movement heard in Catania di Sotto 3634 and, on engaging house 56 Recce, saw 2 enemy disappear over floodbank.

1 RIrF – 353322.

1215 D Coy report 1 man sniped, source not located.

1552 Tank beat up enemy post in south bank at 337338, enemy SBs active.

1725 Tank beat up enemy OP in south bank at 351336, blowing lumber and fragments into the air. Subsequent enemy artillery retaliation wounded.

2200 C Coy (Major RSV Howard) patrol to abandoned post 342338 engaged enemy in grenade duel. One casualty. Received order for relief by 2 LIR.

2 Innisks – GRANAROLA.

0730 D Coy reports that they are going to test weapons at 1000 hrs.

0800 B Coy reports sounds of digging and clanking from floodbank where San Severo track joins the floodbank. Our own guns engaged the target area.

0815 The Troop Commander went to contact B Coy.

0835 B Coy’s LMG fired at suspected tunnel and one enemy was observed running past the gap.

0840 B Coy report 25 pounder direct on target.

0850 Report from B Coy. Six direct hits by own tank in area where digging was in progress. No further has been heard.

Intentions night 14/15 March. Recce patrol to 324334 to investigate position where enemy heard digging. Listening post to 323333. Both parties out at 2230 hrs.

1300 2 Innisks ‘I’ Summary issued to all coys.

1945 A Polish SP gun arrived unexpectedly behind Bttn HQ with the intention of firing at 2030 hrs. The bttn had no warning of this and the gun was allowed to fire.


0800 Capt GE Cole resumes duties of Adjutant.

15th March


General light harassing fire during night. Floodbank activity quieter than usual.

0940 1 RIrF report four enemy trying to desert at 337338 but stick grenades were thrown by the enemy at them and our own troops shot one.

Brigade Commander lunches with HQ Carpathian Lancers.

1200 CCRA (5 Corps) visits Brigade HQ.

1405 One PoW (2 Coy, 289 Grenadier Regiment) taken at 327335.

1412 Enemy digging at 337338 engaged by tanks.

1600 Centre coy 1 RIrF attacked by bazookas but 2” mortars and Piats stopped this action.

1635 One deserter (14 Coy, 289 Grenadier Regiment) taken at 327335.

SP Battery 51 Recce successfully engaged houses during night. General light enemy HF during day.

2040 Explosions heard from our side of own floodbank 360343.

2100 Enemy detachment crossed bridge 329334 and opened fire from near floodbank. 2 Innisks opened fire and two of this party were wounded trying to re-cross bridge.

1 RIrF – 353322.

0940 B Coy (Major J Phelan MC) report 4 enemy with white flag.

1010 B Coy report argument between enemy groups and unseen enemy resulted in grenades being thrown by enemy. One Bosche killed, no prisoners.

1144 C Coy (Major RSV Howard) report destroying enemy footbridge with PIAT.

1200 Enemy OP area 351336 rebult during night and again in use.

1500 Tanks again destroyed above OP.

1530 Tanks again beat up enemy post 337338 blowing bits of wood into the air.

1740 Sgt of 2 LIR on recce area platoon position 335337. Killed by surprise.

2210 C Coy (Major RSV Howard) patrol to 342338 found enemy still in residence on north side of south bank and engaged in short grenade duel.

2 Innisks – GRANAROLA.

0530 All coys and Bttn HQ ‘Standing To’ (Normal).

0835 B Coy report MMGs fired at suspected tunnel, one Bosche seem to run post gap shortly after.

0950 A Coy report that right forward platoon heard shouting and screaming from direction of Faughs’ left forward coy. Sgt Malone (left forward platoon) reported seeing white flag.

2 Innisks ‘I’ Summary No 6 issued. The CO made his usual routine visit to coys.

1050 Faughs’ report that one enemy shot in front of left forward coy. Enemy with white flag believed to give themselves up.

1405 B Coy report one prisoner taken. Brigade IO informed.

1535 B Coy reports 2nd prisoner.

1710 The CO made his usual routine visit to coys.

1736 C Coy report mortar fire in coy area.

1827 A Coy report that their coy sniper shot one Bosche at 1030 hrs.

2035 A Coy right hand platoon reports tracked vehicles to half right about 500 yards away.

2036 A Coy reports one casualty from rifle grenades bursting on the bank.

2055 A Coy reports left forward platoon ‘Standing To’, it is suggested enemy massing.

MMGs fire on task Sugar.

2100 C Coy report 4 men crossing bridge, fired upon and one ran back.

2115 A Coy fired upon from top of bank by automatics. Platoon ‘Standing To’.

2130 C Coy report the three men crossing back across the bridge and were scuttled, screaming was heard. Platoon stood down.

Died on this Day:

Fusilier Philip Kirkham, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.


0900 Baths at MBU. RC service in Pieve di Cesato.

1600 Coy recce parties visiting 1 RIrF coy positions. Sgt Johnston of G Coy was killed by an enemy sniper as he raised his head above the top of the Senio floodbank.

Died on this Day:

Sergeant Norman Johnston, London Irish Rifles.