War Diaries – 6th to 10th May 1943

6th May

Brigade HQ.

Quiet night and patrols had nothing to report.

Big attack began at 0300. Barrage and subsequent concentration lasted until 0600. 400 guns involved. 78th Division formed firm base for attack by 4th British and 4th Indian Divisions. Armour taking part was 7th Armoured Division, 6th Armoured Division and US Armoured Division.

0600 Sitrep to 78th Division “Local protective patrols only. Nothing to report.”

0830 102 Field Regiment reported small party of men at pt 133 moving east towards Farm 728335 engaged and dispersed.

0900 Message from the Prime Minister was forwarded to bttns.

Amendments to minefield trace was forwarded to all concerned.

1000 TCVs arrived in Brigade area. Trace of routes forward was issued.

1800 Intelligence Summary was issued describing the progress of the attack.

2000 Orders were issued to bttns to be especially alert at stand to, 7 May, and not to stand down until further notice.

78 Division Operation Memorandum No 2 was received.

1930 Division ordered brigade to find out if tanks (8 at 7027, 9 at 7335) reported could have been there.

2130 56 Recce Regiment reported tanks could not have been at 7027 but possibly at 7335.

2215 Orders were sent to 56 Recce Regiment  to man their OPs as usual 7 May and feel forward to Wadi fronting Brigade position at first light to see if enemy have withdrawn or intend to counter attack.

2220 Orders received from Division that NIH were to have a squadron at one hours notice. Orders were transmitted by DR to NIH.

2220 Orders received from Division that TCVs in brigade area must join 6 Innisks by 0500hrs. This was carried out without incident.

2355 Division Operation Memorandum No 2 was received. The intention was expressed to maintain contact.

Quiet night – no contact.

1 RIrF.

Bttn positions still the same. Large scale attack on Tunis commenced . 6th Armoured and 7th Armoured Divisions reached La Mornaghia. Bttn prepared to move forward when required and also prepared for a possible counter attack.


0700-0900 Much transport seen moving up Tunis road, as start of drive for Tunis.

1000 A Coy takes over from A & SH on Hill 151 (6836).

1800 Dismounted brens of the Carrier Platoon are protecting the A/Tk guns. Formed as a platoon under Lieut Pollard (i/c A/Tk platoon). They are called the Polforce.

There is no water available for washing. The men walk down to the gully previously occupied.

Visibility has been obscured all day by clouds of dust over the plains, caused by vehicles.

Rumours of the fall of Bizerte, Djedeida and Zaghouan are unconfirmed but cheering.

2 LIR.

0300 Armoured divisions start to pass through area in a continuous stream. The plain is covered in a dust cloud and the visibility is impossible. 36 and 11 Brigade took objectives with slight casualties at 1700 hours 5/5/43.

Enemy is reported to have concentrated large force of A/Tk and 88mm guns in area Djebel Frendj and Furna. 1 Division take Bou feature suffering casualties.

1130 Intercepted message – 24 guns captured intact, area unknown. Several barges and boats escorted by destroyers cruising in Lake of Bizerta. American fighters went to investigate and were intercepted by ME 100s over 8206 3 MEs shot down – observation difficult because of combat. Liner outside Tunis bombed by RAF. This ship contained men captured on 12 April who were later repatriated.

1200 6th and 7th Armoured Division have reached Furna. Situation obscure. Believed to be by-passing the village.

1850 Forward elements of Armoured Divisions reached Massicault. 6 Armoured Division on left and 7 Armoured Division on right. 4 Infantry Division and 4 Indian Division move up behind Armoured Divisions.

Died on this day:

Rifleman Frederick Herbert, London Irish Rifles.

Rifleman Charles Smart, London Irish Rifles.

7th May.

Brigade HQ.

0500 2 LIR patrols had nothing to report.

0545 1 RIrF standing patrols had nothing to report but there were signs of activity in wadi on brigade front.

0620 Sitrep sent to 78 Division. Sings of enemy occupation had been heard during the night.

0935 56 Recce Regiment reported that a motor cyclist had come from Peter’s Corner (7032) to Delaney’s Cross (7022) and had seen no sign of the enemy. There were mines on the road at 704230.

1030 78 Division ordered Squadron 56 Recce Regiment, under command the brigade, to revert to the regiment and detailed brigade to find party to clear minefield at 704230 (214 Field Regiment RE were warned and 2 Hamps provided a covering party.)

Brigade followed the progress of the battle and was held in readiness to move forward. The role was not yet definable.

1 RIrF.

Attack reported going favourably. Nothing could be seen of it from our positions owing to the duct in the Medjez valley caused by the streams of transport which were going down the Medjez valley all day.

1930 Elements of 7 Armoured Division in Tunis.


0200-0700 Heavy rain, making the place very muddy. Some difficulty in moving transport except on main roads, especially motor cycles.

1800 A Coy takes over from Polforce.

News that forward Allied elements have reached Tunis.

2 LIR.

Situation reports of general advance brought in during the day. Information good. 1 Armoured Division push to Ain El Asker. 56 Recce Regiment make contact between 6 and 1 Armoured Divisions.

1800 British troops reported to have entered Tunis. Confirmed that US troops are in Bizerte. Battalion ordered to prepare to move by 0800 hours 8/5/43.

8th May

Brigade HQ.

0100 Conference was held at Brigade HQ to discuss the move forward and possible street fighting in Tunis.

0330 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade OO No 26 was issued expressing the intention “38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade will concentrate in area La Mornaghia in order to operate against enemy in Tunis.”

0500 Brigade Major and Staff Captain left with jeep and recce car to meet Divisional Commander at La Mornaghia.

0730 Brigade HQ left on route for Tunis.

1000 Brigade HQ arrives at La Mornaghia (J9449).

1100 Plan of Tunis was sent to each bttn. Brigade was given task of clearing Tunis with 6 RWK under command for the operation. 1 RIrF were ordered to take up ‘stop’ positions south of the town while 2 LIR (left) and 6 Innisks swept from north to south. 6 RWK were to man road blocks and strong points taken over from 22 Armoured Brigade.

1210 1 RIrF reported delay due to lateness of artillery battery in support.

1215 6 Innisks reported arrived in assembly area.

1230 2 LIR were ordered to start off in TCVs and move when ready.

1345 1 RIrF on the move.

1500 Brigade HQ entered Tunis via Le Bardo and passed through the centre of the city to La Gagna (0952). Progress was slow owing to the tremendous demonstration by the civilian population.

1830 Brigade arrived in defensive positions south of Tunis as shown in trace.

1930 Section Defence Platoon under Camp Commandant raided Farm K0150 and took 8 PoWs. 2 LIR reported 30 PoWs mostly of HGJR taken south of Tunis.

2325 Orders were received from 78 Division that 6 RWK were to revert under command 36 Brigade on 9 May.

1 RIrF.

Details of move in Appendix.

78th Division were to clear Tunis. 38 (Irish) Brigade to take the southern part of the town. Bttn was ordered to exploit and mop up any enemy around Lake Sedjoumi.

1400 Bttn started to advance with the carrier platoon leading, followed by A Coy. The road down the west side of the lake was full of 6 Armoured Division transport and there was no sign of any enemy. Bttn went round the southern end of the lake, and took up positions across the four main roads, leading from south to north into Tunis. Only a few hours were spent in these positions. The bttn then moved back and consolidated in La Gagna.

6 Innisks – J638280.

0300 Brigade Conference. This is the occasion that the bttn returns to 38 (Irish) Brigade, having been on “loan” to 36 Brigade for 5 days.

0500 O Group. CO announces that the bttn will take part in clearing of Tunis.

0830 Bttn move off in MT. Side roads still very muddy.

0900 Head of column reaches main road. Delays by 1 RIrF, 2 LIR being late coming from brigade area. Continuous stream of traffic, including nearly all types of Allied vehicles, and guns and Churchills all rolling towards Tunis.

1000 Bttn convoy moves off and reaches La Mornaghia without incident, where we turned down a side road for lunch.

1400 Orders for CO give the southern part of Tunis as our area. He warns bttns to be prepared for street fighting.

1430 Bttn em-buses and moves off towards Tunis, passing an unbelievable host of Axis PoWs, walking away from Tunis.

1500 They were un-escorted except for solitary CMPs. They carried their kit and were unarmed. All services were there. They formed up in single file on either side of the tree fringed road. The only vehicles are the CO’s carrier and wireless truck and several motor cycles. A French soldier supplied as guide by brigade cannot speak English. The CO communicates with him in French. A Coy leading – under Captain Hanna – got held up on reaching the ancient gates by the LIR, having got into our area. Bttn moves on after half hour delay.

Resistance has been announced at an end in Tunis. A tremendous welcome awaits the bttn. Most of the public buildings are flying Tricolours. Groups of people stand on the road cheering, clapping and giving the V sign. Reaching the Rue de France, there was a crowd right across the road. The vehicles have to force a passage through a sea of people, waving flags and throwing roses to us. Some civilians asked us if we were the 8th Army. They seemed badly informed about the situation of the war.

Bttn turned down the Rue de Carthage, left the crowd and received orders from the CO to close in threes to march to lying up area.

2000 Bttn HQ reach Farm 089518. A Coy proceed to Hill 100500. C Coy to area of 090505. B Coy in area 090510.

The role of the bttn is to prevent counter attack by strong enemy elements still on Cap Bon. There are strong forces of Allied troops south of our positions.

Died on this Day:

Sergeant Frank McAleer DCM, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

2 LIR.

0430 Commanding Officer’s O Group 78 Division to clear Tunis. Brigade concentrating in following areas 11 Brigade Manouba 38 Brigade La Mornaghia, 36 Brigade Sidi Mohammed.

0630 Recce group move off to concentration area at La Mornaghia.

0730 Battalion em-bused in TCVs.

0812 Battalion pass S P.

1145 Battalion arrives in La Mornaghia. Battalion HQ established at 965519.

1150 Commanding Officer’s order group. Battalion to clear streets of Tunis. Order of march – H, E, F, G, Battalion HQ and A Echelon. To sweep in a southerly direction along Avenue de Paris and Avenue de Carthage. Right E Company followed by G Company. Left H Company followed by F Company. Battalion HQ and A Echelon to move along axis of advance. 6 Innisks to clear other half of City. 1 R IrF to move south around Lac de Tunis and establish blocks on main route to Tunis.

1210 Battalion leaves La Mornaghia. De-busing point at Road June 936563. No opposition so far.

1330 Battalion commences to clear town. All resistance had ceased by this time in Tunis and in the surrounding areas and those who had escaped were making for the Cap Bon area. The battalion was mobbed by huge enthusiastic crowds who lined the Streets, waving flags, giving the ‘V’ sign and wanting to shake all of us by the hand. No opposition was met whatsoever except the terrific crowds and the battalion managed to reach the south side of Tunis by 1645 hours.

1730 Battalion established its position on high ground south of Tunis – Battalion HQ 093618 E Company Point 40, F Company 099525 remains in Tunis to police town guard VPs and hospitals. H Company Point 86 (1051).

2000 Remainder of battalion transport turns up – held up by congestion in Tunis.

9th May

Brigade HQ.

0830 Reported to 78 Division positions unchanged and in a state of infantry and A/Tk defence. There was nothing to report during the night. 28 stragglers, mostly HGJR, were picked up by the brigade.

0930 Brigade Commander visited 6 RWK.

1 RIrF

A quiet day spent settling in. No leave granted into Tunis.

6 Innisks – SOUTH OF TUNIS.

1330 Bttn HQ moved without incident and rather casually to olive grove at K 092508. B Coy took up a position between A and C Coys. There is a magnificent view from A Coy’s position looking towards Cap Bon. Sounds of artillery can be heard from the battle there.

Large dumps of Italian ammo have been found in the lines.

10th May

Brigade HQ.

A summary of information giving an account of progress in the Cap Bon peninsula was issued to troops under command.

During the day, a patrol of 1 RIrF at St Germain (K 2051) combed the area for enemy stragglers and brought in a man in civilian clothes, devoid of identification papers, who was sent to S Force HQ.

1015 Orders for mobile patrols in areas south of Tunis shown on attached trace were sent to bttns. The object was to search for enemy still at large. These patrols had nothing to report and found the population friendly.

1325 Information collected by 2 LIR concerning civilian population was circulated to bttns.

1 RIrF.

Ten percent of the bttn allowed in Tunis. Nothing unusual to report. A quiet day.

6 Innisks – SOUTH OF TUNIS.

0900 Four Germans walked onto Bttn HQ to give themselves up. They came from Sedjoumi 0250. (1 flak, 3 infantry).

1700 C Coy sent guard to Sedjoumi to take over medical stores abandoned by the enemy. The party returned, as the RAMC had had conflicting orders.

The bread ration has been reduced by a third due to vast number of PoWs taken.

2 LIR.

1400 Battalion sent out patrols (1 Officer and 10 in 15 cwt trucks) from each company to round up any enemy in the area. None were found.