6 Innisks had a noisy night and considerable enemy shelling and mortaring.
2 LIR slight shelling. 1 RIrF still in concentration area just this side of the River Gari. Bridge across River Piopetto now complete at 850174 and second bridge being constructed nearby to enable one way traffic. Several tanks were bogged trying to cross this river yesterday with the 6 Innisks, and the bridge had to be hastily constructed during the night in time for the attack at 0900 hrs.
0900 78 Division commence attack on Pytchley. 2 LIR on left, 2 Lancashire Fusiliers on right, supported by 16/5 Lancers and 17/21 Lancers.
1140 2 LIR reported to be established on Pytchley and objectives secure.
Fairly heavy casualties were experienced but these were mainly on the SL. Now confirmed that Lieut Colonel IN Goff, Commander 2 LIR, died of wounds.
Major J Coldwell-Horsfall assumed command.
Identifications of prisoners taken during the attack were 361 PGR, 6 Coy 741 GR, 95 Recce, 33 Eng Bttn.
1200 2 LIR consolidate positions, assisted by Squadron 16/5 Lancers. Responsible for flank protection River Piopetto from Pytchley to 823170. 1 Derbyshire Yeomanry on line same reference to 822160 and are moving to 818173. On arrival, this line 2 LIR are responsible up to and including junction point with Derbyshire Yeomanry at river junction 818173 – 813163.
2 LIR locations – Bttn HQ 823177, Coys at 818177, 821177, 824179 and 824176.
1645 2 LIR report four enemy SPs and 2 enemy A/Tk guns knocked out during the attack.
1900 Conference to plan attack by 1 RIrF at 0700 hrs on to next objective, supported by 16/5 Lancers.
2 LIR capture Pytchley.
1730 Orders issued to CO to take Fernie as bttn objective.
2000 Bttn attached with B Squadron 16/5 Lancers and one troop 234 A/Tk Battery under command.
C Company on right with track junction 819185 as objective.
D Company on left with house at 817184 as objective.
Each coy with 1 troop B Squadron 16/5 Lancers in support.
A Company right reserve company 600 yard interval and to clamp down at 821184 as from base.
B Company left reserve company 600 yard interval behind D Company firm base at 819183 in woods.
Barrage by 6 Field Regiment opened on 823191 – 815186 for 16 minutes with three lifts of 200 yards.
Start line and first two lifts 16 minutes, last lift 32 minutes.
Possible exploitation to line Tarquino 817195 Casa Tarta 815195 by A and B Coys.
Unit A/Tk guns moved with attached troop 17 pounders and under command 254 Battery.
Support coy weapons move behind rear coys.
RV with tanks at 822176 at 0400 hrs.
Intercomm CO in tank contact set to coys.
Leave present area 0100 hrs A,B,C,D and support weapons.
2030 Alleged counter attack through 4th British Division on right confirmed statement and bttn ordered to stand to.
2300 Stand down.
Since the early hours of the morning, the enemy shelling had slackened into spasmodic salvoes.
0900 Food was again brought up from A Echelon cooked and ready for distribution.
0920 Our own artillery barrage in support of 2 LIR (who had postponed their action) started, some shells falling short in the bttn area, fortunately causing no casualties. There was no fighting on the part of the bttn during the day although heavy and consistent shelling continued.
2 LIR and 2 Lancs Fusiliers continued the attack.
1150 D Coy reported seeing an SP gun at 834184 and artillery fire was brought down on the area.
Throughout the morning, the only signs of battle in progress were tanks seen burning and others moving up.
Shelling came from all directions and bursts of MG fire were heard all round but brigade informed us that all was going according to plan.
In the evening, it was decided that the other bttns had done well enough to allow our sections to concentrate and have normal guards of two men per section – the others to sleep, but not to take their boots off.
The Brigadier sent a message to the bttn, saying how pleased he was with their recent battle.
1830 A Coy went to area 842171 to guard B Squadron 16/5 Lancers, which were harboured there.
2030 A recce patrol went off to contact 10 RB on the left flank.
Died on this Day:
2 LIR – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).
0900 Bttn attack area 821179, supported by tanks.
1100 Enemy A/Tk gun reported on track 8418, firing west.
H Coy (left) on objective. F Coy (centre) out of touch with tanks.
1200 Tanks report enemy tanks and infantry at 822168. Monkey target brought down by artillery.
1400 Derbyshire Yeomanry to go through bttn 819185.
Lieut Clark and Sgt Donaldson killed.
1415 Lieut Searles and Lieut O’Connor wounded. Report only six men left in one platoon of H Coy.
1430 Tanks report 824167 clear of enemy.
1830 Tanks (Lothians) move into F Echelon area.
1900 Enemy counter attacking from west. F Echelon take up defensive positions. Attack coming in from area Ria Piopetto 823169 with covering fire from 842170 across hill 834169 through Northants positions. Tanks take up defensive position on hill 843168, firing west and 846168, firing north west. Infantry of F Echelon in position in front of tanks at 843168.
2000 Situation restored.
Bttn taken all objectives. Suffered about 100 casualties. 1 RIrF move forward to concentration area to attack Fernie. Derbyshire Yeomanry in position on 38 Brigade right, 11 Brigade on left.
Last light Sitrep:Bttn HQ 823177. Coys 818177, 821117, 824177, 824179, 824176. There were 102 PoWs taken during course of the day from 361 PGR, 6 Coy 741 PGR, 33 A/Tk Bttn and 114 Pnr Bttn. Four enemy SP guns and 2 Mk IV tanks knocked out.
Died on this Day:
Very quiet night. No outstanding incidents. No indications of enemy pulling out, but it is thought his guns and main bodies have probably gone back to prepare next line.
0700 Attack on Fernie commenced. Objectives of 1 RIrF and tanks are Massa Cerro 8118 and pt 87 818184.
Lothian and Border Horse had difficulty in advancing towards left flank in direction of Piumarola 8018.
0900 Lothians getting on and 1 RIrF advancing well.
0945 1 RIrF report objectives captured.
1000 1 RIrF ordered to exploit forward to Tartar G 814154 and pt 85 G 813190. 6 Innisks and 2 LIR ordered to be ready to move.
1055 Report received from 26 Armoured Brigade that 10 RB on 823 easting to our left flank. Held up in this area and they also report Piumarola held.
1100 Divisional Commander visits Brigade Commander. 36 Brigade is now going to come up and hold line R Piumarola tomorrow.
1300 6 Innisks move up to an assembly area behind 1 RIrF.
1430 1 RIrF report one company now on Tartar and the other leading company will be on pt 85 shortly.
6 Innisks then ordered to capture pts 87 811188 and pt 78 811182 and then Piumarola 8018.
1500 Squadron 16/5 Lancers supporting 1 RIrF have lined up with the Lothian tanks in front of Piumarola and are getting on.
1530 Lothians report Mk IV tank at 811188, which is being dealt with.
2 LIR report that they are now on the move. 1 RIrF now all in position. They report coy locations as follows: G 815195, 815192, 817192, 817195.
1800 Prisoners now coming in, taken by 1 RIrF during their advance. Identifications mainly 82 Eng Bttn, I/361 PGR, II/721GR, 129 PGR, III/721CR. Total of 37 so far.
1930 6 Innisks reported that they have reached the line of the River Piopetto just in front of Piumarola and attack on the village going in straight away. They captured the village half an hour later.
A considerable number of prisoners were taken – 47 in all – mainly from I/3 Farm Regiment. It was afterwards confirmed that the CO was among the prisoners.
2 LIR move forward to guard left flank in the pt 78 area 811182.
5 Buffs (36 Brigade) take over protection of left flank along River Piopetto from 814177 to 818173.
2100 Major Maxwell 2.i.c.6 Innisks assumes command of the battalion vice Lieut-Colonel HEN Bredin who has gone to hospital.
0100 Bttn moved up to start line.
0230 Arrived at 822176 dispersal in FUP.
0300 Tanks arrived.
0700 Artillery opened up barrage.
0716 Leading coys across start line.
0730 Major Franklyn-Vaile OC C Company killed by shelling.
0930 D Coy contact minefield forward of objective.
0950 Objective captured and consolidated. 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers on right flank.
1110 Adjutant group move up to Tac at M Sello 821185. Message from brigade to exploit with B Squadron 16/5 Lancers to a line 815195 to 815192
1130 Orders Group. A Coy to exploit with one troop 16/5 Lancers to C Tarta 815195.
B Coy to house 815192.
1355 B Coy on objective.
1400 C and D Coys ordered forward to Tarquino 817195. C Coy to stream 816190.
1450 C Coy digging in at stream 816190.
1515 D Coy on objective and consolidating.
1600 Two A/Tk guns, two MMGs, three 3” mortars with D Coy.
Two A/Tk guns with A Coy.
Two A/Tk guns, two MMGs with B Coy.
Two A/Tk, two MMGs with C Coy.
1700 Bttn HQ established on track junction 819188.
1900 Patrol D Coy, Lieut IV Baker, with nine men to illuminate Route Six with three 2” mortars from railway at 818200. Flank units confirming.
1945 D Support Group (Kensingtons) 4.2” mortars in action at 823184 OP with A Coy.
2030 D Coy patrol out.
Died on this Day:
1100 CO held O Group in the open and the enemy shelled the area at the same time but no casualties were caused.
1115 CO and IO and Squadron Commander went off on a recce on a honey tank and a bttn start line was decided upon.
1400 A heavy concentration of enemy shells on the bttn area caused three casualties.
1415 Owing to a report that the Lothians might have reached the bttn objective Piumarola (804192), a recce of 1 platoon and 1 troop of tanks was sent forward from the concentration area (821184) with the object of finding out if our own troops had come across our front.
1510 CO called another O Group conference and gave the information that Piumarola was strongly held and that there was at least 1 Panzer Mk VI in the area which needed to be located by infantry.
The plan was to start off on a one coy front, A Coy leading with one troop of tanks along the axis of the road to Piumarola – followed by C Coy with a troop of tanks – D Coy with no tanks, then B Coy with the last troop of tanks.
A Coy to advance and capture Piumarola. C Coy to follow and be prepared to pass through if needed. When two coys past pt 80 and B Coy to await role, which would be dependent on the other operation.
1517 Troops of tanks engaged by AP from the north west. The bttn was heavily and consistently shelled in the forming up area by 170 mm guns and a number of casualties caused.
One squadron of the Lothians, which were nearby were persuaded to accompany D Company to their objective and the H hour for the whole battle was 1745. D and A Coys started off, C Coy following A Coy. The Lothians supporting D Coy would not go very far and the infantry had to go forward to the objective alone, which they took successfully.
The 16/5 Lancers with A and C Coys were very much better and the whole attack went in with great vigour. The Bosche tried to resist at first but soon found out that it was better not to and prisoners started to come in.
1855 At this time, the CO had been hit fairly badly by shrapnel but refused to be evacuated until he saw that the battle was begun and going well. Major J Kerr then took command of the bttn.
1900 A Coy reached the road at 807182 and more prisoners, all anxious by this time to give themselves up, arrived, one of them reporting that his coy was to go back 40 kilometres.
1915 The battle was now on for Piumarola itself, where resistance was stronger and A and C Coys went round right of the village where the river was reported too wide for tanks to cross. Fortunately, a bridge was found intact which the tanks was able to cross, but a platoon of A Coy had gone into the village earlier by crossing a pole that was slung across the river and C Coy went in close after A Coy.
1920 Once tanks entered in support, the battle was soon over and many more prisoners were added to the bag.
The Brigadier had ordered the battle to stop some time earlier so that consolidation should be completed before nightfall, but it was then too late to stop it as all troops were determined to clear Piumarola.
Having achieved their objective, the supporting weapons which were waiting to move, came up and consolidation was completed just as darkness fell. Numerous SP guns, A/Tk guns, MGs, recce vehicles were found in the area, many in good working order. One of the prisoners taken was the CO of the First Parachute Bttn. Normal patrols went out at night but reported no contact.
Three new officers joined the bttn: 2/Lieut CJ Morgan A Coy, Lieut JM Campbell B Coy, 2/Lieut IF Tilly C Coy. Lieut JJ McKenna is SOS on posting to HQ 78 Division.
Died on this Day:
2 LIR – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).
0700 1 RIrF pass through bttn area to forward localities.
0906 1 RIrF take objective. Report enemy throwing down arms and running away.
1000 Very heavy shelling of Bttn HQ farm. Three ORs on 17 pounder A/Tk gun killed.
1005 Bttn warned for move forward.
1010 Enemy tank appeared in valley on left flank. Dealt with own tanks.
1020 Six prisoners of mixed enemy units arrived at Bttn HQ.
1130 CO’s recce party forward.
1135 Rifle coys move forward to defensive area 815185. Intention – to occupy area and consolidate and allow 5 Buffs to pass through at dawn.
1140 5 Buffs arrive at Bttn HQ farm. Bttn HQ moves forward.
1230 Bttn halted on road at 820184. Informed area 815185 cannot be occupied until 1st dark.
1300 Bttn heavily shelled. No casualties.
1500 Coy recce groups move forward.
1900 Bttn arrive in area 810185. Intermittent shelling and mortaring.
Died on this Day:
Consistent enemy mortaring and shelling was experienced during the night.
Nebels were seen firing and engaged by our own artillery.
Brigade ordered to conform to general line 36 Brigade after their dawn attack by 5 Buffs to the left of Piumarola. This entails moving a company of 6 Innisks to the left of Piumarola, having only one coy now in the village. This was carried out at 1730hrs.
2000 Brigade HQ moves to G 818184.
2030 Orders received to take over from 36 Brigade so that they can move forward to attack Aquino.
0315 Patrol back. No incidents. Illuminating patrol saw nothing.
0900 D Coy, one platoon with artillery OP to house overlooking Route Six at pt 819197.
1800 Brigade O Group.
Information: rapid advance during day by tanks and infantry, who are now on outskirts of Aquino 7521.
Brigade HQ moving forward to new Tac.
Brigade remains in Divisional reserve.
Bttn to move to area 800196, 800188, 796194.
Weather fine and warm. Slight cloud. There was only slight shelling in the bttn area during the morning, otherwise it was a quiet day and the bttn recovered itself, sorted weapons etc and generally cleaned up.
Major GF Maxwell assumed command of the bttn wef 18 May 44 and Major J Kerr acted as 2.i.c.
Positions were now as follows:
Bttn HQ 808183, A Coy with u/c 1 platoon MMGs and 2 A/Tk guns in Piumarola 805182; B Coy less 1 platoon at 809185; C Coy with u/c 1 platoon B Coy, 2 A/Tk guns, 2 MMGs at 807185; D Coy with u/c 2 A/Tk guns and 2 MMGs at 811189.
Bttn prepared for a good night’s rest, but this was not to be.
2000 CO went to Brigadier’s conference at which arrangements were made for the bttn to move forward at first light to relieve a bttn of 36 Brigade. During the night came further orders and counter orders and finally it was arranged for the bttn to be clear of the present area by 0730 hrs 19 May 44 and to move an intermediate area at 792191 from where further moves could be carried out at short notice.
2 LIR – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).
0700 Coys sent out patrols to clear area of remaining area and gather information.
General Information: Germans announce Cassino town evacuated. Poles send patrols to Cassino monastery. 4 Division cut Route Six at 840197. French take Esperia and begin outflanking movements on Adolf Hitler Line.
1300 Brigadier visits Bttn HQ.
1815 Draft of approximately 50 reinforcements arrive at Bttn HQ.
1900 CO proceeds to Brigade Tac HQ for conference.
2000 CO’s O Group. Bttn warned for move to area 783193.
0030 Orders received to take up positions lining Route Six. All battalions to move at dawn. Recce parties to go out before hand to recce cross country route.
0800 Brigade ordered to advance a further 1000 yards nearer Route Six.
1000 Brigade now disposed as follows:
6 Innisks HQ 788197, Coys at 786207, 793204.
2 LIR HQ 789197, Coys at 784208, 776 205.
1 RIrF HQ 797201, Coys at 796204, 798204, 799204, 795201.
Remainder of day spent in consolidating positions with very little enemy shelling.
1400 All patrols to Route Six return and report no contact.
0500 Recce party to new area. Bttn HQ Massa Abate 800179. A Coy in house at 799196, B Coy house 797192, C Coy house 798191, D Coy house 800195. S Coy in area Massa Abate.
0830 Bttn left for new areas.
0950 Bttn arrived new area. Orders were then received to push on immediately to line of road forward of junction 775205 to road junction 808204. Patrols to line of railway. 6 Innisks and 2 LIR confirm ourselves on right. LIR on centre and 6 Innisks on left.
4 British Division astride Route Six.
1000 Orders Group. D Coy to right of road junction 799204. A Coy to left of same road junction. B Coy to left of A Coy. C Coy to area 795200. Bttn HQ area house 798200.
1015 Bttn moved forward to allotted area.
1105 Coys reported in position. Forward compliance patrols to railway lines. No contact with enemy.
1130 Bttn HQ and S Coy to new area.
1150 Bttn HQ established in new area.
Weather good but cloudy in the morning.
0730 Recce party move off, consisting of CO, IO, S Coy Commander, RA party and guides for coys. Everything was arranged at the intermediate area and the bttn following up was shown into position.
0840 Recce party moved off again, this time without the coy guides, to recce the area 790199 and at 0930 hrs, the CO called the Coy Commanders forward to an O Group to give orders for the defence of the area.
While these orders were being given out, fresh orders came through for the bttn to move further forward and reach a line 783206 – 797204. Fresh plans were made for coys to move forward, each supported by one M 10 which, apart from artillery, was the only close support available at such short notice.
1020 A and C Coys started across country and, by 1210, had reached the road which was the objective and consolidation was begun. The expected resistance did not materialise and the only enemy seen were two very young soldiers of the 1st Parachute Division, who were hiding in a house in the area.
Dispositions were now:
A Coy, 791206 – 797205.
B Coy, 794203.
C Coy, 784206 – 791206.
D Coy and mortars – 791201.
A few enemy shells fell in the area.
1500 The Bttn Battle Patrol was sent out to reach a position from where Route Six could be seen. This was accomplished successfully, but no enemy were encountered.
1645 The Black Watch and the Royal Fusiliers of 4 Division came across our front and stopped on C Coy’s right flank and very nearly launched a battle for possession of C Coy’s HQ.
1740 Movement was observed at 788229.
2 LIR – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).
0500 CO’s recce parry proceeds forward to recce route and positions in new area.
0630 Bttn move forward.
0830 Move completed.
0930 Bttn HQ and coy positions heavily shelled for 20 minutes. Two ORs of bttn and 2 RA wounded.
1000 CO’s O Group.
1030 CO, IO and Coy Commanders recce bttn area. Coys established in position at 779206, 778 205, 778204, 783205. Periodic shelling of bttn area. Bttn Tac HQ in farmhouse 779200.
1900 CO’s O Group dealing with bttn all round protection.
2100 Bttn area and approach routes shelled intermittently. No casualties.
A quiet night on the whole with spasmodic shelling.
0900 Brigade Commander visits 1 RIrF. Heavy shelling 6 Innisks area during the morning, same shells believed 170 mm.
1200 8 Indian Division is taking over responsibility of Route 6 from 4 Division and this will enable 6 Innisks and 1 RIrF to come out and concentrate in reserve localities.
2 LIR to remain in present positions but to conform to new Divisional boundaries. This will entail moving one coy into reserve.
1400 Shelling 2 LIR area. Very slight.
1600 2 LIR report that they believe Poles have captured Piedimonte. Two enemy Mark IV tanks were seen going back in the direction of Castrocielo.
2100 6 Innisks and 1 RIrF now in reserve localities.
6 Innisks HQ 791199, Coys at 792194, 787193, 789197, 787198.
2 LIR HQ 801189, Coys at 800195, 798191, 807189, 803187.
1 RIrF HQ 779199, Coys 775206, 775203, 779202, 779199.
Units now under command 254 A/Tk Battery RA, D Support Group (1 Kensingtons). 16/5 Lancers revert to command of 6 Armoured Division.
1300 Orders to move into brigade reserve. Our role now being useless as 4 British Division had advanced across bttn front.
1305 Coys to move back to areas recced on previous day.
Recce parties left to see whether these areas were still unoccupied and, if occupied, to recce new areas.
1410 Bttn in new area. Bttn HQ – 800189, A Coy – 806189, B Coy – 803187, C Coy – 798190, D Coy – 800195.
Weather fine with few clouds. Quiet day except for enemy shelling. Later in the day, enemy 170 mm guns ranged on the house and six direct hits were scored on Bttn HQ, which was fortunately in a very substantial building and only a few casualties were caused plus the water truck. It was realised that there had been too much movement in the area.
1500 The bttn was ordered to close in to a narrower front to allow 8 Indian Division to move up on the right along Route Six. Areas were recced and the bttn moved by coys, starting at 1900 hrs to positions – Bttn HQ 791198, A Coy 793194, B Coy 787193, C Coy 789187, D Coy 787199, S Coy 790195. The move was completed without incident and coys started to make themselves comfortable in their new positions. 254 A/Tk Battery returned to its own regiment. D Support Group returned to its own unit.10 Field Battery RA party returned to the Battery to check administration points
2 LIR – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).
1900 CO’s O Group. Information: Polish troops fighting in Piedimonte. 2 LFs at 763203 and 1 East Surreys at 755195.