1st May

Brigade HQ – FORMICOLA.

Training and recreation. 6 Innisks carry out River Crossing Exercise across River Volturno, just north of Capua. 2 LIR carry out Village Fighting Scheme in Capua area. 1 RIrF Interior Economy. Cinema allotments and ENSA shows in the evening in Capua. Lieut JD White (RUR) joins Brigade HQ as Senior LO and is promoted A/Captain. Lieut F Lyness (RUR) returns to 2 LIR.


1 RIrF.

Admin.

Read Lawrie Franklyn-Vaile’s letters.


6 Innisks– FORMICOLA.

Weather cloudy. Slight wind.

Bttn held river crossing exercise with Major Kerr commanding, as Lieut Col HEN Bredin MC had gone on leave for four days and the 2.i.c. Major GF Maxwell was in hospital.

0700 Bttn left Formicola N1939 and arrived at the lying up area 290843 at 0800 hrs.

0800 A recce was then made to find suitable routes to the FUP 298841 and from FUP to places of embarking. The latter was taped from FUP direct to river.

1030 Bttn left lying up area and was guided to FUP by Intelligence personnel, arriving at 1100 hrs.

1110 Coys moved forward, carrying boats, which had been left on the road at the beginning of the two routes to the river.

Main Bttn HQ at a report centre at the forming up point. Lines were laid to the place of embarking and disembarking, the line across the river being taken when Tac HQ crossed.

1130 Divisional Commander visited the bttn while the crossing was in progress and was very pleased with the way the boats were getting across, for the river was a difficult one to negotiate, being very shallow and very fast flowing.

1210 A and B Coys were across complete, having been rowed by personnel from C Coy.

1220 Tac HQ and RA party crossed, followed by D Coy ten minutes later.

1300 B Coy reported on objective. A Coy still clearing area. D Coy in reserve behind B Coy. Main HQ and C Coy in the process of crossing.

1315 Consolidation complete. RA OP went to left coy (B Coy) to select and man OP. B Coy created fictitious situations and dealt with them accordingly. Our A/Tk guns could not make the crossing as the opposite bank proved too steep and muddy. Carriers crossed via ferry under RE supervision, half a mile further upstream.

Support weapons, MGs and 3” mortars moved with coys, carried by their crews.

1500 C Coy ordered back to prepare boats for return journey and coys were informed that the exercise had finished.

1515 CO held conference with Coy Commanders and supporting arms on river bank. The chief points brought out were:

  1. Mortars. 4.2” and 3” should be used for quietening enemy on opposite bank.
  2. A limited objective must be established to wait for the whole bttn to cross and be used for a start line, when ready.
  3. Crews and passengers of boats must be together before approaching beachhead.
  4. Beachmaster needs men to help push boats off muddy banks.

1600 Bttn return to bivouac area and the remainder of the day was free to all.

Lieut Greene took over the duties of unit Anti Malarial Officer.

Lieut JH Bradfield relinquished the appointment of IO wef 30 April 1944 and is posted to D Coy.


2 LIR – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

0700 CO proceeds on four days leave. Second in command assumes command of bttn.

0745 Bttn HQ and two Rifle Coys proceed to Capua for street fighting exercise and demonstration. Order of search – Bttn HQ, two assault sections of Pioneer Platoon, H and E Coys, VMGs and 3 A/Tk guns from S Coy.

0800 CO’s O Group prior to demonstration of street fighting by 5 Buffs.

0915 1 Kensingtons demonstrate fortification of enemy strong points.

1000 H and E Coys being attack on blocks of ruined buildings.

1130 Exercise ended. Coys return to bttn area.

1200 F and G Coys proceed to Capua to repeat exercise.



2nd May

Brigade HQ – FORMICOLA.

Training and recreation. 6 Innisks: Demonstration of assault Group Infantry and Pioneers attacking a pillbox under bttn arrangements. 2 LIR carry out preliminary River Crossing Exercise across River Volturno. 1 RIrF carry out discussions on Tank and Infantry cooperation with 16/5 Lancers. Entertainments in Capua during the evening. Leave allotments continue to Bari and Divisional Rest Camp at Maiori.


1 RIrF.

Bttn exercise – attack with tank cooperation.


6 Innisks – FORMICOLA.

Weather clear, bright and warm.

Individual training only was carried out and admin points were checked etc.

In the evening, the Bttn Pipe Band played Retreat, much to the amusement of the villagers, who found kilts a strange sight


2 LIR – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

Lieut JD White MC posted to 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade HQ as Chief Liaison Officer.

1600 Change of password: Challenge – Jam, Answer – Tart.



3rd May

Brigade HQ – FORMICOLA.

Training and recreation. 6 Innisks have tank discussion with 16/5 Lancers. 2 LIR watch demonstration of attacking pill box and 1 RIrF carry out preliminary River Crossing Exercise. Leave allotments and entertainments continue.


1 RIrF.

Bttn exercise – assault boating.


6 Innisks – FORMICOLA.

Weather clear, bright and warm. Misty in the morning.

Bttn had further exercises, ‘Medjez’ with tank cooperation, working with 16/5 Lancers of 6 Armoured Division.

0900 O Group left ahead of the bttn to look over ground from OP in order to make sure of bringing out the points required.

Orders given out at the O Group were:

Topological – Profeti (N 235930) known as the ‘village’ – small copse on north side of village as ‘copse’ – house at east side of copse ‘brown house’ – pt 577 (2293) as ‘One Tree Hill’ and knoll on right as the ‘ rabbit’.

Information – Enemy holding line San Angelo – Formicola with positions in ‘Copse’ and ‘Brown House’ and holding ‘One Tree Hill’ and the ‘Rabbit’ in strength. Also, we must expect trouble from the west shoulder of San Angelo. 2 A/Tk guns were covering the valley from this point. Areas 233929 and south of ‘Copse’ were mined.

One bttn of enemy was holding our immediate front.

Own Troops – Division on right attacking at same time including San Angelo. A bttn on left attacking at same time with the left body knoll left of ‘One Tree Hill’.

We had in support one squadron 16/5 Lancers and one regular artillery.

Intention – Bttn will capture ‘One Tree Hill’ and ‘Rabbit’.

Method – Two coys take ‘Copse’ and ‘Brown House’. Two coys pass through and capture ‘One Tree Hill’ and ‘Rabbit’.  Both attacks supported by tanks.

A Coy (‘Copse’) attack round left of village.

C Coy (‘Brown House’) follow A Coy and swing right to objective.

B Coy pass through A and D Coy, follow C and as B Coy assault, move forward down valley, being covered on to objective by B Coy.

FUP 242920. Start Line 100 yards south of ‘Village’.

Troop of tanks with each forward coy. Reserve troop move up with B Coy.

0900 D Coy continue with C Coy’s tanks. On consolidation, tanks RV at foot of ‘One Tree Hill’. D Coy to keep their tanks, if necessary.

Artillery – No barrage. Only concentrations.

  1. ‘One Tree Hill’ – H plus 10 to H plus 20.
  2. ‘Rabbit’ – H plus 30 to H plus 40.

then lifting into valley at 217935.

One FOO on hill, rear of Start Line. One FOO in tank.

One section MMG support from ridge right of ‘Village’. One section in reserved at FUP until required to consolidate.

3” mortars support from low ground rear of FUP.

Mortar concentrations ‘Copse’ H minus 1 to H plus 1 and ‘Brown House’ – H plus 2 to H plus 4. Mortars remain under command Bttn HQ until capture of first objective, when they will come under command of D Coy.

A/Tk guns move to ‘Rabbit’ and ‘One Tree Hill’ on consolidation, towed by carriers or tanks. One section Bttn Pioneers to travel with each troop of tanks to clear mines or make tank runs through terraces.

Administration – Tools carried by first two coys. Tools for forward coys on carriers on capture of final objective.

RAP in house behind SP.

Honey tank without turret available for MO.

Bttn HQ – House on SP until objective taken, then to small house right of ‘Copse’.

Intercommunication, Light Signals – One white parachute flare – coy about to assault and requires 30 seconds concentration on objective. Verey light – attract tanks’ attention to tracer fired at target. Duplicate by 38 set when possible. Wireless normal within bttn. 38 sets all on tank net.

H 1300 hrs.

0900 – 1200 While O Group were forward bttn was in Liberi (N 2491) area, looking over tanks of 16/5 Lancers.

1200 Bttn went forward, guided by intelligence personnel to assembly at N 338927, then on to FUP and SL, arriving on SL at 1250 hrs. Tanks then came through respective coys and the advance began.

The Exercise went well through the preliminary stages, tanks giving support by firing HE and MGs at prearranged target area.

1323 White flare went up, signifying that the first coy was ready to assault. The area was fired on by all arms and the attack went in.

1326 ‘Copse’ in our hands and A Coy go through to ‘Brown House’.

Verey lights were used often and tanks fired successfully at targets indicated. Coys had to be told to make more use of 38 sets for cooperation. Umpires made the situation as the exercise progressed and coys reported so that everybody should be exercised.

1404 B Coy sent up a flare to indicate that they were ready to assault, but it was found that they had fired too soon, as there was a long interval between cessation of fire and gaining of the objective and tanks had to assist.

1445 Final objective was taken and Main Bttn HQ moved forward. The exercise closed at this point and the bttn, with all supporting arms assembled for a discussion of the points brought out by the exercise.

CO of the bttn and CO of 16/5 Lancers brought out their respective points and during the discussion, the Army Commander, Sir Oliver Leese and the Divisional Commander arrived to listen.

Afterwards, both spoke in turn, giving hints of big things to come and the Army Commander said how pleased he was to have the opportunity speaking to the bttn, for he was Corps Commander during the earlier battles of  Centuripe, Termoli, San Salvo and the Sangro, in all of which, he said, the Inniskillings had kept their high standard.

1600 The bttn returned to Formicola and were left to their own resources for the evening, for entertainments were plentiful and the canteen was well stocked with books and games.

The caubeen, drab, was taken into the use as the official headdress of the bttn.


2 LIR – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

0630 Bttn exercise – Assault River Crossing – Capua area. Troops involved – Bttn less essential admin personnel.



4th May

Brigade HQ – FORMICOLA.

Training and recreation. 6 Innisks carry out Village Fighting Exercise in Capua. 2 LIR watch demonstration of attacking a pill box. 1 RIrF carry out full scale River Crossing Exercise. Leave allotments continue. Entertainment in Capua for all ranks.


1 RIrF.

Bttn exercise – river crossing and a consolidation of a bridgehead.


6 Innisks – FORMICOLA.

Weather bright and sunny. Light clouds. Bttn was on another exercise of village clearing.

Major HE Mathew commanded the bttn on this occasion as Major J Kerr had to make a recce for another exercise.

The exercise was held in the bombed part of Capua (N 1798) and was arranged by 1 Kensingtons. First there was a demonstration. The troops had to attack from house to house through smoke and grenades thrown by umpires. Enemy positions were strongly defended by A/Tk guns, MMGs, LMGs and snipers. 64 A/Tk Regiment took part.

1000 Orders were given out by the CO from an OP in a house and the bttn was ordered to clear three blocks houses. A Coy to clear first block and then B Coy pass through. A Coy then repeat for third block. Artillery to concentrate on exits from village. 4.2” mortars to fire on 163794 – 166786 – 175793 intermittently from H hour.

Support Group MMGs to neutralise west bank of Volturno.

RE one section to bttn – will travel with leading coy to clear booby traps, mines etc.

A/Tk – one gun firing up each side of block.

Brigadier of 36 Brigade was present during the morning.

H hour for morning exercises 1025 hrs. Communication was by wireless and runner but use of wireless was very difficult, owing to the houses screening the sets.

PIAT and Bren Guns were put into position together, the PIAT to knock down walls and the Bren to fire when the position is revealed.

A/Tk guns were also directed at walls and Brens waited for targets.

A and B Coys did this exercise in the morning, leaving at 0800 hrs and returning at 1400 hrs.

C and D Coys did the same exercise during the afternoon leaving at 1300 hrs and returning at 1900 hrs.

Skeleton HQ accompanied each party. The usual conference was held at the end of each exercise to discuss the points learned.


2 LIR – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

1400 O Group for Exercise Medjez (with tanks) on 5 May. Major Gibbs CO for exercise.



5th May

Brigade HQ – FORMICOLA.

Training and recreation. 6 Innisks carry out Scheme A set by Division. Normal attack across close country involving several intermediary objectives to be gained by companies before the final assault on main objective.

This constitutes phase I of an attack. Scheme B carried out that same evening on phase II of the attack. It involves a bttn attack with two coys forward across difficult country and involves the isolating of a village.

Flank protection plays a considerable part. Idea is that the bttn is leading element of a big push with another operating a little behind to a flank.

2 LIR carry out a discussion with C Squadron 16/5 Lancers on question of infantry and tank cooperation and then carry out a small simple attack. The attack was carried out with great vigour and extreme interest was shown by all troops. Some 38 sets were all netted together including those in the tanks and all worked perfectly.

1 RIrF watch a demonstration by a bttn of infantry and pioneers on how to attack and demolish a pill box.


1 RIrF.

Assault on a pill box – demonstration by C Coy.

Read Lawrie Franklyn-Vaile’s letters.


6 Innisks – FORMICOLA.

Exercise A.

0900 The bttn held a further exercise and the CO held an O Group at OP in farm 205577.

General.

One red verey light represents MG. Carrier with flag represent Panzer Mark IV. Mines would actually be laid on the ground but not detonated. One round 2” mortar smoke represents salvo from 88 mm guns.

Topological.

Rocky Ridge – Ridge on 1988

Sarsfield Ridge – W 209900

Black Hand – Village foot of Sarsfield Ridge, NW side.

Rings End – Village 240909.

O’Donovan’s Nob – 222920.

Scrub Hill – 226880.

Information.

Enemy. Positions in gully Rocky Ridge where there are known to be two tanks. The enemy are also known to be holding Sarsfield, Ridge, Rings Head and O’Dononvan’s Nob.

Intention. Bttn will attack and capture O’Dononvan’s Nob.

Method. First objective – Sarsfield Ridge and Rings Emd.

C Coy will clear gully and take ridge beyond, then push on to the Sarsfield Ridge.

After capture of first objective, A Coy pass through to take O’Donovan’s Nob.

SP line of road behind OP. Heavy weapons follow on consolidation.

In support – two regiments artillery, 64 A/Tk Regiment.

Artillery. During the first phase to smoke Rocky Ridge. If smokes falls, HE for first hour. Concentration H to H plus 5 on Scrub Hill, H plus 5 to H plus 45 slow fire on Sarsfield Ridge and Rings End. H plus 45 to H plus 60 switch to O’Donovan’s Nob.

FOOs – one with C Coy, the other with Bttn HQ to go to O’Donovan’s Nob on capture.

The 4.2” mortars. H minus 2 to H plus 1 – concentration in gully – then lift to Scrub Hill.

MMG position right of OP to cover the ground to the first objective.

A/Tk own and 64 A/Tk Regiment guns in area 212868 awaiting orders. Guns will move up road to junction 202895 when first objective taken. H hour 1100.

Enemy was D Coy complete.

While O Group conference was on, the bttn was being brought in an assembly area in a sunken road at N 203873 by guides and were in by 1000hrs.

Coy Commanders took Platoon Commanders to see ground from vantage points.

1100 C Coy started off.

1105 B Coy started off.

C Coy was held up bridge and had to move round left. Considerable 2” mortar smoke was put down as troops were seen and occasionally the red verey light representing no fire.

1125 C Coy past the bridge and advancing up the road.

1135 Communication with D and C Coys broke down as the distance increased and it was suggested the netting be carried out over longer distances before starting any future operations.

Various situations were created to exercise coys in calling for the artillery, which was done extremely well.

1145 B Coy had two platoons over the gully in front of Scrub Hill.

1220 O’Donovan’s Nob was smoked to assist mopping up and consolidation of Sarsfield Ridge.

A/Tk guns were ordered up to road junction behind Sarsfield Ridge.

1240 A Coy directed round left of C Coy to clear Black Hand and to wait there for further orders. B Coy to support A Coy’s move.

1313 A Coy reached Black Hand.

1318 A Company ordered forward to take O’Donovan’s Nob and artillery to put down 5 minutes concentration, finishing with five rounds of smoke.

A Coy to get as close as possible to the concentration and, on smoke coming down, to assault.

1330 Objective taken and exercise finished.

Bttn at C Coy HQ (W 203895) for discussion on the exercise.

The chief point brought out was that signals and as many others as possible should know place names for reporting when Coy Commander is engaged.

1600 Bttn returned and rested in preparation for the next exercise.

Night Exercise.

1800 Intelligence Section went forward and taped out SL and route from the FUP. Meanwhile, the battalion was led to the FUP by other guides.

2000 Bttn was on SL. B Coy right, A Coy left. A Coy behind B. Bttn (Tac) HQ behind C Coy.

Coys started off in good order, despite many flares and 2” mortar smoke bombs which fell among them and arrived on their first objective without difficulty. Sarsfield Ridge and Black Hand.


2 LIR – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

0715 R Group move off to 237920.

0800 Bttn F Group leave Pontaletone by transport.

0900 Arrive in area Liberi 2491 and liaise with tanks (16/5 Lancers).

1245 Bttn arrive at FUP. H left forward, F right forward, G right rear, E left rear supported by squadron of tanks.

1300 Bttn crosses Start Line.

1600 Exercise ended.

1630 Lecture on exercise by Major Gibbs and CO of 16/5 Lancers.

1700 Bttn arrives back in camp.

1900 E Coy on exercise – acting as enemy for 6 Innisks.