War Diaries – 26th to 31st May 1944

26th May

Brigade HQ

0500 Brigade Group column passes SP for concentration area west of the River Melfa.

0930 Brigade Group in concentration area. Locations as follow:

Brigade HQ G727236. 6 Innisks G 725239.  2 LIR G 718233. 1 RIrF G 721235.

Brigade Group consists of 3 Bttns, D Support Group (1 Kensingtons), 214 Field Company RE, 254 A/Tk Battery RA, Coy 152 Field Ambulance, 17 Field Regiment, 98 Field Regiment (SP), 2 RHA, Battery 165 Jeep Regiment.

2030 Brigade Commander’s conference to discuss plan for advance tomorrow towards Ceprano. Object is to clear ground south of Monte Grande 6429 as far as the River Liri.

Brigade column to move at 0900 hrs, Vanguard provided by coy 1 RIrF with two troop tanks, bttn supporting weapons and an RE recce party.

Remainder of 1 RIrF follows, then Brigade HQ and then remainder of Brigade Group strategically positioned.

1 RIrF.

Intermittent shelling of C Coy area. No casualties.

6 Innisks

Weather fine and warm. Little cloud. Bttn remained in the same location, still at four hours’ notice to move.

0900 Bttn warned to be ready to move at approximately 1300 hrs, complete with tanks.

1130 CO attended O Group at Brigade HQ and orders were received for move to brigade to the wooded area at 6626.

1300 Bttn started off, led by A Squadron, 11 Canadian Armoured Regiment and arrived in the area of 265269 by 1630 hrs. Three shells fell in the area just as the bttn was arriving, so no time was lost in digging slit trenches. Food was prepared and the bttn rested, there being no further activity during the night. The enemy shelled the wood, but no further shells fell in the bttn area.


0600 Bttn em-bused for move forward. Order of march – E, G, F Coys, Bttn HQ, H and S Coys.

0830 Bttn arrive harbouring area 718232. At 2 hours’ notice to move.

2000 CO’s O Group. Bttn at half hour’s notice as from 0630 hrs 27 May.

27th May

Brigade HQ

0700 Hide recce parties move off to recce laying up areas for Brigade Group south of Monte Grande.

0830 Advance guard (1 RIrF) formed up nearby to move. Now decided that the Brigade Group will not move in one column, but bttns will move as situation permits and when ordered by the Brigade Commander.

0900 Vanguard with RE recce parties to sweep paths and make routes leaves, closely followed by remainder of 1 RIrF as advance guard with remainder of 21 Field Company RE in support.

1200 1 RIrF entering harbour area 684272. 214 Field Company with van guard as covering party sweeping paths and tracks and then improving Ace Route on axis A 649271 – B 625272 – D 605285 and shortest route from B to Ceprano. Van guard to push forward and establish a firm base by tonight and cut Arce-Ceprano road between 628300 and 605285 and patrol radially.

1325 1 RIrF now at 665275 and by 1500 hrs were advancing towards their objective with no enemy interference.

1612 2 LIR now on move to harbour area.

1720 Brigade HQ moves and establishes at 674265 by 1815 hrs.

1800 6 Innisks now on move.

1830 1 RIrF on objective astride Arce-Ceprano road. Squadron 11 CAR  in support found great difficulty in forcing their way through the woods and close and in some cases had to blast their way to keep up with the infantry.

The Sappers of 214 Field Company RE were excellent and did a very good job of work. They continued to work on during the night in order to have the wood ready for the advance to Ceprano in the morning.

1900 Brigade Group in harbour area Bosio di Coldragone except for 1 RIrF in position along Colleato G 6228. Patrols to Route 6 and River Liri made no contact during the night. Recces were also carried out to find out possible routes to Ceprano. Bttn HQ 1 RIrF was heavily shelled for a short spell during the early part of the night.

1 RIrF.

Warning order to move over Melfa River to area 6726 square.

1115 O Group at Bttn HQ held at 1115 hrs. Order of march as previously laid down.

Bttn moved to concentration area 6726 square.

1445 D Coy plus B Squadron moved west to 624272 arriving at 1920 hrs. No contact was made. Remainder of bttn arrived at 2030 hrs. A strong point was formed and held for the night 27/28 May.

During the night, this area was shelled heavily for ten minutes. Casualties, 7 ORs killed and 15 wounded.

Patrols were sent out from C Coy to recce possible route for tanks on to Route Six. Route found impossible for tracks. No contact with enemy.

Died on this Day:

Fusilier John Ravenscroft, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Fusilier Fred Lowe, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Fusilier Haydn Edwards, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Fusilier William Johnson, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Fusilier Christopher Hamilton, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Fusilier David Cameron, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Fusilier Michael O’Donnell, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Fusilier JW Ferchal, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Fusilier Charles Davis, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Lance Corporal William Marchant, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

6 Innisks

Weather fine, but cloudy.

In this wood, the change over in tank support was effected from 11 Armoured Brigade to 9 Armoured Brigade, our own particular support being C Squadron 3 Kings Own Hussars.

1000 Orders came from brigade that we were to be prepared to move forward to an area in another wood at approximately G 642271 and the CO, IO and Squadron Commander went on a recce to this area.

1230 Just as the recce was completed, fresh orders came through that we were now to go on as soon as possible to the position of 1 RIrF at G 622262 and a recce party was sent off immediately and the bttn prepared for move.

1600 Bttn started off by march route, the vehicles waiting for one hour before starting to avoid dust. This did not help very much for the bttn was accompanied most of its way by a squadron of tanks from another unit which caused great clouds of dust. However, the expected shelling did not come, for it was learned later that 6 Armoured Division had just pushed the enemy from Monte Grande and Monte Piccolo.

1830 Head of the bttn reached the new area and, by 2000 hrs, everybody had been shown to their area by the guides. The positions were now: Bttn HQ – 623265, A Coy – 625268, B Coy – 624273, C Coy – 620267, D Coy – 624269. Ceprano had already fallen and the RIrF had occupied it, so the bttn spent a very quiet night. Protective patrols were sent out but they had nothing to report.


0830 CO’s O Group.

Information: 6 Armoured Division attacking Arce. 38 (Irish) Brigade to attack Ceprano. Brigade order of battle: 1 RIrF with 1 squadron of tanks, 2 LIR with 1 squadron of tanks, followed by Brigade Tac HQ, 6 Innisks in reserve. Canadians later reported in Ceprano.

1700 Bttn move forward.

1830 Bttn arrive area wood 658272.

1900 Intelligence Section move forward with 1 RIrF on recce of forward routes.

2100 Bttn ordered to consolidate in present area.

28th May

Brigade HQ

0940 Enemy tanks were reported at 632308 and a counter attack was in progress on Monte Piccolo. It afterwards transpired that the Guards did not get Monte Piccolo but did succeed in taking Monte Grande and it was on the latter hill that the enemy counter attack came in. It was successful but a coy managed to get onto it later in the day.

This incident is mentioned as these hills only 1500 yards north east of the RIrF positions and afforded a good view of the surrounding countryside. Rocca D’Arce- still held by the enemy – was another good OP but he apparently made little use of it.

1000 1 RIrF to move forward and cross River Liri by bridge built by the Canadians south of Ceprano. Main body moves off at 1024 and finds that the bridge is not yet working and, in any case, there is two hours traffic already waiting to go across.

1245 Brigade Commander issues fresh orders based on this information. 1 RIrF and 2 LIR to remain where they are. 6 Innisks to occupy area 6226 as a firm base.

1600 1 RIrF advance across River Liri and make for their objective Colle Comesilli 5829 supported by their squadron of Canadian tanks.

By the time the two remaining bttns have changed squadrons and 3 Kings Own Hussars were now in support of the brigade. It was impossible to change the squadron with 1 RIrF due to operational commitments and also due to the bad going and congestion on the tracks.

2000 1 RIrF in position. No opposition except for mines, which delayed the tanks for a short while.

1 RIrF.

O Group. Orders that bttn will move across Liri river south of Ceprano and form right flank to Canadian Division on the right of Route Six.

Recce party to go forward and contact Canadians.

Bttn to move at 1800 hrs.

1800 Bttn moved over bridge and into positions on right of Canadians Bttn. Forward companies A Coy area 589284, B Coy 593275, C Coy 593284 and D Coy to protect bridging party at 595274. Captain N Bass and Lieut R Abel wounded.

6 Innisks

Weather fine and warm. Bttn did not move during the day and troops took advantage of this halt to bathe and wash clothes in the nearby stream.

1900 Bttn was informed that it would be moving forward at 0930 hrs 29 May.


1200 Information: Guards Brigade capture features Monte Picolo and Monte Grande morning 28 May, but we forced to evacuate them owing to enemy pincer movement.

1600 CO’s O Group. Bttn warned for move forward at first dark. Intention: 1 RIrF to occupy area river bend 5927 beyond Ceprano. 2 LIR to push through them up Route Six.

2100 Bttn move postponed to first light 29 May. E and G Coys take up flanking positions to protect tanks (3 Hussars).

29th May

Brigade HQ

1 RIrF formed bridgehead north of Ceprano successfully during the night and pushed forward one company to 592292. They are going to push on during the morning.

0700 2 LIR on move to concentration area on far side of River Liri.

0720 A Squadron, 3 KOH now going to join 1 RIrF and relieve squadron of 11 CAR. They are already across the river.

0800 Brigade HQ moves to 587284.

During the day, 2 LIR moved forward to concentration area 586295 and the 6 Innisks to an area just below Brigade HQ.

The 1 RIrF push forward during the afternoon to gain the high ground 571317 – 573320. The going was slow and the tanks had six ditched due to the shocking nature of the ground.

1820 1 RIrF report that they are going on as quickly as possible and realise the need for speed but the ground is very difficult.

1900 CO 1 RIrF reports to the Brigade Commander. Tells how his forward coys met with opposition from area of their objective and also the nebels and mortars were very active. Now he has pulled his two forward coys back to the edge of the wood at about 372300 and was going to put in a set piece attack with a small barrage.

2000 Coy 2 LIR starts making for its objectives pt 255 G 552313.

2030 Tac HQ 2 LIR and remaining coys move forward from concentration area to consolidate objective pt 255. They could not take their tanks with them and they harboured for the night ready to rejoin 2 LIR by a different route in the morning.

2232 Battle patrol 6 Innisks ordered up to escort 214 Field Company sweeping main road of mines just west of the River Liri.

2300 2 LIR are pushing on and meeting slight resistance.

2320 6 Innisks now on move forward to come up on right of 1 RIrF to guard right flank between them and the river.

1 RIrF.

0430 C Coy moved forward to Colle Comesille 584292.

0515 C Coy reported in position. Bttn joined by 3 Kings Own Hussars.

0630 B Coy pushed up track to 580302 where they struck an AP minefield. Area was swept by pioneers.

0745 A Coy was sent to clear area 587304. Company fired on by SA. Reached objective at 1445 hrs.

Tanks caused delay owing to bad tank country, seven being ditched within first few hours.

Died on this Day:

Fusilier Frank Storer, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Fusilier Ernest Wright, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

6 Innisks

Preparations for the move had already been made and bttn only awaiting the arrival of its tanks, which were lead the column.

0930 Tanks passed and the bttn transport followed on, coys moving by march route to an area at G 592273. The bttn waited here, expecting to move at any time and after many orders and counter orders were ordered to move to an area about 2000 yards south of Strangolagalli 5733.

2100 Bttn moved off by march route along Strangolagalli road.


0630 Bttn move forward.

Order of march – R Group, R Group vehicles, Bttn HQ and O Group, E, G, F, H and S Coys, one squadron of 3 Hussars, Kensington Support Group, RAP, Wheeled vehicles to follow if possible.

0920 Bttn arrive in area 597272

0955 Bttn move forward to take over 1 RIrF area 593277. 1 RIrF to move forward to cut Strangolagalli-Ripi road. Bttn intention – to move up on left flank of 1 RIrF when road is out.

1200 F Coy move forward to pt 207 (573299) to cover left forward move of 1 RIrF. 6 Innisks move into F Coy’s vacated area.

1640 Bttn HQ moves forward to farm 586293. E Coy move forward to occupy pt 255 (553312). Pioneers, protected by Battle Patrol, went forward to mine sweep in bttn area.

1730 Battle Patrol and Pioneers return.

1930 CO’s O Group.

2030 Tac HQ moves forward to 586293. E Coy report MG and rifle opposition on pt 255. Withdraw and call for Uncle target on point.

Read Major Mervyn Davies at Hill 255.

30th May

Brigade HQ

0010 2 LIR attack pt 255 with two coys, as they were meeting slight opposition preceded by half an hour’s barrage.

0015 1 RIrF are getting on. B Coy is at 567317. A Coy going on to G 564322 and D Coy at 587303.

0045 A Coy 1 RIrF on objective.

0153 6 Innisks now in position.

0210 Patrols were sent out during the night and found Strangolagalli evacuated but the buildings of the village had been demolished across the road and there were many bomb craters which would need some time to fill in and also would need the help of a bulldozer. Booby traps and mines had also been laid. Task of brigade now to advance to Ripi. 2 LIR to lead and gain objective San Giovanni 5333. 6 Innisks and 1 RIrF to follow up and clamp down in suitable concentration areas behind 2 LIR final positions.

2 LIR were late in moving off due to difficulty in getting road ready in time and also ensuring it was clear of mines so that the tanks got through.

1935 2 LIR report that they had quite a battle for San Giovanni and are now consolidating north of the village.

Battle Patrol 2 LIR to move round east of Ripi and try and cut the road leading north from the town.

6 Innisks moved up to a concentration area behind 2 LIR positions.

1 RIrF.

0515 Patrol sent to Strangolagalli. No enemy encountered but village found to be mined.

1400 A Coy moved forward to 585314. Slight opposition from right flank.

2100 B Coy to attack area 568300 with support of B Squadron and 3 Field Regiments.

2200 Attack successful. Company on objective. 

A Company passed through and consolidated in area 568318.

2300 D Coy moved from 586304 to area ahead of A and B Coys.

Reached objective at 0235 hrs. No opposition.

Died on this Day:

Fusilier George Bignell, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

6 Innisks

0300 Sgt Girr, while investigating a farm at 585306, stepped on a mine, which blew his foot and lower leg off.

0315 Bttn was in the area it was to occupy, but a careful search had to be made as a great number of these mines had been left in the area, especially in farm yards. Bttn’s dispositions were now: Bttn HQ 589303, A Coy 534304, B Coy 580302, C Coy 587304, D Coy 588309, tanks harboured at 589297.

0415 Normal stand to, but there was no trouble from the enemy. Two patrols went out, one to Colle Castelnuovo 595318, which was found to be unoccupied by enemy and the other to the village of Strangolagalli, which they found to be clear of the enemy, although many mines and booby traps were found in the area. Bttn was informed that it would move on behind remainder of the brigade in an advance on Ripi 5234.

0900 Own aircraft were bombing and strafing the area and one of planes dropped bombs on the bttn area.

C Coy were the chief sufferers, having Sgt F Byrne killed and three others wounded. People nearby were partially buried in their slit trenches and had to be dug out.

1440 Bttn had orders to move at 1515 hrs.

1520 Bttn reached 569235 but were held up here as REs had not yet swept the roads for mines. Whilst waiting here, enemy guns were seen firing on to our own gun positions from 566366 and our artillery OP ordered two rounds of gun fire from regiment. The shots fell in the right area and the enemy guns were silenced.

1630 Roads were cleared and the bttn moved forward again. 2 LIR, who were fighting in front, did not reach Ripi and consolidated at San Giovanni 5333 and the bttn stayed in area 4532 for the night. The CO had orders for continuing the advance on the next day.

Died on this Day:

Sergeant Francis Byrne, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Fusilier Samuel McGaw, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.


0005–0027 Artillery barrage on pt 255 preceding E Coy’s occupation.

0030 CQMSs arranging hot meal for coys. Direct route forward impassable for vehicles. Difficulty finally overcome by proceeding along Route Six from which track led to pt 255.

0100 Brigadier issued rough outline of brigade activities. 36 Brigade now known to be making progress on left flank in Ripi area.

0600 Main Bttn HQ move forward from 553312 to Tac HQ.

0735 Main Bttn HQ arrive at Tac HQ.

0945 Tac HQ and coys move forward. Intention – tactical infiltration towards Ripi as far as possible.

1030 Brigadier visits Main Bttn HQ. Information – Indians north of Strangolagalli. Canadians pushing on to Frosinone. 36 Brigade, with 2 bttns forward, moving along axis of Route 6 with right swing up to Ripi. French troops reported to making good progress south of Route 6.

1100 Intention: Bttn objective – Ripi. F, G and H Coys forward, E Coy in reserve. Rounds: F Coy 546318 (Claret), H Coy 540321 (Gin), G Coy 536236 (Port). Combined – 531331 (Brandy), 528335 (Whisky), Ripi (Sherry).

1230 One coy encountered minefield. Gap soon cleared and coys passed through to assembly in valley.

1320 Coys move forward from assembly area.

1415 F Coy reported on Claret.

1416 Brigade report 6 unidentified tanks at 518335.

1430 Tac HQ moves to Claret.

1440 E Coy move on to Claret.

1450 Left flanking units (36 Brigade) reach Brandy. Brigadier orders 2 LIR to halt when Brandy reached to avoid confusion. Tac HQ being shelled.

1500 E Coy report on Gin.

1515 E Coy report small arms firing on their right flank and ask for supporting tanks to deal with it.

1615 G Coy reported on Port. Another coy moving up to help consolidate and a 3rd coy moving to the rear of Port in an endeavour to trap any remaining enemy.

1700 Own tanks approaching Brandy. Enemy SP gun and enemy tank reported 1500 yards south west of Ripi.

1710 Brigadier orders bttn to fix limit of advance for night at Whisky and to send patrols forward to Ripi. Warns that village might possibly be occupied by advanced right flanking troops.

1820 CO asks permission to move on to Ripi.

1900 Brandy reported occupied at 1800 hrs. Battle confused. CO asks for one hour to straighten things up before moving onto Whisky. Estimate of 12 prisoners take. Own casualties – 8 wounded.

2140 Whisky captured.

2150 CQMSs arrive with meals for bttn.

Ripi believed occupied by right flanking troops.

31st May

Brigade HQ

0500 1 RIrF move up to concentration area 543320.

0630 1 RIrF in position and squadrons 3 KOH now married up with 6 Innisks and 1 RIrF.

0700 Brigade HQ moves to 546310.

0800 6 Innisks with one squadron of tanks pass through 2 LIR to advance north of Ripi. Their final objective was Il Castello 5336.

At 1030, they reported slight opposition Cle Ronoro 5336 and also mines and ditches, which were holding up the tanks.

1055 6 Innisks report enemy holding Il Castello 5336.

1735 6 Innisks attacked Il Castello at 1700 hrs and gained feature. They are now pushing on to pt 267 5338.

2000 One coy 6 Innisks on objective. Two more moving up.

2100 6 Innisks now firm. Squadron harboured successfully. Four tanks ditched up to present. Remainder of night quiet.

1 RIrF.

1200 Warning order to move on axis of road behind 2 LIR. Road Strangolagalli–Ripi.

6 Innisks

0645 CO held O Group conference and orders were issued for coys to leap frog in 1000 yard bounds.

0750 C Coy left to occupy the high ground north east of Ripi, with the other coys following in the order: A, B and D. Two pioneers went with each forward coy. MMGs, 3” mortars and A/Tk to wait in Ripi until called forward. C Coy reported the road to Ripi was badly cratered and that in the village itself, the houses along the main road had been blown down, making the movement of tanks and MT along that route an impossibility. The advance was held up while RE’s recced an alternative route, which was difficult to find. While bttn was waiting for tanks, C Coy sent out patrols, which reached 530362 and were fired on from 534365 by MGs and mortars. Three casualties, wounded, were caused. These patrols were strengthened by two platoons, which remained at 530362.

1630 Tanks finally reached Ripi and A and B Coys went forward, but once again tanks were held up in difficult country and a large crater at 526357. This time, orders were received not to wait for the tanks and to go forward with artillery and 4.2” mortars support along. The appearance of the tanks had caused the enemy to evacuate the high ground he was occupying and the bttn moved forward in good order.

1920 The Brigadier visited Bttn HQ and after failing to contact the CO by wireless went forward in a tank to see him. The conditions of the road did not allow this and he was forced to return. CO was out of contact for a considerable time, owing to the need to leave his tank where he had wireless communication and go forward on foot.

1930 News from coys that they had reached 527376.

1935 Divisional Commander visited Bttn HQ and, when he saw on the maps where the forward coys were, expressed great pleasure in the remark, ‘First Class!’ Owing to the bad state of the roads, vehicles could not get to the bttn with food and supplies so all the donkeys, bullocks, horses etc around Bttn HQ were ‘borrowed’ and taken forward with supplies.

2100 REs finished bulldozing a diversion and Bttn HQ moved forward to 529348. Dispositions were now: Bttn Main 529348, Bttn HQ Tac 526372, A Coy 534365, B Coy 527368, C Coy 531375, D Coy 522376. All positions consolidated.

2230 CO returned from forward positions and went to Brigade HQ with a full report of the day’s activities. The remainder of the night was quiet.


0800 6 Innisks pass through bttn and proceed beyond Ripi.

0830 Brigadier visits Bttn HQ.

1000 Civilians report approximately one bttn of German infantry counter attacking area of 6 Innisks’ right flank.

2200 Reports of enemy counter attack proved unfounded.