War Diaries – 21st to 25th May 1945

21st May


During the day, it became apparent that the Jugoslav forces in South Austria were obeying the orders of Marshal Tito and that an operation by the brigade would be now most unlikely

1300 A Squadron 56 Recce, D Support Group and 254 A/Tk Battery to revert to command own units forthwith. Movement orders were issued by 78 Division.

17 Field Regiment to revert to command 78 Division RA.

8 RTR no longer under command.

The final policy and future commitments of the brigade were still undecided and would not be known until after a Corps Conference on 22nd May.

Owing to a change in the Divisional eastern boundary, 2 LIR were ordered to recce new locations on the northern shores of the Ossiach See.

1 RIrF – LATSCHACK 9474.

CO visited all coys and spoke to troops, complementing them on their bearing and turn out. Mortar platoon moved to summer quarters on the lake. B Coy moved to Mallestig easing the situation in the hut camp.. conditions were bad, crowded,  no water, no light.

2 Innisks – VILLACH.

0930 The Officer Commanding the East Surreys, the CO and IO visited the Guards and Road Posts, which the bttn was to take over.

1130 The OC B Support Group arrived at Bttn HQ to conduct the IO around the guards we were to take over in his area.

1345 A Coy was relieved of its duties at St Andra PoW Cage by the 132 Field Regiment RA and rejoined the bttn.

2 LIR.

1000 Bttn received orders to take over the Castle at Rosegg 016777 from the Welsh Guards. However, the Guards had no intention of relinquishing their hold on such a natural Bttn HQ as the castle and they convinced higher authority that there was plenty of other territory into which the bttn could expand without the Guards having to move. Consequently, the advance party was cancelled until a further recce could be carried out.

1800 CO carried out personal recce for new area.

22nd May


Various Hungarian HQs and units in brigade area are occupying areas and billets required by Brigade HQ and 2 LIR. Arrangements were being made to evacuate them to the Hungarian concentration area between Spittal and Villach.

0930 Brigade Commander holds Conference for all COs on A/Q matters, mainly Honours and Awards.

Lt Col J Coldwell-Horsfall DSO MC was also present at the Conference. He is to take over command of 2 LIR when Lt Col Bredin DSO MC leaves to take up the duties of AA and QMG 78 Division.

The duties and responsibilities of the brigade are now confined to manning checkpoints and road blocks and guarding Jugoslav and Italian – Austrian frontiers.

The road leading through the Wurzner Pass 8069 is to be closed to all traffic, leading into Austria but the evacuation of Jugoslav nationals to Jugoslavia may continue by this route.

The road into Italy through Thorl remains open to all traffic.

1 RIrF – LATSCHACK. 9474.

Nothing to Report.

2 Innisks – VILLACH.

0920 The following guards and dumps were relieved by B Coy 1st East Surreys: Telephone Exchange, Power House, Gas and Water Plants, Railway Stations and Brewery.

The following were handed over to 209 A/Tk Battery: Vehicle and Ammunition Dumps, Food Dumps.

1000 The bttn reverts to under command 38 (Irish) Brigade.

All Road Posts manned by B Coy, 1st Surreys and B Support handed over to 2 Innisks.

2 LIR.

0930 Recce party under command Captain RJ Cockburn to new area.

1500 Divisional Commander visits Bttn HQ.

1600 Recce party return after marking out future bttn locations in the area of the Ossiacher See.

23rd May


2 LIR continue to recce billets and accommodation on the Ossiach See. Evacuation of Hungarians from Brigade area to a concentration area at Weissenstein commences.

1 RIrF – LATSCHACK 9474.

A Coy (Major L Manson) to Arnoldstein 7772 to relieve RWK and assumed control of both roads, one to Italy with a post at Thorl 7272 and one to Yugoslavia with a post at 8170. Also took over ground of a German hospital and dump at 8174. ‘I’ Section mounted patrol to check passes over mountains to Yugoslavia.

2 Innisks – VILLACH.

1100 The BM and IO visit all Road Posts.

1400 The Divisional Commander visited Bttn HQ.

1430 Officers play Sgts at Football, it was a good game but rain damped the enthusiasm of the supporters. The Sgts won 3-2.

2 LIR.

0945 Normal party of 5 ORs left for 1 month’s leave in the UK.

1345 CO addressed HQ Coy in a farewell speech.

1900 CO entertained at a farewell party in the Sgts’ Mess.

24th May


Lt Col HEN Bredin relinquishes command 2 LIR and goes to HQ 78 Division as AA & QMG.

Lt Col JH Coldwell-Horsfall assumes command wef this date.

0900 A Coy 1 RIrF moved to Arnoldstein 7773to relieve 6 RWK of road post and Frontier guard duties.

Frontier Guards, each consisting of one platoon were each established at Thorl on the Austro-Italian frontier and on the Wurzner Pass 8069 on the Austro-Jugoslav border. Relations with the Yugoslavs very friendly and cordial.

1 RIrF – LATSCHACK 9474.

Jeep patrol to Alt Finkenstein 9272 and Outschena 9471 found no pass for vehicles. Similar patrol to Rosenbach 0270 found only route to be a railway tunnel.

2 Innisks – VILLACH.

0930 The Commanding Officer and IO paid a visit to all Road posts.

1100 A patrol of S Coy under the command of Capt P Hamilton MC went to the area north of St Andra to search it for hiding German soldiers, two or three were picked up and taken to a PoW Cage.

1530 The Brigade Commander paid a visit to the bttn.

2 LIR.

1500 Bttn Pipe Band played the CO out of Bttn HQ. As per tradition, the CO’s car was pulled by the sergeants for the first stage of his journey to take up a new position at Divisional HQ.

Lt Col JM Coldwell-Horsfall DSO MC assumed command of the bttn.

1700 Warning Order to move to new bttn positions. Three coys to move on 25th and Bttn HQ and two remaining coys on the 26th. Move to be finally complete by 1200 hrs 27th.

Political and Military Situation.

  • In the bttn area are located seven German hospitals administered by 5 Bttn CCS. Also in the area are several Austrian Reserve Lazarette all containing wounded or sick enemy soldiers. The total number of troops being 1,500. As each man recovered from his illness, he was dispatched to the German Concentration Area.
  • No fraternisation with the local population was allowed.
  • All displaced civilians were directed to the Divisional Civilian Camp at Spittal.
  • Any requests for passes etc were directed to the Town Commandant, an officer from the Guards Brigade (6 Armoured Division), who had his office in the same building as Bttn HQ.

25th May


H Coy 2 LIR move to Bodensdorf on the northern shore of the Ossiach See. The remainder of the battalion was unable to move as the area was still congested with Hungarians and civilian refugees.

These are all being cleared today.

1200 GOC 78 Division and AA and QMG visit Brigade HQ and stay to lunch.

Afterwards, Brigade Commander accompanied them to HQ 2 Innisks, where they met the Army Commander and GOC 5 Corps.

Check Points and Road Block Stats.

2 Innisks – 875804, 872803, 864791, 878777, 887812, 877756, 891779, 905816, 886814, 879757, 904790, 894811, 892810.

1 RIrF – 856754, 809704,728721.


2 Innisks – AMG Building 883802.

Guards on Dumps.

2 Innisks – Small Arms Dump. Medjez Barracks Villach.

1 RIrF – RE Dump 858746, Clothing and Equipment Dump 728721, Clothing Dump 803730.

1600 2 Innisks warned to be at 4 hours notice to move to Hermagor under command 36 Brigade. Task to be assisting handing Cossacks over to the Russians.

1 RIrF – LATSCHACK 9474.

Coy Commanders’ Conference. Coys allotted area to patrol, search and control  Officers’ Mess celebrated the 21st anniversary of the Military Service of Captain E Maginess. It was no ordinary party.

2 Innisks – VILLACH.

1000 The Director of Military Training paid a visit to Bttn HQ.

1100 A warning order received that the bttn, less HQ and Support, was under four hours notice to move as from 2400 hrs. All guards and Road Posts were to be taken over by HQ and S Coy, who were remaining in Barracks at Villach. The bttn was to move as far as for battle with first line ammunition. The reason for this move was approximately 30,000 Cossacks, who had been fighting with the German Army, and who were now our PoW, did not want to leave their camp in the Drau Valley and return to Soviet Russia, which had been ordered and a certain amount of trouble was anticipated.

2 LIR.

1000 E, H and S Coys began their move to new area around the Ossiacher See.