War Diaries – 16th to 20th November 1943

16th November

Brigade HQ – 558913.

1900 Brigade Sitrep nothing to report.

1 RIrF.

Training and checking kit etc of the draft.

Lt JB Cammiade MC was promoted A/Capt wef 15 Nov.

Captain DF Thomason posted to A Coy and appointed 2nd in Command.

Captain JB Cammiade MC posted to HQ and appointed IO.

Lt JD Broadbent posted to S Coy as Mortar Officer.

2/Lt RE Hogan MM S Coy is posted to D Coy.

Lt JTG Day posted to A Coy.

Lt R Blyth posted to C Coy.

Read Lawrie Franklyn-Vaile’s letters.

6 Innisks – VASTO.

The Bttn carried on with training including coy schemes.

Maintenance inoculations against typhus commenced for all personnel of the bttn.

The weather during the day was fine but the ground remained very muddy.

Died on this Day:

Fusilier Frank Daly, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

2 LIR.

Intelligence Section and two pioneers to HQ 44 RTR as for previous day.

Warning order for move to new area.

17th November

Brigade HQ – 588913.

0500 Bttns nothing to report.

0730 2 LIR reported new location HQ 452938.

1300 Representative of J Service visited HQ and requested all information.

Put on Brigade distribution list.

Brigade Intelligence Summary issued, with an appreciation of possibilities of enemy counter attack in Fossacesia area.

Army Commander’s conference at Vasto attended by Brigade Commander.

Conference at Divisional HQ attended by Brigade Commander, followed by Army Commander’s conference.

1700 Brigade Sitrep nothing to report.

1730 78 Division Admin Instruction No 9 received.

1925 Road Casalebordino–River Sangro closed to all 78 Division vehicles except between 2030 to 2100hrs.

1 RIrF.

Coy training.

6 Innisks – VASTO.

Training was controlled by the bttn.

The remainder of the bttn had Typhus inoculations.

0900 IO and Battle Section returned from attachment to 6 RWK.

0900 CO attended lecture by General BL Montgomery at Vasto.

The weather was showery and the ground remained muddy.

2 LIR.

0130 Motor Transport column move via road Vasto 5890 – to Castlebordino area 4894.

0745 Companies leave San Lorenza areas by march route for new area. Dispositions now E Company Farm 513956 F Company area 456945 G Company area 453927 H Company area 517964 S Company 453936

Battalion HQ 452929.

18th November

Brigade HQ – 558913.

0500 Bttns nothing to report.

1200 Brigade Intelligence Summary issued.

1800 Brigade Sitrep nothing to report.

38 Brigade Operation Order No 30 issued.

1 RIrF.

Order for long awaited move. 2/Lt R Phillips MM sent forward to recce new assembly area 438997.

Read Lawrie Franklyn-Vaile’s letters.

6 Innisks – VASTO.

Preparations made for move forward to lying up area for Operation Encroach.

1400 A party from bttn attended cinema show at Vasto. Major AW Gibbon posted from bttn to 2 LIR. Weather showed much improvement, being fine with light showers.

2 LIR.

0750 All officers, less Major DW Conroy, Captain RG Cockburn and Captain PP Giles, attended lecture on sand model at 44 RTR Headquarters.

1100 Major HEN Bredin MC and Bar posted to unit from x(iv) list as 2nd i/c.

19th November

Brigade HQ – 558913.

0315 Bttns informed that details of Encroach will not be passed to officers until D -1.

0500 Bttns nothing to report.

Bttns ordered to send carriers to carrier park independently and not with tanks and not before 1600hrs 19 November.

Warning order to 6 Innisks and 1 RIrF re marching personnel to be prepared to move on TCVs morning 19 November. Embussing point – own location.

De-bussing point 458942.

Brigade ordered two MMGs plus D Squadron Group under command 1 RIrF for move reporting 1530hrs.

1000 Brigade order reference marching troops issued.

1015 Division informed Brigade of bomb line from first light D – 1: 420053 – 370000, first light D Day not south of 07 northing and not west of 36 Easting. After capture of Fossacesia not south of 10 Northing.

1020 Division informed that ASC tentacle coming to Brigade area 4599 on D-1.

1200 Brigade Intelligence summary issued.

1315 6 Innisks and 1 RIrF informed by Brigade that no marching troops will proceed forward of de-bussing areas before 1700hrs. Order of march as for TCVs. 36 Brigade informed 38 Brigade that R. Sangro crossing on night 18/19 Nov as follows: 396979 two feet deep, current fast; 399981 two feet deep current fast;416992 three feet deep current fast; 419999 three feet deep; 430020 three feet six inches deep and difficult.

1500 Brigade order for move issued.

Amendment No 1 to 38 (Irish) Brigade Operation Order No 30 dated 18 November issued.

Personal message from Army Commander received.

1730 Last light Sitrep nothing to report.

2145 Brigade HQ closed present location and reopened 453997.

1 RIrF.

1430 Battalion marching personnel moved off (em-bused), arrived road junction 459942 at 1630 hrs.

1630 Thence by march route through Torino di Sangro to reverse slope of ridge dominating the R. Sangro.

Heavy rain. No cover for men except for one blanket.

6 Innisks – VASTO.

Preparations for battle completed.

1315 A Group moved off to lying up area 433989 and one mule party left for mule pt 4599.

1530 Marching personnel, with two sections of 152 Field Ambulance, moved off by MT to de-busing point at Villafonsina (471952).

1600 A Echelon transport moved off to area 487946.

1700 Marching personnel left de-busing point and went by march route to lying up area 4398.

1930 Bttn arrived at lying up area and Bttn HQ was established at 433989, in a barn loft.

2000 Rain started, and coys, which were in the open, endeavoured to find cover, the majority of troops were found cover of some sort.

F Echelon moved off to area 4499.

2100 Blankets were brought to the bttn by transport, but rations and water were brought up by mule during the night.

Steady rainfall continued throughout the night.

Lieut R Blyth joined the bttn.

2 LIR.

0730 Commanding Officer’s Group. To forward observation post to view ground over River Sangro.

1000 Commanding Officer’s Group assemble at ‘Cloth Model’ (44 RTR) for conference.

1500 Battalion HQ moved from area 452929 to 44 RTR HQ and were allotted tanks.

20th November

Brigade HQ – 453997.

0420 Sitrep. Locations: Brigade HQ 453997, 6 Innisks 433989, 2 LIR area 44 Royal Tanks.

1 RIrF area 430990 tracked vehicles 4499. A Echelon less 2 LIR area 4499. A Echelon 2 LIR 4593. B Echelon unchanged.

1200 Brigade Intelligence Summary issued.

1325 B Echelon 6 Innisks informed of return of bttn and to warn any unit occupying bttn billets to be prepared to move out.

Amendment No 2 to 38 (Irish) Brigade Operational Order No 30 issued 18th Nov issued.

1545 Brigade Group informed that all personnel and carriers left in carrier park at 1800 20 November come under command of Major DT Little, 6 Innisks.

1600 6 Innisks reported they were returning to area Vasto 1630hrs.

Brigade Instructions on traffic control issued.

1715 Situation on brigade front at last light see Sit Rep.

1 RIrF.

0330 Mules arrived with rations.  Continuous rain all day causing an obvious postponement in the big plan.

1700 Consequently at 1700 hrs, the Battalion marched back to Torino where the 2.i.c. had obtained billets for the Battalion.  Four Rifle Coys were crowded perforce into a large school and chapel until adjustment the next day.  Battalion HQ near road bend 447983.

6 Innisks – AREA 4398.

0730 O Group conference in area 429993, overlooking enemy positions. After the conference the CO and IO went forward to river to recce crossings.

1200 Rain had continued up to this time and a warning order was received by the bttn to move back to its old area near Vasto, the ground being extremely muddy and operations impractical.

1430 O Group moved off to take over billets.

1630 Bttn moved off by route march to em-busing point at Villafonsina (471952). The route was extremely muddy and marching was very difficult owing to the bad state of the tracks. Bttn HQ was re-established in the billet occupied prior to the move forward for Operation Encroach.

Coys took over additional farms and all personnel were under cover.

Lieut R Phillips MM rejoined the bttn.

Died on this Day:

Fusilier Leslie Young, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

2 LIR.

0200 Battalion moved on tanks of 44 RTR and 50 RTR. Intention to reach an assembly area below Paglieta.

0500 Tanks of 50 RTR unable to move up slope of R Osento owing to mud (continual rain from 0600-1200).

(Draft 9 other ranks from x (iv) 20/11/43.)

Undermentioned were Mentioned in Despatches for African Campaign:

226616 Lieutenant TWH Wilson.

216839 Lieutenant and Quartermaster D Aitkenhead.

7008967 Sergeant E Bird.

7014676 L/Cpl A North.

7014630 Rifleman B Mawdsley.

1300 Commanding Officer’s recce group move off to new area.

1400 Battalion move off by companies to new area. The march was exhausting owing to mud and steep hills.

1800 Battalion established in area Scatozzo about 1 mile south of Paglieta. Battalion HQ 413944.