War Diaries – 1st to 5th November 1943

1st November


0535 2 LIR reported all quiet.

0545 6 Innisks reported occasional bursts of MG fire and flares west of R Trigno during night.

0710 2 LIR to investigate new (?) diggings 300 yards in front of own positions found five – seven pits all unoccupied.

1700 Sitrep and patrol results.

1 RIrF.

1500 Battalion ordered to move.  Recce Party. 36 Brigade were to attack San Salvo tomorrow and the intention was for the battalion to go to an assembly area tonight before taking up a position protecting the left flank of the attack.

2330 Battalion moved to its old position in 6677.

6 Innisks – MASSA FANALE.

Bttn resting – cleaning weapons etc and making general preparations for battle.

Lt-Col Grazebrook took over command of the bttn (returned from A/Brigadier)

1700 O Group conference on general plan for crossing River Trigno

2 LIR.

Intermittent enemy shelling throughout the day of area Bridge 631795.

2nd November


0500 2 LIR reported quiet night.

0545 6 Innisks observed flashing light during night otherwise NTR.

0630 2 LIR patrol contacted enemy 602805. Reports enemy MGs rd and track junction 612815. Little shelling overnight in bridgehead area.

0715 2 LIR report river diversion passable by new direction. Culvert north of crossing completed.

0900 1 RIrF reported bttn in position by 0330hrs. Bttn HQ established on track 660767 otherwise NTR.

1140 2 LIR reported they were sending patrol to 598784 tonight but were later ordered not to patrol.

1650 38 Brigade Operation Instruction No 3 issued.

1740 Situation on Brigade front, see Sitrep.

1800 36 Brigade Tac HQ established 657829

2000 1 RIrF reported location 679791.

1 RIrF. 

0900 Battalion recce party.

1600 O Group Orders for move to position astride road 6678 and 6677.  All battalion transport to move first followed immediately by marching troops.  Order of march for both C, B, D, A, Bttn HQ and S Coy.

1720 Transport moved.

1745 Marching troops moved.

2015 Battalion HQ established 666785.

6 Innisks – MASSA FANALE.

0800 O Group conference at OP Farm. Orders and study of ground for Trigno crossing.

1000 CO, IO and Coy commanders attend conference at 36 Brigade HQ.

1430 IO went off to recce and mark bttn concentration area.

1500 O Group conference.

1545 Battle platoon went off to meet IO and REs for night task north of River Trigno.

1830 Coy guides shown route to FUP by IO.

1900 Battle platoon shown route and task.

2 LIR.

1900 Commanding Officer called to Brigade HQ. He stopped overnight and temporary command of battalion fell to Major Gibbs.

Intermittent enemy shelling throughout the day of area Bridge 631795. Some shells fell in E Company’s area 612792 and caused seven casualties, one of them fatal.

1130 Commanding Officer returned from brigade and resumed command of battalion.

1400 Orders for attack on San Salvo. 11 Brigade right along the coast to San Salvo station, thence into village. 36 Brigade left along axis of main road. 6 Innisks under command of 36 Brigade 2 LIR to hold bridgehead over River Trigno. 1 RIrF on high ground south of the river covering the road from Montenero. 1 Squadron 56 Recce to area 6177. In support of attack, 5 Regiment Field Artillery 3 Regiments Medium Artillery, 46 RTR. Two Destroyers to shell Cupella 5586 and Vasto 5890. 36 and 38 Brigades support groups to concentrate in area 6478 and commence diversionary barrage on high ground west of San Salvo in order to mislead the enemy.

2130 Enemy put down concentrated artillery barrage on areas 631795, 632791, 624790.

Died on this Day:

Corporal Robert Thornton, London Irish Rifles.

Rifleman James Hackett, London Irish Rifles.

3rd November


0700 2 LIR reported own troops and tanks on pt40 (6282). Enemy shelling bridge all night.

0745 5 Buffs informed 36 Brigade on first objective, and their neighbours on their objective.

0845 36 Brigade informed 6 Innisks 622818 mined and booby trapped.

0920 Divisional Commander received information of possible counter attack.

0922 5 Buffs reported few casualties, Advance continues.

1020 5 Buffs asked for assistance from 46 RTR as enemy tanks very near and in area 609840.Vineyard  Hill in our hands.

1035 Tac HQ reported 8 A&SH confirmed enemy tanks A/Tk position 580844. Enemy mortar fire from Colle Olivetta 6082. One Mark IV knocked out. Tank battle brewing. Mines reported 622818.

1050 5 Buffs reported position critical. Heavy enemy mortar fire.

1100 8-12 enemy aircraft attacked area road junction 6677. 6 Innisks A Echelon hit – 4 killed, 9 wounded. 3 vehicles destroyed. 1 RIrF 1 killed and 3 wounded. 2 carriers and 2 15 cwt trucks 1 ammunition truck on fire. Road cratered.

1500 12 Kittyhawks bombed area 5686.

1525 Enemy aircraft attacked road junction 6677. Two trucks hit.

1715 Situation Brigade front. See Sitrep.

2000 1 RIrF moving to area 6381.

2100 Escaped British PoW from San Salvo gave information on enemy plight when our barrage went down night 2/3 Nov. Enemy MT fled leaving occupants in the town. Considerable demoralisation of enemy caused by bombardment. 2 LIR reported 2 PoW identified 16 Panzer Pi Bttn surrendered this afternoon. Forwarded to Divisional cage.

A summary of 6 Innisks part in the battle of San Salvo 3 Nov 43 is attached as appendix.

1 RIrF.

0515 Stand to.

1150 Bombing attack on Battalion area by FW 190s  Casualties 1 killed 6 wounded.

1530 Bombing attack.  No casualties.

2015 O Group Orders for move to San Salvo area to relieve Buffs by first light on the 4th. Captain L Franklyn-Vaile rejoined battalion.

Died on this Day:

Lance Corporal Harry Jones, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

6 Innisks – MASSA FANALE.

0001 Hot tea served to all ranks. Bttn came under command 36 Brigade.

0115 Bttn moved off from area 6479.

0245 Bttn concentrated in assembly area west of River Trigno (6380).

0400 Leading coys (Right C, Left A) left front edge of wood, followed by Bttn HQ and reserve coys (Right B, Left D).

0430 Leading coys crossed start line with left on bridge over Molino 631812. S Mines were encountered in area of bridge, which caused a number of casualties.

0530 Leading troops on first objective, ring contour 40 (6282), followed ten minutes later by two troops B Squadron 46 RTR.

Remaining coys followed but D Coy on the left was delayed by a further minefield, causing more casualties. Reorganisation was necessary as coys were considerably intermingled.

0715 B Coy right, and D Coy left, started advance to second objective (San Salvo).

0730 A Coy started advance to second objective, but its remaining officer was killed shortly afterwards.

First objective was shelled, and occasional bursts of small arms fire came from both flanks. Forward coys were fired on by enemy tanks, east of San Salvo, which were concealed in farm buildings and olive groves. This fire was extremely accurate and pinned down the forward rifle coys, who found themselves in flat and open country. Our own tanks were unable to locate the enemy tanks from the positions they often occupied.

0930 Part of D Coy, however, managed to move round the right flank under cover, and entered San Salvo. Enemy tanks and infantry were still in occupation of the town, but were in the process of pulling out,

1030 C Coy with one troop of tanks in support, was ordered to move well round to the right and get into the town from the north east. They also came under fire from the enemy tanks.

1130 Four enemy tanks moved northwards along a track to the east of the town and two of these were put out of action by the troop of tanks supporting C Coy. This eased the situation, as some half hour later the remaining tanks withdrew from the south half of the town.

1300 C Coy then moved forward into the town, followed by B Coy and Bttn HQ and by 1400hrs, the bttn was established in a defensive lay out , although the enemy were still firing into the town from the west.

1430 A Coy reached the town.

1600 An enemy counter attack developed round the north flank of San Salvo, tanks being used. Although none of them actually entered the town, they were on the outskirts and fired shells and MGs into the buildings.

While this counter attack was still proceeding, the Bttn A/Tk Gun, mortars, MGs and the RAP moved into the town from the south east and were in position by 1730hrs.

Casualties for the day were:

Officers – 2 killed, 3 wounded (and 3 rifle company commanders).

ORs – 15 killed, 45 wounded.

1730 “Stand to” followed by 50% “Stand to” all night.

About 150 personnel of 5 Buffs entered the town, thickening up defences.

2300 German preparation for counter attack was detected and artillery made it an “uncle” target effectively breaking it up.

2305 2 DFs brought down north of San Salvo.

Enemy MG fire continued spasmodically until 0300hrs.

A Echelon was bombed at midday; One 15 cwt and two carriers destroyed and two 15 cwts damaged.

Casualties – 4 killed, 9 wounded.

Died on this Day:

Fusilier William Slack, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Fusilier Lawrence Bishop, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Fusilier Henry Camp, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Fusilier James Byrne, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Major George Crocker, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Fusilier William Harries, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Fusilier Philip Stanley, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Fusilier Alfred Cooper, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Fusilier Joseph Wild, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Fusilier Peter Bain, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Fusilier George Barnes, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Lieutenant Ernest Hewitt, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Fusilier Thomas Jackson, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Fusilier Alexander Jeffers, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Fusilier Emilyn Jones, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Lance Sergeant Thomas Law, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Lance Corporal Andrew McVeigh, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Fusilier Albert Richardson, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Read the battalion’s account here.

2 LIR. 

0200 Diversionary barrage by 36 and 38 Brigade’s support groups commenced. Enemy counter battery work in protest.

0400 Zero hour for attack

1000 Enemy withdrawing from San Salvo. RAF bombing retreating troops. Cupello bombed for the third time within an hour. Our tanks and two battalions of infantry by-passed San Salvo and are north of the town.

Lieutenant F Lyness relinquished appointment of intelligence officer and Lieutenant JD White appointed.

1050 6 Innisks and 5 Buffs on objectives and the position is as follows: 5 Buffs area 605835 – 606843 with some of our tanks on their left. 6 Innisks area 601828–609829 with one Company cleaning up San Salvo.

1100 Andrew (609840) taken by 5 Buffs. This Battalion was being heavily mortared and the enemy were counter attacking with tanks. Our own tanks are going to their assistance. So far 1 Mark IV Tank and 2 anti-tank guns are known to have been knocked out, and many enemy anti-tank guns are known to have been located at 580844 and their mortars SW of San Salvo area 6082, and it seems as if a tank battle is imminent. 1 E S and 36 Brigade transport and tanks are all across the river, the diversion still being OK.

1130 Approx 15 FW 190s bomb gun areas 6778 – 6779

1400 San Salvo station occupied by 11 Brigade.

1530 Six FW 190s bomb same area as before.

1930 Commanding Officer and Intelligence Officer to Brigade HQ.

Died on this Day:

Rifleman Robert McKimm, London Irish Rifles.

4th November


0155 Move of 1 RIrF postponed. Location impossible to ascertain.

0715 6 RWK and 6 Innisks reported in San Salvo. 5 Buffs reported concentrating outside town.

0940 2 LIR reported two enemy deserters taken Farm 611820. Identified Panzer Pi Bttn and 2 Coy 64 Panzer Grenadier Regiment.

0945 Divisional Commander ordered 38 Brigade to patrol forward from left flank to areas 5781, 5879. 1 East Surreys occupied station of San Salvo and ridge to west. Station reported heavily booby trapped. 2 LF and 5 Northamptons concentrating north of River Trigno. 25 Shermans reported moving  north west to Vasto.

1030 1 RIrF reported bridge 665783 collapsing. 6 Innisks reported at 607825 and holding San Salvo with 5 Buffs. Casualties estimated at 100. Enemy counter attack from north of San Salvo shelled effectively by own artillery. Enemy fire continued until 2320hrs 3 November. 1 RIrF reported crater in town at 627824 but not impeding traffic.6 Innisks to remain under command 36 Brigade until further notice.

1104 36 Brigade informed 38 Brigade by sitrep that 6 RWK moving to Vineyard Hill (east of San Salvo). 5 Northamptons in readiness. 8 A&SH moving on.

1215 Route to San Salvo via coast road and San Salvo station now believed clear.

1335 11 Brigade reported enemy tanks on their left flank and 4 Armoured Brigade standing by.

1540 Two PoWs taken by 6 Innisks in San Salvo night 3/4 November. Identified 2 & 3 coys 16 Pz Pi Bttn. 1 RIrF reported patrol (two platoons) searched area 6278 and found nothing. Reached pt150 (5979) taking three PoWs. Patrols continuing to search area 5879 – 5779 – 5781. Probably returning 5 November.  

1700 Situation on brigade front see Sitrep.

1725 Division informed brigade of location of MG pt 195 (595787) and enemy mortars 578819.

1 RIrF.

0200 The situation was very confused and the move was cancelled.

1130 B Coy went out as a fighting patrol under Captain JE McNally MC to Pt150 – 5979.  They captured 3 prisoners and an MG.  Own casualties from heavy mortaring 1 killed 15 injured all of whom were evacuated safely.

Died on this Day:

Fusilier Charles Cooper, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Fusilier Charles Nobbs, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Lawrie Franklyn-Vaile’s letters.

Lawrie Franklyn-Vaile’s letters.

6 Innisks – SAN SALVO.

0330 Captain Bunch arrived with rations.

0830 Evacuation of wounded carried on.

Civilians ordered to clean up the town and reorganise civil administration. The men killed in the previous day’s battle were collected and brought to the local Innisks cemetery for burial.

36 Brigade continued advance.

2 LIR.

0900 Two German soldiers identified as belonging to 16 Pioneer Battalion and 1/64 Panzer Grenadier Regiment surrendered to E Company at Farm 621803.

1500 Battalion HQ moved to Farm 633788.

5th November


0700 1 RIrF patrol reported enemy mortar positions 588782, 595798 and MG position 595787 and by mortar position 577819.

0845 Division reported 36 Brigade on outskirts of Vasto and not in contact. 11 Brigade reported on ridge north east of Cupello without opposition and tanks moving to Montedorisio.

1130 1 RIrF location Farm 607822.

1410 Civilians reported 20 enemy and MGs dug in 576809. Main Brigade HQ closed Convent, Petacciato (712793) and reopened same time San Salvo (607827). Tac HQ remained open at same location.

1600 Patrol 6 Innisks to 583797 searching farms. No enemy seen. Patrol moved south west to ridge but own artillery stopped further progress. Civilians reported enemy on ridge 5779–5879 (? OP). Further point reached by patrol pt210 (5782). Road clear to San Salvo. Bridge 578819 mines in neighbourhood.

2000 Tac HQ closed at present location and joined main HQ in San Salvo.

2100 Situation at first light see Sitrep.

1 RIrF.

0600 O Group Orders for move to San Salvo to take up a defensive position.  A and C Coys to guard road bridge – San Salvo from attack from the south.

0800 Battalion moved.

1300 Battalion in position HQ, B, S Coys in San Salvo.  A Coy Pt. 135 -5987.  C Coy Pt, 150 -5979.  D Coy 605830.

Captain JS Clarke rejoined battalion from hospital.

6 Innisks – SAN SALVO.

0815 A mine cleaning section of bttn pioneers were attacked by 56 Recce Troop.

0830 Patrol of two sections went to area Colle 583797 and found the area to be clear of enemy.

0830 Lt Hamilton and one platoon of C Coy patrolled to pt 210 (5783) and brought back one prisoner from 2 Coy 64 PGR.

C Coy moved forward by night to give local protection to 17 Field Battery RA.

1 RIrF moved into San Salvo and took over B and D Coy positions. B and D Coys moved to new positions north west and west respectively. Bttn returned to be u/c 38 Brigade.

Congratulatory message received from commander, 36 Brigade.

Died on this Day:

Fusilier Arthur Harrison, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

2 LIR.

F Company move from farm 633788 to 634784 and G Company move from area 628795 to farm 633788.

Died on this Day:

Rifleman Ronald Byard, London Irish Rifles.