War Diaries – 21st to 25th November 1943

21st November

Brigade HQ – 453997.

0500 Bttns nothing to report.

0600 2 LIR reported established 1830 20 Nov at 412942.

1200 Brigade Intelligence Summary issued.

1330 1 RIrF reported C and D Coys moved into new billets Torino.

1400 Brigade HQ closed present location and reopened same time Castelbordino.

1500 Division ordered Brigade to send 200 men for working party with REs tonight. Bttns informed by LO.

1515 6 Innisks reported Bttn HQ 553922.

Amendment No 3 to 38 (Irish) Brigade Operational Order No 30 dated 18 November issued.

1820 38 Brigade responsible for mule park until situation changes.

1900 Proforma and request for daily mule state sent to OC Mule Park.

1 RIrF.

More accommodation found for rifle coys.  Slight shelling area 446982.  Rain persistent.

Read Lawrie Franklyn-Vaile’s letters.

6 Innisks – VASTO.

Continuous rain throughout the day.

Coys cleaned up and prepared once again for battle.

1100 C of E church service was held.

1300 A party from bttn visited a cinema show at Vasto.

2 LIR.

1400 Companies remain in area Scatozzo; Battalion HQ move to Farm 413944.

22nd November


0500 Bttns nothing to report.

0730 Division traffic control order for Operation Encroach received and issued to bttns.

Brigade Intelligence Summary issued.

Division directive (O.595 dated 22 November) on air support received.

1700 Last light Sitrep nothing to report.

1855 Division informed Brigade that use of main road west of Casalbordino after dark by vehicles without clock timings must cease. Units likely to be late must inform TCP.

Track running west of Casalbordino to H.5299 is not to be used without Division permission.

1 RIrF.

22 to 26th November:

Approximately one week spent in Torino waiting for weather to clear up.  Projected attack impossible unless ground dried for tanks.  Alternative plan for attack without tanks unfavourable.  Occasional periods of sunshine with more frequent periods of rain.  CO & IO on several recces.  CO at several conferences at Brigade HQ for modification of plans.  Enemy activity negligible – some 105 mm shells dropped in town but majority failed to explode – possibly because they were fired “capped”.  Five FW 190s bombed bridges over the Sangro 433017.

Own artillery (8 Field Regiment & 5 Medium Regiment) consistently shelled Fossacesia 3904, San Maria 3601 & the ridge between them.  High proportion of airbursts could be observed from OP in house 446984.

DAF Bostons & Mitchells regularly bombed targets in Fossacesia, San Maria, & the ridge between them. Lanciano 3202 bombed. Warhawks & Kittihawks dive bombed same areas.

Read Lawrie Franklyn Vaile’s letters – 23rd November 1943

Read Lawrie Franklyn Vaile’s letters – 25th November 1943

6 Innisks – VASTO.

Training was carried out throughout the day.

A Echelon moved forward again to area 4894.

C Coy moved into new billets in area 5691.

Medium bombers and Kittyhawk fighter bombers passed overhead every 15 minutes throughout the day to bomb and strafe the enemy defences north west of the River Sangro.

CO attends conference at Brigade HQ. O Group called on is return and orders issued for move to new lying up area for Operation Encroach on the following day.

2 LIR. 

RAF Mitchell and Kittyhawk bombers bomb and machine gun areas Fossacesia, San Maria and Lanciano throughout the day.

23rd November

Brigade HQ – Casalbordino.

0500 Bttns nothing to report.

Brigade Intelligence summary issued.

Amendment No 4 to 38 (Irish) Brigade Operational Order No 3 dated 18 November issued.

1515 Brigade Group informed that move unlikely before 25 November.

1730 Conference at Brigade HQ attended by Divisional Commander, Brigade Commanders 4 Armoured Brigade and 38 Brigade and G1.

Last light Sitrep nothing to report.

6 Innisks – VASTO.

Heavy rain started early in the morning, and preparations were made for move forward.

0900 IO and CO went forward to Brigade HQ and from there.

1030 CO went on with Brigade Commander and Divisional Commander on a recce.

IO recced for concentration area (4299) and route for river crossings of Sangro.

1130 Move forward postponed for 24 hours owing to the state of the ground after the heavy rain.

1530 Move postponed further until 25th.

C and B Coys attend ENSA concert in VASTO.

The following honours and awards were notified-

Periodical Awards – MC to T/Major SJ Bunch.

Mentioned in Dispatches –

Captain E Ferris.

Lieut W McVie.

Lieut M Hodgson.

WO II F Fenwick.

Sgt EPD Lloyd (KIA).

Sgt H Doel.

Fusilier L Love.

Fusilier DE Dilkes.

Fusilier WH Slater.

2/Lieut Wilkie joined the bttn.

Rain continued until late afternoon.

2 LIR.

0200 Our artillery put down several heavy barrages during night to support 2/60 KRRs and Company of 8 Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders moving across River Sangro.

0330 Commanding Officer’s O Group move off from Battalion HQ by jeep for conference at Brigade HQ. Spasmodic heavy showers of rain from 0400 hrs.

2/60 KRRs (4 Armed Brigade), 5 Buffs, 6 RWKs and 8 A&SH (36 Brigade); 2 Lancashire Fusiliers and 5 Northants (11 Brigade) in defensive positions on lower escarpment across River Sangro.

AM Enemy lay down fairly heavy artillery fire from possible 15 cm guns in front of Paglieta and along river bed.

4 Armoured Brigade have got 10 tanks across the River Sangro. Most of them find it difficult to move across the very muddy ground.

Report from 8th Indian Division says that elements of 2nd New Zealand Division have taken Perano/H/38.

PM Rain has cleared away.

1900 Commanding Officer’s O Group returns from 38 Brigade conference at Casalbordino.

24th November


0500 Bttns nothing to report.

Brigade Intelligence Summary issued.

1715 Conference at Brigade HQ attended by Divisional Commander, CCRA, CRA Commanders 11, 36 and 38 Brigades.

1800 Sit Rep: 4 ME 109s attacked and dropped one bomb in each of the following areas: 4402, 4199, 4198 at 1548hrs.

1830 AASC requests confirmation of crashed ME 109 area 4400 at 1600hrs. Replied no reports received as yet.

2240 2 LIR reported moving 1630 hrs 25 November.

6 Innisks – VASTO.

Coys carried out training in attack.

In the afternoon and evening, further parties attended the ENSA concert at VASTO.

2 LIR.

PM RAF planes attack targets as on two previous days. (very little enemy anti-aircraft fire).

25th November


0500 1 RIrF reported shells of heavy calibre fell in Torino during night.

6 Innisks and 2 LIR nothing to report.

0830 Bttns informed of no movement order west of 5095 day or night without permission.

0845 2 LIR move today via covered route march to Casalbordino . Not to move east of road junction 459941 before 1700hrs. Carriers and A.Tk guns remain in present location.

1110 Bttns ordered to maintain roads in their own areas.

Brigade Intelligence Summary issued.

1700 Sitrep. 20 enemy shells landed area Torino 1500-1530hrs.

Conference at Brigade HQ attended by Divisional Commander, Commanders 11, 36 and 38 Brigades, and Commander 4 Armoured Brigade and AQ.

1900 2 LIR reported move complete and Bttn HQ at 483942

5 Corps vehicle movement order received.

2045 Bttns informed that carriers 1 RIrF will cross River Sangro night 25/26 November. Remaining carriers prepared to cross night 26/27 November. 6 Innisks not to move 26 November.

6 Innisks – VASTO.

Coys continued training in the morning.

In the afternoon and evening, more people went to Vasto to attend ENSA concert.

Weather showed improvement and a strong drying wind was blowing throughout the day.

2 LIR.

1430 Battalion moved by march route across country, led by Commanding Officer’s recce group to Casalbordino.

Order of march – G, H, E, F Company.

1830 Battalion established in billets in Casalbordino.

2000-2100 Enemy heavy guns shell north and west part of town.