War Diaries – 28th October 1943

Brigade HQ.

0100 1 RIrF and 2 LIR reported held up and Lt-Col Butler CO 1 RIrF killed. Opposition appeared very determined. Many flares and verey lights on the front. MG is apparent from all directions and the whole of the front is being heavily mortared.

0130 1 RIrF held up on line 610805 – 622806.

(c 0130 -0230hrs, Tac HQ out of touch with Bttns and information obtained through RA channels).

0230 Position extremely obscure although front itself appeared quiet.

0300 2 LIR established comms with Tac HQ and reported that they were in touch with coys who, although they had met determined resistance, were in some cases, within 1200 yards of San Salvo. A repetition of the last nine lifts of the barrage was asked for. These become available at 0340hrs and they made further slight progress.

0330 C Squadron 46 RTR reported over river diversion together with guns of 255 A/Tk Battery and A/Tk guns of 1 RIrF and 2 LIR closely following.

0430 2 LIR ordered to establish themselves and dig in the best available positions. 1 RIrF, who had been trying to retain contact with forward coys, ordered to withdraw from bridgehead over river to area 6677.

0715 Division informed Brigade of conference at 11 Brigade HQ 0900hrs. Brigade commander to attend.

0845 6 Innisks reported 5 casualties. Enemy shelled diversion 0740hrs and mortared it at 0805hrs. No enemy movement observed. 2 LIR reported Major AK O’Connor 2.i.c. killed.

1005 6 Innisks reported heavy concentration area of bridge. 2 LIR locations: Bttn HQ 632804, 626804,  626806, 629808, 632805, 633801.

1900 Brigade ordered food and ammunition to be taken across diversion by horses and carts.

Horses and carts RV at T junction 6677, approximately 1600hrs. Horse and carts requisitioned by main Brigade HQ from Petacciato. 1 RIrF reported in area 657773.

1 RIrF.

0330 The Adjutant was ordered to take the Command Group and the remnants of D Coy back.

0500 The rest of the Bttn took up a position around the bridge, having been brought out of action by Major RLG Wood.

During the day, Major Wood went back and made arrangements to bring the Bttn out of bridgehead at dusk.

1800 The Bttn withdrew to area 6677.

2230 Bttn in new position.

The bridgehead was shelled in the morning and the Bttn suffered more casualties. Major WG Dunn was killed and Captain Franklyn-Vaile was wounded.

Fusilier John Allen, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Corporal Henry Pritchard, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Fusilier William James, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Sergeant Leslie Farbrother, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Major William Dunn MC, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

6 Innisks – RIVER TRIGNO.

The attack proved to be a costly failure and LIR and RIrF were withdrawn back in to the bridgehead by first light. One squadron of tanks had also crossed the river during the night. Consequently, the crossing and bridgehead were under frequent and accurate shell fire throughout the day.  Heavy rain fell again and prevented another attack on San Salvo, in which 6 Innisks were to have taken the lead, from taking place.

Maintenance of forward coys was extremely difficult in the wet, and could only be done at night.

Slit trenches became full of water, but the shelling forced their use. LIR and RIrF recrossed the river thus relieving the congestion in the area.

Fusilier Albert Cockayne, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Corporal Henry Johnson, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

2 LIR.

0001 The fighting and progress of the battle is the very confused owing to the difficulty of communication caused by the heavy Arty and Mortar fire on the forward troops and Battalion HQ.

0001 Enemy plaster area of the wood, bridge and diversion with medium and Field Arty. The 6” Mortars fall just in front of the wood and on the line of the Companies approach. In the Battalion HQ it was impossible to differentiate between our own support Arty and the enemy guns firing on our fwd troops. The Arty and the fire on the enemy started on the 2/LFs front and worked from right to left across the Battalion on to the 1 RIF. At one period, the 1 RIF reported 200 shells in their area in 6 minutes.

This fire was heavy and continuous until about 0330 hrs.

0400 E Company move fwd to defensive posn in right rear of F Company.

0615 Major CAF Gibbs comes in to report that F Company is in a gully between the wood and the enemy MG posns. He reports that 2/Lieutenant MC Marmorstein was probably killed when his Platoon, which he was leading was caught in the first enemy DF fire. Major G Phillips G Company Comdr was wounded in the head and taken to hospital.

1030 Major APK O’Connor, 2/ic, killed by enemy shell, in the wood 6380 while supervising the supplies of the Battalion.

The Division attack was repulsed. One Company of 2/LFs reached the Rly Stn and left one Pl there. When daylight came, this platoon was isolated. No news has come through about them 1/RIrF suffered rather heavily. The Battalion’s final casualty figures were 9 killed, 23 wounded and 20 missing. The majority belonged to F Company.

One company of 6 Innisks in posn near Bridge.

Brigade’s “O” Group. 2/LIR and 6 Innisks to attack San Salvo tonight.

1700 5th Corps Comdr orders 1/RIrF and 2/LIR to retire back across the River, leaving 6 Innisks on the North side to hold the bridgehead. Brigade attack cancelled. S Company remains across the River and the tanks in support of 6 Innisks.

Heavy rain during the day has made it almost impossible for transport to move.

The Battalion withdraws to defensive positions South of the Trigno.

H Company in their original position at Farm 648801. Battalion HQ 655796.

E Company 659800. F Company 653799. G Company 653795.

Rifleman Norman Sharp, London Irish Rifles.

Rifleman Herbert Ryan, London Irish Rifles.

Rifleman Christopher Clarke, London Irish Rifles.

Corporal Sidney Tye, London Irish Rifles.

Corporal George Evans, London Irish Rifles.

Rifleman Alfred Glass, London Irish Rifles.

Rifleman James Johnston, London Irish Rifles.

Rifleman James King, London Irish Rifles.

Rifleman Patrick McCauley, London Irish Rifles.

Rifleman Bernard Wignall, London Irish Rifles.

Rifleman G Gallop, London Irish Rifles.

Major Arthur Kevin O’Connor, London Irish Rifles.

Rifleman Reginald Thompson, London Irish Rifles.

Lance Corporal Cecil Rowley, London Irish Rifles.

Rifleman Desmond Delaney, London Irish Rifles.

Corporal Frederick Webster, London Irish Rifles.