Irish Brigade

The story of the 38th (Irish) Brigade in the Second World War

Faugh a Ballagh        Nec Aspera Terrent         Quis Separabit


2 Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment

 11th May.

0110 Bttn reported complete in area 859183.

2115 Bttn moves off for FUP at 875182.

2300 822186 – Artillery counter battery fire opens.

2340 875182 – Bttn in railway cutting.


12th May.

0020 875182 – Bttn leaves railway cutting for area barracks at 870183.

0006 870183 – Heavy smoke obscures river crossing.

0200 868184 – C Coy start crossing Gari on right crossing – using flying ferry.

0201 868184 – B Coy start crossing using left crossing (1 boat only).

0300 B Coy over complete.

0301 D Coy start crossing.

0315 A Coy start crossing.

0330 C Coy over complete.

0348 D Coy over complete.

0410 B Coy on start line.

0440 Bttn HQ over complete.

0445 C Coy at pt 31 having had casualties in minefield on route.

0500 D Coy at pt 31 (with approx 1 ½ platoons of C Coy.

0515 C Coy at start line (correct area).

0615 Position as follows:

Bttn HQ – river bank 868183.

B Coy – 861178, C Coy – 862181, D Coy – 863184, A coy dug in along track 865184.

All coys and Bttn HQ under heavy shell and mortar fire.

Enemy machine guns still active particularly area 863187.

Bttn positions maintained throughout the day along road 861179 to 863184. This in spite of constant counter attacks (B Coy) at estimated strengths of between 20 and 50 enemy and constant shelling, mortaring  and small arms fire. Enemy MGs active behind and left of B Coy area.

All coys have fairly heavy casualties.

By nightfall:  B Coy – 10 killed, 13 wounded. C Coy – 9 killed and 19 wounded.

Total casualties – officers 2, ORs – 72.


13th May.

Bttn positions remain unaltered. Shelling and mortaring still heavy. 2 DCLI and units from 12 Brigade pass over bridge built during night and extend bridgehead by approximately 800 yards forward and to the flanks.

Total casualties for day – 2 officers, 11 ORs.


14th May.

0700 Bttn HQ (less S Coy Commander – Pioneers – RAP – Intelligence Section) moves to 862180.

1100 863184 – Meeting between Brigade Commander and Commanding Officer. Bttn in divisional reserve and to be prepared to recover any forward positions lost.

1900 862180 – RAP and personnel from Bttn HQ still by river gain advanced Bttn HQ area 862180.

10 Infantry Brigade letter – counter attack role.

Total casualties for day – officers nil, ORs 10.


15th May.

0208 Recce made by CO of new coy areas.

0430 Coys move to new positions as follows:
Bttn HQ – 859179.
B,C,D Coys – 858179.
A Coy – 859179.

Day passed without major incident.
Total casualties – officers 1, ORs 3.


16th May.

Orders received from 10 Infantry Brigade to capture: Pt 50 (853188). Pt 58 (848188) with in support C Squadron 19 NZ Armoured Regiment. Zero to be early morning 17 May 1944.

1300 Operational order from 10 Infantry Brigade. Attack now to be at 1830 hrs 16 May

1400 Outline plan and orders issued to Coy Commanders and troop do recces. Bttn reorganised as three coys.

1530 Coordinated Orders Groups and final details.

1730 Coy Commanders move to SL to complete netting.

1800 Coys to SL.

1825 Bttn HQ now established in area pt 54 857182.

1830 Attack launched.

1835 D Coy held up by machine gun line near SL. A Coy making progress.

1850 Attack by A Coy making good progress.

1950 A Coy Commander, Major Rayner, wounded. 2.i.c. now in command but wounded. D Coy position confused but reported wrongly, as it later appeared, still at SL and digging in under 2/Lieut Wiggins. All remaining officers of A and D casualties.

2140 A Coy on objective and slightly forward of it. Heavy casualties and platoon under Sgt Snape at bend of road at 853191.

D Coy strength approximately 1 officer and 38 ranks. A Coy: 1 officer (wounded but remaining with coy to operate 18 set) and 29 ORs. Five tanks still in close support of A Coy.

2200 Discovered that small party of D Coy had reached objective but bulk of coy had run into heavy fire. Coy Commanders, both Platoon Commanders and Sgts killed and after confused battle had withdrawn to SL and dug in.

2215 Coy of 2 Royal Fusiliers at 855185 ordered to move out to carry out another task. C Coy to move up and take over the area from 2 Royal Fusiliers.

2300 Bttn positions as follows:
A Coy – 859184.
B Coy – 858182.
C Coy – 857180.
D Coy – 856180.
Bttn HQ – 859179.

2301 Intelligence officer goes to pt 50 to relieve Capt Hollick.


17th May.

0020 Intelligence Officer arrives at pt 50. Position there as follows: Captain Hollick (wounded in neck) with 8 or 9 men hold pt 50 and are dug in along drainage ditch running approx 853187 – 854188. One platoon is at 853191 but out of touch by wireless with Coy Commander.

Five Sherman tanks remain in support behind pt 50 from hull down positions. Enemy manned MG still in house at 851189.

Total casualties for 16 May – officers 10, ORs – 92.

0100 One platoon of C Coy moved up and established at pt 46 – 853186.

0200 Commander A Coy asks permission to withdraw platoon at 853191 and hold pt 50 with additional men ths made available.

0250 Commanding Officer with patrol from C Coy visits forward positions at pt 50. He authorised withdrawal of platoon at 853191. Pt 50 to be held at all costs.

0330 Enemy tracked vehicles heard moving in area road 853194.

0400 Platoon from 853191 rejoined coy in area pt 50. Confirms report that enemy tanks are in vicinity and believed forming up for attack on pt 50.

0420 All arrangements for enemy tank attack completed. DF tasks (artillery) arranged. Five 19 NZ Armoured Regiment tanks take up positions.

0530 All dug in and positions camouflaged.

0600 Recce patrol from A Coy report house at 851189 clear. Two PoWs brought in.

0630 Recce patrol from A Coy move forward of coy to 852189.

0710 Patrol returns reporting no sign of enemy.

0900 14 Platoon under Sgt Penfold assisted by 1 troop C Squadron 19 NZ Armoured Regiment move forward to clear area pt 58 and pt 49. No opposition encountered.

0945 C Coy ordered to pt 58 and pt 49.

1100 C Coy established as above.

1400 C Coy ordered forward to railway area 851194.

1500 C Coy established as above. The bodies of Lieut Howley and 12 ORs (2 Beds and Herts Regiment) buried on pt 50 853188.

2100 Verbal orders sent to A and C Coys regarding patrols to be sent out night 17/18 May to cut enemy escape routes of Cassino.

2248 10 Infantry Brigade Operating instruction No 29.


18th May.

0010 to 0035 Air bombing of our positions by enemy with aid of flares. There were no casualties caused by this bombing.

0036 Patrol of 2 platoons under Lieut DG Calvert sets out for 858197 object to cut Route 6.

0120 Patrol reached 858197 and ambush set.

0123 Enemy heard approaching patrol positions along Route 6.

0124 Fire opened on leading enemy marching personnel. Range five yards. Enemy scatter to verges of road leaving three wounded on road.

0130 Enemy reorganise and start small attack on patrol positions using sub machine guns and hand grenades.  This attack held easily and peters out. Six enemy reported killed during this attack and several wounded.

0200 Liuet Calvert with one OR armed with TSMG moves forward down Route 6 and brings in one enemy wounded and 3 PoWs. Confirms by flare that what appear to be bodies of enemy killed in attack on patrol are lying on rising ground near left of road.

0315 C Coy patrol established astride track at 849198.

0500 Patrol under Lieut Calvert returns bringing 3 PoW. One enemy (badly wounded) left to be collected later.

0600 Lieut Cox with recce patrol reported houses and track in area 849198 clear of enemy.

0630 C Coy occupies area above and patrols sent forward.

0830 Effective personnel A, B and D Coys reorganise as one coy under Captain Stenning and to be known temporarily as D Coy.

1230 Bttn assembled area pt 49.

1450 Burial service for dead buried at 853187.

1530 Burial service for dead buried on 854184.

1830 March out of bttn for LV area Monte Trocchio.

2300 Bttn in LV area.

Total casualties during battle 11 May to 18 May:

Officers killed –
Major SF Charkham 124206.
Lieut HC Stone 164530.
Lieut TE Holberton 171755.
Lieut JB Howley 273638.

Wounded –
Major FS Rayner 147053 (died of wounds 21 May).
Major ES Jenkins 149275.
Captain H Hollick 179770.
Captain F Christmas 162405.
Captain B Thurtle 203004.
Lieut T Fielden 155668.
Lieut G Lloyd 281818.
Lieut JA Smith 300433.
Lieut AK Jamison (NYA).
Lieut AH Taylor 264954.
Lieut JF Jones (NYA).

ORs – 57 killed, 147 wounded.



 

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