Irish Brigade

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

1 East Surrey Regiment


11th May – NEAR CAIAZZO 2187.

Commanding Officer addresses the bttn on the forthcoming battle.

Personal message from the Army Commander read to all ranks.

Message from Commander in Chief read to all ranks.


12th May.

The Brigade Commander addressed officers and NCOs at Brigade HQ on the attack on the Gustav Line, which began yesterday.


13th May.

11 Brigade letter O 23 with march table received.

Officers and NCOs visited Brigade HQ to inspect an example of German wire defences at Adolph Hitler Line.

Field return of Officers and ORs sent.

2000 CO to Brigade O Group.

2230 Bttn O Group. Bttn to move tomorrow to concentration area near Highway Six.

Adjutant returned from leave.


14th May.

0845 Bttn (less A2 and B Echelon and left out of battle personnel) moved by TCV to preliminary assembly area.

1630 Bttn concentrated in area 864164.

Weather fine.

Trace of routes across the Rapido and bounds.


15th May – 864164.

Bttn remained in assembly area until 1215 hrs.

1215 Bttn moved by TCV to new concentration area.

1315 Bttn HQ established at 882164.

1330 CO and IO to Brigade R Group across River Rapido at 859167.

1400 Coy Commanders recce in area 862171.

1500 Recce parties return to bttn area.

1700 A2 Echelon joined bttn at 882164.

Weather fine during day.

During the night, enemy aircraft was over the area attacking bridge across the Rapido. Intense AA barrage.

Night. There was some intense long range enemy shelling during the night and one NCO was wounded while on duty as Guard Commander.


16th May.

Weather fine. Ground mist in Rapido valley.

0815 Bttn HQ and Coy HQs moved by motor transport to assembly area west of the Rapido. Coys moved by march route.

0900 Bttn HQ established at 864164

0915 Bttn assembled in perimeter around Bttn HQ.

The crossing of the Rapido was well under cover of smoke laid on by RE and the bttn got across the bailey bridge at 867169 without interference from the enemy.

Lieut ADH Paterson (IO) handed over to Lieut GEA Rendtorff on proceeding to Brigade HQ as Brigade IO.

1020 5 Northamptons reported the positions gained in their attack yesterday.

Bttn HQ – 847176. Coys at pt 66 839181, Buildings at 835178, pt 86 833174, pt 66 838176. Casualties 1 officer, and 1 OR killed, 10 ORs wounded.

1030 Visibility now good after early morning haze. The area was under observation from the Monastery and there was some enemy shelling. Smoke was called for on Monastery Hill.

1100 Monastery now being smoked. It was found impossible to keep the Monastery under smoke continuously and at intervals, the bttn area on ACE route was under observation. The area was heaviily shelled from 1300 to 1200 hrs and again from 1300 to 1400 hrs. During the latter bombardment, a number of trucks, including an ammunition truck were set on fire. One Bttn ATR portee and 6 pounder gun was destroyed in this fire.

Three ORs were wounded by the shelling.

1235 2 LF report Pytchley taken.

1715 Recce parties to proceed to 5 Northamptons this evening.

1855 5 Northamptons reported a strong enemy counter attack on their area. The situation was very confused and there was one report that several companies were surrounded.

The Bttn stood to. An order from brigade at 1905 hrs stated that no recces go forward. By 1925 hrs, 5 Northamptons reported that the German attack had quietened down and, ten minutes later, they stated that the situation was in hand. 

However, at 2025, the Northamptons reported that the enemy were again attacking and at 2110 hrs, their CO requested that a coy of 1 Surreys be sent at once to their assistance.

A Coy was assembled and moved towards the 5 Northamptons’ area. At 2130 hrs, D Coy was sent to ensure defence of the bailey bridge at track leading to 5 Northamptons’ positions. Major HMA Hunter MBE went forward to supervise dispositions of A and D Coys.

2215 A and D Coys were reported in position.

Three explosions were heard in Cassino. It was deduced that the enemy attack this evening was designed to screen a German withdrawal from Cassino.

2235 The situation was now quiet and the bttn stood down.

A and D Coys were to remain within new positions for the remainder of the night and B and C Coys to remain in perimeter defence. Remainder of the nigh was quiet.

2300 O Group at Bttn HQ for tomorrow’s operation.


17th May.

0100 Bttn I section left to recce route to FUP and from FUP to start line.

0530 The bttn left the assembly area by march route.

0645 Bttn in FUP at 847176.

0755 Coys on start line 839189.

0800 Coys advanced: right A Coy, left A Coy. Tac Bttn HQ established on start line 839189.

The advance was made across farmlands and low ridges. An artillery barrage had covered the whole area and there was no opposition  By 0955, coys had reached their objectives and patrols were pushing forward.

1045 Bttn HQ moved forward.

1115 Bttn HQ established at 833185.

Final positions of coys:

A Coy – 838192.

B Coy – 833187.

C Coy – 834185.

D Coy – 835186.

S Coy – 839189.

Coys consolidated their positions. Evidence of the terrific punishment inflicted on the enemy was to be found in every field and along every track, where many dead Germans and much abandoned equipment and  wrecked vehicles were seen.

1500 A liaison officer arrived at Bttn HQ with the following information: 12 Brigade (4 Division) carriers on Highway Six to 843196.

38 Brigade (on left) approaching 814195. 36 Brigade at Wadi junction 815170. Canadians progressing well and have reached 803147.

11th Infantry Brigade to adopt defensive positions on general line from excl pt 60 832194 to excl pt 82 815195. Right 1 Surreys, line of FDLs from excl pt 60 to incl pt 67 825195.

2 LF FDLs from excl pt 67 to excl pt 80 813199.

Bttn Bdy incl to 2 LF pt 74 827184, excl to 2 LF pt 67 825195 incl to 2 LF railway crossing 819200.

5 Northmamptons to remain in present in present area.

One troop 17 pounder A/Tk and one platoon 4.2 mortars and one platoon MMG in support of each forward bttn.

The Liaison Officer brought a special order that the enemy was moving guns and that shelling would start later. Bttns to dig deep and take precautions against anti personnel bombs.

LO stated higher commanders were highly pleased with the performance of all bttns during two days of battle.

1700 Commanding Officer left for A2 Echelon (now at 847176). Major HMA Hunter MBE in command of the bttn in the field.

2000 Sitrep to brigade reported all objectives occupied without objectives. One wounded German parachutist was found in a house in the bttn area. Two German soldiers surrendered to the bttn in the evening.

2100 Brigade patrol instructions for night 17/18 May received.

A Coy reported that they had contacted left hand platoon of 6 Black Watch (12 Brigade).

2200 A Coy ordered to put out a listening post at 828197 covered by a fighting patrol at 828196.

2300 Enemy air attacks on bridges across the Rapido.

2330 A Coy patrol out.    


18th May.

0005 D Coy ordered to establish listening post at 824198 covered by fighting patrol at 823196.

0145 D Coy patrol out.

0510 A and D Coy patrols returned. Nothing to report.

0900 Patrol report to brigade. 11 Brigade notes on operations 18 May received.

0940 The Polish Corps were expected to clear Monastery Hill and a platoon from A Coy was ordered to proceed to 829197 to form a base for a patrol to 830200 (Highway Six) to meet Poles arriving from north.

1115 Poles reported in Monastery.

1124 Cassino and the Monastery reported clear of enemy.

1127 Bttn Vickers MG engaged enemy seen escaping at 828205.

A Coy’s platoon was established at 836211 at 1205 hrs and the patrol reached 830200 at 1225 hrs. The progress of the Poles down Monastery Hill could be observed from Bttn HQ. At 1305 hrs, A Coy patrol made contact with a Polish patrol at 830200.

The Poles reported that they lost contact with the enemy between 0600 and 0700 hrs in area 832217.

During the afternoon, orders were issued for the coys to establish a new line south of Highway 6. 

1621 Derbyshire Yeomanry reported Villa San Lucia (8023) clear of enemy.

1900 A Coy in new position.

1930 C and B Coys in new position.

2000 Sitrep to brigade. Coys moved to new defensive positions as follows:

A Coy in area of gully 826200 extending right to include Highway 6 and left to include railway.

B Coy area of road junction 819205.

C Coy area of bridge 820200.

D Coy and Bttn HQ positions unchanged.

2030 LO from brigade reported that Canadians has breached the Adolph Hitler Line at Aquino (7521). 78 Division moving to Aquino area.

During the night, the Coys are concentrated in their own forward areas, ready for an early move tomorrow.



 

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