Irish Brigade

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

Faugh a Ballagh        Nec Aspera Terrent         Quis Separabit


1 RIrF – December 1942

1st to 4th December – AT SEA.

The voyage continued, daily training … was carried out as far as possible.


4th December – AT SEA.

2300 The ship was involved in a collision with another ship of the convoy and the alarm was sounded

All men proceeded to six boat stations. Although no signal for abandoning ship was given some of the crew got into the boats and pushed off. The ship was damaged in one of the forward holds and steamed into Gibraltar 8 miles away. The troops remained at boat stations until arrival into the harbour at approx 0800hrs.


5th December – AT SEA.

No 2 hold in which the bulk of the Bttn baggage was stored was badly damaged and A Coy living in the mess deck immediately above the hold had to move to a promenade deck.


6th to 7th December – GIBRALTAR.

The ship lay in the bay outside the harbour and repairs were put in hand on this ship. The majority of the stores in the hold were salvaged and hard work was put in on 18 Motor Cycles to get them in working order. Most of the M/Cs were found to be serviceable.


7th December – GIBRALTAR.

1900 The ship moved into the harbour.


8th December – GIBRALTAR.

1400 The Bttn went on a march on the Rock marching to the far side… to the music of the pipes…and back to the ship through the town.

2100 The ship was at ½ hours notice to move.


9th December – GIBRALTAR.

0130 All the ammunition damaged in the hold was replaced from shore and was loaded on ship by 0400hrs.

0500 Ship sailed with another troop carrier and a submarine ship.


9th to 10th December – AT SEA.

The voyage continued, the day spent in getting ready for disembarkation.


10th December – ALGIERS.

1150 The ship dropped anchor in the Southern Anchorage at Algiers. The short authorities there were unwilling to allow disembarkation. The ship’s Captain however stated that the ship was taking too much water and he would go no further. Finally a surveyor came aboard and declared her seaworthy.

2300 We again set sail.


11th December – BOUGIE.

0800 The ship dropped anchor in the small harbour at Bougie.

1030 Disembarkation started.

1300 All troops had disembarked and transport was being offloaded. The disembarkation was carried out by relays of ALCs and MLCs. The ground has gone aground.

1400 The Bttn busy straightening things up in No 3 Transit Camp. A party was despatched to the docks to assist in disembarking vehicles.


12th to 14th December – BOUGIE.

Disembarkation of vehicles continued and men not so employed engaged in acclimatisation training.


15th December – BOUGIE.

Disembarkation of vehicles and their tactical reloading completed less 18 MCs which were damaged by sea water in transit. These were now worked on by Base w/shop REME. 6 were fit for the road to date. Acclimatisation training continued, while kit etc to be left at the base was sorted and stacked. The ORs left for 2nd Echelon.


16th December – BOUGIE.

0700 Nos 3 & 4 platoons moved off to forward concentration area. Remainder of Bttn continued acclimatisation training.


17 December – BOUGIE.

Preparations for move of Bttn less 3 & 4 platoons to forward concentration area. Acclimatisation training continued.


18th December – BOUGIE/CONSTANTINE.

0700 Bttn crossed start line to move to forward concentration area.

1830 Bttn bivouacked for the night.

2100 Presence of enemy rumoured. Guard doubled.


19th December – CONSTANTINE/SOUK ARRAS.

0830 Bttn moved on.

1930 Bttn concentrated and bivouacked in Area B. 12 M/Cs was handed over to OBO.


20th December – LE KEF.

0800 Bttn moved to last lap.

1200 Bttn halted to await for darkness. Advance parties set out to recce defensive positions.

1930 Bttn restarted.


21 December – DJEBEL EL AKHOUAT.

0200 Bttn installed in defensive positions as per trace for ‘B’, adopting normal defence routine.

1930 CO attended Brigade ‘O’ Group conference for evening ops.


22 December – DJEBEL EL AKHOUAT.

1030 Bttn ‘O’ Group conference for evening ops

1800 Bttn transport reloaded tactically to cut down the vehicles employed owing to the air situation over battle area.

The object was to preserve as a reserve about one third of the Bttn ‘F’ transport  in ‘A’ Echelon during active ops so that in the event of severe transport casualties by air attack the Bttn could not be without.

1930 CO attended 2nd Brigade ‘O’ Group on impending ops.


23th December – DJEBEL EL AKHOUAT.

0830 Bttn ‘O’ Group and Guide Parties arrived in forward concentration parties.

1130 News received that the forthcoming op was to be postponed as very heavy rain had rendered all ground other than road impracticable for all vehicles incl tanks.

1500 Bttn ‘O’ Group and Guide Parties withdrawn to Bttn positions.

1930 Bttn ‘R’ Group, having waited in vain for further information, withdrawn to Bttn positions.


24th December – DJEBEL EL AKHOUAT.

0200 CO left for Brigade HQ for further information and orders.

0800 Bttn Guide Parties ordered forward once more.

1000 Bttn Guide Parties left in forward area.

2045 Head of Bttn column passed SP.


25th December – TALLY HO CORNER.

0715 Tail of Bttn Column arrived in new location.

0900 Bttn ‘O’ Group – issue of verbal orders for occupation of defensive positions from 6 Innisks in forward area.

0930 Departure of Bttn ‘O’ Group and Guide Parties to recce new area.

2030 Takeover of new position begins.

2359 Takeover reported generally completed.


26th December – GOUBELLAT.

0730 Sitrep of first night in new area rendered – Nothing to Report.

Day spent in fully settling into new positions and recce of patrol position for the night.


26th / 27th December – GOUBELLAT.

Sitrep of 26/27 December gives full account of the activities of the Bttn of that night.


27th December – GOUBELLAT.

The day spent in further recce for the patrols for the coming night.


27th / 28th December – GOUBELLAT.

A full account of the events of the previous night continued in Sitrep 0730 hrs on 28th Dec.Lieut OB Moore and three other ranks killed.


28th December – GOUBELLAT.

0900 D Company moved up to B Company in their positions with a view to attacking enemy as reported by Lt DN Jefferies. With mortar support, they were to clear the enemy reported to be 150-200 strong attacking from the direction of the Wadi 702226. The enemy had thoroughly shut up the OP at 685243 during the night but our troops were not in occupation. D and B Companies advanced from B Coy’s position with their mortars and occupied the high ground without opposition, the enemy having withdrawn. They then altered course southwards and seized the ridge 685230 to 678226 in the face of extremely heavy MG and mortar fire driving the enemy out of defensive localities they had taken up in 2 mosques and other buildings in that area. The enemy then retreated very rapidly south and south east to the foothills.This action which cost the enemy many casualties cost 1 RIrF, one Fusilier of D Coy killed.

1500 B and C Coys after this action took up their positions in the village of Goubellat itself. B Coy 6 Innisks was placed under command and took up position in the farm Bir El Douaik 6423.

Offensive patrolling, hitherto carried out by D Coy, was handed over to A Coy and the plan was altered, it having been found that patrols on the move were too easily betrayed by Arab Nazi sympathisers and local dogs, and was thus very vulnerable.  In the night of 28/29 Dec, therefore, A Coy laid ambushes as follows i) at road 701225, ii) rd junction 680224, iii) crossroads 673227. RE section set booby traps i) in the OP, ii) in buildings 684234, iii) in the abandoned ambulance at 672228 (this ambulance was one of our own, which had been sent out to collect the casualties from B Coy’s patrol action of the night before. The German patrol, which ambushed Lt DB Moore’s patrol, had presumably laid mines in the area. One of these blew up the ambulance as it turned up to B Coy killing the second driver). Artillery defensive fire tasks as shown in attached traces were also prepared for firing on receipt of Verey Light Signals, either from C Coy or from Bttn HQ. The patrols to do this ambush left A Coy after dark and took up their positions while the Bttn with B Coy 6 Innisks maintained defensive position in Goubellat. The Brigadier, commander of 30 Light Infantry Brigade, joined Bttn HQ for the night and results were awaited.


29th December – GOUBELLAT.

Some time about dawn A Coy’s ambushes returned and reported no sign of enemy activity, a party of Germans commanded by a Hauptfeldwebel of the Paratroop Regiment already identified, approached the OP at 685243 to occupy it. The booby trap was set off and they were all killed. On the Hauptfeldwebel was a marked map giving the location of an enemy position in the area of the foothills SW of Ksar-Tyr 7530, which was presented to Brigade HQ.

0800 B Coy moved forward from Goubellat. An account of their activities is attached.

0910  Enemy 10.5..Field Artillery  pinpointed by ‘J’ section, observed from C Coy as two guns firing from area Pt 263, 7419 shelling Goubellat positions for 20 mins causing no damage to positions but killing one Fusilier of the Carrier Platoon.

0950 Fire then lifted onto area of B Coy’s original position and by accurate observation fired on a platoon of A Coy as the move west along the road from crossroads 6722.

1030 During the remainder of the day, their fire also fell on B Coy 6 Innisks and was laid on B Coy less one platoon and later one platoon B Coy as recounted in the attached appendix.

During the course of the day, the Commanding Officer recced a new position for the Bttn to move to. The Second in Command gave a warning order to the remainder of the Bttn and all the Commanding Officers to return to the Bttn and all the troops are ready to move and guide parties waiting. The latter were taken out at once by the Adjutant to recce Coy areas by daylight. At the sunset, Bttn transport moved off by ones and two independently and the troops started to march to the new localities at dark.

1800 D Coy with under command two 2 pounder A/Tk guns covered the move of the Bttn while B Coy 6 Innisks maintained the ambushed laid by A Coy night 28/29 Dec up to 0300 hrs 30 Dec.

2200 The Bttn in position, as shown on attached trace in area Douar 6237 with HQ in the village.


30th December – DOUAR.

0645 B Coy 6 Innisks arrived in new area. No activity seen. Two enemy recce aircraft at 1000 feet directly over Bttn HQ, but all signs of occupation had been connected.

1130 Enemy guns believed located as before shelled the Goubellat to Medjez-el-Bab road opposite Bttn HQ.

1200 Bttn HQ moved into a hollow ½ mile west along the track from Douar.

1800 B Coy 6 Innisks ceased to be under command and rejoined their battalion.


30th/31st December

An account of the patrol account of this night is contained in the attached appendix.


31st December – DOUAR.

1300-1700 Carrier Platoon less two sections with under command one detachment 3” mortars and one platoon D Coy and in support one Troop 152 Field Regiment searched road and adjacent farms from Crossroads 6324 to Rd junction 6222 to farms 634221 without finding enemy. The French told them that the enemy had visited her farm 624221 on the night 30/31 Dec enquiring whether there were any British troops in the locality. From there the Carriers struck north via the Wabi Tabia 6223 to the road on which they had started. On reaching the road, they harboured in the Wadi for a short time as they were being shelled. While they were there, a message was received by DR from the second in command, who was leading the battle from Ragouret Lalla Manna 6425, that the enemy were framed by shell fire in the area of the cemetery 652225. It was however impossible for the force to seek out and destroy these enemy as it was already 1715 hrs and time was strictly limited. On section of the Carrier Platoon searched the village of Goubellat, but saw no signs of enemy activity, but there was a derelict civilian car stretched across the main East – West road. The second in command from his OP mentioned above observed considerable enemy activity. Two enemy Platoons were seen moving towards the village from the east. They were shelled by our observed Artillery fire and dispersed, some into the farms south of the Rd in the area 6822 and the rest in the cemetery. Heavy casualties were inflicted on them by our Artillery fire. About three vehicles including what was probably an armed column entered Goubellat during the morning and withdrew at great speed during the afternoon. One M/C combination and several DRs entered it from the east and left it going east. All these targets were heavily shelled and at least one M/C was destroyed.

2000 Patrols were sent out from B Coy with a fighting role to areas north of Goubellat. They encountered no sign of enemy activity.