1 RIrF – January 1943

1st January – DOUAR.

It was decided to withdraw C Coy from the exposed forward position it had occupied on Ragoubet Lalla Hanna 6525 since 25 Dec’42 and replace them with B Coy.

1615 B Coy moved over to the hill to take over.

1900 B Coy assumes responsibility for defence of position.

2200 Contact made B Coy with standing patrol of 2/18 Infantry Bttn (US Army).

Night 1st / 2nd January – DOUAR.

A detailed account of the events of night given in Appendix.

2nd January – DOUAR.

B Coy commenced wiring their new position C Squadron 6 Lothians attached.

Night 2nd / 3rd January – DOUAR.

A detailed account of the events of night given in Appendix.

3rd January – DOUAR.

A detailed account of the events of patrols given in Appendix.

4th January – DOUAR.

A, C and D Companies commenced wiring their positions.

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.

5th January – DOUAR.

1630 The French civilian referred to in Appendix F attached rode into B Coy lines and was interrogated by Lieut Gallagher. His story is to be found in the Appendix.

Night 5th / 6th January – DOUAR.

A detailed account of the events of night given in Appendix.

0030 Lt CF Sutcliffe killed in an accident during the conduct of a relief at D Coy.

0152 359 Battery RA ceases to be in support. D Battery 12 RHA in support.

6th January – DOUAR.

Minimal activity. Two patrols, Flock and Squib, as documented in Appendix, laying ambushes forward of Bttn positions.

1405 B Company reported enemy in the Nullah area Melah 6821. Artillery of D Battery 12 RHA and 5 & 32 Field Artillery Bttns, American forces engaged and scored hits on the target. No subsequent enemy movement was observed and from report contained in Appendix, it is believed that none were there by the time the Artillery engaged them.

6th/7th January – DOUAR.

The events of this night are recorded in detail in the Appendix.

7th January – DOUAR.

1530 B Coy, less 1 platoon, with under command one section of Carriers carried out a day light search of Arab dwellings NE and SE of Sidi Bou Dib 6725 within 1000 yards radius of it in which the French civilian referred to in Appendix stated there were enemy OPs in support D Battery 12 RHA.

1705 Search completed. B Coy prepared to return to position. An Arab then appeared at Sidi Bou Dib carrying a basket. The I.O. who had been with OC B Coy for the search questioned and searched him and found him to be carrying pinned to the hem of his Bournese six sheets, closely written on both sides, two of which were in cipher, containing military information. At first it was suspected that he was an enemy spy, but the I.O. looking through the papers observed that the information contained therein concerned the German forces in Tunisia exclusively. The Arab, further questioned stated that he was a naturalised Frenchman, a Corporal in the French Army, working in the guise of an Arab under the French Colonel Lecourtier. His duty was to pass to and from Tunis bringing information collated by the French Intelligence there to his Colonel. The I.O. being satisfied with his story took him in a vehicle to Brigade HQ where he was recognised by the French L.O. attached to it as one of his own men and passed back immediately to his own Colonel through the normal channels. The reports he brought proved to be of immense value.

7th / 8th January – DOUAR.

Details of the activities of the night 7/8 Jan are contained in the appendix. Patrols Whisky and Bone consisting of one officer and one platoon at dawn searched wadis leading south from tracks 629241 and 623230. Their report was also negative.

8th/9th January – DOUAR.

A detailed account of the activities of this night are given in the Appendix.

9th January – DOUAR.

Normal activities and improvement of defence position by further digging, wiring and local minefields continued.

0400 The first party of reinforcements arrived at Bttn HQ, comprising Lieut J Ray, Lieut MW Sutcliffe and 2/Lieut CLT Tomkins and 81 ORs. A detailed account of this night is contained in the Appendix. Patrol Killaloe comprised Lieut KM Hunting and 1 OR to find isolated position on route used by enemy in Area 7323 with a view to attack later. This patrol, including Lieut KM Hunting, posted as missing wef 11 Jan.

10th January – DOUAR.

0900 20 men and 8 vehicles of the enemy were observed by B Coy at 670217. He shelled them with his support artillery and they went to ground.

1400 The enemy had been making use of the low cloud and mist for considerable movement of single vehicles. B Coy observed two in the area of farm 690211 and shelled them. They took shelter in the farm where he pinned them by shellfire, keeping them under observation. No further movement was seen before nightfall.

10th /11th January – DOUAR.

Details of the activities of this night are given in the Appendix.

11th January – DOUAR.

0500 B, C and A Coys reported tanks moving south from the area Goubellat and 2/18 Bttn Infantry reported a smoke screen in that area. An L.O. sent from brigade informed CO that am 10 Jan enemy estimated 2 Coys in strength had reached area main road 6507, first seizing 10 Rifle Brigade OP in area 6808. Two companies 10 RB, supported by ½ squadron of 17/21 Lancers, attacked north and seized high ground astride Rd 6508. At 0300 hrs, 6 Innisks moved via El Aroussa and Bou Arada to take over this farm from 10 RB coming under command 26 Armoured Brigade.

0615 At first light, one squadron of 2 Lothians moved south to cover the occupation of this position. They were shelled by the enemy and deploying off the road, 8 became “bogged”.

1000 They were then attacked with HE and A/Tk fire and… which set one on fire and rendered the others not worth recovering.

1400 G & H Coys 2 LIR observed advance across the Plaine De Goubellat eastward to destroy the enemy who were harassing the tanks. They appeared to be making good progress in the face of..and MG fire.

1700 1 RIrF ordered to cooperate with 2 LIR in forming a bridgehead in the Plaine De Goubellat east of the road Medjez-el-Bab to Bou Arada behind which sec vehicles would come up under cover of darkness and save the tanks that were still worth recovering. A Coy with under command one platoon D Coy were ordered to hold the road..on the approaches to Goubellat. This was just being put into effect when H Coy reported that it was unable to take its second objective, although G Coy had taken over from them at the front. This made it impossible for the recovery project to be carried out. The orders were cancelled, but in case an alternative plan necessitating moves by 1 RIrF during the night should arise, all patrol activity was also cancelled. Capt HFW Holmes left to take up staff appointment.

2300 Adjutant summoned to Brigade to receive orders for 12 Jan from Brigadier on his return from Divisional HQ.

12th January – DOUAR

0730 Adjutant returned bringing the information that 6 Innisks had successfully occupied the position and that two Coys 1 RIrF were to be at 2 hrs notice from 1700hrs to move south to take the hill feature 680090 (Two Tree Hill) concentrating first in area El Aroussa and that recce parties should be sent south immediately to a) concentration area for i) Two Coys, ii) the attack on Two Tree Hill.

1100 The CO, OC C Coy and..NCO of Carrier platoon moved off as a recce party.

1200 The recce party called at Brigade HQ, where it was decided to call OC D Coy up to make the recce of the attack with OC C Coy in day light.

1315 OC D Coy joined the party, OC C Coy and NCO of Carrier Platoon had already left to recce concentration areas in El Aroussa.

1445 The entire recce party arrived at 6 Innisks where CO 1 RIrF received orders from Commander 26 Armoured Brigade under whose command D and C Coys were to be. The.. had been changed. Two Coys 1 RIrF  as soon as possible after were to take over 6 Innisks positions and 6 Innisks were too attack Two Tree Hill at dawn 13 Jan. CO 1 RIrF accordingly arranged that D Coy under command C Coy should have also under command two MMG detachments, three detachments 3” mortars and two sections Carriers. He then tied up with CO 6 Innisks the handover and leaving C and D Coys to recce their area as laid in his orders, returned to HQ 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade. D Coy was to take up position area 652078 and C Coy 645080. On re-arrival at Brigade HQ he a) instructed 2.i.c.1 RIrF to move the two Coys as soon as ready b) told him that there would be no concentrating at El Aroussa but that the force would move direct to Bou Arada, where OC C Coy would meet them and guide them to their positions and c) tied up the admin with the Staff Captain now that force was to be under command 26 Armoured Brigade.

1920 The force left Bttn area for Bou Arada.

Capt RM Cunningham posted to D Coy as 2.i.c. Capt JMO Barstow arrived and was posted to command HQ Coy.

12th /13th January – DOUAR.

Patrol Boot of 1 NCO and 15 Fusiliers laid an ambush in the eastern approaches of Goubellet. Returned at 0600hrs with nothing to report.

Patrol Galter of 1 Officer and 15 Fusiliers laid an ambush at 679252. Returned at 0620hrs 13 Jan with nothing to report.

13th January – DOUAR.

During the day, normal activity carried on by the battalion less two Coys. B Coy observed and shelled enemy troops and vehicles 702216.

CO & Adjutant went to Brigade HQ where the Brigade Commander on his return from Division gave orders to the effect that 6 Innisks having failed to capture Two Tree Hill, the remainder of 1 RIrF was to move into concentration night 14 Jan ’43 at El Aroussa thence to area of C & D Coys positions night 15 Jan ’43.

13th/14th January – DOUAR.

Patrols were sent out to lie up in the areas track junction 635247, rd and track junction 638255 and Dar Hadj El Manech 6623, and one to move between the first two. Negative reports given by all.

14th January – DOUAR.

0030 CO & Adjutant returned.

0730 Preparations, including warning order, were made for the move of Bttn.

0830 Commander, 1/18 Bttn Infantry US Army came to Bttn HQ and with CO 1 RIrF arranged for this Btn to take over from 1 RIrF position during 14 Jan ’43 in time to allow 1 RIrF to move out at dusk.

0900 The CO moved off to recce the ground in area Two Tree Hill and observe the progress of the battle. With him, CO HQ Coy to recce HQ concentration area at El Aroussa.

0930 O Group conference with the American Bttn taking over to settle the final arrangements for the handover and the move.

The morning spent packing up.

1300 Bttn guide parties left for El Aroussa where they were to be met by OC HQ Coy.

1800 Troops of 1/18 Bttn Infantry US Army arrived to take over the Bttn position.

2100 Tail of Bttn Column reported clear of old position.

15th January – EL AROUSSA.

0300 Tail of Bttn column arrived in new position.

0930 Bttn O Group conference near which the arrangements for a move that same night into a position in Bou Arada were discussion and a description of the attack on Two Tree Hill by 6 Innisks was given.

1010 Bttn O Group and guide parties moved forward to recce Bttn position in area Bou Arada where, the O Group having completed their recce and returned to El Aroussa, the guide parties returned to await the arrival of the Bttn.

1845 Bttn Column passed SP (El Aroussa).

2000 Bttn debussed in Bou Arada, the transport driving on up to the position and the troops marching. The transport and the marching troops were met at the road junction 647076 by guides who led them into position.

16th January – HILL 329 (Squares 6308 and 6408).

0200 The majority of the transport having been offloaded returned to a rear harbour. The Bttn, incl C & D Coys, whose former position when under command 26 Armoured Brigade had been taken over by 6 Innisks earlier in the night being completely installed as shown on attached trace.

0930 CO left for Brigade O Group.

1300 CO returned and called a Bttn O Group conference at which a night attack on Two Tree Hill was discussed.  The basis of the CO’s appreciation was the problem of a) keeping direction onto the objective at night b) putting such few decisions as can be made at night into effect. A plan was mooted by which D Coy should get onto the objective, in the guise of three strong fighting patrols and that when they signalled their success the remainder of the battalion should follow up and occupy that feature, also ONE TREE HILL (688088) and Three Tree Hill (688096). Many difficulties were foreseen and plans to overcome these were discussed in detail. As a result of this, OC D Coy decided to take his 2.i.c. and go that night to Two Tree Hill and recce a) their best line of advance b) a suitable start line. The I.O. was also to go out and discover a forward concentration area for the remainder of the Bttn to await D Coy’s success signal.

1800 Lieut PG Black and Lieut RV Dudley-Clarke reported and were posted to A and D Coys respectively. Capt JMO Barstow was posted to be 2.i.c. A Coy and Capt RM Cunningham reported to command HQ Coy. Capt CPJD O’Farrell left to take up the appointment of Staff Captain 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade and Lieut DN Jefferies assumed the appointment of 2.i.c. D Coy. Lieut RCP Jefferies promoted Captain and appointed Adjutant.

2050 OC and 2.i.c. D Coy started out on their patrol.

2110 I.O. started on his patrol.

17th January – HILL 329.

0040 OC and 2.i.c. D Coy returned.

0130 I.O. returned. The combination of these reports was as follows : a) D Coy’s patrol having gone to a point 100 yards south of buildings 683087 found that Two Tree Hill was impossible of identification from the southern approach unless Argoub El Mehalla 6707 was climbed : that the southern approach demanded the traversing of the deep gully 680088 which would almost certainly contain MG fired lines and that the southern shoulder was difficult of recognition b) I.O. went to One Tree Hill into the gully 680888, where he found the Germans digging positions, and back over One Tree Hill into Excavation Bowl 675091 where he lay and observed more digging at the northern end of the aforementioned gully. He reported that One Tree Hill was not, as was previously believed, held by the enemy: that from Excavation Bowl, Two Tree Hill is unmistakable and that the approach from this angle was a) simple and b) defiladed from MG fire

0900 Capt DJL Gray, an officer 1DY came, whose OP Two Tree Hill had been prior to its seizure by the enemy. His intimate knowledge of the locality in daylight supplemented and confirmed the reports of the aforementioned night recces, further stating that one could approach from Excavation Bowl to within 40 ft of the summit of Two Tree Hill. He also produced a mud model of the area which made the ground less confusing. As a result of information gained from these three sources the CO decided that a simple plan of attacking straight up Excavation Bowl with two Coys forward and seizing One Tree Hill, Two Tree Hill, Three Tree Hill and Greenpoint 669091, holding each with one Coy, the holding dependent on a) Brer Rabbit 665095 and Ploughtop 673086 being held by other units b) Henhouse 698095 being cleared and secured by other units, Artillery FOOs being established on Two Tree Hill at first light. Accordingly he asked Commander 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade to reconsider the plan from this angle.

1515 A conference held at HQ 1 RIrF of Commander 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade, 26 Armoured Brigade, 6 Innisks, 12 RHA, and CRA 6 Armoured Division. CO 1 RIrF’s plan approved so far as it affected the Bttn, the remainder to be under consideration with Divisional Commander, the whole attack to take place night 18/19 Jan.      

1800 OC A Coy went out on patrol to Greenpoint to recce his approach to Three Tree Hill. This recce was successful and without event.

The rest of the night was spent in tying up the final arrangements for the night attack the following night, on which there was to a Bttn O Group conference 18 Jan.

18th January – HILL 329.

0710 An enemy attack was launched on 6 Innisks position on Grandstand squares 6507 – 6508 by infantry advance from the south and north flanks supported by heavy mortar, artillery and MG fire. To give 6 Innisks a backstop and release one Coy for a counterattack role D Coy 1 RIrF took up position on spur 6460.

0830 Tanks first seen in the plain NE of Bou Arada. They numbered 24 and during the day penetrated to a point about 1500 yards SW of Bou Arada. They were turned back before noon, at last eight casualties being inflicted on them. They did not affect the battle in the Bttn area.

1135 Four bursts of MG fire were heard from area 626086. At the same time an artillery OP, having observation over that area, reported a patrol of some sort operating in that area. The CO decided to send one platoon B Coy with under command 1 section Carriers to clear the area of enemy. The enemy however appeared to have been at least one Platoon in strength with several light and heavy MGs. So that as this platoon moved over the skyline was met with heavy fire and driven to ground. Lieut PJ Bryan commanding the platoon finding himself thus surprised and being himself wounded ordered the platoon to withdraw as best possible.

1425 On his platoon’s return, Carrier Platoon in to 2 LIR was put under command and were to RV at once at farm 625078, and another platoon was prepared to move up.

1330 Meanwhile 14 enemy had been observed on Hill at 637089. An OP of two fusiliers of Bttn I Section there was taken prisoner. One later escaped and reported that these troops had been paratroopers.

1620 Commander Carrier Platoon made a recce of the area to be attacked and reported that the enemy’s strength was not more than a Platoon but that it was scattered and dug in on numerous isolated positions and infantry were essential to clear the area, it not being Carrier country. The 3” mortars particularly had had good effect.

1650 CO 1 RIrF on this report decided not to wait for Carrier Platoon 2 LIR and the attack went in with another Platoon B Coy strengthened by one Platoon C Coy.

1810 It seemed quite definite that the enemy, their position having been discovered, were withdrawing with heavy casualties. Defence returned.

1930 A Coy 1 RIrF, which had been loaned to 6 Innisks for use in the event of a counter sweep, returning from making a sweep up to Wog Village 661084 where they had inflicted heavy damage on the enemy and cleaned him out. Some casualties were suffered by this Coy including the death of Major PC Murphy MC and the wounding of Lieut PJ Slattery. Captain JMO Barstow was also reported killed but the following day was found only to have been wounded. In the words of the CO 6 Innisks: “They did very well.”

2000 OC 1 RIrF heard the report of the force sent to clear area 625086, who stated that the enemy had not been more than 60 in number or with MGs, light and heavy mortars. He planned therefore the next day to put a platoon up there to clean up any remnants and prevent any re-entry into the area by the enemy. The attack on Two Tree Hill was cancelled.

19th January – HILL 329.

0715 152 (Artillery) Field Regiment opened up concentrations on Hill features 629086, 625083, and 637089 for five minutes preparatory to a move forward by one Platoon B Coy, who with the assistance of two detachments 3” mortars was to seize the first two features and the saddle between them and destroy any further attempts by the enemy at infiltration behind them. On arrive there, they saw no sign of enemy so they shelled known and likely positions by means of the FOO attached and mortared them. Still no movement was seen so they moved down well covered by their own and support weapons and searched the area. From the traces etc found it was clear that a party of paratroopers about 30 strong had been in heavily concealed ambush for several days, their equipment including mines. They had left in a hurry, as a great quantity of stores and weapons was left behind, and from the amount of blood left on the ground it was definite that their casualties had been heavy and serious.  This force was withdrawn at dusk.

1500 Two stretcher bearers of A Coy reported back to the Bttn. They had been missing the night before after A Coy’s battle, but had returned early in the morning and had requested permission to go and recover the bodies of Major PC Murphy MC and Captain JMD Barstow from the battlefield. This was granted, the condition being that they should not go unless 6 Innisks, through whose lines they would be passing, would give them total protection. 6 Innisks were unable to give this having big commitments of their own but the stretcher bearers pushed on alone. They returned later not having found the bodies and, believing that it was because they were unable to penetrate deep enough without escort, they requested an escort from 6 Innisks a second time for  a protective body. This again being unavailable they set out once more and went forward until they could actually see enemy troops head and shoulder above their slit trenches watching the before starting to search for the bodies. These Germans did not fire at them so long as they were carrying stretchers, but opened them up whenever they put them down. They failed to find Major PC Murphy MC despite thorough search, but they found Captain JMO Barstow still alive and apparently quite comfortable sunning himself on a rock, having moved, by himself, about a mile from where he fell. He was dazed and slightly delirious, and his eyes bunged with the dirt into which he had fallen, but refused to travel on the stretcher and walked some of the way back to the lines with the stretcher bearers.

Capt JW Dunnill promoted A/Major, Lieut PJ Brady and Lieut RLG Wood A/Capt, and Lieut DN Jefferies A/Capt pending re-grant of temporary rank. Capt DR Le P Gethin arrived commander C Coy, Capt DN Jefferies of A Coy, Lieut PG Black appointed 2.i.c. A Coy, Capt PJ Brady 2.i.c. B Coy, and Lieut MJ Macdonald 2.i.c.D Coy.

20th January – HILL 329.

0330 2 LIR moved forward with string artillery support to seize features for 279 (6507), and 286 (6606). As the battle progressed and as day broke, they were met with very heavy enemy shellfire and found difficulty in seizing the second objective.

0930 As a result, Commander 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade considered that in the event of enemy counter attack breaking though the already harassed 2 LIR, dispositions should be made to meet such a threat. Accordingly, B Coy 1 RIrF moved its positions to hill feature 641065 and one platoon D Coy occupied area farm 642077 and communication was established with them by No 18 set.

0940 12 Junkers 87 B with fighter escort flies from south to north and dropped 4 “sticks” of bombs stride the Bttn area, on stick straddling Bttn HQ and bursting around it. No casualties were suffered.

The Bttn passed the day in a state of readiness to assist 2 LIR should any threat develop, but beyond shelling of the Bttn area, the Bttn did not become further involved.  Carrier Platoon took over B Coy’s .. position during their absence as seconded above.

2015 Capt PJ Brady, leaving Bttn HQ after dark, fell into a slit trench, broke his leg and was admitted to hospital. A conference was held at HQ 1 RIrF by Commander 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade of OCs of 1 RIrF, 6 Innisks, 12 RHA, and 152 (Artillery) Field Regiment RA, with their staffs and a representative 2 LIR. The plan in had was for 3 grenadier Guards that night to come north across the plains from the road Bou Arada – Pont Du Fahs and seize Kaudiat Sidi Barka 6706 to give security to 2 LIR in their very confused positions on Pt 286 (6606), and Pt 279 (6506). 1 RIrF’s front in the battle was to create a strong diversion at about midnight 20/21 Jan on Ber Rebal 6609 which 3 Grenadiers attacked. While the conference was in progress, Commander 6 Armoured Division decided, from a study of the wireless traffic during the preparatory stages of the attack, that the enemy would be fully warned and that the position could only be seized with heavy cost, and cancelled the action. 1 RIrF’s diversion was also immediately cancelled.

21st January – HILL 329.

0120 OC B Coy reported that personnel of 2 LIR were coming back into his position on feature 641066 and asked if any withdrawal had been ordered. HQ 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade was consulted and OC B Coy informed that there was no official withdrawal taking place. It was next reported that enemy tanks were on the road area Pt 229 6405. They could be seen firing of tracer from their MGs southward towards Bou Arada. No information was received from 2 LIR and for a long time, the situation remained obscure. All that was known was that tanks with infantry were attacking the Brigade locality from the south flank. It later became clear that these tanks and infantry had overcome 2 LIR positions on Pt 286 and Pt 279 and that 2 LIR had become disorganised and had withdrawn. Squadron 17/21 Lancers and Squadron 16/5 Lancers went in pursuit of the tanks and they turned north towards the positions of 6 Innisks on Grandstand Hill 653078, where they were found by A/Tk and small arms fire and turned NE, Field artillery then opened fire on them and they broke formation and withdrew east. Meanwhile, although 2 LIR had lost their hold on the positions east of road Goubellat – Bou Arada, but no penetration was made by the enemy over this road after the tanks were beaten back. B Coy 1 RIrF, although a good deal of the enemy fire was passing over its positions, did not become involved in the battle proper and the remainder of the Bttn, although 100% stand to was ordered, held only  a watching brief.

0800 B Coy reported as soon as it was light enough to be certain that the enemy was not in occupation of Pt 279. As it seemed possible that this fracas was only the prelude to a further and stronger attack, a general tension was added to the company on (top) of normal routine during the day.

1647 A further attack on the Bttn area was made by 12 JU 87B, one bob falling 10ft from Bttn HQ and damaging the rear .. carriers but causing no casualties. As a result of this and shelling of the HQ during the previous four days, it was clear that the enemy had its location clearly determined. It was therefore decided to move and the CO, 2.i.c. and I.O. left to make a recce of a new HQ.

Dusk C Coy moved its position tom cover the gap on the northern approach area 625079.

2000 D Coy returned from its position at 645080, where it had been in counter attack reserve for 6 Innisks to C Coy’s former position.

B Coy returned from the hill feature 641066 to its own former position.

22nd January – HILL 329.

0315 Bttn HQ and HQ Coy moved to wadi at 637077, these moves being a return to normal after the battles with an additional disposition (C Coy) to cover a threat which had only shown its possibilities during the early part of the engagement.

Two patrols were sent out, one to search farm 633105 and main road at junction 645108, destroying and enemy found, and the other to search farm 617111 and wadis running east and west 400 yards each side of it. Both were to fire 6 green Verey lights if any tanks of AFVs were heard approaching, and 6 red if any infantry. Both returned with nothing to report.

0800 Commander 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade had decided that 6 Innisks had had a long spell on Grandstand Hill and should be relieved by 1 RIrF that night. Accordingly CO & 2.i.c. went over to HQ 6 Innisks to recce the new area and arrange the move.

0930 When they had made the general plan, they were joined by the Coy Commanders and the relief was discussed in detail. While this was happening shelling of the area started and the party got into slit trenches. 1 shell landed on that occupied by Major JM Dunnill. He was unhurt but acutely affected by the blast and evacuated.

1800 The move started with D Coy taking over positions of D Coy 6 Innisks the remainder taking over in turn. C Coy last of all.

23rd January – GRANDSTAND HILL.

An account of the activities of the night is given in the Appendix.

0200 The Bttn was reported completely installed in new area and disposition as shown in the Appendix. The only interference or threat of it being the sound of a tracked vehicle manoeuvring about 2 miles to the east of Grandstand Hill.

The daylight hours were spent in tidying up the takeover by daylight. The position was…shelled but no damage to personnel caused.

24th January – GRANDSTAND HILL.

A detailed account of the events of the night is given in the Appendix.

The general policy of the Bttn Command was that all personnel should rest as much as possible by day with “observed sentries” covering the front with observation, and men resting at or near their posts otherwise. For this reason the majority of the Bttn’s activity on Grandstand was night activity. Sporadic shelling being usually the only noteworthy event during the day. This, however, was frequent, although it did little damage and every occurrence of it is not noted in detail.

25th January – GRANDSTAND HILL.

The events of the night are given in the fullest detail in the Appendix.

Activity normal. Nothing to report.

26th January – GRANDSTAND HILL.

A fully detailed account of the happenings of the night are given in the Appendix.

Activity normal – nothing to report.

1100 CO & I.O. attended conference at which patrol policy and the formation of a Brigade School for specialists was discussed. The former was to have as its keynote the discovery of the a) whereabouts b) intention of the German Army, there being at present obscure. The latter was to supply an increase need for Carrier, Mortar, A/Tk etc personnel which was not being met by reinforcements.


An account of the happenings of the night is given in the Appendix.

1130/1150/1230 At each of these times careless movement by R and O Groups of other units into and out of the Command Post OP resulted in a quick concentration of circa 20 heavy mortar shells on Bttn HQ. There were no serious casualties.

28th January – GRANDSTAND HILL.

Details of the happenings and activities of the night are given in the Appendix.

General – Activity normal. Nothing to report.

1700 CO attended conference at HQ 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade at which it having been given out by Brigade Commander 27 Jan ’43, that 3 Grenadier Guards were leaving the Brigade front on relief by 8 Argylls night 28/29 Jan. The new problems arising from the departure of 3 Grenadier Guards with no relief was discussed. In so far as attached 1 RIrF it was decided that D Coy should be relieved in its position by D Coy 6 Innisks at dusk that evening and take over 3 Coy Grenadier Guards position on Pt 279 6506. Immediately afterwards, while 1 Platoon B Coy.. out its return to cover the gap of 1000 yards between Grandstand and Pt 279, one battalion paratroopers was to take over defence of the western flank of the Brigade, approximate area of 4 track point 6209 the following night.

29th January – GRANDSTAND HILL.

The events of the night are recorded in detail in the Appendix.

General – Activity Normal. Nothing to report.

1200 Another conference was held at HQ 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade at which it was decided that the dispositions of the Brigade as a result of changes the previous night were too “strung-out”. Accordingly it was decided that B Coy 6 Innisks should come under command 1 RIrF in their present positions area 638087, that D Coy 1 RIrF should return from Pt 279 to its former position, the result being that 1 RIrF would straddle the road Goubellat – Bou Arada at Grandstand with 5 coys, while 6 Innisks with 3 coys straddled the road south of that and 10 RB covered the northern approach to the Brigade’s rear.

30th January – GRANDSTAND HILL.  

Details of the events of the night are given in the Appendix.

No activity more than routine by daylight.

31st January – GRANSTAND HILL.

A record of the night’s events and activities is given in the Appendix.

1700 The Bttn now had a longer front to the north than to the east and 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade, leaving their HQ at 640076, it was decided to move Bttn HQ to this location. Recce parties left and laid out the new area and all arrangements were made accordingly for a move at dawn the next morning.

1800 Patrol Jane of 1 NCO and 4 men and Mary of 1 NCO and 1 section left road Goubellat – Bou Arada eastward, the former to lie up in area farms 699130 and 700147 and the other in area 5 track junction 6811. The former was found by B Coy 6 Innisks under command 1 RIrF.

1825 Farm 698130 reported to contain 40 enemy and shortly afterwards farm 693132 to contain two enemy Armoured Companies. Shell fire was brought down on this area.

2100 10 light shells (or mortar bombs) fell in Bttn area, two on Grandstand Hill and the remainder west of it. No damage was done.

2200 Patrols Anne and Betsy left, the former of 1 NCO and 2 men to recce area Cactus farm 685087 for an attack the following night, the latter to lie up area cross tracks 6708 to ambush the “night vehicle” and destroy it.