1 RIrF – July 1943

1st July – HAMMAMET.

Bttn exercise. Object to practise Bttn in daylight attack. Enemy supplied by R Company.

1800 Discussion for all officers and NCOs down to the rank of platoon sergeant on Bttn exercise.

2nd July – HAMMAMET.

A quiet day. Nothing to report.

Lieut JA Smith rejoined the Battalion.

1800 Lecture by Major HGC Garratt on combined operations.

3rd July – HAMMAMET.

A quiet day. Nothing outstanding to report.

Night Brigade night exercise.

4th July – HAMMAMET.

A quiet day.

5th July – HAMMAMET.

Designated a holiday by the Divisional Commander.

1700 Brigade wireless exercise.

6th July – HAMMAMET.

0900 Conference for all Coy Commanders and specialist officers on Brigade night exercises. A quiet day.

Night – Divisional endurance test begins. Bttn marched twenty three miles to lying up area.

7th July – HAMMAMET.

Spent the day lying up. The Bttn was not required in the Brigade attack and made all possible use of a rest.

Night –Bttn start to march back. First eleven miles across country through the mountains. A total of 26 miles.

8th July – HAMMAMET.

0700 Bttn arrived back at camp having marched 56 miles in a period of thirty six hours.

Day spent bathing and resting.

Orders for move to Sousse area in Appendices.

9th July – HAMMAMET.

A quiet day spent preparing to move to Sousse.

10th July – IN TRANSIT.

Bttn move to Sousse, and as part of the 78th Division go into reserve to the 8th Army, who had invaded Sicily last night.

Captain J Ray MC admitted to hospital.

11th July – SOUSSE.

A quiet day spent settling into new area. Nothing to report.

12th July – SOUSSE.

Companies started training. Field range firing was allotted.

13th July – SOUSSE.

Two ENSA concerts were held at Sousse. Bttn had a certain amount of seats allotted to it.

1700 Instruction in wireless for all officers under the signals officer Captain Brown. T/Major H Rogers posted to 2 LIR.

Warning order for conversion of Algerian money.

14th July – SOUSSE.

Captain RCP Jefferies is admitted to hospital, and Captain BDJ Clark takes over the duties of adjutant.

15th July – SOUSSE.

Lieut RH Richardson posted to 6 Innisks.

A quiet day. Nothing to report.

2130 Demonstrations for Company Commander on keeping direction by night with the assistance of artillery.

16th July – SOUSSE.

A quiet day with nothing to report.

1900 Lecture to the whole Bttn on the campaign in Sicily.

2000 Bttn concert was held for the troops using purely local talent from the Bttn.

17th July – SOUSSE.

Another quiet day. Training carried out as per programme.

2000 A repetition of last night’s concert was held.

18th July – SOUSSE.

A quiet day. Bttn receive orders to move to a new area nearer the sea.

1300 Bttn set out on foot for new area, about four miles south of Sousse on the coast road.

19th July – SOUSSE.

Day spent settling into new area. Bathing parties organised.

20th July – SOUSSE.

A quiet day.

1900 Football match v 2 LIR, which we lost 4-1. Concert held by 152 Field Ambulance.

CO went on recce for forthcoming exercise.

21st July – SOUSSE.

Nothing outstanding to report. Training continued at Company Commander’s discretion.

1800 Discussion on ‘spit and polish’.

1900 Concert given by the Irish Brigade. Arranged by Lieut B St G Power. A very good show, organised entirely from local talent in the Brigade. Orders for Bttn exercise.

22nd July – SOUSSE.

Warning order to be ready to move cancelled the Bttn exercise. A modified exercise consisting of a 20 mile night march was held instead. Orders for this march, Appendix H, to standing orders.

23rd July – SOUSSE.

Warning order that marching details must be prepared to move at 0700 24/7.

All transport packed and ready to move by 0800 24/7.

Lieut Coats in order of priority.

Lieut A Smyth rejoined the Bttn.

24th July – SOUSSE.

Bttn still in the same area. No move yesterday as ships were not ready. Standing by to move today. A few minor difficulties experienced with the serials, but otherwise, all preparations going well.

25th July – SOUSSE.

Still no move. Bttn spent a quiet day in the same area.

26th July – SOUSSE.

0000 Transport serials left camp to embark on LST.

0400 Transport loaded with no mishaps.The ship was found to be fairly uncomfortable – each man had a bed below decks, and there was ample room for walking about on deck, despite the vehicles.

Marching serials went aboard LCIs during the evening. The allotment of ships for the Bttn was one LST and four LCIs.

Convoy sailed.

27th July – AT SEA.

A somewhat unpleasant day, owing to a very heavy sea. The ships, being flat bottomed, rolled excessively, and a large proportion of the troops, especially those in LCIs, were seasick.

28th July – SICILY.

0830 Convoy beached about twelve miles south of Syracuse. Bttns marched about five miles along an extremely dusty road to 78th Division assembly area. CO went straight on forward to meet Brigadier at Mineo.

1430 Bttn’s MT moved.

1600 Marching personnel left assembly area in 3 tonners.

29th July – SICILY.

0030 Bttn MT arrived in new area 5172.

0300 Marching personnel arrived in transport.

The roads on the way up were extremely bad, and several breakdowns and accidents occurred. One three tonner containing a platoon of B Coy mortared with the result that one officer and nine men were admitted to hospital and several others sustained minor injuries. Lieut LG Dunn admitted to hospital.

Bttn spent a quiet day reorganising in new area. Extensive recces were made for the forthcoming operation, which was to take Centuripe and the high ground round it.

30th July – SICILY.

0800 CO’s orders for the attack.

Brigade operational order.

2030 Bttn moved to a new Brigade assembly area.

2200 Bttn arrived in new area 515791.

31st July – SICILY.

A quiet day. Some doubt arose as to whether the attack was to take place.

1900 Bttn moved up again to area 5583.

On this night, 36 Brigade attacked Centuripe unsuccessfully.