1 RIrF – November 1943

1st November.

1500 Battalion ordered to move.  Recce Party. 36 Brigade were to attack San Salvo tomorrow and the intention was for the Battalion to go to an assembly area tonight before taking up a position protecting the left flank of the attack.

2330 Battalion moved to its old position in 6677.

2nd November.

0900 Battalion recce party.

1600 O Group Orders for move to position astride road 6678 and 6677.  All Battalion transport to move first followed immediately by marching troops.  Order of march for both C, B, D, A, Bn HQ and S. Coy.

1720 Transport moved.

1745 Marching troops moved.

2015 Battalion HQ established 666785.

3rd November.

0515 Stand to.

1150 Bombing attack on Battalion area by FW 190s  Casualties 1 killed 6 wounded.

1530 Bombing attack.  No casualties.

2015 O Group Orders for move to San Salvo area to relieve BUFFS by first light on the 4th. Captain L Franklyn-Vaile rejoined Battalion.

4th November.

0200 The situation was very confused and the move was cancelled.

1130 B Coy went out as a fighting patrol under Captain JE McNally MC to Pt. 150 – 5979.  They captured 3 prisoners and an MG.  Own casualties from heavy mortaring 1 killed 15 injured all of whom were evacuated safely.

5th November.

0600 O Group Orders for move to San Salvo to take up a defensive position.  A and C Coys to guard road bridge – San Salvo from attack from the south.

0800 Battalion moved.

1300 Battalion in position HQ, B, S Coys in San Salvo.  A Coy Pt. 135 -5987.  C Coy Pt, 150 -5979.  D Coy 605830.

Captain JS Clarke rejoined battalion from hospital.

6th November.

Lt-Col. JW Dunnill DSO assumed command of the Battalion.

Battalion ordered to concentrate in area 5886

1700 Marching troops left San Salvo.

1815 Arrived in new area The transport arrived later having moved to a Brigade timetable

Major AW Gibbons ceased to be attached

7th November.

Battalion rested.

Major DEH Hayward MC D Coy posted to HQ Coy and assumed command.  Captain JE McNally MC C Coy posted to B Coy and assumed command.

Captain JS Clarke assumed command D Coy.  Captain NW Bass HQ Coy posted to C Coy and appointed 2.i.c.

Captain EL Gibson S Coy posted to A Coy.  Lt LW Fricke C Coy posted to D Coy.

Captain JS Clarke promoted A/Major wef 5 Nov 43

Captain JE McNally MC promoted A/Major wef 5 Nov43

Lt RG Wilkin promoted A/Captain wef 21 Oct 43

Lt DJ. Thomason promoted A/Captain wef 29 Oct 43

Lt GL Richards promoted A/Captain wef 5 Nov.43

Captain EL Gibbon relinquished temporary rank of Captain and reverted to W/S Lieut wef 7 Nov 43.

8th November.

Battalion ordered to move to area 5690.

1030 Battalion recce party

1310 Transport moved.

1400 Marching troops moved. Captain BDH Clarke rejoined.

9th November.

Battalion rested. Major HFM Holmes joined Battalion and was appointed 2.i.c. Captain Bass admitted to hospital.

10th November.

Battalion had short route march.

11th November.

Captain EE Rawlings posted to 152 Field Ambulance.

Captain WH Lang rejoined and appointed RMO.

12th November.

Training under coy arrangements including field firing.

13th November.

Training and field firing.

14th November.

Drill parade followed by church parades. After church parade, the CO addressed all ranks.

15th November.

A scheme designed to test the system of command and control in the field

In the evening a large draft arrived of 189 men.

The following officers also joined –  Lt JTG Day, Lt R Blythe.  The following rejoined from hospital Lt JB Cammiade MC, Lt .JD Broadbent.

16th November.

Training and checking kit etc of the draft.

Lt JB Cammiade MC was promoted A/Capt wef 15 Nov.

Captain DF Thomason posted to A Coy and appointed 2nd in Command.

Captain JB Cammiade MC posted to HQ and appointed IO.

Lt JD Broadbent posted to S Coy as mortar officer.

2/Lt RE Hogan MM S Coy is posted to D Coy.

Lt JTG Day posted to A Coy.

Lt R Blyth posted to C Coy.

17th November.

Coy training.

18th November.

Order for long awaited move. 2/Lt R Phillips MM sent forward to recce new assembly area 438997.

19th November.

1430 Battalion marching personnel moved off (embussed), arrived road junction 459942 at 1630 hrs.

1630 Thence by march route through Torino di Sangro to reverse slope of ridge dominating the R. Sangro. Heavy rain. No cover for men except for one blanket.

20th November.

0330 Mules arrived with rations.  Continuous rain all day causing an obvious postponement in the big plan.

1700 Consequently at 1700 hrs, the Battalion marched back to Torino where the 2.i.c. had obtained billets for the Battalion.  Four Rifle Coys were crowded perforce into a large school and chapel until adjustment the next day.  Battalion HQ near road bend 447983.

21st November.

More accommodation found for rifle coys.  Slight shelling area 446982.  Rain persistent.

22nd to 26th November

Approximately one week spent in Torino waiting for weather to clear up.  Projected attack impossible unless ground dried for tanks.  Alternative plan for attack without tanks unfavourable.  Occasional periods of sunshine with more frequent periods of rain.  CO & IO on several recces.  CO at several conferences at Brigade HQ for modification of plans.  Enemy activity negligible – some 105 mm shells dropped in town but majority failed to explode – possibly because they were fired “capped”.  Five FW 190s bombed bridges over the Sangro 433017.

Own artillery (8 Field Regiment & 5 Medium Regiment) consistently shelled Fossacesia 3904, San Maria 3601 & the ridge between them.  High proportion of airbursts could be observed from OP in house 446984.

DAF Bostons & Mitchells regularly bombed targets in Fossacesia, San Maria, & the ridge between them.  Lanciano 3202 bombed.  Warhawks & Kittihawks dive bombed same areas.

27th November.

1700 Battalion marched off to lying-up area west of the R. Sangro.  Weather which had been good for 48 hrs broke slightly with some “drizzle”.  No enemy shelling of bridge as Battalion crossed at 434018.

28th November.

0230 Arrived under escarpment 408022 approximately at 0230 hrs.  Barrage supporting the Indian Division’s attack on San Maria still at height.  Later learnt that attack had been halted at Mozzagrogna 3600.  Dug protective slit-trenches and awaited orders.   Area strewn with “S” mines, but no casualties.

1100 CO to Brigade at 1100 hrs for additional orders.  Coy jeeps arrived with petrol burners and coys obtained some hot tea.

29th November.

0330 Bn “stand to” owing to continuous Vickers MG fire on right flank.

0545 At 0545 hrs Bn formed up and moved to a position 1000ft behind 2 LIR.  The majority of the Battalion obtained cover in a long gulley.

0900 At approx. 0900 hrs two shells from an SP gun landed in the gully killing 19 incl. Lt A Mel Smyth and wounding twenty seven including the MO, Captain WL Lang.  At 1400 hrs the CO received orders to move up to R.L.Colli 3702, which 6 Innisks had captured after 5 hrs fighting.  Intention: to form a firm base on their right flank.

1630 At 1630 hrs the Battalion moved up and was dug-in by 1900 hrs

1900 Very little shelling interrupted the men who got a night’s rest.  Location 383022.

30th November.

At approx. 0915 hrs, 2 LIR attacked up the ridge to include Fossacesia 3904 and the CO received final orders.

0900 At 0900 hrs the Battalion formed up – in order A, D, Command Group, B, C Coys – Several salvos landed in the area from a 6-barrelled Nebelwerfer,  A Battalion runner spotted the flash of this weapon and Major Anderson, 26 Battery 17 Field Regiment was able to neutralize its fire.

1100 At 1100 hrs the Battalion moved up to the western outskirts of Fossacesia, which 2 LIR had captured with little opposition.

1400 At 1400 hrs A & D Coys moved off in support of 2 squadrons 46 RTR.

1445 At Z + 45 (1445 hrs), D Coy had captured the Battalion objective – Monastery 412058 – and were “mopping-up” the headland.  A Coy, in more thickly wooded country, made slower progress, but were soon on their objective Bluff 418055.  A & D Coys (Captain DFB  Jewell and Major JS Clarke) then consolidated and took stock of their booty, which included 12 MGs, a Commander’s car, one 81mm mortar and large stocks of Tellermines.  100 PW’s 145 GR were taken in this action.  B Coy (Major J McNally MC) moved up in reserve into a position on the high ground immediately north of the Monastery 407078.  A Coy were pulled in astride the road 408056.  C Coy (Major RLG Wood) remained in Fossacesia.  Casualties for the day’s action – 2 ORs wounded.

During the night 30 Nov/1 Dec, A Echelon moved up to Battalion with great coats and rations.