Irish Brigade

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

Faugh a Ballagh        Nec Aspera Terrent         Quis Separabit


1 RIrF – October 1943

1st October.

A quiet day spent settling into the new area.


2nd October.

Bttn 20 mile route march during which the Colonel received a warning order to move to Termoli. The end of the march was accomplished in a sharp downpour of rain.

0700 Advance party under command of Captain JK Brown left for Termoli.

1500 Transport under command of Captain EL Gibbon left for its journey by road to Termoli.

The night was uncomfortable a each had only his ground sheet and blanket to cover them from the rain.


3rd October.

1315 Bttn marched to factor area in Barletta. Night spent under cover.


4thOctober.

A quiet day in the same area. The men were allowed to go into town.

Major HEN Bredin MC joined the battalion as 2.i.c.

Captain DEH Hayward was promoted a/Major wef 22 Sept 1943.

Captain WG Dunn was promoted A/Major wef 23 Sept 1943.

Lieut L Franklyn-Vaile was promoted A/Captain wef 6 Sept 1943, and appointed 2.i.c B Coy.

Lieut MC Trousdell was promoted A/Captain wef 22 Sept 1943.

Captain RF Hodsall A Coy is posed to S Coy and assumed command.

Lieut LW Hutchison B Coy is posted to A Coy.

Lieut DE Thomason B Coy is posted to HQ Coy, and appointed IO vice Captain L Franklyn-Vaile.

2200 Transport arrives at Divisional Transport are 12 miles out of Termoli.


5th October.

0220 Support Coy leave Divisional Support Area for Termoli

0500 They arrive at Termoli.

0630 Support Coy went into action astride the coast road to Pescara with 5 MGs and worked with a mixed force of Commandos (SRs) and Recce troops under command of OC Recce Regiment.

0745 Bttn main party embarked at Barletta in their LCIs, Nos 291, 294 and 122 under command of Lt-Col BH Butler DSO, Major Proctor and Major Wood respectively. Brigadier Russell travelled on LCI 294.

0930 Ships leave harbour.

2010 LCIs reach Termoli harbour having had a smooth voyage. Enemy shells are landing in the town.

2040 LCI 294 starts unloading. The jetty only allowed one ship to unload at a time, which proved a serious disadvantage later on.

2100 S Coy, which unbeknown to the rest of the bttn had been heavily engaged during the day by German tanks and infantry now withdrew 3 MGs.

A liaison officer from SS Brigade had contacted the Brigadier (38 Brigade) and outlined the serious position to him and Brigadier Russell had gone off to Divisional HQ.

When the colonel landed at from LCI 297, he was put in the picture and immediately recced a concentration area.

2200 A, B and D Coys concentrated above the harbour in a narrow street. IO went to SS Brigade HQ. C Coy, which was on LCI 122, did not disembark until some hours later due to a lack of liaison with the convoy commander.

2330 CO was called to SS Brigade HQ, where he was told more details of the position.


6th October.

0115 The CO issued his orders.

0200 A, B, D and HQ Coys marched to the dispersal point.

0300 They were in position.

0315 C Coy disembark.

0515 C Coy in position in reserve.

The CO was advised that the Bttn would take part in an attack that day and was instructed to bring the Bttn up to a start line

0800 Bttn moved to start lines. CO goes for orders.

0815 Bttn issues his orders.

1130 Bttn advances to the attack. The opposition being very thin on the ground, the chief danger was from desultory mortar and artillery fire with the occasional machine gunner firing on fixed lines. The various farm buildings on the way were cleared.

1250 The first objective was reached with A Coy leading HQ Command, C Coy. B and D Coys had six MMGs left and were out of touch. They did not reorganise on the first objective but pressed on. Their left hand platoons, being able to do so, assisted the right flank of the 6 Innisks by fire. A and C reorganised and received or the next advance.

Orders: advance to continue parallel with and on south side of Guglionisi road, then to run left handed onto the final objective. Order of march: A Coy, HQ Command, C Coy. Tanks to follow A Coy. Intermediate farms to be cleared as before.

1310 Advance continues.

A number of casualties were incurred by… and accurate mortar fire, which had increased in intensity.

1515 Main objectives reached.

Coys consolidated astride road facing south west. Ammunition had run short and carriers were used to replace it.

1645 Bttn was attacked in mistake by cannon firing Spitfires and Hurribombers. Attacks lasted for ¾ hour but there were no casualties.

A quiet night.


7th October.

0500 Stand to for an hour. A and B Coys sent out patrols to their immediate front but found nothing.

0700 B Coy sent a platoon to search re-entrant on our left flank but again found nothing.

1000 Brigade Order Group Orders: Bttn will regroup. B Coy was to move to the high ground on the north of the Guglionisi. ¾ mile this side of the Brick Factory. D Coy was to take over B Coy’s old position. Bttn HQ moved to a building 200 yards from the road.

1100 Bttn in new position.

1400 CO held office. A, B and C Coys sent out patrols to their immediate front. Nothing seen.


8th October.

0500 Stand to and defensive patrols out on coy front.

0630 Italian civilian reported presence of Germans behind a ridge approximately one mile in front of C Coy’s position, German artillery strafed area.

1430 A Coy sent patrol to report on area between them and area of coast road immediately to their front (MR780773). They were mortared 400 yards west of objective but saw no enemy.

1510 C Coy sent patrol to area in front of them (objective: MR766758), but saw no enemy.

Intermittent shelling of area in front of B Coy.

No casualties.

2330 Recce: Patrol under 2/Lt Phillips investigated ridge in front of C Coy’s position but found no enemy (MR760741).

Stand to and defensive positions.


9th October.

0815 Recce patrol under Sgt Montgomery were sent to Petacciato and succeeded in contacted the enemy.

1030 A Coy shelled. Two light casualties.

Intermittent shelling around A and B Coys.

Captain NW Bass rejoined from hospital.


10th October.

0500 Stand to and defensive patrols.

1600 Captain BDH Clark admitted to hospital. Lt DFT Thomason takes over as Adjutant.

Orders Group. Orders: Bttn was move into reserve into the area that it took up on the night of the 5th.

1400 C and D Coy positions were to be taken over 6 Innisks. B Coy positions were to be taken over by 2 LIR. Brigade support weapons to remain. A 15cwt truck per coy to report at 1730 to take away heavy kit. Coys were to march away: D, HQ and S moving first. Bttn timings so arranged to ensure a smooth withdrawal.

1845 Bttn starts to withdrawal. On arrival at new position, Bttn HQ houses temporarily in building MR815780


11th October.

1100 Bttn HQ, C Coy and S Coy slightly move their position.

We were informed that the Bttn would be used to round up inhabitants of the town in order that FS could investigate for suspects.

1200 CO gave his orders dividing the town up into blocks and detailing a company off to each block. Each coy wants to be divided into four groups: 1) Stops, 2) A search party consisting of an officer and two men. 3) Posse to take Italians to the Coy Report Centre, 4) Escort to take Italians Bttn Report Centre. The adjutant was to establish a Bttn consisting of I section and 2 ORs, which was to assist the FS Police and to which the coys would support when this missions were completed. The Regimental Police were established along the main road to direct escorts to the investigators.

The only incident was the shooting of a man, who threw grenades without injuring anyone.

1220 Bttn mission completed and coys return to their billets by 1730.

30 Reinforcements joined the Bttn in the afternoon.


12th October.

11 Reinforcements joined the Bttn including some slightly injured during our last action.


13th October.

An uneventful day.


14th October.

A quiet day. 20% of Bttn allowed into Termoli.


15th October.

A quiet day.


16th October.

Nothing outstanding to report.


17th October.

1400 CO gives orders with regard to the Bttn taking over the 2 LIR positions tomorrow.

Major HEN Bredin admitted to hospital.


18th October.

Captain BDH Clark returns to duty.

2 LIR had the task of assaulting Petaciatto in the early hours of tomorrow morning. Battle patrol had the job of patrolling the right flank of the attack.

1400 Battle patrol left for OP Farm (MR750790), where they were lie up until midnight. BP Commander was 2/Lt Phillips.

1700 Bttn begins to move into new area.

2125 Move completed.


19th October.

0001 A Coy established a prisoner of war cage area of Brick Factory (MR 803767).

0130 Battle Patrol in position for their task in area White Farm (MR 736798).

0600 Battle Patrol mission completed and they return.

The 2 LIR attack was successful. In the afternoon, the CO accompanied by the IO/paid a visit to Petacciato to congratulate Lt-Col Rogers and view the ground ahead.


20th October.

Bttn patrol. Nothing of importance occurred.


21st October.

1500 O Group, at which the CO gave orders for the Bttn to move forward to Petacciato.

2230 Bttn moved.

Captain MC Trousdell admitted to hospital.

Lieut CMF Chambers joined the Bttn.


22nd October.

0100 Bttn in position. Bttn HQ at Farm 748785. A Coy on right of road. Remaining coys on left.

1530 O Group at school 711794. Orders for attack on the River Trigno road bridge with the intention of making and securing a bridgehead.

1630 Bttn moved to assembly area school 711794.

1700 Bttn assembled.

1815 Bttn left assembly area to start line at road junction 663778.

2200 C and C Coys (Major RLC Wood and Major DEH Haywood MC) moved forward abreast with a platoon of D ahead covering them to road, and track junction 645787. Opposition from MG was met and overcome at pt155 – 645784. On reaching the road and track junction, 645787, the coys moved along the south side of the road, C Coy leading. As the leading company moved towards the object, the bridge was blown up. C and D Coys then took up a defensive position between pt115 – 6378 and the road to await the CO.

2359 The remainder of the Bttn moved down the line of the road to contact C and D Coys.

Lieut Thomason and Lieut R Gamble were admitted to hospital.


23rd October.

0300 C and D Coys crossed the river on the north side of the bridge under orders from the CO, who had arrived shortly before. They met no opposition but on reaching the far bank were stopped by a minefield.

0430 The area of consolidation occupied by C and D Coys was too limited so D Coy was ordered to withdraw to the east side of the river to area Farm 636783.

0800 B Coy (Major JW Dunn) moved across the river and took up a position on the north side of the river. C Coy moved to the south side. A Coy (Major PJ Proctor) was established in area 632793. Bttn HQ near road and track junction 624790.

1020 Enemy shelled area 6378.

1350 Bttn HQ moved up track to 634787.

1405 Enemy shelled area Bttn HQ.

1900 RE party arrived for mine clearing.

Throughout the night, the enemy regularly shelled the road 6378.


24th October.

0530 Enemy patrol bumped into C Coy MG fire exchanged. No casualties.

 0750 An enemy M/C ran into C Coy’s position and the rider was captured. He was from 9 Coy 11/79 PGR. 

1830 A very heavy enemy artillery concentration on area between Bttn HQ and road.

2030 Patrol of NCO and 2 men from Battle Patrol went to area Long Farm 620804.

There had been intermittent shelling of our positions during the day but the night was quiet.


25th October.

During the day, there was considerable shelling of the Bttn area especially B Coy’s position.

2000 Heavy shelling.

2030 Patrol of NCO and 2 men from the Battle Patrol went to area Long Farm 620804.

RE began work on the bridge but had to give up owing to heavy shellfire.

F Coy of 2 LIR was put under command of CO.


26th October.

1400 O Group at Bttn HQ. Orders for a readjustment of positions preparatory to an attack on San Salvo. This was a recce of new positions.

1700 Lieut HL Hutchison and 2 men went to recce a Start Line for the Bttn in the area of pt42 – 6181. The patrol lost its way and had to return.

2100 D Coy and carriers relieved by 6 Innisks.

2200 C Coy to 622793. D Coy to 628797.

2210 B Coy relieved by 2 LIR and moved to 623799.

Carrier platoon 4 3 Mortars and 3 MGs moved into position in support of coys across river.

Lieut DF Thomason rejoined from hospital.

Lieut A McI Smyth rejoined from 38 (Irish) Brigade.

Lieut CMJ Chambers posted to Brigade.


27th October.

0400 Lieut HL Hutchison took out his patrol again. One of his men set off a booby trap and was killed. The enemy MGs opened up and forced the patrol to retire.

1030 O Group at the Bttn HQ. Orders for the attack on San Salvo.

1800 A Coy crossed the river to join the other coys.

1815 Bttn HQ joined coys.

2130 C Coy moved to a position 500 yards in front of Long Farm to protect Start Line.

2230 Tape was laid along Start Line by IO.

2245 Coys moved into position covered by C Coy in the following order: Forward – A Coy left, B Coy right, followed by the HQ, followed by C Coy left, D coy right.

2300 Own artillery barrage starts.

2306 Forward coys crossed start line A Company on a bearing of 302 degrees, B Coy on 314 degrees. They had only gone a short way when heavy MG and shell fire was opened up on them. The whole Bttn was pinned down, the rear areas still in area of start line. As the intensity of the fire increased, it became obvious that the Bttn was in an enemy DF area.

The CO held an O Group at which he ordered D Coy, which had fallen behind to move up on the left of C Coy.

Sometime during the next half hour, the CO was killed by a stray MG bullet, which struck in the head.

B Coy continued the advance but was finally halted by the intensity of the enemy MG fire.

Major PJ Proctor had been hit and was missing, later known to be KIA and Major Wood assumed command

The CO took the decision to return to the area of the bridgehead, but not before it became obvious that any further attempt to advance would be futile and lead to a needless sacrifice of life.

Lieut JGC Glennie KIA, Lieut HL Hutchison (since died of wounds), 2 JV Baker wounded were the other officer casualties.


28th October.

0330 The Adjutant was ordered to take the Command Group and the remnants of D Coy back.

0500 The rest of the Bttn took up a position around the bridge, having been brought out of action by Major RLG Wood.

During the day, Major Wood went back and made arrangements to bring the Bttn out of bridgehead at dusk.

1800 The Bttn withdrew to area 6677.

2230 Bttn in new position.

The bridgehead was shelled in the morning and the Bttn suffered more casualties. Major WG Dunn was killed and Captain Franklyn-Vaile was wounded.


29th October.

0645 Bttn was ordered to move to San Giacomo.

1045 Bttn moved.

1300 Bttn in new position.

Captain BDH Dunn, Adjutant and Captain WH Lang RMO were admitted to hospital. Lieut DF Thomason took over the duties of adjutant.


30th October.

Major AW Gibbon assumed command. Bttn started to reorganise. Captain EE Rawlings joined as RMO.


31st October.

Reorganisation continued.