1 RIrF – April 1945

1st April – FORLI.

O Group for Exercise Po. 

2nd April – FORLI.

Exercise Po, use of Kapok bridges successful. 4 ½ minutes to launch and get across.

3rd April – FORLI.

Exercise Massa, tank and infantry cooperation.

4th April – FORLI.

Exercise Hosannah. Kangaroo borne infantry supporting tanks. Some confusion in command was cleared up in discussion at conclusion.

5th to 8th April – FORLI.

Nothing to Report.

9th April – FORLI.

Talk to bttn by Brigade TPD Scott DSO on future role of brigade. Brigade Move Order No 15.

10th April.

Bttn move to area 390365. Brigade ‘O’ Groups.

11th April.

Move to north at Lugo. Bttn HQ 34223990.

‘O’ Groups plans for daylight move.

12th April.

Start delayed for bridge repair. Late afternoon move HQ and four rifle coys plus 2 squadrons (A and C) into bridgehead. Bttn HQ 313446. Tac recce party caught in sharp stonk. No casualties.

2100 Sharp stonk area in 313447. A Squadron Queens’ Bays 2 casualties. B Coy (Major Phelan MC) one casualty.

13th April.

0030 Patrols to 310452 and 299452 report no contact. Track vehicles heard moving north area 288453.

0230 A Coy (Capt L Manson) and 1 section Pioneers start 308447 to 308464.

0345 A Coy at 311457 report all houses cleared, no mines.

0530 Tac HQ moved to 302467.

0540 B Coy (Major Phelan MC) moved up to 309462.

0600 C Coy (Major Howard) occupied 311470.

0620 A Coy establishing 298480.

0650 A Coy (Captain Manson) and tanks report Bosch at 306482. Artillery to engage.

0704 First lot of PoW arrive at Tac. 13 PoWs.

0707 Five more PoW.

0740 D coy moving to 298472.

0802 D Coy report enemy gun 309475.

0832 B Coy moving toward 311470.

0845 D Coy (Major AJ Wilton) cleaning up area 298472. B Coy passing through.

0917 D Coy sending one platoon west of Canal 292472.

0937 B Coy (Major Phelan MC) on way to 306482.

1005 B Coy proceeding to road junction 304487.

1023 B Coy proceeding to 308491.

1025 Engineer recce party with D Coy at 293474.

1045 Two B Coy casualties at 306482.

1050 C Coy moving to 306482 following B Coy.

1107 Tanks report mines area 304487. Pioneers to investigate (found no mines in area).

1435 C Coy recce at 304487 report bridging possibilities good.

1515 D Coy (Major AJ Wilton) moving north on west side of canal. A Coy (Captain Manson) on east side toward 307505.

1545 B Coy (Major Phelan MC), 1 platoon at 515 Northing.

1634 D Coy proceeding toward canal and railway crossing 311532, ordered to go no further.

1715 Bttn received orders to hold a flank, line of railway from 311532 to 280498.

1815 O Group.

2025 Tac opens at 308509. Coy HQ. D – 310521, C – 307515, A -297501, B – 304507 with patrols forward to line of road north from Conselice 274493.

Total PoW 106 in an advance of 8,000 yards.

14th April.

Patrols (Lt C Gunner) brought in 5 PoW.

1700 Patrol to area 281548 to 303565 found canal bank held in considerable strength and found themselves overlooked from north (Bastia 308571) and west. One casualty.

15th April.

B Coy (Major Phelan MC) with one section, 3” Mortars and 1 section MGs to area 281548 and 303565. Operation cancelled to move forward. 36 Brigade to continue mopping up. 2 casualties.

16th April.

Tac Recce party to RV 342570.

2230 O Group at 320590 under great difficulty.

17th April.

0215 Tac opens at 299608.

0800 D Coy (Major AJ Witton) and one troop, C Squadron Queen’s Bays moving to bridgehead, Being heavily shelled.

0915 C Coy (Major Howard) following D Coy.

0940 D Coy report enemy MG 286625 and SP guns at 296615 and 292629. Artillery engage on ‘Mike’ targets.

1045 Still unable to cross 2 LF bridgehead, not secure and tank track not cleared of mines. Pioneers investigate.

1125 D Coy crossing bridge.

1150 D Coy and one troop approaching 288621.

1158 C Coy complete across bridge.

1215 D Coy (Major AJ Wilton) have cleared 288621. Call for stretcher carrier.

C Coy (Major Howard) at canal 293624, which is a tank obstacle.

D report enemy tank moving away from 284628.

1225 D Coy at 287624 – C Coy at 292629.

1230 Pioneers report having lifted 32 Teller, Toft and R Mines from tank track.

1240 C Coy – one tank lost (brewed up).

1245 D Coy request artillery on 284628. SPs and MGs.

1307 C Coy request artillery on 295636. SPs and MGs.

Both coys report the going “very sticky”.

1355 C Coy at 292628 – D Coy at 285626 – A Coy at 293620. Two sections 3” mortar at 295615 – two sections MMG at 294616 – Kensington MMGs at 295615.

1415 D Coy (Major Wilton) reports tanks seen in area 282628 may be still there, heavy MG fire from that direction Lieut W Tyler wounded.

1800 Forward coys still subject to heavy fire. Plans made for night attack by A and B Coys to line of road, 288641 – 295637.

2300 A Coy (Captain Manson) moving forward from 291629 behind barrage. B Coy (Major Phelan) moving up from 284628.

2310 A Coy nearing objective, meeting only light opposition.

2327 A Coy consolidating and putting out patrols.

2338 B Coy near objective, being hampered by SA fire.

Recce routes for counter attack role.

18th April – 299608.

0012 A Coy report enemy tanks 287641 (Mike Target Medium).

0050 Morse and heavy interference make communication with coy impossible. Signals Officer going out to act as relay station.

0105 B Coy casualties (4) arrive. State coy on objective and have about 25 PoW.

0125 Communications re-established through relay set. Both coys settled in.

0230 B Coy report bridge 288639 – thirty foot wide and will take tanks.

0245 D Coy (285626) relieved by coy 2 LF and are moving up to 285633.

1130 A Coy (Captain Manson) report enemy digging area 289655 and enemy tank moving south west in area 297644. Artillery engage.

1135 Enemy SBs active after fire.

1900 Tac opened at 279637. D Coy (Major Wilton) patrol to area having captured two Mk IV tanks complete with crews. Coys being side stepped to left. B – 287639, C – 281637, A 0 284644, D – 275647.

2115 All coys complete in new positions.

Major RSV Howard wounded.

19th April – 279637.

0145 Pioneers recce area 27365 with patrol from B Coy (Major Phelan). No mines or booby traps.

0215 B Coy complete in area 273654.

1045 Pioneers lifted newly laid minefield area bridge 27265 and west 300 yards. Two Italian Box and 67 Teller Mines.

1100 Artillery (Captain Manson) patrol to 280656 brought in six more PoW (Total bttn this action about 200).

1135 New coy locations: A – 279631, B – 272653, C – 281638, D – 268654.

Lieut F Lafferty wounded.

20th April – 279637.

1700 Tac R Group forward. Bttn debus – 232695 and move to FUP 219713.

21st April – 219713.

0030 Tac opens at 219713.

0100 Barrage opens.

0106 A Squadron, 10 Hussars arrive.

0115 Bridging material and engineer recce party arrive.

0130 C Coy (Captain J Beamish) contacted 2 Innisks.

0223 C Coy over canal at 209732, have taken some PoW.

0255 C Coy report bridge good for foot traffic only.

0310 Two troops tanks and one troop SP moving up.

0312 D Coy (Major Wilton) across canal.

0330 D Coy (Major Wilton) report 1 PoW. Bridge at 203726 not good for foot traffic.

0340 A Coy deployed area 213719. B Coy area 208729.

0655 Tac moved to 215726.

0825 D Coy (Major Wilton) and troop of tanks unable to contact each other for some unknown reason.

0840 Coy objectives: B – 196751, C – 200726, D – 192737. A – reserve at 202731.

0940 C Coy sleeping area at 200736.

1025 D Coy on objective, report enemy bazookas and MG on left flank.

1050 Enemy SP gun 185742 being engaged by artillery. Heavy enemy shelling of area 208731, which he has well taped. Rover Frank and Heavies dealing with enemy batteries.

1116 Two Mk IV tanks move out from 185742. Artillery engage.

1140 D Coy (Major Wilton) report 4 PoW (1 wounded).

1205 B Coy (Major Phelan) on way to 196751.

1217 A/Tk Platoon engage enemy SP at 191752.

1300 Suspected enemy OP 197730 to be engaged by tanks and cleared by patrol from A Coy.

1330 3” Mortar score direct hits on 197730.

1355 A Coy (Captain Manson) report house 197730 in flames.

1440 D Coy report SP firing from 185742. Artillery engage. 2 LIR and 9 Lancers pass through.

1615 Tac HQ opens in village of Montesanto. Coy positions: A – 202730, B – 198742, C – 200737, D – 193738, S – 202737.

22nd April – 207730.

0740 D Coy have 4 PoW.

1100 Pioneers lifted 44 Regat mines at bridge at 195738 and 193738.

Major JP Phelan evacuated wounded.

This action was less of bodily contact but more of incessant heavy shelling by tanks and SP guns. It saw three officers escape with very minor wounds, who might have been lost to the bttn with less good fortune. It also saw one Fusilier, escorting 4 PoW, to take to the water to escape a stonk. The PoWs later having to assist their escort from the canal, he having nearly drowned.

23rd April – 233840.

1700 Tac R Group to RV 211839. Bttn and tank RV 233840.

General idea – 2 Innisks attack Saletta 242915 and proceed north on road 241920 – 240928 Capitello.

1 RIrF clear left at Saletta and protect left flank via road Saletta – crossroads 238916 north west to junction 218937.

24th April – 233840.

0100 Bttn follows 2 Innisks into bridgehead.

0500 Tac at 237882. Transport of 2 Innisks having formed an effective roadblock.

0620 Tac move into Tamara 241897.

0740 A Coy (Captain L Manson) 500 yards north of Tamara.

0745 B Coy (Captain N Plymen) passing through Tamara.

C and D Coys concentrate in Tamara.

0845 A Coy 300 yards west of Saletta. No opposition.

B Coy and D moving north from Tamara.

0907 S Coy weapons in Tamara.

0916 Civilians report enemy 20 to 30 strong on north bank of canal 260915.

0920 B Coy (Captain N Plymen) at Saletta.

0935 Tac moved to C Lunea.

1010 A Coy (Captain L Manson) ask for stretcher jeep.

Tac opens at Saletta 242914.

1012 Enemy tanks at 228928, passed to Air OP.

1028 Enemy tank firing from 226937.

1033 3” Mortar and 4.2” Mortar move into Saletta.

1038 C Coy (Captain J Beamish) moving into Saletta.

1042 A Coy have 15 PoW.

1058 Tac Tank makes rapid move for cover as enemy SP opened fire on group.

1107 B Coy have patrol at 232920.

1112 A Coy (Captain Manson) caught in open by two enemy tanks moving north west 234914.

1118 B Coy at 232920 moving toward 228929.

1128 D Coy at 232920 moving to 228923. A Coy at 236915.

1216 A Coy report 4 vehicles moving north area 218814. Artillery engage.

1220 D Coy (Major Wilton) have 5 PoW.

1445 C Coy (Captain Beamish) in Saletta, have received A Coy’s PoW

1700 D Coy – 6 PoW.

1710 B Coy consolidated at 226931, have bagged.2 half tracks, 1 field kitchen, 1 fitters’ stores, 11 horses and knocked out (with PIAT) two 75 mm A/Tk guns.

1900 Coys consolidate – B – 226931, D – 228923, A – 233919, C – Saletta. B Coy to patrol to Ruina 217938. Lts WJ Oldfield and JW Trousdell wounded

25th April – 242911/225931/218938.

0850 C Coy passed B Coy on way to Ruina, report British transport in area.

0940 Tac at 225931.

0943 C Coy (Captain Beamish), 1st platoon in Ruina, no contact.

1000 Tac in Ruina, all coys and main support move up.

1200 B Coy – 216940. D – 217952. C – 211948. A – 198939. S – 218939.

This last action has been characterised by strong enemy tank and SP gun defences moving back from canal to canal only when closely threatened by infantry. It has also seen quick and accurate response by the gunners whenever a tank or gun could be pin pointed.

26th to 30th April – 218938.

Nothing to Report.

In the final stages of this campaign, which led to the disintegration of the German armies in Italy. This bttn met and overcame resistance provided by some of the finest Regiments and Divisions then left in the German Armies anywhere. From the night 12/13 April when we broke out of the Santerno bridgehead to the day 25 April when we occupied the area from Ruina at the River Po, the fighting was so intense and the pursuit so rapid that enemy resistance collapsed completely and he was forced to abandon all transport, tanks and guns. These 13 eventful days and may be divided into 4 separate battles.

In an 8,000 yard advance, we met and took PoWs from 2 enemy divisions. PoWs were taken from 282 – 289 – 290 Grenadier Regiments, 198 Artillery Regiment and 198 Pioneer Regiment, all of 98 Division and from 956 – 1059 – 1060 Grenadier Regiments, 362 Fusilier Bttn and 362 Engineer Bttn of 362 Division.

In the advance from Argenta Gap and Marina Canal, made through extensive mine fields and under heavy fire from tanks and SP guns, prisoners were taken from 129 Recce Regiment, 15 and 71 Panzer Grenadier Regiments, 129 Panzer Regiment and 29 Panzer Artillery Regiment, 29 Panzer A/T Unit and Service Lt Transport Column, all of 29 Panzer Grenadier Division (4 Coy – 129 Recce was taken almost complete).

In the advance, crossing San Nicolo Canal and taking Montesanto, made under extremely heavy shell fire, with little actual bodily contact. PoWs were taken from 956 and 1060 Grenadier Regiments both of 362 Division.

In the last phase, the advance from Saletto to the Po, which saw the enemy break completely and abandon his weapons. PoWs were taken from 15 Panzer Grenadier Regiment, 71 PGR, 129 Recce Regiment, 29 Engineering Bttn and the Divisional Staff, all of 29 PG Division. PoWs from 142 Recce, 25 Jager Regiment and 142 Flak Battery represented 42 Jager Division. 362 Fusilier Bttn, 1069 Grenadier Regiment and 362 Transport Coy provided representatives from 362 Division, while 314 Regiment at 162 Turkoman Division contributed 3 PoW.

In summary, Divisions providing PoWs: 98 Division, 362 Division, 29 PG Division, 42 Jager Division.