2 LIR – February 1943

1 February

E Company move to area 6278 under command of 36th Infantry Brigade.

2 February

1200 Battalion warned to be prepared to move tonight to 10th Battalion Rifle Brigade area. 

1330 Commanding Officers’ conference. Gives orders as follows. Battalion will take over the following positions from 10th Battalion Rifle Brigade, H Company 683/5808 and area to north, E Company 612083 G Company 625089, Battalion HQ 615082, F Company take over from 6th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers at 323/636088 in support of C Battery 152 Field Regiment (Ayrshire Yeomanry).

1410 Commanding Officer and Company Commanders move off to recce new area. 

2100 Battalion HQ established 612080, E Company 612080 F Company 632082, G Company 621085, H Company point 683/5808.

3 February

2100 Patrol ‘Lux’ to White Gable Farm but had nothing to report

1900 Patrol ‘Silvo” to farm 617112, but had nothing to report.

0200 Patrol ‘Sunlight’ along path running North and South 5910 but nothing to report

4 February

1900 Patrol ‘Rags’ to Hir Traifa 640138 – nothing to report.

Standing patrol from dusk to dawn 649088 – nothing to report.

1700 Patrol ‘Bones’ to area point 720 569094, but nothing to report.

5 February

0645 Mortar and tracer fire and red and white flares observed from battalion HQ approximate to area of 1st Battalion Parachute Regiment.

0940 Area 6607 dive bombed by Jus 87.

1820 Patrol ‘Lyles’ to farm 617112 (report that it had been occupied by 50/60 Germans three day previously).

1830 Patrol ‘Tate’ to ambush enemy using Cross tracks 591140 (nil result).

1840 Patrol ‘Drake’ to farm 641123, but had nothing to report.

6 February

1400 Patrol ‘Fisher’ to huts 617118 – nothing to report.

0900 Patrol ‘Nelson’ to farm 617112 – nothing to report.

7 February

2000 Patrol ‘Stockings’ to farm 617112 – nothing to report.

1900 Patrol ‘Socks’ to farms 641123, 633105 – nil result.

8 February

Sixteen Stukas dive-bombed area from 635048 – Hill 279. One bomb fell near farm 637083.

1020 RAF report possible concentration of enemy tanks in area 673140.

1730 Twelve Hurribombers escorted by 8 Spitfires bombed area 6814/6914.

2100 Patrol ‘Oak’ to wadi and high ground 595127.

2000 Patrol ‘Beech’ to farm 633105 – nil result.

9 February

0725 Exchange of shelling by our artillery and Germany artillery.

1800 Twelve JU 87s dive-bombed Guards Brigade and 2nd Lothian & Border Horse Regiment including 7099.

1930 Heavy machine gun fire heard south east of battalion HQ.

1500 Fighting Patrol ‘Eagle’ to tk. June 574114 and grid line 13 Tank Junction 593130 – nil result.

2359 Recce Patrol ‘Robin’ to farm 645102 had nothing to report.

1930 Fighting Patrol ‘Rook’ to farm 617112 Roman Ruins 617129 and 617118.

1915 Standing Patrol at Stop Farm 646102. Reached at 2030 hrs. German sentry contacted patrol and gave alarm. Shots were exchanged and patrol dispersed. One man missing.

10 February

0900 Captain TWH Wilson and French interpreter to recce Stop Farm. Body discovered of missing man at 634094. German articles found indicating lying up.

1600 All patrols night 11/12 February cancelled. Only patrol to Stop Farm to bring back body of man killed on previous night.

1600 Corps Commander visited battalion.

Pm Stop Patrol bring back body of man killed the previous night.

(Irish Brigade note: details of those who died with the 2nd Battalion of the London Irish Rifles show that Rifleman James McIntyre died on 9 February and was the only member of the battalion to lose his life in this period. ) 

11 February

1400 Brigade to form a counter attack group by taking one company from each battalion. Under commander Major DCJ Manners 2nd Battalion London Irish Rifles.

1845 Patrol ‘Sybil’ to farms 642123 – 633105 but had nothing to report.

1900 Patrol ‘Jane’ to 617112, but nothing to report.

12 February

1645 Messerschmitts bomb areas of G and F Companies. No damage.

1845 Patrol ‘Ham’ to farm 633105 and Wog Huts 638116, nothing to report.

1845 Patrol ‘Beef’ to farm 617112. French farmer said that 4 Germans had driven up to his farm at 1000 hours 12th February.

13 February

0930 Commanding Officer’s conference. Move tonight CHQ E Company and 1 platoon same area. 1 platoon E Company to 16 Platoon area. 1 platoon to H Company’s area, Company HQ H Company to wadi 6307 (part of counter attack force under 2-in-C). G and F Companies same position. 2 anti-tank guns in battalion HQ area. 

2000 Battalion HQ at farm 638078 BHQ transport and carriers in Olive grove 624077. H Company in position in wadi 634014.

1900 Fighting patrol ‘Salt’ to farm 617112 but nothing to report.

14 February

1845 Fighting patrol ‘Barley’ to farm 617112 but nothing to report.

1900 Fighting patrol ‘Hops’ to farms 616102/642123/633105, they had nothing to report.

15 February

1900 Patrol ‘Rose’ to track 618128 via wadi 614127 – nothing to report.

1845 Patrol ‘Daisy’ to lie up in ambush area 209 (wadi and track) – nothing to report.

16 February

1930 Fighting patrol ‘Red’ to farm 633105/618102 – nothing to report.

pm 38th (Irish) Infantry Brigade now part of ‘Y’ Division.

17 February

1600 Ambush Patrol ‘H’ ‘DE’ to 632128 – nothing to report.

1600 Ambush Patrol ‘Tan’ to 583118 – nothing to report.

18 February

1900 Recce Patrol ‘Steel’ to huts 607107 and farm 617112 – nothing to report.

2100 Recce Patrol ‘Brass’ to farms 633105/642123/646113/646102 – nothing to report.

19 February

1800 Patrol ‘London’ to ambush enemy 564091/564105 – nothing to report.

20 February

0700 Schmeisser pistol fired at a NCO of E Company platoon 593096.

21 February

0200 Patrol ‘Tin’ to recce area farms 646113/642123 – nothing to report.

0230 Recce Patrol ‘Gold’ to 628124 – point 231 662 128 – farm 617112 – nothing to report.

22 February

1030 Battalion HQ warned to move into wadi with HQ company.

1425 Dive-bombing attacks by six Junkers 87 on area 6308. Bombing  prefaced by mortar bomb ranging. One man wounded by mortar.

1500 One sergeant and one rifleman from Carrier Platoon kidnapped while drawing water at 633093. Rubber shoes used by enemy found nearby.

1640 Area wadi 6307 dive-bombed by 12 JU 87s. Area ranged by mortars. No casualties.

1900 Battalion HQ moved to Olive Grove 623076. H Company take over gully 6408 from 1st Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers and mountain standing patrol 647090. Observation Post at 592093 (Intelligence).

23 February

1900 Recce Patrol ‘Plum’ to 650107 – point 217 659107 – Stop Farm – nothing to report.

1900 Recce Patrol ‘Apple’ to farm 617112 – nothing to report.

24 February

0140 Fighting Patrol Silver to farm 654129. Contacted enemy and put a(n) machine gun out of action. Our own casualties were 2 wounded and 2 missing.

0140 Fighting patrol ‘Gold’ to Stop Farm – nothing to report.

25 February

1530 Twelve JU 87s dive bombed areas 645085 and 655072 and 620090 also bombs on wadi 640111/633/103. No casualties.

26 February

0645 One of our carriers carrying rations run into the enemy.

0650 E Company HQ attacked from wadi north-east of their positions. Very heavy mortar bombing on G Company and towards Battalion HQ.

0655 F Company and H Company out of touch by line but immediately come up on wireless.

0700 G Company being mortared. Machine guns firing on them from 623090.

0715 Enemy attack on Castle Hill 623090. Successful and they now occupy it.

0740 G Company now out of touch by line.

0755 F and G Companies and C Battery of 152 Field Regiment (AY) through by wireless. E Company by line and wireless.

0800 E Company ask permission to withdraw to small hill behind their headquarters as they wish to make greater use of 3 inch mortars. Permission granted.

0825 E Company hill still occupied by the enemy.

0842 F Company report enemy still advancing on their left. They are in danger of being surrounded.

0845 G Company report enemy around rear. One hundred enemy seen moving to 5909. Enemy still heavily mortaring G Company.

0850 Enemy on north side of Steep Hill. F Company and F Company HQ. Still holding on but need more help.

0920 F Company heavily mortared.

0930 F Company report enemy MMG out of action. Heavy mortaring on Stuka Farm.

0950 H Company report enemy approaching their positions.

1035 Stuka Farm attacked from behind forward positions.

1100 13 Platoon on Booby Trap Hill, 14 Platoon in old position. 15 Platoon have suffered heavy casualties.

1130 F Company HQ and 11 Platoon at Stuka Farm. Ammunition running low.

1200 G Company report two sections of Para troops in gully north side of Rear Hill. Artillery shell 70-100 Germans west side of wadi 600088.

1230 Support group move to 597063 to protect gunners rear.

1430 Party from Battalion HQ comprising officer commanding HQ company (Major DW Conroy) the Adjutant (Captain TC Osborn), CSM Girvin, Colour Sergeant Dann, Sergeant Gardiner (Provost Sergeant) Sergeant Bridgen (Cook Sergeant) Sergeant Chubb (Bugle Major) Corporal Limb, Lance Corporal Chance, Lance Corporal Prout and a few riflemen attack and occupy Rear Hill, taking 14 prisoners of Herman Goering Jaeger Regiment. Heavy casualties inflicted. Casualties – Major Conroy wounded, Captain Osborn wounded, Colour Sergeant Dann wounded, Sergeant Gardiner killed, Bugle Major Chubb wounded, Sergeant Bridgen wounded, Rifleman Hale wounded.

1530 Enemy platoon proceeding towards H Company Farm WEST. G Company pinned down by machine gun fire.

2000 Belgium deserter arrived at Battalion HQ and states 150 enemy on Castle Hill.

Other casualties sustained were, Major CAF Gibbs wounded, Captain VJA Lillie-Costello MC wounded, Captain CJ Reidy wounded. Lieutenant Fergusson killed. Lieutenant Wilcocks wounded. 20 other ranks killed, 48 other ranks wounded and 25 other ranks missing.

27 February

0700 Battalion HQ established Olive Grove 603064 and Forward Battalion HQ at 608065. 9 Platoon moved from position to 591095 with 7 prisoners.

0900 Pioneers and A/A platoons take up positions on Hill 601069.

1200 E Company attack and occupy former Company HQ Hill 612083.

28 February

1200 9 Platoon take up former positions. 7 Platoon move to Mosque Hill.

1230 Patrol from G Company move to top of Castle Hill.

1530 One company 1st Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers take over Castle Hill from patrol.

1630 Three Junkers 87 dive bomb near road on front of brigade positions.

1900 Battalion HQ moves back to former position in wadi 623077. During the morning the ground east of E Company positions was heavily mortared.