Irish Brigade

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

Faugh a Ballagh        Nec Aspera Terrent         Quis Separabit


2 LIR – May 1943

1 May

Battalion to be prepared to move to area south east of Medjez. 78 Division moving into 5 Corps Reserve. 

2 May

1100 Brigadier with battalion representatives recce new area. Lieutenant Colonel T P D Scott becomes acting Brigadier.

1800 Battalion moves off to embossing area at Kelbine. Move by TCV’s to new area.

3 May

0030 Head of column arrives Debussing Point.

0430 Battalion in position Battalion HQ established 645293, E Company Point 205 (6529). F Company 646295 G Company 653297, H Company 652293.

Information Enemy in positions Sidi Abdullah 7232, Cactus Farm 723327, Area of Reservoir and Point 133 (7233). These were the positions the enemy had counter-attacked and held on 30/4/43.

Own tps – established – 11 Brigade area Sidi Hediene (7031) and Peters Corner. 36 Brigade with under command 6 Innisks in position exclusive and North of Zradune Farm 686352.

35 Brigade with under command 2 Hants and A Squadron Northern Irish Horse in counter attack role on other two Brigade fronts. Patrol from E Company to recce wadi and Tk June (6727). No contact made. Patrol from H Company to recce Sidi Bou Dib (6725). No contact made. Lieutenant G E Cole and Lieutenant H D W Seymour attached to 38 (Irish) Brigade.

4 May

2000 F & G Companies send out fighting patrols each one platoon strong. Patrol from F Company to establish base in wadi in Sidi Bou Dib and make contact by sending out small patrols. No contact made. Patrol from G Company to recce and make contact with enemy in area wadi 6728. This patrol failed to reach its objective and made no contact with the enemy.

5 May

1200 Information – Objective Tunis: 36 Brigade and 11 Brigade to take Point 141 (7338) and Point 123 (7335) respectively at 1700 hours. At 0300 hours 6/5/43, 4 Division Right of Medjez-Tunis road and 4 Indian Division on left. On reaching features Point 157 (7542) and Djebel Frendj the 6th and 7th Armoured Division will advance to Massicault. US 1 Armoured Division to Tebourba and 1 Armoured Division to push east from Sebcret El Kourzia area.

Captain Neely appointed Adjutant vice Captain T W H Wilson to be 2-in-c G Company.

6 May

0300 Armoured divisions start to pass through area in a continuous stream. The plain is covered in a dust cloud and the visibility is impossible. 36 and 11 Brigade took objectives with slight casualties at 1700 hours 5/5/43.

Enemy is reported to have concentrated large force of A/Tk and 88mm guns in area Djebel Frendj and Furna. 1 Division take Bou feature suffering casualties.

1130 Intercepted message – 24 guns captured intact, area unknown. Several barges and boats escorted by destroyers cruising in Lake of Bizerta. American fighters went to investigate and were intercepted by ME 100s over 8206 3 MEs shot down – observation difficult because of combat. Liner outside Tunis bombed by RAF. This ship contained men captured on 12 April who were later repatriated.

1200 6th and 7th Armoured Division have reached Furna. Situation obscure. Believed to be by-passing the village.

1850 Forward elements of Armoured Divisions reached Massicault. 6 Armoured Division on left and 7th Armoured Division on right. 4 Infantry Division and 4 Indian Division move up behind Armoured Divisions.

7 April

Situation reports of general advance brought in during the day. Information good. 1 Armoured Division push to Ain El Asker. 56 Recce Regiment make contact between 6th and 1st Armoured Divisions.

1800 British troops reported to have entered Tunis. Confirmed that US troops are in Bizerta. Battalion ordered to prepare to move by 0800 hours 8/5/43.

8 May

0430 Commanding Officer’s O Group 78 Division to clear Tunis. Brigade concentrating in following areas 11 Brigade Manouba 38 Brigade La Mornaghia, 36 Brigade Sidi Mohammed.

0630 Recce group move off to concentration area at La Mornaghia.

0730 Battalion embussed in TCVs.

0812 Battalion pass S P.

1145 Battalion arrives in La Mornaghia. Battalion HQ established at 965519.

1150 Commanding Officer’s order group. Battalion to clear streets of Tunis. Order of march – H, E, F, G, Battalion HQ and A Echelon. To sweep in a southerly direction along Avenue de Paris and Avenue de Carthage. Right E Company followed by G Company. Left H Company followed by F Company. Battalion HQ and A Echelon to move along axis of advance. 6 Innisks to clear other half of City. 1 R Ir F to move south around Lac de Tunis and establish blocks on main route to Tunis.

1210 Battalion leaves La Mornaghia. Debussing point at Road June 936563. No opposition so far.

1330 Battalion commences to clear town. All resistance had ceased by this time in Tunis and in the surrounding areas and those who had escaped were making for the Cap Bon area. The battalion was mobbed by huge enthusiastic crowds who lined the Streets, waving flags, giving the ‘V’ sign and wanting to shake all of us by the hand. No opposition was met whatsoever except the terrific crowds and the battalion managed to reach the south side of Tunis by 1645 hours.

1730 Battalion established its position on high ground south of Tunis – Battalion HQ 093618 E Company Point 40, F Company 099525 remains in Tunis to police town guard V Ps and hospitals. H Company Point 86 (1051).

2000 Remainder of battalion transport turns up – held up by congestion in Tunis.

10 May

1400 Battalion sent out patrols (1 Officer and 10 in 15 cwt trucks) from each company to round up any enemy in the area. None were found.

11 May

1500 Patrol from E Company goes to area South of Lac de Tunis. Eight Italian prisoners dressed in civilian clothes were apprehended.

12 May

During the past three days over 80 prisoners, Italian and German, including Italian civilians brought over to this country by the Italian army have been apprehended by the battalion or passed through our hands.

All the roads have been blocked by constant stream of prisoners passing through in transport.

Warning Order – 38 Brigade will move to area St Germain on 13/5/43. General Von Arnim reported by Indian troops in the Cap Bon area. All organised resistance ended at 2000 hours. !35,000 prisoners accounted so far. (Final total of prisoners 230,000).

13 May

0900 Recce group move off to new area. Changed to area Maxula Rades and not St Germain.

1530 Battalion established in position, having moved to new area Battalion HQ in Olive Grove 152612. E Company 152521 G Company remain in Tunis – duties as before. H Company 148517. Brigade established at Bordj 193518, 6 Innisks 159522, 1 R Ir Fus 153512.

15 May

Working hours of the battalion from 0900-1200 hours. Training mainly consisting of WT, PT and bathing. 15 % of the battalion allowed late into Tunis from 0600-1900 hours. Lieutenant Stigant discharged from hospital.

16 May

1100 Brigade rehearsal for Victory Parade in Tunis. Divisional Commander took the salute.

19 May

0800 78 Division rehearsal for Victory Parade in Tunis.

1030 Recce parties move off to concentration area to north of Tunis.

1300 Battalion arrives at concentration area. Lines up night 19/20 May preparatory to forming up in the parade on 20 May.

20 May

0600 Transport moves to other side of Tunis.

1140  Battalion formed up in the Parade ready to move off. 78 Division leads contingent of British troops: the order of march being Royal Artillery Royal Engineers 11 Brigade 26 Brigade, 38 Brigade. The battalion was represented by some 130 men. They looked extremely well and smart and marched well. Every man was wearing a caubeen and hackle adding an additional splash of colour to the gay scene. All the officers of the three battalions marched in front of the brigade. Those representing the battalion included the four who were left out of the original battalion which came out in November last year. They were Major A P K O’Connor, Major J D Lofting, Captain R C Cockburn, Captain C C Hall, Captain T W H Wilson, Lieutenant J D O’Rourke, Lieutenant Tasker, Lieutenant A G Howell, Lieutenant C R M Heaps, Lieutenant M J Hughes.

Ref to appendices – Photos of entry into Tunis 2 copies. Marked ‘A’

Copy of battalion Training Instructions No-1 issued 20 May marked ‘B’.

21 May

1030 Lecture by Divisional Commander in La Colisee Cinema, Tunis.

23 May

Warning Order – 78 Division to move to Guelma area.

24 May

Warning Order – Advance parties to new area to move at first light 25/5/43. This was later postponed to 25 May 43.

26 May

Advance party to Guelma.

27 May

1030 Commanding Officer with Intelligence Officer and Captain Westcott move off to recce grounds in new area. 2 LIR Movement Order No-2 issued together with march table for move to new area App C.

1600 Carrier Platoon under command Captain R Cockburn left unit area for 78 Division Concentration Area 925505 (Sheet 20 Tunisia 1/50000) Battalion prepared to move.

Captain R W Jelf attached to 1 Division pending posting to KSLI.

28 May

Battalion advance party move to Staging Area 608405 (Sheet 4 Tunisia).

0600 Battalion left for new area. Arrived at Staging Area 0720 hours.

Lieutenant A C Howells and Lieutenant M G Hughes admitted to hospital.

29 May

1030 Battalion left Staging Area. Arrived 78 Division concentration area at 1830 hours.

Battalion HQ established 660045 (Sheet 54 Algeria). Companies established in open ground around Battalion HW.

31 May

1100 Commanding Officer with Intelligence Officer and Company commanders recce new area 697088 for battalion area.