2 LIR – September 1943

The 2nd Battalion of the London Irish Rifles continued resting and training near Patti on the north coast of Sicily. On 3 September, it learns that the 8th Army had landed in Italy and the invasion of the Italian mainland had started. About 200 arrived to rebuild the battalion’s strength. For the second consecutive month, the 2nd Battalion welcomed representatives of the 1st Battalion, which had been deployed as part of the allied advance through Sicily. Briefings in anticipation of the invasion of Italy start on 17 September. The battalion’s vehicles are sent to Taranto by ferry across the Straight of Messina and road. The rest of the battalion board ships near Catania on 23 September. The convoy leaves the following day and arrives in Taranto on 25 September. The battalion moves by train to Barletta on 29 September and finish the month just outside the town.

1 September

38th Bde Junior Leaders School opens under Lts White and Lyness. 13 Platoon as Demonstration Platoon..Section leaders course. Regimental Battle Patrol of 4 NCOs and 10 men formed under command Lt Seymour to train under Brigade arrangements at JL School

2 September

No entry

3 September

0830 British and Canadian troops of the 8th Army land in Italy.

4 September

Fighting in Italy going according to plan.

Medal awards for fighting in Sicily: Lt MOW Clark MC. l/c Gregory DCM. Sgt Donaghy MM. L/Cpl Gaffney MM. L/Cpl Harrison MM.

OMEs; inspection of all vehicles

5 September

Church Parades.

6 September

Draft of 116 other ranks join the Battalion.

Officers and Sgts discussions. (Lessons of the Campaigns.)

Palmi captured in Italy. 8th Army advancing well.

7 September

Field firing. 2 NCOs & 12 other ranks mount Bde Guard.

Draft of 85 other ranks arrive from North Africa and join the Battalion.

8 September

Commanding Officer speaks to the last two drafts.

Italy surrenders unconditionally. Military Armistice concluded.

9 September

Brigadier Russell DSO MC 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade inspected last two drafts to the Battalion.

10 September

2nd i/c & Intelligence Officer on recce of training area.

Lt Col Good (1st LIR) visited the Battalion.

11 September

Officers under 2nd i/c on Fire Orders instruction.

Captain PP Giles admitted to hospital.

17 Italian Warships reached Italy and surrender to British Navy. 

12 September

Lt Col H Rogers visited 117 L A A Regiment RA (8th RUR)

13 September

Brigade Command in Battalion area to watch Company training.

Commanding Officer lectured the Battalion on discipline.

Lt Lyness transferred to HQ Company as Intelligence Officer vice Lt O’Rourke.

14 September

All Officers attend a demonstration UNCLE Shoot by 25 pounders.

ENSA cinema show for 38 Bde in Battalion lines.

15 September

Lt Col D Swinburne, 117 L A A Regiment RA (8th RUR) visited.

1000 Bde Scheme ‘Moon” for Battalion commenced (recce of area)

16 September

No entry.

17 September

0400 Scheme ‘Moon’ ended.

Captain PP Giles returned to unit from hospital.

1000 Commanding Officers Conference re pending move of Battalion to Italy.

Orders for first party (Carrier Platoon) move.

2300 Lt Barker & one other rank left Battalion to form Beach Party at Crotone.

18 September

0830 Lt Hunter & Carrier Platoon plus Company Carriers left to embark at Catania. Lt Clark MC & one Mortar Detachment left to collect new Mortar Carrier at Messina and then joined Carriers for embarkation.

1300 Lt Bonham Carter and 26 other ranks from 1st LIR arrived on two-day visit to the Battalion.

19 September

0300 Beach Party (Lts Wilson, O’Connor & Condy and 27 other ranks left Battalion for Taranto where they will form part of 78 Division beach party.

0830 Lt Glasgow & Mortar Platoon left to embark at Catania.

All Bde Battle School Patrol personnel rejoin Battalion.

20 September

Lt F Lyness took over duties of Intelligence Officer.

Promotions: T/Captain BH Westcott & T/Captain KDH Rowlette appointed P/A Majors wef; 29.8.43. Lt J A St Maur Sheil, Lt WHB Glasgow appointed P/A Captain wef. 29.8.43.

Amphibious Exercises by the Companies.

21 September

Amphibious Exercises by the Companies.

22 September

Brigadier in Battalion Area. All motor transport to prepare to move to Italy.

23 September

0500 Motor transport column left for Messina by road.

1450 Battalion (Marching Personnel) ordered to be prepared to move by 1530.

1830 Marching Personnel left by RASC troop for Milazzo Beaches.

During the morning, the Battalion embarked from Milazzo Beaches

TLCs took personnel to troopship Princess Josephine Charlotte.

24 September

Motor transport crossed the Straights of Messina by LCMs and disembarked at Catona, joined Bde Convoy. Moved off at 1030 and halted for night at Canova 7177 (Sheets 52/53)

1400 Convoy left Milazzo for Taranto via Messina Straights.

25 September

(MT) Continued by road to Crotone Staging Area 6957 (Sheet 48)

1200 Battalion started disembarking at Taranto Inner Harbour by TLCs.

1400 Battalion marched from dock area on to main Taranto-Brindisi road and arrived in the Bde Area 4 miles North of Taranto.

26 September

(MT) By road to area 1335 (Sheet 43) thence to Taranto and joined Battalion at 1200 hrs.27.9

20% of Battalion allowed on leave to Taranto.

27 September, Sunday

20% of Battalion allowed on leave to Taranto.

28 September, Monday

0830 Battalion: route march, 12 miles. Companies march independently.

80% of Battalion allowed out on leave in the afternoon.

1430 Advance Party consisting of Major Conroy & four other ranks left by road for new area 3 miles SW of Barletta.

29 September, Tuesday

0900 Battalion Transport left for new area.

1100 Battalion Marching personnel move to Railway Station. North of Taranto.

1600 Battalion Transport arrived at new area 0 9298, 3 miles south of Barletta.

1700 Bde Marching Personnel move by train to Barletta Station.

30 September

1730 Marching Personnel arrive at Barletta Station and march to new area arriving at 1845.

During the month until embarkation to Italy the Battalion trained under Company arrangements.