Irish Brigade

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

Faugh a Ballagh        Nec Aspera Terrent         Quis Separabit


2 LIR – February 1944

The month was a period of rest and reinforcement for the battalion, out of the line for the whole of February. It moved to billets in the town of Baranello on the first day of the month. Plans for exercises were disrupted by heavy snow falls that make outdoor operations impossible. The battalion moved again on 15 February to occupy farms and buildings in lower land near the village of Santa Maria on Italy’s western coastal plain where the weather was milder and training was possible. Two battalion exercises were held at the end of the month: the first involving an attack on a target named Monastery Hill, suggesting perhaps that the battalion was being prepared for an attack on Monte Cassino (the second assault on the Gustav Line had begun on 15 February with the bombing of the monastery of Monte Cassino).

The battalion and brigade also participated in intra-brigade sporting competitions including football, boxing and athletics.

The month also saw important command changes. Brigadier Nelson was replaced by Brigadier TPD Scott. Lt-Col HEN Bredin was appointed to command the 6th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

February ended with the battalion reinforced and being readied for serious fighting.


1 February

0800 Loading of stores and equipment for move to Baranello.

1330 Battalion embussed ready to move.

1400 Battalion proceeds to Baranello. Order of march: E F companies, Battalion HQ, HQ G, H, and S companies. 34 x 3-ton lorries supplied by RASC.

1715 Battalion arrives at Baranello. No incidents.

1800 Battalion established in billets in Baranello.


2 February 

0930 Battalion HQ guard provided by F Company (duty company).

1200 Commanding Officer’s training conference. Instructions issued for exercise Vino.

1400 Company commanders’ recce training areas.

1600 Guard comprising 3 NCOs and nine men from F Company proceed to Campobasso to guard supply dumps.

1800 Pipers play retreat at Battalion HQ.


3 February

0900 BHQ Guard provided by F Company (duty company).

1200 CO’s office.

1200 Leave parties proceed to cinema performance at Campobasso in unit transport.

1800 CO’s conference.


4 February

0800 Companies commence training programme.

0900 Bn HQ Guard provided by H Company (Duty Company)

1200 CO’s Office

1200 Leave parties proceed to proceed to cinema show at Campobasso in unit transport.

1400 Change of weather. Rain commences.

2000 Leave parties return from Campobasso.

Weather:- morning dry but dull, afternoon some rain. Sky heavily overcast.

News – Russians announce 10 German divisions trapped in Smela salient in Southern Ukraine and capture of Rovhe and Lusk in Poland, also that Red Army have crossed the Estonian border.


5 February

0630 Snow fell during night. Fairly heavy on high ground and hills, but roads still clear and traffic not impeded.

0800 Outdoor training suspended owing to snow.

0900 Bn HQ Guard supplied by G Company.

1200 CO’s Office.

1300 Leave parties proceed to cinema show at Campobasso.

1700 Draft of 75 Other Ranks join battalion from CRU.

1800 CO’s conference

2000 Leave parties return from Campobasso.

Weather:- snow fell at intervals during morning and afternoon, but slight thaw during evening. Snow lying heavy on hills and high ground generally. Local roads still quite clear.


6 February

0700 Snow during the night. Approximately 2 inches deep on roads and low ground.

1030 Voluntary CE & RC Church Parade.

1200 CO’s Office.

1300 Leave parties proceed to cinema show at Campobasso.

1800 Bn HQ Guard provided by S Company (Duty Company).

1900 Leave parties return from Campobasso.

Weather: – heavy snow fell at intervals during the day. Now deep on high ground but local roads still fairly clear.


7 February

0630 Heavy snow during night. Approximately 12” deep on local roads. Some traffic possible with skid chains. Snow still falling.

0800 Outdoor training cancelled because of snow.

1200 CO’s office.

1800 Bn HQ Guard supplied by F Company (Duty Company).

1930 Regimental dinner in Officers’ Mess.

Guests:

Lt Col Dunhill, DSO Adjt and 2 i/c 1 RIrF.

Captain J D O’Rourke proceeded to take over appointment of Brigade IO. Lt J D White, MC takes over as Battalion IO.


8 February

0630 Now snow fell during the night. Morning bright but cold.

1200 CO’s Office.

1300 Leave Parties proceed to Campobasso.

1800 CO’s conference.

1800 Bn HQ Guard provided by E Company (Duty Company)

1900 Leave parties return from Campobasso.

Weather. More now at intervals during day, but roads still open to transport using skid-chains. Main Campobasso road kept open by clearing parties. No outdoor training possible during the day.


9 February

0630 Snow falling lightly.

1200 CO’s Office.

1300 Recreational transport to Campobasso cancelled owing to road conditions.

1800 Bn HQ Guard supplied by H Company (Duty Company).

Weather:- Light snow at intervals during day. Roads now difficult for transport. No outdoor training possible during day.


10 February 

0630 No further snow during night, but road conditions icy.

1200 CO’s Office.

1300 Leave parties proceed to Campobasso.

1400 Brigadier visits Bn HQ on informal visit.

1800 Bn HQ Guard supplied by G Company (Duty Company).

1900 Leave parties return from Campobasso.

Weather:- Day bright with slight thaw. Road conditions better locally. Sky again overcast at last light.


11 February

0630 Continued thaw during night.

1200 CO’s Office.

1300 Leave parties proceed to Campobasso.

1800 Bn HQ guard supplied by F Company (Duty Company).

1900 Leave parties return from Campobasso.

Weather:- Thaw continued throughout the day with frequent showers of rain and sleet.


12 February 

0630 Weather dry and frosty.

1200 CO’s Office.

1300 Leave parties proceed to Campobasso.

1800 Bn HQ Guard supplied by E Company (Duty Company).

1900 Bn at 12 hours notice to move.

2000 Leave parties return from Campobasso.

Weather:- Dry and bright, no further snow locally no appreciable thaw.


13 February

0700 Weather. No change during night.

1000 Voluntary C of E & RC Church services.

1300 Leave parties proceed to Campobasso.

1800 Bn HQ Guard provided by S Company (Duty Company).

1830 Regimental concert given in local theatre. Very good show.

1930 Leave parties return from Campobasso.

Sports Conference held by 2 i/c to arrange for participation in Bde boxing competition.

Weather:- Day dry and cold. No appreciable thaw.


14 February

0630 No change of weather during night.

1200 CO’s Office.

1300 Warning order Advance party to rendezvous crossroads at 2300 hrs today and report to Major Holmes 1 RIrF

1800 CO’s Conference.

2200 34 x 3-tonners arrive from RASC to move.

2215 Advance party under 2 i/c leave Baranello.

Weather:- Dry and cold throughout the day.


15 February 

0600 Reveille. Morning dry.

0800 Bn embussed and lined up for move to new area.

0815 Convoy proceeds past start point. Route via Isernia, Capriatti and Caizzo.

1630 Convoy arrives in new area at 1983 near Villa Volturno. Accommodated in farmhouses and building and bivouacs. Original destination was the town of Santa Maria where billets had been arranged by 2 i/c and advance party. At 1400 hrs orders received altering destination to area 1983. Journey without incident.

1800 CO’s O Group. Bn at six hours notice for further move.

1900 Brigadier and Bde IO visit Bn HQ.

2000 Bde HQ established at Bellona also 6 Innisks. 1 RIrF at 186806.

Weather:- Day dry but cold, roads clear of snow except in Baranello area. No sign of snow past or present in new area.


16 February

0630 Morning dry and clear.

1400 CO’s address to officers and NCOs on forthcoming operations.

1630 CO’s Offices.

1700 CO’s O Group for Battalion Exercise tomorrow.

Intention E Company supported by G Company to attack and capture monastery on top of hill at 210830 and to consolidate same. F Company to attack and capture Three Tree Hill (206837) on left of Monastery Hill. H Company to move into reserve positions to support either attack if required. Positions recced by CO during morning.

Exercise to be treated as night exercise. Direction by compass bearing.

Weather:- Dry but cloudy during day.


17 February 

0630 Morning dry and frosty. Bn exercise.

0800 Companies and Bn HQ move off to forming up areas. 2 i/c in charge of exercise.

0830 Companies and Bn HQ move off to start line in sunken road at 194829.

In position at 0915.

0930 E & F companies cross Start Line towards their respective objectives.

1015 E Company reports in position by verey light.

1030 E Company moves off from Start Line to occupy height to right of Monastery Hill.

1115 F Company signals “On Objective”. 2 i/c orders H Company to move forward to positions approximately half-way up slope of Three Tree Hill in readiness for possible counter-attack.

1230 Exercise ends. Bn returns to Bn area.

1330 Bn back in area.

1600 CO’s conference.

1800 Bn HQ guard provided by F Company.

Weather:-  Dry and sunny throughout day.


18 February 

0630 Morning dry and bright.

0930 CO, 2 i/c, adjutant and party of officers and NCOs proceed to Caserta to lecture by Divisional Command.

1230 CO and parties return from Divisional Commanders’ conference.

1400 Football match 2/LIR v 1 RIrF. Score 2 LIR 0 1RIrF 1.

Brigadier Scott present at match.

1700  CO’s Office.

1730 Bn HQ Guard supplied by G Company.

Weather:- Dry and cold with strong breeze.


19 February

0630 Morning dry and cold

0930 CO and 2 i/c carry out recce locally for Bn exercise.

1300 Bn bathing parade.

1430 Two football matches 2 LIR v 25 Forward Battery RA & 2 LIR v RASC Company.

Results; 2 LIR 6 256 Forward Battery 2. 2 LIR 3 RASC Company 8.

1700 CO’s Office.

Brigadier Scott DSO appointed to command of brigade.

Brigadier Russell DSO, MC returning to England.

Weather:- Dry and fine throughout the day, with strong breeze.


20 February

0700 Weather cold and dry.

0930 RC Church Service.

1100 C of E Church Service.

1400 Basket ball game – Officers v Sgts. Result Sgts 2 Officers 1.

1715 Cinema party returns from Capua.

Weather:- Sunny and dry.


21 February

0630 Morning dry and sunny.

0900 Officers lecture by CO with aid of Sand table and model tanks.

Subject “The use of infantry in conjunction with tanks.”

1700 CO’s Office.

1730 CO’s Conference for Bn Exercise tomorrow. CO and 2 i/c to be umpires. Major Woods MC i/c Enemy. Major Phillips to be CO of Bn for purpose of Exercise.

1800 Bn Guard provided by S Company.

Weather:- Dry and sunny with moderate breeze.


22 February

0630 Morning dry and clear.

0715 Bn Exercise. Forming up point (FUP) at area 192838 H Company on right with F Company in support and G Company on left with E Company in support.

Lateral distances between companies 300 yards. Squadron of Sherman tanks represented by 15 Bren carriers. Object of exercise to practise attack by infantry supported by tanks.

0800 All Companies in position in FUP. TAC HQ in rear of companies.

0810 G and H companies over start line followed by E & F companies and TAC HQ.

1100 Exercise ends. Brigadier visited ground during exercise.

1200 CO’s Conference with Officers and Section Commanders to discuss points brought out in Exercise. Points emphasised:-

1) The importance of passing back information when enemy positions encountered, giving exact position, strengths and steps being taken to deal with same.

2) Passing back to Tank Commanders of information as to Anti-Tank obstacles not already known and of any mines observed.

3) Tanks not to be allowed to remain in exposed positions.

4) Whole Company not to be held up by isolated enemy positions, but Platoon or section left to deal with same while rest of Company moves on.

1500 Inter-company football matches.

S Company 4 E Company 1

HQ 2 G Company 1

1730 Bn HQ Guard supplied by E Company.

1815 CO’s Office.

1830 CO’s Conference.

Weather:- dry and sunny.


23 February

0630 Morning dull and cloudy.

0930 RC Church Service at Bellona (Ash Wednesday).

1100 Rain commences.

1200 Lt Colonel Jeffreys visit Bn.

1500 CO’s Office.

1530 CO’s Conference.

Bn HQ Guard supplied by F Company.

Major HEN Bredin MC & Bar promoted local Lt Col and appointed to command 6 Innisks.

Major Heidenstam (1 RIrF) appointed 2 i/c 2/LIR

Weather: raining since 1100 hrs.


24 February

0630 Morning dry and breezy.

1200 CO’s Office.

1230 CO’s Conference.

1400 Inter-Bde Sports at 1 RIrF. Football ground.

Events 100 yards, 220 yards, 440 yards. 1 mile, long jumps high jump, tug-o-war.

Result. 2/LIR. 24 points. 1 RIrF 23 points, 6 Innisks 22 points.

Brigadier present.

Combined bands of all three Bns gave performance. All events keenly contested but ground very sodden.

1700 CO’s Office. Bn HQ Guard supplied by H Company.

1800 Weather:- Light showers during morning and afternoon. Heavy rain since 1630.


26 February

0630 Fairly heavy rain.

0800 Company training. River crossing exercise by Battle Patrol and Pioneer Platoon.

1000 Rain commences.

1030 Company bathing parades.

1200 CO’s Conference.

1400 Company Bathing Parades.

1700 Bn HQ Guard supplied by S Company.

1800 Weather:- Fairly heavy rain since 1000 hrs.


27 February 

0700 Morning dry but overcast.

0930 Voluntary C of E and RC Church Services.

0930 CO’s Inspection of Company books and files.

1030 Cinema party leaves for Caserta.

1900 Lt Col Bredin MC and party of officers from 6 Innisks arrive for dinner in Officers’ Mess.

Weather:- Heavy showers throughout day.

28 February 

0630 Morning – showery.

0800 Company training.

1430 Bde Boxing Contest 2 LIR v 1 RirF.

Very good show and high standard of boxing.

Result –

2 LIR 18 points (eight bouts)

1 RIrF (15 points (bouts)

Brigadier present.

1430 CO’s Office.

1730 MO’s lecture to NCOs.

Bn HQ Guard supplied by E Company.

1900 CO 2 i/c and IO go to dinner with Brigadier.

Captain Jones-Davies (R A Ch D) attached to Bn as C of E Chaplain in places of Captain Graydon BA MC who ceases to be attended.

Weather:- Sunny and mild with occasional showers.


29 February

0630 Considerable rain during night and still raining.

0800 Company training.

0830 Leave parties proceed to Campobasso.

0900 CO, adjutant and IO proceed to Naples to visit Lt Col McCann.

1400 Football match.

H Company and S Company postponed owing to rain.

1700 Bn HQ Guard supplied by F Company.

1830 CO, adjutant and IO return from Naples.

Weather:- Frequent showers during the day. Ground very muddy.