2 LIR – January 1944

The new year starts with the 2 LIR in the high Apennine Mountains in central Italy opposite German defence lines on overlooking mountain tops. The weather however is the principal initial enemy and the battalion battles to keep the roads into its base at Montenero free of snow drifts. When the weather clears, the battalion begins patrolling to locate enemy and prevent them approaching Montenero. E and F companies were pushed out to hold hills northwest of the town on the morning of 17 January. At dawn two days later, E Company is attacked by German ski troops who kill five and take 17 wounded. Some initially taken prisoner, including 7 Platoon Commander Nicholas Mosley manage to escape, but it is a salutary experience. It is decided that trying to hold all the high ground is pointless and the battalion is withdrawn from Montenero to Forli on the night of 25/26 January.

1 January

1500 Standing patrols established on perimeter at all entrances to village.

1800 Commanding Officer’s orders:- orders for defence of Montenero given out and alarm posts to be manned. Congratulated Captain Danloy commanding the Belgian Commandos on the excellent and cheery way they assisted the companies in from the hills.

Special Order of the day by General D W Eisenhower on his leaving the Mediterranean theatre.

2 January

0800 Weather cleared up during the night. Visibility good. Weather fine and clear.

0545 Patrol from Belgian Commandos goes out to nearby hills at 040415 for local protection.

0800 1 Platoon H Company goes out with mules to bring in remaining 4.2” mortars from their positions on the hills.

1000 Commanding Officer’s Orders:- gives out in detail his orders for the defence of Montenero.

F Company to take up positions north of the town.

G Company cover Eastern approaches

H Company cover Western approaches

E Company and Belgian commandos as a mobile column.

1300 G Company patrol leaves

1345 Patrols from E and F companies leave.

1600 G Company patrol reports in.

1630 E Company patrols reports in.

1800 Commanding Officer’s Orders for operation next day:- F & E companies to go out to salvage stores. Belgian commandos to destroy (illegible section). Protection patrol out first light to nearby surrounding hills to be known as the Dawn Patrol.

1930 Three Italian agents report in. Gave little information.

Machine gun posts pinpointed and gave general impression that enemy was on the ground south of the Sangro and equally impeded by the snow.

Italian labour was impressed during the day to clear road of snow from Montenero to Rd June 076497.

3 January

0830 E & F Companies go out to original positions in Alto and Calvario to salvage stores.

Patrol of 1 Officer and 30 men from Belgian Commandos leaves.

1115 5 shells at eastern outskirts of Montenero.

1130 Platoon of F Company report their area being shelled.

1245 F Company reports mortaring on hill slope to left flank of Alto. Companies believe they have been spotted by the enemy.

1400 Road from Montenero cleared of snow as far as 100478.

1415 Belgian Commando patrol reports in.

1630 All companies in Montenero. All stores from E & F companies brought in except tentage. F Company two casualties because of shellfire.

1800 CO’s Orders:- for operation tomorrow:

G Company to old position on Il Monte to salvage stores.

perimeter protection as usual.

Road clearance to continue all night with Italian labour.

Convoy protection tonight from Belgian Commandos.

2000 Mule convoy with supplies arrives in Montenero. Road not cleared in time but mules got through OK.

4 January

0515 Dawn Patrol from H Company to Rocky Hill and Top Point 0443.

0800 G Company go out to Il Monte. E Company to Steep Hill 043438 in immediate support. F Company to take up additional positions on wooded saddle 040455.

0910 10 shells land on track 044446 as G Company pass this point. As shelling was so accurate, patrol from Belgian Commandos dispatched to Marsucci to observe and find out whether enemy OP is established there.

1230 Commando patrol observes enemy, strength about 1 company on top of Marsucci 0547. DF fire brought down scatters enemy.

1630 5 shells on outskirts of village.

1930 CO’s O Group: all companies now in Montenero. Convoy expected through tonight with rations and supplies. Plan for protection bigger than usual as enemy who was in Marsucci during early afternoon might have disappeared in area of Bifurcation.

H Company to 056466 Belgian Commandos to go through and clear area west of road.

2040 Mule convoy report in. No interference.

2100 Companies go out to positions. Same area. RTR.

5 January

0030 Companies report visibility reduced to 30 yards.

0300 2 parties arrive with supplies. Road now cleared.

0645 Dawn Patrol from G Company

0800 F Company sent out 2 platoons to 057487.

1100 Transport with supplies expected through at 1300.

1230 Battle Patrol in jeeps to high ground half way along Montenero road.

1 platoon H Company to 003470 for convoy protection.

1600 Snowing slightly all day. Road now blocked. No transport coming through. Troops withdrawn. Night protection – perimeter posts.

1800 CO’s orders for operations 6th. To build patrol base on Marsucci 0547 with strong protection out.

Sunday 6 January

0645 Dawn Patrol from G Company to local hills. Snowing hard.

0800 E Company to Marsucci. H Company to Twin Tit 057467.

CO & IO with Pioneers and stores follows.

1430 Companies return to Montenero.

1800 Snow clears. Visibility clears. Road cleared for ¾ mile. CO’s verbal orders for operations tomorrow. F Company to observe enemy positions from Marsucci 0547.

7 January

0600 Dawn Patrol from E Company

0800 F Company goes out to Marsucci to observe and ambush enemy.

1600 F Company reports in.

1800 CO’s verbal orders for operations tomorrow. Standing orders for sentry posts issued.

2000 Mule convoy arrives safely.

2200 Mule convoy returns to Rionero.

8 January

0600 Road now cleared to Bifurcation.

0615 Dawn Patrol from G Company to Twin Tits 057467.

0800 H Company to Marsucci 057467.

0830 Commando recce patrols leave.

1500 Commando patrol to Steep Hill reports small enemy patrol on Il Monte.

Engaged patrol but enemy disappeared.

1700 H Company and Belgian Commandos patrols reports in Montenero.

2000 Mule Convoy arrives with rations from Rionero. 1 Platoon F Company to Silario for protection of convoy.

2220 Porters bringing more rations arrive. Road cleared OK. CO sends appreciation of situation in Montenero to HQ 38 Brigade. 2 i/c sends appreciation of situation in Montenero from enemy point of view to HQ 38 Brigade.

9 January

0015 Convoy returns to Rionero with urgent casualties and advance party of No 10 Belgian Commando.

0600 Dawn Patrol from E Company.

0800 E Company go out to Calvario. Commando patrol to Lone House 057477. Officers and NCOs practice ski-ing under instructions of Belgian Commandos.

1530 1 Platoon E Company go out to 059471 to protect ration convoy coming in tonight.

1630 E Company reports back.

1730 Commando patrol back. NTR.

1800 CO’s O Groups: operations for tomorrow. E Company to Il Monte supported by F Company. To patrol Pizzone road and gain information about enemy.

1900 Brigadier arrives to see CO.

1930 Transport convoy arrives safely. Belgian troops Number 10 Commando leaves for Rionero. Detached from Battalion Command.

2100 Platoon H Company returns to Montenero. Convoy away safely. W/Lt Wessels and W/Lt Bruckmann to hospital.

10 January

0400 F Company to Steep Hill 048438.

0600 G Company to Steep Hill and then to Il Monte 035428. To use as a patrol base and send out recces or raiding patrols to area Pizzone-Alfedena.

1520 One Platoon H Company goes out to 059471 to protect expected in tonight.

1540 All companies reported in.

1930 Transport and mule convoy arrives with rations. Remaining detachments of 3” mortars and machine guns arrive.

One Platoon H Company rejoins from special duties at Army HQ Vasto.

11 January

0600 Dawn Patrol from E Company to Rocky Point. Remains in position all day.

0600 E Company goes out to Alto. IO and Battle Patrol recce cross country track to Rionero for mules.

1500 F Company reports in NTR.

1630 3” mortars register targets on all tracks leading into Montenero.

1800 CO’s verbal orders for operations tomorrow. Recces to be carried out tomorrow to counter-attack role of Bifurcation.

Sunday 12 January

0600 Dawn Patrol from G Company.

0800 CO, IO and company commanders go out to recce Marsucci for company positions in counter-attack role on Bifurcation.

1400 CO’s orders for operations tonight and tomorrow. To rehearse tonight plan for counter-attack on bridge and station at Bifurcation 076497.

H Company to 057483.

F Company to 052479.

E Company and E Company in support at 053473 and 058475 respectively. TAC HQ at 058478.

H Company to send out patrols to Alfedena road at 055493.

E Company to send out patrols to road at 048478.

1900 Battalion moves off from Montenero.

2130 TAC HQ and all companies in position.

2130 Mules reported to be held up by snow. Mortars and MMGs unable to get forward in time.

2200 Patrols sent out.

2300 Patrols report in.

2345 Orders given for companies to return to Montenero.

W/Lt G Cole (RUR) admitted to hospital.

13 January

0045 All companies in Montenero.

0600 Dawn Patrol from H Company goes out to Alto.

1300 Cos O Group. G Company to recce Alfedena-Pizzone road and Il Monte area.

1430 G Company goes out to Il Monte 035428 supported by F Company from 048438.

Patrol from G Company to go out to 024448 to find out if area is being used as a patrol base.

1800 CO proceeds to Brigade for conference. Major HEN Bredin assumes command of the battalion.

2100 G Company reports in. Patrol NTR.

2130 F Company reports in.

T/Major G Phillips (RUR)

W/Lieutenant M O W Clarke (RUR)

Captain GG Hall (RUR)

W/Lieut CWL Bird (RUR)

all joined Battalion from x(iv) list.

14 January

0600 Dawn Patrol from E Company to Lone Tree 054461.

Battalion rests most of the day.

1930 CO returns from Bde. Gives out verbal orders for future. The attack on the left by the French is succeeding.

The Battalion is to give the impression that a mass attack by two battalions on this front is coming off in the near future and to increase Patrol activity and MT movement.

Plan: E & F Companies to form positions in Calvario area with supporting arms and to protect RA firing registration targets. Supplies by mules. Pioneers to build shelters.

15 January

0800 E & F companies and TAC HQ move off to Calvario. Mules to go with stores in three waves. Companies move in positions and build shelters.

1345 RA commence registration of targets.

1700 Patrol Programme for night 15/16th.

E Company Recce Patrol to 021470 to find out depth and possible crossings of River Torto.

SS Platoon Recce Patrol to Alfedena and report on crossings across River Sangro.

Flank Protection patrols from E & F companies during the night.

1800 E Company patrol goes out.

Patrol from SS Platoon goes out.

CO’s verbal orders for relief of E & F Companies tomorrow. Detailed written orders issued.

2200 Patrol from SS Platoon returns.

2230 E Company Patrol returns.

16 January

0530 All flank protection patrols from E & F companies back in company areas. NTR.

Zero hour for “Chinese” attack.

RA shell targets in area 0147 0248 and Scontrone.

4.2” mortars fired at 014446. Positions at 027488 engaged by MMGs.

0600 Enemy shelled area 044875. 20-30 shells in 15 minutes.

0620 Our shelling stops.

0800 E & F companies relieved by G &  H companies.

1000 E & F companies in Montenero.

1500 CO’s orders for operations night 16/17 Jan.

Infm. Enemy believed to be holding Bellaveduta 0147

Intention. To find out if enemy occupy Bellaveduta and his positions.

Method Phase 1 1730-1900 hrs.

H Company to hold Pt 1,061 with 1 Platoon. Remaining platoons to give flank protection from rear in area of main road Alfedena-Pizzone.

1 Platoon G Company to occupy slopes of Calvario.

Phase II 2200-2300 hrs.

Withdrawal when Battle Patrol reports in to H Company.

Support from RA 4.2” mortars and 3” mortars.

DF after withdrawn.

1700 Phase I commences

1900 Phase I completed.

2130 Phase II completed. CO & Battle Patrol now returning to Montenero.

2315 CIO & Battle Patrol arrive in Montenero.

Withdrawal of H Company completed satisfactorily.

Patrol did not reach objective. Was followed back across River Torto by enemy patrol. Fired on H Company, but gun jammed and enemy escaped.

17 January  

0830 E & F Companies relieve G & H Companies in forward positions.

0830 50 shells land in Montenero. Mostly 165 and 150 calibre.

0930 G and H Companies return to Montenero. Sweep ground between forward localities and Montenero for possible patrols lurking in the neighbourhood.

1015 Battle Patrol goes out to Marsucci 0547 to search for possible enemy Observation Patrol parties in this area. NTR.

1815 One Platoon E Company goes out to 027468 to lie up, supported by a platoon on the forward slopes of Calvario.

2300 All platoons back in company areas. Patrol made no contact.

Sunday 18 January

0600 Dawn Patrol from G Company to Lone Tree and Top Point.

1000 Mule convoy with supplies leaves for forward companies.

CO & IO go up to give verbal orders for tonight’s operations

1130 Fifteen shells land in area Calvario and Banchette. Last land well into the forward platoon locality of F Company. CO gives out verbal orders for operations tonight.

1 Platoon F Company to lie up just south of Alfedena in area of bend in road 028475 supported by remaining platoons of F Company at 034474 and 030470. Flank protection patrols during the night to 1182 and Banchette.

1400 CO’s orders for the remainder of the battalion. Protection of MT convoy.

1 Platoon G Company to high ground overlooking main road and 0647.

Jeep patrol along road to escort vehicles in. DF by RA. 4.2” & 3’ mortars.

1900 Convoy of 15 trucks reports in with supplies and rations. 45 refugees evacuated to rear.

2200 F Company reports back in position. NTR.

2359 Convoy returns to H Echelon. T/Major CAF Gibbs admitted to hospital.

19 January

0200 1 Platoon G Company returns to Montenero.

0600 Dawn Patrol from G Company to Rocky Point and Top Pt 0545.

0830 E Company report enemy raid.

1030 G & H Companies leave in counter-attack on E & F Companies position.

1500 G and H Companies return to Montenero.

1800 CO’s O Group. Operations tomorrow to bring in forward companies to Montenero and all stores.

20 January

0500 G & H Companies go out to Banchette 033455 and Calvario 035453 respectively to cover return of E and F companies and all their stores.

0730 G and H Companies in position.

1500 E and F Companies in Montenero.

1600 Sergeant Stalker and one section Battle Patrol goes out to Calvario to lie up and observe.

1830 G and H Companies back in Montenero.

1900 2 i/c reports to Bde for conference.

2330 CO warned to go to Bde. E Company to provide jeep escort and covering party.

21 January

0500 CO leaves for Bde. Covering party from S Company in position in hills.

0800 E Company goes to Wooded Saddle 044449.

0830 F Company, supported by E Company, goes out to Banchette to observe.

1100 Patrol from S Company to Lone Tree 054463.

1630 E and F Companies return to Montenero.

1720 Lt Searles and 1 Platoon H Company go out to old forward company positions on Calvario to observe and ambush any enemy who may return there. Also to patrol E Company track 035460 and F Company track at 042460.

1730 G Company goes out to area on counter-attack role on Bifurcation. To send out patrols to River Sangro and intervening sector Alfedena Road.

2330 Lt Searles and his platoon report in. NTR.

22 January

0800 G Company reports in.

0815 IO goes out to recce mule track to Rionero by cross country route.

1200 IO returns.

1700 Battle Patrol goes out to area 041453 to lie up and observe.

1730 F Company goes out to area 055476 for counter-attack role in Bifurcation. Protective patrols during night to River Sangro.

2130 White verey lights seen over hills.

23 January

0045 Battle Patrol reports in. No enemy seen or contact made.

0600 Dawn Patrol from E Company goes out to nearby hills. .

0730 F reports in from Montenero. Reported no enemy contacted or observed.

0800 H Company goes out to F Company old position on Alto 0447 to observe. 1 platoon is detailed from main body of company to move left handed to search old Calvario position.

0930 CO’s O Group goes out on recce of Marsucci area and surrounding hills.

1400 CO’s orders for night operations. G Company to go out on counter-attack role on Bifurcation. To cover patrol to ford across River Sangro at 043492. Patrol from E Company to Top Point 049461. To patrol ground just forward. Battle Patrol to 051470 to lie up and observe. Artillery fire at call.

1700 G Company go out to forward slopes of Silario in c/a role.

1730 H Company report in Montenero.

1800 CO’s verbal orders:

Intention: to keep patrolling high ground forward and prepare to evacuate Montenero.

Method: H Company to Steep Hill. Local patrols in surrounding hills. (during day).

1700 Companies to move out to hills forward to protect MT convoy coming in tonight to take away 50 per cent stores. Full 100 per cent protection. IO to provide guides in night guiding. Detailed written orders issued.

1845 Battle Patrol goes out to 051470.

1900 G Company report in position.

2000 Patrol from G Company goes out to ford across River Sangro at 043492.

2350 Patrol from Battle Patrol reports in. NTR.

Sunday 24 January

0030 Patrol from G Company reports in. River knee deep. Ford not been used for some time.

0100 Patrol from E Company goes out to Top Point.

0200 1 RIrF report small enemy patrol at Bifurcation. Red verey lights fired and G Company moved forward to ambush and counter-attack. Only small enemy patrol of 5 men. They were quickly dispersed before G Company arrived. 1 enemy killed.

0430 Patrol from E Company reports in. NTR.

0730 G Company comes in to Montenero.

0800 H Company goes out to Steep Hill to observe. 1 section Battle Patrol goes out to recce Marsucci and surrounding features.

1230 This section reports in. NTR.

1300 Two sections Battle Patrol goes out to Top Pont and forward features 0447.

1400 CO’s verbal orders to arrange nigh protection of column. Detailed written orders issued.

1600 These sections report in. NTR.

1630 IO moves of with guides.

1700 Companies move out to positions to protect large MT convoy coming in at 1900.

F Company to Silario.

H Company to 063402

E Company to 057467

Battalion HQ to 063461

G Company to 052462.

1900 Convoy arrives just outside town. Marshalled and led forward one by one. All stores loaded on vehicles and column re-marshalled. No enemy interference.

25 January

0010 MT column moves off.

0030 Companies ordered to withdraw.

0130 All companies except F back in Montenero. F Company move further down slopes of Silario in counter-attack role on Bifurcation.

0800 F Company report in. Patrols to road and rail junction 060495 NTR.

1400 CO’s orders to arrange further details of move to Forli and evacuation of Montenero. Detailed written orders issued.

1700 All companies move out to same positions as previous night. Check posts established at 058459 and 067468.

MT control post at Cemetery.

1900 MT convoy consisting of 21 x 3 tonners arrives.

1915 Loading of transport commences.

2100 Check post 3 established at 076466

2100 IO leaves with guides to piquet cross country march route to Rionero.

2305 MT loading complete.

2331 MT control post closes.

2359 E Company commences to withdraw.

W/Lieut J A S Hunter admitted to hospital.

26 January

0030 E Company and company loading parties pass Number 3 check post.

0130 E Company passes Number 3 check post.

0200 F Company passes Number 3 check post.

0330 G Company passes Number 3 check post.

0335 TAC HQ arrives at Number 3 check post.

0815 All companies complete have passed through Rionero. Hot tea and rum on arrival.

0930 Battalion established in billets at Forli.

1500 CO’s O Group. Issues verbal orders as to future administration details and training.

1600 Brigadier visits battalion.

27 January

Battalion rests and re-organises.

1400 Seventeen reinforcements join battalion.

1800 Lt Seymour MC rejoins battalion from Snow Warfare Course.

Montenero is reported to have been heavily shelled during the afternoon.

28 January

0930 CO recces Forli in conjunction with defence scheme. Written instructions issued dated 29 January 1944.

1700 CO’s conference on training and future moves.

29 January

0830 2 i/c with small billeting party proceeds to Barenello 4625 Sheet 162 1/100,000.

0900 CO’s inspection of billets.

1700 CO’s conference to issue forward orders for advance parties to move to new area at Baranello.

1730 Brigadier 1st Carpathian (Polish) Brigade visits the CO.

Sunday 30 January 

1100 Church parades.

1330 CO visits 6 Innisks in conjunction with c/a role on their positions.

1700 Pipe ban plays retreat in Forli square in presence of Brigadier.

1900 CO’s conference. Movement order for battalion to Baranello issued.

31 January

0630 Advance parties proceed to Baranello.

1030 Advance parties from III battalion 1st Carpathian Rifle Brigade arrives.

1800 CO’s conference to issue final verbal orders for move to Baranello on 1st Feb.

Administration order issued.