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 1944

1 May – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

0700 CO proceeds on four days leave. Second in command assumes command of bttn.

0745 Bttn HQ and two Rifle Coys proceed to Capua for street fighting exercise and demonstration. Order of search – Bttn HQ, two assault sections of Pioneer Platoon, H and E Coys, VMGs and 3 A/Tk guns from S Coy.

0800 CO’s O Group prior to demonstration of street fighting by 5 Buffs.

0915 1 Kensingtons demonstrate fortification of enemy strong points.

1000 H and E Coys being attack on blocks of ruined buildings.

1130 Exercise ended. Coys return to bttn area.

1200 F and G Coys proceed to Capua to repeat exercise.


2 May – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

Lieut JD White MC posted to 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade HQ as Chief Liaison Officer.

1600 Change of password: Challenge – Jam, Answer – Tart.


3 May – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

0630 Bttn exercise – Assault River Crossing – Capua area. Troops involved – Bttn less essential admin personnel.


4 May – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

1400 O Group for Exercise Medjez (with tanks) on 5 May. Major Gibbs CO for exercise.


5 May – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

0715 R Group move off to 237920.

0800 Bttn F Group leave Pontaletone by transport.

0900 Arrive in area Liberi 2491 and liaise with tanks (16/5 Lancers).

1245 Bttn arrive at FUP. H left forward, F right forward, G right rear, E left rear supported by squadron of tanks.

1300 Bttn crosses Start Line.

1600 Exercise ended.

1630 Lecture on exercise by Major Gibbs and CO of 16/5 Lancers.

1700 Bttn arrives back in camp.

1900 E Coy on exercise – acting as enemy for 6 Innisks.


6 May – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

0600 Warning Order for Battalion exercise night 6/7 May.

Bttn R and O Groups rv 219889 at 1730 hrs.

Coy R and O Groups rv 219889 at 1800 hrs.

Platoon R and O Groups rv 219889 at 1900 hrs.

Main body leaves camp at 1900 hrs by march route to reach FUP at 2030 hrs.

0800 Bttn exercise.

1700 R Group move off for Bttn night exercise.

1900 Bttn moves off for area of exercise.


7 May – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

0100 Bttn arrives back in camp.


8 May – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

0900 CO’s conference on future operations and previous night exercise.

1400 Lieut Lyness appointed Bttn IO.


9 May – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

1130 Lecture on Security given by FSS Sgt to all available NCOs of bttn.

1700 CO’s O Group dealing with move to new divisional concentration area near Presenzano (0607). Bttn warned for probable move the following day. B Echelon to remain in present area as well as all unnecessary stores.


10 May – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

1230 Bttn advance parties leave for new concentration area.

2330 Bttn embussed ready to move.


11 May – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

0040 Bttn move.

0340 Bttn arrive in new area. All vehicles to be camouflaged and bivouac areas set up before 0600hrs.

1330 Bttn parade for lecture by Divisional Commander and Brigadier.

1400 Coys advised on forthcoming operations by lectures and use of large scale and model. 


12 May– IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

BBC announced that the 8th and 5th Armies had launched an offensive against the German Gustav Line running from Cassino to the sea. The attack began at 2300 hrs 11/5/44.

0700 CO’s recce party at immediate notice to move forward. Main body of bttn at one hour’s notice and bttn rear party at four hours’ notice.

 1000 Baths at MBU.

CO visits Brigade. CO’s recce party now at one hour’s notice and main body at four hours’ notice.

1600 No anticipated move before 0530 hrs on 13th. Bttn then at four hours’ notice.

1730 Brigade IO visits Bttn HQ to inform CO and Coy Commanders of latest progress by Allied Forces on the Cassino sector.

1945 Brigadier visits Bttn HQ.


13 May – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

1700 Bttn “off notice” to move.

2005 Bttn warned for possible move forward at 0400 hrs on 14th.

2045 CO proceeds to brigade for O Group. Bttn to move at 0400 hrs on 14th by transport to brigade concentration area south of Monte Porchio.

Intention : 78 Division to move across River Rapido and attack in a  northerly direction towards Route Six, west of Cassino at first light on 15th and to link with the Polcorps. The Polcorps objective is Monte Trocchio (8816). 38 Brigade to lead divisional attack. 


14 May – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

0330 Bttn embussed.

0400 38 Brigade moved off.

Order of march: 6 Innisks, 64 A/Tk, 2 LIR, 17 Field Regiment, Brigade HQ and 1 RIrF.

0715 Bttn arrive in area 8816. Bttn established in farm 883163. Bttn HQ transport remains at brigade (892159). CO visits Brigade HQ and then proceeds to recce forming up area o far side of River Rapido accompanied by the IO and Captain Fitzgerald.

0930 Recce group returns.

1000 6 Innisks move across the River Rapido.

1430 CO’s O Group.

Information: 13 Corps’ troops – 4 Div on right, 8 Indian Div on left have gained about 2000 yards during the morning and all have held their gains except 1 RWK on right flank of 4 Division

Intention: Bttn will move to forming up area across the Rapdio by march route via Ace Route, where they will wait for the Bttn F transport. They will then move to a further concentration area. 6 Innisks on right, 2 LIR on left will attack across P Cantoni and dig in on objective when taken. Supported by Derbyshire Yeomanry, 16/5 Lancers and 17 Field Regiment.

1500 Bttn move across Rapido via Congo Bridge (865166). Bttn HQ established at 859158.

1600 Brigade O Group.

Intention: 2/4 Hampshires, supported by NZ Tank Brigade, to attack high ground 845180. 6 Innisks to go through their positions to high ground further north and 2 LIR with then go through 6 Innisks to P Cantoni. 2/4 Hampshires to move at 1800hrs.

1800 Part of Bttn F Echelon arrives.

1910 Bttn ready to move.

1915 Bttn attack postponed. Tanks supporting 2/4 Hampshires broke bridge at 849174 and became bogged.

2000 Remainder of F Echelon arrive, together with Bttn supporting arms. CQMSs bring up hot meal for bttn.

Exchange of password when link up with Polcorps is made: Polcorps – Brat, 13 Corps – George.

2030 Bttn takes up all round defence positions for the night.

Brigadier’s O Group. Intention: Brigade attack with 2/4 Hampshires to be carried out on morning 15 May, when engineers have built another bridge at 849174. 


15 May – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

0800 CO leaves in his carrier to recce forming up area north of stream 849174.

0900 Intelligence Sergeant and 1 OR recce stream for crossings.

Information : 6 Innisks have passed through 2/4 Hampshires and have advanced beyond their objective. 11 Brigade has crossed river Rapido. 5 Northants concentrating in area of track 855178.

0900 Considerable enemy Nebelwerfer activity. Firing concentrations into valley west of bridge 849174.

1245 Bttn move off by march route to concentration area.

Bttn objectives: Building 821179 and cross roads 819186.

First objective – H Coy right, F Coy left.

1400 Enemy heavy shelling and mortaring of bttn concentration area 840168 during afternoon.

1630 CO’s carrier hit. CO wounded and 3 ORs slightly wounded. CO died of wounds. Major Phillips wounded.

1700 2.i.c. goes forward to take over command of bttn.

1730 E Coy report enemy tanks on track 829173.

Bttn suffer heavy casualties from heavy enemy mortaring.

Lieut E Lovatt wounded . H and F Coys attack postponed.

1940 CO and IO go to brigade for conference.

Enemy aircraft dive bomb area forward of H Coy.


16 May – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

0900 Bttn attack area 821179, supported by tanks.

1100 Enemy A/Tk gun reported on track 8418, firing west.

H Coy (left) on objective. F coy (centre) out of touch with tanks.

1200 Tanks report enemy tanks and infantry at 822168. Monkey target brought down by artillery.

1400 Derbyshire Yeomanry to go through bttn 819185.

Lieut Clark and Sgt Donaldson killed.

1415 Lieut Searles and Lieut O’Connor wounded. Report only six men left in one platoon of H Coy.

1430 Tanks report 824167 clear of enemy.

1830 Tanks (Lothians) move into F Echelon area.

1900 Enemy counter attacking from west. F Echelon take up defensive positions. Attack coming in from area Ria Piopetto 823169 with covering fire from 842170 across hill 834169 through Northants positions. Tanks take up defensive position on hill 843168, firing west and 846168, firing north west. Infantry of F Echelon in position in front of tanks at 843168.

2000 Situation restored.

Bttn taken all objectives. Suffered about 100 casualties. 1 RIrF move forward to concentration area to attack Fernie. Derbyshire Yeomanry in position on 38 Brigade right, 11 Brigade on left.

Last light Sitrep:Bttn HQ 823177. Coys 818177, 821117, 824177, 824179, 824176. There were 102 PoWs taken during course of the day from 361 PGR, 6 Coy 741 PGR, 33 A/Tk Bttn and 114 Pnr Bttn. Four enemy SP guns and 2 Mk IV tanks knocked out.


17 May – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

0700 1 RIrF pass through bttn area to forward localities.

0906 1 RIrF take objective. Report enemy throwing down arms and running away.

1000 Very heavy shelling of Bttn HQ farm. Three ORs on 17 pounder A/Tk gun killed.

1005 Bttn warned for move forward.

1010 Enemy tank appeared in valley on left flank. Dealt with own tanks.

1020 Six prisoners of mixed enemy units arrived at Bttn HQ.

1130 CO’s recce party forward.

1135 Rifle coys move forward to defensive area 815185. Intention – to occupy area and consolidate and allow 5 Buffs to pass through at dawn.

1140 5 Buffs arrive at Bttn HQ farm. Bttn HQ moves forward.

1230 Bttn halted on road at 820184. Informed area 815185 cannot be occupied until 1st dark.

1300 Bttn heavily shelled. No casualties.

1500 Coy recce groups move forward.

1900 Bttn arrive in area 810185. Intermittent shelling and mortaring


18 May – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

0700 Coys sent out patrols to clear area of remaining area and gather information.

General Information: Germans announce Cassino town evacuated. Poles send patrols to Cassino monastery. 4 Division cut Route Six at 840197. French take Esperia and begin outflanking movements on Adolf Hitler Line.

1300 Brigadier visits Bttn HQ.

1815 Draft of approximately 50 reinforcements arrive at Bttn HQ.

1900 CO proceeds to Brigade Tac HQ for conference.

2000 CO’s O Group. Bttn warned for move to area 783193.


19 May – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

0500 CO’s recce parry proceeds forward to recce route and positions in new area.

0630 Bttn move forward.

0830 Move completed.

0930 Bttn HQ and coy positions heavily shelled for 20 minutes. Two ORs of bttn and 2 RA wounded.

1000 CO’s O Group.

1030 CO, IO and Coy Commanders recce bttn area. Coys established in position at 779206, 778 205, 778204, 783205. Periodic shelling of bttn area. Bttn Tac HQ in farmhouse 779200.

1900 CO’s O Group dealing with bttn all round protection.

2100 Bttn area and approach routes shelled intermittently. No casualties. 


20 May – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

1900 CO’s O Group. Information: Polish troops fighting in Piedimonte. 2 LFs at 763203 and 1 East Surreys at 755195.


21 May – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

1000 Warning order for bttn to move back to area 810185 on being  relieved by 56 Recce, night 21/22 May.

1100 Lieut Barker proceeds with advance party to new area.

1500 56 Recce advance party arrives at Bttn HQ.

1700 Lieut Barker reports no room in area 810185. CO decides to move coys back to rear of Bttn HQ on their relief by 56 Recce.

1800 Relief commenced. Bttn HQ moves back to farm 783195. Casualties from shelling during day – four killed and four wounded. One Coy Commander’s jeep destroyed.


22 May – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

1000 Canadian tank regiment liaison officer arrives at Bttn HQ.


23 May – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

Nothing to Report.

Intentions: Canadians to smash Adolf Hitler line at Pontecorvo followed by 11 Brigade with 38 (Irish) Brigade as exploiting troops.


24 May– IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

0700 Information: Canadians make a breach in Hitler Line above Pontecorvo. 11 Brigade occupied Aquino night 23 May without opposition. 1 Moroccan Division in possession of San Giovanni, west of Pontecorvo.

1000 Bttn warned for probable move forward by TCVs in afternoon or evening.

1345 Brigadier Scott visits Bttn HQ for conference re future operations.

1500 CO’s O Group.

2100 Bttn warned for move forward at 0730 25 May.

Information: Canadians reach River Melfa, 5 miles beyond Adolf Hitler Line.


25 May – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

0700 CO and IO proceed to Brigade HQ.

0730 Bttn ready to move.

0900 Bttn at 3 hours notice to move.

1100 Bttn at immediate notice as from 1600 hrs.

2100 Enemy aircraft bomb forward and rear positions over wide area. Own casualties – 3 killed, 4 wounded.


26 May – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

0600 Bttn embussed for move forward. Order of march – E, G, F Coys, Bttn HQ, H and S Coys.

0830 Bttn arrive harbouring area 718232. At 2 hours notice to move.

2000 CO’s O Group. Bttn at ½ hour’s notice as from 0630 hrs 27 May.


27 May – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

0830 CO’s O Group.

Information: 6 Armoured Division attacking Arce. 38 (Irish) Brigade to attack Ceprano. Brigade order of battle: 1 RIrF with 1 squadron of tanks, 2 LIR with 1 squadron of tanks, followed by Brigade Tac HQ, 6 Innisks in reserve. Canadians later reported in Ceprano.

1700 Bttn move forward.

1830 Bttn arrive area wood 658272.

1900 Intelligence Section move forward with 1 RIrF on recce of forward routes.

2100 Bttn ordered to consolidate in present area.


28 May – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

1200 Information: Guards Brigade capture features Monte Piccolo and Monte Grande morning 28 May, but we forced to evacuate them owing to enemy pincer movement.

1600 CO’s O Group. Bttn warned for move forward at first dark. Intention: 1 RIrF to occupy area river bend 5927 beyond Ceprano. 2 LIR to push through them up Route Six.

2100 Bttn move postponed to first light 29 May. E and G Coys take up flanking positions to protect tanks (3 Hussars).


29 May – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

0630 Bttn move forward.

Order of march – R Group, R Group vehicles, Bttn HQ and O Group, E, G, F, H and S Coys, one squadron of 3 Hussars, Kensington Support Group, RAP, Wheeled vehicles to follow if possible.

0920 Bttn arrive in area 597272

0955 Bttn move forward to take over 1 RIrF area 593277. 1 RIrF to move forward to cut Strangolagalli – Ripi road. Bttn intention – to move up on left flank of 1 RIrF when road is out.

1200 F Coy move forward to pt 207 (573299) to cover left forward move of 1 RIrF. 6 Innisks move into F Coy’s vacated area.

1640 Bttn HQ moves forward to farm 586293. E Coy move forward to occupy pt 255 (553312). Pioneers, protected by Battle Patrol, went forward to minesweep in bttn area.

1730 Battle Patrol and Pioneers return.

1930 CO’s O Group.

2030 Tac HQ moves forward to 586293. E Coy report MG and rifle opposition on pt 255. Withdraw and call for Uncle target on point.


30 May – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

0005–0027 Artillery barrage on pt 255 preceding E Coy’s occupation.

0030 CQMSs arranging hot meal for coys. Direct route forward impassable for vehicles. Difficulty finally overcome by proceeding along Route Six from which track led to pt 255.

0100 Brigadier issued rough outline of brigade activities. 36 Brigade now known to be making progress on left flank in Ripi area.

0600 Main Bttn HQ move forward from 553312 to Tac HQ.

0735 Main Bttn HQ arrive at Tac HQ.

0945 Tac HQ and coys move forward. Intention – tactical infiltration towards Ripi as far as possible.

1030 Brigadier visits Main Bttn HQ. Information – Indians north of Strangolagalli. Canadians pushing on to Frosinone. 36 Brigade, with 2 bttns forward, moving along axis of Route 6 with right swing up to Ripi. French troops reported to making good progress south of Route 6.

1100 Intention: Bttn objective – Ripi. F, G and H Coys forward, E Coy in reserve. Rounds: F Coy 546318 (Claret), H Coy 540321 (Gin), G Coy 536236 (Port). Combined – 531331 (Brandy), 528335 (Whisky), Ripi (Sherry).

1230 One coy encountered minefield. Gap soon cleared and coys passed through to assembly in valley.

1320 Coys move forward from assembly area.

1415 F Coy reported on Claret.

1416 Brigade report 6 unidentified tanks at 518335.

1430 Tac HQ moves to Claret.

1440 E Coy move on to Claret.

1450 Left flanking units (36 Brigade) reach Brandy. Brigadier orders 2 LIR to halt when Brandy reached to avoid confusion. Tac HQ being shelled.

1500 E Coy report on Gin.

1515 E Coy report small arms firing on their right flank and ask for supporting tanks to deal with it.

1615 G Coy reported on Port. Another coy moving up to help consolidate and a 3rd coy moving to the rear of Port in an endeavour to trap any remaining enemy.

1700 Own tanks approaching Brandy. Enemy SP gun and enemy tank reported 1500 yards south west of Ripi.

1710 Brigadier orders bttn to fix limit of advance for night at Whisky and to send patrols forward to Ripi. Warns that village might possibly be occupied by advanced right flanking troops.

1820 CO asks permission to move on to Ripi.

1900 Brandy reported occupied at 1800 hrs. Battle confused. CO asks for one hour to straighten things up before moving onto Whisky. Estimate of 12 prisoners take. Own casualties – 8 wounded.

2140 Whisky captured.

2150 CQMSs arrive with meals for bttn.

Ripi believed occupied by right flanking troops.


31 May – IN THE FIELD (ITALY).

0800 6 Innisks pass through bttn and proceed beyond Ripi.

0830 Brigadier visits Bttn HQ.

1000 Civilians report approximately one bttn of German infantry counter attacking area of 6 Innisks’ right flank.

2200 Reports of enemy counter attack proved unfounded.