Irish Brigade

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

Faugh a Ballagh        Nec Aspera Terrent         Quis Separabit


2 LIR – October 1944

1 October –ITALY.

Bttn still in concentration area at Fano.

0900 CE and RC Church Parades.

1800 CO and 2.i.c. attend Divisional Commander’s conference at Brigade HQ.

2 October – ITALY.

0700 Bttn PT Parades.

0800 Brigade RC Church Parade.

1300 Bttn warned for probable move forward on morning of 4th October.

1400 Bttn now ordered to move at 1900 hrs. Advance party plus CO’s forward recce party to move off at 1430 hrs.

First stage – Assisi. Route – coast road to Pescara then inland along lateral road. Intention – to relieve US troops north of Firenzuola, thus extending British 13 Corps left lank.

2100 Brigade convoy moved off. Column travelled all night.

3 October – ITALY.

0600 Convoy halted in the Assisi area until midday.

1300 Convoy moved off north to second stage at Ficline.

Bttn spent night in brickwork factory 2 ½ miles north of Ficline.

4 October – ITALY.

0700 Brigade convoy moved off. Ultimate destination – Firenzuola (9106). Route – Pontassieve (9468) – Borgo San Lorenzo (9188) – Scarperia (9293).

1300 Bttn arrive in area Firenzuola.

1500 2.i.c. and Adjutant held O Group on administration for the move to forward areas the following day.

Coy Commanders went up to forward area to join CO’s Recce Group.

5 October – ITALY.

0630 Preparations for move forward.

1200 US Trucks carried personnel and supplies to forward Admin HQ at Castel Del Rio (006167). Afternoon spent loading supplies etc onto coy mule teams.

1730 Bttn moved off by route march to forward positions. E Coy leading, followed by Bttn HQ, Mortar Platoon and remaining 3 coys. Bttn MG Platoon not to be used yet. MMG support provided by 1 Kensingtons.

6 October – ITALY.

0230 Owing to inexperienced guides (American troops new to the area) Bttn HQ took nine hours to reach their location, by which time the rifle coys were in position.

Locations:

Bttn HQ in farm 032175. E Coy on summit of Monte Cappello (Pts 587 – 035179). F Coy at 029181. H Coy in semi position at 031177. Admin HQ and Mule Point in Castel del Rio. B Echelon at Firenzuola.

1200 Enemy shelling E Coy’s right forward platoon (036178).

1230 Daylight patrol intentions:

E Coy recce patrol to 034184 – time out 1400 hrs, in 1800 hrs. F Coy recce patrol to 033186 – time out 1400 hrs, in 1800 hrs. G Coy recce patrol to 026185 – time out 1430 hrs, in 1630 hrs.

Right intentions: Two coys of 2 Innisks moving up from Castel del Rio to Monte Cappello under command of 2 LIR for night of 6/7 only.

1900 Patrols returned. E Coy reported contact with Italian civilians who said that enemy was in strength in Fontanedice (0521).

No contact with enemy except for mortaring directed by enemy OP in Battaglia area (0617). F Coy reported enemy sniping – 12 rounds. G Coy reported no contact.

2000 Coy mule teams passed through Bttn HQ area en route to coy positions.

7 October – ITALY.

0500 Sitrep night 6/7 – NTR.

0800 Day’s Intentions: H Coy patrol under Major Craig to proceed as far as Tambarella 032191. If no contact made with enemy to push forward and test enemy defences along the River Gaggio 0219 and 0319. Time out – 1300 hrs, E Coy to send out patrol in case enemy snipers (reported by F Coy on previous night) interfere with H Coy patrol.

1200 Brigade Commander visits Bttn HQ to confer with CO.

1530 Allied plans strafing and bombing enemy positions well forward on bttn area.

1700 Rights Intentions: Local standing patrols as thought necessary by coy commamders.

8 October – ITALY.

0500 H Coy patrol of previous day report no contact with enemy this side of Rio di Gaggio. Four Italian civilians brought back confirm this.

0900 Two more Italian civilians arrive at Bttn HQ and give information that enemy is in position along the north bank of Rio di Gaggio – with MGs in cemetery and three mortars at Casa Abruzzi (Pt 327 – 039023).

1500 Italian civilians arrive at Bttn HQ with information that two German soldiers (apparently deserters) are in their farm near F Coy area. Patrol sent out to bring them in.

1630 Two German prisoners brought into Bttn HQ. Identification – 5 Coy, 755 Regiment, 365 Infantry Division. Apparently 5,6 and 7 Coys are manning Rio di Gaggio defences.

1700 Sitrep – Patrol been established at Fornione 039192 – heavy shelling there but no casualties. Patrols working from there to 044192 and 034197.

9 October – ITALY.

0500 Intentions: Patrol of 2 and 30 to proceed to Casa Mazza 047168, establish base there, then send patrols to Villa Montelora (Pt 442 – 057201). Time out – 1600 hrs. Time in 0600 hrs on 10 October.

1300 Patrol of 2 Innisks passed through Bttn HQ on way back to own positions. Report – 1 OR killed and 4 wounded by mortaring.

1530 IO and Intelligence L/Sgt accompany patrol to Casa Mazza. Object – to recce patrols and harbouring areas.

10 October – ITALY.

0430 Patrol to Casa Maria returned to Bttn HQ. Reached line of Gaggio but crossings were under MG and mortar fire. Own casualties – 2 ORs wounded (GSW). No enemy identifications.

0900 Days Intentions:

Patrol Apple. I officer, 1 Sgt and 5 ORs. Object – to contact left forward coy Grenadier Guards at Mezzola and to recce mule tracks to that point to facilitate movement of 1 RIrF to position behind the Grenadiers.

Patrol Orange. 1 Platoon to Brown House to cover 3” mortars firing from forward area. Time out for both patrols – 0900 hrs. Time in -1300 hrs.

2000 Patrol Apple returned. Difficult country, unmarked tracks and mule tracks deep in mud prevented fast movement. Unable to contact Grenadiers Tac HQ owing to its exposed positions. Contact made with Reserve Coy, Welsh Guards, then Welsh Guards HQ and, finally, the left forward coy of Grenadiers, which was in reserve. The mule tracks were thoroughly recce-d in the dark on the return journey.

11 October – ITALY.

0200 Patrol John set out. Strength 1 officer and 6 ORs. Time in 0500 hrs. Route out and in – C Gusto (041184) to Ropidaro (046181). Object – recce of tracks and to find if Ropidaro occupied by enemy.

0400 Patrol Peter set out. Strength – 1 officer and 10 ORs and 3 signallers. Time in – 1900 hrs. Route and in – Pt 506 (036185) – Pt 408 (037188) – Pt 419 (042188) – C Cardengo (043191). Object – to observe Gaggio Ridge by day and report by line or W/T.

0930 1 mortar bomb landed in vicinity of Bttn HQ.

1000 Allied heavy and fighter bombers bombed and strafed enemy positions well forward of bttn area (Bologna area).

1930 Patrol Peter returned. Reported enemy positions in haystack at 036199 and two dug outs at 036201 and 036199. Movement observed Monte Loro (056201) and La Siepe (050198). A sniper, Rifleman Cummings, sent out on a roving commission, shot 3 Germans in approximate area 031199 and reported 9 enemy in area buildings Pt 190 (028204). Also observed someone building up a window in a building in Gaggio cemetery and thought he saw an MG being put in position there. He fired a shot at the window, which put a stop to all further movement.

12 October– ITALY.

0600 Sitrep – Quiet night. NTR.

0800 One platoon of F Coy on recce patrol on Brown House (036185). One platoon of H Coy took over their position for duration of patrol.

1100 Allied heavy bombers attacked enemy positions well forward.

1300 Night’s intentions:

E Coy patrol. Strength – 12. Route – C Guasto (043183) – La Torre (045186) – C Mazza (047188). Object – to cross R Fornione at 051187 to investigate track at 057188. If no enemy contacted, to investigate house 057189.

E Coy patrol. Strength – 15.  Time out – 0400 hrs. Time in – 1800 hrs. Objective – Cardengo (043191) to lie up, observe and snipe during daylight.

F Coy patrol. Strength – 15. Objective – Tambarella (032191) to lie up, observe and snipe during daylight.

1930 Sitrep – Forward recces carried out by supporting arms. Tank observed at Orsara – area shelled by medium artillery. No results observed. Otherwise NTR.

13 October – ITALY.

0600 Sitrep – Patrols could not cross R Fornione 051187 owing to bad country, broken nature of ground and darkness. Patrols to line up day 13 – in position at first light.

0800 One deserter from 2 Coy 755 Regiment, 334 Division surrendered to E Coy.

1000 Intentions: Patrol to base Tambarella 0319 and detached patrol to recce crossing from 043196 to 034197 and investigate Point 328 (043198) and Point 301 (041200). Time out – 1700 hrs. In – 0100 hrs 14 October.

1700 H Coy patrol. 19 strong to search forward areas C Mazza for enemy.

14 October – ITALY.

0730 Sitrep – Patrol to 044197 heard movement and talking on far bank 100 yards away. Report crossing at this point possible for infantry. Quiet night – no shelling. Patrol which went out at 0400 hrs on 13th and laid up during day reports one enemy at cross tracks 048203. Otherwise NTR.

1300 Intentions night 14/15 October: Patrol to base Tambarella 0319, thence recce patrol to Collina 0430. Time out: 1730 hrs. In: on completion of task.

1500 CO and IO left Bttn HQ to confer with Brigade Commander on further developments following on 11 Brigade’s present attack on the left flank.

1900 Kensingtons’ MMG attached to bttn shoot up Gaggio ridge for short period.

15 October – ITALY.

0700 Sitrep: Patrol to Collina held up this side of Rio di Gaggio by MG fire from Point 219 (040197). Patrol returned without crossing river. Quiet night – no shelling.

1000 RC service at Bttn HQ.

1400 Intentions night 15/16: Patrol, 20 strong, to base Gardengo (0419), thence recce patrol to river 049192. Time out – 1700 hrs, in at midnight.

1500 Brigade Commander and liaison visit Bttn HQ.

CE Service at Bttn HQ.

1800 One mortar bomb landed 50 yards from Bttn HQ.

16 October – ITALY.

0700 Sitrep: NTR.

1400 Intentions night 16/17: Patrol, one platoon strong, to base Pt 424 (039188) and detached recce patrols to Torre (0418) and Tambarella (0319). Time out – 1730 hrs, in at midnight

1800 Sitrep- NTR.

17 October – ITALY.

0700 Sitrep: Patrol to Fornione NMS. Civilians report that an enemy patrol entered Fornione night 15/16 after our own patrol had left and asked for food. Quiet night. No shelling.

1000 CO and Recce Group from 10 RB (6 Armoured Division) arrive Bttn HQ. Bttn to be relieved shortly for operations elsewhere.

1100 Divisional Engineers complete track from village to Bttn HQ. Now possible for jeeps to use track.

1200 Bttn warned to move to concentration area Pezzolo (995195) 19 October after immediate stop south of Castel del Rio on 18 October. Intention: to follow through 36 Brigade’s attack on M Del Pieve and Monte Spaduro.

1730 H Coy patrol, one platoon to Fornione 0319, thence section patrols to Tambarella (0319) and Gardengo (0419) with recce patrols to 030198, 039198 and 046196.

1830 CO’s O Group. Bttn being relieved by 10 RB (6 Armoured Division) morning 18th October. H Coy (Reserve coy) to move off as soon as possible, presumably 0800 hrs. Other coys when relieved. Intermediate area 002148. Baths to be provided here by MBU. Bttn to bivouac here ready to move at 1300 hrs on the 19th.

18 October – ITALY.

0700 Morning spent preparing to hand over to 10 RB.

1200 Bttn HQ left for concentration area. Relief almost completed, except for delay in arrival of RB Mortar Platoon.

1730 Bttn Mortar Platoon arrived at concentration area. Bttn bathed at MBU.

2200 O Group – Bttn ready to move in TCVs at 1000 hrs on 19th.  All mule loads to be ferried forward in 15 cwt trucks as early as possible to forward concentration area at Sassaleone (9920)

19 October – ITALY.

1000 Bttn ready to move.

1130 TCVs ready bttn area. Bttn embossed.

1400 Bttn now in area of Sassaleone. Hot meal served prior to move forward at dusk.

1700 Orders changed. Bttn to move forward with essential 1st line equipment to area S Apollinare (005230). E Coy and MMGs to move right forward in support of 1 RIrF.

20 October – ITALY.

0700 Bttn (less E Coy and MMGs) spent night in San Apollinare.

1600 Final O Group to move forward at 2130 hrs, with 1st line equipment on mules, to Pt 401 (028246). Artillery plan – Mike 1 to shell enemy positions continuously with varying barrage until 2359 hrs. F and G Coys to move forward at 2359 hrs. F Coy to clear enemy positions as Eastern Casa Salara (034263). G Coy to swing left and clear territory as far as Western Casa Salara (022263). Then, with H Coy, to consolidate general area, track junctions: 029259 – 030257. E Coy to move into reserve behind them.

21 October – ITALY.

0600 Sitrep: Casa Spinello (031253) held by enemy and house surrounded by minefield. Position by passed by forward coys. Progress to objectives slow. Enemy positions at 031257 and 028250 being attacked by forward coys. Situation obscure. Tanks neutralised Casa Spinello.

0700 Bttn casualties known so far: G Coy – 5 wounded, 2 missing.  H Coy – Lt Cramb killed, 2 wounded. S Coy – 1 killed, 1 wounded. Shelling and mortaring in bttn area all day.

1000 Intentions night 21/22 August: G and H Coys to make a frontal attack against enemy positions at Spinello and area of track junctions. E Coy to do a flanking movement.

1700 E Coy begin to move forward, Heavy rain started to fall. Confused small arms fire and shelling all night.

22 October – ITALY.

0600 Coys withdraw to general areas Bttn HQ attack having failed. Still raining heavily.

0700 Bttn casualties so far, excluding H Coy: 3 officers and  2 ORs killed, 25 wounded and 16 missing.

1300 G Coy patrol of one sergeant and 3 ORs returned and reported Casa Spinello still occupied by enemy.

1800 H Coy moved back to San Apollinare for rest. D Coy 1 RIrF also move back to San Apollinare and  their positions on Pt 416 were taken over by G Coy.

2200 Bttn mule teams arrive. Bttn cookhouse set up at Bttn HQ farm. Coffee made for all personnel. Intermittent MG shelling and mortar fire during night.

23 September – ITALY.

0600 E Coy sent out probing patrol to Spinello.

1400 E Coy patrol returned from Spinello with 1 prisoner.

Identification – 5 Coy, 756 Regiment, 334 Division.

1430 CO’s O Group: E Coy to move forward at 1630 hrs and take Spinello. Consequent on that, 2 Innisks will attack at midnight from Ripiano area and capture Pt 387. Two bttns of 11 Brigade will attack from 2 Innisks left flank and take Pts 380 and 298.

Second stage: E Coy to move forward and take over Pt 387 from 2 Innisks. H Coy (on ½ hour’s notice from midnight in San Apollinare) to move in reserve behind E Coy. F Coy to take over Spinello and G Coy to remain on Pt 416.

Third stage: H Coy to fill in any gaps between 2 LIR and 2 Innisks.F Coy to move forward for patrolling and exploitation as far as the eastern Salara. The bttn in the most favourable position will take Monte Spaduro as soon as possible.

1630 E Coy move forward.

1800 E Coy report on objective. Enemy shelling and mortaring entire area Pt 416 – tracks Bttn HQ – Gesso.

1900 E Coy consolidating, with F Coy, who was sent up to help. One platoon of F Coy suffered casualties in minefield. Two prisoners brought in to Bttn HQ from Spinello area. Identifications – 2 Coy, 754 Regiment, 334 Division.

2000 Enemy still shelling and mortaring bttn area – own counter battery artillery in action.

2200 Bttn MGs and mortars firing to draw enemy fire whilst 2 Innisks and 11 brigade prepare to attack on left.

2330 H Coy arrived Bttn HQ from San Apollinare.

24 October – ITALY.

0330 2 Innisks reported well on their way to their objective. Enemy DF still being drawn to bttn area. Own wounded now being brought back.

0500 One coy 8 A & SH moved through Bttn HQ to forward positions. All objectives reported taken. 11 Brigade now being assisted by tanks.

0600 Enemy wounded and prisoners being brought in to Bttn HQ. Total for last 24 hours – 18 prisoners. Mainly 756 Regiment, some 754 Regiment.

0800 Locations: G Coy – Pt 387. E and F Coys – Casa Spinello area. H Coy – area Bttn HQ Pt 401. 2 Innisks and 11 Brigade along entire Spaduro ridge.

1400 Casualties now known to be – 5 officers and 13 ORs killed, 1 officer and 58 ORs wounded. 3 ORs missing.

1500 Warning order for bttn to move back to concentration area San Apollinare night 24th/25th.

1700 H Coy move back at first dark. G Coy move to area Pt 416 with orders to move back to San Apollinare on following night.

25 October – ITALY.

0430 E Coy and Bttn HQ moved back just before first light. Bttn HQ in farm San Apollinare – coys in bivouacs.

1000 Baths at MBU. Bttn resting for remainder of day.

1700 Pioneer Platoon personnel returned to Spaduro ridge to bring back bttn dead with the aid of G Coy, now moving back.

26 October – ITALY.

0700 G Coy now in bttn area. Weather still bad – heavy rain.

1400 CO’s Administration and Reorganisation Conference:

  • Bttn to work with 3 coys – E,G and H.
  • Remainder of F Coy to be a battle patrol under Lt Montgomorie.
  • F Coy HQ to return to B Echelon to form a new coy from reinforcements.
  • All LOBs, except specialists, to come forward.

1700 Pioneer Platoon went forward to bring back remainder of bttn dead.

27 October – ITALY.

0700 Weather still bad – rain.

1000 Brigade Commander visited Bttn HQ to confer with CO.

1600 Attempts made to get rifle coys under shelter. E Coy established in farm at 008222 and G Coy at 009225.

Night 27/28: Enemy SP guns shelling area Area Point, Gun Lines and bttn area.

28 October – ITALY.

0700 Bttn still resting. Lines laid to coy.

1400 Bttn IO, Captain Lyness, returned to B Echelon with septic foot; Lt Hudson assumed duties of IO.

29 October – ITALY.

More shelling from enemy SP guns during night of 28/29.

1000 RC service at Bttn HQ.

Pioneer Platoon engaged in repairing tracks in bttn area. 

30 October – ITALY.

1000 LOBs arrive from B Echelon and join their coys.

1030 CE service at Bttn HQ. During the course of the day, the MO visited the coys to inspect all personnel.