Irish Brigade

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

Faugh a Ballagh        Nec Aspera Terrent         Quis Separabit


2 LIR – April 1945

1 April – ITALY.

0900 Bttn still located located in Forli.

0930 Easter Sunday – Voluntary CE and RC church services.

1800 CO’s O Group on Exercise Hosannah. 


2 April– ITALY.

0700 Exercise Hosannah.


3 April – ITALY.

0900 E and F Coys practice boat drill and river crossings in Training Area Q (Squares 4227 and 4226).

1300 CO and IO left on forward recce of 2 Innisks area. Warning Order given that bttn would relieve 2 Innisks in the Senio line on night 5 April.

1400 G and H Coys practice boat drill and river crossings.

1800 CO’s O Group on forthcoming relief.


4 April – ITALY.

0900 MO’s lecture to coys on the dangers of malaria in forthcoming operations in the Po Valley.

1100 CO  and IO proceed on recce of forward area.

1700 CO’s conference on move forward.


5 April – ITALY.

0900 Preparations for move forward. B Echelon to hold bttn billets in Forli.

1230 Bttn move cancelled.

6 April – ITALY.

0800 Bttn day out in the country. Coys were allowed any dress and any route but were to march to rendezvous at 404127 where a meal would be served and Pipe Band would play.

1435 Coys made there own way back to their billets.


7 April – ITALY.

0830 Bttn HQ prepare for a practise loading of Kangaroos with essential personnel and stores.

0915 Bttn HQ move by TCVs to area 514288 where the practice loading took place.

1230 Bttn HQ returned to billets.

1900 Bttn warned to send recce party to new harbouring area. Recce party to be at road junction 401307 by 1000 hrs 8 April.


8 April –ITALY.

0930 Recce party under Captain RJ Cockburn proceeded on recce of new harbouring area.

1000 Voluntary C of E Service at Forli Stadium. Service held by Archbishop of York.


9 April –ITALY.

0930 CO addresses all officers on bttn’s future intentions.

1500 Brigade Commander addresses the bttn.

Bttn now at notice to move on D Day + 1 at ‘F’ Hour + 170 to an assembly area near Bagnacavallo.

1700 D Day. Allied offensive on the Senio River line opens. 2 NZ Division on the left and 8 Indian Division on the right. Bttn’s role will be that of infantry cooperating with tanks and spearheading the Allied advance through the Argenta Gap.

1730 CO, IO, Adjutant and Coy Commanders proceed to conference with ‘Kangaroo’ (4 Hussars) and 9 Lancers’ Commanders.


10 April –ITALY.

0700 Preparations for move forward. Priority stores to F Echelon, essential stores to B Echelon and non essential stores C Echelon.

1200 F Hour.

1450 F + 170. Bttn move off in TCVs to Assembly Area.

1700 Bttn HQ established in farm 385374 with coys in close proximity.

1800 Bttn warned no move before 0730 hrs.


11 April – ITALY.

0630 Bttn advance party proceed to assembly area near Lugo.

1000 Bttn main body move to TCVs.

Bttn HQ in farm 343395 with coys nearby.

1245 Brigade Commander visits Bttn HQ,

Information – Bttn Kangaroos now being used by 8 Indian Division in the assault on the enemy Santerno Line. 2 NZ Division already have one coy across the Santerno.

1600 Bttn warned to be at 2 hours notice from 1000 hrs 12 April. Advance party u/c MTO ready to go forward and recce routes as soon as the New Zealanders make a sizeable bridgehead over the Santerno.

2145 CO’s O Group on forthcoming move forward. 2 NZ bridgehead to be enlarged and consolidated for 38 Brigade to move through.


12 April – ITALY.

0830 Kangaroos move into bttn area. Bttn in state of readiness all day but no move was made.


13 April – ITALY.

0600 Bttn move off in Kangaroos to cross the Santerno. 1 RIrF and 2 Innsiks to attack first.

1200 CO orders G coy, with A Squadron 9 Lancers and H Coy; with C Squadron 9 Lancers, to move forward, E and F Coys in reserve.

1330 G Coy now passing through 2 Innisks, leading troops of the brigade. H Coy moving up behind.

1340 G Coy report number of enemy firing on the right and some enemy dead in houses on their left.

1500 One of A Squadrons’ tanks hit by enemy A/Tk gun causing 2 casualties.

1510 G Coy report clearing a number of houses and taking some PWs.

1520 2 more PWs taken. Identification 1021 Regiment.

F Coy now passing through Bttn HQ.

1605 G Coy still moving with H Coy close behind. Two more PWs take.

1615 Location of Bttn H, now 311501.

1630 H Coy now moving through G Coy with the intention of capturing bridge over the Conselice Canal at 31653350. G Coy to move right and clear H coy’s right flank.

1635 Five more PWs taken. A Squadron blow the barrel off an enemy A/Tk gun.

1700 H Coy reach bridge which is only slightly damaged but not strong enough to take tanks. H Coy ordered to cross to far side whilst tanks give covering fore. E Coy order forward to support H Coy. Meanwhile, G Coy on right found the country too thick and dismounted from their Kangaroos to clear the farms on foot.

1730 Artillery engage area north of E and H Coys’ bridgehead.

15 PWs, including 1 officer, captured.

1820 Another 12 PWs taken.

1850 Total of PWs in forward area now 50.

2000 Bttn HQ moves into farm 313521. E Coy at 316535 with a forward platoon at road junction 314538. F Coy at 317524 with a platoon at 314531. G Coy at 324529 with a platoon at 324533. H Coy at 317535 with a platoon at 319536.

Patrol intentions – F Coy to send patrol to crossroads 328524. Time out, 2300 hrs, in 0100 hrs. Out 0400 hrs, in 0600 hrs.

2100 Total PWs at Bttn HQ, now about 80.

2200 CO’s conference with Armour Commanders. Tomorrow’s intentions – to reach the River Reno (German Paula line) and, if possible, to cross it. E Coy to operate with C Squadron 9 Lancers; F Coy with B Squadron 4 Hussars; G Coy with B Squadron 9 Lancers; H Coy with A Squadron 9 Lancers.

Pioneers to go with each coy as the area is heavily mined. Time of move forward approximately first light.


14 April –ITALY.

0730 First report say G Coy and B Squadron are meeting no opposition. E Coy capture 8 Germans in the act of laying mines. PWs point out location of mines.

0740 Bttn HQ move to to 318521.

0750 15 PWs taken.

0815 E Coy report slow going owing to area being heavily mined. Civilians show us the location of enemy mines. G Coy, moving over to E Coy’s right flank, report good progress.

Identification of PWs – 1060 Regiment, 362 Infantry Division.

0825 Seven more PWs taken. E Coy now 50 yards south of Lavezzola village (312549).

0830 REs now cooperating with E Coy by lifting mines and rendering booby traps harmless. E Coy and C Squadron ordered to keep going along the road until they reach the bridge over the River Reno at 314564.

0840 Eight more PWs taken.

0900 G Coy now at 336548 with no enemy opposition.

0930 E Coy 300 yards short of bridge. Too many mines in the area for the REs to cope with, so ‘Flail’ tanks were called forward to explode the mines.

0940 Recce party from E Coy moving up to bridge. Recce party from G Coy moving up to river.

1200 Railway bridge over the Reno reported blown. No enemy seen but plenty of Italian partisans in the area. Road bridge at 314564 reported blown.

1230 Two platoons of E Coy ordered across river to form a bridgehead.

1330 Bttn HQ now in Lavezzola village (312550).

1400 E Coy bridgehead being counter attacked. MO to go forward and collect casualties. F Coy move up to support E Coy.

1430 E Coy report their bridgehead eliminated. Some troops got back to our side of the river. Bttn request for air action.

1435 56 Division units moving west on enemy side of the Reno now in square 3456 and sending patrol over to our side to contact us. G Coy warned to keep lookout for them.

1530 Sitrep from E Coy Commander that one platoon was captured by the enemy and one section of the other platoon regained our side of the river. Fate of other two sections not yet known.

1605 Own aircraft bombed and rocket fired area on enemy side of river. This was followed by two more attacks in the course of the next hour.

1715 Nine more PWs brought into Bttn HQ. Identifications – 40 Regiment, 42 Jaeger Division.

1745 38 Brigade Commander, 2 Armoured Brigade Commander and CO held conference at Bttn HQ. Bttn to stay this side of river for the night.

1800 CO and IO visited forward coys. During this period, a patrol from 1 LIR crossed the Reno and established contact with G Coy. This is the first time in the war that the 1st and 2nd Bttns of the LIR have held a common front.

1900 Local Partisan leader offers the services of his Partisan Group for patrol activities with the bttn.

2000 Btttn casualties for the day – 1 OR killed and 4 wounded; Lt Campbell (9 Pl, E Coy) and 35 ORs missing, majority believed PW.

2100 F Coy patrol over the Reno to see if enemy still in position now cancelled.


15 April –ITALY.

0900 Locations – Bttn HQ in Lavezzola village. F coy in area from road bridge 314564 to rail bridge 317563, with G Coy on the right in area 322562. The remaining platoon of E Coy in reserve behind F Coy. H Coy and A Echelon in village with Bttn HQ

1200 H Coy platoon with Pioneers and Partisan guides to patrol and mine sweep the road from the village to Case della Bisa 303505 on the bttn left flank.

1230 Sgt Vance of F Coy, puzzled by sudden quiet on the enemy side of the Reno, crossed over by the railway bridge and established contact with D Coy, 9 RF, 56 Division, who had advancing from the east. F Coy, thereupon, sent contact standing patrols to keep liaison with the 9 RF.

1400 Enemy machine gunner began to concentrate his fire on the rising piece of road from 31255605 to the road bridge.

L/Cpl Webb, who drove his carrier up this piece of road in the evening, received a burst of MG fire in the stomach and died later in the MDS.

1430 Allied fighter bomber activity to the north of F Coy.

1700 G Coy brought back from their positions to the village as territory to their front now held by 56 Division.

1800 Sitrep: 20 mortar bombs landed in Lavezzola in H Coy’s area during early afternoon. Sporadic mortar fire on FDLs during morning.

1830 Patrol to houses 311565 found them clear.

2000 Intentions night 15/16 – H Coy sniping patrol, consisting of 1 Bren gunner, 1 SMG and 1 sniper, to area houses 311565. Time out – 0500 hrs. In – 0900 hrs.


16 April –ITALY.

0600 2 PWs brought into Bttn HQ. Identification – 40 Jaeger Regiment, 42 Jaeger Regiment.

1200 F Coy move back to Lavezzola.

1330 RSM W Girvan leaves the bttn on posting. CSM Slattery takes over duties of RSM.

1400 CO selects 15 Partisan volunteers to accompany bttn during next operations.

1800 Bttn warned to be at 1 hrs notice from 0430 hrs 17 April.

1900 30 reinforcements arrive to make up E Coy.


17 April –ITALY.

Bttn moved off in TCVs to a ‘leaguering’ area (3258) on the north side of the Reno to which the Kangaroos had already moved. The day was spent in this area.

The 15 Partisans now attached to F Coy.


18 April –ITALY.

0700 Leading coys move forward.

0950 B Squadron, 9 Lancers report they are just south of 263637.

1020 One Kangaroo of E Coy hit by enemy fire. Tanks of B Squadron report engaging an enemy Bazooka party, which allowed several tanks to pass through before opening up.

1048 Eight PWs taken in forward areas.

1110 E Coy and B Squadron now at 260645 and 260644.

1115 G Coy and A Squadron now at 271636.

1325 E Coy report about 30 PWs taken. Identification – 40 Regiment, 42 Jager Division.

1500 Five more PWs from 42 Jager Division.

1600 G Coy move up to reinforce E Coy.

1610 Two PWs from 290 Regiment, 98 Infantry Division.

1630 Own tanks reported they have knocked out 2 Mk IV tanks and have captured intact 3 SPs and an ambulance.

1845 Bttn FDLs now at 231677, 235682 and 247674. Bttn HQ at Casa Belleoni 245663. Mopping up operations now in progress. During the late evening, 40 PWs, including 4 officers were brought into Bttn HQ. Two enemy batteries of 150 mm and 88 mm guns were overrun.


19 April –ITALY.

0600 Bttn HQ and Mortar Platoon now in C. La Fossa 239679. E Coy at 229678 and C La Palazza. F Coy at 246668 and 240666. G Coy at 233683 and 233685. H Coy at C Pastam C Coltra and C Casino 250676.

0615 G and H Coy ordered forward to the Canale Diverviso Line.

1030 Bttn CO and 9 Lancers CO visit 78 Divisional Commander for conference on present situation.

1100 F Coy receive order from 2 Armoured Brigade to move to the right flank, cross the canal and clear the remaining enemy from Portomaggiore.

1400 Approximately 30 PWs from 42 Jager and 98 Infantry Divisions passed through Bttn HQ since early morning.

1430 G Coy make a bridgehead over the canal at 236703 meeting only SA opposition. A few minutes later, H coy made a crossing on G Coy’s right (near Porto Rotta) but enemy had had already withdrawn. During this operation, a captured enemy 150 mm gun was fired by bttn personnel.

1500 Bridgeheads now firmly established. G Coy took 14 PWs. H Coy moved forward 400 yards before making contact and then withdrew to consolidate their bridgehead.

1700 Intentions night 19/20: G and H Coys to enlarge their bridgeheads to allow the REs to bulldoze a crossing over the canal at 230703. 11 Infantry Brigade, with armour, to passed through. F Coy, who have just returned from Portomaggiore, where they suffered casualties of 2 killed and 3 wounded to reinforce the bridgehead. E Coy in a state of readiness if required.

1900 Zero hour for the attack fixed for 2200 hrs. Artillery fire plan from Zero-5 to Zero +40.

2155 Artillery fire goes down in front of G and H Coy.

2200 Coys move forward. Barrage moves on to next lift.

2207 G Coy’s left objective secured. Slight opposition.

2245 All objectives except one taken. Two casualties to own troops so far.

2250 Some PWs taken and 3 midget tanks reported knocked out.

2300 All objectives secured – 8 PWs so far. Own casualties – 4 wounded.

2305 Five more PWs including one officer taken.

G Coy now at 236798, 238707 and 239795. H Coy at 244712, 246713 and 245709.


20 April –ITALY.

0600 11 Brigade, having moved through the bridgehead, swung left in front of G Coy, leaving H Coy still facing the enemy.

Situation as to when the coys would be entirely squeezed out of the line rather confused.

Locations – Bttn HQ, still at La Fossa 239697. E Coy still in area 229678 and F Coy around the bridge at 267703.

1230 Bttn now squeezed out of line.

1330 78 Division Commander visits Bttn HQ. CO lays on the moves to be made by coys in the event of the bttn being called upon at short notice to carry out another ‘Kangaroo’ push.

1700 Fifteen more PW stragglers passed back through Bttn HQ.

2200 Bttn warned to be at one hour’s notice from 0800 hrs 21 April.

During the night, H Coy accounted for a still active SP gun.


21 April – ITALY.

0900 Bttn move forward in Kangaroos. En route, 2 Armoured Brigade Commander conferred with CO on objectives to be reached for the night. Bttn to pass through 1 RIrF and 2 Innisk bridgehead over the next water barrier in area 209732.

1400 Bttn move into 38 Brigade bridgehead.

1530 Bttn HQ now at Monte Santo Station 208739 and shelled by enemy SPs. Bttn MO, Captain Rhys Evans, wounded by shrapnel in the back and had to be evacuated. New MO called forward from the MDS.

1630 F Coy, having moved into action, report mopping up several enemy including 3 Bazooka men.

1645 Two enemy SP guns destroyed, one at 206771 and the other further south. E Coy and B Squadron, 9 Lancers, now moving up on F Coy’s and C Squadron’s right flank.

1700 F Coy report heavy artillery stonk on their positions. Sgt Guild and 3 German PWs wounded.

1733 F Coy report reaching 201782 but that they are encountering difficulties from the enemy, some of whom were up trees.

1755 G Coy and A Squadron, 9 Lancers called forward.

2030 F Coy held up at 209798. They debussed from the Kangaroos to clear enemy positions whilst the tanks went forward to deal with other enemy in the neighbourhood.

2035 Intentions for night include the taking of two objectives at 210822 and 188822. If darkness falls before completion of task, the armour will nevertheless move forward with the infantry.

2230 E Coy reach 210822 but are held up by determined enemy bazooka resistance. The left flank objective – bridge at 188822 – also guarded by bazookas. Two of our tanks hit and several casualties caused. H Coy rushed up to support left hand coy. Enemy SPs, mortars, bazookas, MMGs and the darkness, which blanketed the tanks, all helped to prolong the battle.


22 April – ITALY.

0100 F Coy cross bridge 188822 over the Po di Volano Canal and quickly consolidate a firm bridgehead with tanks and infantry at both ends. Heavy enemy shelling from SP guns.

0200 Another infantry bttn on its way up to relieve bttn.

0400 Situation: Locations – Bttn HQ at Casa Crioli 197819; E Coy 210822; F Coy in bridgehead supported by one platoon of H Coy in area 187824 and the other two platoons of H Coy at the southern end of bridge 187821. Mortar Platoon digging in their mortars behind house occupied by RHQ.

0415 Recce party from 2 LFs arrive at Bttn HQ.

0600 Bttn relieved by 2 LF.

0800 26 PWs at Bttn HQ. They were composed of Poles, Germans, Czechs, Russians, Slovaks, one Frenchman and one Lithuanian. All from 98 Infantry Division.

0830 2 Armoured Brigade Commander visits Bttn HQ, confers with CO and decides no more operations from the bttn today.

1400 Six more PWs passed through Bttn HQ.

1900 Bttn warned for possible night operations on the right flank. This, however, did not take place.


23 April – ITALY.

1030 CO and Adjutant visit the rifle coys.

1130 CO and IO proceed to 38 Brigade HQ.

1145 RC Church Service held in local church.

2000 Bttn warned for possible move forward through the 1 RIrF and 2 Innisks on the right flank.

2300 Move forward confirmed. Time of move 0200 hrs. Bttn now u/c 38 Brigade but the Kangaroos would be used as TCVs to take the bttn to scene of operations.


24 April – ITALY.

0200 Move forward began.

0500 Bttn now in concentration area 2586.

1100 Bttn role now changed – Bttn again u/c 2 Armoured Brigade. Plans made for move through 1 RIrF and 2 Innisks for an attack, not direct to the Po, which lies to the north but in the direction of Ferrara approximately 6 miles to the west.

E Coy to operate with B Squadron 9 Lancers; F Coy with B Squadron 4 Hussars, G Coy with A Squadron 9 Lancers, H Coy with C Squadron 9 Lancers.

1330 Move forward began.

1400 Forward bridges at 192914, 191912 and 198918 are reported to be intact but bridge at 192893 is blown.

1548 Enemy SP guns reported at 215908 and 214904.

1630 G Coy report SA opposition and taking of 6 PWs.

1635 G Coy report 2 troops of own tanks have crossed small water barrier and are engaging A/Tk guns on far side.

1740 E Coy moving forward; report no A/Tk fire but plenty of SA opposition.

1750 G Coy report enemy resistance at 193914 now overcome; 14 PWs taken.

1805 E Coy report 1 enemy SP gun destroyed. F Coy called forward.

1815 F Coy moving up – delayed by armoured traffic in front of them.

1835 E Coy being fired on by enemy A/Tk gun.

1845 E Coy report one Mk IV tank destroyed.

1900 G Coy take another 30 PWs.

1920 E Coy now at Malborghetto 147879 and being fired on with AP shells.

1930 E Coy’s supporting armour knocked out 2 out of 3 Mk IVs in Malborghetto area; the third escaped.

1935 Carriers at the rear of the bttn column report being fired on by enemy tank from the right rear.

2000 E Coy take 2 PWs. Identification – 26 Panzer Division.

2005 E Coy report 1 enemy SP gun and 1 tank (Mk III or IV) knocked out.

2015 Another enemy tank knocked out in same vicinity.

2100 The two forward Squadrons report strong enemy AP fire. One of our tanks knocked out and they had to withdraw slightly. E Coy de-bus from Kangaroos to deal with two 88 mm guns.

2130 New plans, based on PW information, now being formulated. Apparently PWs were holding the line to allow the remainder of 26 Panzer Division and some infantry to evacuate across the River Po at night. All the rifle coys and armour were recalled to form a solid squad near the railway at 146876.


25 April –ITALY.

0100 Patrols move forward to 151915 and 173923.

0200 Patrols report territory between undefended.

Consequently, G Coy moved forward to the first location and F Coy to the latter. Then, with patrols again out in front, G Coy moved north to reach the Po at Francolino 154932 and F Coy to the Po at Borgo 178941. Heavy artillery programme was laid on in case of enemy resistance.

0500 F and G Coys reached their objectives and held them until relieved by 56 Recce later in the morning. During this night’s operations, the bttn fired its last shots of the Italian Campaign.

0630 Bttn HQ now at La Pavonara 163906.

0900 20 PWs passed through Bttn HQ.

1200 Officers and 50 ORS PWs passed back through Bttn HQ.

Identifications – 26th Panzer Diviion, 42 Jager Division and 362nd Infantry Division. Nationalities – German, Polish, Russian, French, Czech and Austrian. The Fascist Deputy Mayor of Ferrara, who was attempting to retreat with the enemy, was also passed back to the Field Security Police.

1400 2 PWs with an MG 42 passed through Bttn HQ. Nationality – Polish; Identification – Army A/A Bttn.

1600 Locations – E Coy at Crosarola 155903; F Coy Casa Grande 171914; G Coy Casa Limoni 158910; H Coy road junction 175920; S Coy Il Cantone 165910.

2000 Brigade Commander visits Bttn HQ. Bttn now u/c 38 Brigade.


26 April – ITALY.

1030 Day leave to Ferrara for 30 men from each coy. Remainder bathing at MBU.


27 April – ITALY.

1000 CO addresses coys on past, present and future operations and warns against looting from civilian houses.


28 April – ITALY.

1800 Mobile Cinema show in E Coy’s area.

1830 Officers’ Celebration Party at Bttn HQ. 78 Divisional Commander, 38 Brigade Commander, 2 Armoured Brigade Commander, 9 Lancers CO attended.


29 April – ITALY.

1200 RC Service in H Coy’s area. Day of rest.


30 April – ITALY.

1300 Bttn personnel, who were acquainted with horse riding. Racing etc took part in the Divisional Gymkhana held in the Tamara area. Horses used were captured from the enemy during the previous week.