Irish Brigade

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

Faugh a Ballagh        Nec Aspera Terrent         Quis Separabit


2 LIR – March 1945

1 March – 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 March– ITALY.

0700 Exercise Hosannah.


3 March – 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 March – 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 March – ITALY.

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

1230 Bttn move cancelled.


6 March – 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 March – 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 March –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 March –ITALY.

0900 CO visits new bttn area.

Moving orders issued. 


10 March –ITALY.

0930 1st Party move off to B Echelon area 392298.

1330 2nd Party move to Pieve di Cesato area, Location: Bttn HQ – 372310, E Coy – 383284, F coy – 373294, G Coy – 375299, H Coy – 375304, S Coy – 378303. Officers Mess – 372308.

1800 Bttn at 1 hours notice. In the event of an enemy breakthrough on the Senio, 2 LIR as reserve bttn in the brigade, would move forward to Granarola 355320 and defend it.


11 March –ITALY.

1400 CO and Coy Commanders proceed to Granarola village to prepare defence position layout in case of emergency.

1800 Lt Col HEN Bredin DSO BC returned from leave. 


12 March –ITALY.

0900 Major JD Stewart MBE proceeded on leave. Lt Col Bredin resumed command of bttn. 


13 March –ITALY.

0900 CO and IO recce front line positions of 2 Innisks and 1 RIrF.

1100 Director of Military Training, Major General Wimberley visited bttn area.

1400 CO’s O Group: bttn to relieve 1 RIrF on 16 March.


14 March –ITALY.

0800 Capt GE Cole resumes duties of Adjutant.


15 March –ITALY.

0900 Baths at MBU. RC service in Pieve di Cesato.

1600 Coy recce parties visiting 1 RIrF coy positions. Sgt Johnson of G Coy was killed by an enemy sniper as he raised his head above the top of the Senio floodbank.


16 March –ITALY.

0800 Bttn prepares for relief of 1 RIrF.

1000 Relief commences.

2000 Relief of 1 RIrF completed.

Locations:  Bttn HQ – Farm 353323, E Coy (right) – Villa Agrippina 353331, F Coy and one platoon H Coy (Centre) – 345337, G Coy (left) – Villa Bulzacca – 335333, remaining two platoons of H Coy – factory in Granarolo village – 355320. 3” mortars at 348327.

Topographical note – Bttn positions are on t east side of the Senio river. The river is protected on both sides by 25’ high floodbanks. The country is quite flat and well cultivated, grape vines being very prominent and there are numerous farmhouses in the area. The enemy holds some positions on our side of the floodbank for the supplying of which he uses footbridges and rafts across the river. Owing to the predominance of the grape vines, visibility is very restricted. 


17 March –ITALY.

St Patrick’s Day; Owing to the Irish Brigade being in the line, celebrations were postponed until 29 March.

0600 Sitrep: Normal MG and mortar fire on bttn front. Otherwise NTR.

1200 One wounded German brought into RAP from the floodbank area by F Coy. Identification – 6 Coy, II Bttn, 289 Regiment, 98 Division.

1230 Reported by G Coy that one of the bttn 15 cwts, carrying load of ammunition, being sniped at and machine gunned in forward area. Driver slightly wounded. Ammunition did not explode and truck was later towed to safety by a carrier under covering fire from Bttn MGs.

1300 Intentions night 17/18: Recce patrols to position at 342338. Out – 2200 hrs, in – 0400hrs.

1800 Sitrep: 2 enemy seen at 342339, engaged by artillery. One PoW taken at 343339. Snipers seen and engaged by mortars 337339. Movement seen throughout day at 337338 and engaged by mortars. 


18 March –ITALY.

0600 Sitrep: Tracked vehicles heard 335340. 2330 hrs – MG fire from 355339. Patrols report grenade exchanges and found position at 342 338 unoccupied. Otherwise normal floodbank activity.

1030 Armoured car was sent along track on which ammunition truck was sniped at yesterday. The intention being to draw enemy sniper’s or machine gunner’s fire and this locate his position.

1100 Tank went forward to area of Bund 337338 (supporting floodbank which forms an arc with the main floodbank) to sweep a safe lane for the infantry who could then follow the tank tracks without fear of Schu-mines.

During the operation, an enemy position on the reverse slope of the Bund was shot up and 5 enemy were seen to wave a white flag. Consequent on this, an attack was planned for 1530 hrs. One section of G coy, with the support of two tanks, to capture the five enemy, whilst covering fire is given by PIATs, mortars and artillery to keep down enemy snipers, MMGs and bazookas on the far bank.

1200 Intentions night 18/19: Patrol to 337338 if position not consolidated after capture. 0200 hrs – patrol to 342338. Normal HF during night.

1630 Attack on enemy position at 337338 gained only limited ground. No prisoners taken, but section of G Coy now digging in on reverse slope of the bank with orders to try and capture the enemy position tonight.

1800 Sitrep: MG position spotted 342338 and engaged by 2” mortars at 1200 hrs. Six enemy SBs seen crossing bridge 337338 and re-crossing 5 minutes later. Enemy position at 338338 occupied by 1730 hrs. One casualty  caused by Schu-mine. Another casualty in area 343338 at 1850 hrs.

2030 One PoW brought in by G Coy. Prisoner had been in line only 3 days. Possible identification came as PoW taken on 17 March.

2355 G Coy’s newly won position a 338338 reported being counter attacked.


19 March –ITALY.

0025 Enemy attack driven off by grenades and SA fire. One casualty to own troops.

0300 Patrol to 342388 report position not occupied by enemy and no trace of tunnels.

0530 Grenade battle at 338338. Platoon Commander, Lieut Gartside MC slightly wounded.

1100 Divisional Commander, Major General Keith Arbuthnot visited Bttn HQ.

1200 Total bttn casualties from 15 March to date – 1 killed, 1 officer and 12 ORs wounded (2 remained at duty).

1300 Intentions night 19/20: Standing patrol to observe bridge 337338. Out – dusk, in – 2000 hrs. Recce patrol to 343338. Out – 0330 hrs, in – first light. Artillery harassing intermittently areas 339339 and 337339.

1550 Brigade Commander visits Bttn HQ.

1800 Pioneer  Platoon have so far lifted a total of 56 Schu-mines in area 327338.

1805 Sitrep: 0900 hrs – 1 enemy seen digging 337338. 56 Schu-mines lifted in area 327338.


20 March –ITALY.

0545 Sitrep: 1830 hrs – Own sniper killed 1 enemy at 338338. Patrol to 337338 attempted to cross bank was engaged with grenades. Patrol to Bund NTR. 2140 hrs – MT heard 354337. Usual floodbank MG and mortar activity.

1213 Six shells fell in Granarolo village 200 yards from Bttn HQ.

1300 Intentions night 20/21: Recce patrol to 342338. Out – 2300 hrs, in – 0300 hrs. Continuation of tunneling through floodbank at 337338. Artillery HFs on 341338 and 339338 intermittently throughout the night. Artillery concentration on 341338 at 1930 hrs. 4.2” mortars areas 345344 and 35342, 1st dark – 2330 hrs and 0500 – 0600 hrs. MMG HFs on 343345, 1st dark – 2330 hrs and 0500 – 0600 hrs and intermittently throughout the night on area 336345.

3” mortars concentrating on area 342340 during the night.

1440 Brigade Commander visits Bttn HQ.

1515 G Coy report that they have successfully blown up enemy footbridge at 337338 by mortar fire.

1800 Sitrep: 2 enemy hit by our sniping at 335338 and 335340. 1000 hrs – twelve 88 mm shells landed in area 335334.

1705 hrs – 4 heavy shells in area 341337.


21 March –ITALY.

0600 Sitrep: Grenade activity increased on centre coy (F) but decreased on left coy (G) where they are being fired from across the river. 1940 hrs – fire observed at 35344. Light shelling of forward areas.

1225 Vice CIGS Lieut Gen Nye and 8th Army Commander Lieut General Sir Richard L McCreery visit Bttn HQ.

1526 Nine shells in rapid succession in area 357322 about 2-300 yards from Bttn HQ.

1530 Intentions night 21/22: Normal recce patrol to 341338. Out – 0300 hrs, in – 0430 hrs. HF from 4.2” mortars on 339343 and 351343, MMGs on area 351343 – intermittently throughout the night.

1630 CO’s Conference with Coy Commanders on local op by H Coy tomorrow.

1800 Sitrep: 0800 hrs – 4 enemy seen shaking blankets at 342338.


22 March –ITALY.

0430 Patrol to 341338 reported grenade clash with enemy.

0600 Sitrep: Tunnelling through the Bund at 343338 now completed.

0700 Casualties occurred in F Coy during the night when a Bofors grenade fell short and exploded. Two men were killed and 3 wounded.

1000 Plan of attack on enemy positions in right Bund completed. 17 Platoon of H Coy (Lieut Salter and 18 ORs) to attack the position at 1500 hrs. Supporting fire from two tanks in the left Bund. All enemy river bank targets to be neutralized by 3” mortars and Bttn MMGs and the use of smoke canisters all along the Bttn front.  Before making the assault, one Bofors grenade and one smoke canisters will be thrown over the bank direct onto enemy position. One section of Pioneers will assist the platoon by removing any mines in the area and blowing up the bridge over the river.

1500 Attack begins.  AFPU Sgts were on hand to photograph results.

1504 Attack completed. Two enemy killed and 5 prisoners taken, one of whom was wounded. Own casualties – 9 slightly wounded, 2 of whom remained at duty. Lieut Salter, who led the attack received a GSW. Rfn Moran, Pioneer Platoon, detonated his charge below the bridge but results were not observed.

1515 One enemy sniper at 343339 either killed or wounded by own sniper.

1600 Three enemy wounded evacuated from area 337338.

1615 Three enemy wounded evacuated by stretcher from area 342339.

1630 Two enemy snipers accounted for at 337339. One killed and 1 wounded.

1710 New position gained in afternoon’s attack now consolidated.


23 March –ITALY.

0600 Sitrep: Increased enemy HF on bttn sector during night, including 8 rockets in left coy area.

1300 Intentions night 23/24: 2200 hrs – grenading of enemy from dummy positions area 348337. Consolidated new position at 342338. Standing patrol at 337338. Out – 2300 hrs, in – 0100 hrs.

1630 LO from 11 Brigade (future relieving brigade) visited Bttn HQ.

1800 Sitrep: Quiet day.

Additional Intentions: Dependent upon information from standing patrol at 337338, a raid on enemy position in that area will probably take place at 0445 hrs.


24 March – ITALY.

0600 Sitrep: Raid on 337338 enemy position was met by strong grenade and SA fire and raiding party was forced to retire but suffered no casualties.

1000 Recce party from 5 Northants visited bttn area prior to arrival of their advance party this afternoon.

1200 Intentions: 1330 hrs – Tank shoot on house 344338 supported by SA and 3” mortars. Usual artillery and mortars HF during night.

1330 Tank shoot destroyed enemy snipers post in house 354337.

1400 Tank engine was heard in area 347337 and large cloud of dust seen.

1700 Advance parties from 5 Northants (relieving bttn) arrived in bttn area.

1800 Sitrep: Enemy HF from medium mortars on area 345335 from 1530 – 1600 hrs. Enemy 105 mm on same area 1700 – 1800 hrs.


25 March –ITALY.

0600 Sitrep: Ten rockets fell in left coy area between 2000 and 2200 hrs. 0520 – enemy broadcast on amplifier; text –‘Why sit on the floodbank when your wives are waiting for you in England’.

0930 RC Service in Granarolo Church for Bttn HQ and reserve platoons.

1000 Intentions night 25/26: Patrol to 337338 to try to exploit any unwariness on the part of the enemy. Normal harassing of enemy targets during the night.

1800 Sitrep: 0600 – half constructed raft and new hole in own floodbank 348338 noticed. 1200 hrs – enemy shelling area 347335. 1420 hrs – 6 enemy observed at 337338. 1440 hrs – 6 enemy observed at 337338. 2 enemy killed by own sniped at 336338. 1710 hrs – 2 enemy wounded by PIAT at 353336.


26 March –ITALY.

Sitrep: Quiet night except for light enemy mortaring.

0500 hrs – own  patrol to enemy position at 337338 met by SA and grenade fire. Enemy trench at the top of the floodbank not occupied but enemy alert at bottom. Own casualties – 1 ORs, 2 ORs wounded.

0800 Morning spent preparing to hand over sector to 5 Northants. Relief to take place in daylight. On relief each coy to march back to Granarolo village, thence by transport to B Echelon area 392298.

1700 Relief completed and bttn now bivouacked in B Echelon area.


27 March –ITALY.

0900 Bttn commenced move back to Forli area.

Locations – Bttn HQ in house 442162 with coys in close proximity.

1700 CO and Coy Commanders proceed to O Group on forthcoming ‘Kangaroo’ Exercise. The O Group took place in the AMGOT building in St Andrew’s Square, Forli.


28 March –ITALY.

1200 CO’s address to bttn on past events, future training, bttn’s probable future role etc.


29 March –ITALY.

Bttn celebrated St Patrick’s Day.

0930 Brigade C of E and RC Church Parades.

1045 Address by Lieut General CE Keightley CB DSO OBE, who afterwards presented shamrocks.

1135 Retreat by the Brigade Pipe Band and pipe band of 1 LIR.

1230 Sports Meeting at Forli Stadium. Events included mule races, Officers v Sgts fancy dress football match, comic events and a free vino bar.

1400 Dinners. CO visits the dining halls.

1730 Special ENSA Show for the bttn in the Apollo Theatre.

1930 Officers Dance.


30 March –ITALY.

1400 Two coys on boating drill.

1700 CO’s O group on Tank and Infantry Cooperation Exercise ‘Massa’ to be held on the following day.

1930 Sgts celebrated St Patrick’s Day. Celebrations held in ANGOT building in St Andrew’s Square.


31 March –ITALY.

0900 Exercise ‘ Massa’ commenced.

1000 One officer from G Coy and 1 NCO from each of the other coys proceeded to area 505181 to watch demonstration ‘Crocodiles’ (Churchill flame throwing tanks).