Irish Brigade

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

Faugh a Ballagh        Nec Aspera Terrent         Quis Separabit


2 Innisks – April 1945

1st April – FORLI.

1000 An RC Church Parade was held in the St Lucia Chapel, Forli and the Regimental Pipe Band attended this parade. The C of E Parade was voluntary and was held in the Dorchester NAAFI.

1100 The CO and Adjutant went on a four day visit to Rome. Major GRP Findlater assumed command of the bttn.

1600 An advance party consisting of the CO, LO, Coy Commanders and Platoon reps moved off to the A & SH sector of the Senio river defences, to prepare the take over on the 2nd.

1635 2 Innisks Movement Order No 2 issued..


2nd April – FORLI.

1515 Bttn HQ, C and S Coys left Forli for the new positions in A & SH area (Borg o3834) under command of Lieut M Murray.

1600 Bttn HQ, C and S Coys arrived at Bttn HQ and were guided to their respective places by A & SH guides to Coy HQs and by our own reps to their positions.

1700 C Coys change over completed without incident.

1730 Bttn HQ and S Coys changed over.

1830 Bttn came under command of 11 Brigade. Main body left Forli.

1930 Main body arrived at Bttn HQ and waited until dusk to go forward to their positions. As the enemy positions dominated this sector, reliefs of forward coys were carried out at night and a harassing fire plan was put into operation by artillery, MMG and 3” mortars to cover noise and harass enemy positions.

1950 A Coy allowed forward. C, S Coy and Bttn HQ ‘Standing to’ (Normal).

1955 D Coy allowed forward.

2000 RAP relieved.

2045 B Coy allowed forward.

2110 C Coy request Pioneers to make a path through a minefield to their 3rd platoon.

2132 D Coy relief of Y Coy (A & SH) completed.

2145 A Coy relief of R Coy (A & SH) completed. Bttn relief completed without incident and HQ 11 Brigade informed.

2230 Warning Order from Brigade (38 infantry) to say 2 LIR will relieve 2 Innisks on the 5th of April.


3rd  April – BORGO.

0215 A house at 365348 was occupied by the left coy as a section position, owing to previous position being too crowded for two sections.

0230 Bosche were heard running removing tiles at house MR 365347, they were engaged with Piat and hits observed.

0330 The house at 364348 was hit by a Bazooka from the factory in Cotignola. No casualties were caused and damage to the house was slight. Factory engaged by our own 3” mortars. There was spasmodic activity by 5cm mortars and rifles grenades, during the night, this being replied to by our Piats, 2” mortars and grenades.

0800 Several targets were registered for harassing purposes by Bren, Mortars 2 and 3” and Piat. Direct hits were observed on the targets and a fire was started in an enemy occupied house.

0900 The CO paid his usual routine visit to coys.

0915 2 Innisks ‘I’ Summary No 11 issued.

1200 Brigade Commander of 11 Brigade called to discuss operations with the CO.

1320 Two 8.1 cm mortar bombs in D Coy’s left platoon area. No casualties.

Intentions night 3/4th April 45:

2300 hrs – Contact Patrol from RWK to right coy.

0240 hrs – Contact Patrol from right coy to RWK.

Normal artillery and mortar harassing fore.

1405 Two men were injured in B Coy by a 22 mortar bomb hitting a tree, above their firing position.

1415 Six direct hits with Piat were scored on an enemy cookhouse at 360347.

1430 B Coy were spasmodically mortared by 5cm bombs until 1600 hrs.

1530 A message from brigade was received to say that high flying aircraft have been over the whole Army area during the last two days and it is thought that they may be taking photographs. Therefore, all camouflage efforts are to be intensified.

1700 Path cleared to right platoon through a suspected battlefield and taped.

1715 The CO visits coy positions.

1835 Own aircraft dropped ‘Safe Conduct’ passes in bttn area.

1845 25 enemy mortar bombs fall in A Coy’s area 365346.

1955 B Coy reports firing from right hand coy of East Surreys. East Surrey questioned and report everything ok.

2040 Three 210 mm shells fell near house at 368345 occupied by MMG section.

2230 The CM located the mortar, which was firing on A Coy at 362258. Artillery engaged the target.

2315 A Coy still being harassed by three mortars and CRA fired Regt on 358357 area and section of MMGs harassing the same area. Light mortar and grenade duels were on an increasing scale during the night.


4th April – BORGO.

0005 A Coy still harassed by enemy mortars. Field Regiment stonking area assisted by 3” Mortars and 5.5 Mediums.

0345 Call from B Coy for stretcher jeep. Lt PJM Foort wounded by enemy grenade.

DF fired on Green House by 3” Mortar.

1000 The CO made his routine visit to coys.

1300 A Coy report two casualties in right forward platoon by an AP shell, believed fired from own tank much further west.

Intentions night 4/5th April 45:

2230 hrs – Contact Patrol to RWK.

0200 hrs – Contact Patrol from RWK to right coy.

Normal harassing fire using all weapons.

1400 Enemy movement seen in house at 363342 after our own sniper had shot at the window.

This was believed to be an effort to make our sniper shoot again and disclose his position. 3” Mortars engaged instead.

1650 Enemy mortaring of D Coy area caused two casualties, one killed and one wounded.

2000 B Coy’s forward section being harassed by 8.1 mm mortar. Unable to get bearing.

2010 D Coy report MMG firing low and hitting forward position. Kensingtons informed.

2030 A Coy report right forward platoon mortared. No damage or casualties.

2125 A Coy report right forward platoon mortared. No damage or casualties.

2240 B Coy report approximately thirty 8.1 mm mortar bombs in their area between 2030 and 2230 hrs.

2245 2 Innisks Movement Order issued No 3.

2345 A Coy right hand platoon report tracked vehicles moving from 362359 towards Cotignola.

3” Mortars engaged area.

2355 A Coy report sixteen 5 cm mortar bombs in area of right forward platoon. No casualties or damage.


5th April – BORGO.

0020 A Coy report mortaring on right forward left hand platoon, intermittently two rounds at a time, over a period of 2 hours. No casualties.

0055 A Coy report mortaring on right hand platoon. CMO informed.

0115 A Coy right platoon report movement on our side of the floodbank.

Platoon ‘Standing To’ 3” mortars fired on DFs 1 and 8. Gunners warned for DFs B1 and B2.

0120 B Coy report on fire opposite 10 Platoon on the far side of Cotignola.

0135 A Coy right forward platoon report mortaring on platoon area and the CWO was soon dealing with this. No further movement was seen by this platoon on the floodbank.

0240 B Coy right forward platoon reported on SP gun, firing from area 363352 and our own artillery engaged the area.

0330 D Coy right forward platoon reported on SP gun moving about in area 363352. Artillery engage area.

0335 Right MMG section reported Nebelwerfer firing on a bearing of 285 degree magnetic. CMO informed.

0445 A and D Coys report heavy mortaring on their fronts. CMO informed. Mortaring continued until 0505 hrs.

0500 D Coy report enemy SP gun that was firing from approximately 36353, stopped firing after artillery stonk at 0245 hrs.

A Coy report their coy area being shelled by a gun. Artillery engaging.

0555 Bttn ‘Standing To’ (Normal). The bttn was consistently mortared and shelled throughout the night, on a scale greater than normal.

0700 Right platoon of A Coy engaged in a grenade duel on own floodbank. Artillery target B1 fired.

0830 A Coy set fire to enemy house across river in front of right platoon.

1120 NAAFI van arrived at ‘Admin House’. Permission refused to move forward (this van had arrived by mistake. It was intended for a unit further back).

1210 A Coy report six 5 cm mortars on right forward platoon. Lines were cut.

1245 Notice was received from Brigade HQ that tonight’s relief will not take place, the reason being that as the brigade was being relieved two days later, it was not worthwhile.

1530 D Coy mortared by 5 cm mortar. Artillery and 3” mortars returned the fire.

All were informed that in future AMLC to UK would not require stamps (Bttn Order No 47).

1945 Bttn ‘Standing To’ (Normal). Z Section intercepted a message that the enemy intended to raid somewhere tonight. Signal 2 Green and two Blue verey lights for the commencement. Area of raid unknown.

2220 Two Red, two Green and one White verey light seen on the left of the bttn.

2225 D Coy report four Red, four Green verey lights seen on left.

Enemy movement heard at 365352. No developments.

2230 Fire fight seen and heard well to left (it was later learned that a raid had been carried out on the NZ sector).


6th April – BORGO.

0050 Near left neighbours heavily shelled.

0900 2 Innisks ‘I’ Summary No 12 issued.

1145 D Coy right platoon report on 8.1 mm mortar firing from 362358. Our own 3” mortars engaged the area.

1200 2 Innisks Movement Order No 3 Amendments issued.

1938 Enemy houses at 363353 were fired on by 2” mortar and screaming was heard afterwards.

2030 Main verey lights seen well over to our left.

2130 Two static lights seen 400 yards off Peters Bank by B Coy.

The enemy started a heavy artillery fire task, which covered an area from the river back to as far back as Divisional HQ. This consisted of guns of all calibres and was on a scale greater than had been known for many months.

2355 Both brigade lines reported out.


7th April – BORGO.

0015 Brigade lines through again.

1115 Our own planes bombed and strafed Cotignola at 1115, 1510 and 1555 hrs. All bombs dropped in the target area but 10 failed to explode. The forward troops, although extremely close to the target, were very pleased with the operation.

1125 B Coy report enemy casualties were caused by the bombing and shouts and screams were heard. 2” mortar and Piat fired into the area.

Intentions night 7/8th April 45: Reliefs as known (by Squadron 56 Recce).

1340 Light mortaring of A Coy, one man slightly wounded. Enemy sniper located at 365354.

1400 56 Recce unit commenced moving in.

1520 Bttn HQ, C and S Coys relieved and clear of area.

1540 RAP relieved and went back to Forli independently.

1800 D Coy relieved by 56 Recce.

2100 Bttn complete in former billets in Forli with the exception of the second in command and IO.

W/Lt JM Campbell is promoted to the rank of A/Captain wef 18/3/45.

Major PJ Blake MC assumes command of D Coy. Lt Col DM Shaw resumes command of the bttn.


8th April – FORLI.

0645 Advance Party left Forli for new bttn area 5223 (this was to be C Echelon area for the commanding operation).

0930 Church Service for RCs.

1030 A C of E Service was held in the Forli Stadium. His Grace the Archbishop of York, Dr C Garbett held the service.

1415 The Brigade Commander spoke to the bttn on the forthcoming offensive. The bttn was paraded for this at the Dorchester Football Ground and the Provost Sergeant had orders to keep all civilians and personnel of other units away from the place of Parade.

2230 2 Innisks Instructions and Admin Order issued No 1.


9th April – FORLI.

The bttn spent the morning making final preparations for the move.

1100 Special Orders of the Day received from Field Marshal Alexander, General Mark W Clark and Lt General RL McCreery, to the effect that the Med Spring Offensive had started today. 2 Innisks Movement Order No 4 issued.

1215 The bttn received orders from Brigade HQ to move off at 1315hrs in the assembly area at MR 3755.

1315 The bttn left Forli , the Echelons to their respective sites and the main body to an assembly area at 3835/3835.

1530 The bttn arrived in its assembly area and was quickly established, this being helped by everybody’s familiarity with the area, having operated in it only a few days previously.

2100 The CO and IO attended an ‘O’ Group conference held at Brigade HQ. Little knowledge was obtained apart from the fact that the brigade would move into a concentration area north of Lugo on the 10th. This was passed on to Coy Commanders when the CO returned. The bttn spent a quiet night in reasonable comfort as everybody had been able to fit into buildings in the area.


10th April – FORLI.

0500 Reveille and everybody preparing for the move.

0600 An advance party of two reps per coy with the Battle Patrol commander i/c left assembly area to arrange the bttn layout.

0700 The main body of the bttn left by TCV for the assembly area (3440). The journey was full of interest for everybody particularly the part immediately behind the Senio floodbanks where the troops showed the keenest interest in the Bosche positions, which they had been dealing with in the past. Further on, the accuracy by the RAF was commented on and praised.

0930 The bttn arrived in the assembly area and was soon settled in coy areas with the men resting until the next instructions arrived. The remainder of the Brigade Group followed us into the area and was complete by 1430 hrs. The our tanks arrived and B Squadron of the Queens’ Bays were harboured in the bttn area, for those were to be our companions in the coming battle.

1430 The Brigade Commander arrived at Brigade HQ and told us that the Gurkhas were not yet up to the Santerno as there was not much likelihood of a move tonight.

1700 The bttn area was shelled lightly but not by observed shooting and there was not yet sufficient to cause alarm. Everybody got as much rest as possible during the night in preparation for anything that might happen the next day.


11th April – LUGO.

A quiet day in which all coys tied up every detail with their respective troops of tanks and then rested, waiting until the Santerno bridgehead had been made large enough to allow us to get in and then break out for our own part in the battle.

1100 The CO spoke to the whole bttn on the form in which we would be fighting, namely the break out from a bridgehead and then the pursuit. After the CO’s talk, the Squadron Commander working with us, Major C Rich and his troop commanders were introduced to the bttn to make sure that everybody knew who was who; then the coys went back to coy areas and troop commanders discussed tank tactics with the coys.

1300 Bttn placed at 3 hours notice to move. Information was received that the Gurkhas of 8th Indian Division had formed a bridgehead but that it was not yet big enough for us to get in.

2100 The CO attended an O Group at Brigade HQ and learned that the bttn was to move at 0600 hrs on 12th April, the plan being to break out of the Indian Division bridgehead and then advance up the west side of the Santerno on a two bttn front. Innisks right, RIrF left. When the CO returned from Brigade HQ, he held his own O Group conference at which he passed on all information learned at the Brigade HQ and gave his order of attack, which was A Coy right, B Coy left, each with a troop of tanks. These would be followed by Squadron HQ and the CO’s Tac HQ, which consisted of CO, IO and Battery Commanders with two signals for the three sets. All of Tac HQ travelled in one tank.

C Coy followed A and D Coy followed B with Main HQ, S Coy Crocodiles assault section of REs in the centre. Reserve Coys and tanks had orders not to come close enough to become involved in the battle as this would hinder their deployment. Timings would have to be given out in the bridgehead after a recce had been made.


12th April – LUGO.

0500 Reveille and preparations for move.

0515 Information from Brigade HQ that the move has been put back to 0700 hrs and recce parties to stand by from 0600 hrs. This postponement occurred several times during the day and recce parties were assembled and stood down accordingly. Eventually the recce parties consisting of the CO, IO, Battery Commander and Coy Commanders with runners got off. They stopped for some latest information at the HQ, where our own Brigade Commander was discussing latest events with the Indian Brigade Commander. Then the party went on to the Bttn HQ of the unit, which had formed the bridgehead and the CO took the party onto a suitable assembly area.

1650 The main body of the bttn left Lugo by march route.

1720 The CO decided to leave the S Coy weapons on the east side of the Santerno as it was now obvious that it was too late to start a battle today.

1910 Preparations were made for starting the advance at first light on the 13th and then everybody got as much sleep as possible in readiness.


13th April – RIVER SANTERNO.

0625 The bttn was up and ready to start their first big part in the offensive.

Everybody was ready in their correct order and waiting for the CO to give the word to start. There was no artillery preparation apart from some deep shelling on possible strong points, which lay some way ahead.

0630 The word to start was given and A and B Coys moved off with their tanks. A right and B left. They had to travel through thick vines and infantry and tanks travelled close together so as not to risk bazooka fire. Progress was fast at first with spasmodic harassing by mortars and MGs. A Coy on the right had the task of clearing all houses on the road running alongside the river and also the dugouts in the river bank, for this road was to become the main supply route as we progressed. One or two prisoners were taken in doing this, most of them willingly enough. It was not until the report line Joan (a road running across our front at 3048) was reached that serious opposition was encountered. Both coys reached report line Joan with two platoons up and one back. This road was well built up and all the houses had been turned into strong points. D Coy on the left met trouble first when their left forward platoon met Spandau and mortar fire causing some casualties, the first being Lt WP Hohne, who was also the last officer commanding a platoon in B Coy. Only two minutes later, A Coy on the right was having the same trouble and being heavily shelled by tanks at the same time.

0812 B Coy remained engaging the enemy in their house while A Coy pushed on down the river bank and when they were past the road, one platoon of B Coy attacked the first house using one of A Coys’ tanks for support. Owing to the house dominating the approached for a distance of 300 yards, it was necessary to go in with all guns firing. The tanks supporting from a flank and the infantry firing Brens from the hip as they advanced. This method was successful and, after a sharp clash at the house, the platoon was in.

1030 Once established on the road, the Coy was soon pushing one platoon through another in a westerly direction, clearing each house until the enemy had either been killed, captured or had ran off. This particular phase of the battle cost the enemy 8 killed, 56 PW, 7 Spandaus, 8 Bazookas, 15 Schmeissers and numerous other small arms.

Our losses were one killed and four wounded. While B Coy were mopping up their house, A Coy had managed to get forward nearly a 1,000 yards along the river bank adding to the general disintegration.

1050 Codeword Spent was passed to Brigade HQ indicating that it was now a good time for 2 LIR to come through on Kangaroos of this particular defence line.

1130 2 LIR to come through on Kangaroos of this particular defence line.

When the Commanding Officer saw that the enemy were withdrawing in a northerly direction after the breaking of their line, he ordered C and D Coys to go forward through A and B and so continue the chase.

1133 Information was received from Brigade HQ that the air OP had seen movement coming south and east from a point of us and, in view of this, the CO directed that C and D Coys should not go forward after passing A and B Coys.

1140 C and D Coys were in front of A and B and B Coy were still collecting prisoners as they continued their mopping up operations on report line Joan.

1217 LIR on Kangaroos were now 1,500 yards behind us and coming up. C and D Coys started edging forward again their chief resistance being mortar fire. A steady trickle of PW were coming in all the time and the Battle Patrol, whose job it was to collect them, were kept very busy. C and D Coys continued advancing against scattered opposition ad shellfire. PW were still coming in and these were sent to the two rear coys for disposal. These two coys were still finding odd groups of Bosche to clear, while the leading coys had overrun and passed.

1321 C Coy met another area of strong resistance at 317513 from the group of houses there, which slowed down the advance somewhat. Artillery was used on this target and the coy attacked gaining the first houses, after which the others soon fell.

1350 C Coy reported that a strong force of enemy (estimated at 100) were moving on them in counter attack formation. C Coys own fire held up this force ad kept them at a distance at which artillery could be usefully employed against them. This was done and points, at which shots should fall, was estimated accurately enough by the forward platoon commander to make one alteration only, necessary to bring the fire on to the target area. Once the artillery knew that all the shots were in the right area, the intensity of fire was stepped up and the counter attack was dispersed, some enemy withdrawing, others hiding in the houses, from where they were routed out by mopping up parties. While the counter attack was in progress, the LIR I Kangaroos were coming up from behind and passing on our left.

1400 LIR passing through D Coy.

1410 Forward troops were ordered to put up red verey lights as recognition signals for other formations.

1456 Recognition signals fired again. The bttn had been pushing on since the counter attack finished and the LIR had not yet passed our forward troops.

1515 Positions at this stage were A Coy – 319504, B Coy – 314495, C Coy – 315517, D Coy – 316495.

1530 C Coy moved forward again and reached report line Molly, a road running west from La Ciovecca, a village at 3152. Strong resistance was met in this village from SA, mortar fire and shelling.

1615 Our own artillery was brought to bear on this village and, after a period of firing, HE changed to smoke, under cover of which C Coy entered the village. Fighting in the village was stiff and progress slow but, by 1815 hrs, C Coy had established positions half way through the village.

1700 The 9th Lancers and the LIR reached report line Molly, contacted our own tanks and were moving on. This considerably eased our position as the enemy withdrew from the remainder of the village. Other coys were quickly moved up and established in defensive positions, C Coy in the village, A Coy protecting the eastern approaches, D Coy the west, while B Coy protected the rear, the last being very necessary as our own troops operating on our left, were pushing the enemy towards us.

1830 Bttn HQ was brought up to join Tac HQ and was set in the village behind C Coy.

1900 The Brigade Commander arrived at Bttn H to see the Commanding Officer. He congratulated him on the fine advance the bttn had made, and discussed future plans, the immediate part being that we should probably stay in that area for tomorrow, after which we must be prepared to continue the chase. He also warned us of the possibility of Bosche trying to escape through us from the east. There were many partisans in La Giovecca, many of whom were flaunting their armbands quite unworthily but there were others, who were really genuine, had been wounded in attempting to save a bridge and had prepared detailed maps of minefields and defences. The day’s battling had been hard and. almost without exception, had been carried out at Platoon Commanders’ level and all, including the Sgt Platoon Commanders, had proved equal to the task. The score for this day’s fighting was numerous killed and wounded and 107 taken prisoner. Own troops, 8 killed, 14 wounded.

2030 Enemy fired last salvo of guns into the village, which killed two men caught in the open. Protective patrols were sent out at night but no enemy was met and the bttn had a quiet night. From midnight onwards, REs with bridging equipment, were going through us to build a bridge over a canal, which the LIR had crossed.


14th April – RIVER SANTERNO.

When the bttn awoke the next morning, it was found that the impetus, which we had given to the battle, had been maintained and that forward troops had gone as far that we were no longer operational. One platoon of A Coy with one troop of tanks patrolled the area east of the village in case there were any odd Bosche still roaming about, but they only found four. Everybody was in need of a day’s rest to clean up, reorganise and attend to domestic points and the opportunity was taken to do these things. Billets were adjusted for comfort and not for defence, D Coy moved into the village and Bttn HQ moved to move suitable buildings and A Echelon came up too.

There was no activity during the day or night. Coy Commanders and Officers of B Squadron Bays were invited to dinner at the Command Post Mess, where many of yesterday’s battles were relived.


15th April – RIVER SANTERNO .

Another quiet day with no activity. B Squadron Bays passed from our command to take part in somebody else’s battle. Information was received that the bttn would be moving off into battle again on the 16th and that our tanks would be B Squadron of the 9th Lancers, when we were to contact at 0800 hrs on 16th April before moving off. The necessary preparations for the move were made and then everybody rested as much as possible in readiness.


16th April – LA GIOVECCA.

0800 CO, Coy Commanders, Battery Commanders, IO and RSO went off to contact and tie up with the 9th Lancers with whom we were to operate as soon as the bridge across the Reno was completed.

1100 All details were cleared up and the infantry wireless sets were established in the tank allotted to the CO for his Tac HQ. The party returned to the bttn, which was still at La Giovecca.

1130 A message was received from the Brigade HQ telling us we would be moving at approximately 1500 hrs and also that we would not be working with 9 Lancers after all but with our previous partners B Squadron Bays whom we would contact on the other side of the Reno. Signallers were despatched at once to the 9 Lancers to retrieve our wireless sets before the tanks moved off with them.

1430 CO and IO together with coy reps acted as an advance party and went off to an RV at Brigade HQ.

1500 Advance party left Brigade HQ and at the same time the bttn left La Giovecca. While the advance party was halted with its head at the Reno bridge, the Brigade Commander passed and signalled the CO to follow him. Two Dingos with the CO and IO and the Battery Commander followed the Brigadier to Division Tac HQ, the coy reps continuing with the brigade advance party to an assembly area south east of Argenta. At Division Tac HQ, the breakthrough the Argenta Gap was planned and the party went to 11 Brigade HQ, which was on the other side of the road, where details were worked out with the 11 Brigade commander through which we were to pass and the commander of the 2 Armoured Brigade.

The plan formed was for the Irish Brigade to advance on a two bttn front, 1 RIrF on the right, the Inniskillings on the left. The advance was to start through 2 LF at first light on the 17 April 1945. Each bttn would have a squadron of the Bays in support as well as supporting arms.

1900 CO left Brigade HQ and rejoined the bttn in the assembly area near C Negrini 3058, where a command post was established.

2000 A rep from B Squadron Bays was met at a RV near Bttn HQ and he returned to fetch the squadron to join the bttn.

2030 B Squadron Bays arrived in the bttn area.

CO held an O Group conference and issued orders for tomorrow’s advance. Bttn to advance o a two coy front, C right, D left, A behind C, B behind D.

Each coy to have its own troop of tanks and leading coys each to have an artillery FOO with it.

2100 Tac HQ and Squadron HQ would travel behind the leading coy, the remainder of the bttn to follow behind at a distance, not close enough to prevent their easy deployments.

As there was a tank obstacle in front of the LF’s position and one place was considered suitable for crossing, the RIrF had first priority and we had to wait until they were across before we went over.

After the conference, the CO, IO and Battery Commander went to the 2 LF HQ and spent the remainder of the night there so that they would be right in the picture in anything unforeseen that happened.


17th April – ARGENTA.

0230 Members of the bttn, who have been fortunate enough to snatch a few hours sleep aroused to prepare a hasty meal and have a final check up of all weapons before move.

0430 All coys form up and move to Assembly Area at 2960.

0600 Bttn arrive at Assembly Area, which was already occupied by RIrF.

Information was received that the LF had not succeeded in crossing the tank obstacle. An attempt had been made to get supporting tanks across in early hours of the morning but, owing to the darkness, this had been found impracticable, so the timing of our advance was put back a few hours to permit the establishment of a bridgehead.

0630 Command Group of 2 Innisks discussed plans with Command Group 1 RIrF.

0700 Bttn area slightly shelled. Coys were ordered to disperse and dig in.

0730 The interest of the bttn was focussed o the battle for the city of Argenta only 800 yards away. This town was repeatedly bombed by own aircraft during the morning.

1000 Bttn area was again subjected to enemy shellfire. This probably caused by three coys RIrF moving off with their supporting armour. News was received that the tank obstacle was crossed and the bttn was ordered to stand by to move forward.

1100 East Surreys walked through area in artillery formation. This brought down on us a considerable amount of enemy shelling, which fortunately caused no casualties within the bttn.

1200 C and D Coys moved forward.

1240 Activities of enemy snipers caused one casualty. A and B Coys moved forward.

1250 C Coy was across obstacle and ordered to snwig right of D Coy.

1300 D Coy made contact with enemy. Main HQ moved forward.

1315 Few casualties reported from coys.

1330 Reports received that Tigers and enemy SP guns were engaging our forward troops.

1345 One of the supporting tanks reported knocked out.

1350 Report received that no tanks were at the moment supporting C Coy. At this period, there was a momentary lull in the battle.

1445 A Coy was engaged by an A/Tk gun, which inflicted 4 casualties on the coy. The presence of an SP gun was reported to the CO, who asked brigade for a stonk on area 242020.

1500 Enemy was to be seen digging in on main road area 2861 facing D Coy. The reserve tanks moved up to assist D Coy, who reported a considerable amount of enemy activity on their right and front. During this time, at Main HQ, a check was being made of PWs of which we had 42, all from Panzer Grenadiers.

1515 Some of the tanks supporting A Coy were knocked out by A/Tk guns. The CO ordered C Coy to have a crack at them from the north west. Eight casualties were reported from A Coy.

1520 More casualties have been caused to same coy and as many Red Cross carriers and Jeeps available were sent forward.

1530 A Coy reported its position as 279619. Forward coys were, at this time, engaged by enemy MG fire, this caused a slight pause in operations.

1630 C and D Coys reported enemy positions and snipers on the floodbank and an assault under a barrage would have a good chance of success.

1640 C and D Coy resumed advance and suffered casualties in the area 281619 – 280687 – 278616 and captured ten prisoners and inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy.

1650 A/Tk guns at 264618 caused a slight delay but were dealt with.

1710 The possibility of a counter attack was considered very strong and all precautions to prevent its success were taken.

1735 A barrage was put down on the city of Argenta and a few shells fell into D Coy area and the sound of SAA was also heard, which informed us that an attack by our people in the town was in progress. Considerable enemy activity was reported along the floodbank and forward of the FDLs an MG, which was rather troublesome, was knocked out by our artillery.

1855 Main HQ joined Tac HQ at 284618.

1915 CO held conference where the defence of the area for the night was planned, which was on the whole, quiet but with the normal MG fire.

2100 Patrol from C Coy went out to the area in which the Tiger tank had last been seen and found that it was destroyed and that there were two 150 mm SP guns abandoned in the same area, also one Mk III tank.


18th April – ARGENTA.

0600 D Coy sent out to clear area at 2761, Route 16. They encountered enemy MG and rifle fire by 0945 hrs. They had taken 45 prisoners by 1000 hrs, after which 14 more were taken.

1140 D Coy reported to CO that, in all, 66 prisoners were taken and 11 killed. One Tiger tank knocked out and the area was now cleared of the enemy.

1300 CO decided to attack along the floodbank and capture a house 400 yards from the FDLs of D Coy. B Coy is to do the attack, supported by a section of tanks at 1700 hrs.

1700 The attack went in with flamethrowers in support. 12 Platoon did the mopping up on reaching the objective and an attack was made under the cover of smoke from flamethrowers and captured the house, inflicting 16 casualties on the enemy.

1730 The flamethrowers withdrew and later, when the smoke cleared, 12 Platoon themselves were attacked by 300 enemy supported by a Tiger tank, which it later transpired had formed up for a counter attack on Argenta. Superiority in numbers, plus the difficulty in getting in artillery support close behind the bank, forced the platoon to withdraw, which they did in good order to the river bank where there they were in a better position to hit back.

1800 11 Platoon, who was on the right hand side of the bank, was ordered to assist them quickly. This platoon found themselves engaged from the right by an enemy coy and two tanks when they had reached a point level with the house but on the right of the bank. 10 Platoon was sent up to assist but it was decided to send it to join 12 Platoon on the river bank, which was to be held at all costs.

Bttn HQ moved to San Antonio 271615.

1815 The battle had become quite hectic and 12 Platoon reached the bank safely, a heavy stonk was put down on the enemy force with great success as they were caught in the open. The coy had so many targets to engage that they ran short of ammunition. 11 Platoon, on the right, infiltrated heavy casualties on the enemy, who decided to withdraw. The enemy tank hoisted the Red Cross flag and picked up as many as possible before retreating.

1830–1930 The coy was reaching the stage of firing verey lights and 2” smoke at the enemy as this was all that was available but ammunition of all types was rushed up on the carriers of D Support Group (Kensingtons) but, before this arrived, the amusing sight was seen of the Innisks pulling round, out of MG belts, and feeding them into their brens and rifles.The enemy attack had not succeeded and had completely withdrawn by 2000 hrs. B Coy casualties – 1 killed, 1 wounded, 1 missing.

2130 A heavy barrage in support of the Commandos of the opposite side of the river commenced and, of this barrage, two troops were firing out of line and fell on D Coy. Rounds were also falling short and hitting Bttn HQ. Repeated requests through artillery to correct these guns met with no success and, in the finish, we were told that there were too many guns involved to locate the offenders and that the barrage had to go on. We had to endure it how best we could. Fortunately, our own casualties from this were not very heavy, being 1 killed and 6 wounded but the troops would never understand the necessity of being shelled by own guns.

2130 Bttn HQ area was subjected to heavy shelling until 2230 hrs and suffered one casualty.

2230 The night quietened down but a state of acute alertness was maintained by all.

2300 An officer of the Commandos reported to Bttn HQ and informed us that all enemy was cleared west of the canal bank.


19th April – ANTONIO.

0530 Bttn had its normal stand to after which it started a well earned rest for a few hours. Weapons and equipment were checked.

1100 The Brigade Commander visited the CO and put him in the general picture and discussed possible operations.

1400 Tanks and trucks of 6 Armoured Division moved through area along Route 16 in very large numbers.

2100 During the evening, a single enemy aircraft made an unaccustomed appearance between 2100 and 2300 hrs. Bttn area was machine gunned but there were no casualties and no damage. The rest of the night was without incident.


20th April – ANTONIO.

0630 Bttn awakened after a comparatively quiet night and very thankful for the short rest they had managed to have.

0900 RC Padre held a service in the bttn area, which was attended by all RCs.

During the day, an MBU operated in our area and all personnel in the bttn took the opportunity of a much needed bath and change of clothing.

1600 Orders were given for the bttn to prepare to move to a new location. Hasty preparations had to be made for the bttn to be ready to move at 1815 hrs.

1815 The bttn embussed and the convoy moved off at 1815 hrs. CO and IO went to Brigade HQ for orders of the forthcoming operations.

2000 The bttn arrived in area of house at Comi 2389.

2130 CO arrived back from brigade and immediately held a conference for Coy Commanders and all supporting arms. Bttn was to make a night attack across the water obstacle in area 227237 and establish a firm bridgehead by the early hours of the morning so as to let the LIR go through in Kangaroos. C and D Coys to be forward coys.

2215 Bttn move forward towards Start Line.


21st April – GOMI.

0100 A barrage of 400 guns opened up.

0130 Zero Hour. C and D Coys moved forward.

0132 D Coy reported medium guns falling short and asked if barrage could be lifted as a few casualties had been caused. This was due to one gun firing at a range of 100 yards less than the remainder.

The canal had been crossed and good progress was being made. Again, we sustained considerable number of casualties by our own shells falling in our lines.

D Coy had reached the line of ‘Sunday’ and reported a bridge in that area almost intact.

0137 A platoon of A Coy was sent to secure the bridge at 214734.

0145 The bridge was crossed a few minutes later and steps taken to defend it.

0155 The rest of the coy followed across.

0200 The enemy reaction to this was a heavy mortar barrage, which caused 15 casualties to the coy. The coy stretcher bearers showed great courage performing their duties.

Sgt Hughes, by his prompt actions and encouraging words kept 7 Platoon as an organised force.

At this time, Major Duane MC and Lt Murray arrived in A Coy area on stretchers and reported that C Coy had also suffered many casualties by own barrage and CSM Rolston was left with the remainder of the coy digging in on the far side of  the bank.

0230 Reports were sent back that it should be possible to get tanks across the obstacle with little trouble. The Coy Commander of A Coy decided to advance onto C Coy’s furthest objective and asked the commander of the flanking coy (Northamptons) to cover the bridge area and right flank and own MG Platoon to take up positions also upon the right flank.

0315 CO visits A Coy and an offer was made that a platoon of B Coy would be put under command of A Coy. This was accepted and a platoon went forward. At the same time, a considerable amount of mortar and MG fire was being met. Coy HQ moved to level crossing at 210738 with forward platoons digging-in in area 210738.

0400 An RE Officer recces bridge at 210732 and estimated it would take until 0700 hrs to have it repaired.

0430 Adjutant moved Rear HQ forward.

0445 The consolidation of A Coy was stopped by rifle and MG fire ad also with mortar bombs, which caused more casualties to this coy.

0600 The CO sent a message back for the tanks to move forward and this was done immediately.

0610 Enemy movement was seen along A Coy front and precautions were taken to repel possible counter attacks.

0700 CO gives orders for C and D Coys to go forward. B Coy objective Sellacina 217754 – D Coy, road junction 214754. CO and Squadron Commander come to A Coy in their tanks.

0845 B and D Coys start off with one troop of tanks to each coy and, shortly after, the advance started and one tank from each coy was knocked out.

0900 The CO of the 5 Northanptons visited the command post and talked over operations with the Adjutants. 35 PWs were brought into Bttn HQ.

0930 Two platoons of A Coy were ordered forward to make good Bossetti followed by the 3rd platoon and Coy HQ. Meanwhile, D Coy was moving up onto their final objective.

1000 B and D Coys reached their objectives and C Coy moved up to the A Coy area with supporting arms.

The RIrF went through our area on their right.

The battle now quietened apart from local shelling and mortaring.

1100 Four enemy tanks and SP sun were seen in our area.

1130 The SP gun was knocked out by fire from our own tanks and 3 coys consolidated their positions.

1330 Guides were sent to bring LIR to our forward area.

1500 The LIR passed through on Kangaroos.

1600 Patrols were sent into Voghiera and it was found clear of the enemy.

1800 Main HQ joined the command post and all coys were in position.

The enemy had been driven back by our armour for a considerable distance and the rest of the night was quiet.


22nd April – VOGHIERA.

0600 The bttn stood to.

1000 A and B Echelons arrived at Voghiera

1530 The tranquility of the day was suddenly shattered when an unidentified plane dropped a bomb in the Bttn HQ area and then proceeded to machine gun in the area.

1800 Orders were issued that all guards were to be doubled as a precaution against fire from enemy air raids.

2000 A cinema show was held in the B Coy area.

2200 Message received for bttn to stand by, on 4 hours notice, on the following morning. Remainder of the night was quiet.


23rd April – VIATESTA.

0630 This was another quiet morning.

1200 Orders were received for the bttn to move to area Viatesta 225846.

1330 Advance parties left to recce new area.

1545 Bttn embussed and arrived in new area at 1900 hrs. CO visited brigade and returned to bttn area at 2200 hrs and held a conference.

2230 O Group. IO gave out details of the conference. We were to start as soon as a bridge at 240861 was completed. The bttn was to cross, supported by A Squadron, 10 Hussars and to advance up the road to Zocca 2296.

According to reports, the village of Tanara was reported clear of the enemy but the village of Saletta was still firmly held.

2300 The CO issued the following orders: B Coy was to be the right forward – C Coy was to be left forward coy – A Coy was to be the right rear – D Coy left rear. One troop of tanks was to be in support of each coy. Start Line was at 239910.

2330 The bridge was reported open and bttn moved off in the direction of the Start Line.


24th April – SALETTA.

0100 The crossing of the bridge at 264868 caused a certain amount of confusion on the other side of the river and, owing to being misinformed, rear Bttn HQ arrived in the concentration area ahead of the coys.

0130 The arrival of two coys of 1 RIrF did not help to make our situation any clearer.

0200 Brigade confirmed once more that the village of Tamara was clear of the enemy and B Coy went forward and arrived on the banks of the canal Naviglio without much trouble in this area. However, the enemy put up a certain amount of resistance notably by the firing of bazookas causing a few casualties. C Coy, followed by A and D Coys, moved up to support B Coy. C Coy then moved up to B Coy after being told by the CO to keep the infantry sections very close to the tanks to give them protection.

0325 C Coy reached houses near Tamara station at 243909. These houses proved to be well defended by a combination of MG, Bazooka and two SP guns. B Coy had moved forward and took up a position to the east of C Coy. Resistance necessitated a slight withdrawal, then a heavy concentration of artillery fire was put down on the houses.

0530 C Coy pushed on to the village Saletta and were closely followed by A and B Coys, who then proceeded to clear the village. Tac HQ arrived in the village a few minutes later followed shortly after by rear HQ.

0615 The enemy then decided to withdraw completely out of the village and take up positions to the north from which they then proceeded to shell the village

0645 B Coy moved up the road to area 241920 where two enemy tanks supported by infantry were withdrawing slowly and caused a few casualties.

0730 Cassa Matta 240929 had been reached. In this locality, an enemy group put up a more stubborn defence and a barrage put down once more after which A Coy moved up and went in under smoke. One enemy tank and one A/Tk gun were knocked out. 6 PWs, including 2 officers, were taken.

0820 B Coy reported an enemy OP in a distant tower, which overlooked the FDLs. This was engaged by tanks and artillery and, owing to the presence of SP guns, the supporting tanks found it difficult to get forward.

0915 B Coy was slightly forward of C Coy.

0930 The enemy heavily shelled Bttn HQ area.

Bttn HQ was completely established in the village of Saletta and the RIrF moved through our area so as to get on their axis of attack. The enemy continued to shell the village until late in the morning.

1030 A considerable amount of fire was received from enemy tanks on the RIrF axis, which had succeeded in stopping the advance of our coys. It was decided to engage this enemy force with tanks and aircraft, after which the RIrF were to push them back and thereby allow our coys to advance.

1130 During the period of waiting, PW cages were organised and positions strengthened to repel any enemy counter attacks.

1530 D Coy, who had been reserve coy, were sent forward to strengthen the position.

1700 Bttn HQ moved to house 254919 and it was decided that the bttn would resume its advance in the early hours of the morning so as to reach the River Po. The remainder of the night was without incident.


25th April – ZOCCA.

0230 The bttn resumed its advance and, by 0300 hr, B Coy had crossed the canal at La Fosetta.

0400 C Coy reached Fossa Lavessora without opposition.

0445 The CO ordered A Coy to move through B and A Coys and occupy Zocca 2296 supported by two carriers and a troop of tanks. A Coy formed up between the two canals.

0515 Major Cochrane called upon Captain Long MC and was told that C Coy had patrolled the road as far as Cassa Rossa 228954 and found it clear of the enemy.

0530 The situation was not clear as to how far the troops on the right had reached out and there was no definite knowledge of the position of the enemy.

A Coy was ordered to proceed to 226997 after which 9 Platoon was ordered to Casa Vecchia 223955. This operation was completed by 0600 hrs. Both points were reported clear.

0600 A patrol of 6 Platoon went to recce the area, right of this road and captured 47 PWs. 7 and 9 Platoons moved to road junction 225962 from where 7 Platoon moved up to the bank of the River Po. This operation was successfully carried out and 60 prisoners were taken after slight opposition.

0700 7 and 9 Platoons were ordered to move once more, this time into Zocca. 8 Platoon was left at 229567 to cover the right flank. The town was reached by 0800 hrs and so our furthest objective on the River Po had been captured.

It was now quite clear that the enemy had finished all resistance in our area, south of the River Po and the large numbers of transport of all kinds, which he destroyed here was a good indication of the fact that, from now onwards, his resistance further north would be very feeble.

0800 7 and 9 Platoons started to clear the villages of Massa Downina 2396 and the village RO 2397, where many more PWs were taken. D Coy was sent forward to consolidate the village of Zocca.

1200 During the day, 220 PWs were captured by the bttn and, at least, 15 enemy formations were represented.

1700 Bttn HQ was established in area 2225961.

1800 A conference was laid on at the Command Post and it was decided that coys would take up positions on the river bank for the night. A Coy at Casa Maccari – and B at Casa Fanotti.

D Coy had positions to the north and north west – C Coy had positions to the south.

1900 The night proved uneventful and the enemy was in full retreat. 


26th April – ZOCCA.

0600 The day on t he whole proved to be very quiet.

1000 The census of enemy equipment damaged and abandoned in the bttn area was started. The rest of the day was spent in cleaning and resting.

1900 CO gave a dinner to all Coy Commanders. A Mobile Cinema visited the bttn.


27th April – ZOCCA.

1000 Btt remained in the same area and the setting up of an MBU enabled personnel of the bttn to get a bath an a change of clothing.

The census of enemy equipment was continued throughout the day.

Personnel of the bttn were permitted to visit Ferrara for a day’s leave.

1600 Brigade Commander visited bttn. A further 3 PoWs were brought in.


28th April – ZOCCA.

Another day of various activities. The check of enemy equipment was completed, the total being 500 three cwt vehicles – 300 smaller vehicles – 80 half tracked vehicles – 60 tanks – and 100 guns of all calibres.

In the evening, B Coy gave a concert to the bttn. 


29th April – ZOCCA.

CO gave a lecture to all officers and sergeants in which he reviewed the bttn’s part in the battles for the Lombardy plain and stated that he was proud to have been in command of the bttn during this period.

Although he could not foresee the future, he thought that a certain amount of difficulty would be encountered during the first change from war to peace.”

The rest of the day was again quiet.


30th April – ZOCCA.

The day was exceedingly quiet and an advance party was told to stand by and be ready to move on 1st May 1945. This was later put back to 2nd May 1945.