Irish Brigade

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

Faugh a Ballagh        Nec Aspera Terrent         Quis Separabit


2 Innisks – January 1945

1st January – SAN CLEMENTE.

0535 C Coy Sitrep: NTR.

0620 A Coy report sending patrol to Point 358 at 0345 hrs, which returned at 0500 hrs. NTR.

0900 B Coy reports left hand gun on 278 ridge has disappeared.

1300 Heavy gun firing on Bttn HQ. Bearing 357 from 009298.

1600 Point 156 report seeing 2 men at Razzinera. East Surreys informed and they promise to stonk the house. Gunners when registering Sillaro Haystack set off flare at 019289.

1750 B Coy report gun at 014296 firing into gully in area 012291.

1800 Leading coy of 1 RIrF arrive at Bttn HQ.

1930 Relief of bttn by 1 RIrF completed without incident. Bttn marches to Calanca and embusses for Castro San Martino.

2345 Bttn reported arrival at Castro San Martino completed.


2nd January – CASTRO SAN MARTINO.

1100 The CO pays a visit to all coys. Arrangements are being made to celebrate Christmas on 4th Jan.


3rd January – CASTRO SAN MARTINO.

Bathing and preparation for Xmas dinner.

1400 Representative of 61 MP (US) arrive at HQ reference a report received by them of enemy agents in the area. Local priest informs us that there were some enemy agents arrested here some time ago.


4th January – CASTRO SAN MARTINO.

0800 Reveille by massed bugles.

0930 Church Services.

1100 Drums and Pipes play in square at Bttn HQ.

1200 Sgts visit Officers’ Mess.

1300 Men’s Dinner. CO, 2nd in Command, and Adjutant visit all coy dining halls.

1400 Officers visit Sgts’ Mess.

2000 Dinner in Officers’ Mess. Brigade Commander and LOs, Office Commanding 10 Battery, 17th Field Regiment attend.


5th January – CASTRO SAN MARTINO.

Quiet day – bathing for the men.


6th January – CASTRO SAN MARTINO.

1100 CO’s conference reference move to relieve 2 LIR.

1600 Admin order ref move issued.


7th January – CASTRO SAN MARTINO.

0830 Bttn embusses and moves to Mule Point, Roads are in very bad condition, due to ice and snow.

1430 Bttn arrives at Mule Point where hot meal has been provided.

1600 Bttn commences to relieve 2 LIR.

1930 Bttn relieved without incident.

2100 Brigade report. Royal Scots report Tamagnin burning. C Coy state no fires or lights in Tamagnin area.


8th January – SAN CLEMENTE.

0600 Standing Patrols report back with NTR. All coys report NTR.

1000 Four light mortar bombs in area of B Coy and Bttn HQ. CO decides not to send out any patrols as tracks in snow will give away positions.

1315 C Coy report one man leaving Tamagnin.

1615 Visibility very bad due to blizzard. OPs are sent forward and report visibility only 30 yards.

1700 The CO and Signal Officer pay a visit to C Coy.

2000 Blizzard dies down and visibility now normal.


9th January – SAN CLEMENTE.

0600 Coys report NTR.

1000 Many tracks leading from Anzellara house observed. One leading to an obvious well and others leading to slit trenches. Track activity is also observed along Anzellara – Muiano ridge.

1100 One mule seen at Cassa Volte.

1130 Brigade Commander visits Bttn HQ.

1445 Three enemy seen at Volte and 1 at Muiano.

1730 MMGs engage Anzellara and tracks observed earlier in day.


10th January – SAN CLEMENTE.

0050 One red verey light reported fired from Cereto ridge.

0630 MMGs again fire on Anzellara.

0930 RC Mass held in Bttn HQ. 3” mortars firing 1100 to 1300 hrs on Point 342, Anzellara, Antrim, Cereto and Point 297.

1045 CO visits C Coy.

1200 LO from US 85th Division visits Bttn HQ reference takeover of 85 Division on our left.

1615 C Coy HQ mortared. Bearing of 67 degrees from Sopra. Counter mortar fire retaliatory bombard. A Coy OP reports seeing one man at Casa Volte. Artillery OP reports seeing a goat at Volte.

1845 A coy reports one red flare on a bearing of 50 degree from OP followed by two red flares on a bearing of 70 degrees.

2200 Flash bearing on gun reported by C Coy. Bearing taken from 005309 – 95 degrees magnetic. Passed to counter battery.


11th January – SAN CLEMENTE.

0600 Coys sitrep. Nothing to report.

1145 Three enemy seen at Caternara engaged by artillery.

1230 One man seen at Point 297.

1315 3” mortars engage Point 297. One direct hit.

1410 Artillery engage Point 297. Several direct hits observed.

1415 One mule observed at Volte.

1905 One white verey light forward of Frasinetto.

2340 B and C Coys report one white verey light from Antrim Air. RIrF report they are firing 2” flares.


12th January – SAN CLEMENTE.

0600 Battle Patrol established listening post (3 men) on ridge 300 yards forward of C Coy right platoon at 011305. CO accompanies Patrol to C Coy.

0830 One man in white clothing seen leaving Casa Volte. Three men seen at Point 297. Forresters informed.

0855 Battle Patrol return from 011305 and report back to C Coy. Report seeing three enemy enter Tamagnin from the gully behind.

0930 Mortars report firing from behind Antrim. 3” mortars engage.

1145 C Coy OP report two men moving from behind Antrim. 3” mortars engage.

1200 All rounds on target area and two direct hits.

1630  Mediums engage Anzellara. Several near hits registered. 25 pounders fire air bursts over gully at rear of houses while mediums were firing.

1816 8 Platoon OP report guns firing on Monte Grande. Bearing 37 degrees grid.

1852 C Coy from 005308 report three guns firing on bearings 87 deg – 84 deg – 81 grid flash to bang 5 secs. CMO informed.

1930 B Coy from 005300 report mortar firing on Lucca. Bearing 97 degrees grid. Passed to CMO.

1945 A Coy from 004301 report one red flare on bearing 112 degrees grid.


13th January – SAN CLEMENTE.

0220  Enemy using Nebelwerfers, area shelled unknown. Bearing from 004301 – 58 degrees. Bearing fro 005300 – 72 degrees. C Coy OP 007305 – 7 degrees. Area shelled left coy Forresters. Bearings passed to CMO and CBO.

0600 Heavy snow fell during night and is still falling. Battle Patrol did not send out Listening Patrol to 011305 due to poor visibility. Coys remain in night positions.

0845 C Coy sends Listening Patrol to 011305 to lie up and observe Tamagnin and tracks when visibility permits.

1000 C Coy Patrol returns.

1100 Battle Patrol send Patrol of one officer and two other ranks forward to 011305.

1130 The acting Brigade Commander visits Bttn HQ.

1400 C Coy report Battle Patrol returning to right forward platoon. They were observed by the enemy and mortared by light mortar and could not return by usual route. Patrol reports no new tracks on Tamagnin.

2025 Forresters report their Patrol in Bazzano gully and saw 5 enemy in gully at approx 011311. C Coy informed.

2255 Four Bosche appeared at about 200 yards in front of 11 Platoon B Coy. Enemy discovered they had been observed and withdrew at once, no shots were fired. Enemy were not wearing snow camouflage suits.


14th January – SAN CLEMENTE. 

0600 CO visits C Coy returns at 0750 hrs.

0630 OC B Coy reports. Patrol to area 006301, return and reports track in snow, where men had walked, also marks where they had crawled a short distance.

0900 Sgt Doherty and Battle Patrol return from 011305 reports no tracks or movement at Tamagnin. Pinpointed two dug outs against north wall of east house.

1330 C Coy report 17 light mortar bombs on coy area.

1340 4.2” mortars engage Tamagnin and Point 166.  3” mortars to fire on Point 166 at 1600 hrs.

2100 One flare reported going up between B Coy and 2 LIR coy position at Lucca. 3” mortars engage Point 166 and Fontanelie.

2210 C Coy report two vehicles moving on Ronco – Muiano track.


15th January – SAN CLEMENTE.

0700 B Coy patrol report NTR. C Coy patrol hearing voices on ridge behind Tamagnin.

1145 Battle Patrol leader fires Piat bombs at Tamagnin. Patrol pinpoints enemy dugout and OP at 007301.

1600 C Coy report approx six light mortar bombs in coy area.

2000 Battle Patrol returns from 010302. Nothing to report.

2030 Battle Patrol out to the foot of Black Ridge. Returned 2130 hrs. NTR.

2215 A Coy patrol returns. NTR.


16th January – SAN CLEMENTE.

0510 No 12 Platoon B Coy report Nebelwerfer firing on as bearing of 116 degree. Passed to Counter Mortar Officer.

0515 No 12 Platoon report another Nebelwerfer. Bearing 74 degrees. Bearing from C Coy 85 degree.

0610 Bren Gun Group established forward of B Coy.

0715 C Coy report: Patrol to Black Ridge saddle, heard voices and movement at Tamagnin. C Coy send Patrol to foot of Black Ridge.

0810 Battle Patrol snipers return. Visibility nil, thick mist.

0825 C Coy Patrol return. Nothing to report.

0830 Battle Patrol snipers go out again.

1230 Snipers from Battle Patrol returns to C Coy. Visibility nil.

1730 Battle Patrol go out down Black Ridge to Tamagnin.

2130 Lieut Trainer, Battle Patrol Commander, returns to C Coy HQ. Reports reaching stream junction at Tamagnin. Tamagnin not occupied. Challenging by sentries and movement heard at Point 166 and movement on lower slopes of Antrim.

3” mortars engage Point 166 and Antrim. 4.2” mortars engage Point 166.


17th January – SAN CLEMENTE.

0030 B Coy report that at 2030 hrs, four enemy approached the positions in the same area as before. A Bren gunner opened fire when enemy were approx 100 yards away. Enemy scattered and ran away.

0700 OC B Coy reports. Patrol sent out to examine enemy tracks returned and reported enemy did not cross the Dannert wire in front of the coy.

1400 CO and O Group RIrF arrive to take over from bttn.

1645 Bttn HQ and B Coy relieved.

1930 C Coy relieved.

2230 A Coy relieved.

Bttn moved by route march to 11 Brigade reserve area at Trevallata and came under command of 11 Brigade at 6 hours notice to move.


18th January – SAN CLEMENTE.

1000 CO visits coys.

1300 CO and Adjutant visit 11 Brigade HQ and are given details of counter attack role for bttn.


19th January – SAN CLEMENTE.

1200 Brigade Commander visits  Bttn HQ.

1600 Due to thaw and rain ford at Clemente becomes impassable.

1900 Ford at Clemente becomes passable and A Coy rations are ferried across.


20th January – SAN CLEMENTE.

1100 CO visits coys. The day was spent in cleaning weapons and generally cleaning up.


21st January – SAN CLEMENTE.

The day was spent in checking stores and ammunition.

2310 Enemy aircraft dropped three bombs in Bttn HQ area. No damage or casualties were caused.


22nd January – SAN CLEMENTE.

Preparations are made for the bttn move to take place tomorrow.


23rd January – SAN CLEMENTE.

1730 B Coy at Mule Point ready to move forward to San Lucca.

1830 Bttn HQ relief completed.

1930 Bttn relief completed. A Coy in reserve at Point 170. B Coy at Lucca. C Coy at Point 165. One platoon of A Coy at Point 156. Patrols 1) Standing Patrol from Point 156 at Culvert 017288 all night. 2) Standing Patrol at 007290 all night. 3) Standing Patrol until 2400 hrs at 013291. 4) Standing Patrol at 005285 all night.

2330 CO visits A and C Coy.

2345 C Coy report patrol from 013291 returned. NTR.


24th January – SAN CLEMENTE.

0600 C Coy sitrep. Nothing to report.

0625 B Coy sitrep. NTR. A Coy reported Argylls contacting Standing Patrol at 005285 at 0125hrs.

0740 C Coy report six mortar bombs in area gully north of Point 165.

0930 CO visits B Coy.

1345 C Coy report out of communication with Valley Farm. B Coy and MMGs warned.

2035 Patrol to Culvert 017288 returned. No enemy seen but movement and coughing heard in Culvert at 019289. No action resulted.

2105 Patrol to Knoll 015289 returned. NTR.

2130 Flare seen in the direction of Sasso from Point 207.  Enquiries from B Coy report it to be a flare and sent out a contact Patrol who say they heard movement.


25th January – SAN CLEMENTE.

0035 8 A&SH contact A Coy Standing Patrol at 005285.

0400 Four mortar bombs land behind Point 156 in area 013287.

0550 C Coy NTR.

0605 Sitrep to brigade. Patrols above, otherwise NTR.

0620 C Coy report Patrol to Culvert returned. NTR.

Heavy snow fell during the night.

0730 B Coy report trenches and tracks visible on Point 342, tracks leading down to Antrim.

1130 MMGs fire on Scrub at 018288.

1215 Brigade Commander visits Bttn HQ, also A, B and C Coys’ HQs.

1620 Visibility at Point 156 is at 15 yards due to artificial smoke screen drifting up from river bed.

1635 Four enemy mortar bombs land in Culvert at 017288. 2 Innisks Admin Order No 1 issued.


26th January – SAN CLEMENTE.

0035 Battle Patrols, Ambush Patrol at 014292 returned. NTR.

0145 8 A&SH Patrol contacted A Coy Patrol at 05285.

0545 Six heavy shells or Rockets, land in river bed, area 013283 and 010 283. One man killed in C.

0600 Enemy mortar Point 207, 30 rounds fall in the area. Bearing from 009287 – 65 degrees magnetic. Coys report Patrols in. NTR.

0700 Lines to Valley Farm and Point 156 broken through enemy rockets.

0723 Forty mortar bombs land on Point 156. CMO fire bombard.

0900 RA OP reports seeing three men with a mortar on Point 342. 3” and 2” mortars engage target.

1625 C Coy area mortared. Sixteen bombs fall in this area. Counter mortar fire retaliatory bombard.

1910 C Coy report Patrol to Culvert 017288 returned. NTR.

2030 C Coy Patrol to Knoll 015289 returned. NTR.

2035 C Coy report 12 light mortar bombs on Point 156.

2105 Battle Patrol returns. Patrol reached 016291. Some enemy in trenches. Two trenches at 016292, one trench at 015292. Some movement at track at 018291. Unable to get close to enemy owing to clear visibility.

C Coy report four light mortar bombs in their area.

2325 C Coy digging party return. Track complete.


27th January – SAN CLEMENTE.

0315 C Coy report one Nebelwerfer in area between Point 156 and Point 165.

0320 C Coy report ten light mortar bombs land in area of Point 156.

0328 3” Mortar Platoon engage Casa Sillaro and Casa Nuova.

0420 C Coy report 4 light mortar bombs on Point 156.

0627 Point 156 reported enemy movement on Knoll and Culvert. Garrison commander thought enemy forming up for attack. DF ‘Stalin’ fired by artillery. MMGs and 3” mortars fired. Attack did not materialise.

0633 Bttn MGs shoot up Scrub.

0637 RA report Shot on DF. ‘Stalin’ right, left and forward.

0639 Bttn 3” mortars fire DF for Point 156.

0645 A Coy remaining two platoons warned to stand by.

Situation – Section at Point 156 saw number of enemy in front of fire, apparently standing by. On light signal, Point 156 stonked and enemy opened up with Schmeisser. DF called for and MMGs called for. DF proved very effective.

0647 Two sections of A Coy platoon, manning Point 156, ordered forward to C3 Coy and held in immediate counter attack role.

0650 Forward section report situation clear.

2030 Battle Patrol returns from Knoll. Heard movement around Sillaro.


28th January – SAN CLEMENTE.

0010 C Coy Patrol to 400 yards north of Valley Farm returned to Valley Farm.

0100 Battle Patrol returns to Point 156 from Knoll, report having seen enemy movement at Point 278 and on track between Sillaro and Point 278.

0145 8 A&SH report their patrol to the river has returned.

0600 C Coy report Knoll and Gully Patrols returned.  NTR. Coys report NTR.

1125 C Coy OP at Point 207 report mortar firing on 11 Brigade front. Bearing 6 degrees magnetic. Surplus

1830 CO and CO of the Buffs visit A and C Coys forward outposts.

2115 Raid alert.

2125 Six enemy seen on path in front of Sillaro House (018293 – Point 278 – 014294). One Kensington MMG at Lucca fired. Two of the enemy were hit, fell down and did not move again. Almost certainly killed. Four ran off.

2130 A/Brigadier rang re reinforcements. Will ring again tomorrow.


29th January – SAN CLEMENTE.

0300 Patrol to C Coy to Valley Farm area returned. NTR.

0315 Two enemy shells fall in Bttn HQ area.

0320 Six shells fall in Bttn HQ area.

0525 Map reference of enemy who fired during the night 032244.

0540 Too bright for patrol to Point 156 going out just before 0600 hrs.

0815 Stand to.

0830 The CO took CO 5th Buffs around B Coy positions at Sasso Di Lucia.

1430 5th Buffs arrived at the debussing area where they stayed for a meal.

1500 B Coy’s relief moved off so that they could be just behind Sasso ridge by last light. Arrangements were made for one platoon of the reserve coy’s relief to accompany the coy relieving C Coy in the right forward coy area. These were to relieve the platoon of A Coy at Point 156.

1830 Maintenance and stores vehicles came through and guided the stores vehicles of the incoming unit. Marching personnel of 5th Buffs passed Clemente cross roads.

1930 A Coy less one platoon were relieved and started off for the embussing point of Calanca. Bttn HQ followed soon after them.

2030 There was a long wait while B and C Coys were relieved owing to the distance to be covered and also because of the icy roads. Smoke canisters were prepared for use in case the moon rose before the relief was completed. C Coy sent out its platoons as they were relieved and were all clear by 2025hrs. Taking with them the platoon of A Coy from Point 156. B Coy being the last to be relieved arrangements were made to bring up their TCVs to Clemente cross roads, thus saving a two mile walk and more important time. Special arrangements had been made with the CMP to allow our vehicles through the Scarperia pass, although it would normally be closed to all traffic after 2130 hrs. This ensured the bttn a smooth running journey and the while bttn arrived in its new area without mishap.


30th January – BIVIGLIANO.

0020 Bttn was complete in its new area and guides showed everyone to their respective billets. The advance party had worked hard and all the billets had been cleaned up and made habitable. Cooks had prepared hot meals for everyone and, very soon after it arrival, the bttn was comfortable and well settled in. Reveille and breakfast were made later owing to the lateness of everyone getting to bed and the rest of the day was spent improving billets and adding small comforts.


31st January – BIVIGLIANO.

The day was again spent in making billets more comfortable and also providing facilities for entertainment. Officers and Sgts’ Messes were established and one house was given over to be used as a Recreation Centre. A wine bar was opened in one of the rooms and an Information Centre upstairs. Most people took advantage of the opportunity to clean up, wash clothes, write letters and generally catch up on all the things which their spell in the line had caused to be neglected.