38 (Irish) Brigade – April 1944

1st April – CAIRA (G845246).

0200 Relief of III/4 RTT completed by 1 RIrF. Heavy mortaring in the Caira area, during the night and continued at intervals during the day. Slight mortaring and shelling of forward areas.

1200 Ten shells landed near bridge 860233. No damage.

1215 Five shells in Brigade HQ area. One OR wounded.

Brigade locations:

Brigade HQ 825247,

HQ 6 Innisks 832228. Coys at 829231, 834227, 835231.

HQ 2 LIR 837238. Coys at 832242, 829236, 837240.

HQ 1 RIrF 842245. Coys at 832250, 837252, 844249.

1800 Slight mortaring and shelling Brigade area 854257 during day.

2015 Local recce patrol from left coy 6 Innisks found American MG belts hung in trees to mark path to gap of wire. The belts and gap were rearranged. About the same time, a patrol from 2 LIR met enemy 20 strong in front of left coy. A grenade duel ensued and the enemy withdrew.

2300 Reserve coy 6 Innisks moves into forward area and takes up position 833225.

2nd April – CAIRA (G825246).

All further patrols during the night had nothing to report. Caira had some slight shelling during night.

1200 Increased artillery activity. Hundred shells in Caira up to 1700hrs. One hundred and fifty shells in Brigade HQ area from 0445 – 1730 hrs.

2100 Divisional Commander visits Brigade Commander at Brigade HQ.

Patrols during night met no enemy. Slight mortaring of forward positions.

3rd April – CAIRA (G825246).

Day generally quiet. Mortaring and shelling of forward positions during day.

Caira and areas G 841245 and G 837252 received most attention.

Patrols during night made no contact with enemy but 2 LIR patrol found a dead German at G 827232 from 1 Coy 211 CR. The presence of this regiment is discounted on the brigade front, though the corpse had only been dead a couple of days, believed to have killed in the patrol clash on Monte Castellone two days ago. Enemy movement was seen at G 836215 and engaged by own mortars.

4th April – CAIRA (G825246).

Day generally quiet. Spasmodic mortaring and shelling of brigade area during day. Brigade HQ slightly shelled. No casualties. Standing patrol out in front of Pt 706 came in at last light reporting enemy use of tracks in front of 6 Innisks positions, two mortar positions and stated he heard a tracked vehicle going along the tracks in front of 6 Innisks’ forward positions. Recce patrols during night to give warning of enemy approach go out at first light.

5th April – CAIRA (G825246).

Sitrep 0700hrs. 6 Innisks’ patrols nothing to report. 2 LIR saw nothing. An enemy patrol approach an ambush patrol at 828247 from 1 RIrF. Enemy engaged by SA fire withdrew. Slight shelling and mortaring of forward positions during night.

0800 Very heavy shelling of Caira and cross roads 847248 has been going on since dawn.

This shelling continued for most of the day and slight mortaring of forward positions on brigade front was reported.

Enemy mortars engaged during day successfully.

1400 OP on Mt Cairo 804204 shelled by mediums.

Intentions during night to send out local recces and ambush patrol. Main task to give warning of enemy approach.

1730 Enemy shelling of track G 846246.

6th April – CAIRA (G825246).

0800 Intermittent shelling of Caira crossroads 847248 during night.

Maintenance convoys arrived safely.

These have been coming up each night on a jeep and mule basis bringing supplies and ammunition to the forward companies. So far, no difficulty had been experienced and practically no casualties. A forward Administration Post has been established at San Michele (G 9023) from which all supplies are brought forward either on jeeps or mules. The enemy was active during the night. The 6 Innisks had an engagement with the enemy at house 828226. Mortar fire was brought down and the enemy withdrew.

Grenades were thrown by D Coy 6 Innisks on enemy approaching the wire.

Hostile mortaring of right coy was heavy during the night.

Forward of Mt Castellone (8324) digging and shouting was heard. The shouting was believed to come from a mortar position, which was shelled and mortared. In front of the left forward coy of 1 RIrF, the enemy attempted to draw fire. He did not succeed in this respect but caused DF to be brought down, which scattered him.

Intentions for night: Local standing and ambush patrols. Small covering party. 6 Innisks to protect RE recce party. REs to see and report on state of track 834223 – Massa Albanete 8321.

7th April – CAIRA (G825246).

On the whole, a quiet night. A patrol from 6 Innisks met an enemy patrol at 828228 and grenades were thrown. Enemy dispersed. No casualties. Enemy movement was heard at various points on brigade front and mortared accordingly. Two German bodies and seven French bodies found at 825234 but no identification. Harassing fire was on a reduced scale, but seemed heavier than of late, especially on the Castellone feature.

1000 6 Innisks reported enemy SP gun moved into position and camouflaged at 820225.

This was mortared heavily and seen to blow up.

Slight harassing fire during day. No casualties. 2 LIR build fresh mule track leading up slopes of Mt Castellone to assist mule transport. Slope is extremely steep and mules fall over unless on a reasonable path. Difficulty has been experienced by all battalions with the muleteers pulling the ropes and dumping their loads and this has necessitated undue supervision and considerable escort to the mule train each night. This practice of dumping stores almost becomes fantastic if there is any shelling in the area.

Intentions for the night – normal patrolling and ambushes.

8th April – CAIRA (G825246).

Two PoWs were captured by a standing patrol from 6 Innisks during the night at 834224. They belonged to 3 Coy 115 Recce. Also, during the night, enemy patrols bumped the forward positions of 6 Innisks and were driven off with grenades. There was heavy mortaring of 6 Innisks area during the night. Two men were killed. Otherwise, only intermittent fire on rest of brigade front. As usual, the day was quiet and slight harassing fire mainly in the Caira village area.

1700 Leaflets in English were dropped on forward positions of 2 LIR and 1 RIrF. They harped on about Churchill’s 1940 speech, saying that he had nothing to offer except blood and tears. Also, it compared Allied bombing losses and the slight slowing up of the advance in Italy.

Patrolling and mine laying are the intentions during night.

9th April – CAIRA (G825246).

6 Innisks had some heavy mortaring and shelling during the night. Four casualties.

2 LIR had a sharp engagement with the two small enemy patrols but nothing serious resulted. Again, they heard MT movement in the Villa St Lucia area (G 8023) during the night. Intermittent shelling of Caira during the day. Intentions for the night are patrolling.

10th April – CAIRA (G825246).

2 LIR finish laying minefield between Monte Castellone (G 8324) and 6 Innisks complete theirs at G 834224.

Three PoWs were taken from 3 Coy 115 Recce after a patrol clash at 832222 in which grenades were thrown. Two of 6 Innisks’ patrol are missing. Slight mortaring of brigade area during the night. Three A/Tk guns from Troop 254 A/Tk Battery RA moved into position in area 837228 to support 6 Innisks in case of an attack by tanks. This is a feasible proposition as there is a run in for tanks along the gully leading from Massa Albanete (g 8321).

0930 A daylight patrol found no traces of missing men from 6 Innisks.

Slight mortaring and harassing fire mainly during the afternoon. As before, patrolling activity during the night.

11th April – CAIRA (G825246).

Again, 2 LIR report considerable MT activity in Villa San Lucia direction.

Enemy movement and patrolling was heard on the brigade front. As a further deterrent to any tank threat, 4 SP guns moved into position in support of 6 Innisks.

Mortaring of forward companies of 6 Innisks during the day and general shelling of the remainder of brigade areas.

Very sharp concentration was put down on Brigade HQ at 0500hrs but caused no casualties.

1600 Day generally quiet but very heavy rain and thunderstorm broke over the area. Maintenance track for mules and jeeps in brigade area caved in slightly due to torrential rain at 838233. It was just passable for jeeps at the time but improved by REs before the maintenance convoys arrived.

1700 Heavy mortaring on 6 Innisks forward companies and Bttn HQ. 1 gunner OR killed, six OPs wounded.

Intentions during night is patrolling.

2100 Divisional Commander visits Brigade Commander at Brigade HQ. Belief outline of future operations explained.

12th April – CAIRA (G825246).

Very little activity during the night and mostly on the 6 Innisks front. Perhaps it should, be noted that on this part of the brigade front, only a few hundred yards separate the two front lines and active movement and patrolling is continually observed and unavoidable.

There was a patrol clash at 828226 and one OR was lightly wounded and the 4.2 and 3” mortars fired on enemy positions early on in the night.

The day, itself, was much quieter and there was slight harassing fire on Caira and Brigade HQ area.

1700 2 LIR left forward company had 3 wounded from enemy mortaring. The day was overcast and threatened rain, but visibility was moderate.

Patrol intentions during the night: local standing patrols and protection of minefields.

2030 Col Rudniczy, second in command, 5 Kresowa Division visited Brigade Commander to recce brigade area.

13th April – CAIRA (G825246).

2 LIR patrols heard MT movement in tracks leading north east from Villa San Lucia. Slight enemy mortaring of forward company 6 Innisks during night. Quiet night for 1 RIrF. Fairly heavy intermittent harassing fire of Caira and jeep tracks during night. The day was overcast and threatened rain. Intermittent shelling and mortaring of bttn positions, Brigade HQ and Caira during the day.

1515 Heavy shelling Bttn HQ 1 RIrF, which lasted until 1700hrs. 2 LIR had heavy mortaring about the same time and three men were wounded. 6 Innisks was heavily mortared as well at 1515hrs.

1630 Brigade HQ shelled – no damage or casualties. Intentions during night to continue usual patrolling and inter coy reliefs. Heavy rain during night and no moon made visibility almost nil. Maintenance convoys of mules and jeeps found difficulty in climbing the steep slopes in the intense dark.

2000 Colonel Rudniczy leaves for Divisional HQ.

14th April – CAIRA (G825246).

Again, MT movement was heard by patrols of 6 Innisks and 2 LIR. Main effort seemed to come from farm at 823239 and behind Colle San Angelo. It would appear that the enemy has constructed an MT track from Villa San Lucia up to this farm and also back to the San Angelo feature. Confirmation of this can never be gained as it would entail a minor attack to penetrate the enemy’s forward positions.

1200 Heavy mortaring on 1 RIrF HQ area and Brigade HQ.

1300 Heavy shelling Brigade HQ area including air bursts.

1715 Heavy mortaring on 6 Inniks area 839234.

1800 Heavy shelling Brigade HQ area and gully at 850240 – ammunition dump set on fire.

15th April – CAIRA (G825246).

Intentions during night: usual patrolling. 2 LIR had three men wounded from mortaring at 0100hrs. Patrols made no contact during night. Intermittent harassing fire during night. 6 Innisks’ forward positions were harassed by MG fire during the night. Slight mortaring in bttn areas during the day. Visibility moderate during the day. Patrolling intentions during the night.

16th April – CAIRA (G825246).

Quiet night for 2 LIR and 1 RIrF. Patrol from 6 Innisks fired on from 828228 and later grenade from enemy positions at 828227. Three men are missing, believed wounded. Slight mortaring during day. Patrolling intentions during night and 6 Innisks effecting relief of left coy.

17th April – CAIRA (G 825246).

Enemy patrol threw grenades and fired at right coy 1 RIrF during the night. No casualties to either side and enemy fire dispersed by MG fire. Caps left behind found to be that of mountain troops. Heavy shelling of 6 Innisks’ area during early part of the night. Three men killed. Counter mortar targets engaged. Day comparatively quiet. Slight shelling and mortaring.

2100 Fairly consistent shelling of Brigade HQ area and tracks leading out of Caira. One man wounded from shelling. 28 Brigade inform this HQ that a party of 20 Germans was seen moving down the slopes of hill from pt 708 (G8326). Nothing resulted from this information. Normal routine patrols and listening posts during the night. Brigade Commander discusses future training with Commanders 1 RIrF and 6 Innisks and second in command 2 LIR. Schemes and future programmes are discussed with a view to training in cooperation with tanks and also river crossings.

18th April – CAIRA (G825246).

A normal night. Patrols heard movement in the Colle San Angelo area (G8222) and in the gully leading down to Massa Albanete (G8321). No contact was made by any patrol. Some enemy movement brought down fire from our own mortars during the early part of the night. Day generally quiet.

2045 Divisional Commander visits Brigade Commander to discuss question of relief in this sector and policy of future training on return to rest area.

2100 Colonel Nowina Sawicki commander of 6 Lwow Brigade (5 Kresowa Division) and two of his staff officers arrive at Brigade HQ. They are to spend 24 hours and recce brigade sector preparatory to taking over this sector commencing night 24/25 April. Normal routine patrolling and listening posts to take place during the night.

2130 Divisional Commander leaves.

19th April – CAIRA (G825246).
Patrols heard enemy movement during the night and vehicles in the Villa San Lucia area. No contact was made. Slight mortaring and shelling of 1 RIrF and track at 834242 during the night. Enemy movement seen engaged by our mortars.

1300 Slight enemy mortaring of forward localities of 2 LIR. Heavy gun firing during early morning made large crater on track at G843242. Information just received and REs to fill in before arrival of maintenance convoys.

1715 Shelling of Caira with heavy guns probably 150mm.

Normal patrolling to take place during the night.

2000 Colonel Nowina Sawicki and his staff leave Brigade HQ after recce-ing area and Brigade sector.

20th April – CAIRA (G825246).

Patrols during the night heard the customary enemy movement but no contact was made. OP on Monte Castellone reported that during the night the enemy fire a red verey from Monastery Hill when our transport was heard on Route Six and it is repeated on Monte Cairo (G7925) after which three guns fire. Slight mortaring and shelling during the night.

0600 Heavy shelling right coy 2 LIR on Monte Castellone.

1000 Commander 6 Lwow Brigade (5 Kresowa Division) visits Brigade Commander.

1500 Mediums shell concentration of tanks believed to be seen behind San Angelo village at 840162. Results of the shoot not known due to rather bad visibility.

The Polish Brigade Commander discusses the ground enemy positions and defences on the left of the Brigade sector with the Brigade Commander. Enemy strengths, minefields etc, in fact all available information was given to him to assist him in the planning of future operations.

2000 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigde OO No 33 issued:
Relief of brigade by 6 Lwow Brigade to commence night 24/25 April. Full details of relief in operation order. If troops, after being relieved, are unable to pass Caira village by 0530hrs, then they must lie up in the gullies behind bttn positions until the next night unless, of course, there is a good mist or the smoke is successful. Smoke will be put down in the Rapido Valley, only from generators and will not be fired by 25 pounders. This is a precautionary measure for the enemy will realise that a relief is taking place if 25 pounder smoke is fired from the valley, the procedure having been adopted once too often before. Normal patrolling and listening posts during the night.

2100 COs of the three bttns of 6 Lwow Brigade arrive at Bttn HQs to recce various bttn areas. To spend one day and depart night 21 April.

21st April – CAIRA (G825246).
Patrols during night heard some enemy movement. Slight shelling and mortaring of forward areas during night. Patrol from 6 Innisks was grenaded on approaching Phantom House (G828226) and an enemy patrol made contact with a standing patrol in front of 6 Innisks left forward platoon at G834224. An exchange of fire took place and grenades were thrown by both sides but there were no casualties.

0600 Heavy shelling right coy 2 LIR.

0710 Right coy 6 Innisks mortared; 2 wounded. Spasmodic shelling and mortaring of forward areas during the day causing three more casualties; otherwise quiet on rest of brigade front. Visibility became perfect during the afternoon and observation was excellent for many miles. Recce parties from bttns of Lwow Brigade leave for own locations. Normal patrolling to take place during the night.

22nd April – CAIRA (G825246).

Patrols during the night had nothing to report and shelling and mortaring was generally on a reducing scale.

0840 Thirty two bombs on right coy 6 Innisks.

1640 Heavy mortaring 6 Innisks’ area.

6 Innisks report much enemy movement on the lower southern slopes of pt 593 (G835215) during the day. Indication is given of possible new platoon position and enemy unaware that he was overlooked. Possibly fresh enemy defensive measure to guard the gully leading down to the Massa Albanente (G8321). This platoon position was heavily mortared by 3” mortar by 6 Innisks during the afternoon. Again, visibility was perfect during the day and movement had to be cut down to the minimum. Normal patrols during the night.

23rd April – CAIRA (G825246).

Patrols during night made no contact. Slight mortaring and shelling of four localities including Caira. Our 3” mortars engaged targets at 834218, Phantom Ridge 828226, and Massa Albanete. Light but constant shelling of Brigade HQ area up to 0200hrs.

1100 Bttn HQ 6 Innisks shelled.

1430 Right coy 6 Innisks mortared.

1500 Right coy 2 LIR shelled. Otherwise quiet day.

Weather clear and fine since dawn.

Visibility perfect over many miles.

Normal patrols during night.

2300 Recce patrols 14 Polish Infantry Bttn arrive at HQ 6 Innisks to recce bttn area preparatory to taking over positions the next night.

Patrols during night from 2 LIR and 1 RIrF made no contact during night. Patrol from 6 Innisks found an enemy minefield at G833219 but made no contact with any enemy patrol which may been patrolling it.

24th April – CAIRA (G825246).

The day was generally quiet in the brigade sector except for consistent mortaring and shelling of the right coy 6 Innisks during the day. Our heavy mortars and 3” mortars replied and in addition 3” mortars 6 Innisks kept up a steady harassing fire on the Phantom Ridge sector (G828226).

Relief of 6 Innisks by 14 Polish Infantry Brigade concerned about midnight.

Normal standing and protective patrols during the night.

25th April – CAIRA (G825246).

0100 Recce parties of 16 Polish Bttn arrive at HQ 2 LIR to recce Bttn area. Day was exceptionally quiet after rather a noisy night.

0345 Relief of 6 Innisks complete.

0530 All coys 6 Innisks have cleared the village of Caira but smoke was necessary to give cover and protection for rear coys not being able to cross the Rapido valley to Portella before daylight.

Shelling of Line of Control in the Caira area was heavy during the early part of the night. The mule train of 2 LIR, including recce parties of 16 Polish Bttn and supporting arms, came under fire and some mules stampeded. Four 3” mortars belonging to 16 Polish Bttn were missing due to this stampeding.

2030 Marching personnel 16 Polish Bttn leave Portlella to take over positions from 2 LIR.

2100 HQ 6 Lwow Brigade arrives at Caira.

2200 HQ 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade less Brigade Commander and Brigade Major leave for divisional concentration area.

26th April – FORMICOLA (N1989).

All coys 1 RIrF relieved by 17 Polish Bttn after a certain amount of difficulty.

0330 Command passed 6 Lwow Brigade.

0415 Tail of column of 1 RIrF now past Caira village.

0440 Request for smoke in Rapido valley passed to division as coys of 1 RIrF will not be able to get across in daylight.

0900 Brigade Commander and Brigade Major arrive at Brigade HQ in Divisional concentration area.
Whole brigade concentrated in area Formicola (N1989):
Brigade HQ – 207882,
6 Innisks – 195898, coys at 202898 and in area 208895.
2 LIR – HQ 211878, coys at 203878, 202881, 205880, 208879.
1 RIrF –  HQ 19589, coys at 192887, 192886, 195885, 183888.

Troops under canvas in coy bivouac area.

A divisional training programme was issued on laying down the policy for future training of the division. The first four days in the concentration area to be devoted to interior economy and then a period of training covering a period of ten days dealing with river crossings, village fighting, cooperation with tanks and two brigade attacks.

27th April – FORMICOLA (N1989).

Interior economy. Increased allotment of leave are granted. Troops can go to Bari for 7 days or the Divisional Rest Camp at Maiori for 4 days. Allotments of mobile cinemas, seats for cinema and ENSA shows are available every day.

Canteens are set up in every bttn area for the benefit of the troops.

28th April – FORMICOLA (N1989).

Interior economy. Bath allotments and general reorganisation.

Preparations and recces for future training.

29th April – FORMICOLA (N1989).

Interior economy. Bath allotments and recreation.

Preparations and recces for future training.

30th April – FORMICOLA (N1989).

Interior economy for 2 LIR and 1 RIrF.

6 Innisks carry out preliminary river crossing exercise across the River Volturno in area P1980.

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