38 (Irish) Brigade – February 1944

1st February – FORLI DEL SANNIO (H1443).

0600 Bttns spent quiet night. No enemy activity.

1200 2 LIR handed over billets and information to advance parties of 3 Bttn, 1 Carpathian Rifle Brigade.

1245 HQ, 2 LIR closes.

1300 2 LIR leave Forli (H1443) for Baranello (H4625).

2nd February – FORLI DEL SANNIO.

1200 Main body of 1st Carpathian Rifle Brigade arrive.

1500 Rear Brigade HQ move to Campobasso (H5528). Tac HQ left in Forli.

Relief of 6 Innisks and 1 RIrF carried out during the afternoon and evening.

1530 Two Coys of 6 Innisks leave Cerro (H0839) for Busso (H4628).

2000 D Support Group leave Forli for Campobasso.

3rd February – CAMPOBASSO.

0010 Coy of 6 Innisks leaves Cerro (H0839) for Busso (H4628).

0300 1 RIrF plus one coy of 6 Innisks move to Campobasso. Coy 6 Innisks to go to Busso.

0330 Tac HQ Brigade leaves Forli for Campobasso.

4th February – CAMPOBASSO.

Relief of 38 Brigade. All units arrived safely and established as follows:

6 Innisks – Busso H4628.

2 LIR – Baranello H4625.

1 RIrF – Campobasso H5528.

D Support Group – Campolieto H6337.

152 Field Ambulance – Campobasso H5528.

5th February – CAMPOBASSO.

Units reorganise and settle in. Training progamme submitted.

6th February – CAMPOBASSO.

1600 Snow falls in brigade area. Junior Leaders’ School returns from Forli.

Road to Campobasso blocked. Work on clearing roads to Busso and Baranello being carried out.

7th February – CAMPOBASSO.

0900 Heavy snow all night. Roads partially blocked. Snow all day. Most main roads now blocked. No communication to Isernia, Termoli, Larino, Luceria.

8th February – CAMPOBASSO.

Snow stops. Roads being cleared slowly. Roads to 2 LIR and 6 Innisks passable to vehicles with chains. No communications with D Support Group.

Indoor training. T/Captain JD O’Rourke takes over duties as Brigade IO vice T/Captain J Hobbs posted.

9th February – CAMPOBASSO.

Slight snow. Colder. Freezing during the night. Indoor training and discussions carried out by bttns.

10th February – CAMPOBASSO.

Slight snow. Indoor training carried out by bttn, except for 1 RIrF, who were able to move on the main roads in Campobasso and carry out route marches etc.

11th February – CAMPOBASSO.

Advance parties 78 Division HQ arrive in Campobasso. Roads cleared to D Support Group. Most of divisional moves to rest areas displayed by clocked roads. 56 Recce moved up to Agnone.

12th February – CAMPOBASSO.

Training carried out by bttns

Brigade at 12 hours notice to move.

13th February – CAMPOBASSO.

11 Brigade to Castelnuouva area less 2 LF. 36 Brigade remain present locations.

Roads still bad and some main roads still partially blocked.

14th February – CAMPOBASSO.

1100 Warning order received for the brigade to move to Alife H2803 the following under command 38 Brigade:

D Support Group 1 Kensingtons, 17 Field Regiment RA, 254 A/Tk Battery RA, 280 LAA Battery RA, 214 Field Company RE, 152 Field Ambulance, 294 Coy RASC, Section Ord Field Park, Pro Section 78 Division, Section 78 Division MBU.

1400 OO order and march table N0 15 issued.

15th February.

0800 Brigade column moves from Campobasso area to Alife H2803. Location of Division concentration area now changed.

Brigade group to go to Villa Volturno N1884 near Capua 1878.

2100 Brigade established except for D Support Group and 152 Field Ambulance still on route.

16th February.

1100 Brigade now established. All vehicles broken down en route reported in bttn areas. 152 Field Ambulance and D Support Group now established in location.

Brigade location statement:

HQ 38 Brigade – N186848.

6 Innisks – N198846.

2 LIR – N189820.

1 RIrF – N190811.

D Support Group 1 Kensingtons – N1880.

17 Field Regiment RA – N193382.

254 A/Tk Battery RA – N1982.

214 Field Company RE – N205815.

294 Coy RASC – N1983.

280 LAA – N176829.

152 Field Ambulance – N 1784.

17th February.

Bttns carry out recce for training areas and organise billets and room for as many men as possible. All attached units revert to their own command of formations except for D Support Group and 152 Field Ambulance and section MBU.

18th February.

1100 Division Commander’s address at Caserta cinema for all officers and senior NCOs. He spoke of future operations and a few notes on training. He also spoke of the divisional spirit, a very necessary thing to keep up especially now there was a considerable number of men in the division who have arrived only recently.

Concerning future operations, he gave the outline plan. 78 Division is now in 2 NZ Corps and 5 Army reserve. Attacks by 4 Indian Division and 2 NZ Division south of Cassino to capture the town and establish a bridgehead across the Rapido. 78 Division supported by armour to enlarge bridgehead. Attacks by 4 Indian Division to gain high ground around the Cassino Monastery went in at dawn that morning.

1400 Football match between 1 RIrF and 2 LIR took place in the afternoon. Brigade pipe band played. 1 RIrF won.

19th February.

1030 Brigadier N Russell DSO MC Commander of the Irish Brigade since July 1942 relinquished his command. A great soldier, he was a loss to all.

Brigadier TPD Scott DSO took over command of the Brigade.

Training and recreation carried out by bttns.

Twelve jeeps and 15 x 15 cwts arrive for distribution in the brigade.

20th February.

Training and recreation. 4 Indian Division attacks successful. Consolidating and regrouping north west of Cassino.

21st February.

Training and recreation. Little news from the Cassino front and from the bridgehead.

No change in our disposition.

22nd February.

1800 Brigade Commander to confirm at 78 Divisional HQ. Future operation discussed. 11 Brigade to relieve 2 NZ Divisional Cavalry to allow division to concentrate further north.

Attacks by 4 Indian Division and 2 NZ Division on Cassino to go in at 1400hrs on 24 February preceded by 1500 ton bombing raid of Cassino defences.

23rd February.

Rain during the afternoon and evening. May hamper future operations. Extremely heavy rain during late evening. Training areas allotted to bttns.

Directive on training sent out to bttns by Brigadier.

11 Brigade move to positions south of Cassino. 1 East Surreys take over front line defences.

24th February.

Training and recreation. Col Bryar, Commander 6 Innisks posted from bttn.

Major HEN Bredin MC and Bar, 2.i.c. 2 LIR take over command of the battalion.

Major PCS Heidenstam assumes 2.i.c of 2 LIR.

25th February.

1 RIrF practise river crossings in assault boats.

Brigade Commander to 78 Division HQ at Mignano 9812 for conference.

36 Brigade recce parties move to Divisional concentration area at Mignano. 36 Brigade to concentrate on 26 Feb in divisional area.

Brigade sports meeting. Result: 2 LIR, 1 RIrF, 6 Innisks. 1 pt difference between each bttn.

26th February.

36 Brigade move forward to Divisional concentration area. 38 Brigade to remain in present locations.

Rain all day. Operations hampered and delayed. Indoor training, where possible, by battalions.

27th February.

MMG D support Group reverted to command 56 Recce. Rear division move forward to divisional concentration area.

Rain all day. Operations postponed.

28th February.

0800 Rain stops. 6 Innisks carry out bttn scheme.

1400 Boxing match 2 LIR and 1 RIrF – 2 LIR won.

Brigade Commander to 78 Division HQ for conference. TEWT on cooperation with tanks arranged to be held on 1st March, now postponed to 2nd March. Officers down to coy commander and equivalent from all three battalions to attend. COs to act as DS to their own bttns. TEWTS on similar lines to be arranged within battalions down to NCOs.

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