38 (Irish) Brigade – January 1944

1st January – FORLI DEL SANNIO (H1443).

Heavy snow fell during the day, wind reached blizzard strength. All areas have work parties out and Italian civilians also employed clearing the snow. Communication by line and wireless broken down.

1327 Request sent to 78 Division for bulldozers to assist snow clearance. Relief of 2 LF at Castel di Sangro commenced at last light.

2nd January – FORLI DEL SANNIO.

No snow fell during the night. Work on roads progressing.

0645 2 LIR recce patrol to 044475 and 032462. No contact.

1310 1 coy of 2 LF arrives at Forli. Enemy shelled at Castel di Sangro during the afternoon.

No casualties. Operational Instruction HQ REME 78 Division No 50 regarding inspection of small arms received.

3rd January – FORLI DEL SANNIO.

No enemy activity during the day. Roads clearing and snow melting.

1130 GOC 78 Division arrived at Brigade HQ, proceeded with Brigade Commander to Rionero.

4th January – FORLI DEL SANNIO.

0005 C Coy 1 RIrF report accidental killing one and wounding one of Belgian Troop 10 Commando, who were on patrol in their area and whose activities were suspicious.

0645 Road situation much improved.

1020 Twenty shells landed in Montenero.

1255 Enemy patrol 30 strong observed area Montenero.

Area 049434 shelled by 138 Field Regiment, RA and again at 1600hrs when patrol recrossed River Sangro.

Direction on Snow Clearance Policy.

5th January – FORLI DEL SANNIO.

No enemy activity during the day.

1515 Brigade Commander to Rionero to visit 1 RIrF.

78 Division Operational Instruction No 6 received.

Protective patrols in bttn areas by night.

Roads now usable, snow threatens but situation under control.

Owing to snow and blizzard during our relief of 11 Infantry Brigade and roads becoming impassable, the ration situation became acute by 1 January. Forward areas had doubled their strengths and reserves soon ran very low. Until the roads could be cleared the only communication was by mule. The mule situation was also difficult owing to the changeover of 573 Pack Company with 2 Italian Pack Company. After 3 nights work – day work was not possible in the forward areas as the enemy overlooked the whole area – roads forward were cleared for jeeps and portees and 7 days rations were delivered to forward areas. All available personnel were put on snow clearance, including Italian civilians. Strict traffic control was enforced as the roads were only cleared sufficiently for single way traffic. To prevent any further difficulty, it was decided that all forward areas should hold 14 days reserve – later increased to 21 days. Forward troops were not equipped for snow warfare. They had only one battledress and boots do not stand up to snow for very long. A request for 78 Division was put forward for a supply of snow clothing. Evacuation of casualties was mainly by sledge or mules fitted with cacolets.

6th January – FORLI DEL SANNIO.

Slight snow fell during the night and road to Bifurcation became temporarily impassable.

1000 House to house search of Acquaviva by personnel of Brigade HQ and 88 FSS. A number of undesirables evacuated from the area. No enemy activity.

7th January – FORLI DEL SANNIO.

Roads clear – little snow fell during the night.

1230 CRA visited Brigade HQ to meet Brigade Commander and CO 138 Field Regiment, RA, on return from their recce at Cerro.

1710 Two American aircraft dropped supplies by parachute, intended for San Pietro on the enemy side of the River Sangro near Castel di Sangro. No enemy activity.

8th January – FORLI DEL SANNIO.

A Thabor of Goums arrived area San Vincenzo during the morning.

Roads now completely clear for transport.

0800 112 Medium Battery fired on approximately six enemy in area 0855575.

1200 CRE arrived at Brigade HQ.

1620 Coy area Bifurcation opened. Strafe target on Scontrone fired by 138 Field Regiment RA, and 112 Medium Battery RA.

78 Division Operational Instruction No 7 (cancelling No 6) received.

9th January – FORLI DEL SANNIO.

1000 GOC 78 Division and Brigade Commander on recce area Rionero.

1000 House to house search of Cerro.

1015 2 LIR to return all transport less 1 ambulance and 2 jeeps to B Echelon.

Amendment No 1 to 78 Division Operational Instruction No 7 received.

1715 CO 138 Field Regiment RA and Brigade Commander to Montenero and arrived back at Forli at 2300hrs.

10th January – FORLI DEL SANNIO.

0230 Belgian Troop 10 Commando arrived in Forli from Montenero.

0830 Enemy aircraft dropped bomb on house 075496.

1050 Castel di Sangro shelled and strafe target fired on Scontrone and Roccacinquehiglia.

1100 G3I 78 Division and OC Divisional Signals visited Brigade HQ.

1330 House search of Forli.

1430 CRE called Brigade HQ.

Amendment No 2 78 Division Operational Order No 7 received.

1545 Enemy shelled 1 RIrF positions and our artillery replied with 120 rounds on Scontrone.

78 Division Training Directive No 1 received.

11th January – FORLI DEL SANNIO.

1100 Army Commander visited the Brigade Commander.

1230 Enemy shelled Castel di Sangro. Strafe target fired on Scontrone, 78 Division RE Operational Order No 3 and Amendment No 3 to 78 Division Operational Instruction No 7 received.

1920 Coy 2 LIR to 044475 nothing to report.

12th January – FORLI DEL SANNIO.

1000 GOC 78 Division and Brigade Commander on recce high ground south of Rionero.

No enemy activity during the day.

13th January – FORLI DEL SANNIO.

House to house search of Rionero carried out during the day. The brigade area has now been completely vetted and all undesirable Italians evacuated.

1000 Conference at Brigade HQ – present were Brigade Commander, CRA and CO 138 Field Regiment RA 78 Division on Operational Order ‘Forceful’ received.

1430 Road junction 077497 shelled by enemy from area north east of Alfedena.

14th January – FORLI DEL SANNIO.

Conference at Brigade HQ for CO’s conference on operations, administration and training.

2330 Bailey bridge equipment placed at 075497.

2359 Dummy tank set up at 099477.

15th January – FORLI DEL SANNIO.

HQ RA 78 Division Operational Instruction No 5 received.

Confirmation of verbal orders for ‘Forceful’ received from 78 Division.

0030 One 25 pounder in position at 0749 for registration.

0045 Carrier up and down Rionero – Bifurcation area until 0600hrs.

0200 Carrier round and round Montenero until 0400hrs.

0800 2 Coys, 2 LIR with section heavy mortars, section MGs moved out to area Calvario 0346 with RA and mortar OPs.

1200 Registration of the following commenced:

A)      Start line 030480 north east along road and south west down wadi.

B)      Pt 1154 square 0248.

C)      Pt 1152 square 0147,

D)      Pizzone gully 017404.

Heavy mortars registered points of origin for smoke screen to cover left flank of attack. Preparation of dummy own positions in south east Monternero.

1430 Brigade Commander to Aquaviva,

1600 One shell landed in area 036467 (possible reaction to our registration).

1720 2 LIR patrol showed themselves leaving coy positions.

Two coys 2 LIR at Calvario – Campari spent noisy night to simulate infantry forming up.

1800 Recce patrol to River Sangro to ascertain depth.

2100 Recce patrol 2 LIR spotted enemy patrol estimated to be 25 strong moving west along road at 039474.

2100 Mediums fired harassing fire tasks on Barrea bridge and 1000 yards up the road.

16th January – FORLI DEL SANNIO.

RA 78 Division Admin Instruction No 3 received.

78 Division Admin Instruction No 15 issued.

0549 Barrage opened on start line.

0550 CB by mediums. Fired 20 minutes D/F tasks area 036437 (possible reaction to serial 15 above).

0600 Barrage opened to pts 1154 and 1152. One section MGs fired on road between Alfedena and Barrea. Smoke put down.

0900 Two companies 2 LIR less OP personnel returned to Montenero.

1600 Division ask us in clear on R/T why attack did not go in this morning. We replied ‘postponed owing to weather conditions’. Divisional reply ‘Have plans prepared for time when weather improves’. We answer ‘Everything planned’.

1900 Patrol base established area Pt 1061 025469.

2200 Patrol reached area 016472 found no enemy and saw no tracks in snow. Line between Montenero and OP area Calvario cut.

Patrol of five engaged own troops on 1081 – no success by either side.

17th January – FORLI DEL SANNIO.

0830 Fifty to sixty shells landed Montenero, 33% dud.

0948 Mediums shelled 008485.

1050 Five rounds gun fire by medium on 0048. Enemy gun positions retaliation for shelling of Montenero.

1100 Brigade Commander visited Platoon Commanders’ Course.

Mediums registered 2nd objective Pt 1241, square 9949.

1230 G3 Operations 78 Division arrived at Brigade HQ.

1500 Eighteen enemy shells landed in area 048384.

1515 Eighteen 105mm shells area 048384.

18th January – FORLI DEL SANNIO.

0100 Patrol of 1 RIrF engaged enemy patrol at station 073497. No result.

1230 DAQMG 78 Division visited Brigade HQ.

1620 Three figures, one in white, seen 035496.

1630 Four shells area 031462. No casualties.

19th January – FORLI DEL SANNIO.

Brigade Commander and BM 1 Carpathian Rifle Brigade attached to Brigade HQ.

0815 Approximately 60 enemy launched small scale attack on two forward platoons of 2 LIR in area 0344622. Attack supported by mortar and SA fire of 2nd enemy party. First bomb wounded Platoon Sergeant and 2 Section Commanders. Deep snow delayed CA plans. Retreating enemy dispersed by artillery concentrations. Enemy wore white.

2100 Identification of one wounded German, 1 Coy 576 Regiment.

20th January – FORLI DEL SANNIO.

1000 Brigade Commander met GOC 78 Division.

1500 Eight shells at intervals of 7 to 10 minutes on Bifurcation 0749.

Amendment Training Directive No 1 78 Division received.

21st January – FORLI DEL SANNIO.

1000 Brigade Commander and CO 2 LIR to meet Army Commander at Carpinone.

1500 C Coy 6 Innisks move completed and HQ established at Cerro.

No enemy activity during the day.

22nd January – FORLI DEL SANNIO.

1000 Brigade Commander to San Vincenzo.

1200 Castel di Sangro shelled by enemy artillery.

1340 Five unidentified aircraft bombed and machine gunned area Vandra, causing casualties to MT and personnel.

1600 Six Lightnings machine gunned Vandra causing further casualties.

1800 Brigade Commander to 78 Division HQ.

78 Division OO No 13 received.

23rd January – FORLI DEL SANNIO.

0930 Brigade Commander to Rionero.

1010 1 RIrF report that forward troops area Castel di Sangro encountered enemy positions, 5 strong, during the night in the vicinity of Castel di Sangro. One was killed and another captured. Identification 305 PI Bttn. A quiet day. No further enemy activity.

24th January – FORLI DEL SANNIO.

0310 Patrol 1 RIrF encountered enemy patrol in the area of station 070505. One enemy killed and from epaulettes identification found to be that of an engineer. He carried no papers  but is certain to be 305 PI Bttn.

1200 Brigade Commander to conference at 78 Division HQ.

1330 Enemy artillery shelled bifurcation area – thought to be a 105 mm gun.

1720 6 Inniskillings’ HQ now established at Cerro.

25th January – FORLI DEL SANNIO.

1500 Brigade Commander to Cerro to 6 Inniskillings’ HQ.

Apart from spasmodic enemy shelling in the area of Castel di Sangro and the Bifurcation day was uneventful.

26th January – FORLI DEL SANNIO.

2 LIR moved back from area Montenero completed by first light and bttn now established at Forli.

1140 OP Castel di Sangro reported vehicle movement in Rocca Cinquemiglia during the night.

1600 Enemy shelled area 091537 – 16 shells landed.

1700 Brigade Commander visited HQ 2 LIR.

27th January – FORLI DEL SANNIO.

0530 6 Innisks report sounds of MG fire in the area Pizzone during the night.

0930 Brigade Commander visited Cerro – HQ 6 Innisks.

1500 Enemy shelled Montenero during our shelling of Scontrone. 112 Medium Battery RA shelled known location of hostile battery and shelling ceased.

1900 Recce patrol of 1 officer and 20 ORs of 1 RIrF to Rocca Cinqueniglia.

28th January – FORLI DEL SANNIO.

0930 Brigade Commander to Pt 1210.

1 RIrF patrol of Rocca Cinquemiglia fired on from 102569 – estimated two platoons in area of the town.

1730 Montenero shelled for 15 minutes.

29th January – FORLI DEL SANNIO.

1000 Brigade Commander to M Croce.

No enemy activity during the day.

Recce parties from 3 Carpathian Division arrived, and were established in the various brigade locations.

2205 MG fire reported area Pizzone.

30th January – FORLI DEL SANNIO.

0945 Brigade Commander to Pt 1191.

1100 GQ and AQ 78 Division visited Brigade HQ.

78 Division Admin Instruction No 16 received.

78 Division OO No 14 received.

31st January – FORLI DEL SANNIO.

Quiet day – details for relief by 3 Carpathian Division complete. No enemy activity.

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