38 (Irish) Brigade – December 1943

1st December – TORINO.

0200 Intentions 1 December. 4 Armoured Brigade with C Squadron 56 Recce Regiment under command 38 Brigade in support to advance at first light along axis – Fossacesia – Rocca 3705 – San Vito 3611.

0500 6 Innisks Sitrep. Some firing, otherwise a quiet night.

0645 1 RIrF Sitrep. Bttn HQ 411057; A Coy 407056; B Coy east end ridge 4106; C Coy, Brigade HQ, D Coy 412058. Gulleys 414068 415063 impassable to tanks.

0800 2 LIR in Rocca (3805).

0945 6 Innisks in Rocca.

0950 17 Indian Brigade now in San Maria. Mozzagrogna and Romagnoli.

1000 6 Innisks astride road 365045.

1200 Brigade HQ closed Torino 446986 and moved to Fossacesia.

1300 2 LIR advancing on road 372073.

1430 Brigade informed Division PoW collecting point at 415023. 11 Brigade providing guard, thence by RASC to collecting point at 445003. Bridges 376049 and 367043 repaired by RE.

1600 2 LIR area 369073 joined by one squadron 44 Royal Tanks.

Remainder tanks between Fossacesia and Rocca. 3 CLY area 3804.

1615 C Squadron 56 Recce Regiment 400090. Bridge 408083 prepared for demolition not blown.

Minefield  200 x 50 North 406084. Minefields coastal area. Crater 120’ 369074 and 2 coys enemy 367072 prevented further advance.

6 Innisks’ locations HQ 396044, Coys 372042, 369038, 363045, 369049.

1900 449 PoW passed through divisional cages.

2000 Brigade HQ established Fossacesia.

2100 Army Command directs headlights to be used up to Fossacesia.

Rum issued authorised.

2115 78 Division intentions 1 / 2  December – 11 Brigade hold line Fossacesia – Fossacesia station. 38 Brigade move 2 LIR and 1 RIrF area 3707. Patrol vigorously to San Vito and line of river south west. 2 Dec –   will continue advance Rocca – San Vito – Ortona with under command 56 Recce Regiment and support by 4 Armoured Brigade.

2nd December – FOSSACESIA.

0325 Bttns informed PoWs will be escorted to DMA at road junction 415023 where they will be taken over by 11 Brigade personnel.

0330 Last light Sitrep and intentions for 2 Dec issued.

0345 2 LIR reported task impossible owing to ground but trying to find way round flank. Enemy still in position.

0430 1 RIrF reported leading coys nearing areas. No shooting. Going very difficult.

0515 214 Field Company  RE informed that original plan unable to realised as 2 LIR stuck.

0605 1 RIrF reported 1000 yards short of San Vito. Civilians report town evacuated yesterday. 6 Innisks patrols – NCO and 10 each. No 31: 363047 – Scociosa – 346013. No 21: 368050 – 362051 – Station 350050. Out 0915, In 1300 and 1500hrs.

0900 Forward HQ 1 RIrF 394898 reported stopping by in gully south of San Vito.

Slight contact D Coy 390095. Attacking town from San Vito. C Squadron 56 Recce Regiment in support.

0915 OC Rear Mule pack ordered to filter up remainder of Indian and Italian mules in daylight today.

0945 Brigade Commander suggested to Commander 4 Armoured Brigade the possibility of some tanks to area 6 Innisks.

1025 Brigade Commander order commander 1 RIrF to keep Bttn less two coys at 3907 at present. Left flank of 2 LIR having a little difficulty.

1108 6 Innisks reported one own aircraft crashed north west of San Vito. Two enemy counter attacks against 2 LIR from Treglio 3506 successfully repulsed. 10 PoWs and 3 MGs captured.

1145 57 Field Regiment OP situated 367050.

1200 6 Innisks captured code word list of 65 Panzer Group Division (copy belonging to III/Werfer Regiment 56 in Rocca with other docs and maps) forwarded to Division.

1220 78 Division informed 38 Brigade that wef 2 Dec, 38 Brigade would be under command 1 Canadian Division.

1245 2 LIR fully established on last night’s objective.

1250 1 RIrF reported not many enemy in San Vito.

4 Armoured Brigade report 2 Mk IVs in flames area 3707 this am. 8 PoWs taken.

1445 1 RIrF reported at coy 375110 2 coys at 385105.

Enemy material found in Brigade area included 4 SP guns, one 105mm, one 75mm, 2 Infantry Guns, many mortars, MGs and mortars.

1700 Muleteer personnel 5 Buffs coming under command 38 Brigade.

1740 1 RIrF concentrated at area 3909.

Divisional order 36 Brigade personnel with pack transport not relieved to be relieved. Immediately arrangements made for transportation to new area.

1945 Frost max 5 degrees night 2 / 3 expected. All areas particularly above 1000 feet.

2015 Headlights will be kept on up to exclude Mozzagrogna.

2030 Command of coastal sector  passed from 78 Division to 1 Canadian Division 1600 on 2 Dec.

2115 Situation at last light and intentions 3 Dec see Sitrep.

2250 57 Field Regiment reported 3 DF tasks..April – 384103, May – 382100, June – 379095.

2300 1 RIrF Sitrep: HQ 404086, A Coy 402089, B Coy 396077 less one platoon, C Coy and one platoon B Coy 389094, D Coy 404088. Two coys went to ravine overlooking San Vito last night. Lieut Day ad 15 men entered San Vito and a sharp engagement with armoured cars, majority of patrol taken PoW. Both companies tried to approach town from coast and had a running fight with enemy killing 2, finally drove enemy off.  Coys turned left and crossed at 368107. Heavy fire from outskirts of town drove them back. Coys took up position on high ground to east of the ravine and repulsed two counter attacks. During pm, own artillery shot up enemy marching troops. Coys withdrew at 2100hrs.

Captain J Hayes RA ChD  posted to 5 CCS.

Lieut Webb Bowen (RUR) returned this HQ ex hospital.

Captain JHF Hobbs (Reconnaisance Corps) Brigade IO returned this HQ ex hospital.

3rd December.

0005 1 Canadian Division informed Brigade F crossing River Sangro open for down traffic until 0900hrs.

British/Indian division front open for traffic until 1200hrs.

0510 2 LIR reported enemy shelling of bttn area during night. Position firm.

0930 2 LIR established bridgehead area. RE ordered to proceed with bridge construction immediately.

0940 3 CLY and 6 Innisks entering San Vito and occupying enemy positions. Some PoWs. Casualties light. Bomb line altered to line San Vito.

0955 254 A/Tk Battery and 1 RIrF warned to be ready to move.

1020 1 RIrF reported enemy casualties 2 Dec: 4 ORs and another 4 unlocated, 1 officer (Captain ?) Wounded not known, but in proportion to those killed.

1025 4 Armoured Brigade report 40 PoWs identified 361 Pz Grenadier Regiment.

1115 4 Armoured Brigade reported in San Vito 1100hrs.

1200 4 Armoured Brigade reported close fighting in San Vito with some MG fire.Tanks being mortared from beyond river. Large crater 364110. Expected to take 6 hs to fill.

1255 214 Field Company reported crater now passable in tanks. Bridge ready 368074, 1500hrs.

1330 2 LIR reported HQ at 371072.

1400 2 LIR informed of relief. When complete, Bttn to concentrate in area 374087 and await orders.

1500 Brigade HQ closed Fossacesia and reopened same time at 363062.

Sitrep – 6 Innisks. Bttn HQ 365108, 44 PoW identified I Bttn 361 Pz Grenadier Regiment.

1630 6 Innisks remain in San Vito. Snipers left only.

1 RIrF ordered forward at once and make use of daylight.

Special Sitrep

1630 issued.

Intention: 6 Innisks hold San Vito. 1 RIrF right, 2 LIR left advance to River Moro. RE repair road. Tanks to reach River Moro by first light crater San Vito between San Vito and river bridge blown.

2 LIR informed of boundary with 1 RIrF including 1 RIrF 343124, 354116.Then including 2 LIR road to 363109. Main patrol task bridge rear area 3311. D Support Group 3606, 254 A/Tk Battery 3606, C Squadron Recce Regiment 364065.

2353 1 Canadian Division in brigade’s bomb line first light. Lateral road Ortona 3316 – Orsona 2301 from coast to 290096 thence west to Grid 29.

2355 Situation on brigade front at first light 3 December and intentions 4 Dec. See Sitrep.

4th December.

Brigade TAC HQ established first light 365091.

0445 1 RIrF patrol reported strong enemy patrol area 3512. Standing by on DF tasks 6,8, 4 area 345310.

0600 6 Innisks nothing to report.

0605 1 RIrF reported location 356127. Patrols forward to river report about 10 enemy guns area 355130. Action being taken. Bridges 345118 and 361122 blown.

0745 1 Canadian Division infd 1 RIrF and 2 LIR established 357126 – 345105 across.

44 Royal Tanks moving now.

 0800 1 Canadian Division RE request exact size of demolitions bridged.

0830 2 LIR reported left coy engaging enemy with troops.Enemy loosening up. Snipers on left flank. PoW from 90 PG Division taken. Locations changed rapidly.

0835 2 LIR reported recce troop trying crossing. Bridge still blown. Canadian Division may move up now.

0900 2 LIR reported forward troops over river. Ordered to find out if bridge blown.

1 RIrF reported 20-30 enemy encountered 0800hrs at 354124 whilst coy moving forward.

0915 Tanks report bridge 3311 not blown.

0918 RE will take 3 hrs to make road passable for MT.

0937 2 LIR report high ground on their right still held by enemy in dug positions. 1 RIrF doing well and joining C Squadron 56 Recce Regiment in coastal area.

1035 2 LIR informed that tanks and artillery at present are unable to give support as all support required on the right flank. CO 2 LIR thinks that the situation requires more tanks than he has at his disposal. CO told to make plan without more support.

1100 214 Field Company report road ok for vehicles 1100hrs.

1113 2 LIR report total PoW identified 90 PG Division.

1118 1 RIrF reported situation warm. CO estimated only 30-40 enemy. Would like to make certain alterations to make position tight.

1207 1 RIrF say they cannot find tanks but can hear them in the distance.

1210 RA report U targets  on 323113 and 326134 fired.

1240 Location CO 2 LIR 348105.

1255 C Squadron 56 Recce Regiment reported reaching road bend, moved down Lanciano track. Shelled and shot at by unlocated MG, now looking for it.

Brigade Command informed C Squadron 56 Recce Regiment Commander that 6 Innisks on way and will eliminate MG.

1305 2 LIR captured 2 PoWs identified as 2 Coy 361 PGR.

57 Field Regiment fired U target 322115.

1340 Location 2 LIR 341105

1350 56 Recce Regiment liaising with tanks. Unlocated A/Tk guns suspected south of river preventing further progress. Other routes almost impossible.

1400 57 Field Regiment reported the following artillery available if registered; 2 Batteries 57 Medium Regiment, two batteries 98 Field Regiment, 2 Canadian Field Regiments.

1405 Brigade Command reported to Brigade main HQ that bridge over Moro blown and moving to place known by Command 4 Armoured Brigade.

1430 1 RIrF reported all arrangements made. Going on right near sea to lie up much as possible while light lasts.

1500 1 RIrF reported tanks and 2 coys getting on well but not quite sure where they are expected to finish. Enemy fire stopped. Special patrol mopping up. 2 LIR reported RAP at 351105 carrying to ambulances at 361101

1530 57 Field Regiment U targets 307105 and 328117.

1545 1 RIrF reported pretty heavy counter attack down coastal road area 358124. One platoon overrun at approximately 1525hrs. Brigade Command sending tanks down valley .6 Innisks forming backstop and one coy 6 Innisks going between 1 RIrF and sea. 1 RIrF firm and confident.

1610 1 RIrF reported tanks and battalion on objective counter attacking with a platoon and have occupied ridge again. Infiltration on left held and counter attack dispersed . Vickers’ MGs used.

1613 6 Innisks informed 1 RIrF coy on way.

1620 57 Field Regiment reported U target area Torre 319110 C Squadron 56 Recce Regiment reported no specific blind shoots. Ordered by Brigade Command to stay outside of present position until dark and then return behind 6 Innisks.

1715 1 RIrF reported all coys except coy 6 Innisks in position. 5 PoWs taken.

1735 C Squadron 56 Recce Regiment location 353116.

1900 1 Canadian Division informed Brigade that 3 Bttns Canadian troops concentrated at 330087, 334097, 363117.

2045 RA DF tasks: Tinker 341124, Taylor 341128, Soldier 344134, Sailor 350135.

2100 RA Canadian Division request ok for HF tasks on 330120-323142 at 2200 – 0500hrs agreed.

1 Canadian Division RA requested two HF targets in coastal area. Replied all ready laid on with OC57 Field Regiment nearest target 330157.

2340 All bridges over River Sangro unusable. Evacuation of casualties by DUKW only from Fossacesia station. River Sangro rose 6 feet in last two hours. Last light Sitrep 0040/5 Dec..

5th December.

0010 Divisional report all bridges over River Sangro closed. Movement forward and back stopped.

0500 Bttns reported quiet night.

0830 1 RIrF reported coy positions Bttn HQ 355129, 354126, 349127, 349129, 350130.

0915 2 LIR reported Bttn HQ at 345106 and coys 339107, 341112, 343116, 345107. Strength 22 and 720.

C Squadron 56 Recce Regiment 347100. Bomb line unchanged.

1050 1 Canadian Division report on crossing 345133, 4’ wide and unreliable – probably confused with unmarked tributary and non main river.

1255 6 Innisks locations Bttn HQ 353117. Coys 350118, 353121, 357121.

1415 2 LIR informed of relief by Canadian Division. When relieved to proceed to area 369075.

6 Innisks and 1 RIrF informed of relief. 6 Innisks to go to area 368043 and 1 RIrF 366030 and to recce immediately. C Squadron 56 Recce Regiment to move to area 3606.

1845 D support group 373037.

1910 Foot traffic across Paglieta bridge limited to unit Commanders and above.

1920 1 RIrF reported quiet day, periodic mortaring of forward cots.

1930 254 A/Tk Battery reported concentration area 396046 completed.

1 Canadian Division orders strict economy use of petrol owing to lack of crossings.

2020 6 Innisks reported shelling whilst in forward area, otherwise nothing to report.

2026 Last light Sitrep and intentions 6 Dec.

2125 38 Brigade Tac HQ closed and joined main Brigade.

6th December.

0050 All Bttns in new area. Division informed.

0155 1 Canadian Division report Paglieta bridge Class O only.

0900 1 RIrF reported HQ 385055.

1920 38 Brigade March Table No 10 issued.

No move thought probable before 1200hrs 7 December.

2255 Brigade orders for move issued.

7th December.

0500 Bttns nothing to report.

Brigade HQ closed at 363062 and moved via Rocca, San Giovanni, Fossacesia, Paglieta bridge, Station di Torino, Station di Casalbordino to 542965.

1600 Brigade HQ established 542965.

2355 Warning order for Brigade Group move issued. 

8th December.

0500 Bttns nothing to report.

1538 Brigade movement order No 10 issued.

2330 Brigade HQ closed 542965 for new location. Route via Vasto, San Salvo, Petacciato, Termoli, Larino, Casacalenda, Colletorto, Casalnuova, Castelcecclo, Castelnuovo. 

9th December.

Captain SD Kelleher RA ChD posted to this HQ.

1200 Brigade HQ established Castelnuovo (H 9433). Bttns: 1 RIrF Castelnuovo (H 9433), 6 Innisks Casalnuovo (9335), 2 LIR Pietra Montecorvino (9527) and D support group with regiment at Serracapriola.

10th December.

Brigade Command and IO to Divisional HQ for conferences.

Lt-Col N Grazebrook DSO 6 Innisks posted to War Office.

Lt-Col BL Bryar (Kensingtons) appointed CO 6 Innisks.

2000 Brigade informed that 78 Division passed under command of 8th Army 0600hrs 12 December..

11th December.

Brigade IO left with advance party and reps each Bttn, 152 Field Ambulance and 237 RASC Coy for recce of new Brigade area near Isernia.

12th December.

Directive on organisation of Brigade Tac HQ issued.

Order by Brigade Command issued.

13th December.

Lieut GMJ Chambers (RIrF) posted to  1 RIrF.

Lieut M Webb Bowen (RUR) posted to 2 LIR.

Lieut THW Wilson (RUR) posted to this HQ from 2 LIR as LO.

Lieut F Lyness (RUR) posted this HQ from 2 LIR as LO.

18th December.

Brigade directive on daily admin in the field issued.

19th December.

1220 6 Innisks and 2 LIR informed new timings.

Lt-Col H Rogers (RIrF) CO 2 LIR evacuated through medical channels.

Lt-Col IM Goff (Kings, Liverpool Regiment) appointed CO 2 LIR.

 22nd December.

0110 Movement order for 6 Innisks move to area Isernia under command of 56 Recce Regiment issued.

Brigade Command special order of the day issued.

23rd December.

Lieut GE Cole (RUR) posted to 2 LIR.

Lieut JF McClinton MC 6 Innisks posted this HQ as LO.

25th December.

Army Commander’s Christmas Message received.

Divisional Commander’s Christmas Message received.

Brigade Command visited Bttns.

26th December.

Brigade IO left Brigade HQ for new area.

27th December.

1000 Brigade HQ closed at Castelnuovo (H9433).

1100 Commanders’ conference at Main Division HQ.

1600 Brigade HQ opened at Pesche (H 2334).

Bttn 6 Innisks under command 56 Recce Regiment.

2 LIR at Carpinone (H 2632), 1 RIrF at Castelpetroso (H 2828).

28th December.

COs’ conference at Brigade HQ.

29th December.

Brigade informed they will relieve 11 Brigade on night 30/31 December. Command passed at time to be mutually arranged between 11 and 38 Brigade.

2030 Bttns informed 2 LIR and 1 RIrF move forward into left sector not before 1200hrs on 30 December. 2 LIR O Group and one officer 1 RIrF RV with 11 Brigade HQ at Forli (146437) 1000hrs.

Road post Motta and Vasto guard of 2 LIR and instructors Brigade Tactical School remain at present location.

Orders for return of 2 LIR personnel to Campobasso to be issued. W/T courses at HQ 2 LIR cancelled.

2220 1 RIrF and 2 LIR warned of impending move and to bring one office guide per coy. 20 TCVs reporting to Bttn areas 1200hrs on 30 December.

Brigade informed by Division that Belgian troop of 10 Commando moving to Montenero on 30 Dec and will come under command of 38 Brigade.

Orders and details for establishment of Brigade Technical School at Sessano (H 2738).

Brigade 3”mortar range established area Carpinone as attached trace.

30th December.

The battle of the crossing of the Trigno River and the Battle of the Sangro River are attached as appendix.

1400 Brigade HQ closed Pesche (H 2324) and reopened same time at Forli Del Sannio (1443).

1810 Brigade informed by Division that Mortar Platoon and MMG Platoon D Support Group move to left sector and come under command 38 Brigade.

31st December.

0001 2 LIR report change over complete.

38 Brigade took over command left sector.

0530 Sitrep nothing to report.

1540 Last light Sitrep issued.

1725 B Coy 1 East Surreys reported situation quiet, work continuing on Cerro bridge 085393. Snow falling and settling. Visibility poor.

1845 2 LIR reported that at approximately 1600hrs, enemy patrol of approx 40 contacted forward area 0343. Spirited action ensued for one hour. Enemy casualties not known. Own casualties: 1 OR. Visibility very bad. No identification either side. Believed enemy patrol had lost way.

2200 B Coy, 1 East Surreys requested RE repair bridge 096400. 256 Field Company RE arranged party to be at bridge 0800 hrs on 1 January.