Irish Brigade

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

38 (Irish) Brigade – May 1943

1st May – TANNGOUCHA.

0600 Reported quiet night.

1200 6 Innisks reported approximately one coy enemy north of pt 416, around pt 443 and Si Ameur carrying articles. 1 RIrF were ordered to engage the target with mortar fire while 6 Innisks observed.

1930 Brigade Commander’s conference was held at Brigade HQ.

2.i.c. 1/4  Hamps visited Brigade HQ re relief of 2 LIR. Brigade Commander and IO visited Heidous.

2230 Recce patrol of 6 Innisks found pt 443 OP unoccupied but observed enemy mortar and 12 men going into position below. Our mortars and US artillery then engaged this position.

1/4 Hamps arrived in area Tanngoucha 5645.


2nd May – TANNGOUCHA.

0005 Lt Gibson 1 RIrF was ordered to bring up his Bttn A/Tk guns to guard the right flank. He reported bogging at Kelbine and requested permission, which was granted, to bring them up at first light.

0620 1 RIrF reported a quiet night and their defensive position improved.

2 LIR were relieved by 1 /4 Hamps.

Brigade Commander sent back orders for Brigade HQ, and Bttn recce parties to recce area Basin 6429 in “offensive-defensive” role. In Brigade Commander’s absence, Lt-Col TPD Scott, commander 2 LIR was to command the Brigade.

Commanders 46 Division, 128 Brigade and relieving French Bttns visited Command Post.


3rd May – TANNGOUCHA.

Forward Bttns reported no contact and no movement seen. US troops also reported lost contact but sending patrols to regain touch. 6 Innisks reported pt 443 clear and brought in 2 stragglers of 1/756 Mountain Regiment.

Section 1 RIrF occupied pt 443 and1 RIrF also patrolled forward of pt 416 without contact. Further progress was impossible owing to own shelling on pt 452.Platoon 1 RIrF occupied pt 416 and one straggler of 4/756 Mountain Regiment was picked up. Subsequently 2 coys 1 / 4 Hamps pushed forward to limited objectives with mule transport.

0830 Recce parties consisting of COs and officers of relieving Bttns (2 and 3 / 7 RTA) were brought from Toukabeur to Command Post.

1820 Information received from Division that deserter 5/756 Mountain Regiment stated that enemy troops had withdrawn 6kms night 2/3 May.

‘Order for move night 3/4 May’ and Brigade Admin Order No 5 was issued.

78 Division Admin Order No 20 was received expressing the intention “To maintain 78 Division and troops under command and clear all routes in divisional area for 9 Corps.”

2120 Marching personnel left HQ Brigade for Kelbine and embossed in TCVs.

2330 Brigade HQ left Tanngoucha area.


4th May – Medjez.

Patrols 2 LIR had nothing to report.

0330 1 RIrF reported in new location 6428.

0500 6 Innisks reached new location under command 36 Brigade.

0515 Brigade HQ arrived in new location 637278. 2 LIR were established at 647294.

0845 Brigade Commander visited 1 RIrF and 2 LIR.

Representatives of 256 Battery 64 A/Tk Regiment called at Command Post.

Copy of 5 Corps I/9 dated 3 May and 9 Corps Operation Instruction No 7 were received.

A trace of minefields in 78 Division area was issued to all concerned.

1915 A Squadron, 56 Recce Regiment reported desultory shelling in area of OPs and MG fire area 730240.

The Brigade was disposed as shown on trace in Appendix.

2/4 Hamps moved under command the Brigade to area Fort MacGregor 6526.

Night recce patrols on the Brigade front had nothing to report.


5th May.

A trace of positions of own troops was issued to all concerned.

NIH less two squadrons moved to 642274.

78 Division Operation Instruction No 27 was received. Information of the coming attack was given and the intention expressed “to hold the firm base and protect the flank of 4 Division.”

1600 Sitrep was sent to 78 Division. Day OPs 56 Recce Regiment had observed digging and signs of enemy occupation on Brigade front.

1935 Information was received from Division that transport to lift three Bttns would arrive am 6 May in unit areas. Brigade was to be prepared to move at short notice from the arrival of transport.

A letter quoting examples of bad W/T security was received from 78 Division.


6th May.

Quiet night and patrols had nothing to report.

Big attack began at 0300. Barrage and subsequent concentration lasted until 0600. 400 guns involved. 78 Division formed firm base for attack by 4 British and 4 Indian Divisions. Armour taking part was 7 Armoured Division, 6 Armoured Division and US Armoured Division.

0600 Sitrep to 78 Division “Local protective patrols only. Nothing to report.”

0830 102 Field Regiment reported small party of men at pt 133 moving east towards Farm 728335 engaged and dispersed.

0900 Message from the Prime Minister was forwarded to Bttns.

Amendments to minefield trace was forwarded to all concerned.

1000 TCVs arrived in Brigade area. Trace of routes forward was issued.

1800 Intelligence Summary was issued describing the progress of the attack.

2000 Orders were issued to Bttns to be especially alert at stand to, 7 May, and not to stand down until further notice.

78 Division Operation Memorandum No 2 was received.

1930 Division ordered Brigade to find out if tanks (8 at 7027, 9 at 7335) reported could have been there.

2130 56 Recce Regiment reported tanks could not have been at 7027 but possibly at 7335.

2215 Orders were sent to 56 Recce Regiment  to man their OPs as usual 7 May and feel forward to Wadi fronting Brigade position at first light to see if enemy have withdrawn or intend to counter attack.

2220 Orders received from Division that NIH were to have a squadron at one hours notice. Orders were transmitted by DR to NIH.

2220 Orders received from Division that TCVs in Brigade area must join 6 Innisks by 0500hrs. This was carried out without incident.

2355 Division Operation Memorandum No 2 was received. The intention was expressed to maintain contact.

Quiet night – no contact.


7th May.

0500 2 LIR patrols had nothing to report.

0545 1 RIrF standing patrols had nothing to report but there were signs of activity in wadi on Brigade front.

0620 Sitrep sent to 78 Division. Sings of enemy occupation had been heard during the night.

0935 56 Recce Regiment reported that a motor cyclist had come from Peter’s Corner (7032) to Delaney’s Cross (7022) and had seen no sign of the enemy. There were mines on the road at 704230.

1030 78 Division ordered Squadron 56 Recce Regiment, under command the Brigade, to revert to the Regiment and detailed Brigade to find party to clear minefield at 704230 (214 Field Regiment RE were warned and 2 Hamps provided a covering party.)

Brigade followed the progress of the battle and was held in readiness to move forward. The role was not yet definable.


8th May.

0100 Conference was held at Brigade HQ to discuss the move forward and possible street fighting in Tunis.

0330 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade OO No 26 was issued expressing the intention “38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade will concentrate in area La Mornaghia in order to operate against enemy in Tunis.”

0500 Brigade Major and Staff Captain left with jeep and recce car to meet Divisional Commander at La Mornaghia.

0730 Brigade HQ left on route for Tunis.

1000 Brigade HQ arrives at La Mornaghia (J9449)

1100 Plan of Tunis was sent to each Bttn. Brigade was given task of clearing Tunis with 6 RWK under command for the operation. 1 RIrF were ordered to take up ‘stop’ positions south of the town while 2 LIR (left) and 6 Innisks swept from north to south. 6 RWK were to man road blocks and strong points taken over from 22 Armoured Brigade.

1210 1 RIrF reported delay due to lateness of artillery battery in support.

1215 6 Innisks reported arrived in assembly area.

1230 2 LIR were ordered to start off in TCVs and move when ready.

1345 1 RIrF on the move.

1500 Brigade HQ entered Tunis via Le Bardo and passed through the centre of the city to La Gagna (0952). Progress was slow owing to the tremendous demonstration by the civilian population.

1830 Brigade arrived in defensive positions south of Tunis as shown in trace.

1930 Section Defence Platoon under Camp Commandant raided Farm K0150 and took 8 PoWs. 2 LIR reported 30 PoWs mostly of HGJR taken south of Tunis.

2325 Orders were received from 78 Division that 6 RWK were to revert under command 36 Brigade on 9 May.


9th May.

0830 Reported to 78 Division positions unchanged and in a state of infantry and A/Tk defence. There was nothing to report during the night. 28 stragglers, mostly HGJR, were picked up by the Brigade.

0930 Brigade Commander visited 6 RWK.


10th May.

A summary of information giving an account of progress in the Cap Bon peninsula was issued to troops under command.

During the day, a patrol of 1 RIrF at St Germain (K 2051) combed the area for enemy stragglers and brought in a man in civilian clothes, devoid of identification papers, who was sent to S Force HQ.

1015 Orders for mobile patrols in areas south of Tunis shown on attached trace were sent to Bttns. The object was to search for enemy still at large. These patrols had nothing to report and found the population friendly.

1325 Information collected by 2 LIR concerning civilian population was circulated to Bttns.


11th May.

1200 1 RIrF were ordered to investigate Italian PoWs said to be in the area Hammam Lif (K 2249).

Bttns were ordered to continue with mobile patrols as on 10 May.

During the day, 4 enemy (3 of 47 IR) were picked up in area K 0950.

5 Corps Intelligence Summary was forward to troops under command.

2030 Information received (and passed to Bttns) of suspected delay igniter booby traps.

Letter was sent to Bttns detailing certain guards and duties in Tunis area.

Quiet night – nothing to report.


12th May.

0820 Information received from 78 Division that 30,000 PoWs were expected that day, Bttns had to provide transport and escort.

1610 Sitrep was sent to 78 Division.

2010 78 Division issued instructions to report locations of enemy food or clothing dumps.


13th May.

Bttns and Brigade HQs moved to new Brigade concentration area Maxula Rades (K1653) – Bordj (K1845).

1000 Brigade Commander attended a conference at Divisional HQ. Operational requirements, dress, training and reorganisation were discussed.

1530 Brigade HQ moved from old location to Bordj (193518).

Special Order of the Day by General Eisenhower and General Alexander was received.


14th May – BORDJ/ST GERMAIN.

Extracts from 5 Corps Intelligence Summary and a recaptured prisoner’s statement were forwarded to Bttns.

0945 Orders were received that 256 Battery 64 A/Tk Regiment was to revert forthwith under command Royal Artillery.

Divisional letter re operational requirements was issued. In each Bttn, one rifle coy was to be in unit area daily and available to turn out if required.


15th May.

Bttn Commanders’ conference was held


16th May.

Notes on the above conference were issued. These included points discussed at Divisional Conference.

1200 German soldier posing as French civilian was found near Brigade HQ and sent to PoW cage.


17th May.

1830 Orders were received from 78 Division that Double Summer Time would be introduced throughout the Division on 18 May.

2025 78 Division issued warning order re move to Sousse.

Lieut Concannon arrived at this HQ for training as Brigade IO.


18th May.

Brigade Major and Lieut Doumic went to recce training area at Sousse.

1600 Brigade Commander visited HQ 5 Corps.

A Special Order of the Day by the Brigade Commander was issued.

Detailed instructions for the Victory March on 20 May were issued to Bttns.


19th May.

Brigade Commander, Brigade Major and Staff Captain left HQ for assembly area for Victory March.

A rehearsal was held and troops taking part then dispersed to assembly area.

2100 Information was received from 78 Division that the move to Sousse was unlikely to take place.


20th May.

A questionnaire circulated by 5 Corps was received and forwarded to Bttns.

Victory March.

General Eisenhower took salute in a Victory Parade march past in the Avenue Gambetta, Tunis. Some 22,000 troops of all arms and nationalities involved in the Tunisian campaign marched past.


21st May.

A report on lessons of the campaign 7 April – 8 May was forwarded to 78 Division.


22nd May.

A message was received from 78 Division that the rest period would finish night 23/24 May and training commences 24 May. The letter at Appendix was sent to Bttns.


23rd May.

0930 Brigade Church Parade was held in 2 LIR lines.

1100 150 all ranks of the Brigade attended First Army Thanksgiving Service at Carthage.

1200 Presentation of awards was made by Army Commander at 78 Division Car Park. Brigade Commander and Staff Captain attended and the massed drums and pipes of the Brigade played during the ceremony.

2100 Bttn Commanders attended Brigade HQ to discuss 5 Corps Questionairre.

2315 Warning order was issued to Bttns re advance parties for move to Guelma.


24th May.

1500 Lt-Col Livock 8th Army visited this HQ and was given answers to 5 Corps Questionairre by Brigade Commander. A copy was also sent to 78 Division.


25th May.

A letter was received from 78 Division on 3” Mortar. As a result, the letter at Appendix 31 was sent to Bttns.

78 Division Admin Order No 21 dealing with the new order (Guelma) was received.


26th May.

38 Brigade Movement Order No 2 was issued expressing the intention “38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade will move to Guelma 28-29 May.”

Brigade letter re move of carriers was sent to Bttns.


27th May.

Amendment No 1 to 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade Movement Order No 2 was issued.

1800 Guards found by Brigade on VPs in Tunis area were taken over by 24 Guards Brigade.


28th May.

0700 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade closed at St Gemain.

Brigade moved to staging area (H6644) via Tunis, Dedjeida, Mateur, Sedjenane.

1700-2000 Brigade arrived in staging area (H6644).

An order was received from 78 Division to detail one officer and one infantry section to demonstrate mountain warfare pack equipment to various units for 2 weeks.


29th May.

0945 Brigade HQ and Bttns left staging area (H6644) for Guelma via La Tarf, Morris, Duzerville.

1700 Brigade HQ established (G670036), 6 Innisks (G667046), 2 LIR (G695080), 1 RIrF (G667047).


31st May.

Trace was forwarded to 78 Division of Brigade Training Areas.



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