Irish Brigade

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

38 (Irish) Brigade – August 1944

1st August – QASSASSIN.

Leave parties to Alexandria, Cairo and Ishmalia continue. Day leave to Ishmalia is greatly appreciated by officers and men. Individual training and drill parties in the morning and lectures in the evening are carried out by the battalions.

1200 Brigade Commander returns from 2 Innisks at Sidi Bishr.

1600 Brigade Commander summoned to Divisional HQ.

1745 Brigade Commander returns. Informs us that the brigade will not now be going to Palestine but will remain here and do individual training preparatory to returning to Italy.

Brigade Commander decides to try and move the brigade and join the 2 Innisks at Sidi Bishr. He phones up Area Commander and receives tentative reply of approval.


2nd August – QASSASSIN.

0930 Brigade Commander phones up Alexandria area and receives notification that the brigade can go to Sidi Bishr camp. Arrangements accordingly made with division. Advance parties to go on the 4th and main body to move on 7th.

Additional troops under command will be 152 Field Ambulance, RASC Transport Platoon and half section of Provost.

Brigade Commander commences to write the story of the Irish Brigade from March to July 1944.

Brigade PT course commences. Instructors from APTC Cairo have come down to run the course. Students are both officers and men from the three battalions. Course to last ten days.


3rd August – QASSASSIN.

Orders for move of brigade to Sidi Bishr issued.

Battalions continue training periods in morning and day leave periods in Ishmalia and Cairo.

1900 Brigade Pipe Band plays Retreat in the Brigade Lines.

2100 Film ‘Tunisian Victory’ shown in the lines of the Irish Fusiliers to all ranks in the brigade.


4th August – QASSASSIN.

0530 Leave parties to Alexandria depart.

1200 Brigade Commander’s Conference to discuss the best amendments to the present unit and formation War Establishments.

2000 Brigade Commander, Staff Captain and IO go to dinner with the 2 LIR.


5th August – QASSASSIN.

0600 Leave parties to Cairo and Ishmalia depart.

0730 Brigade Commander leaves for Sidi Bishr.


6th August – QASSASSIN.

Leave parties and training continue.

The disbandment of the 6 Innisks commences. All personnel going to 2 LIR and 1 RIrF join their respective battalions. Personnel going to IRTD leave as well. The remainder, who are being absorbed into the 2 Innisks remain in their own camp.

2000 1 RIrF hold Officers’ Guest Night for all officers of the Brigade Group.


7th August – QASSASSIN.

0630 Head of the convoy passed SP for route to Sidi Bishr. Order of March: 6 Innisks, Brigade HQ, 2 LIR, 1 RIrF, 152 Field Ambulance.

The convoy as routed by the longest possible way going right across the Delta Barrage and along the Desert Road. This entailed a total distance of 150 miles and many trucks in the convoy ran out of petrol. Also the standard of maintenance on the vehicles when they were taken over was far from good and even the hardest possible work put into them was insufficient to make them last the journey. A number had to be written off at the end of the journey. All these incidents made the convoy very late and the brigade was not complete in Sidi Bishr Camp until the following morning.


8th August – SIDI BISHR.

Brigade Training Programme and Instruction issued. Battalions commence to organise their camps and carry out normal administrative duties. Recces of ranges and training areas are also carried out.


9th August – SIDI BISHR.

Range allotments for battalions on 30 yard range at Sidi Bishr and Mustapha Barracks. Allotments on the Open Range at Aboukir, Deheila and Amiryia. These range allotments continue until the 11th for the 30 yards range and up to the 16th for the Open Range.


10th August – SIDI BISHR.

Range allotments. 30 yards and open.

Individual training by battalions.

Leave allotments to Cairo and Alexandria.


11th August – SIDI BISHR.

Range allotments. 30 yards and open.

Individual training by battalions.

Leave allotments to Cairo and Alexandria.


12th August – SIDI BISHR.

Individual training by battalions.

Leave allotments to Cairo and Alexandria.


13th August – SIDI BISHR.

Brigade Commander and all COs ordered to Cairo for conference at Divisional HQ.

Apparently some members of the division rioted in Cairo, having at last become outraged by the robbing and tricking and exorbitant prices of that very overrated city. The affair was smoothed over with a caution.

Individual training and leave allotments continue.


14th August – SIDI BISHR.

Individual training by battalions.

Range allotments on the Open Ranges.

Leave to Cairo and Alexandria continues.

All COs speak to their battalions concerning the disturbances in Cairo.


15th August – SIDI BISHR.

Battalion Pioneer Platoons and A/Tk Platoons assemble at the School of Mechanical Engineering for short course of instruction.

Individual training by battalions.

Last leave party from Cairo and Alexandria return. No more leave parties allotted after this.


16th August – SIDI BISHR.

Individual training by battalions.

Range allotments.


17th August – SIDI BISHR.

Individual training by battalions.

RE course commences at Brigade HQ.

46 RTR were in camp at Amaryia and all instruction and practice in the cooperation between infantry and tanks was to be done with them. Consequently, various phases of training were worked out. One squadron was to work with each battalion.

The first phase was to be a Cloth Model Exercise run by the COs of the battalions. This provided good opportunities for the COs to discuss actual battles they had fought in the advance to Rome and discuss the faults and merits of their decisions.

1RIrF held a lecture by the CO on tank cooperation at 0900 hrs at which the Tank Squadron and Troop Leaders attended.

Lt Col Scott, commanding 6 Innisks, was also present.

At 1400 hrs, they held the Cloth Model discussion on the same subject, which was also attended by the Brigade Commander and various officers of the Egyptian Army.

0730 Advance parties from Brigade HQ, the three battalions and 152 Field Ambulance leave for docks to embark for Italy.


18th August – SIDI BISHR.

Representatives from 2 Innisks watch demonstration shoot by 17 Field Regiment at Mena.

2 LIR hold Cloth Model discussion in the evening on cooperation of Infantry and Tanks. Various officers of the Egyptian Army also attended this discussion.

Also in the evening, an officer from GHQ lectured to representatives of the three battalions on the Escape and Conduct of British Prisoners of War.

Orders received for all transport to be ready to move at 48 hrs from the 20th August.

Later on during the evening, further information was received stating that all transport would move to Amaryia on 22nd preparatory to being called forward to the docks for loading.


19th August – SIDI BISHR.

All battalions allotted the Open Range, otherwise individual training carried out.

A Charity Ball was held in Alexandria, which was attended by a fair percentage of officers from the brigade.

Decorations for the crossing of the Rapido and the smashing of the Gustav Line were announced this evening.

They were as follows:

6 Innisks.

Lt Col Hen Bredin. MC and Bar – DSO

Major MB Miles – MC.

Lieut JV Sorrell (UVF) – MC.

Captain JA Petrie (RAMC) – MC.

L/Cpl R Hadden, MM – Bar to MM.

CSM J Thompson – MM.

Sgt H Owens – MM.

Sgt L Leaper – MM.

2 LIR.

Major JH Coldwell-Horsfall, MC – DSO.

Major AD Woods MC – Bar to MC.

Lieut DW Fay – MC.

Cpl G Keegan – MM.

Rfn J Bean – MM.

1 RIrF.

Captain GL Richards, MM – MC.

Lieut JV Lloyd – MC.

CSM P Payne – DCM.

Sgt AC Cross – DCM.

CSM J Storey – MM.

Sgt Bunting (ACC) – MM.

Sgt F Higgins – MM.

Sgt S Sanderson – MM.

Sgt G Marnell – MM.

L/Cpl F Girvan – MM.


20th August – SIDI BISHR.

1 RIrF and 2 LIR allotted Open Ranges at Abukir and Deheila.

2 Innisks hold Cloth Model Discussion on cooperation with tanks.

2 LIR send report of watch artillery shoot by 17 Field Regiment, RA at Mena.


21st August – SIDI BISHR.

Brigade PT Course ends.

Open Ranges at Abukir and Deheila allotted to battalions.


22nd August – SIDI BISHR.

0730 Transport of Brigade HQ, 2 Innisks and 2 LIR under command BTO goes to Amaryia Transit Camp preparatory to loading on ships at Alexandria Docks.

Certain transport is lent to the brigade by 49 LAA Regiment in order that essential duties may be performed.

Representatives from 1 RIrF watch artillery shoot by 17 Field Regiment at Mena.

Open Range allotments to battalions.


23rd August – SIDI BISHR.

Open Range allotments to battalions at Abukir and Deheila.

Individual training carried out.

Route marches and sports.


24th August – SIDI BISHR.

Major Olsen G II Air GHQ arrives at Brigade HQ to lecture battalions on Air Cooperation.

Open Range allotments for battalions.

Major Butterworth, Commander 78 Division, visits the brigade. He meets all COs and Coy Commanders and paid short visits to battalion.

A Brigade Boxing Competition was held in the evening. The Brigade Team fought the RAF and won by 6 fights.


25th August – SIDI BISHR.

Nos 1 and 11 GHQ Training Teams arrive to lecture battalions and to give discussions and Cloth Model Exercises.

Major Olsen talks to 2 Innisks and 1 RIrF on Air Cooperation.

Lectures given to all officers.

Range allotments to battalions and individual training carried out.

A further list of Honours and Awards for the brigade is published

They are as follows:

6 Innisks.

Major EJ Griffiths – MC.

Captain PA Hamilton – MC.

Sgt AT Cowan – MM.

L/Cpl AW Ayre – MM.

Fusiliers A Percy – MM.

2 LIR.

Major CAF Gibbs – MC.

Major RW Boyd – MC.

Lieut J Gartside (LF) – MC.

2/Lieut HG Montgomerie (RA) – MC.

Cpl N Adams – DCM.

Rfn H Chalmers – DCM.

Sgt G Guild – MM.

Sgt J Barratt – MM.

L/Cpl R Brown – MM.

1RIrF.

Capt JP Phelan (UDF) – MC.

Lieut LM Manson (UDF) – MC.

Sgt C Parke – MM.

Cpl S Patton – MM.

Fusilier J Abel – MM.

Fusilier W Hobden – MM.


26th August – SIDI BISHR.

Remainder of brigade transport leaves for Alexandria Docks for loading. This now leaves the brigade completely without any vehicles and arrangements made to transport from 16 (Alexandria) Area and units in the division whom transport has not yet left.

No 1 GHQ Training Team run Brigade Cloth Model Exercise. The exercise as designed to bring out the problems and plans arising out of a river crossing and forming a small initial bridgehead. The exercise was run by the Directing Staff consisting of Brigadier TPD Scott, Lt Col Haycroft (GI Training Team), Lt Col Baker (17 Field Regiment), Major Foxwell (1 Kensingtons) and Major White (256 Field Company RE).

Each battalion formed a syndicate consisting of CO, 2 I/C, Adjutant, IO from 17 Field Regiment, RA, 214 Field Company RE, 1 Kensingtons, 254 A/Tk Battery RA, 280 LAA Battery RA and 78 Division Provost.

The problems of traffic control and communications were dealt with in detail as well.

Major Olsen lectures to 2 LIR on Air Cooperation.

No 11 Training Team goes to 2 LIR to instruct a certain number of officers and men in Street Fighting.


27th August – SIDI BISHR.

Rest Day. Church parades and Divine Services.


28th August – SIDI BISHR.

No 11 GHQ Training Team foes to 2 Innisks to instruct officers and other ranks in Street Fighting.

Battalions carry out individual training and route marches.


29th August – SIDI BISHR.

2 Innisks carry out Field Firing Exercises at Abukir.

No 11 GHQ Training Team goes to 1 RIrF to instruct officers and men in Street Fighting.

Remainder of battalions and 2 LIR carry out individual training and firing on the ranges.


30th August – SIDI BISHR.

Range allotments to each battalion, otherwise individual training and route marches carried out.

Preparations made for visit by C in C, General Paget on 31st August.


31 August – SIDI BISHR.

1030 General Paget, C in C, MEF arrives at Brigade HQ to inspect the brigade in training.

He listened first to the Pipe Band practising at Brigade HQ and then went to the Irish Fusiliers, where he saw a Sand Table Exercise run by Major Clarke MC. The subject was the company in the attack. He visited 152 Field Ambulance and saw Practical First Aid Tests and then saw another Sand Exercise at 2 LIR run by the CO on the Maintenance of a Battalion Defensive Position.

After lunch at Brigade HQ, he visited the 2 Innisks to watch a Patrol Demonstration.

1500 Brigade Commander and all COs and Brigade SO leave for Cairo to attend a Divisional Study Day on 1st September.

The Brigade Commander flew down to Cairo with General B Paget.

In the evening the brigade played the Navy at football.



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