Irish Brigade

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

38 (Irish) Brigade – March 1944

1st March – VILLA VOLTURNO (N 1884).

Training and recreation.

Heavy rain during the early morning.

Operations postponed.


2nd March – VILLA VOLTURNO (N 1884).

1000 Brigadier carries out recce with COs of 6 Innisks, 2 LIR, 1 RIrF, 17 Field Regiment RA, and Second in Command 16/5 Lancers for TEWT on cooperation with tanks to be held at 1400hrs.

1400 Brigade TEWT down to Coy Commanders, LOs and Adjutants. COs act as DS to their own battalions. Reps from 16/5 Lancers and RA attend to assist syndicates.


3rd March – VILLA VOLTURNO (N 1884).

Training and recreation.

1530 Divisional Commander visits Brigade Commander at this HQ.

Rain most of the day. Operations still delayed. Active patrolling and artillery duels are main activities on the Division front.


4th March – VILLA VOLTURNO (N 1884).

Training and recreation.


5th March – VILLA VOLTURNO (N 1884).

Training and recreation. Church parades.

 

COs of their battalions and one Coy Commander go to HQ 16/5 Lancers to carry out recce of field firing scheme, Scheme is simple attack in cooperation with tanks.

 

1 RIrF celebrate Barrosa Day. Football match and concert were the main events of the day. Officers and sergeants celebrate during the evening.

 


6th March – VILLA VOLTURNO (N 1884).

 

Battalion carry out organised coy training. Rainy periods during the day.

 

Snow fell on the higher slopes during the night.

 


7th March – VILLA VOLTURNO (N 1884).

 

Battalions carry out training. The Brigade Commander visits Battalions.

 


8th March – VILLA VOLTURNO (N 1884).

 

Fine all day. Battalions carry out training. 2 LIR out all day on battalion exercise. Brigade Commander visits battalions during morning. Allotment of cinema seats in Capua to all battalions during the morning.

 


9th March – VILLA VOLTURNO (N 1884).

 

Training and recreation. Brigade Commander visits Battalions during the morning. Weather fine. Cinema allotments Capua.

 


10th March – VILLA VOLTURNO (N 1884).

 

Training and recreation. Night exercises. Roads and tracks now quite dry. Cinema allotment Capua.

 


11th March – VILLA VOLTURNO (N 1884).

 

Training. Brigade Commander to Caserta.

 

Night exercises.

 

Boxing 2 LIR v 6 Innisks, 2 LIR won by two fights. Cinema allotments Capua.

 

Brigade Commander visits 17 Field Regiment RA.

 

Rain during night.

 


12th March – VILLA VOLTURNO (N 1884).

 

Church parades.

 

Cinema at Capua. This allotment now proving its weight in cold.

 

Bttns carry out interior economy.

 


13th March – VILLA VOLTURNO (N 1884).

 

Bttns carry out training and recreation. Brigade Commander visits Bttns during the day.

 

Lt-Col Chandler (Hampshires) visits Brigade Commander.

 


14th March – VILLA VOLTURNO (N 1884).

 

Brigade Commander to division for conference with Divisional Commander, Brigade Commander then visits 128 Brigade and 4 Division HQ.

 

2030 Codeword Bradman received. Attack on Cassino to go in. Brigade at 4 hours notice to move wef 17 March.

 

Football match between 6 Innisks and 2 LIR during the afternoon. 6 Innisks won by 6 – 2.

 


15th March – VILLA VOLTURNO (N 1884).

 

Bttns carry out training. Jeep drivers and mates report to Divisional HQ. One platoon 6 Innisks report to Divisional HQ to guard PoWs. Results 80% effective. Attacks by 4 Indian Division and 2 NZ Division go in during the afternoon. Patrolling by 11 Brigade on San Angelo front.

 


16th March – VILLA VOLTURNO (N 1884).

 

Bttns carry out training. Attacks progressing in Cassino sector. Patrolling during the night by 11 Brigade to make contact. Enemy still holding west bank of River Rapido.

 


17th March – VILLA VOLTURNO (N 1884).

 

Brigade now at few hours notice to move.

 

0900 RC and C of E Church Services for whole Brigade.

 

1100 Brigade parade for presentation of shamrock by the Brigade Commander on the occasion of St Patrick’s Day. He read out a personal message from the Divisional Commander, who regretted he was unable to attend owing to battle conditions. The Brigade Commander spoke to the brigade and then presented shamrock to the field officers.

 

Brigade Pipe Band played for the remainder of the morning.

 

6 Innisks had Officers v Sergeants football match. The afternoon was quiet.

 

In the evening, the officers of Brigade HQ played Officers v 1 RIrF HQ at football.

 

RASC Band played during the afternoon.

 

Colonel Davies (Selection Board Committee) arrived to interview COs.

 


18th March – VILLA VOLTURNO (N 1884).

 

Bttns carry out training. Brigade Commander visits battalions.

 


19th March – VILLA VOLTURNO (N 1884).

 

Church parades and divine services.

 

Brigade Commander visits 6 Innisks .

 

Enemy counter attacks in Cassino sector achieved minor successes. 11 Brigade extends divisional front.

 


20th March – VILLA VOLTURNO (N 1884).

 

Bttns carry out training. Brigade Commander visits battalion. Bttn warned of probable move on 21 March to forward concentration area.

 

2 LIR hold inter coy Sports Meeting.  Officers’ Brigade HQ play Officers’ 1 RIrF at football. Latter won 3-2.

 


21st March – VILLA VOLTURNO (N 1884).

 

Bttns carry out training. Brigade Commander visits battalions.

 

1500 Brigade warned to move to forward area on the 22nd to take over from 11 Brigade.

 

Brigade Commander and Bttn O Group move forward to Divisional HQ.

 

1830 Brigade Commander conference with Divisional Commander.

 

1900 Brigade Commander O Group with OCs of 2 LIR and 1 RIrF.

 

2 LIR to take over northern sector from 11 Brigade and from A Squadron 56 Recce.

 

1 RIrF to take over south sector from 11 Brigade sector held by 1 East Surreys.

 


22nd March – NEAR TO CASSINO (G 942147).

 

0530 Brigade Commander and Recce Groups from 2 LIR and 1 RIrF rendezvous with 1 East Surrey HQ.

 

COs recce coy areas with Coy Commanders.

 

Brigade Commander has conference with Commander 11 Brigade.

 

1630 Brigade convoy (2 LIR, 1 RIrF and Brigade HQ) pass SP at Sparanise for Mignano.

 

6 Innisks, 152 Field Ambulance remain in present locations.

 

To move to forward concentration areas on night 23/24 March.

 

1830 Convoy reached Mignano.

 

1900 Bttns to move to take over position of 1 East Surreys and A Squadron 56 Recce.

 

Coy 2 LIR, taking over from A Squadron 56 Recce, moves up to TCVs.

 

Remainder of battalions and all 1 RIrF march from Coxes Corner (G923150) in battalion area.

 


23rd March – NEAR CASSINO (G 942147).

 

0230 Relief completed. 214 Field Company RE and 132 Field Regiment RA now in support. 1 East Surreys and transport move out of area.

 

Brigade locations as follows:

 

2 LIR HQ 885152 with coys in areas 875163, 868157, 872152 and 876174.

 

1 RIrF HQ HQ 886146 with coys in areas 871144, 875041, 875136 and 884147.

 

Main Brigade HQ at 942147.

 

1805 6 Innisks, 152 Field Ambulance pass Start Line for Mignano.

 

1930 D Support Group relieves B Squadron Group 1 Kensingtons.

 

1 troop, 254 A/Tk Battery RA moves into position in support of 1 RIrF and 3 guns in support of 2 LIR.

 

2100 6 Innisks established in concentration area G 9314. 152 Field Ambulance revert to Commander 78 Division.

 


24th March – NEAR CASSINO (G 942147).

 

0630 Reliefs of B Support Group successfully completed during the night. Guns moved into position. One was bogged. Remainder of troop in support of 2 LIR moving into position tonight.

 

Slight mortaring of coy areas during night. 24 bombs felt altogether.

 

Patrols during the night made no contact but an ambush patrol from 1 RIrF heard voices at bend in river at 878132.

 

1000 Divisional Commander visits Brigade Commander. Informal conference regarding future operations.

 

1430 Eight mortar bombs fall in 6 Innisks’ concentration area. One casualty.

 

1830 Maintenance convoy moves forward to battalions. Operation in 2 LIR area to protect withdrawal of 120 feet of Kapok bridging material. Standing and listening patrols placed in position. Three guns move into support of 2 LIR counter mortar organisations at respective Bttn HQs of 2 LIR and 1 RIrF coordinated by Brigade Commander. Organisation controlled by HQ 132 Field Regiment RA.

 


25th March – NEAR CASSINO (G 942147).

 

0630 Bttns spent quiet night. 4.2.” mortars fired about four hundred rounds at mortar and nebelwerfer positions during the night. Patrols made no contact during the night but tanks were heard in the San Angelo area (G 8515). It was impossible to discern which way they were going or in which direction.

 

1000 Counter mortar targets engaged by both bttns during the day. Successful results reported.

 

1015 Representatives and recce parties arrive from NZ Division Cavalry to recce 1 RIrF area. 1 RIrF to be relieved by them tonight.

 

1200 Commander 10 Corps visits Brigade Commander.

 

1530 Battalions report quiet day. No mortaring. Counter mortaring targets engaged by D Support Group at varying intervals.

 

1945 1 RIrF report 12 mortar bombs fell in forward company areas. No casualties.

 

Artillery brought down on general area position from which fire was coming.

 


26th March – NEAR CASSINO (G 942147).

 

0115 Adjutant 1 RIrF reports relief progressing satisfactorily.

 

0300 All marching personnel 1 RIrF now clear. Command of sector passes to 2 NZ Division Cavalry. They revert under command of 38 Brigade.

 

0515 Report on vehicles ditched received. Carrier held up convoy of vehicles. Majority are clear of area now.

 

0900 Recce parties 21 NZ Bttn arrive to recce area 2 LIR preparatory for take over tonight.

 

1000 Lt-Col Dunnill, representing the Brigadier, and Brigade LO go to HQ 4 RTT at Caira G 845249 to recce positions preparatory to taking over their positions.

 

1900 Convoy TCVs move forward to Control Point to pick up 2 LIR on relief.

 

Lt-Col Dunnill returns, having recced positions 4 RTT and also visited the Commander 3 Algerian Division.

 

2035 6 Innisks move from present location G 9314 to concentration area G 9911 by TCVs.

 

2340 Relief of 2 LIR by 21 NZ Bttn now complete.Take over satisfactory and quiet. No enemy interference.

 


27th March – NEAR CASSINO (G 942147).

 

0030 Code Word Gurnet passed to 78 Division. Control of San Angelo sector passed from 38 Brigade to 5 NZ Brigade.

 

0400 D Support Group relief complete and now in concentration area G 9413.

 

0140 Move of 6 Innisks complete.

 

0800 Brigade HQ moves to area G 987118.

 

Orders received for relief of 4 RTT by 38 Brigade. Takeover to be in three phases, one battalion per night. 6 Innisks to relieve II Bttn on night 29/30 March, 2 LIR to relieve I Bttn on night 30 Mar/31 Mar. Brigade HQ to move 31 Mar/1 Apr.  1 RIrF to relieve III Bttn 1Apr/2Apr.

 

1400 Recces of B Echelon areas and Admin areas carried out.

 


28th March – NEAR CASSINO (G 942147).

 

0720 Situation report NTR. Bttns report quiet night. No shelling.

 

1000 6 Innisks move by TCVs to lying up areas San Michele G 9023. Reserve Coy and B Echelon move to San Pietro G 9715. To lie up night 28/29 March and move forward to take over position II/4 RTT on next night.

 


29th March – NEAR CASSINO (G 942147).

 

1000 2 LIR embosses at Mignano for lying up area San Michele 908224.

 

1400 Brigade HQ moves to San Michele 908223.

 

1900 Recce parties from 2 LIR move off to HQ I/4 RTT to recce area and positions on Monte Castellone 8324.

 

1915 6 Innisks less one coy and all stores on jeeps and mules move off to take over forward positions from II/4 RTT area Pt 706 G 828231. Relief completed by 0145 hrs. Remainder of night quiet. Desultory shelling.

 


30th March – NEAR CASSINO (G 942147).

 

0445 Brigade Commander, IO and SO leave San Michele for HQ 4 RTT G 845247.

 

1000 1 RIrF embuss at Mignano for lying up area near San Michele.

 

1840 2 LIR leave San Michele for forward positions on Monte Castellone 8324 to effect relief of I/4 RTT. Enemy patrols engaged by left forward coy I/4 RTT just before relief commenced, Slight enemy shelling and mules found it difficult going up the slopes of Castellone (G 8324).

 


31st March – NEAR CASSINO (G 942147).

 

0045 Enemy patrol attacked left forward company 6 Innisks. Own troops invited to surrender in good English. Patrol about 8-10 men beaten off. No casualties to either side.

 

0310 2 LIR relief completed. Command of sector passes to HQ 38 Brigade and 78 Division assumes command of sector north of Monte Cassino.

 

0410 Right coy 6 Innisks heavily mortared. Slight mortaring and shelling during day.

 

1930 1 RIrF leave San Michele to relieve III/4RTT in positions west of Caira 8424.



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