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- All My Sons & Daughters: the story of Edmund O’Sullivan, 1946-2009
- Arrival in Algiers
- Ascending Monte Castellone
- Back to Rome and onto Egypt
- Back to the London Irish at last
- Christmas in Tunisia
- Crossing the Sangro River
- Defensive positions at San Angelo
- Entering Tunis
- From Argenta to Austria
- From Termoli to the Trigno
- German raid at Montenero
- Home on Leave
- Hospitalised in Alexandria
- In clear sight of Vesuvius
- Interlude at Campbobasso
- Meeting the new OC
- North of Rome
- Out of the Line
- Peace at Last
- Point 286
- Rest and recovery
- Rest and renewed training
- Resting in Forli
- Setting sail from Glasgow
- St Patrick’s Day
- Stormy Mediterranean crossings
- Stuka Ridge
- Ted O’Sullivan joins the London Irish Rifles.
- The Djebels north of Medjez-el-Bab
- The Liri Valley
- The Sicilian campaign
- Formation of the Irish Brigade
- Honours and awards
- 2 LIR – Apr 1943
- 2 LIR – April 1944
- 2 LIR – August/September 1943
- 2 LIR – Dec 1942
- 2 LIR – December 1943
- 2 LIR – Feb 1943
- 2 LIR – February 1944
- 2 LIR – Jan 1943
- 2 LIR – Jan to Oct 1942
- 2 LIR – January 1944
- 2 LIR – July 1943
- 2 LIR – June 1944
- 2 LIR – Mar 1943
- 2 LIR – March 1944
- 2 LIR – May 1944
- 2 LIR – May/June 1943
- 2 LIR – Nov 1942
- 2 LIR – November 1943
- 2 LIR – October 1943
- Roll of Honour 1939-45
- They Shall Not Grow Old – 1 London Irish Rifles
- They Shall Not Grow Old – 2 London Irish Rifles
- War Diaries of 1 London Irish Rifles
- Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers – “The Skins”
- And with the Skins and Irish Rifles
- At Rest in Rome and Egypt
- Back To Italy
- Balkan Troubles
- Clamping Down for the Winter
- Continuing in the Mountains
- Goodbye to the Mountains
- In Sidi Bishr
- Into Austria – Settling Frontiers
- Irish Brigade Awards: April to July 1945.
- Irish Brigade Awards: May 1944 to March 1945
- London Irish Raid on the Floodbank
- Northern Italy
- Patrolling and Artillery Duels
- Plan to capture Imola
- Preparing for the Final Battles
- Raid on Casa Tamagnin
- Ready for Action
- San Clemente
- Senio Floodbanks
- St Patrick’s Day in Forli
- The Beginning of a New Phase
- The Last Offensive – The Plan and Opening Phase
- The Po and the End of the War
- The Rains come
- The Spaduro battles
- Visitors to the Irish Brigade
- With the 5th Army
- With the Faughs
- Officers’ Roll : Nov 1942 to Dec 1943
- Officers’ Roll : Jan 1944 to May 1945
- April 1943 (1)
- April 1943 (2)
- April 1943 (3)
- April 1943 (4)
- April 1943 (5a)
- 38 (Irish) Brigade – April 1943
- August 1943 (1)
- 38 (Irish) Brigade – August 1943
- December 1942
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- February 1943 (3)
- February 1943 (4)
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- 38 (Irish) Brigade – July 1943
- July 1943
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- June 1943
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- March 1943
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- 38 (Irish) Brigade – May 1943
- November 1942
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- September 1943
- 38 (Irish) Brigade – April 1944
- April 1944
- Audience with Pope Pius – 12th June 1944
- 38 (Irish) Brigade – August 1944
- August 1944
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- December 1944
- 38 (Irish) Brigade – February 1944
- February 1944
- 38 (Irish) Brigade – January 1944
- January 1944
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- July 1944
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- 38 (Irish) Brigade – June 1944
- 38 (Irish) Brigade – March 1944
- March 1944
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- May 1944
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- 38 (Irish) Brigade – November 1944
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- 38 (Irish) Brigade – October 1944
- September 1944
- Officers’ Roll : Jan 1944 to May 1945
- Officers’ Roll : Nov 1942 to Dec 1943
- Point 286, Tunisia – Jan 1943 by Lt-Col Jeffreys
- Percy Hamilton – Arriving in Sicily
- Percy Hamilton – Assault on San Salvo
- Percy Hamilton – Crossing the Trigno River
- Percy Hamilton – Djebel Mahdi
- Percy Hamilton – From Centuripe To Randazzo
- Percy Hamilton – Guelma/Hammamet
- Percy Hamilton – On Route to Africa
- Percy Hamilton – Tanngoucha
- Percy Hamilton – Termoli
- Percy Hamilton – To Mainland Italy
- Percy Hamilton – To The Front
- Percy Hamilton – Advance To Tunis
- The Skins in Sicily
- Captain David Schayek – March/April 1943
- Termoli. 5/6 October 1943
- Lieutenant Nick Mosley at Monte Spaduro
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- 78 Division
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- Campaign Narrative
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- The Queen’s Bays
- Unit Accounts – 11 Brigade
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- Irish Brigade at Termoli, October 1943
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1st April – FORLI 432171.
2 LIR and 1 RIrF practise watermanship and river crossing across R Ronco, north of Forlimpopoli.
2nd April – FORLI 432171.
2 LIR carry out Exercise Hosannah to practise attack by infantry in Kangaroos.
1 RIrF practise river crossings.
2 Innisks move forward to relieve 8 A & SH on River Senio and come under command 11 Infantry Brigade. The sector they took over was just north of Cotignola and had been moderately quiet, although there were still a number of enemy outposts maintained on the eastern floodbank.
1500 Demonstration of Assault Brigade Equipment at 462298. The senior representatives from each bttn attended.
3rd April – FORLI 432171.
2 LIR practise river crossings.
1 RIrF carry out Exercise Massa. This exercise was designed to bring out all the points nexessary in tank and infantry cooperation, including wireless procedure.
2 Innisks had a quiet period.
4th April – FORLI 432171.
1 RIrF carry out Exercise Hosannah.
2 LIR are to relieve 2 Innisks on 5 April.
Preliminary recces of area carried out by 2 LIR.
5th April – FORLI 432171.
1000 Army Commander hold a Welfare Conference in Esperia Cinema, Forli. Brigade Commander and COs attended.
1200 Relief of 2 Innisks by 2 LIR cancelled. 2 LIR to remain in Forli and 2 Innisks will be relieved night 7/8 April by 56 Recce.
6th April – FORLI 432171.
2 LIR and 1 RIrF carry out individual training. Preparations made for travelling with light scales and experiments and leading tables worked out.
7th April – FORLI 432171.
Individual training carried out by 2 LIR and 1 RIrF.
2 Innisks relieved on Senio floodbank by elements 1 Surreys and 56 Recc. Relief completed by 2100 hrs without incident.
8th April – FORLI 432171.
Training by all bttns and preparations continue for travelling on light scales of transport and equipment in future.
9th April – FORLI 432171.
Individual training and interior economy by bttns in the morning. In the afternoon, the Brigade Commander talked to all bttns in turn and gave a forecast of the future. In his talk, he gave the gist of the following information of the plan for the opening of the Spring Offensive in Italy by the Eighth Army.
Resume of Plan for Operation ‘Buckland’.
Enemy – On the assaulting sector, the enemy disposes some ten bttns in the line from 98 Division and half of 362 Division. There is one bttn in reserve to each division and, where all companies of a bttn are in the line, counter attacks on a platoon or section basis might be expected.
Enemy Armour – 26 Panzer Division has some 30 Mark IV tanks in reserve in area Portomaggiore.
504 Tank Bttn has some 30 Tigers stretched between Lake Comacchio and Route 9.
242 Ass Gun Brigade (40 SPs) is also available.
Reserves – 90 PG is somewhere south east of Bologna in Army reserve and 29 PG is possibly available from Rovigo.
Plan – 2 New Zealand Division will assault the Senio south of Cotignola and 8 Indian Division to the north.
56 Division have already started an operation in conjunction with 2 Commando Brigade for clearing the eastern peninsula of the Comacchio lake and also to push westwards along the southern edge of the lake towards Argenta.
78 Division is to be prepared to support 2 NZ and 8 Indian Division in advancing to the River Santerno and to break out of the bridgehead formed by 8 Indian Division over the river, probably on D + 2.
1920 Operation ‘Buckland’ commenced.
1930 The officers of 2 Innisks held a party for all officers of the Brigade Group.
The crossing of the Senio was successful. More opposition was met by 8 Indian Division, especially on the floodbank itself and they suffered fairly heavy casualties. 2 NZ Division met less opposition.The whole depth of the bridgehead is about 2,000 yards and along the line of the Canale Lugo.
0900 Brigade Commander holds a conference to discuss future role of the Brigade Group.
The following officers were present:
Commander, 2 Armoured Brigade.
2 i.c. 2 Armoured Brigade.
CO 4 Hussars.
CO 11 RHA.
CO 17 Field Regiment.
CO 2 Innisks.
CO 2 LIR.
CO 1 RIrF.
CO 214 Field Company.
CO 254 A/Tk Battery.
The following outline plan was made.
Once the bridgehead over the Santerno is made and enlarged by 8 Indian Division in the area Ca Di Lugo (3143). 38 Brigade Group will strike north to the west of the river to try and jump the bridge over the R Reno at 315565.
The attack to break out of the Indian Bridgehead will be done by 1 RIrF left, 2 Innisks right. A mobile force will be held in readiness to go through these two bttns once they have reached the limit of their advance (probably the Scolo Conselice 313, 3253) and continue to the R Reno to force a quick bridgehead.
The Brigade will be grouped as follows:
Break Out Force –
1 RIrF 2 Innisks.
A Squadron Bays. B Squadron Bays.
D Support Group MMG Platoon. C Squadron 51 RTR (Crocodiles).
D Support Group Mortar Rep. D Support Group MMG Platoon.
Recce Pty RE. D Support Group Mortar Rep.
Scissors Bridge Dozer Troop. Recce Pty RE.
Mobile Force – Artillery in Immediate Support –
2 LIR. 17 Field Regiment.
2 Troop 209 Battery SP. 11 RHA.
4 Hussars (Kangaroos).
In Reserve –
C Squadron Bays.
SP Troop 254 A/Tk Battery.
Armoured Troop RE.
D Support Group Mortar Platoon.
214 Field Coy.
152 Field Ambulance.
254 A/Tk Battery less Support Troop.
1300 Brigade Group commences to move to a concentration area south of Bagnacavello.
Brigade HQ 389373, Rear Brigade HQ 434350, 2 Innisks 382353, 2 LIR 385374, 1 RIrF 392363.
D Support Group 378375, 17 Field Regiment 404316, 254 A/Tk Battery 369379.
152 Field Ambulance 387371, 2 Armoured Brigade 489373 (now under command 38 (Irish) Brigade).
Bays 402355, 9 Lancers 500360.
2000 Brigade Commander holds a conference for the Brigade Group. The outline orders for the move of the brigade to the “Wedding Area” area north of Lugo were issued and confirmation of previous plans. The situation on the front was satisfactory and going according to the plan.
Certain difficulties were experienced during the night owing to the tanks and infantry going over separate bridges and the possibility of converging on the same road.
0600 Brigade Group commences to move to Assembly Area north of Lugo. In this area, all tanks, Kangaroos and assault RE detachments linked up and coordinated with their respective battalions.
Main Brigade HQ – 336385.
Rear Brigade HQ – 434350.
2 Innisks – 340408.
2 LIR – 343394.
1 RIrF – 343398.
D Support Group – 336396.
254 A/Tk Battery – 346390.
214 Field Company – 344392.
152 Field Ambulance – 337396.
Bays – 341404.
9 Lancers – 343394.
1700 B Squadron 51 RTR (Flails) and C Squadron (Crocodiles) now under command.
2100 Brigade Commander holds a conference.
Brigade Group will be required to pass through bridgehead tomorrow being formed over the River Santerno by 8 Indian Division tonight. 2 NZ Division already have troops across the river but bridgehead is not firm yet.
Enemy resistance is fairly heavy. He is supported by Tiger Tanks and there is quite a lot of mortaring and a considerable number of mines.
Plan for Brigade Group is as follows:
Attack out of 8 Indian Division bridgehead will be done by 2 Innisks right, 1 RIrF left. Each bttn supported by a squadron of Bays and Crocodiles will advance to the Scolo Conselice bounded by the River Santerno on the right and Scolo Fossotone on the left. Once these two bttns have reached the Scolo Conselice or they think the time had come to unleash the remaining bttn, if they themselves are held up or spent, 2 LIR in Kangaroos (4 Hussars) supported by 9 Lancers with Assault RE detachments will advance to the River Reno. (this mobile force to be directly under command 2 Armoured Brigade).
A barrage would be laid on to support the attack out of the bridgehead should it prove necessary.
1130 The bridgehead over the Santerno formed by 8 Indian Division is now as follows – 320453 – 312450 – 309439 – 312427.
Plan now slightly adjusted. 36 Brigade will break out of the bridgehead first and attack west in the direction of San Patrizio 2746 and Conselice 2749.
When they were clear, 38 Brigade will attack north.
36 Brigade moved into the bridgehead and started their attack at 1800 hrs. 1 RIrF and Bays managed to get across the river in tome to take up positions but 2 Innisks were delayed due to shelling of the bridge and the congestion on the roads and did not arrive over the river till 1912 hrs. They concentrated around their Bttn HQ at 321447. Due to this delay, all attacks were postponed till dawn and 1 RIrF told to maintain contact by patrolling. Their locations were as follows:
HQ 313446 and coys at 315444, 312444, 316443, 317444.
Patrols during the night from 1 RIrF made contact with the enemy at several points.
0630 1 RIrF and 2 Innisks commenced advance north, west of River Santerno. 1 RIrF met several enemy strong points along the Scolo Fossotine, which was held along most of its length. Resistance was not strong.
0830 By this time, the two attacking bttns had advanced about half way to their objectives. 1 RIrF forward elements at 313471, 307475, 303478.
2 Innisks forward elements at 313481, 318475, 317475.
A strongpoint at 294474 held the Irish Fusiliers up for a short while but a company successfully dealt with it eventually and took several prisoners. Two troops of tanks and some infantry then advanced up the west side of the Scolo Fossatone providing flank protection and helping to turn the enemy’s defences along the canal.
Another strongpoint was met at the bridge 304488 but again did not hold the Irish Fusiliers up for long. More prisoners were taken here.
2 Innisks were assisted in the clearing of the possible enemy strong points at San Bernadino 320495 by the advance of elements of 8 Indian Division from the east on the far side of the Santerno. Even so, fairly heavy opposition was met in this sector.
2 Innisks and 1 RIrF reached lie approx 51 Northing by midday and gave the word for the Mobile Forces to pass through. The Mobile Force took some time to get underway and, at 1330 hrs, the leading squadrons were out in the open with only the enemy in front. It was found that, on all occasions, great difficulty was experienced in getting through the mass of vehicles, which accumulated behind our own FDLs.
The time of advance was due northwards through a thousand yards wide corridor hemmed in on the right by the Santerno River, on right by the Fossatone Canal. The object of 2 LIR was to secure crossings over the Conselice Canal and, if possible, exploit to the River Reno. Little resistance was encountered at first as the other two bttns had given the enemy a good shaking and he was on the move back. Scattered enemy Bazooka men were met and one tank lost through the fire of an A/Tk gun, whilst a number of PW were taken. Resistance was encountered in the village of La Frascata. This was rapidly bypassed but, as the leading tanks arrived at the canal, the bridge 316534 was blown immediately in front of them. A quick crossing of the canal was forced over the remains of the bridges, our own troops getting into the houses on the far back so rapidly that few of the defenders managed to escape.
That night, the bridgehead was enlarged and a bridge built by the Sappers.
2 Innisks locations – HQ 317515 with coys 318516 – 317516 – 316515 – 317513.
1 RIrF locations – HQ 307505 with coys 300505 – 410524 – 303514 – 297501.
PW total for the day was 2 officers and 157 ORs, mainly from 362 Division.
Before dawn, patrols from 2 LIR were feeling forwards towards Lavezzola and the River Reno. Two columns of armour followed up and the River Reno was reached by 0540 hrs, another 50 PW being taken. During the morning, contact was made by 9 Lancers with the Cremona ICC at 345543.
1300 2 LIR managed to get two platoons across the River Reno by means of the wrecked railway bridge 317563. These two platoons advanced towards the factory 316567. One platoon got into position and the other was still moving up when they were counter attacked heavily. A fierce fight took place but most of them were taken prisoner. 2 LIR locations HQ 312549 with two coys 314564 and other coys 324556 and 313550.
1600 Brigade HQ moved to La Palazzina 318524.
Slight mortaring and shelling in 2 LIR area during the night.
0600 2 LIR reverting to command 38 Brigade.
B Coy, 1 RIrF commenced operation to clear marshland up to River Sillaro on brigade left flank. A strong point was established at 282548 and patrols were sent out east and west along the river bank. The enemy was holding the far bank of the river and had made strong points in the houses round about. A plan was tentatively discussed for a possible advance to clear. This task was eventually taken on by 36 Brigade and the 1 RIrF were given orders to concentrate as soon as possible around this HQ. Squadron 56 Recce will relieve B Coy 1 RIrF at first dark.
2300 1 RIrF report B Coy relieved and back in concentration area. All information concerning the sector was passed to Squadron 56 Recce. They reported about 60 shells in the coy area during the day and that they would never have got into position on the bank of the Sillaro had it not been for the early morning mist.
2330 OC 214 Field Company reports that the Bailey Bridge erected at 317563 over the River Reno should be ready by about midday tomorrow.
Message received from 78 Division placing the brigade at four hours notice to move as from 0600 hrs. 9 Lancers to be at 2 hours notice. The Bays had been posted to under command 11 Brigade at short notice this evening and the 9 Lancers were to cooperate with the brigade for future ops.
Quiet morning. 11 Brigade advanced through 56 Division towards Argenta to reach the Fosso Bruciata 3060.
1400 GI 78 Division phoned up to say that the brigade would move at 1700 hrs to pass through 11 Brigade after they had made a bridgehead over the Scolo Marina 3060.
The bridge over the River Reno will be ready by 1600 hrs. Also, the Bays will come back under command this brigade and the same Mobile Force as operated in the last battle – ie 2 LIR, 9 Lancers and 4 Hussars – will be under direct command 2 Armoured Brigade. This sudden change in the armour caused some confusion as preparations with the 9 Lancers had been made concerning carrying of ammunition etc in the tanks and the netting of wireless communications.
1700 Brigade Group commences to move over Reno bridge to concentration area in square 3058. 2 LIR remain in their present location and are to concentrate north of Reno at 0400 hrs tomorrow morning with the 4 Hussars and marry up with the 9 Lancers.
1900 Brigade HQ moves. Opens new location 341571.
Brigade Commander issues orders to COs of 2 Innisks and 1 RIrF in their concentration area.
1 RIrF are to pass through 2 LF at approx 0400 hrs after they have secured a bridgehead over the Scolo Bruciata at 300605 and 2 Innisks to pass through as soon as possible after 1 RIrF.
During the day, 2 Innisks advanced round the north east outskirts of Argenta and, by 1310 hrs, were along the line of the railway in squadrons 2762 and 2861. Attempts to move forward to Route 16, to cut off the escape route from Argenta, were held up. Enemy SPs and Infantry produced strong opposition especially from the areas 267625 and 262616. The Irish Fusiliers managed to get across the Fossa Marina and, by 1240 hrs, had reached the Scolo Contoacci at 292628. Another coy was reported at 288625. From here, the advance of the Irish Fusiliers was determined by the advance of the 2/6 Queens (56 Div) on their right. It was not until 2325 hrs that the Irish Fusiliers managed to get on to their final objective on the Scolo Cardinola between 692637 and 696635. In the meantime, the Innsikillings were still trying to push towards Route 16 and overcome the enemy resistance. Little change took place in their positions and reported at 2115 hrs as being at 279626, 279621, 277615, 283617 and HQ 283617. Final locations 1 RIrF reported as being at 292628 (two coys), 285628 and 292625. Very heavy opposition was met area 292628 and armoured cars and A/Tk guns put up a strong defence 293630 and 289630.
1900 Brigade HQ moved to 303597.
A total of 149 PW and 2 officers were taken during the day.
During the night, 36 Brigade passed through 1 RIrF to attack north west up Route 16. 2 LIR (in Kangaroos) and 9 Lancers, under command 2 Armoured Brigade, passed through as well. 8 A&SH reached Consandolo 2565 but 2 Armoured Brigade made a spectacular dash throughout the day and, by late evening, 2 LIR were reported at 228677, 234685, 249676, 240665 with Bttn H 238677.
They took over 200 PW and captured or destroyed 3 Mk IV Tanks, 3 SP Guns, 10 Infantry Guns and 1 ambulance.
On the brigade sector, 2 Innisks captured the houses at Tombetta 266626 by 0700 hrs against stiff resistance and during the day pushed forward to finally establish themselves at 265625, 267625, 268621, 273624 with Bttn HQ 271615.
The Irish Fusiliers continued mopping up operations during the day against scattered resistance and finally established at 287637, 281637, 284644, 275647 with Bttn HQ 279637 by first light.
During the operations, the crews of 2 Mk IVs, together with their tanks, gave themselves up. The tanks were in good condition and identified as 129 Tank Bttn (29 PG Div).
At 2100 hrs, 2 Innisks reported that they were held up and meeting considerable opposition from the houses 253625 and at 254622 and 252622.
During the Inniskilligs’ advance, several enemy – up to 100 in some cases – were seen running from one house to another. It appeared, at one stage, that a counter attack was forming up and one Tiger Tank was definitely located. It was afterwards disclosed from civilian sources that elements of three bttns were in that area and the Divisional Commander, himself, was directing operations. The plan, apparently, was a last all out attempt to close the Argenta Gap again but it did not materialise. It is thought the Divisional Commander changed his plan to suit his own withdrawal.
The Brigade Commander pointed out how essential it was that these strong points should be eliminated as 6 Armoured Division was due to pass through at 0600 hrs in the morning up Route 16 to take over the advance on the left. The Commandos, operating on the west bank of the Reno, would commence to attack the defended houses 265619 at midnight and 2 Innisks will clear the strong points, putting in their attack not earlier than 0130 hrs. 6 RWK were directed on the Reno floodbank on the right of the Inniskillings.
Some difficulty was experienced in coordinating this attack but it was straightened out in the end and the operation completely successful.
Up to this stage, a total of 142 PW and 3 officers were taken by 1 RIrF and 2 Innisks up to 1800 hrs.
2220 1 RIrF were ordered to occupy, by first light, the triangle formed by railway 268663 – 65 Northing, thence east along 65 Northing to stream 283650, thence up stream to railway 268663. This was done without much opposition.
Final positions of 2 Innisks and 1 RIrF:
2 Innisks: HQ – 271614, A Coy – 272623, B Coy – 263625 with platoon at 257625, C coy – 264627, D Coy – 267620.
1 RIrF: HQ – 27937, A Coy – 280651, B Coy – 273654, C Coy – 281637, D Coy – 267663.
0745 Spitfire pilot crashed in 2 Innisks area. Evacuated unhurt.
1020 Bays to go under command 11 Brigade.
2 Innisks patrolled down Reno bank to the west. No enemy seen.
Brigade Commander visited HQ 2 Innisks and 1 RIrF during the morning.
A further 13 PW consisting of deserters and stragglers were brought in during the day.
1800 2 Armoured Brigade reached the Fossa Porto west of Portomaggiore and 2 LIR now have a bridgehead over the advance to S Ricolo 1871 and towards Traghetto 170640.
As much rest as possible was taken by everyone in the brigade for the remainder of the day.
Rest as much as possible.
Brigade Commander visits HQ 2 Innisks and 1 RIrF in the morning.
Message O 62 received from the Division.
Following regrouping to be carried out:
11 Brigade with under command Bays.
36 Brigade with under command 56 Recce less B Squadron.
38 Brigade with under command 10 Hussars (to relieve Bays as soon as possible).
2 Armoured Brigade less Bays and 10 Hussars with under command B Squadron 56 Recce and 2 LIR.
1605 IO 78 Division arrives with verbal orders. 38 Brigade is to pass through 11 Brigade and make a bridgehead over the canal between railway at 214735 and the canal junction 202725.
Brigade Commander goes to HQ 78 Division immediately and bttns move off in TCVs at 1800 hrs to a dispersal point at Gombi 232695.
Brigade HQ moves to 252691.
Brigade Commander holds O Group at HQ 11Brigade at 2000 hrs.
Plan: Bridgehead to be secured over canal by 2 Innisks right and 1 RIrF left. Final details of assembly areas to be discussed with CO 2 LF. Start Line confirmed with 11 Brigade as being 223730 – 212716 and barrage with 200 yards lifts laid on. COs are to give Codeword Edinburgh when they wish Zero Hour and barrage to start. 5 Northamptons are to get up to the canal and protect right flank and 36 Brigade are to conform with advance on the left.
Zero hour for the attack 0130 hrs.
The two battalions advanced quickly behind the barrage and were across the canal each with two coys by 0230hrs. Opposition was far lighter than anticipated and many Huns must have gone back disorganised by the barrage. The forward troops managed to get across the canal by means of the bridges at 214735, 209732 and 203726, the main structure of the bridge only being severed by the demolitions at each end and dropping straight into the canal practically undamaged.
The bridge at 209732 was bulldozed in by 237 Field Company RE and developed as quickly as possible to take wheels and tracks. The stagnant water in the canal enabled this to be done.
By 0500 hrs, the two battalions were firm with a bridgehead about 800 yards deep and take about 300 PW, mainly from I Bttn 67 PGR. C Coy 2 Innisks were unfortunate in getting caught in our barrage and suffered rather heavy casualties including the Coy Commander, Major Duane and two Platoon Commanders.
Further plans were made as follows:
2 Armoured Brigade Group to strike north east in general direction on 214754 and 219767 about 0900 hrs passing through 38 Brigade FDLs.
Our bridgehead will be enlarged as follows:
2 Innisks to secure 219750 – 214754 – 206754 and patrol towards 210760.
5 Northamptons are available to assist 2 Innisks and have already been instructed to take over from A Coy, 2 Innisks.
1 RIrF to secure to secure 197752 – 186743 – 200736.
By 1230 hrs, battalions were up on their objectives, meeting scattered resistance but a fair amount of shelling from SPs. 2 Armoured Brigade force with 2 LIR in Kangaroos passed through to push on towards Quartesana 2182.
2 LIR and 9 Lancers swept on against scattered resistance. They were held up for a time in Vochera 2176 but soon overcame the resistance and, by evening, reached the Condotto Bellri and captured the bridges at 209823 and 188822 intact, establishing a small company bridgehead covering each one. Success enabled 11 Brigade to pass through early the next morning.
1900 Final locations:
2 Innisks – Coys: 2067747, 213753, 219750, 208739.
1 RIrF – HQ: 207732. Coys: 202730, 198742, 200737, 193738.
Brigade remained in present locations and to be prepared to move again in the morning. Odd prisoners were taken during the day during the clearing of the area. The Brigade’s final total was 1 officer and 38 ORs.
1200 Brigade HQ moved forward to Vochera 222768. Bttns remain concentrated in present location. 11 Brigade pass through 2 Armoured Brigade to attack the Po di Volano at Fossalta 2387 and Baura 1987.
11 Brigade succeeded in forcing a crossing over the Po di Volano and provided a bridgehead for a bridge to be built at 238862.
36 Brigade were warned they might have to do an assault landing over the Po and are to be relieved accordingly by 56 Recce less B Squadron.
0900 Brigade warned to be ready to go through 11 Brigade and attack towards Lucca 2296 and Ruina. No definite orders received yet.
1200 Orders received. Brigade Group to move at 1700 hrs and attack Tamara 2489. Move in TCVs to bridge 238862 and march forward from there.
1630 Brigade Commander goes to HQ 78 Division to receive full details. Brigade ‘O’ Group ordered to RV at new Brigade HQ 211839.
1700 Brigade column commences to forward.
1800 Brigade Commander gives out orders:
Enemy resistance is stiffening and he will defend the canal barriers as much as possible in order to complete the withdrawal of the bulk of his troops and transport east of Ferrara.
1 LIR (56 Division) now hold Tamara.
2 Innisks to pass through and clear Saletta 2491, followed by 1 RIrF. On clearing this village, 2 Innisks will carry on up the road to Zocca and 1 RIrF will turn left and clear the road leading up to Ruina and the Po. E Assault Squadron RE will be in support to help bridge canal obstacles. One Squadron 10 Hussars with two leading bttns.
2345 2 Innisks crossed over Bailey Bridge followed by 1 RIrF.
At 0245 hrs, 2 Innisks reached Saletta and found it occupied. The narrow approach to the village and lack of cover did not allow for reasonable deployment and it was not captured until 0500 hrs after a stiff close quarter fight. After the advance, 2 Innisks advanced quickly to 242917, four hundred yards north.
0700 1 RIrF commenced to deploy to the left of 2 Innisks and advance up road to Ruina.
As the advance continued north west by both bttns, the enemy’s resistance increased and finally succeed in holding us up on the Canale Fossetta. The main points of resistance were at the bridges 236939 and 227930, where A/Tk guns, SPs and tanks with a few infantry held up all our attempts to push on or bypass them.
Locations at 2000 hrs.
2 Innisks – HQ 249317 with coys at 239929, 237931, 241920, 239917.
1 RIrF – HQ 243916 with coys at 235917, 224931, 241914, 232923.
These enemy positions were bombed and strafed by aircraft, shelled continuously and subjected to all types of fire but still they held on, keeping open the enemy’s route to the Po.
Brigade HQ moved to Tamara 237899 at 1700 hrs.
During the night, 2 Armoured Brigade Group (2 LIR and 9 Lancers) passed through 11 Brigade to attack northwest to the Po and then away south west towards Ferrara.
This plan slightly miscarried in that the force did not cross the Fossa Lavezzola and go sufficiently far north but nevertheless succeeded in knocking out about 8 Mark IV tanks, some SPs and taking about 150 PW.
Elements of 2 LIR also reached the Po.
0200 2 Innisks commenced an attack to wipe out the enemy post at 236939, which succeeded. The bridge was intact and, by early morning, they were on the outskirts of Zocca.. This swift advance was followed up quickly by 1 RIrF, who reached Ruina by about 1000 hrs and pushed on to the Po.
Both bttns were then ordered to search the whole area and given boundaries in which to do this. C Squadron 56 Recce came under command and was ordered to clear the remaining sector to the right of 2 Innisks.
All members of the brigade had a field day, rounding up the last remaining Huns, who missed the last boat over the Po. In all 3 Officers and 310 PWs were brought in to Brigade HQ.
Ferrara was finally occupied by 1 A&SH (8 Indian Division) today.
2 Innisks – HQ 227954, with coys at 224969, 235977, 230948, 230970.
1 RIrF – HQ 218939 with coys at 216952, 208952, 198939, 218939.
C Squadron 56 Recce harbour area 245967.
2 LIR – HQ 163905 with coys at 175919, 171914, 158910, 156903.
Covering patrols out at 153933 and 177942.
Area 230969 (2 Innisk) was heavily shelled by SPS for a quarter of an hour. It was not until checks of enemy equipment, tanks, guns, vehicles etc were made along the Po floodbank and along the approached to the ferries used by the enemy that the potentialities of a major defeat caused by the 8th Army over the enemy was realised.
There was no doubt that 76 Panzer Corps had been well and truly defeated and only a few hundred men from the divisions under its command ie 29 PG Division, 26 Pz Division, 98 VG Div, 362 Infantry Division, 42 JG Division could have finally managed to get across the Po.
The final figures of enemy equipment found on the Po floodbank, mainly belonging to the above mentioned divisions and all burnt and useless were, as follows:
Tanks: Tiger Mk III – 4, Panther Mk V – 1, Mk IV – 29, 75 SP on Mk III Chassis – 13, SP (Rhinos) – 8.
Guns: 20mm Flak – 17, 40mm Flak – 3, 75 Pak Mtn Inf – 24, 88mm – 12, 88mm Flak – 4, 105mm – 14, 150mm – 13, 170mm – 1, 210mm – 2.
Vehicles and Misc: 15cwt, 3 ton and over – 558, Cars – 271, Halt Tracks – 162, Armoured Cars – 24, Trailers – 20, Tk Transporters – 1, M/Cycles – 40, Searchlights – 1 Ok, 1 destroyed.
Final totals for PW through Brigade PW cages were 11 Officers and 979 ORs. These figures do not include the 7 Officers and 870 ORs taken by 2 LIR and 9 Lancers in their operations under the command of 2 Armoured Brigade.
C Squadron, 56 Recce found an enemy pontoon footbridge on the banks of the Po at 223967. It had been severed in the centre but had floated to either side of the river. Experiments found that only 30 feet of Kapok were necessary to completely bridge the river.
5 PW collected by 2 Innisks during the day.
The war surged on beyond the banks of the Po, elements of 2 NZ Div, 6 Armoured Div and 56 Div getting across without much opposition.
The Brigade rests and reorganises and obtains endless amusement catching the horses left behind by the enemy and trying to burn these vehicles that escaped being burnt into a serviceable condition.
Amenities were open in Ferrara and 600 vacancies were allotted to the brigade for day leave.
Brigade Commander went on a tour of the Po floodbanks during the afternoon.
The whole brigade rests and amuses itself as much as possible. Mobile Cinemas, baths etc were available and much appreciated.
Day leave passes were issued for Ferrara.
2 LIR held a cocktail party for all Officers in the brigade, 2 Armoured Brigade, 17 Field Regiment, 254 A/Tk Battery, D Support Group, 214 Field Company and certain members of Divisional HQ. The Divisional Commander was present.
Day leave to Ferrara.
Brigade rests and organises.
1800 Message received from Divisional HQ stating there was no forward move likely before 2 May.
Venice was entered last night by 56 Division and 2 NZ Division reached the Piave River
1330 Divisional HQ organised a Gymkhana, held in Copparo 2891. There were about six events and three entries per event were open for any units or HQ in the Division.
The Gymkhana lasted the whole afternoon and provided considerable enjoyment to spectators and riders. The Brigade Pipes and Drums and Divisional Dance Band played during it.