38 (Irish) Brigade – January 1945

1st January – SAN CLEMENTE 9928.

1115 2 LIR saw movement in Casa Tamagnin 013303 and shelled and mortared the house during the afternoon. Five direct hits scored and much damage observed.

1950 Relief of 2 Innisks by 1 RIrF completed.

2nd January – SAN CLEMENTE 9928.

0400 Fighting patrol from 2 LIR went out to lie up in front of Casa Tamagnin until light and then attack and set fire to the house. On going out, the patrol set off booby traps just outside the bttn area and were forced to return. The remainder of the brigade front was quiet. Slight harassing fire on forward positions during the day. Slight enemy movement observed.

3rd January – SAN CLEMENTE 9928.

Considerable harassing fire on forward platoon 1 RIrF at Point 156 (015286) during night.

0400 Fighting patrol from 2 LIR goes out again to set fire to Casa Tamagnin.

1030 Patrol returns after being completely successful and suffering no casualties.

The fighting patrol entered north house of Casa Tamagnin at 0815 hrs after lying up for some hours 15 yards from it. After searching both storeys and finding them unoccupied, they passed through a door into a courtyard and left four men as covering party. Movement is heard in the southern house through a hole behind a straw lean to. Two incendiary grenades were thrown through the hole and the patrol returned to the north house.

Shouts were heard from the other house, which were drowned by the noise of the flames. Twenty five Huns were seen evacuating the house followed by a scorched cat. These Huns were engaged by the TSMGs of the patrol and by the covering patrol at 009302 and the MMGs at Casa Lucca 008298. Two more incendiary grenades were thrown into the straw and started to burn fiercely. The patrol withdrew at 0945 hrs with the aid of mortar and artillery smoke. The total damage to the enemy was estimated at six killed and a few more wounded. The operation was undertaken by the Battle Patrol 2 LIR commanded by Lieut Montgomorie. At 1800 hrs, the house was still burning.

1850 Patrol from 1 RIrF encountered enemy south of the road by the culvert at 017288. Both sides opened fire with no visible results. Patrol established itself at the culvert without further incident.

Another patrol later on in the evening to 018290 reported enemy slits on the knoll 015290 and an MG firing from Point 278 (015293).

2330 Patrol reports Casa Tamagnin still burning.

4th January – SAN CLEMENTE 9928.

0830 Brigade Commander goes to main Bttn 78 Division HQ and then on to 2 Innisks at Castrol San Martino to take part in their late Christmas celebrations.

Slight HF during the day. Lt-Col Baker RA assumes command of the brigade. Intermittent shelling of left company 2 LIR between 1400 hrs and 1500 hrs. Very heavy shelling and mortaring of right company 1 RIrF during the earlier part of the night.

2300 Recce patrol from 2 LIR to Casa Tamagnin 013303 reported the house still burning and enemy digging and talking  at intervals from the ridge 015302.

5th January – SAN CLEMENTE 9928.

Slight harassing fire during the day.

A sniper fired at the OP 008317 at 1440 hrs.

1630 Left company 2 LIR mortared.

Patrols at night reported digging at 015289 and an enemy post at stream junction 016308.

Brigade Commander visits Divisional Pantomime at Castel Del Rio.

6th January – SAN CLEMENTE 9928.

1100 Brigade Commander returns.

Very quiet day. Practically no harassing fire. Snow commenced falling. Ambush patrol of 1 and 3 from 2 LIR to Casa Tamagnin had a fire fight in that area at 2000 and 2200 hrs but did not return at the correct time/

7th January – SAN CLEMENTE 9928.

Patrol was sent out at 0400 hrs to try and contact the ambush patrol that failed to return. They themselves returned at 0700 hrs without finding any traces. Heavy fall of snow occurred during the night. There was nearly two feet of snow on the mountain tops. 2 Innisks relieved 2 LIR by 1930 hrs. 2 LIR to Travellata. Enemy seen and heard at various places on brigade front at last light and were engaged by Vickers MG.

8th January – SAN CLEMENTE 9928.

Snow made patrol movement difficult during night and roads and tracks exceedingly difficult owing to heavy frost.

Tamagnin still shows signs of enemy occupation. Enemy patrol in complete snow clothing approached to within 50 yards of Point 156. They were engaged by Bren and scattered. Bloodstains in snow indicate casualties caused. Blizzard sprang up from 1600 – 1700 hrs. Intense wind and snow showers.

9th January – SAN CLEMENTE 9928.

Patrol 1 RIrF to culvert clashed with large enemy patrol. Fire fight ensued and believed caused several casualties. Inspection of area later showed many bloodstains in snow. Bright sun during day. Snow still thick.

10th January – SAN CLEMENTE 9928.

Very quiet night. Very cold through day but sunny. 19 degrees of frost during day.

11th January – SAN CLEMENTE 9928.

Very quiet night. Very cold night again (14 degrees of frost) and roads and tracks exceedingly difficult. At 1130 hrs, Vickers MG of D Support Group fired on 4 enemy at 019294 killing one, wounded another and possibly one another. Enemy stretcher party came out 1230 and picked up wounded man, leaving corpse.

12th January – SAN CLEMENTE 9928.

At 0615 hrs, 3 heavy explosions occurred at 015287 near Point 156. Believed rocket projectiles at first but later thought to be nebelwerfer projectiles. No damage or casualties.

Brigadier TPD Scott DSO left this HQ 1400 hrs on home leave.

Lt Col Preston KOYLI acting Brigade Commander arrived 1500 hrs.

Lt Col Bredin 2 LIR succeeds Lt Col Preston as G I 78 Division.

Major J Stewart appointed A/Commander 2 LIR.

Thaw set in during day but with not much effect.

2 LIR relieved 1 RIrF in right sector. 1 RIrF to Tamagnin.

13th January – SAN CLEMENTE 9928.

Quiet night. Rocket projectiles (nebelwerfers) reported firing on to 1 Division front, none dropped in own area. snow and sheet all day with some thaw. Movement difficult. Culvert 016288 discovered to have been blown and now considered to be a tank obstacle. Air photographer taken at 1115 on 11 January shows cloud of smoke over culvert, which must have been time of explosion.

14th January – SAN CLEMENTE 9928.

Thawing with snow and sleet freezing during night. Tracks and roads glassy. During early evening, various reports of houses being on fire were received. Calvana 023296 house at Point 166 019303 and Cavicchio 030296 were all reported together with building near Casa Tomba by 11 Brigade. Later investigation by 2 Innisks proved house Point 166 unchanged and only house visible to be burning was Cavicchio. It is thought that other reports referred to this house.

Battle patrol 2 LIR had a successful engagement with party of 9 enemy at culvert 016288. Two enemy were killed and 2 wounded. Two dead were identified as paratroopers from 4zbv GAF. Wounded escaped. They probably had the task of mining possible diversions at the blown culvert.

15th January – SAN CLEMENTE 9928.

Bttn areas were subjected to heavier enemy mortaring than usual and house at Point 156 received particular attention between 2030 and 2359 hrs when over a hundred enemy mortar bombs fell during the house. A machine gun from the vicinity of Casa Nuova kept Point 156 under fire all night. Patrols which did not visit culvert area reported NTR. Heavy fog enshrouded the Sillaro valley all day and movement was further harassed by frost.

Major Stewart appointed CO 2 LIR.

Lt Col J Coldwell Horsfall 1 RIrF returned ex hospital and stayed the night at Brigade HQ.

16th January – SAN CLEMENTE 9928.

Enemy activity was mainly confined to continued harassing of Point 156 throughout the morning. Nebelwerfers were again active on 2 LIR front early in the morning. Visibility was at an absolute minimum all day to dense fog. Heavy frost during night.

17th January – SAN CLEMENTE 9928.

Casa Tamagnin reported unoccupied but signs and sounds of enemy at Point 166 and Antrim. This activity was mortared by 2 Innisks. An enemy patrol of 4 men was observed at 005300 and dispersed by MG fire. Sounds of hilarity was heard by a patrol to the culvert 016287 coming from a haystack at 018288. The patrol went past the culvert but found no other signs of the enemy. A very slight fall of snow during the night. Commander and other officers of HQ 338 Regiment US Army were entertained at Brigade HQ. 2 Innisks were relieved by 1 RIrF in left sector. 2 Innisks to Travellata and come under command 11 Brigade. Lt Col J Coldwell Horsfall leaves 1 RIrF pending posting to AFHQ. Lt Col M Palmer remains Commander of 1 RIrF.

18th January – SAN CLEMENTE 9928.

Four PoW captured by 2 LIR standing patrol at 009291. They formed a patrol apparently sent out to capture a prisoner. All four came from 2 Coy 3 Para Regiment.

1200 Enemy seen near haystack 019289 and sniped.

2130 An enemy patrol approached the left forward positions 1 RIrF and after a short engagement with SA and grenades was dispersed. Enemy mortaring of area 008287 from 2000 to 2200 hrs.

19th January – SAN CLEMENTE 9928.

Three enemy were seen in the gully 004308 and dispersed by grenades. The day was extremely quiet. The sun came up during the day but a cold north wind kept the temperature down. The only activity was the usual harassing fire of 2 LIR area at about 1645 hrs. There was some slight shelling of Boston Byway at the same time.

20th January – SAN CLEMENTE 9928.

Quiet night on the whole. Some 12cm mortar bombs landed at Casa Corniano 013286 at 0030 hrs. extremely quiet day. No enemy activity.

21st January – SAN CLEMENTE 9928.

Dawn patrol going out to the culvert 015286 was mortared after a signal of two white verey lights going up from Casa il Sallaro. An enemy patrol approached 1 RIrF FDLs at 004301 and after one man going forward to investigate was fired on and taken prisoners. Considerable enemy movement was seen at Martino 065323 during the morning and on OP observed on the spur just east of Casa Volte. Both targets were engaged by 17 Field Regiment. Enemy observed digging at 015293 by 2 LIR. Their right forward company was mortared intermittently all day.

22nd January – SAN CLEMENTE 9928.

MGs 2 LIR harassed enemy observed around burning house at C Muiano. Enemy were also observed entering Casa Tamagnin.

23rd January – SAN CLEMENTE 9928.

Lt Col RS Baker Commander 17 Field Regiment RA left to take up an appointment at home. His departure was a blow and his presence will be sadly missed. As the guest of honour, he was given a farewell party at Brigade HQ, which included several officers from his regiment. 2 Innisks moved forward from the Reserve Bttn area of 11 Brigade during the afternoon and take over positions in right bttn sector.

1950 Relief of 2 LIR by 2 Innisks completed.

Patrols NTR during the night. An enemy patrol of six approached area 008299 but were dispersed by MMGs 1 RIrF. No enemy HF during the night.

24th January – SAN CLEMENTE 9928.

Brigade Commander visits 1 RIrF.

Slight mortaring during the day.

Patrols reported slight movement but made no contact. Some enemy seen moving about were engaged by our artillery.

Red and green flares observed at Tamagnin after our own MG harassing fire.

Three inches of snow fell during the night.

25th January – SAN CLEMENTE 9928.

Brigade Commander to 2 Innisks.

Tracks in the snow were observed by our OPs and some slit trenches. Slight enemy movement was engaged by MGs and artillery.

26th January – SAN CLEMENTE 9928.

Brigade Commander visits 1 RIrF.

Recce parties 6 RWK arrive at Brigade HQ Enemy movement and MGs firing at 013303 and 022315 engaged by mortars. 2 Innisks reported the forward platoon at Point 156 was mortared throughout the night. An enemy patrol approached the culvert 017288 and dispersed after a short fire fight.

Some rocket projectiles were fired during the night.

The officers of Brigade HQ entertained Col Mikkelsen, Commander 338 Infantry Regiment and various other officers including ADMS and G 1 to dinner at Brigade HQ.

27th January – SAN CLEMENTE 9928.

6 RWK move up from rest area by day and come under command 38 Brigade. They are to relieve 1 RIrF in left bttn sector. Quiet day. 2 Innisks patrol to knoll 015289 saw enemy movement Point 278 and around Casa Sillaro. The slight thaws of the past two days caused the Sillaro river to increase its speed considerably and the ford at San Clemente 9928 became impassable. Minefields laid in the river bed by 85 US Division as part of their defensive programme were swept away. One lorry was blown up by one of these mines in an attempt to cross the ford.

1940 Relief of 1 RIrF by 6 RWK completed.

1 RIrF move back by transport to the new Brigade Rest Area at Caselline Q 8478. No enemy mortaring or shelling during the night.

28th January – SAN CLEMENTE 9928.

Advance parties 5 Buffs arrived at Brigade HQ. They are going to take over right bttn sector from 2 Innisks tomorrow.

1600 Brigadier J Mussen, Commander 36 Brigade, arrives at Brigade HQ.

Quiet night, enemy observed at Casa Sillaro engaged by MMGs. Two believed killed, remainder ran away.

29th January – L’OLMO 8578.

Quiet night. Brigade Commander and Brigadier Musson, Commander 36 Brigade, go round brigade sector and visit OP at Casa Lucca, 5 Buffs relieve 2 Innisks in right bttn sector. HQ 36 Brigade moved up during the day and, after relief of 2 Innisks was complete, took over command of the sector. Brigade HQ moved to Brigade Rest Area. HQ at L’Olmo Q 859781. 2 Innisks move back to Rivigliano Q 8482. 2 LIR relieve 56 Recce and come under command 11 Brigade.

30th January – L’OLMO 8578.

Battalions settle in new area.

Brigade location settle:

Brigade. HQ – Q 859781.

2 Innisks. HQ – Q850821. Remainder bttn billeted in Rivigliano Q 8482.

1 RIrF. HQ – Q 848790, A Coy – Q 859813, B  Coy – Q 845791, C Coy – Q 848819, D Coy – Q 843793, S oy – Q 855783.

31st January – L’OLMO 8578.

As the brigade is situated only a few miles from Florence, the maximum day leave to that city became effective and also seven day leave vacancies to Rome and Florence continued.  Battalions organise their billets and carry out normal administrative duties.

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