38 (Irish) Brigade – March 1945

1st March – FORLI 432171.


2 Innisks – Individual training. Games and sports.

2 LIR – Boating and Field Firing.

1 RIrF – Field Firing.

Brigade Commander visits training areas in the morning and boating exercises at midday.

The Pipes and Drums of 1 LIR played Retreat in Forli square at 1700 hrs after which the officers entertained the Brigade Commander and a considerable number of officers of the brigade.

2nd March – FORLI 432171.


2 Innisks – Field Firing.

2 LIR – Wasp demonstration. Films. Boating.

1 RIrF – Night attack formations. River crossing approach and boat handling.

Training films were shown for the brigade in the Oak Cinema Forli at 1100 hrs.

Brigade Commander visited a Tank Demonstration near Ravenna showing the use of grousers on Sherman tank tracks.

3rd March – FORLI 432171.


2 Innisks carry out Night Attack Exercise commencing 1800 hrs.

2 LIR carry out Street Fighting Exercise at Calisese M 6402.

1 RIrF – practice river crossings in assault boats and bridging exercises over R Montone north of Forli.

Brigade Commander visits 2 LIR on their exercise and 2 Innisks on theirs in the evening.

4th March – FORLI 432171.


2 Innisks – Street Fighting Exercise at Calisese M 6402.

2 LIR – Practice river crossings in assault boats and bridging exercises.

1 RIrF – Carry out full scale River Crossing Exercise commencing 1000 hrs.

Brigade Commander visits 1 RIrF during their scheme.

5th March – FORLI 432171.

0930 Brigade Church Service was held in the Apollo Cinema, Forli and was conducted by the Reverend Victor Pike OBE ACC 8 Army.

After the service, the brigade led by the Brigade Pipes and Drums marched past a saluting base and the salute was taken by the Brigade Commander.

Brigadier A Low, Deputy Commander, Rome area, was present at the ceremony.

The ceremony was held on the occasion of the celebration of Barrosa Day by the 1 RIrF.

In the evening, the Brigade Commander and other officers ere invited to dine with the Irish Fusiliers.

78 Division OO No 4 dated 5 March received. This order gave details of relief of 56 (London) Division commencing 10 March.

6th March – FORLI 432171.


2 Innisks – practice river crossings in assault boats and bridging exercises of River Montone, north of Forli.

2 LIR – carry out full scale River Crossing Exercise over River Montone.

1 RIrF – carry out Street Fighting Exercise at Calisese M 6402.

Brigade Commander visits training area during the day.

Brigadier A Low (RIrF) visits the Brigade Commander before leaving for Rome.

GOC visits Brigade Commander at 1800 hrs, having been on a recce of 56 Division dispositions during the day. One or two points concerning the relief were checked up.

Brigade HQ held an all ranks’ dance in the evening.

Major Bryant (Glosters) posted to 2 LIR and take over Acting 2nd in Command.

7th March – FORLI 432171.


2 Innisks carry out full scale River Crossing Exercise over River Montone.

2 LIR  – Individual training and games.

1 RIrF carry out Night Attack Exercise commencing 1800 hrs.

1900 Brigade Commander, G III and IO visit 169 Brigade HQ to recce areas and obtain full details of relief of 169 Brigade on night 10/11 March.

Brigade Group will consist of:

Under Command – 2 Innisks, 2 LIR, 1 RIrF, 56 Recce, D Support Group (1 Kensingtons), 254 A/Tk Battery RA, Bays (2 Armoured Brigade.

In Support – 17 Field Regiment RA, 501 Field Company RE (pending relief by 214 Field Company RE from Bridging Camp).

2 Innisks will relieved two coys, 2/5 Queens and A Squadron 1 Horse.

1 RIrF will relieve one coy, 25 Queens and 2/6 Queens.

56 Recce will relieve 44 Recce.

2 LIR in reserve.

The majority of reliefs will be done in daylight except the forward section on the eastern floodbanks of Senio River and most of the positions at present held by 44 Recce.

1730 Brigade Commanders’ Conference, attended by all commanders in Brigade Group. Orders for the relief of 169 Brigade and a general idea of what to expect were given out.

8th March – FORLI 432171.


2 Innisks – Individual training.

2 LIR – Coy training.

1 RIrF – Coy training and interior economy.

Brigade Commander visits bttns and training areas during the day.

9th March – FORLI 432171.

Coy and individual training carried out. Bttns also prepare for future take over night 10/11.

1600 COs and Coy Commanders of all bttns, leave to commence recces of bttn and coy positions they were going to take over.


Brigade Group moves up during the day and relief of 169 Brigade commences.

Brigade Commander visits COs of 2 Innisks and 1 RIrF during the morning accompanied by Brigade Commander, 169 Brigade.

1300 Brigade Commander went to see Demonstration of the capabilities of a Crocodile (flame throwing Churchill).

2130 Relief of 169 Brigade complete.

Locations 38 (Irish) Brigade Group:

HQ 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade: Main – 376311, Rear – 392289.

2 Innisks: Main HQ – 347316. B Coy HQ – 329328, plus at 324331-326334-329335. C Coy HQ – 332332, plus at 331332 – 329334 – 330334. A Coy HQ – 334330, plus at 333333 – 332335 – 333336. D Coy – 344319 in reserve.

1 RIrF: Main HQ – 304323. B Coy HQ – 336333, plus at 338338 – 335338 – 335337. C Coy HQ – 345336, plus at 341338 – 343338 – 346338 – 348337. D Coy HQ – 357329 plus at 351336 – 355335 – 355333. A coy – 355321 in reserve.

56 Recce: Main HQ – 375328. A Squadron HQ 365342, with troops at 361345 – 364345 – 364341. B Squadron HQ  – 365337 with troops at 364337 – 361340 – 359341. C Squadron HQ  – 361334 with troops at 361334 – 359336 – 357336.

17 Field Regiment RA HQ – 404316.

214 Field Company RE – 369312.

D Support Group HQ – 365315.

254 A/Tk Battery RA – 379316.

A Squadron Bays – 379317.


When the brigade took over this sector, the numbers of enemy outposts on the opposite side of our bank had been considerably reduced and enemy movement restricted to the minimum.

Enemy outposts existed at 360343, 359340 356339, 327335 and 333333.

All the remaining enemy on our bank had been very effectively dislodged by 169 Brigade and had established section posts along most of the floodbank. Visibility, too, is very restricted due to the low lying country and the abundance of vineyards. Observation of the enemy is only practicable from the nearby houses and some of ours and the enemy MGs are sited on the upper stories of the houses.

The enemy had built many footbridges and rafts across the river, enabling him to man the outposts and it is very difficult for us to engage and destroy the footbridges by artillery and mortar flow and any attempt by our own troops to appear over our own bank causes almost certain casualties.

1000 Brigade Commander visits 2 Innisks and 1 RIrF and goes to 56 Recce in the afternoon.

1300 Grenade duel in 1 RIrF sector took place at 342337 and lasted for about three hours. Three enemy believed killed. Own casualties included three wounded and one officer killed. It was thought that the enemy had crossed over the river during the night and may or may not have a permanent outpost in this sector.

Enemy snipers were active during the day.

1900 2 Innisks erected camouflage screens across the breach in floodbank at 329334 and due crawl trench behind to enable contact to be made during the day between section posts on the floodbank.

2030 56 Recce outpost at 362344 had a bazooka fired at them from far bank. DF put down and Piat fired at house on opposite bank caused the front of the house to collapse.


Apart from the two incidents reported by 56 Recce and 2 Innisks during the early part of the evening, there was normal floodbank activity and harassing fire of brigade area.

Slight enemy movement seen during the day and engaged by MMGs and Piats. Two enemy believed hit.

2100 Enemy concentrated mortars and threw grenades on section post 1 RIrF at 34163381 wounding the whole section and making the position untenable.

A counter attack by two sections was unable to restore the situation.

The section post was finally re-established at 34253375.

It is now thought that the enemy must have a permanent outpost on our bank in this sector.

2 Innisks commenced an operation after first dark to eliminate the enemy outpost at 327335 but met strong opposition and suffered casualties.

A section post was successfully established at house 32353320.

A heavy gun, believed 210 mm, harassed San Severo cross roads 327330 between 1930 and 2100 hrs.


0645 Bazooka attack on forward positions 56 Recce at 360342 driven off.

1000 Brigade Commander visits 1 RIrF and 2 Innisks.

1100 General Wimberlay IMT, visits Brigade Commander. They spoke of many matters including that of Reinforcements for the brigade.

1120 Tanks scored direct hits on enemy positions in bank 32203324.

1200 Col Nowina, Commander 6 Lwow Brigade lunches with Brigade Commander.

1630 Tank shot up enemy OP in house at 354336 and enemy outpost at 353336.

Enemy snipers successfully engaged during the day.

2000 Enemy tracked vehicles heard north of Weir 333337.

2010 Enemy crossing footbridge 329334 engaged causing three casualties.


0200 Enemy fired bazookas into left forward position 56 Recce and movement heard in Catania di Sotto 361343.

1230 Army Commander, Lieut General Sir R McCreery and GOC 78 Division visit Brigade HQ and stayed to lunch. Army Commander visited all three battalions of the brigade during the afternoon.

1550 Tank shot up bank at 33673380 and at 351336. Both shoots drew retaliatory fire.

General enemy movement along whole floodbank during day and all engaged by mortars and MMGs.

2130 Recce patrol from 2 Innisks found enemy outpost position at 323333 occupied and met grenades and rifle grenades.

2345 Movement heard in Catania di Sotto 3634 and, on engaging house 56 Recce, saw 2 enemy disappear over floodbank.


General light harassing fire during night. Floodbank activity quieter than usual.

0940 1 RIrF report four enemy trying to desert at 337338 but stick grenades were thrown by the enemy at them and our own troops shot one.

Brigade Commander lunches with HQ Carpathian Lancers.

1200 CCRA (5 Corps) visits Brigade HQ.

1405 One PoW (2 Coy, 289 Grenadier Regiment) taken at 327335.

1412 Enemy digging at 337338 engaged by tanks.

1600 Centre coy 1 RIrF attacked by bazookas but 2” mortars and Piats stopped this action.

1635 One deserter (14 Coy, 289 Grenadier Regiment) taken at 327335.

SP Battery 51 Recce successfully engaged houses during night. General light enemy HF during day.

2040 Explosions heard from our side of own floodbank 360343.

2100 Enemy detachment crossed bridge 329334 and opened fire from near floodbank. 2 Innisks opened fire and two of this party were wounded trying to re-cross bridge.


0425 Enemy heard in Catania di Sotto by 56 Recce, who engaged and saw two men run to the floodbank.

56 Recce successfully engaged targets with SP Battery on Regiment front.

210 mm gun fired on 2 Innisks area towards latter end of the afternoon.

There were two casualties during the day from enemy snipers.

Brigade Commander went to Demonstration of attack by Infantry and Kangaroos in are Vale Torre (4924) north of Forli.

56 Recce again hear rumbling explosions at 359343 underneath their own bank. Many theories have been put forward as to the cause of these explosions. They may be our grenades bursting in the enemy dug outs or the enemy carrying out some sapper operation in the way of tunnelling or a camouflet.


0300 enemy bazooka-ed Catania di Sotto 360343 from floodbank.

0430 Enemy attacked night platoon of centre coy 2 Innisks with bazookas.

Enemy driven off by DF but he retaliated very quickly with his own DF which caused casualties. At dawn, the coy reported that the existing footbridge at 329334 had been broken.

2 LIR had a quiet night with light grenade duels and Spandau fire along bttn front.

St Patrick’s Day’s greetings were sent to all bttns and units in Brigade Group and many greetings were received.

0800 2 LIR took a deserter from 6 Coy, 289 Regiment. He had been buried by a shell in a dugout on our side of the floodbank for anything up to seven days. His information, therefore, was very much out of date and he was in too weak a condition to talk for long.

0820 Enemy periscope seen at east side of railway embankment at 357339 confirming presence of an enemy outpost on our bank. Explosions in the east floodbank again heard area 359343 in front of the outpost 56 Recce.

1200 Mrs Claire Booth Luce, Congresswoman of Connecticut accompanied by GOC 78 Division visited Brigade HQ. She stayed for about half an hour talking to the Brigade Commander on various subjects and dwelt for some time on Irish politics.

Slight enemy movement and snipers seen along the brigade front and our own mortars and MGs retaliated.

2015 Again, explosions  were heard under floodbank at 359362. No conclusive appreciation can be made.


Enemy attempts to cross the river by his footbridges were frustrated.

Enemy working parties on the far bank were engaged successfully during the night.

Major General Sinclair, DMI, War Office, did not visit the Brigade HQ as he had originally intended.

Considerable mortaring of 56 Recce during the morning.

1145 Tank shot up area 337338 in 2 LIR sector very successfully. Six casualties seen evacuated over small footbridge.

1330 Brigade Commander visits HQ 2 LIR.

1530 As a result of this morning’s success, tank shot up enemy outpost again and a section followed up to attempt to mop up the outpost and blow up the footbridge. It was impossible to eliminate the enemy on the far side of our bank but a section position was successfully established up on the floodbank at 337338.

At 1955 hrs, Platoon Commander 2 LIR jumped over the floodbank and caught two enemy coming across the bridge into the outpost. One was wounded and the other taken prisoner.

At 0025 hrs, a small enemy counter attack with grenades was driven off.


0600 Right coy 2 Innisks destroyed barrels and part of small footbridge ready to be used at 332336 with Piat bombs.

GOC 78 Division visited all bttns during the morning and stayed to lunch with Brigade Commander.

Enemy now seen during the day engaged successfully and snipers have been active on both sides.

Brigade Commander visits 2 Innisks and 2 LIR during the afternoon.

2100 Tracked vehicle movement heard along brigade front and enemy SP came down road to 358365.

56 Recce put down 3” mortar  DF and caused SP to retire.


0300 56 Recce heavily shelled and mortared and a small party of enemy attacked right forward position from direction of Catania di Sotto. Attack was beaten off.

Sniping and grenade duels continued in 2 LIR sector.

0730 Small attack by tanks and section of infantry reached enemy position 323333. Position evacuated by enemy but own troops did not occupy the position.

1400 Colonel Tozer, AFHQ, accompanied by CO, 78 Division Signals and G2 (I), 5 Corps visit Brigade Commander to discuss the use of a Special Duties Section.

Enemy snipers active and enemy movement seen, engaged by own mortars and MMGs.


A very quiet night with slight shelling of forward areas. Two slight grenade duels occurred.

0900 Brigade Commander goes to a discussion on Cloth Model at Divisional HQ on River Crossings and exploiting a breakthrough.

1200 General Nye, DGIGS, accompanied by the Army Commander, visited Bttn HQ, 2 Innisks and Bttn HQ, 2 LIR. He had a long talk with Lt-Col Bredin, CO 2 LIR, on various subjects, including that of Irish reinforcements.

Normal floodbank activity during the day. 1 RIrF completed daylight relief of 2 Innisks, except for three forward platoon positions. These were relieved after dark without incident.


Very slight activity during the night. An explosion was heard again on near side of floodbank in 56 Recce area at 356339. This time, it was believed to be the enemy improving his positions.

2 LIR completed one of their tunnels through the bund at 343338 and, at 0430 hrs, a patrol to 341338 located enemy about forty yards east and a short grenade duel ensued.

1040 Enemy mortaring and shelling 56 Recce sector.

1200 GOC 78 Division visits Brigade HQ and stayed to lunch.

1500 2 LIR carried out a highly successful raid on the enemy outpost at 342338 with a diversionary fire plan on another outpost at 337338. As a result of the raid, enemy casualties inflicted were estimated to be about 4 killed, 11 wounded and 5 PoW. The outpost at 342338 was completely wiped out and the other one at 337338 was the recipient of forty 3” mortar bombs fired at 80 yards range and several stretcher cases were seen to be evacuated later on in the afternoon. The slit trenches of the post were completely wrecked.


Considerable floodbank activity during the night in area 328334 and there was a considerable increase in shelling and nebels over the whole brigade sector.

0830 Brigade Commander goes on recce of Kangaroo Exercise with GOC 78 Division and Commander, 2 Armoured Brigade.

1500 1 RIrF brought up a troop of tanks to shoot up the newly established enemy outpost at 328334. This caused 13-14 men to depart hastily across the footbridge behind the outpost position to their own bank.

Later on, the enemy returned and further grenading took place. This caused a great red cross display and four casualties were evacuated. This red cross display was slowly becoming a feature of the Germans on the floodbank and various attempts had been made to observe our positions under cover of the red cross. One stretcher bearer came too close to our positions during the last evacuation from the enemy outpost and was promptly taken prisoner. He was quickly followed by a Polish deserter. They both belonged to 2 Coy, 289 Regiment and stated that anything up to 25 casualties had been inflicted on the enemy during the grenade and mortar duels of the past fifteen hours.

After dark, the grenade duels flared up again and it became evident that the enemy was endeavouring to maintain 15-20 men on our bank with the object of trying to either wipe out our positions or obtain a prisoner.

This fierce grenading by both sides died down about 2000 hrs and intermittent grenades were thrown for the remainder of the night. DFs were fired at intervals during the night and enemy mortaring, which was heavy during the night, reached a climax between 0430 and 0545 hrs, during which time 300 mortar bombs landed in centre coy 1 RIrF.


A raiding party from 2 LIR attacked the enemy outpost at 337338 but was heavily grenaded and forced to return. This took place at 0445 hrs.

1100 1 RIrF took 2 PoW, one a stretcher bearer from 2 Coy, 289 Regiment and the other a deserter from 1 Coy, 289 Regiment. The SB stated that the total casualties inflicted on 2 Coy during the grenade and mortar duels of the 23rd were 3 killed and 47 wounded. They also stated that men were brought in from the other companies in the battalion to reinforce the depleted 2 Coy and there were rumours of the 98 Fusilier Bttn being committed.

1400 A Cloth Model Exercise, conducted by Brigade Commander and Commander, 2 Armoured Brigade, was held at Brigade HQ to discuss the following Kangaroo and Infantry Exercise and their tactical employment. The discussion was attended by officers of 2 Armoured Brigade, 4th Hussars, officers of 38 Brigade down to Coy Commanders and other representatives of 36 Brigade.

Lieut J Barker 2 LIR, attached to Brigade HQ and LO vice Lieut CH Heather, posted to 2 Innisks.


Slight enemy activity during the night. Some nebels fell in the brigade sector during the early part of the evening.

0530 Enemy broadcast to 2 LIR – Text, ‘Why sit on the Floodbank with your wives in England.”

0550 Enemy broadcast to 1 LIR demanding the return of the two stretcher bearers taken prisoner.

0900 2 Innisks carry out Kangaroo Exercise “Hosannah” in area Bagnola, north of Forlimpopoli.

1400 1 RIrF carry out tank shorts against outposts on floodbank at 327335 and 322332 combined with artillery and mortar fire. Shoot believed successful. Enemy retaliated by dropping 12 heavy mortar bombs in area 327333.

1447 A/Tk guns 1 RIrF scored hits on houses at 317334 and also caused a fire at 315356.

There was a fair amount of enemy activity during the day, mainly movement and all engaged by MMGs or mortars.

2100 Own broadcast to enemy in 1 RIrF sector, telling them that the stretcher bearers would not be returned and that the use of the red flag must be curtailed, evoked no reaction.

2210 Left forward troop 56 Recce 360341 had a short grenade battle with enemy on own bank.


0500 2 LIR patrol to enemy outposts at 337338 found enemy alert and was met with grenades and SA fire causing three casualties.

Only slight MG and mortar HF on brigade sector during the night.

1200 Relief of 2 LIR and 1 RIrF commenced.

1500 Daylight relief of 2 LIR by 5 Northamptons completed without incident.

1600 Majority of 1 RIF relieved, except for three platoons.

1730 Command of sector passed by 11 Infantry Brigade.

1900 Relief of 1 RIrF by 2 LF completed without incident.

Main Brigade HQ opens at previous Rear HQ 392289.

Battalions on relief lie up for the night at the B Echelon areas.

27th March – FORLI 432171.

1100 Brigade Group commences to move from B Echelon areas to Forli. Billets were practically the same as before, in and around the town, except for 2 LIR, who were more scattered around the town.

Brigade HQ established at M 432171 (Forli).

1500 Brigade Commander visits 2 Armoured Brigade.

1630 GOC 78 Division arrives at Brigade HQ and stays to tea.

1700 A conference and discussion was held in the Prefecture, Forli, on the Kangaroo and Infantry exercise. “Hosannah.” Points that arose from the previous exercise carried out by 2 Innisks were brought out.

Those attending were officers from 2 Armoured Brigade, 4th Hussars, all officers of 38 Brigade down to Coy Commanders and representatives from 36 Brigade.

28th March – FORLI 432171.

Forecast of training and operations issued to all bttns.

Training will commence on 30th March and will continue for a period until 8th April. Main items will be the continuation of cooperation with Infantry and Kangaroos and tanks, river crossings, field firing and demonstration of the use of Crocodiles.

Recces by COs and Coy Commanders of various exercises and training areas carried out.

Trial preparations for St Patrick’s Day parade and celebrations carried out.

29th March – FORLI 432171.

1000 Divine Service was held in the Esperia Cinema for Church of England. Mass was celebrated at Forli Cathedral.

1100 Brigade Group formed up in St Andrew’s Square, Forli for the formal presentation of Shamrock by Lieut General CF Keightley, CB DSO OBE, Commander 5 Corps. Major General RK Arbuthnot CBE DSO MC, Commander 78 Division was also present.

Owing to the Brigade being in the line on March 17, it was decided to postpone all celebrations and presentations until this date, when we would out of the line. The parade looked most impressive and, apart from the three battalions and Brigade HQ, representatives from D Support Group (1 Kensingtons), North Irish Horse, 152 Field Ambulance, and 1 LIR were also present.

The Brigade Commander made a short speech and then handed over the parade to Lieut General Keightley, who also spoke a few words. He made references to the Brigade’s own associations with him in the past and how pleased he was to be able to present the Shamrock this day. He pointed out the remarkable successes on the Western Front and showed how directly concerned the Brigade and all the troops in Italy had contributed to these successes. They were holding 26 German Divisions in Italy and, if allowed to go, would have serious repercussions in producing a very unfavourable counter attack.

After the Corps Commander had spoken, he presented all officers with Shamrock and the RSMs presented Shamrock to their men – such as were available.

When the Brigade had been dismissed, the massed Pipes and Drums of four battalions – 2 Innisks, 2 LIR, 1 LIR and 1 RIrF played in the square. The band was a most impressive sight comprising of 72 members of which 42 were pipers. It was a great achievement and triumph to those who had worked in the past to bring the band to perfection and to see the magnificent results of their labours.

The officers of Brigade HQ entertained all officers of the Brigade and other guests to a cocktail party at midday.

During the afternoon, the battalions held their own entertainments. The London Irish held an Officers v Sgts football match, which to any casual spectator might have considered a minor war and various sports items.

The Inniskillings also had an Officers v Sgts football match and the Irish Fusiliers held a race meeting with a magnificent tote in which mules and insecure officers astride them featured.

The day was wound up by the London Irish holding a very successful dance in their mess in the evening.

30th March – FORLI 432171.

2 Innisks carry out a River Crossing Exercise in the morning over River Ronco in area H 4715.

2 LIR carry out a River Crossing Exercise and practice in some area in the afternoon.

Platoon of 1 RIrF rehearse demonstration of attack on defended locality with Crocodiles in support at M 501181.

31st March – FORLI 432171.

2 LIR carry out Exercise “Massa” area (M 5121) north of Forlimpopoli. This exercise, carried out in conjunction with C Squadron Bays was designed to bring out all the salient points of infantry and tank cooperation including wireless procedure.

1000 Demonstration of an assault on a defended locality by a platoon of infantry supported Crocodiles took place at M 501181. Spectators included 100 from 2 Innisks and 1 RIrF and those available from 2 LIR, who were not on the exercise.

2 Innisks carry out River Crossing Exercise and practice over River Ronco in area M 4715.

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