Irish Brigade

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

38 (Irish) Brigade – May 1945

 1st May – TAMARA 2489.

Brigade rests. Day leave parties to Ferrara continues. The link up of 2 NZ Division with Marshal Tito’s forces was announced today. The link up took place at Monfalcone not far from Trieste.


2nd May – TAMARA 2489.

 

1000 Brigade Commander and DAA and QMG attended ‘Q’ Conference at HQ 11 Brigade. Main points brought out by Divisional Commander were future moves, question of disposing of enemy transport, petrol rationing for a short period in the future (due to length of pipe lines), horses to be kept by bttns and Brigade HQs and various administrative and welfare details.

 

Brigade Commander visits a paddock after the conference to choose some more horses.

 

Brigade Commander visits Bologna and old battlefields at San Clemente and Monte Grande in the afternoon.

 

1600 The Armistice and surrender of the German Armies in Italy and South Austria was announced this afternoon on the wireless. This was the cause of a number of impromptu celebrations by most units in the area.

 


3rd May – TAMARA 2489.

 

0900 Brigade Group warned to move. Recce parties to be at one hours’ notice and advance parties at two hours’ notice from 1100 hours.

 

1200 Move orders cancelled. Advance parties probably go tomorrow and main body not before 5 May.

 


4th May – TAMARA 2489.

 

0800 Brigade Group warned to move to concentration area Fordenone 9608. Advance parties left in the morning to recce areas. Brigade Commander left to visit Venice on way to new concentration area.

 


5th May – TAMARA 2489.

 

Brigade Group prepares to move. 38 Brigade Move Instruction No 4 issued.

 

Brigade Group to move as follows:

 

2 Innisks – 1520.

 

Brigade HQ – 1800.

 

1 RIrF – 1900.

 

2 LIR – 2040.

 

Brigade Carriers – 2220.

 

LAD – 2359.

 

1520 Brigade Group commences to move.


6th May – UDINE.

 

1000 Brigade Group travelled all through the night and reached Pordenone at about 1000 hrs. Further orders were issued for the column to go on to the Udine area. Advance parties had already gone on to recce areas.

 

1300 Brigade Group arrived in Udine area and were complete by 1700 hrs.

 

Brigade Group consists of the following:

 

Locations also given –

 

Brigade HQ – Fontanabona 3728.

 

2 Innisks – Udine 4219.

 

2 LIR – Pagnacco 3626.

 

1 RIrF Campoforudo 3515.

 

17 Field Regiment RA – Colugna 3822.

 

254 A/Tk Battery RA – Udine 4219.

 

D Support Group (1 Kensingtons) – Tricesimo 3931.

 

152 Field Ambulance – Udine 4219.

 

5 Corps ordered brigade to establish road blocks in Udine area in conjunction with Tito forces to prevent dumps of food and ammunition being taken out of the country to Yugoslavia.

 

2 Innisks in Udine were also ordered to search the town to find remaining food dumps and place guards on them if any found. The other two battalions were ordered to search roads and areas leading out of Udine for food and ammunition dumps.

 

7th May – UDINE.

 

The Osoppo partisans, divided into the Red and Green Brigades, were contacted during the morning for assistance in interpreters and locating enemy dumps.

 

The infiltration of the Yugoslav forces into N Italy made it necessary for road posts to be manned by them as well as our own troops. The food situation in the area was critical and all dumps were guarded extremely carefully by our own troops as much as food had been cleared by the Yugoslav forces to their own country.

 

2 Innisks also reported considerable dumps of ammunition in Udine, which they took over.

 

Orders received from 5 Corps to send one battalion to Caporetto 6749 and one to Cividale 5623 tomorrow morning.

 


8th May – UDINE.

 

Two coys 2 LIR move to Caporetto 6749 to take over from 1 Welch. Bttn HQ and 2 coys remain in present locations. 1 RIrF move to Cividale 562 during the morning. Both battalions established road blocks in conjunction with Yugoslav forces.

 

1500 The Prime Minister announced the end of the War in Europe and the cessation of hostilities at one minute past midnight on the 8/9 April.

 


9th May – UDINE.

 

Coys 2 LIR relieved by bttn 138 Brigade (46 Division) in Caporetti and return to old locations.

 

There were no further incidents between the Yugoslavs, Italians or the partisans in general.

 

2000 Message received from 5 Corps ordering the Brigade Group less 2 Innisks to move to the Villach area, which was subsequently changed to the Klagenfurt area where the Brigade would go under command 6 Armoured Division. Brigade Commander to report to HQ 6 Armoured Division as soon as possible tomorrow morning.

 

Move orders were issued that night and 2 Innisks instructed to take over commitments of the Brigade Group. D Support Group and brigade carriers to move on 11 May.


10th May – KLAGENFURT 2383

 

0830 Brigade Commander leaves to report to 6 Armoured Division HQ.

 

1000 17 Field Regiment and 254 A/Tk Battery leaves Udine area.

 

1100 Brigade Commander arrives at 6th Armoured Division HQ and then goes onto 61 Brigade HQ to receive full details of the situation.

 

1100 152 Field Ambulance leaves.

 

1330 1 RIrF moves.

 

1230 2 LIR moves.

 

1530 Brigade HQ moves.

 

1 RIrF and 17 Field Regiment moved by Route 54 and then Route 13 while the remainder of the Group kept solely to Route 13. In this manner, the time factor was considerably reduced and facilitated movement, having two roads instead of one.

 

Brigade Group was harboured in an area east of Klagenfurt about four miles out of the town. Brigade HQ established on the northern outskirts of Klagenfurt 2383.

 

1800 GOC 6th Armoured Division visits the Brigade Commander and gives his full details and instructions. Orders for Brigade Group to move to Wolfsberg 6405 and San Andrae 6297 early tomorrow morning.

 


11th May – WOLFSBERG 6305

 

Brigade Group moves to Wolfsberg sector:

 

Brigade HQ – 649057 Wolfsberg.

 

2 LIR – 640053 Wolfsberg.

 

1 RIrF – 623975 San Andrae.

 

D Support Group – 640052 Wolfsberg.

 

17 Field Regiment RA 642077 Wolfsberg.

 

254 A/Tk Battery – 646076 Wolfsberg.

 

152 Field Ambulance – 641056 Wolfsberg.

 

General Military and Political Situation.

 

The first troops to enter this area were 27 Lancers, who had received orders to push as far east and south as possible and if possible get to Graz and contact the Russians. German columns retreating from the Russians effectively blocked the road from the Squadron 27 Lancers attempting to get to Graz and the Russians were in the town first. Contact was made with the Russians and a temporary boundary established between Koflach and Voitsburg D65.

 

There were a considerable number of Germans, Hungarian, Croat, Albanian and Russian troops in the brigade area of responsibility, who would have to be taken over, disarmed, concentrated and finally sent to their ultimate destinations.

 

The main trouble arising out of the surrendered personnel was the question of who should actually accept the surrender of the Corps and Divisional Commanders.

 

The majority of the forces in this area were from either Army of East of Army of South East and all have officially surrendered to Tito or the Russian Forces. This officially made all enemy surrendered forces the responsibility of Marshal Tito’s forces and the Russian but no German commander would submit to them.

 

They all came to us for instruction, which inevitably caused a long drawn our parley between Jugoslavs, Germans and ourselves.

 

Usually, large formations were given to Jugoslavs but we accepted the surrender of smaller units without further reference to higher authority.

 

Another point to be taken into consideration when discussing the situation was that of Jugoslav infiltration into the Drava valley. Jugoslav troops were manning road posts on the Klagenfurt road and in general making a nuisance of themselves shooting up and indiscriminately disarming Germans soldiers attempting to pass through to concentration areas under British orders.

 

Although this did not seriously worry us, it caused endless delay in conducting parleys and listening to countless complaints.

 

On arrival in this area, it was found that 1st Bulgarian Army had troops in Lavamund, San Paul and extending westwards to within 4 kilometres of Volkemarkt.

 

2 LIR took over responsibility of Wolfsberg area and 1 RIrF the responsibility of San Andrae area.

 

1 RIrF collected 1,200 SS troops in the evening and concentrated them in their PW cage and also started collecting trains of which there were 20 stationery on the lines between Wolfsberg and Lavamund. Immediate efforts were made to concentrate the trains as far north as possible and around San Andrae to obtain the food to feed the surrendered personnel on our hands.

 

Other food dumps were found in Wolfsberg, which considerably eased the supply situation.

 

1800 254 A/Tk Battery ordered to proceed immediately to Prietenegg and then east to St Oswald to contact Russian forces advancing west.

 

A troop of 27 Lancers at St Paul was ordered to go to Lavamund as soon as possible and a platoon of 1 RIrF together with a few Allied ex PoW took control of the town.

 

The Brigade Commander went to Lavamund during the afternoon to meet the Commander of 3 Bulgarian Division and his Corps Commander. It was arranged that all movement by both armies should cease until agreement was reached. The Bulgarian Corps Commander then left for 5 Corps where this arrangement was confirmed but without any fixing of boundaries.

 

We established a road post at Lavamund but allowed free Bulgarian movement through it. At about 1700 hrs, after the Bulgarian Corps Commander had left, a crisis arose in Lavamund where over 4,000 Armed Cossacks, who were 2 kilometres south of the river and about 2 kilometres from the British PW there and it was reported by the Bulgarians and by the British PW unit that those Cossacks would attack anybody except the English that night. The Bulgarians intimated that they were unable to enforce their surrender and the Cossacks refused to surrender to them.

As the Brigade Commander had received orders from 6th Armoured Division to disarm 22,000 Cossacks in the neighbourhood of Dravograd and concluding that there were part of the same force, the Brigade Commander asked the Bulgarians if they would like him to disarm them and accept their surrender. The agreement he made with the Bulgarians and later with the Cossacks was that they should hand in their arms in situ, which would be later handed to the Bulgarians by him and that the Cossacks should march through Lavamund at 0530 hrs on the 12th with their horses. Some disagreement arose over the Cossacks taking their horses if he disarmed them and that if the Bulgarians wanted the Cossack horses they must arrange with the British Army Commander at a later date and see if he was prepared to give them back. The Brigade Commander explained that lack of transport necessitated this course.


12th May – WOLFSBERG 6306.

 

During the night 11/12, the Bulgarians retracted from the agreement but, at about 0700 hrs the next morning, they received orders from Bulgarian 1at Army to allow the Cossacks to proceed. They stated that these orders were given on the authority of the Bulgarian Army Commander and that they had not been ratified by the Russian Command. By 1000 hrs on the 12th, the original agreement with the Coassacks had been fulfilled by both sides.

 

During the morning, the Cossacks were disarmed and moved through Lavamund and Griffen to their concentration area near Volkermarkt. 13 Battery, 17 Field Regiment was sent to Bleiburg to occupy the village.

 

0945 254 A/Tk Battery contacted the Russians at Wildbachberg 920060. Only scattered forced were met in the area but “looting parties” were out on the road from St Oswald 8412 to Wildbachberg. The Russians were in considerable force in D Landsberg 9204, where OC 254 A/Tk battery met a Russian Major. A temporary boundary was fixed at Wildbachberg but the Major could give no guarantee until the local General arrived.

 

The Russian Division contacted was No 299. They appeared friendly but foxy.

 

Brigade Commander goes off in the morning to continue discussions with the Bulgarians at Lavamund. Evacuation of Cossacks continued throughout the day. 1 RIrF continued collection of surrendered personnel and policing of St Andre. D coy continued with checking and movement of railway trains to Wolfsberg.

 

1000 The following regroup programme was ordered to take place as soon as possible in order to cope with the situation on the Jugoslav frontier at Bleiburg and Lavamund.

 

17 Field Regiment to responsible for control of road Griffen – Bleiburg with road blocks at road junctions 586849 and 619758.

 

A Squadron 2 RTR to send two troops of tanks to 1 RIrF and Squadron and troop to 17 Field Regiment.

 

D Support Group to go under command 17 Field Regiment and send 20 carriers and 5 x 15 cwts to HQ 1 RIrF for road patrols in Bleiburg – Lavamund area.

 

1 RIrF to establish coys at Lavamund, St Paul and St Andrew and S Coy at Maria Rojac to patrol east to mountains.

 

2 LIR to send coy to patrol east along road to Scherbati 7306 and if possible make contact with the Russians.

 

1750 All moves in progress. Troop of tanks of 1 RIrF sent down to Lavamund to impress Jugoslavs and Bulgarians.

 

At 1900 hrs on the 12th, the Commander of 3rd Bulgarian Division arrived at Brigade HQ saying that he had orders to occupy all territory east of the river Lavant up to 4 kilometres south of Wolfsberg and that he was to withdraw all his troops between Lavamund and Volkermarkt. He stated he had commenced the withdrawal from Volkermarkt area and wished to commence his forward movement towards Wolfsberg at first light on the 13th and requested permission to use the main road Lavamund – St Andre. The Brigade Commander requested him to refrain from any forward movement until much time as he had communicated with the Commander 5 Corps and received fresh orders. At 0600 hrs on the 13th, he sent the CO 1 RIrF to Lavamund to ensure that no forward movement commenced and said that he would be with him with fresh orders by about 1000 hrs. This request was respected.

 

2000 OGF Kashe – German Puppet Minister to Croat Republic was arrested by 2 LIR.

 


13th May – WOLSBERG 6305.

 

0230 369 Croat Division stopped at Bleiburg. Orders given for their concentration at Griffen.

 

0700 Bttn of Tito Partisans at Lavamund produced orders giving them permission to go to Klagenfurt. They were prevented from doing so.

 

0800 2 LIR contacted 3 Bulgarian Division at Landsberg. A port was established at Scherbatl 7307 where the road becomes a track.

 

1000 Brigade Group comes under command 46 Division and reverts from 6 Armoured Division.

 

1015 GOC 46 Division visits Brigade HQ.

 

Brigade Commander was out as he had had a conference with Bulgarian Divisional Commander in Lavamund.

 

GOC Army Group East General Lehr and his staff and attached personnel arrived at Bleiburg. On orders from Division, they were not allowed through but ordered to concentrate in that area.

 

1200 The Russian 299 Divisional Commander, Colonel Sauchberg, and his staff arrived at Brigade HQ to settle the agreement of the temporary boundary.

 

After a certain amount of talking and discussion the line was fixed and that it should run through 613559 – 607500 – 844200 – 867100 – 872080 – 890867 – 900053 – 915000 – 913972 – 910940.

 

Lt Col HEN Bredin DSO MC Commander 2 LIR represented the Army and Brigade Commander at the conference.

 

After the discussions, which ended about 1400 hrs, the Russian delegates were entertained to lunch at this HQ.

 

After lunch, they all visited the Russian ex PoWs in Stalag 18A Wolfsberg and arranged for their return to Graz.

 

1600 Brigade Commander returns after conferences with the Bulgarians. The following arrangements were made.

 

On the evening of the 12th, two things were established. One, the British Soviet boundary about 4 kilometres west of Stainz 9614 and secondly the Bulgarian Army was not allowed to remain in Yugoslavia. These two factors made the Bulgarians request to move forward absurd as they could not maintain forces there without moving through Yugoslavia and their body could not possibly link up with the Russians/ At about 1100 hrs on the 13th, the Brigade Commander met the Commander 3 Bulgarian Division at Lavamund in company with CCRA, 5 Corps. The two factors mentioned above suggested that the Bulgarian advance was absurd were raised with the Bulgarian Divisional Commander and just as an impasse appeared likely, he suddenly produced fresh orders, alleged to have arrived at that moment from the Russian authorities. When these orders were translated on to a map, it appeared that the Bulgarians were to withdraw about 5 kilometres to the east of Lavamund and that their frontier was to be the high range of hills to the east of the River Lavant valley. As this was more than we had hoped to achieve, the agreement was drawn up at once and signed by the Commander 3 Bulgarian Division and CCRA 5 Corps.

 

Certain concessions were made in connection with the agreement which were as follows:

 

1) Bulgarians were to be permitted to use the road Lavamund – St Andre – Wolfsberg – Koflach – Voitsberg for a limited amount of MT. Times of convoys to be notified to the post at Lavamund and communicated to the Brigade Commander.  Under no circumstances were marching personnel to be allowed to use this road and no Bulgarian soldier to be permitted to leave the convoy, while passing through British territory.

 

2) Bulgarians were to be permitted to collect “booty”, which was only to include any form of enemy was material or supplies and not to enter houses as follows:

 

Between Lavamund and excluding St Paul, up to 0600hrs 18 May.

 

From Lavamund, west to road Griffen – Ruden – Bleibrug up to 0600 hrs on 18 May.

 

To the west of that road towards Volkermarkt up to 0600 hrs 16 May.

 

As soon as this agreement had been completed on the 13th, the Bulgarian Army Commander suddenly appeared and, shortly afterwards, the Bulgarian Corps Commander. The agreements were confirmed by the Army Commander who, shortly afterwards, left with the Corps Commander and confirmed the agreement made with Commander 5 Corps.

 


14th May – WOLFSBERG 6305.

 

Brigade locations:

 

B Squadron 46 Recce and C Squadron 56 Recce now under command.

 

2 LIR:  HQ – Wolfsberg, All Coys in town doing guards, 1 – platoon Scherbartl, 1 platoon – Koflach under Forward Officer to assist 27 Lancers.

 

1 RIrF: HQ – 623975, A Coy – St Andre, B Coy – St Andre, C Coy – Lavamund 7184, D Coy – St Paul 6691, S Coy.

 

17 Field Regiment: RHQ – Griffen 5591, 10 Battery – Lind 5987, 13 Battery – Bleiburg 6178, 20 Battery – Ruden 5986.

 

254 A/Tk Battery: Wolfsberg. Post at St Oswald 8312.

 

D Support Group: Griffen – 5591.

 

B Squadron 46 Recce: St Andre 6397 u/c 17 Field Regiment.

 

A Squadron 56 Recce: north west of Wolfsberg 6208.

 

0900 Evacuation of the Cossacks continued without any further incidents. In addition to all the political difficulties which the brigade was responsible for in its area, the battalions were also guarding a considerable number of enemy surrendered personnel and PoWs.

 

17 Field Regiment: Cossacks – 7.000. 369 Croat Division – 3,000. Army Group E – 700. 42 Jager Division – 300. Misc – 1,100.

 

1 RIrF: Hospital Train – 1,300.  Misc – 10,000.

 

2 LIR: Laszlo Hungarian Division – 7,000. Hungarian Cadet School – 400. Elt 2 Hungarian Corps – 2,000. Croats – 700. PoW – 1, 600 SS.

 

General Lehr, Commander Army Group E arrived at 17 Field HQ for orders. He was ordered to report to HQ 5 Corps.

 

1800 Control Station Rover Paddy arrives for controlling air operations and armed recces over Jugoslav border.

 

Early on in the morning, reports were received from 17 Field Regiment of fighting between Croats and Jugoslav Tito troops. Later on in the town, a Croat Liaison Officer arrived at 17 Field Regiment HQ offering to surrender to the British and lay down arms on passing our outposts.

 

At about 2100 hrs, the Croat Liaison Officer arrived at this Brigade HQ and made the following statement to the Brigade Commander. There are two armed groups of Croats, both approximately 100,000 men, attempting to get past the Bulgarians and the Jugoslavs and surrender themselves to British troops. They wish to escape the Titp regime and do not mind what country they finally go to. In addition to the two armed groups, there are an alleged half a million civilians (women and children), followed by the remnants of two German Division (One is Prince Eugen SS Mountain Division).

 

One group of 100,000 Croats in between Bleibrug and Dravograd and the other 100, 000 south of Dravograd. The Croat Liaison Officer stated that the relations with the Bulgarians were good but there had been serious fighting with the Tito forces (8 Jugoslav Brigade). The Croats lost a fair number of men today and also lost three of their thirty tanks from bazookas.

 

Later on, about 2300 hrs, OC B Coy 1 RIrF at Lavamund reported that a surrender conference was going on between the Bulgarians and the Croats but the Jugoslav forces intersperses themselves between the Bulgarian and Croat armies and caused the Bulgarians to withdraw and cancel their agreement.

 

Orders were issued to 1 RIrF and 17 Field Regiment that on no account would we accept the surrender of the Croats and force would be used to prevent any such action. This information was passed on to the Croat Liaison Officer, who returned to his General immediately.


15th May – WOLFSBERG 6305.

 

This crisis reached its crisis on the 15th. The Brigade Commander arrived at Bleiburg about 1230 and, after driving round the area, went to the castle just outside the town. There was a fair amount of small arms fire going on, probably not directed at anybody. The opposing Commanders were sent for and arrived at the castle within half an hour. The Yugoslav Commissar, Petpukevuck Milan Basta, accompanied by the Divisional Commanded, both men in their early twenties, stated that they had orders to commence the battle in half an hour’s time and that all arrangements were ready. Their intention was to defeat the Croat Army in the field. Under no circumstances did they intend to brook any delay. They requested no military assistance and considered that their forces were quite adequate to deal with the situation as the remainder of the Yugoslav Army was alleged to be disposed in the hills and neighbouring country.

 

It was pointed out that the elimination of the Croatians would be more speed if they laid down their arms, than if it was necessary to attack a force of such dimensions. They agreed that this was so and stated that they were prepared to put the battle off for half an hour if the Brigade Commander would be good enough to try to make the Croats surrender to them. They them withdrew and the Croat General and his staff were interviewed by the Brigade Commander.

 

At first, they were adamant that both the Army and civilian population with them would rather die where they were, fighting to the last man, than surrender to “any Bolshevists.” They pointed out that this movement was a political emigration of the Croat nation as they had decided that it was impossible for them to live under the Russian influence. They requested that the matter should be dealt with through political channels. It was explained that an emigration in such numbers was, at the moment, quite out of the question, as there would be no food in any other part of Europe that they emigrated to and that such emigration could only take place after careful preparation, otherwise the whole of this party would starve. They still insisted that this was a preferable course to surrender. Meanwhile, the Yugoslav Commander sent messages that could not wait much longer and the battle must start. The Croat deputation were given five minutes to make up their minds whether they would surrender as Prisoners as War to the Yugoslav force and told them that any movement of their Army towards the British lines would be resisted with all arms, quite apart from any action the Yugoslavs might take place. After some further delay, they agreed to surrender.

 

The Yugoslav representatives were then brought in and given the gist of the conversation. An agreement was made in the Brigade Commander’s presence that the Croat Army would surrender and indicate by white flags from their leading troops that they had done so within an hour and a quarter of the Commissar leaving the room. The Army was to be treated as Prisoners of War, with the exception of political criminals, who would be dealt with by Allied Courts established to deal with this matter. The civilian population were to be fed and returned to Croatia by the frontier route. With five minutes to spare, the Croatian Army signified their surrender and the handing in of arms was commenced forthwith. In accordance with the agreement, they were evacuated through Lavamund towards Maribor.

 

All arrangements in connection with the surrender and evacuation were carried out speedily, efficiently and, as far as could be judged, correctly over the following 24 hours.

 

0830 Another Squadron and RHQ 2 RTR come under command and go to Bleiburg sector. CO 16 DLI reports to Brigade Commander for orders. The battalion is to come under command and is at present on the move to go to Bleiburg sector.

 

1000 General Lehr, Commander Army Group ‘E’ and his staff ordered to report to Yugoslavs at 1700 hrs for disposal instructions.

 

1 troop 56 Recce ordered to report to 1 RIrf.

 

B Coy 1 RIrF at Lavamund report Bulgarians are going to sweep area Dravograd – Lavamund and west to Yugoslav border to collect up any Croats that may be in the area.

 

1030 27 Lancers now under command. 1 squadron to go to Ruden under command 17 Field Regiment. 1 squadron to move from Judenburg to Twimberg today.

 

1300 Army Commander visits Brigade HQ. The Brigade Commander was out with the Bulgarians and Yugoslavs but Lt Col Bredin CO 2 LIR, who happened to be at the HQ, deputised and was able to give the Army Commander a fair picture of the situation.

 

1600 16 DLI arrive at Bleiburg. Bttn HQ established in Castle at Bleiburg. 13 Battery, 17 Field Regiment, C Squadron 2 RTR less troop and D support Group to eventually to be under their command and form Bleiburg garrison.

 

Brigade Commander, during his conferences, gave the Bulgarians permission to pass their transport of two artillery regiments up to Wolfsberg road to Koflach and Graz. The transport came through during late afternoon and evening and there were no untoward incidents.

 

2100 254 A/Tk Battery report one man was shot and seriously wounded by a civilian whilst on railway guard north of Wolfsberg station.

 


16th May – WOLFSBERG 6305.

 

Brigade Commander goes to Lavamund to meet Commander, 3rd Bulgarian Division. In view of the Croatian battles, it was agreed that the time allowance of his collection of booty should be extended to 1800 hrs on the 18th between Lavamund and excluding St Paul and 1800 hrs on the 20th in the area from Lavamund to Volkesmarkt.

 

The Bulgarian Commander requested that the time limit should be extended to the 22nd but this could not be sanctioned by the Brigade Commander. Owing to the lack of petrol and general administrative inefficiencies, the Bulgarian withdrawal from British territory was falling considerably behind schedule and it would be difficult to say when the final Bulgar will be back behind the military frontier.

 

Arrangements were made for a football match to take place between the Bulgarians an 5 Corps at which the Bulgarian Army Commander stated that he would be present.

 

The Brigade Commander met a Yugoslav Chief of Staff as well during the morning and stated that a British frontier post would be established somewhere between Lavamund and the Yugoslav Border.

 

This post was established in the Customs Building, 1 mile south east of Lavamund and produced no reaction from the Yugoslav Commissar or any military representatives.

 

1400 Liaison Officer, 46th Division arrives with the following orders: “Northern sector of present brigade area of responsibility to be taken over by 128 Brigade. The boundary between the two brigades will run from St Stefan 6302 north to include Koflach 5807.”

 

5 Hampshires to relieve 2 LIR in Wolfsberg.

 

2 Hampshires to Twimberg to relieve 254 A/Tk Battery at St Oswald and troop 27 Lancers Twimberg and troop

 

A Squadron 56 Recce on road and railway duties.

 

1/4 Hampshires  to Koflach to relieve platoon 2 LIR and 27 Lancers.

 

Own regrouping to be as follows:

 

2 LIR to move to Lavamund with under command troop C Squadron 2 RTR, A Squadron 56 Recce less troop. 254 A/Tk Battery to move to Griffen under command 17 Field Regiment.

 

1 RIrF with troop 56 recce under command to withdraw coy from Bleiburg otherwise no change in location.

 

16 DLI established in Blieburg with under command 13 Battery 17 Field Regiment, D Support Group, C Squadron 2 RTR less troop.

 

17 Field Regiment less 13 Battery to remain at Griffen with under command 254 A/Tk Battery, Squadron 27 Lancers, 2 RTR less 2 Squadrons.

 

Brigade HQ to remain in present location.

 

254 A/Tk Battery less troop moved to Griffen.

 

1800 During the day, the majority of the surrendered personnel were evacuated to their concentration area controlled directly by HQ 46 Division.

 

Investigations during the day showed little evidence concerning the man from 254 A/Tk Battery, who was host last night. It is thought that the assassin was probably a deserter hiding in the surrounding hills and in a desperate frame of mind from want of food and clothes.

 


17th May – WOLSBERG 6305.

 

1000 GOC 46 Division holds conference at Brigade H for Commanders of 38 and 128 Brigades.

 

1030 Liaison Officer goes to Yugoslav HQ at Lavamund to arrange from the handing over of 800 Croats, military and civilian, at present located at Wolfsberg.

 

1100 Brigade Commander holds conference at Brigade HQ. Commander 128 Brigade and his COs were present.

 

Following regrouping and relief programme to be carried out:

 

38 (Irish) Brigade to be relieved by 128 and 138 brigades and to revert to command 78 Division on relief.

 

38 (Irish) Brigade to move to Tarvisio are to take over responsibilities of 138 Brigade.

 

1500 Relief of 1 RIrF by 2 and 5 Hampshires commences. 2 Hampshires relieve coy 1 RIrF at Lavamund and 5 Hampshires. Remainder of bttn in St Andre area.

 

1920 Relief of 1 RIrF complete. Bttn moves to Tarvisio to relieve 6 Lincolns by first light 18th May.

 


18th May – WOLFSBERG 6305.

 

0800 Relief of 17 Field Regiment by 1/4 Hampshires commences.

 

1200 Relief of 17 Field Regiment complete.

 

1300 Brigade HQ hands over all sectors concerning Wolfsberg area for 2 LIR, who remain in command of sector until relieved by 6 Lincolns.

 

Brigade HQ moves to Tarvisio to take over sector from 138 Brigade.

 

1400 Eight hundred Croats under escort 2 LIR were handed over to Yugoslav forces near Lavamund. This was not easily done but accomplished after a considerable amount of parleying and pleadings.


19th May – TARVISIO.

 

0900 Command of sector passes from 138 Brigade to 38 Brigade. Yorks and Lancs, 2/4 KOYLI and 71 Field Regiment come under command.

 

2 LIR relieved by 6 Lincolns and proceed to Tarvisio. D Support Group and A Squadron 56 Recce also relieved.

 

254 A/Tk Battery remains under command 128 Brigade.

 

0930 GOC 78 Division phones up Brigade Commander.

Following orders issued:

 

2 LIR to be stopped in Villach and to await further instructions. Brigade to be prepared to be relieved by Jewish Brigade Group tomorrow.

 

1000 Brigade Commander goes to HQ 78 Division for further orders.

 

1500 Brigade Commander gives following verbal orders over telephone.

 

2 LIR have been stopped in Villach and ordered to concentrate at Velder. Brigade HQ to move to Treffen 892861 as soon as possible.

 

All details concerning sector handed over to 1 RIrF, who will command sector until relieved by bttn of the Jewish Brigade tomorrow. Units of 46 Division to come under command Jewish Brigade until they revert to 46 Division.

 

D Support Group ordered to send two MMG platoons to 2 LIR and remainder of group to 2 Innisks.

 

17 Field Regiment to send one battery to each 2 LIR and 2 RIrF. 26 Battery 17 Field Regiment to remain at Camporosso pending relief by Field Regiment Jewish Brigade Group.


20th May – TREFFEN/VILLACH SECTOR.

 

1 RIrF relieved by Bttn Jewish Brigade Group and hand over all commitment in Tarvisio sector. Bttn moved to area south of Faaker See on relief.

 

Brigade Group and location

 

2 Innisks revert to command and 6 RTR also came under command.

 

Brigade HQ: Treffen 892981.

 

2 Innisks:  HQ/Coys – Medjez Barracks Villach 870897.

 

2 LIR: HQ – Velden 0481, Coys – Velden around Q.

 

1 RIrF: HQ – 946748, Coys – 929753, 935748 and 2 Coys – 921758.

 

D Support Group – 875805.

 

A Squadron 56 Recce – Augsdorf 044792.

 

C Squadron 4 Hussars – 846742.

 

This sudden move to the Villach sector was necessitated by the possibility of securing complete military control of the Divisional area of responsibility.

 

All Jugoslav forces under Marshal Tito were given orders to clear out of Carinthia by 1800 hrs, 21 May. This applied mainly to the Jugoslav 19 Division and it was quite clear that they intended to comply with the order. What was not so certain was whether the old bandit groups operating independently and with desires of territorial gains would also comply.

 

Accordingly, information was to be obtained of all Jugoslav troops in Southern Austria after this date and, of necessary, an operation would commence to clear them out of the country back to the Jugoslav Border.

 


21st May – TREFFEN/VILLACH SECTOR.

 

During the day, it became apparent that the Jugoslav forces in South Austria were obeying the orders of Marshal Tito and that an operation by the brigade would be now most unlikely

 

1300 A Squadron 56 Recce, D Support Group and 254 A/Tk Battery to revert to command own units forthwith. Movement orders were issued by 78 Division.

 

17 Field Regiment to revert to command 78 Division RA.

 

8 RTR no longer under command.

 

The final policy and future commitments of the brigade were still undecided and would not be known until after a Corps Conference on 22nd May.

 

Owing to a change in the Divisional eastern boundary, 2 LIR were ordered to recce new locations on the northern shores of the Ossiach See.

 


22nd May – TREFFEN/VILLACH SECTOR.

 

Various Hungarian HQs and units in brigade area are occupying areas and billets required by Brigade HQ and 2 LIR. Arrangements were being made to evacuate them to the Hungarian concentration area between Spittal and Villach.

 

0930 Brigade Commander holds Conference for all COs on A/Q matters, mainly Honours and Awards.

 

Lt Col J Coldwell-Horsfall DSO MC was also present at the Conference. He is to take over command of 2 LIR when Lt Col Bredin DSO MC leaves to take up the duties of AA and QMG 78 Division.

 

The duties and responsibilities of the brigade are now confined to manning checkpoints and road blocks and guarding Jugoslav and Italian – Austrian frontiers.

 

The road leading through the Wurzner Pass 8069 is to be closed to all traffic, leading into Austria but the evacuation of Jugoslav nationals to Jugoslavia may continue by this route.

 

The road into Italy through Thorl remains open to all traffic.

 


23rd May – TREFFEN/VILLACH SECTOR.

 

2 LIR continue to recce billets and accommodation on the Ossiach See. Evacuation of Hungarians from Brigade area to a concentration area at Weissenstein commences.

 


24th May – TREFFEN/VILLACH SECTOR.

 

Lt Col HEN Bredin relinquishes command 2 LIR and goes to HQ 78 Division as AA & QMG.

 

Lt Col JH Coldwell-Horsfall assumes command wef this date.

 

0900 A Coy 1 RIrF moved to Arnoldstein 7773to relieve 6 RWK of road post and Frontier guard duties.

 

Frontier Guards, each consisting of one platoon were each established at Thorl on the Austro-Italian frontier and on the Wurzner Pass 8069 on the Austro-Jugoslav border. Relations with the Yugoslavs very friendly and cordial.


25th May – TREFFEN/VILLACH SECTOR.

 

H Coy 2 LIR move to Bodensdorf on the northern shore of the Ossiach See. The remainder of the battalion was unable to move as the area was still congested with Hungarians and civilian refugees.

 

These are all being cleared today.

 

1200 GOC 78 Division and AA and QMG visit Brigade HQ and stay to lunch.

 

Afterwards, Brigade Commander accompanied them to HQ 2 Innisks, where they met the Army Commander and GOC 5 Corps.

 

Check Points and Road Block State.

 

2 Innisks – 875804, 872803, 864791, 878777, 887812, 877756, 891779, 905816, 886814, 879757, 904790, 894811, 892810.

 

1RIrF – 856754, 809704,728721.

 

Guards.

 

2 Innisks – AMG Building 883802.

 

Guards on Dumps.

 

2 Innisks – Small Arms Dump. Medjez Barracks Villach.

 

1 RIrF – RE Dump 858746, Clothing and Equipment Dump 728721, Clothing Dump 803730.

 

1600 2 Innisks warned t be at 4 hours notice to move to Hermagor under command 36 Brigade. Task to be assist handing Cossacks over to the Russians.

 


26th May – TREFFEN/VILLACH SECTOR.

 

Remainder of 2 LIR move to area around Ossiach See.

 

Brigade Location Statement.

 

2 Innisks: Bttn HQ/All Coys – Medjez Barracks Vilalch 870807.

 

2 LIR: Bttn HQ – 925854, E Coy – St Urban 974871, F Coy – Dodensdorf – 978888, G Coy – Ossiach 978873, H Coy – 939859, S Coy – 985884.

 

1 RIrF: Bttn HQ – Latschach 942739, A Coy – Arnoldstein with platoons at 809704 728721 858746.

 

B Coy – Mallestig 902745, C Coy – Faak 926752, D Coy – 919762, S Coy – 919762.

 

1500 Brigade Commander visits Frontier Posts at Wurzner Pass and Thorl. 2 Innisks warned to move to Hermagor area tomorrow.

 


27th May – TREFFEN/VILLACH SECTOR.

 

Four coys and skeleton Bttn HQ 2 Innisks move to Lienz and go under command 36 Brigade.

 

2 LIR warned they may also be required for same task.

 

1200 Bttn HQ 1 RIrF moves to Egg Am See 949771.

 

D Coy 1 RIrF moves to Latschach 942741.

 


28th May – TREFFEN/VILLACH SECTOR.

 

Normal road post activity.

 

Orders issued by 78 Division that all civilians and captured enemy cars and lorries will be concentrated in a central Brigade Park.

 

Based on the numbers declared in the Corps, so will the distribution of those cars be evolved. At the present moment, the future distribution is likely to be two per Brigade HQ and three per bttn. These cars will be issued with licences and any others found on the main highways will be impounded.

 


29th May – TREFFEN/VILLACH SECTOR.

 

Normal road post activity.

 

Searching of unit area continues and a steady stream of German PoWs, surrendered personnel, arrestable Nazis and displaced civilians are brought in by all battalions.

 


30th May – TREFFEN/VILLACH SECTOR.

 

Normal road post activity. Searching of unit area continues.

 

The following is a list of check posts and guards. 2 LIR posted new posts after taking over the responsibility of their area and 1 RIrF relieved 2 Innisks of some of their posts.

 

2 Innisks – 875804, 893810, 882812, 880814, 872803, 864788.

 

2 LIR – 904816, 899839, 908849, 942852, 980877, 990871.

 

1 RIrF – 809698, 782730, 728717, 903790, 890779, 879757, 877756, 927752, 855755.

 


31st May – TREFFEN/VILLACH SECTOR.

 

Normal road post activity. Searching of areas continues.



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