6 Innisks – July 1943

1st July – HAMMAMET.

1500 General Montgomery lectured officers of 78 Division. Lt Hanna returned from hospital after illness. QGH Radice CF joined Bttn vice GCL Mitchell CF.

3rd  July – HAMMAMET.

0945 Brigade O Group per exercise “Tryout”.

1930 Bttn moves off to forming up place for exercise. The exercise is to practise Brigade in night attack and reorganisation by first light. 6 Innisks in reserve. Supporting arms delayed in getting up by traffic congestion.

4th July – HAMMAMET.

0900 Return to camp. Rest and cleaning up.

5th July – HAMMAMET.

Capt Robb (Div) lectured selected Officers and NCOs on conduct and escape of PoWs.

1730 Signal exercise to practise procedure and passing of messages during operations.

6th July – HAMMAMET.

0930 Brigade conference on Exercise “Tryout”. Divisional Commander attended points: length of time taken for recces as far down as Section Commanders. Route finding at night and intercommunication by night.

1830 Bttn left camp on Exercise “Marathon” consisting of 20 mile march followed by scheme and 22 miles march back, partly cross country by bounds. Total distance 56 miles in 36 hours. Tea was provided by frequent intervals. Heat very intense with Sirocco wind, but cooled off on 7th.

8th July – HAMMAMET.

0800 Bttn return from endurance test in good heart.

Advance party left for overseas concentration area. Lieut Hanna to hospital.

10th July – HAMMAMET.

0930 Bttn moves by MT to Churchill concentration area (Camp Betty 2 – K4050).Formation signs removed.

Area is olive grove. Shade good, cooler than last area. Water situation bad – 1 quart drinking, 1 quart washing.

Road covered in deep sand. 12 miles to Sousse.

11th July – HAMMAMET.

Recce of training area. Salisbury Plain type with no natural cover.

Major Crocker rejoins Bttn (he was OC B Coy until Exercise Dryshod in Oct 42)

12th July – HAMMAMET.

Field Firing exercise.

Much less dysentery now but septic spots are prevalent.

13th July – HAMMAMET.

A & C Coys Field Firing. B & D Field Training.

Major McCann left to take over Base Details.

14th July – HAMMAMET.

A & C Coys’ training. B & D Field Firing.

15th July – HAMMAMET.

Lieut RH Richardson joined Bttn from 1 RIrF.

Coy Field Training. Heat and dust considerable.

16th July – HAMMAMET.

Lieuts EJ Griffiths and GT Griffiths joined Bttn.

17th July – HAMMAMET.

3” Mortar shoot in training area.

Talk on Sicily by Brigadier Russell.

18th July – HAMMAMET.

1600 Bttn marches to new area. Halt 2300-2359hrs for tea.

19th July – SOUSSE.

0100 Bttn moves to new area 5 miles south of Sousse. 1 / 4 mile from the sea. 18 mile march along sandy tracks. All ranks marched as well. Area is in olive grove, with deep sand. Water situation bad.

Recce of training area. Quiet day.

20th July – SOUSSE.

1600 March out for Exercise “Blister”. 19 miles to assembly area.

21st July – SOUSSE.

0515 Reveille.

0600 O Group.

0740,Zero. Bttn attack on 3 objectives. Wireless silence imposed by higher authority.

1000 March off from exercise area to lying up area. 6 miles in very great heat. Very little shade. All ranks suffering from heat exhaustion.

1800 Move off after tea: day still hot. Further 15 miles making total of 42 miles in 36 hrs.

Morale high on way back. Bttn marched in well with few casualties in spite of the intense heat.

22nd July – SOUSSE.

Day of rest.

23rd July – SOUSSE.

Coy exercises. Waterproofing of vehicles completed. Packing started.

24th July – SOUSSE.

Bttn packed up and standing by for embarkation at 1 1 /2 hrs notice.

25th July – SOUSSE.

Standing by.

1500 Rifle Coys embark at Sousse on two LCIs and leave 1900hrs. Remainder standing by.

26th July – SOUSSE.

Remainder of Bttn with assault scales of transport embarked at Sousse port. All transport and HQ and S Coy personnel on an LST. Balance of Rifle Coy personnel on LCI.

2300 Convoy sailed.

27th July – AT SEA/SICILY.

Rifles Coys landed on beaches on Sicily south of Syracuse, and marched to Divisional Assembly Area, where the balance of light scales of transport (5 vehicles) was found awaiting them.

Remainder of Bttn at sea, where adverse weather was encountered, both LSIs and LSTs rolling like a barrel. Considerable seasickness and conditions on board were far from comfortable.

28th July – SICILY.

Balance of Rifle Coys landed and joined coys in Divisional assembly area. All coys lofted on 3 tonners and moved to Albospino (Sicily 269. 5273).

1300 Transport and remaining personnel disembarked from LST on Amber Beach (Sicily 269. 0515) and moved to Divisional assembly area.

1445 R & A groups leave for Albospino.

1600 Reminder of Bttn less carriers leave for Albospino. Bad roads over mountains mostly at night. Total distance 97 miles.

29th July – SICILY.

0600 Transport arrives, although not without casualties to vehicles.

Carriers left Divisional assembly area.

New area is stubble field with gully containing washing water. Bttn HQ is established in a farm, whose Sicilian owner is most hospitable. Recce of possible future area of operations by Brigade O Group.

30th July – SICILY.

Carriers rejoined Bttn.

Bttn moved by night to forward assembly area at distance 7 miles.

Heat considerable and water in short supply. Bttn again on compo rations.

31st July – SICILY.

Extremely hot day.

1800 B & A Coys moved to defensive positions on pt 230 (5984). A 7 mile march, much of which was over stony mountain tracks in the dark. Supporting arms were unable to follow.

1600 C & D Coys under command of 1 RIrF and moved to defensive position at 5482.