Irish Brigade

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

Faugh a Ballagh        Nec Aspera Terrent         Quis Separabit


6 Innisks – March 1943

1st March – IN THE FIELD.

0800 Enemy mortar bombs in front of West Hill J6406 spitfires and hurribombers attacked enemy positions.

1510 B Coy mortared on Grandstand 652082.

1550 Sgt W Allen reports position of enemy mortar and behind Mehallah 678088

1605 Warning from Brigade of possible Stuka attack in five minutes – it did not immediately.


2nd March – IN THE FIELD.

0930 Mortar bombs on Stuka Ridge 635083.

1335 Mortar bombs on ridge east of Bttn HQ 647067. These bombs fell near Capt Bayley, Lieut Ablett, CSM Glover, and Fusilier Gilman, who were driving on a M/C combination to Bttn HQ for patrol conference. A wheel came off the M/C comb and Capt Bayley broke a collar bone – the others were shaken. Due to this accident, Capt Daly will take the fighting patrol to Stop Farm with the Carrier Platoon instead of a platoon from B Coy.

1555 5/6 smoke bombs dropped in line north of West Hill, a few yards from Bttn HQ, These were immediately followed by 9 Stukas, which dropped 10/12 bombs of medium calibre on Sidi Aek (638070). No damage done.

2000 The Carrier Platoon led by Capt WAR Daly attacked Stop Farm (647102), known to be occupied by the enemy, and suspected of being a FOP looking on to our Grandstand position. Capt Daly led the first section into the farmyard over a barricade without opposition. Two more sections followed and MG fire, then opened up from 2 of the farm buildings. Grenades were thrown at these and one MG was silenced. 3 were MGs, from outside the farm, then opened fire, all covering the barricade. Small arms fire came from a yard in the farm. Capt Daly then ordered a section round in one of the outside MGs, which was silenced with grenade. The section commander Sgt Donaldson returned to Capt Daly, and at that moment the latter was hit by a burst of fire and fell to the ground. He still carried on directing the attack but finally, deciding that the enemy fire was too heavy for all his men to get over the barricade, he ordered them to withdraw, and take the wounded with them. The men with him tried to move him, but were unable to do so. They left the farm to the west, and were fired on by another MG, which hit one of the wounded men. The platoon crept away and lay up for some time in the hope of picking up 3 ORs, who were missing. They did not turn up and the patrol returned to Bttn HQ. 5 ORs were wounded and evacuated. 1 of these died two days later. The patrol reported that just outside the farm was a two barrelled gun, similar to a 17 pounder, with a flash eliminator; in one of the buildings was a wireless or telephone and several enemy (grenades were thrown in here). Estimated casualties inflicted on the enemy: 15. Two MGs were silenced.

1900 A section went out to lay mines at cross roads 6611, but came across trip wire at 668115, over which one man stumbled, causing an explosion 2/3 foot away. This man was stunned for several minutes. The patrol went on; there 15/20 yards further a similar incident occurred. They were badly shaken and two of the men now needed assistance, so the commander decided to return.

2000 A platoon of D Coy, under Lt Clark, visited Carrier Farm (652129). They made a cautious approach, and there being no sign of the enemy, they went in. The farm was deserted, but slit trenches and six coils of barb wire were found. The patrol then lay mines across the road at 650127.


3rd March – IN THE FIELD.

The day was very quiet with no artillery or mortar fire from the enemy.

1500 2 LIR reported that Sgt Miller, one of the men missing from Capt Daly’s patrol, had come into their lines. He was in an exhausted condition, wounded by MG fire in both legs and the back and had crawled back from Stop Farm, a distance of nearly two miles. He was evacuated forthwith.

1930 A patrol of 6 went out to road at 660106, where large vehicle tracks were seen at the side of the road (approx 2’6” wide). They laid mines at this point and returned.

Sgt McAleer was out most of the day along the gully from Bou Arada rd at 646049.He reported likely MG positions and a camouflaged position at 677053, also a suspected  OP at 675074. The latter two were engaged with effect by artillery.


4th March – IN THE FIELD.

Grandstand and area 6308 mortared occasionally during the day.

1015 RAP reported that two uniformed figures were seen crossing the plain (approx area 6324), coming from the east. These were brought in, and proved to be two French soldiers (Moroccans), who had escaped from Tunis area. They were conducted to El Aroussa gendarmerie.

1630 Smoke shells laid singly on Grandstand, 640081, 620080 (approx). Immediately, a single enemy fighter flew in from Bou Arada direction, very low and opened fire on the gully 635064. One SAA truck was slightly damaged, the plan then made off eastwards.

D Coy moved into position in readiness for an attack on Koudiat Si Barka (6106).

1800 The attack commenced, 1 Platoon advanced on and cleared Wog village of Gribana without trouble, and sealed the top of Barka, where there was a little opposition. The main resistance came from some cactus on the eastern slopes and the platoon, which went round that way did not succeed in clearing it. Five MGs opened up on the Coy, 3 of which were put out of action. Owing to some mistake in an order during the action, the platoons withdrew too early, but the enemy was nonetheless engaged with good effect and had the Coy stayed a little longer it is considered that 90% of the enemy would have been mopped up, even in spite of the darkness. Heavy, but inaccurate, mortar fire came from the Germans throughout the action. Our own artillery support was excellent. The action caused a considerable diversion on the Brigade front, a number of known enemy positions were engaged by our artillery, and the smoke screen was sufficient to hide a Brigade. For some time after D Coy had withdrawn, the enemy maintained fire and put up many light signals from Two Tree Hill (678090) and other positions south to Barka. Estimated enemy casualties: 10/15. Most of the positions on Barka were pinpointed for the artillery, as a result of the battle.  Our troops suffered 4 minor casualties and 1 carrier (part of mobile reserve) was ditched beyond recovery. The smoke screen actually hid the cactus from which most of opposition came, from the FOO, and consequently this could not be re-engaged.

The attack would have been more successful had the Coy had more officers. The platoon led by an officer did well until he became a casualty, and with a little more leadership the action would have been outstanding.

1930 Patrol of L/Cpl and 2 visited the area of Stop Farm (647102), and found a section position just north of the entrance. Sentries were also patrolling along the side of the Goubellat – Bou Arada road. The farm as later engaged by our artillery.

1930 Patrol of 1 sergeant and 3 laid another six mines in the area 660106. Those laid the previous night were still there. Total of mines now 21.


5th March – IN THE FIELD.

A very quiet day. 2/3 mortar bombs dropped east of Farm 637082 did no damage.

1930 A fusilier recce patrol to Stop Farm could observe no movement of enemy.

1930 A patrol of 3 visited pt 286 (662069), but on skirting around the lower slopes, could neither see nor hear any movement. They moved onto 667068 and lay up for some time. A vehicle was heard to start up in the saddle between Mehallah and Barka accompanied by 2 or 3 commands in German. Otherwise, the patrol was without incident.

NB Between 2200 and 2300 hrs, considerable movement of British vehicles was seen in Bou Arada and along the road from there to our positions. This movement was given away by lights. Some automatic near Bou Arada about 0445hrs proved to be an exchange of fire between our platoon in Nuisance Farm and French troops in the village. It was quite harmless.


6th March – IN THE FIELD.

1130/1230 A few mortar bombs on Grandstand.

1930 Another small patrol to Stop Farm saw and heard nothing of the enemy.

1930 1 NCO and 2 men went out to pt 286 again. About 100 yards up the hill (SE slope), they found some booby traps (with trip wires 4” to 6” off the ground. Voices were heard coming from near the top of the hill. Whilst this patrol was out, they came under shellfire. The enemy put down a number of shells between pts 279 and 286 apparently with the object of harassing any of our patrols. Our constant visits to pt 286 evidently annoy him.

2100 A patrol of 10 under command Sgt O’Driscoll, C Coy, paid a visit to Carrier Farm (654129). On the way, Sgt O’Donnell found a signal cable running along the road going east from 648099 junction. He cut about 200 yards out of this, brought some back with him and scattered odd lengths of the rest about the countryside. From Hamra (6612), he saw a light at Carrier Farm. The patrol then went on, and reached a spot about 20 yards before the farm entrance before being halted by a sentry.  He was standing somewhat leisurely by the entrance and Sgt O’Donnell opened fire upon him with his Tommy Gun. The sentry fell; MG fire opened up from all parts of the farm and especially from positions well away from the buildings. One MG about 50 yards from the patrol was silenced with a grenade. Fire continued to come from all directions and Sgt O’Donnell ordered his men to fall back. Groups of Germans thereupon ran out of the various barns and our patrol put down considerable Bren fire upon them. Another MG opened up from the west of the Goubellat road. Sgt O’Donnell gradually retreated with his men, and the enemy began firing off Very lights and followed up our patrol for about 100 yards. When Sgt O’Donnell stopped to check up, he found that L/Cpl Daniels was missing. This NCO did not return. On the way back, another telephone cable, running east from Stop Farm was cut. 5-10 casualties were inflicted on the enemy by this well led patrol.


7th March – IN THE FIELD.

Fairly persistent shelling and mortaring of areas. No damage during the night.

The morning was quiet, no enemy shelling or mortaring.

1450 5 smoke shells dropped: 2 about 632082, 1 about 620288, 2 in area 627063

After dark, a mortar and gun flash spotting plan was put into operation with the cooperation of the gunners. Two additional OPs were established. However, the enemy remained quite inactive this night. None of our patrols went out until after midnight, in order to give the artillery full scope in the event of enemy gun positions being discovered. 


8th March – IN THE FIELD.

0005 Recce patrol to Plough Top found no sign of the enemy, beyond the sound of digging in the gully north of the feature. Lt Wood took 3 men to Stop Farm to ascertain if it was definitely occupied. He entered the farm after a cautious recce and found evidence of a hasty retreat by the enemy. The buildings were all badly damaged by our shellfire, and it was apparent that several enemy dead were beneath the rubble in the cellar of the house. This had apparently been used as an HQ, 2 cables ran through a window and various articles of clothing and equipment lay about the room.

In the yard, was discovered the bodies of Capt WAR Daly, L/Cpl Black and one other.

A number of enemy and British small arms and ammunition was collected by Lt Wood. An A/Tk gun was found by the haystack; this had a longer barrel that our 25 pounder, but was smaller itself. The breech block was smashed.

Lt Wood lay up here all day with the 2 others of his patrol, sorting and collecting the salvage.

A recce patrol visited Argoub Hamra and found no enemy upon it. They went onto the vicinity of Carrier Farm, but owing to the extreme darkness could not ascertain if the enemy were there or not. No movement was seen or heard.

1000 Coy Commander’s conference.

Enemy shelling is more persistent during the afternoon and evening than for some days. 2.i.c. visited A and C Coys on Grandstand after dark

Wood, who has been lying up on Stop Farm J647102 since last night reports that Capt Daly’s body is there, as is Corporal Black’s. He has stacked a quantity of enemy equipment up. B Coy are sending out patrol to bring in the bodies and equipment.


9th March – IN THE FIELD.

0325 The patrol returns with Capt Daly’s body, but in the dark, they were not able to find Cpl Black or the equipment.

1000 Patrol conference.

1100 A representative gathering collected at the RAP to pay their last respects to Capt Daly, a great loss to the Bttn losing this brave, intelligent and gallant officer. He is buried in Farm J 639058. CO visits B Coy during the afternoon and D Coy on pt 279 after dark.

1900 Lieut Wood and strong platoon go out to recover the body of Cpl Wood and enemy equipment from Stop Farm. They are warned of enemy activity in Farm 618112. Returned without incident.

No patrols, other that the local protective, were sent out.


10th March – IN THE FIELD.

A peaceful day. No enemy shelling or mortaring took place. A Coy sent out a patrol to Wog Hill and Plough Top during the first part of the night. They heard voices and digging in the valley to the east of the arab dwellings on Wog Hill but neither saw or heard any other signs of the enemy during their patrol.

A C Coy patrol visited Argoub Hamra and discovered unoccupied trenches there; later they lay up near Carrier Farm (654129) and saw a vehicle enter the yard, from the direction of Goubellat. It stayed only a minute or two and then made off eastwards. The farm did not appear to be occupied.


11th March – IN THE FIELD.

0200 Sgt Russell took 10 men from D Coy out to pt 286. They crawled up to the top from the SE and got to within 6 yards of a trench containing 3 men manning an MG. Other trenches nearby were occupied and the enemy appeared very alert. It seemed impossible to snaffle any prisoners, so the patrol suddenly opened fire and each man threw a grenade into the various trenches.

The enemy returned fire, but our patrol withdrew safely. Sgt Russell was confident that several casualties were inflicted upon the enemy. He also reported that the occupants of 286 appeared to be more wide awake than formerly and possibly belonged to a new unit. The day was uneventful, with the enemy again very quiet.

After dark, D Coy 1 RIrF relieved A Coy, 1 RIrF, in the farms between Grandstand and Bou Arada.

Another A Coy patrol went out to Wog Hill and Plough Top, but a thorough search revealed no sign of enemy night positions or standing patrols.

D Coy sent out five men to report on the vehicle activity behind 286 and Barka, but although they lay up for some time in the gully NW of Barka, they heard nothing. Probably, the vehicle did not set out, as the night was very wet and the ground a sea of mud. Another patrol of two men set out to recce enemy dispositions on Lalla Fatma (7007), but had to turn back when only halfway owing to the weather and the state of the ground.

B Coy sent out 1 officer and 10 men (including 4 pioneers) to blow up the Teller Mine dump in Stop Farm, reported by Lt Wood. When about 200 yards from the farm, they were challenged in English and did not fire straightaway. The recce in front then said “We are French, do not fire and the patrol commander decided that the people before him were a German patrol, so he opened fire. One of the enemy came in and threw a grenade. Our patrol was not bunched together at this time but strung out, with only 2/3 men forward. In the darkness, the commander could not get everyone together, and after firing most of his ammunition, decided to withdraw, with the 4/5 men he could find. 2 men were slightly wounded from the patrol. Eventually all struggled back to the Bttn area, with the exception of Sgt Lortie, a Canadian NCO attached to the unit. His body was found near the scene of the action on the following  night. Also, one man was missed. It was believed that he was wounded and taken prisoner.

Most of the day was uneventful, but towards dusk, the enemy was seen moving into positions on the forward positions on Mehallah and eight vehicles went onto Gribana, three or four vehicles were heard about 2030 hrs behind pt 286, and shortly after, one of these moved off to the east. Some mortaring of the Bttn area then took place, the bombs, six in number, falling o the north side of Si Aek, but no casualties were caused. A mortar flash was suspected at 683077 at 2050 hrs. All the above enemy positions were then heavily engaged by our artillery.


12th March – IN THE FIELD.

2108 D Coy reported a very large explosion and glow from the direction of Mehallah, and it was believed that one of our shells had hit an ammunition dump.

2220 MG fire was heard from Minefield Farm (656055), held by a section of D Coy. Later, a report came from there of a visit of an enemy patrol. Upon sighting the enemy, 7/8 strong, to the east of the farm, Sgt McAleer had the defences manned and the enemy were allowed to come close in. It was hoped that they would be caught in some of the many trip wires about the farm, but four of them entered the yard at the NE corner, whilst the ramasorder carried on along the road, beside the farm walls. As there was a possibility of these men getting into the gully to the west of the farm, where some of D Coy was in position, the section in the farm opened fire. There was brisk engagement for several minutes, until the enemy withdrew. One of them was left in the yard, wounded in the arm. As the corn in the field, east of the farm was fairly long, the enemy soon disappeared from view, and artillery fire was brought down upon them. Before first light, D Coy sent out a patrol to recce the area the area, but no traces of the enemy were found. The prisoner proved to be from a new unit, No 9 Coy of A33 (renamed Panzer Grenadier), which had only been in the positions around Mehallah for 3 days; the impression was gathered from the interrogation of the PW, that this unit was alert and keen, and their morale good. He believed there were 8 artillery guns in support.

During the day, Lt Wood and Capt Ablett left on an MMG and an A/Tk course respectively.

2215  Another patrol to Wog Hill and Plough Top still found no signs of the enemy. 4 men visited Carrier Farm, lay up to the SE of it, but did not hear or see anything of the enemy.


13th March – IN THE FIELD.

Very little shelling or mortar fire. Preparations were commenced for handing over to Sherwood Foresters. A recce party from this Bttn, including the Commanding Officer and the IO arrived towards midnight. After dark, an ambush party of INCO and 11 men took up positions to the east of Minefield Farm, in order to surprise any further patrol, which might feel inclined to visit the farm. However, they waited all night without being favoured with a visit from the Panzer Grenadiers. Once again, a patrol went out to the Wog Hill – Ploughtop area; they did not come across any Germans, but discovered a pit 5 foot square deep in the saddle of Ploughtop (probably a mortar position).

1930   C Coy sent out a patrol (Capt Rowlette and ten men) to visit Carrier Farm (654129), but they encountered the enemy whilst still on the way. Just before reaching the road going east from near Stop Farm, they found 20/25 men coming towards them, bunched together. Capt Rowlette waited until they were some 10/12 yards away before giving the order to fire. Our patrol opened up with everything they had, including grenades, and the enemy group immediately went to ground. Some fire was returned, but it is certain that several casualties were inflicted on the enemy. Almost immediately, following the exchange of shots, fire was opened upon our patrol from the western side of the main road and Capt Rowlette, fearing that this new enemy patrol intended working to his rear, decided to withdraw his men, whilst holding off the enemy with MG and rifle fire. This was successfully achieved, and the patrol arrived back with 2 minor casualties. Unfortunately, these 2 men received further wounds whilst being evacuated in the field ambulance. This was shot up while travelling through Bou Arada; the source of the firing is not known, but apparently it came from the French troops in the town, who seemed to be shooting at a suspected enemy patrol, just as the ambulance entered the main street.


14th March – IN THE FIELD.

Was a very wet and uncomfortable night, as the rain began early and kept on most of the daytime. Any part of the Bttn area, where there was any traffic – wheeled or pedestrian – was rapidly transformed into a bog. More mud than uniform was visible upon most of the members of the Bttn and it was the lucky few who got through the day with dry blankets or bivvies. The recce party from the Sherwood Foresters was thus put in the picture in more ways than one.

Owing to this interference from the Tunisian weather, the changeover between us and the Foresters was postponed for 24 hours. The enemy was evidently pre occupied with baling out its trenches, as no mortar or gunfire came over during the day. Our own artillery, however, opened up whenever the rain stopped for a few minutes.  During the night, only local protective patrols were put out.


15th March – IN THE FIELD.

A busy day. Arrangements were completed for the handover and the Bttn’s journey to its new area. The Support Group was to be left behind until the Foresters’ own support weapons came up.

During the night, the Foresters took over the Coy positions and the Bttn moved off. The journey was not accomplished without incident. The commanding officers’ car overturned into a gully, which contained about the usual quota of mud and water and the occupants, which included the CO and the Intelligence Sergeant made uncomfortable and hasty exits from unusual angles and completed the journey by devious means – including rides on one 3-tonner and a TCV. The roads, particularly from the Bttn area to the El Aroussa road were only just passable and various strenuous deeds were wrought on route, many a 3-tonner and TCV being rescued from precarious positions in ditches and gullies alongside the muddy tracks. Needless to say, the order of march suffered somewhat, but eventually and by stages, the whole Bttn arrived at its destination just outside Gafour.


16th March – IN THE FIELD.

The day was fine and sunny and the Bttn relaxed. Baths at the mobile bath unit at Gafour were visited by TCVs full of troops and at the end of the day, the Bttn was unaccustomedly clean.

1845 On the move again. The Bttn formed up ready for its journey “into immediate reserve” north of Sloughia. The move, which took place for the most part for the most part, along the Gafour –Medjez rd was much more comfortable than that of the preceding night and carried out without over much strain or effort.


17th March – IN THE FIELD.

The day was spent in settling down in our new abode and in discovering the general situation in the district. The weather was unaccountably good, and the change of scenery welcomed by all. During the later afternoon, Brigadier N Russell paid a visit to the Bttn, saw all officers and NCOs and conveyed St Patrick’s Day greetings to all ranks. He explained to the Bttn the reason for its transference from 6 Armoured Division to the 78th Infantry Division.


18th March – IN THE FIELD.

During the morning, the Bttn was fitted out on a lavish scale with new battle dresses and clothing. After dinner, the rain began again and continued for the rest of the day.


19th March – IN THE FIELD.

Another wet day. The Bttn is now under command of 36 Infantry Brigade and much of the morning is spent at brigade HQ viewing the sand model of the local front. Capt TR Knaggs, together with Sgt Major Glover, Sergeants Robinson, Ritchie and Cpl Bloomfield left this evening on the first stage of their journey to England, where they are to lecture on the Tunisian Campaign (we wish them good luck but not a “speedy return”)

1930 C and D Coys take over 5 Buffs Standing Patrols for tonight, owing to 36 Brigade being relieved.


20th March – IN THE FIELD.

Another wet day with plenty of mud. The Bttn is apparently now under command of 24 Guards Brigade. This causes a few headaches – ie under whose command are the 6 Innisks – 38 (Irish) Brigade, 36 Brigade, 24 Brigade, 78 Division or 1 Division. However, the Adjutant seems to have settled the matter by sewing 78 Division signs on his new battledress – the only pair in the Bttn. Brigadier Russell visited the Bttn in afternoon, but unfortunately the CO was out making a recce along the Medjez road and liaising with the support units. Later still, the Army Commander – General Anderson paid a visit and watching the shooting on the range.


21st March – IN THE FIELD.

0500 Stand To. Coys on area route marches forward firing and rifle range. The rifle range appears to be very popular especially the novelty item “Pool Bull”. The remainder of Support Coy , an A/Tk platoon, who had been left with the Foresters rejoined the Bttn. Still enough rain to keep the ground very muddy.

1530 Brigadier from 24 Guards Brigade paid a visit.

1930 First instalment of transport left for change over with 1 Guards Brigade, who are replacing us in 6 Armoured Division.

The Bttn published its recce Intelligence Summary. Some 6 Innisks being extracts from Division and Brigade summaries, which have a local interest. It is hoped that this can be a regular feature and give all ranks the complete picture of the Brigade front.


22nd March – IN THE FIELD.

Stand to at 0500 hrs. Activities during the day confirmed mainly to training. Rifle range revolver practice and field firing. A and C Coys on route march, recced routes to forming up point for possible counter attack role. Major GF Maxwell appointed GSO II (Training) First Army, left unit.

0900 Major J McCann, Capt Little, and 20 ORs left for rest camp at Ain Drahan.

1000 All routes receive the first anti typhus inoculation. CO attends conference at HQ, 24 Guards Brigade.

1830 CO holds conference for all officers.

1930 Coy Commanders’ conference.


23rd March – IN THE FIELD.

Weather fine and sunny and ground rapidly drying.

0900 Capt Kingsmill (Canada) and party left to recce area near Le Kef – area 0688.

1000 Changeover with 1 Scots Guards affected as: Recce party: 0700 hrs. Troops: 1000 hrs. Order of march: A, B, C, D Coys. Dispositions: A, B, C, D Coys Innisks to A, B, C, D Coys Scots Guards respectively.

The new Bttn HQ (Farm 482312) is a pleasant surprise to everyone. Although still occupied by a French family, the house is large enough to hold the whole of Bttn HQ personnel in comfort. Some of the rooms are partly furnished, so comfort really is the word.

1545 A Coy bring in an Arab, suffering from a slight head injury. Escort report that he was arrested near their position having been observed from the enemy lines.

On interrogation by Lieut Schayek, it was revealed that the prisoner had come from farm ((area J 1545), where he was purchasing tobacco from his friend Thara. At the farm was an Italian soldier, who asked the prisoner what he thought of the British. After saying that “the British were good, the Italian clubbed him with his rifle. Prisoner then ran away in the direction of our lines. Brigade HQ were informed and 1 Irish Guards are to send a patrol to investigate the farm.

1900 A Coy report enemy shelling their positions. One shell landing 50 yards from Coy HQ.

2000 Recce party from Le Kef returns. Bttn is now under command of 11 Infantry Brigade.


24th March – IN THE FIELD.

0500 Stand to. Weather fine and tracks quite hard. Patrols during night made no contact and had nothing to report.

1030 Brigade commander, 11 Infantry Brigade, and CO 5 Northamptons arrived and made final arrangements for handing over..

2130 Handing over completed and Bttn HQ moves off.

2200 Arrived in concentration area – gully J/4829 – 4929.


25th March – IN THE FIELD.

0600 Stand to – weather fine.

Coy activities confined to kit… inspections and practice shooting on the range.

1800 Impromptu concert. Brigadier N Russell (38 Irish Brigade),   who was visiting the Bttn remained as an amused member of the audience.

1830 2.i.c. and rest party returned from Ain Draham.


26th March – IN THE FIELD.

0600 Stand to. Weather fine.

0900 Major Bunch, Capt J Norman and 79 ORs leave for rest camp at Ain Draham. The duties of Adjutant now rest with Capt N Kingsmill (Canada). Coys on training, which included a lecture on tanks by 142 RAC, and an inspection by CO.

1800 Impromptu concert under the guidance of Capt RA Ablett.


27th March – IN THE FIELD.

0830 Coys in training as per programme.

Reorganisation of HQ and Support Coys. Major DT Little is now in Support Coy.

1200 The Bttn was pleased to welcome back Capt A Ferris, who arrived with Lieut Halpin and 12 OR reinforcements. Capt Ferris now seems fully recovered from the wounds he received in the battle for ‘Two Tree Hill’ .

1400 CO inspection of HQ Coy platoons.

1830 Officer of 1 Recce reported that C Squadron was standing to and that a patrol had been sent out. He could give no further information.

1900 Explanation received from 1 Recce regarding previous information. Patrol and ‘Stand to’ had been ordered because one of their patrol cars had run over a mine.


28th March – IN THE FIELD.

0600 Weather fine – rain later in day.

0900 CO together with officers attend demonstration by the tanks of A Squadron 142 RAC.

The demonstration was originally intended to show the suitability of slit trenches when attacked by tanks. Unfortunately, the trench occupied by the CO and Capt N Kingsmill (Canada) was not equal to the strain imposed on it by a Churchill and collapsed. Neither was hurt but it is … that both the CO and Capt Kingsmill now have more faith in tanks than in trenches

1800 C of E Church service by Capt Mitchel.


29th March – IN THE FIELD.

0700 Party under Capt N Kingsmill left to recce new Bttn area near Beja (343371).

1000 Recce party from 5 Grenadier Guards arrive and arrangements are made for handing over.

1030 Road recce party leave for Beja.

2110 Handing over completed and Bttn crosses start line. Order of march: A Coy, Bttn HQ, B, C and D Coys.


30th March – IN THE FIELD.

0430 The Bttn arrives at its new position and Bttn HQ is established in Farm 343371. Thick mist and rain added to the darkness, made the journey very trying for the drivers of all the vehicles.

1100 CO’s conference.

Remainder of the day spent in making local recce and settling down in new positions.

1800 C Coy send Standing Patrol to be at Oued Zarga.

A, B, and D Coys local patrols only.

2130 Report received from C Coy, that PET lorry had run over minefield in their area. On investigation, it was found that the patrol lorry had run over a mine placed on the side of the road in C Coy’s area. Sentries had been placed on the road and acted as guides to incoming vehicles. The patrol lorry was in convoy and was preceded by the QM’s car and ration lorry. These had been guided through the minefield, but the driver of the patrol apparently did not wait for the guides and ran too close to the side of the road. Occupants of lorry and load were undamaged but two sentries were wounded. These were evacuated at 2400hrs.


31st March – IN THE FIELD.

0530 Stand to. Weather cold – rain during day. All Coys normal. Patrols from A, B, C and D. Coys had nothing to report.

1000 CO holds conference for patrol leaders and explains object and reason of forthcoming patrols.

1015 Daylight patrol under command of Lieut Beeching went to Djebel Mahdi to recce suitable area for Bttn forming up point.   

1430 The Bttn is reinforced by four dogs – complete with name and number. It is fervently hoped that the dogs are not as hungry as they appear. However this might prove useful – ‘Bulb rations’ are unlikely to spoil their appetite for any enemy they might encounter.

1630 CO interrogates patrol leaders and arranges patrols for night 31 March/1 April.

1930 Patrol under Capt Bradley left Plateau Farm, Sidi Amoued, and went out through Recce OP pt 286 and along Mortar Alley. A patrol was heard 200 yards in front of Recce OP at 2000 hrs. Two working parties (enemy) were heard at 428409 Patrol withdrew at 0330 hrs.