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- Day 2
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1st April – MONTE CASTELLONE (G835230).
0200 A few enemy tried to infiltrate B Coy (left coy) positions but only one succeeded in getting close and threw grenades and was then scared off by TMC fire.
0500 CO visited forward companies – going forward to right forward coy where movement by day was not practicable.
1540 Enemy movement was observed near the summit of pt 593 (G836217).
1855–1930 Further activity was observed from the same area in the form of verey light parachute flares and also odd bursts of Schmeisser fire was heard.
2015 It was discovered that the enemy had been using discarded American M/G belts to mark a path leading to a gap in the wire defences in front of the left forward coy. These belts were removed and the wire rearranged.
2100 The troop of tanks in the valley (G837228) was taken over by crews from 12 RCTR (3 Rivers) and the original crews returned to their own unit.
2130 The bttn pioneers completed the laying of an A/Tk minefield at G836227.
2210 The 3” Mortars Bombs fired by our own mortars fell short in front of A Coy position – no casualties were caused.
D Coy arrived in the bttn area under Captain Griffiths from their reserve position at B Echelon – and were shown to their allotted area.
2nd April – MONTE CASTELLONE (G835230).
During the night, coy positions were changed and slightly modified – all changes being completed by 0420hrs. The positions were now C Coy right forward, B Coy centre, A Coy left forward, D Coy in reserve.
0010 B Coy patrol returned – no contact being made with the enemy.
0300 All watches were advanced by one hour.
0710 Bttn OP reported two enemy moving in the vicinity of Phantom House (G829226).
1945 Enemy mortared our own 3” Mortar positions but caused no casualties or damage.
2320-2340 C and D Coys’ local patrols returned without having seen or heard any sign of the enemy.
3rd April – MONTE CASTELLONE (G835230).
0100 Bttn MGs were changed over – two guns from reserve positions changing with the two in right front coy area.
0130 D Coy patrol returned – no contact being made.
0415 3” Mortars began harassing fire task – which was firing at intervals for 25 minutes on the saddle at G828228 and Phantom House G829226.
0550 Patrol to Saddle at 828228 returned and reported finding an enemy standing patrol on Saddle 827228 – 3” mortar fire was brought down on this area as a result of this information.
0600 D Coy patrol returned without contacting the enemy.
Spasmodic mortaring of forward positions occurred during the day but not damage or casualties were caused.
OP reported a suspected enemy mortar position at G822228.
1945 Six enemy were observed on pt593 (G836215) and our left flanking bttn (5 Northamptons), in whose area it was, were informed.
2030 Enemy mortar bombs fell in bttn area and, in retaliation, our MGs fired on Phantom Ridge where an enemy OP was suspected to be. 4.2” mortars also fired on the same area.
2115 The A/Tk minefield at 836227 was extended to cover a possible gap.
2145 Enemy shelled the bttn area and Shell rep was rendered to 17 Field Regiment.
2230 C Coy patrol to G828227 returned without having encountered the enemy.
2250–2330 Enemy mortared area G837228.
During the day, the second in command Major Maxwell made arrangements for some of the food for forward coys to be cooked in A Echelon and sent forward in suitable containers, in order to overcome the difficulty of cooking in the forward areas.
4th April – MONTE CASTELLONE (G835230).
0200 D Coy patrol returned – no contract made.
0210 B Coy patrol also did not make contact with enemy.
0330–1730 Enemy shelled and mortared the bttn area at intervals during the day causing no casualties and the only damage being a box of mortar bomb secondary charges which was set on fire.
2015 The patrol of two (Lieut Walker MM and one fusilier), which had been lying up all day in the Saddle G 828238 returned and reported – (1)That the enemy had a cookhouse in the area G826229 and that enemy movement was observed on track between Phantom Ridge and San Angelo. (2) The enemy had mortar positions alongside the same track. (3) Tracked vehicles were heard moving along track at 2000 hrs. (4) The enemy Standing Patrol in Saddle G828238 were heard leaving at 0630hrs.
2025 The Battle Patrol, which had been waiting for this information left Phantom Ridge but were unable to reach their objective owing to their meeting on enemy patrol strength and returned at 2330 hrs.
2345 D Coy patrol returned without having seen the enemy.
5th April – MONTE CASTELLONE.
0245 B Coy patrol returns – no contact having been made. The remainder of the night was comparatively quiet.
0900 The Pioneer Platoon commenced to clean up bttn area of tins and rubbish left by previous units and to cover the bodies of mules with lime.
0930 Enemy movement was seen at Phantom House and mortar fire was put down on the position after which no further movement was seen.
A Coy was issued with clean sets of underclothes and shirts, the discarded clothing being returned for washing so that they could be passed onto another coy.
1115-1130 D Coy was mortared, but no casualties caused.
1900 Coys reliefs commences – A Coy to relive D Coy – D Coy to relieve B Coy and B Coy to go into reserve positions.
During the early hours of the night, there was much activity in the Cassino direction and C and D Coy mortared. Two muleteers were wounded while taking rations to C Coy.
2020 C Coy patrol returned after having contacted the enemy, who engaged the patrol with grenades and mortar bombs. Killing 1 OR. The patrol withdrew to allow enemy to be engaged with mortar fire.
During the day, CQMS McQuaid (HQ Coy) had received his last batch of socks, which had been washed by a local Italian. The satisfactory payment was only agreed on after a lengthy discussion. Three hundred and fifty cakes, which had been baked at A Echelon were brought up with the rations. A BBC recording unit operating on the mule track leading to the bttn gave Captain Dicker and one of the Jeep drivers the opportunity to say a few words to be broadcast at a future date.
6th April – MONTE CASTELLONE.
0230 Owing to the enemy blowing up ammunition in the shattered tanks in the bottle neck, the bttn stood to until 0310hrs.
0530 The CO left the Bttn HQ to visit forward coy positions.
0940 The Brigade Commander and Brigade Major paid a visit to Bttn HQ to see the general layout of positions.
Wherever it was possible, the coys spent the morning improving their dug outs with the double purpose of getting more protection and comfort.
1145-1215 The right forward coy was heavily shelled. There were no casualties but the RA OP was evacuated owing to some near misses and later enemy ranging improved and some direct hits were scored.
The afternoon was quiet except for a few shells falling in the bttn area, which caused neither casualties or damage.
2330 The patrol led by Sgt Girr MM, which had left our lines at 2015 hrs returned without contacting the enemy.
7th April – MONTE CASTELLONE.
The night was quiet.
0500 A patrol led by Sgt Orr reported in without having contacted the enemy.
0645 Owing to a mist reducing visibility the bttn had to ‘stand to’ longer than usual, the mist clearing away about one hour after daybreak.
0940 D Coy observed an enemy SP gun firing on pt 593 from Phantom Ridge. Our mortars were brought into action and 39 hits were observed out of the 70 bombs they fired.
1010 The target was finally seen to blow up.
1450–1725 The few shells and mortar bombs which fell in the bttn area were replied to by our 3” mortars on known enemy positions.
2145 A patrol of A Coy came in with 2 prisoners from 3 Coy 115 Recce, who had been lying up during the day observing our positions. After the normal routine, they were despatched to Brigade HQ.
2200 D Coy’s recce patrol reported enemy movement in front of our positions and a patrol led by Sgt Girr MM went out to investigate this activity but failed to contact the enemy.
2200 A patrol from B Coy was sent to the second battle neck to see if the enemy was forming up for an attack but this did not prove to be the case.
San Michele – During the day, a commotion was caused at A Echelon when the Provost Sgt’s Motor Cycle caught fire and was extinguished with the HQ clerk’s blanket.
8th April – MONTE CASTELLONE.
0015–0505 A few mortar bombs fell in the bttn area causing no casualties or damage.
0520 The Battle Patrol returned and reports no contact but the discovery of three unoccupied dug outs at 833222 showing signs of recent occupation.
0525 Twelve mortar bombs fell in Bttn HQ and B Coy areas. A direct hit on a dug out caused the death of 2 ORs and some damage to small arms.
In the morning, B Coy personnel had a change of under clothing and in turn sent back their dirty clothes for washing and circulation to another coy.
1030 At the request of the CMO, the 3” mortars put down 60 bombs on 824224.
1515 A PIAT fixed as a mortar was fired at Phantom House 829226, the bombs fell near the target but the enemy’s reply was mortar bombs on the coy area.
1700 C Coy was heavily shelled. Two ORs being killed and 2 wounded.
1855 Our 3” mortars fired 10 bombs on each of the two saddles in front of our positions.
2000-2240 enemy MGs and mortars fired on our FDLs from fixed line positions but failed to cause any damage.
2200 A recce patrol to track 830226 returned having made no contact but having heard voices at a position 100 yards south east of Phantom House.
2230 enemy mortar fire wounded ORs.
2245 An enemy MG firing from left of the saddle G828228 was engaged by our mortars.
2300 The relief by C Coy of B Coy took place without interruptions.
2340 The Ambush Patrol returned having seen no enemy.
9th April – MONTE CASTELLONE.
0230 The recce patrol to track 831221 reported in after having reached its objective. The only signs being voices heard 300 yards to the left.
The rest of the night was comparatively quiet.
0900 The concentration of an alternative Bttn HQ was commenced by the Pioneer Platoon.
1215–1245 Forty Four enemy mortar bombs fell in right coy area, causing only 1 (OR) casualty.
1230 RCs held Divine Service at Bttn HQ which was not interrupted by enemy action.
1245 Own 3” mortars put down 60 bombs in saddles and slopes of Phantom Ridge.
1430 Rain began to fall, which later developed into a downfall, flooding out a great percentage of the dug outs.
1445 One OR was wounded by an enemy mortar bomb in right coy area.
The rest of the afternoon was quiet but wet.
2000 COs’ Orders were held.
2040 An enemy mortar was reported firing from 829225. Twenty bombs were put down by our own 3” mortars and reported to be in the right area.
2150 The minefield at 834224 was reported to be complete and records were sent to Brigade HQ.
2245 Mortars and small arms opened up on enemy seen in the vicinity of 833222.
2255–2310 Exchange of mortar fire.
2315 The Battle Patrol returned with 3 prisoners from 832222 identified as belonging to 115 Recce Bttn (15 PG Division). The patrol reported having been engaged by MGs and light mortars, following the patrol clash. Two of our own troop did not return from this patrol and were believed captured .
SAN MICHELE During the day, great difficulty had been experienced at A Echelon in cooking meals under adverse conditions. The ration party was late in arriving owing to the bad state of the roads.
2345 Own 3” mortars engaged an enemy MG post on the left of saddle 828228.
10th April – MONTE CASTELLONE.
0147 The Brigade Major reported that from the interrogation of the PoWs, it is learnt that the enemy have an OP in Phantom House and have observed our movements.
0150 B Coy’s recce patrol returns, and reports that enemy position at 829227 and 828227 from which they were engaged with grenades.
0155 Three A/Tk guns 64 Attack Regiment at 823228 – 836228 – 835227.
0250 A few mortar bombs fell in right coy area.
0615 Ambush Patrol reports in after seeing a mortar position 50 yards – 100 yards left of Phantom House. Taking advantage of brilliant morning sunshine, the bttn attempts to dry itself out after previous day’s rain.
0930 A daylight patrol left our area to recce the scene of the previous night’s patrol clash and to look for traces of the two missing men, but were unable to advance very far owing to enemy snipers.
0945 Two enemy on Knoll 832221 disappeared when engaged by our snipers.
1500 – 1525 The light shelling of bttn area was replied to by 3” mortars.
1700 One OR was killed and six ORs wounded by enemy mortar bombs.
1950 CO visited the coys and whilst visiting the position of top right hand coy, his bodyguard was wounded by a mortar bomb.
Major Murdoch was also wounded but stayed with the bttn.
2000 COs’ orders were held.
2357 A Coy patrol returned – Nothing to Report.
San Michele (907226)/San Pietro (9715) – During the day, the main activity was repairs and maintenance tasks at A and B Echelon, prior to OME’s inspection on the 11th April 1944.
A few shells fell in A Echelon area.
11th April – MONTE CASTELLONE.
0320 The road to the bttn, having been cleared of Jeeps, two SP guns came up to our area.
0425 The SP guns reported in position.
The sound of tracked vehicles was heard during the night on the far side of Phantom Ridge. The rest of the morning was quiet.
C Coy had a change of underclothing.
1435 Very heavy rain flooded all dug outs and all personnel got soaked.
1600 Track near Mortar Corner was reported to be partly washed away. Brigade, when informed, promised to send REs.
1645 Bttn HQ and left hand coy was shelled.
1700 A Coy suffered three slight casualties from enemy mortar bombs.
1700 – 1800 Mortar duels.
1800 The Officer in charge of REs reported that the road was now repaired.
2000 COs’ Orders were held.
2000 – 2359 Enemy showed signs of nervousness by various coloured flares and bursts of MG all along the front.
San Michele/San Pietro – The news from A and B Echelons was than OME’s inspection had taken place. The Jeep train made slow progress that night owing to rain and bad visibility.
12th April – MONTE CASTELLONE.
0045 Battle Patrol (Cockroach) returns and reported an engagement with enemy patrol at 832222. Own casualties were 1 wounded.
0135 D Coy patrol (Beetle) reported in after having a clash with enemy at Phantom House.
0425 B Coy patrol (Moth) returned, after seeing fire on Phantom House.
No contact was made with the enemy
During early hours of morning, tracked vehicles were heard in direction of Colle San Angelo.
1400 Enemy activity was seen by Phantom House. MGs and 3” mortars engaged. D Coy OP reported well covered and last round scored a direct hit on point where enemy were last seen.
On the whole, the afternoon was quiet.
D Coy personnel had a change of clothes.
1815 A Coy change over with D Coy. The changeover was completed by dark.
1945 CO visited forward coys.
2120 The bttn was visited by the DA and DMG.
2207–2330 3” mortar shoot was started by 832222.
2250 Enemy replied by mortaring our 3” mortar area.
2340 Patrol (Stag) returns, no incident but heard sounds of enemy patrol.
Left post of 2 LIR was taken over by one of our sections of the right hand coy.
The Jeeps and Mule train had a difficult journey to the bttn owing to the bad roads and a very dark night.
A TCP was established at Mortar Corner from this night.
13th April – MONTE CASTELLONE.
0010 A visit to the Bttn HQ was paid by Major Clarke and a Captain of the Sappers recce party.
0200 –0520 Our mortars had many shoots at Knoll 833222.
0300 During one of the shoots, an explosion was seen by the right forward coy who believed it was an ammunition dump that had been hit.
0520 None enemy were seen carrying rations to a suspected cookhouse on Saddle. Our mortars put down 18 bombs on the area and OPs reported they were on the target.
It was a quiet morning. A Coy checked the rations brought up the previous night and found that whilst no food had arrived, they did not lack water as they had received twice their amount. The reason for this was that some mules had to be shot owing to injuries being received when they strayed into a minefield. This also caused panic to the rest of the mule train. Still the coy did not starve.
The cigarette situation in the bttn was very good. D Coy sent their NAAFI issue of cigarettes back to A Echelon. One blanket per man and most of the tools were bundled with the view to returning them at night to B Echelon.
0930 A Polish Colonel and a Staff Captain, accompanied by the Brigade Major, visited Bttn HQ. Plans for a proposed attack on Phantom Ridge were discussed.
1200 – 1750 A considerable number of mortar bombs fell in the bttn area. Our 3” and 4.2 mortars saw to it that the enemy was amply repaid. We suffered no casualties.
2200 – 2330 There were more mortar activity on both sides and flares and MG fire in 11 (British) Infantry Brigade area. Movement of MT in the direction of Villa San Lucia was also heard.
San Michele – During the day, Major Maxwell started a “fly blitz” at A Echelon. CQMS McQuaid was apparently in a merry mood, wishing that everybody was dead or “knocked off” soon so that he could put their kit in order.
14th April – MONTE CASTELLONE.
0015 Patrol (Hare) returned with nothing to report.
0130 – 0230 A few mortar bombs fell in the bttn area and there was light activity from small arms, MGs and flares.
0545 Patrol (Hunt) reported in, having seen 2 men and being fired on by an enemy MG. Otherwise Nothing to Report.
0600 C Coy line which had been disconnected for two hours was reported through again.
0600 Patrol (Hound) reported in, having seen no enemy but recced a lying up area for the proposed attack.
All the coys reported a quiet day.
0930 There was a CO’s conference at Bttn HQ.
1000 The Brigade Major visited Bttn HQ.
1145 – 1200 Mortar bombs fell in the bttn area. D Coy reported 1 OR wounded.
1805 Dannert Wire Corner was shelled. This continued for some time.
1900 Smoke drifted up the valley into our area.
2210 – 2359 Enemy MGs fired tracer down the track leading to Bttn HQ and at our FDLs. Our 3” mortars replied to this fire.
Due to an ammunition dump which was flown up at Dannert wire Corner (this was the cause of the smoke seen earlier), there was a slight delay to Jepp and mule trains.
15th April – MONTE CASTELLONE.
0230 An ambush patrol to 830226 reported in, having heard movement close to Phantom House. Otherwise Nothing to Report.
0230 – 0410 There was enemy MG fire along our FDLs and mortar bombs fell in the Bttn HQ area.
0310 Recce patrol to 832222 returns, having discovered a standing patrol on reverse slope of the first Knoll.
0505 – 0510 Enemy MG fire was directed against the forward coys and in the direction of pt 593.
0505 The CO of the SP guns Major Weldon, 254 Battery visited Bttn HQ.
0515 3” mortar fire was directed on the second Knoll.
The CO left Bttn HQ to visit forward coys.
The morning was again comparatively quiet, which gave the coys the opportunity to rest and clean up.
1215 The left coy reported enemy shells bursting along their FDLs every ten minutes.
1530 A few mortar bombs exploded in the Bttn HQ area.
1800 A considerable amount of verbal rockets emanating from Bttn HQ to the Mortar Platoon who had been ranging in support of the night patrol. The cause for this was two 3” smoke bombs had descended on 5 Northamptons’ positions between second Knoll and pt 593.
No casualties suffered.
1900 The enemy’s reaction to our ranging on his positions was a considerable number of mortar bombs on our area.
Two intelligence personnel were sent to forward positions with a view to taking sound bearings on enemy transport.
1900 – 1915 The forward coys were mortared by enemy 5 cm and 8.1cms. Own 3” mortars replied.
1940 Bttn HQ was heavily mortared so a “Shamrock” was called for.
2000 The 4.2 mortars opened up on Massa Albernete when a heavy gun, reported to be in that area, opened up on our forward coys.
2000 – 2400 The rest of the night’s activity was confined to a few Verey lights along the front.
San Michele/San Pietro – A and B Echelon had a very quiet day.
16th April – MONTE CASTELLONE.
A loud explosion was heard in area of second bottle neck. This was the only point of interest.
0400 Massa Mananetta returned, having heard the sound of enemy wiring party in area of second bottle neck
No contact was made.
0530 Patrol to Phantom Ridge returned, having been engaged by enemy patrol in the saddle. They avoided a patrol clash and went onto Phantom House, from the right of which they were engaged by small arms and grenades, from positions at 828228. Our patrol suffered four casualties, only one of which returned to our lines.
CO visited forward coys at “stand to”.
1010 There was an exchange of mortar fire, caused by enemy mortaring Bttn HQ. On the whole, it was another quiet day for the bttn.
1500 – 1600 A “Shamrock” was called for, when the enemy again put mortar bombs in Bttn HQ area.
1700 – 2200 There were several mortar exchanges, no casualties were caused.
2230 – 2359 There was considerable activity of MGs and flares along our front. Bttn HQ was mortared heavily and another “Shamrock” was called for.
San Michele/San Pietro – As usual, the activities of A and B Echelons were confined to bringing up the rations. A Echelon reported enemy shells fell in their area. No casualties were suffered. We also learnt that some Italian muleteers arrived at A Echelon under the influence of ‘vino’ and made themselves a considerable nuisance on the mule train up to the bttn.
Major Maxwell (2.i.c.) arrived at Bttn HQ during the day.
17th April – MONTE CASTELLONE.
0025 – 0210 Enemy MGs fired on our positions and shells fell in area of 4.2” mortars. We replied effectively with our weapons. At 0145, there was a disorganisation of B Coy mules.
0215 A Coy patrol reported in. No contact was made, but sounds were heard along enemy FDLS.
0345 – 0430 More bursts of MG fire along FDLs.
0510 The remains of three ORs were found near Signals Exchange, who belong to D Coy’s mule party and had been caught by the mortaring of Bttn HQ at 2230 – 2359 hrs the previous night.
0610 D Coy reported the finding of an Italian muleteer on the track leading to the left coy.
0930 A section of the enemy was seen by A Coy. Eventually, our 3” mortars were brought down upon the position.
OC A Coy had difficulty with his phone and asked Signals to check his line.
The rest of the day was exceedingly quiet.
2035 – 2100 Bttn HQ and Snakeshead were heavily shelled, also Mortar Corner and a 3” ammunition dump was hit.
One OR was killed.
2105 It was discovered that line communications with Brigade and 2 LIR had been severed by shelling.
2110 A Coy reports gun firing on 180° magnetic.
2115 C Coy reported suspected mortar location, which had been firing on our position.
Our 4.2 and 3” mortars opened up in retaliation.
2115 – 2359 There were several bursts of MG fire near Phantom House. C Coy reported having suffered one casualty during the mortaring at 2115 hrs.
Major Maxwell assumed command of the bttn in the evening as the CO left for a four day leave. The mule train and Jeep train were delayed at Mortar Corner by the ammunition explosion.
San Michele/San Pietro – A and B Echelons had another quiet day.
18th April – MONTE CASTELLONE.
0001 Patrol (Wilfred) returned and reported movement at area 832224.
0004 Patrol (Square) returned, having seen a section of enemy 100 yards north of Phantom House.
The night on the whole was quiet.
0430 Patrol (Pip) returned with Nothing to Report.
0600 A dud shell from the enemy shoot last night was found – calibre 88mm.
It was quiet day for the coys.
1230 Our mortars ranged on the lower slopes of pt 593.
1655 One man was seen in that area at 1655 and was engaged by them.
1900 Direct hits were obtained by our 3” mortars and 6 enemy seen in area 834278.
2015 Movement was seen near Phantom House and the sound of vehicles moving on a bearing of 273° magnetic.
2130 – 2250 More bearings were taken on gun flashes and sound during this period. MT was heard moving estimated distance 300 yards away and some shouting was heard.
2310 White and red verey lights were seen at the foot of pt 593.
19th April – MONTE CASTELLONE.
Early in the morning, the CO had arrived at A Echelon and inspected the area before going on leave. This Echelon was taken by surprise at 1845 hours when a barrage of empty shells landed amongst the personnel whilst having their tea. This was not appreciated as there were several near misses. This had repercussions on the Jeep train which left half an hour late. It had been decided that the bttn would have between 3 – 7 days reserve rations.
0040 Patrol (Hyde) returned and reported having seen movement of a possible enemy standing patrol in the area of 832224 and having heard stone positions being built in area at the foot of pt 593. No contact was made.
0115–0200 Several more flash bearings, which, as usual, were passed to the RA who made good use of them.
0445 The Polish Colonel and his Staff Captain left to pass the day in D Coy’s OP.
0510 The Patrol (Jekyl) returned and reported slight movement in area 827229.
It was a comparatively quiet day for the bttn.
1200 Snipers of C Coy engaged some movement in area 834218.
1755 Enemy shells fall in D Coy’s area.
1920 A direct hit was obtained when our 3” mortars fired on two men in a dug out at 833216 and there was much reason to believe that casualties had been inflicted as there was considerable movement afterwards.
Owing to 3 of our Jeeps being off the road, 4 Jeeps and trailers were supplied by the RASC. The reserve rations in our forward areas were made up this night to 7 days.
2000 D Coy was mortared and succeeded in obtaining another mortar bearing.
2245 The OP (829233) reported a flash bearing of 3 guns, which were firing to the rear of the bttn area.
Patrol (Tiger) returned and reported considerable talking and movement in area 832220. No contact was made.
2315 Our 3” mortars fired 20 bombs at pt 593.
2325 Patrol (Lion) returned and reported movement in area 826228 but no contact was made.
2335 – 2359 A flare was dropped by a plan on a bearing of 280° bearing from pt 706.
Our mortars were in action replying to enemy mortar bombs in our area.
20th April – MONTE CASTELLONE.
0030 Forty rounds were fired by our own mortars upon enemy mortars in area San Angelo.
0044 Enemy artillery shelled Bttn HQ. Our own artillery was informed and replied.
0630 The enemy again shelled Bttn HQ.
0930 A Company asked for 3” mortar fire to reply to enemy mortar bombs in their area.
1308 There were heavy mortaring of D Coy area. 3”, 4.2 and artillery opened up in reply and all the known enemy positions received their allotment of bombs and shells.
1515 Twenty 3” mortars were fired at 3 men seen moving up by the forward coys and direct hits were seen in the area.
1630 – 1930 Our mortars had several shoots and an enemy section seen in area 833218 was scattered.
2145 More than the usual movement of transport was heard in the area of Villa San Lucia.
2150 There was a considerable number of different coloured verey lights used by the enemy along the front.
2327 An enemy mule train was heard in area 824223, evidently they had Italian muleteers as Italian mule jargon was easily distinguished. This was engaged by our mortars as soon as it was considered clear of our patrol area.
San Michele – There was slight shelling of A Echelon during the day but no casualties were caused. The Jeeps and mules left at the usual time, accompanied by Lieut Myles, who went up to B Coy, of which is now 2.i.c.
The Polish gunners, who had arrived in A Echelon, spent the day digging gun positions.
21st April – MONTE CASTELLONE.
0020 An enemy ammunition dump behind Phantom Ridge was seen to blow up. Enemy was seen to be moving about by the light of the explosions.
0025 Patrol (Mozart) reported in after hearing coughing and movement in area 832211.
0050 D Coy suffered one casualty from enemy mortaring.
0215 Tommy guns and grenade explosions were heard between the Saddle of pt 593 and D Coy.
0350 Patrol (Handel) came in and reported enemy movement 80 yards north of Phantom House. On approaching to investigate, an enemy illuminating flare went up.
0500 The standing patrol of the left coy came in and reported that at approximately 0300 hrs, they had had small fire exchanges with enemy, who had approached their positions.
0640 Two enemy were seen repairing the camouflage of their position as 3” mortars opened up on the area. The enemy replied with MG fire.
0710 D Coy suffered two casualties owing to enemy mortars.
0900–1200 There were spasmodic mortar duels with enemy bombs falling in all parts of the bttn area.
1500 A solitary mortar bomb fell in the Bttn HQ area and destroyed some of the War Diary papers.
1710 A recce was made for a lying up area, for two coys in the light of the forthcoming move and the possibility of the whole bttn being unable to cross the Rapido valley before daylight.
2020 Bttn HQ was again mortared. Shamrock was called for.
2100–2200 There were some verey lights seen over the FDLs and some mortar engagements.
2230–2235 Spent smoke shells from our own guns fell in the bttn area. Luckily no casualties were caused.
2335–2345 A parachute flare was seen over the second bottle neck and again our 3” mortars opened up and replied to enemy mortaring.
2353 A flash bearing was taken from MR 829233. This was given to our artillery, who opened up at 0115 hrs on 22nd and their fire was observed to be well placed.
San Michele – During the evening, the CO came up with the Jeep train and the only news from A Echelon was the Polish gunners were still digging in.
22nd April – MONTE CASTELLONE.
0115 An enemy ammunition dump was seen to blow up 6° magnetic from the OP on pt 706.
0125–0300 There were more very lights over the FDLs and MG fire.
0630 A mule that had been wounded by shell fire on the night 19/20 April was located and had to be destroyed.
1520 Enemy movement was observed at MR 832215. These were engaged by our mortars.
1600 OO No 8 was issued to all concerned.
1735 A section of the enemy was seen in the same area and once again engaged by the mortars.
1900 Movement was seen on pt 593. Our 3” mortars opened up and at 1925, enemy was seen running down the hill and out of sight due to the accurate fire.
1935 Eight 75 mm shells fell in the area south west of Bttn HQ.
2000 A party of guides left Bttn HQ, by which the relieving unit would travel across the plain to bttn area.
2043 A big fire was seen on the far side of the Rapido plain on a bearing of 64° magnetic and the burst of enemy shells were also seen in that area.
2115–2230 There was mortaring and artillery activity from both sides and a few flares and spasmodic bursts of MG fire.
2245 Patrol (Leeds) came back with Nothing to Report.
San Michele – Twenty shells landed in the area of A Echelon, causing no casualties but a Jeep was put out of action. The new Indian mule coy (26 Mule Coy) that had taken over arrived somewhat late as they do not allow their mules to proceed forward before dusk. The Jeep train was also late owing to traffic congestion on the road, caused by the Polish transport, which had started to take over this sector.
23rd April – MONTE CASTELLONE.
0050 Ten rounds of our own expended smoke shells fell in the bttn area from the same direction as the previous night.
0200 Patrol (London) returned and reported that the track south and south west of 826226 showed signs of use but they made no contact.
0205 Six Polish ORs reported to this HQ having cross the plain from the mule point.
0210 Only 150 gallons of water were brought up during the night as the congestion on the road, only allowed the water Jeep to make one journey. The water Jeep is the CO’s Jeep with a trailer for carrying gallon cans which had been boiled out at B Echelon.
The morning on the whole was comparatively quiet and preparations were put into motion for the forthcoming move.
1100 Bttn HQ was slightly shelled.
1400–1430 Mortaring of D Coy was answered by our mortars.
1630 Four Folke–Wolfes 190 flew over the bttn area. They were engaged by Spitfires.
1755 A fire was started in a wood near Inferno Quarry and was still burning 48 hours later.
2010–2030 The movement of enemy getting in their positions was engaged by our mortars.
2055 Communications reported established with Wrights Corner, Mortar Corner and Dannert Wire Corner where TCPs had been established for the forthcoming move.
2130 The first two Polish Jeeps were reported passing Dannert Wire Corner.
2145 Flames were seen on our front but a considerable distance away.
2330 The patrol to 833219 returned and reported a field of Tellermines in the area of their objective. No contact was made.
The CO and the Bttn HQ officers of relieving unit arrived this HQ.
2340–0030 The advance parties of the Poles, who were to relieve the bttn arrived at Bttn HQ.
San Michele – It was notified that the coy dumps at A Echelon would move to B Echelon. The preparations were put in hand. Arrangements were made for taking forward the advance and support groups of the relieving units. In addition to the usual Jeep train, eighteen extra Jeeps had to be used and all went according to plan.
24th April – MONTE CASTELLONE.
0245 Patrol to 828228 reported in having seen and heard an enemy standing patrol on the west side of Saddle.
0250 Two Polish Jeeps carrying four 3” mortars failed to report this HQ.
0310 C Coy reports that the showing of their positions to the Poles lasted three hours and owing to language difficulties, it was described as a “hell of a job”, mostly as they had been smoked out by our artillery whilst doing it.
0530 Col Baker visited HQ to see the Battery Commander of the 10 Field Battery, 17 Field Battery, RA.
San Michele – CSM Gibson, who was in control of the Jeep and mule trains arrived back but had not received any news of the missing Jeeps.
0610 Movement was seen at 833218 and was engaged by our mortars.
The right coy area was spasmodically mortared throughout and our mortars replied.
Preparations for the forthcoming move started in the morning and lasted all day.
1930 By this time, blankets were stacked and all kit was packed ready to move by Jeep.
2115 The Jeeps train 6 Innisks and Polish arrived at Dannert Wire Corner, where they controlled to the next TCP at Mortar Corner. The last and main TCP was at Wrights Corner from which Captain Griffiths controlled all traffic, to and from the bttn area.
2130 5cm bombs fall in A Coy area
2200 There was MG fire from pt 593 and Phantom Ridge.
2210 More expended smoke shells fell in the bttn area.
2225 Marching troops and mules of the Polish bttn were reported to have arrived at Dannert Wire Corner and that the two missing Jeeps of the previous night were in the column.
2240 A Polish armoured recce car was stuck above Dannert Wire Corner and caused a great deal of congestion. This was eventually overcome after great difficulty.
2305 Ten Polish Jeeps had arrived in the bttn area.
2345 Marching personnel of the coy relieving the right forward coy and mules passed Wrights Corner and proceeded up to relieve D Coy.
San Michele/San Pietro – At A and B Echelon, there was packing up of stores onto trucks, which then set off to our new area Formicola, where they arrived in time to see an oil raid on Naples.
25th April – MONTE CASTELLONE.
0030 The personnel relieving the centre coy passed Wrights Corner on the way up to A Coy positions.
0110 The remainder of the relieving unit, followed closely by relieving A/Tk personnel passed Wrights Corner, where owing to the mules and some Polish personnel getting into wrong coys, not to mention the language difficulty, there was a certain amount of confusion. This was eventually cleared up by Captain Griffiths and they all proceeded on their way.
0155 The enemy shelled the bttn area and 4.2 mortars opened up in reply.
0200 B Coy reported that the relief had been completed and that they were on their way down.
0210 HQ Coy personnel left its area and at the same time it was discovered at Wrights Corner that the personnel detailed to guide the bttn across the Rapido valley had misunderstood their orders and had gone back guiding Polish Jeeps.
0253 A Coy handed over and left its area.
0310 C Coy relief completed and they moved off.
0325 The enemy shelled Bttn HQ area.
0335 Four more expended 25 pounder smoke shells fell in Bttn HQ area.
0345 D Coy having changed over, left Bttn HQ area complete.
0350 One officer and orderly from all coys were ordered to close on Bttn HQ and, at this time, the command of the bttn area passed from 6 Innisks to 14 Infantry Bttn. The CO and the remainder of the bttn personnel left Bttn HQ area in Jeeps and picked up TC personnel at the three posts on the way down.
Little regret was felt by the personnel of the bttn as they lengthened the distance between them and Monte Castellone, where they had spent the most uncomfortable time in their army service. To the older members of the bttn, it had a reminiscence of the time spent on Grandstand, North Africa.
Rapido Valley – The journey across the Rapido valley by the marching personnel was not without incident as some of them were shelled and others managed to get mixed up with other outgoing units of the Division.
0545 The personnel, who had already arrived at Inferno Quarry embossed and moved for the new area
0700 Route Six – The column halted off Route Six where breakfast was served. It was then found that C and D coys had failed to arrive at the embussing point before sunrise.
1000 Formicola – The main body of the bttn arrived in the Formicola area. Elements of C and D Coys arrived during the rest of the day and by 2000 hrs, there were only 15 ORs unaccounted for. These turned up during the next 24 hours.
The remainder of the day was spent settling down in the new area and where possible to make good some of the sleep lost during the night.
26th April – FORMICOLA.
0700 Reveille – The day was spent in resting and in admin checks. A bath house had been prepared by the Pioneer Platoon and was put to good use by the bttn. A canteen had been opened up in the village by the Church Army and everybody was surprised to find it was run by a young lady from home.
1000 Allocations were received for a cinema and ENSA show at Capua.
1800 The Band piped the Retreat. The kilts of the pipers caused quite a stir, among the local Italians. Some of the girls adopted the old Roman custom of throwing flowers.
27th April – FORMICOLA.
The day was passed in a similar way as the previous day. There were the usual recreational parties to Capua. KD was issued to all personnel. The cooks had settled in by this time and were producing some very good meals.
28th April – FORMICOLA
0330 A telephone message was sent out to coys increasing the day leave to Naples from three to twelve per coy.
1000 The CO commenced an inspection of all coy areas, during the afternoon an ENSA show was held in the coy areas.
1800 Once again, the Band played Retreat. In the evening, the officers held a party in the Mess which was attended by the Brigade Commander.
29th April – FORMICOLA
This day was observed as a Sunday owing to the fact that training was to commence on the following day.
0930 RC service was held in the local church and the C of E service was held on the football ground near S Coy area.
After the services, the CO addressed the bttn and reviewed the past month’s events and gave an outline of the training to come. The most favourable view was taken when he promised that training would not interfere with leave parties.
1800 The Brigade Pipes Band piped the Retreat on the football field watched by Divisional and Brigade Commanders and many of the officers and men of the bttn. The turnout was very good and the performance excellent.
30th April – FORMICOLA.
0730 The bttn embussed at the MT lines for the first of a series of exercises. Today’s exercise was to practise river crossings on the River Volturno.
0900 The bttn embossed at the Watermanship Training Ground on the river where RE officers and men gave demonstrations. The period devoted to knot tying would have brought tears to the eyes of any boy scouts at the way the men became entangled in the ropes.
1400 All men of the bttn crossed the river in assault boats. This, on the whole, was very well executed but did not compare with the University Boat Race.
1520 The bttn embussed and arrived back in the area at 1630hrs.