1st June – RIPI.
Weather fine and sunny. Visibility very good.
The Bttn spent most of the day cleaning weapons, checking admin points and generally resting after its recent operations.
By the evening most of the troops had found some source of wine at local farm houses and the day was concluded in a most satisfactory manner.
T/Capt PS Anderson joined the bttn and relinquished the rank of T/Capt on posting.
2nd June – RIPI.
Weather fine and warm with light wind.
Adjutant and IO visited Lieut Col HEN Bredin at the 2nd General Hospital, Caserta and found him quite cheerful and very optimistic about returning to his bttn in the near future.
1100 MBU arrived in the bttn area and was established by a plentiful supply of well water.
1330 MBU opened for business and was kept very busy until closing time at 1900 hrs.
The bttn was left to its own resources during the day and most people took the opportunity of bring their mail up to date.
An open air cinema show was given in the evening and was much appreciated as this was the first show the bttn had seen for many weeks. The show was also enjoyed by a number of civilians, who collected at the rear of troops – some of these had never before seen a film show.
3rd June – RIPI.
Weather – fine and sunny. Light cloud, visibility good.
0930 RC Church service was held.
1330 MBU opened up again for members of the bttn, who had not been able to get there the day before.
1500 Lieut Colonel Maxwell was instructed by Brigade HQ to report to them with his full kit and batman.
Major John Kerr came from B Echelon to take over command of the bttn.
The day was quiet and uneventful and all troops were satisfied to be left to their own resources in their coy areas – where they were comfortably established.
In the evening, a message came from the Brigade HQ giving the bttn an area to be swept in conjunction with the other bttns of the brigade, for small parties of enemy believed to have been left behind by the retreating enemy.
4th June – RIPI.
Weather bright and clear.
1030 Coys were given areas at 530390 – 570370 – 570350 – 530350 in their search for the enemy. Soft hats were worn and minimum of equipment carried.
No enemy were encountered but a number of abandoned weapons were found – mostly damaged.
At 530360, trees were found to have been found blown across the track and Teller Mines laid in the vicinity. A large quantity of explosives was left in the area.
Although no enemy was found, most people managed to get some eggs (and occasional chickens) from the houses they had searched, as gifts from the people and were well satisfied with their day’s work.
1700 C of E church service was held.
5th June – RIPI.
Weather fine in the morning, light showers in the evening.
Bttn continued to enjoy its rest, but followed the news and Intelligence Section maps with keen interest.
1400 News was received that Rome had fallen and we knew it would soon be our turn to continue to chase after the enemy.
It had been arranged for the Brigade Pipe Band to play to the bttn but this was postponed for twenty four hours and the Bttn Band was to play instead.
1700 Heavy rain set in and this too had to be postponed.
6th June – RIPI.
0730 First news of the invasion was brought into the bttn and many were inclined to be sceptical. Nevertheless the next radio broadcast was eagerly awaited and great excitement prevailed when it was found to be true.
The prepared maps of the Intelligence Section were hurried set up and hourly news flashes were published.
1800 The Bttn assembled on a bank overlooking the road near Bttn HQ to see a performance by the Brigade Pipe Band.
The Brigadier, Brigade Major and other well known officers from Brigade HQ were also present.
The band gave an excellent performance which lasted for 45 minutes.
After the performance, the Brigadier stayed to dinner with the CO.
7th June – RIPI.
Weather fine with light cloud.
Nothing of importance occurred during the day – although the usual keen interest was shown in the news and the maps.
1830 Recce party was warned to go forward to recce another concentration area north of Rome.
1900 Sergeants’ Mess held a party.
Orders for the bttn move on the 8th were issued.
8th June – RIPI.
Weather warm and sunny.
Final preparations for the move were made and coys made their own way to the village of Ripi (520340), which was the nearest point to which TCVs could be brought owing to demolitions.
The Bttn Pipe Band played on the march to the village.
0900 Bttn moved off in transport which had been lined up in the village square – two hours later than the time given in the Brigade March Table owing to the congestion on the roads – everyone was going to Rome.
The first few hours of the journey saw very little progress but later the roads cleared and normal timings were made.
Everyone was pleased to see the very large number of enemy vehicles that had been knocked out along Route 6.
2000 The bttn passed through Rome, which was well policed and no traffic was allowed to stop, with the result that the expected traffic blocks did not occur.
2130 The bttn, now on Route 3, came to a temporary halt and at the same time, enemy aircraft dropped flares over the area. Fortunately no bombs were dropped in the area – the main activity being further west.
2200 Column moved off again and this time, the bttn had an unbroken run to the new area.
2330 Bttn was met by the guides from the advance party and were assembled in the area 770046.
0100 The bttn was soon settled in its new area and everybody was glad to relax after the long (but interesting) journey.
News was brought to Bttn HQ of an accident that had occurred on the journey when an American truck ran into one of our carriers. The carrier was damaged and 3 ORs were taken to hospital with injuries; none were found to be serious, however.
The bttn spent the day resting and cleaning up generally.
Great interest was taken in Kesselring’s HQ, which could be plainly seen on Monte Soratte, but which was still burning, the enemy having set fire to it before leaving.
1700 The Brigadier visited the bttn to see if everyone was settled in.
The rest of the night was quiet.
The weather fine, but cloudy.
1100 CO visited C Squadron, 3 KOH, in order to tie up various points for cooperation in future battles – especially the inter communication.
A large 3 ton trailer had been noticed at Kesselring’s HQ on the way to 3 KOH and, after the visit, the CO and IO went back and collected the trailer, pulling it back with the jeep. This considerably relieved the B Echelon vehicles.
Kesselring’s HQ provided good sport for souvenir hunters and amongst these was the Bttn MTO, who found what appeared to be good wine. He presented a bottle to the CO, who fortunately read the label more carefully and was saved greater disappointment by discovering in time that it was only distilled water for ‘topping up’ batteries.
1500 CO called Coy Commanders together and went over the points discussed with the tank Squadron Commanders.
1700 Brigadier paid a social visit to the bttn.
In the evening, a cinema show was shown at 2 LIR to which members of the bttn went in unit transport.
0400 Heavy rain started and it was soon apparent that the bttn, which was sleeping in the open without bivouacs, was in for a wet night.
0800 Bivouacs were issued and attempts were made to get clothes dry.
Rain continued at intervals until 1600 hrs and the bttn did not have a very happy day.
1700 Brigadier visited the bttn and brought with him that the brigade would be moving early on 12th June to the area of Civitella. He also said that the party from each bttn, which was arranged to visit the Pope in the Vatican City would still go on and rejoin the bttn in the new locations.
Bttn roused at 0430 hrs – breakfast at 0530 hrs and everybody was embossed by 0630 hrs.
0630 The party from the bttn (mainly Catholics), who were to visit the Pope, left for Rome, taking with them the Bttn Pipe Band. In Rome, the three Bttn bands were brigaded and played at St Peter’s, whilst the representatives from the bttn paraded before the Pope, who expressed great pleasure and the great crowd that collected showed great enthusiasm.
This party was then left to their own resources in Rome until 1600 hrs when they left to return to their respective bttns.
0645 Bttn column moved off and passed the Brigade SP on time ie 0715 hrs.
The journey was a good one and halts were only occasioned by the worst diversions.
C Coy had their mobile German filed kitchen on tow and this provided a welcome cup of tea for all those near enough in the column to collect it during the short halts.
1530 The bttn arrived complete in the area (4842) and locations were Bttn HQ and all coys 483426. B Echelon being in San Angelo (489419).
1630 The bttn was ordered to send one coy to protect the right flank of brigade by occupying the village of Graffignano A 5242 and this job was made enjoyable by the hospitality of the villagers.
13th June – CASTIGLIONE.
Weather bright and sunny.
As it was obvious that the tactical situation was not serious, it was arranged that the bttn band should play in the village of Graffignano where D Coy were.
1145 The Band played as arranged and was much appreciated by the villagers and after the performance, the Countess (?), who lived in the castle, entertained the band.
1300 CO was called to Brigade HQ for orders and was told that the bttn was to advance on Castiglione, if possible and failing that, to get as far as possible. CO ordered A Coy to stand by before he went to Brigade HQ.
1400 CO called O Group conference and ordered an advance on a one coy front. A Coy to move immediately by TCV to Civitella. Other coys to follow in order, B, C, D, Bttn HQ. CO then went on a jeep with S Coy Commander and IO to the debussing point where the S Coy Commander was left to guide bttn to assembly area whilst the CO and IO continued recce.
Owing to bridge at 535469 being blown, they had to make deviation along tracks to 547466. Here, it was learned that 56 Recce had reported Castiglione had been evacuated by the enemy and the CO decided to see for himself and drove straight on there.
1545 CO and IO arrived in Castiglione and found some elements of 56 Recce in the town. CO sent back a message to the bttn that he was on the bttn objective and that they would come forward. CO then went back to meet the bttn leaving the IO to recce coy positions.
The civilians were very excited and pleased and established stalls in the main square with wine and cheese sandwiches to give to the troops. Coys were soon in protective positions round the town, but transport did not arrive with food etc until 2200 hrs owing to the need to wait until the REs had prepared a diversion around the blown bridge.
News came back that the tanks, which had gone through the town had pushed on for about four miles and had collected some prisoners and the Battle Patrol was sent out to round them up. When they reached the tanks, they found that they only been able to retain 12 of them, the others having escaped. The tanks asked the Battle Patrol to assist them in clearing the village of Tordimonte , while they were there, as they were being held up by an anti tank gun.
Lieut Greene and the Battle Patrol led his men in and had a sharp engagement with the enemy during which one of our men was killed and one wounded but the Bosche was successfully chased from the village and the anti tank gun put out of action.
2130 B Coy was ordered to a position approximately four miles forward of Castiglione in order to protect the tanks which were to harbour there for the night.
2300 B Coy reported in position.
Casualties – 1 OR killed, 2 ORs wounded.
14th June – TORDIMONTE.
Weather bright and warm. Slight cloud.
0400 Reveille – bttn was to be clear of Castiglione by 0530 hrs.
0500 Move commenced and bttn continued as far as Tordimonte, which had been cleared by tanks.
The bttn’s role was to follow up a tank advance in the direction of Orvieto but at Tordimonte, bttn was ordered not to advance any further as new plans were being made.
1000 While waiting for fresh orders, the CO asks permission to clear buildings at A4856.
1030 This was granted and A Coy sent one platoon forward to search the buildings with the other two platoons standing by to render immediate assistance if opposition was met.
The buildings were, however, found to be clear of the enemy and the platoon returned to the coy.
1100 Brigadier came forward to see the CO and give him new orders, which were that the bttn was to form a bridgehead across the River Paglia at approximately A 4967.
The CO and IO went off immediately on a recce and found that the tanks had already found a suitable crossing for vehicles but as the enemy was shelling this area, the CO decided to make the initial crossing at 5147.
While the recce was being carried out, an area was shelled causing two casualties: 1 OR killed and one wounded.
CO returned from recce and ordered coys to move in order D, C, A, B – C Coy to take the high ground 1000 yards north west of the crossing and D Coy to occupy the feature immediately across the river at the point of the crossing.
1145 Leading coy moved off and soon in occupation of their feature; a few Bosche were seen but did not fight. The Coy Commander, while making a recce for positions, came face to face with three enemy and immediately opened fire with his TMG, killing one and wounding another – the third ran away, but was later caught by one of the platoons.
With D Coy well established, C Coy moved quickly onto their objective – a sharp engagement was had with the enemy in the process, but did not last long and the enemy withdrew, leaving behind nine dead and 5 PoWs for the loss of two of our own men wounded.
1200 While C and D Coys were taking their objectives, A and B Coys were moving down from Tordimonte; the enemy had been shelling spasmodically and one ‘stonk’ of six shells fell among B Coy, killing two ORs and wounding six others.
1230 A Coy moved off to take up a position in support of C Coy and B Coy was held in reserve.
1300 All coys were established in their positions and Bttn HQ moved up to a farm at 498598.
The locations were now as follows:
A Coy – 493598, B Coy – 503589, C Coy – 499601, D Coy – in area 5160, A Echelon – 521558, B Echelon – 489419.
During the afternoon, 2 LIR advanced on the left and we were left with only our right flank to watch.
Odd groups of disorganised Bosche were still wandering around in the vicinity and small patrols were sent out to search gullies etc. These managed to collect another 12 PoWs.
1800 Brigadier visited the bttn to see the general lay out. Remainder of the night was quiet.
15th June – TORDIMONTE.
Weather bright and clear.
0430 Two PoWs were brought in by a scouting party and decided to search the area to our immediate front in case there were still more about.
0800 C and D Coys sent out search parties and brought in two more PoWs.
2/Lieut Foster went on a motor cycle to the village of Corbara where he expected to find one of the search parties; the party had not reached the village and he ran into a platoon of enemy and was captured.
1230 As soon as it became known, search parties were organised; one platoon from B Coy to go along the road leading north from Corbara and one platoon of A Coy to go in carriers to a point on the lateral road four miles to the north in the hope of cutting them off. The CO and IO went with the latter party and as it was in this area that the 56 Recce Regiment was operating, the CO was able to obtain some cooperation from them.
The search was not successful and it was learnt from civilians that the enemy had crossed the road from Corbara in a north easterly direction shortly before B Coy’s platoon came along.
1930 CO went to dinner at Brigade HQ and all officers of the bttn were invited to call at Brigade HQ after dinner.
16th June – TORDIMONTE.
Weather – fine and warm.
No events during the morning.
The bttn had been told that as the battle had moved so far on, it was no longer operational and that a more comfortable area could be recced.
1400 This had been done and the bttn moved to an area nearer the river and bivouacs were brought up:
The dispositions now were: Bttn HQ 518566, A Coy – 517569, B Coy – 516565, C Coy – 533569, D Coy – 537570.
S Coy was in the castle at Corbara and they discovered some very good wine in the cellars. The bttn, not being operational, made good use of it.
At dusk, the Mobile Film Unit put on a cinema show for the bttn.
17th June – TORDIMONTE.
Weather – rain at intervals, low cloud and mist.
Bttn spent a quiet day, resting, swimming in the Tiber and attended to washing, sewing and other domestic duties.
1900 Brigade Commander visited the bttn – socially and was asked by the CO if a dance in celebration of Waterloo Day could be held in Orvieto. The Brigadier could not answer at once as permission had to be obtained from Divisional HQ.
1930 Permission was given by Brigade HQ for 5 officers and 50 ORs to visit Rome for the day on 19th June.
2000 Warning order was received from Brigade HQ that the brigade would move to area Montegabbione (4481).
Lieut Foster rejoined the battalion having escaped from the enemy when they ran into a party of British troops at Montecastello 6572. He also brought back the man, who had detailed to watch him.
18th June – TORDIMONTE.
Weather overcast – heavy rain at intervals.
0600 Advance party left to recce new in accordance with brigade instructions. Rest of bttn started to pack and clean up the area ready for the move.
0800 Party left for Rome, followed by envious eyes from the rest of the bttn.
1100 Bttn embussed and left on its long journey to Castel Di Fiori (454798). Brigade SP at junction of Routes 71 and 79 was passed at 1115 hrs. For four hours, the bttn travelled through rain and mist arriving in area 4382, where a diversion had been turned into a quagmire by the rain, and it took some eight hours for the bttn to get past it. The leading coy arrived in Castel Di Fiori at 1915 hrs. Two stray German Paratroopers remaining in the area were promptly seized. The last of the bttn arrived in the area just after midnight.
19th June – CASTEL DI FIORI.
Weather – slight rain, low cloud and mist all day; dampness made diversions difficult.
0900 CO returned from Rome, having been travelling since 2000 hrs on 18th June.
Bttn had been found billets and so the bad weather did not cause much worry.
Various working parties were sent out as follows to assist REs in making diversions passable. D Coy from road junction 437821 to 435845 and the Bttn Pioneers to 425822.
B Coy were standing by to lend assistance but were not needed.
1215 Bttn received warming order of move (not before 1600 hrs) to Tavernelle W 4881 (NIG) and recce party moved off.
1500 Party from Rome returned having been on the road since 1630 hrs on 18th June.
The bttn was pleased to notice that in today’s issue of the ‘Crusader’, the article on the ‘Infantryman’ written by Lt-Col Bredin, MC, was published. Two paragraphs had been omitted but this was no surprise as Lt-Col Bredin felt strongly on the merits of the infantryman.
1515 Warning Order received from Brigade HQ, times not given owing to shortage of TCVs, which had to lift 2 LIR and Brigade HQ before returning to carry 6 Innisks.
2015 CO started off to new location but found that owing to the very bad conditions of the road, traffic was blocked and not moving, so he returned to the bttn.
2130 Message was sent to Brigade HQ asking for permission to move at first light on the 20th owing to the bad state of the road.
Italians civilians reported 5 enemy in houses, two kilometres away and A Coy sent out two sections to investigate.
2200 After visit from CMP, who confirmed that the roads were impassable, CO decided that the bttn would stay in position for the night and leave at 0530 hrs on 20th June.
20th June – TAVERNELLE.
Weather dry but low clouds.
0530 Bttn left for Tavernelle (4880) where it was met by Major Mathew, 2 i/c, who with the advance party had managed to find billets for the whole bttn including A and B Echelons.
0930 CO went to Brigade HQ in order to carry out recce with the Brigadier and returned at 1130 hrs with news that the bttn would not move that night but would move forward early on 21st June.
1400 Bttn Band played in village and, as usual in Italian villages, the whole village turned out to watch and listen.
1800 CO went to O Group conference at Brigade HQ.
2000 CO holds O Group conference attended by Supporting Arms and gave the following orders.
Bttn will move at 0630 on 21st June in transport to DP in area between Macchie (4387) and Panicarola (4488) and from there would advance along general lines of Route 71 giving right flank protection to 2 LIR, who were advancing west of the road.
6 Innisks to start their advance when 2 LIR had reached Sanfatucchio.
Report lines and reference points were given to all concerned.
Order of march: A,B,C,D Coys, each forward coy followed by its own troop of tanks.
Tanks to join infantry at Macchie.
Situation to be deal with as met.
Preparations were made for the move the next day after which bttn rested as much as possible.
21st June – MACCHIE.
Weather fine, but cloudy – sunny later in the day.
CO, IO and OC, S Coy went forward to recce debussing area and also to learn form from 2 LIR.
0700 Found that progress past Macchie (4386) was not possible and coys had to de-bus and concentrate in area 435865 and wait until 2 LIR attacked Sanfatucchio (4189).
This attack was fought hard as the Bosche was more stubborn than he had been of late.
1130 News received that 2 LIR had entered their village but fighting was still going on.
1130 CO and IO went to CO, 2 LIR in order to tie up the next stage in the advance.
CO went across country to Sanfatucchio from crossroads 416893 and IO went to village in Jeep; both were subjected to accurate shell and mortar fire. Plans were laid by both COs and
1230 Lt Col Kerr returned to the bttn and held an O Group conference at which he told his plan i.e. Bttn would attack Pucciarelli (4190) on a two coy front. A and B leading; C behind A; D behind B with tanks in support (A Squadron, 11 Armoured Brigade).
A and B would take objectives.
1st : Pucciarelli – Right to pt 264 and left to track junction 411902.
2nd: Line of river from 407912 – 417902 and
3rd: Line of river 400917 – 413923 after which C and D Coys would go onto Castliglione 4194.
MMGs and Mortars would report on the bttn start line on capture of first objective.
1330 IO and one platoon A Coy went to recce assembly area.
Remainder of bttn followed on foot and were shown to positions at A Coy – 428898, B Coy – 429899, C Coy – 429897, D Coy – 431899.
Tanks were assembled on track 425896; CO was in tank. Tac HQ in carrier and jeep behind.
Zero hour was at first to be 1500 hrs but 2 LIR on left were counter attacked and all artillery assistance was given to them until it was beaten off and so zero hour was not until 1645 hrs.
1645 A and B Coys crossed start line (stream at 433900) and at the same time, a heavy concentration of enemy shelling fell in bttn area, but little damage was done.
Artillery put down concentration on first objective Z–10 to Z+5 (two regiments).
Enemy continued shelling but most of it fell in rear of bttn area.
1710 Village covered with great clouds of smoke as tanks shot into the houses.
1718 B Coy held up by MG fire and tanks moved forward to deal with the trouble, which was coming from Red House on their right.
1730–1736 A Coy still advancing, but without tanks on their left.
1740 Enemy MGs giving trouble from farms and tanks moved forward to deal with them.
B Coy out of contact with their tanks and D Coy ordered to send theirs and B Coy told they must push on with this help.
1745 A Coy, almost on objective, called for Artillery Fire on crossroads 416907 – fire came down five minutes later.
Spasmodic mortaring and shelling of bttn area but more trouble come from MGs.
Tanks were not very cooperative, leaving their coys, sometimes for thirty minutes. This caused delay in some cases when coys needed a MG post dealt with.
1748 A Coy held up by heavy MG fire and Artillery fired on target in spite of closeness of troops, who were only 300 yards away. The shoot was successful.
1818 D Coy were using B Coy’s tanks to assist them on to the objective at 418906, then tanks returned to B Coy, who put up two Green flares to show the tanks where to go to.
1825 A Coy on objective.
1830 B Coy called on tanks to deal with MG post by Railway Bridge 416905.
1838 Major Irwin OC A Coy wounded and had to be evacuated.
C Coy moved round to left of A Coy to protect the flank.
1915 News came that 2 LIR, on our left, were unlikely to get any further tonight and CO decided that he too would consolidate village of Pucciarelli tonight.
1950 CO asked for more A/Tk guns from Brigade Support Group as only three of our own were effective and was promised two troops 254 A/Tk Battery.
2000 All coys on objective and plans were made for consolidation as quickly as possible in order to get it finished before dark. IO collected all reps of supporting arms and guided them up to the village where they were to meet the CO, who had gone on in his tank to see some of the coy positions. He expected to find C Coy at 414904 and went there first followed by three other tanks. On arrival at these crossroads, he found that the Bosche still occupied the houses there; the first knowledge of this being when a German fired a Schmeiser at him in the turret of the tank and cut the strap of his headphones in two. The track at this point was too narrow to enable the tank to manoeuvre and the turret could not be turned as the gun fired on one of the houses so the CO ordered the tanks behind him to reverse so that the gun could be brought into use. The rear tank (the first one to reverse) blew a track on a Tellermine after moving 50 yards effectively blocking the track, as there were high banks on each side. This meant the other tanks going forward over this difficult track – which was managed eventually by constant manoeuvre, a wary eye being kept on the Bosche at the same time. Eventually they got out and returned to Bttn HQ.
During this time, the Supporting arms’ representatives had been waiting for the CO in the village and as light was failing, a guide was sent to where support weapons were to RV and brought them up while the reps made their own recce for positions – which could be adjusted later if the CO desired: A Coy 414905, B 417905, 413905, D Coy 426903 and Bttn HQ 427896.
Spasmodic shelling and mortaring of coy positions took place during the night; also harassing fire from MGs.
2300 An enemy patrol tried to enter the village but was chased out,
2340 A jeep containing a driver, two signallers and a No 19 Set drove past our forward positions and carried on for a mile before being halted by German sentries. The driver immediately went into reverse and went back down the road followed by bursts from Schmeiser machine posts.
The driver ziz-zagged across the road to avoid these bursts and the machine went off the road and overturned down a six foot drop, the driver and one signaller managed to get away; the other is missing, believed captured.
Enemy casualties – 60 killed, 12 PoWs. Many wounded.
Our own casualties were: Killed – Lieut CJ Horgan, 2 Lieut RRB Roche and seven ORs. Wounded – Major RJT Irwin MC, Lieut JM Campbell, 2/Lieut IF Tilly and 15 ORs. Missing – 4 ORs.
22nd June – PUCCIARELLI.
Weather, bright and clear; enemy continued mortar and artillery fire spasmodically throughout the night.
0530 Secret message received for 7% officers and ORs to be ready for an advance party to leave Tavernelle area early on 25th June for Narni in divisional transport. Nominal rolls were prepared and letters of instruction were sent to officers of C Coy.
0600 Enemy counterattack developed on the village consisting of approximately 40 infantry and 1 heavy SP gun supported by artillery and mortars. The SP gun shot into the house doing considerable damage. The house, containing two MMGs, was severely damaged and set on fire, burying the guns (one was later recovered). A portee and 2 A/Tk guns and a 3” mortar of our own were destroyed; and also one portee of 254 A/Tk Battery.
Close fighting ensued but the enemy did not manage to penetrate beyond the edge of the village.
0845 2 LIR and C Coy extended towards one another in order to close the gap between the two bttns.
0900 C Coy reported that the enemy had been beaten off leaving behind a large number of casualties.
0930 The SP gun was seen moving north west at 407907 and received the attention of the artillery – shots were failing on the target area.
The tanks with C Coy went back to refuel and get more ammunition, afterwards resuming the positions they had in the village before the counter attack.
The enemy continued to shell our positions heavily throughout the day but no further attacks were forthcoming.
Coy Commanders were informed that the present policy was to hold on to present positions until the morning of 24th June, when we could continue in a further attack.
Patrols were sent out at night, which found that the enemy was occupying positions at 412912 and pts 276, 408909. Voices and movement were heard but the enemy was not seen. Standing patrols at 420907 and 425911 but not see or hear a thing.
Our casualties for the day: Killed – 1 OR. Wounded – Lieut JG Prior, 12 ORs. Missing – 6 ORs.
23rd June – PUCCIARELLI.
Fine weather, light cloud.
0830 Message received cutting down bttn advance party of 35 all ranks. An attack was planned against the Trasimene Line in which this bttn was participating and CO and IO with OC D Coy went to an OP at 474892 from where they could observe the whole of the lake, thus giving a very good view of the ground the bttn would be going over.
1100 CO RIrF visited the bttn to tie up details with CO, 6 Innisks, of tomorrow’s attack.
1215 Bttn area was heavily shelled and mortared – D Coy’s HQ being the chief sufferers – one officer and 5 ORs of Innisks were wounded and 8 ORs from supporting weapons. Because of this, the CO changed the task of D Coy as leading company and substituted A Coy.
2000 CO called an O Group conference and gave the following orders:
Enemy – known to have 5 bttns on Trasimeno Line with strong defences in the bed of Rio Pescia 4091. Positions were also known at pt 266 420911.
Own Troops – RIrF were attacking towards Rio Pescia with A Coy. We were to provide right flank protection on a one coy front. 5 Northants would be attacking on our right.
Intentions – 38 Brigade and 5 Northants to make a limited advance to a line approximately 500 yards south of Rio Pescia. 6 Innisks covering right flank of 1 RIrF during advance.
Method – At Z+15, tanks and infantry would leave the assembly area and start moving forward.
A Coy to take as first objective pt 276 (408909), then to push on to pt 267 (409914).
As A Coy leave pt 276, C Coy leave Pucciarelli and move to pt 276.
D Coy be prepared to follow and turn right as flank protection, if necessary.
B Coy to remain in village as firm base.
Tonight 2 coys 5 Northants relieve B and D Coys, who move to Carraia, 424909 and 417907.
Artillery – 3 Field Regiments, 1 Medium Regiment.
Barrage opens at 0530 hrs on line 400 yards forward of FDLs.
Remains on that point for 24 minutes, then lifts 100 yards every 6 minutes, the start of each lift being indicated by one round smoke from each battery (Tanks and infantry to follow barrage as close as possible). OP to move with C Coy; to go to A Coy on consolidation.
0545 fire for 15 minutes to 417914, then lift for 15 minutes to 414917, then Rio Pescia for one hour. Thence on call.
House at 276, 0535 – 0555 hrs, then lift 200 yards to stream bed 0555 – 0600 hrs, then lift to 262 0600 – 0615 hrs. Any further fire on call.
0545 – 0555 hrs, support attack from village, shooting parallel with railway and not more than 400 yards west.
2 MMGs move with C Coy.
As many guns as possible – both own and 264 A/Tk Battery – to shoot at houses in line of bttn advance until first artillery lift.
A Coy 18 Set will be on 1 RIrF net as they are under command.
Bttn net opens at 0430 hrs.
One extra set will travel with C Coy on bttn net to go forward to A Coy on consolidation.
Bttn Signals to follow C Coy with line and extend to A Coy on consolidation.
2130 D Coy’s position taken over by one coy 5 Northants and D Coy started moving to Carraia.
2200 D Coy established in new positions.
2300 B Coy relieved by one coy 5 Northants and moving to 414905.
2330 B Coy established in new positions, which was evacuated by A Coy, who had moved to 412903 in order to get as much rest as possible.
Enemy continued harassing fire with artillery and mortars until midnight when fire slackened considerably.
Casualties for the day – 1 officer and 4 ORs wounded.
24th June – PUCCIARELLI.
Weather good, but cloudy.
0530 Artillery barrage started and at the times given in the previous day’s orders, the A/Tk guns, MMGs and mortars added their fire.
0545 Tanks and infantry started moving forward. A Coy making good progress from the start.
0640 A Coy reached pt 276 (409909) – their main resistance being from MG posts, which were effectively dealt with by the tanks and cleared up by the infantry.
0645 Enemy replied with a certain amount of artillery and mortar fire but not as much as expected as he was known to have a considerable number of guns opposite us.
0655 Enemy guns continued to fire only spasmodic salvoes and the forward troops continued to meet enemy MG fire.
0720 Enemy artillery fire increased, especially the use of heavier guns – probably 15cm. Heavy concentration on road at 416894.
0745 A Coy continued to advance well and the RIrF on their left were also doing well but had not reached as far as A Coy, as they were being held up by MGs, which needed artillery attention.
The 5 Northants on the right had only been able to advance 300 yards in the face of still opposition.
0835 Enemy artillery concentration continued at intervals on the bttn area.
0845 5 Northants on right were still only at 417914 but making steady progress. This necessitated keeping watch on the right flank and this was done by C Coy, who had followed A Coy and was now established on pt 276 (409909), while A Coy were still fighting their way forward.
5 Northants estimated that there were 2 coys of enemy between them and the main road (Route 71).
0900 News that the RIrF on the left were still doing well and that prisoners had started to come in, 25 being taken so far.
0935 A Coy reached their objective, pt 276 (408915) and the 5 Northants on the right were making better progress, having broken through the enemy’s FDLs.
1005 Brigade informed the bttn that Wiltshire Yeomanry was on Route 71 behind us and had been ordered forward to Pescia ((403912). The RIrF on our left had reached Pescia and from enemy wireless intercepts came the information that the wireless at Ranciano was closing down, possibly indicating withdrawal and a watch was kept for targets.
1135 5 Northants on right again held up and their tanks needed refuelling; this was done and their advance continued.
1210 Information came through that the enemy counterattack was coming in from the west – artillery was informed and it was broken up. 36 Brigade was to pass through 38 Brigade within 2 hours of 38 Brigade reaching its objectives and guides were sent to cross roads 416894 to direct oncoming units to the right tracks.
1230 5 Buffs passed through 2 LIR.
1400 Forward coys were still under constant MG and artillery fire as 36 Brigade had not yet gone forward.
A Panzer Mark V had knocked out 3 of A Coy’s tanks and the tanks had to withdraw behind the hill.
1700 36 Brigade went forward and the situation for us was eased although harassing fire from enemy artillery continued.
1800 The bttn dispositions were now as follows: Bttn HQ – 427896, A Coy – pt 276 (408915), B Coy in village at 415905, C Coy on pt 267 (408910), D Coy – 413913. Food and supplies were sent forward; A Company’s food to remain with C Coy until called forward.
1930 A heavy thunderstorm began and, before very long, all the diggings had filled with water. This stopped the advance of 36 Brigade, who had just formed a bridgehead over the Rio Pescia and the bttn was not able to concentrate prior to going out of the line as was originally intended.
A Coy forced the strongpoint of a house in their area as the rain made the outside positions untenable. A rum issue was authorised.
2030 While support weapons were going into position, an A/Tk gun officer was machine gunned from a position east of the main road and 1000 yards behind the 5 Northants’ FDLs. The officer was not hit and the machine gun post was disposed of.
During the day, we took 14 prisoners; our casualties were one officer and ten ORs wounded.
1630 Advance party left bttn for B Echelon area in order to be ready for move early on 25th June. Admin points were checked at B Echelon.
25th June – PUCCIARELLI.
0600 Advance party left for Narni,
Weather bright and clear.
0930 Brigade Commander called to discuss yesterday’s battle.
He also spoke of the possibility of the brigade clearing an area westward if the relieving units did not arrive quickly enough – this would not take place before tomorrow, the 26th.
Spasmodic shelling of the bttn area was the only activity during the day and the bttn was able to enjoy the lull – making full use of the time available for resting.
Remainder of the day and night was quiet apart from the shelling of the bttn area.
26th June – PUCCIARELLI.
Weather warm but cloudy.
The day was uneventful and as coys were still in the same positions that they had occupied in the last attack, it was decided to concentrate the bttn more; for it was no longer operational.
1400 Recces were made for suitable areas.
1500 A Echelon moved from Macchie to the area of Bttn HQ.
1500 Two suspected Italians were sent to 88 FSS for vetting.
1800 Bttn was informed that they were to concentrate and rest in the area 4786.
1830 Recce parties, consisting of IO and Battle Patrol, went to the new area leaving guides at all track junctions on the cross country route as they went.
The plan was for two coys to march and two to be carried in unit transport. Eventually, it was found that all coys could be carried by making a second journey for the last coy.
2130 All coys were established and the dispositions were as follows: Bttn HQ – 474858, A Coy – 476858, B Coy – 479861, C Coy – 488862, D Coy – 487864.
The remainder of the night was quiet.
27th June – MR 4785.
Weather fine, but cloudy.
1000 Mobile bath unit arrived in the bttn area – allocations were made and, by 1100 hrs, the first company was bathing.
1400 Divisional Dance Band played to the bttn and gave a very good performance.
1500 Two news reporters visited the bttn to hear stories of the last action.
In the evening, the Divisional Dance Band played again to the bttn until dark when the Mobile Film Unit showed, ‘Hit Parade of 1943’.
Some wine had been obtained from local sources for distribution during the evening entertainments.
Bivouacs had been issued and everyone was able to settle down to a comfortable night’s sleep.
28th June – MR 4785.
Weather – Rain most of the day but cleared in the evening.
CE Padre from HQ RE joined the bttn on mutual change over between units.
1600 Brigadier visited the bttn and discussed the possibilities of the bttn going forward again before being relieved.
In the evening, the Mobile Film Unit gave another showing, this time the film showing was ‘You’ve Got Me Covered.’
Reinforcements came to join the bttn.
29th June – MR 4785.
Uneventful day for the bttn. Coys carried out checks in readiness for the handing over of G 1098 stores.
Brigadier visited Bttn HQ.
2000 D Coy held a Sgts’ Mess party to which all Sgts in the bttn were invited.
During the night, there was aircraft activity – bombing and machine gunning, but no damage was done in the bttn area
30th June – MR 4785.
Weather – fine and warm.
Another quiet day for the bttn during which some arrangements were able to be made for the move early on 2nd July. During the night, enemy aircraft were again active, but no attention was given to the bttn area.