6 Innisks – March 1944

1st March – BELLANO (1686).

Weather wet. Visibility fair. Wind light.

Owing to the bad weather, coys carried out weapon training, instructions on river crossing; using the sand tables etc.

Driver Mechanicss of S Company checked new and reconditioned carriers after their ‘running in’ period. The Mortar Platoon studied wireless procedure and carried out range work using the new 210 grain charges. The flight of the bomb was checked and found to be 2½ seconds on an average faster than the published time in the Range Table Manual. Base plates showed no ill effects. The A/Tk Platoon spent the day at Capua on raft construction and practice. A six pounder was floated on the raft constructed. All guns returned safely.

The Bttn received an allotment for the cinema at Caserta in the afternoon.

A rum issue was authorised and issued in the evening

2nd March – BELLANO (1686).

Weather showery. Visibility fair. Wind light.

Coys carried out normal training including field firing and street fighting.

0900 The CO, accompanied by the OC 138 Field Regiment RA, left for Corps HQ for an address by the NZ Corps Commander, General Freyberg.

The Bttn football team played the 17 Field Regiment RA in the afternoon which we won by 3 goals to 1.

Recreational transport was provided for 20 men per Coy to go to Caserta during the afternoon. 

3rd March – BELLANO (1686)

Weather showery. Visibility fair. Wind light.

The Bttn carried out normal training…Platoon schemes, street fighting, section stalks etc…

The A/Tk Platoon fired 2 inch mortars on the range.

In the afternoon, 20 men per company went to the cinema at Caserta.

1730 The CO held his training conference, the subjects being discussed were:

  1. Brief outline of the Bttn’s future role.
  2. Patrol exercise to take place tonight.
  3. Coys at Company Commander disposal 4/3/44.
  4. Each Company to do a night exercise before 8/3/44.

Company Commander to set the exercise, designed to practise night advances across featureless country.

Captain EW Kendal assumes command of D Coy. Intelligence summary No 5 was issued.

Attention was called to all concerned about damage to S8 set junction boxes.

4th March – BELLANO (1686).

Weather overcast. Showery. Visibility good. Wind light.

Coys carried out training including Platoon in the attack, while D Coy had boating practice.

1200 Brigade TPD Scott DSO, Commander 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade addressed the Bttn, introducing himself to those who did not know him when he was in the brigade in Africa. He gave a rough outline of the future of the brigade.

1330 Officers and 12 NCOs per Coy went to inspect of the 6th Armoured Division.

20 men per coy went to the cinema at Caserta.

1730 The CO held his usual conference. The points discussed:

The CO was going on a recce on 5/3/44.

A Bttn exercise with one Coy cooperating with tanks on Tuesday.

OC, 10 Field Battery will lecture to Platoon Commander on gunnery.

Our Sergeants to contact Battery Sergeants for the same purpose. Time to be fixed 6/3/44.

Sand table 2000 hrs 6/3/44.

B Coy held a sing song in the evening which included the distribution of vino, teas and cakes.

Troops are allowed to send photographs in personal mail subject to certain restrictions. Attention was drawn to all ranks abut ‘Same Conduct Passes’ (distributed over German lines).

Intelligence Summary No 6 was issued.

5th March – BELLANO (1686).

Weather showery. Visibility good. Wind light.

Today was considered a day of rest – there were no parades.

0930 RCs attended a service at Bellano Church.

Coy organised tombola and there was the usual party for the cinema at Caserta. C Coy invited all sergeants to a party in the evening.

Instructions for the Field Firing Exercise to be held on 7/3/44 were issued.

Lt R Phillips MM, Pioneer Officer and acting Town Major, proceeded on a Hygiene Course. Captain AG Kemp was appointed Town Major in his place.

A/Captain GP Dicker is appointed T/Captain having held the acting rank for 3 months.

6th March – BELLANO (1686).

Weather fine. Visibility good. Wind light.

The Bttn carried out normal training including 30 yards range, route marches, lectures etc.

Sixty officers and men attended a demonstration by 10 Field Battery RA, while the Pioneer Platoon gave lectures and demonstration of mine lifting to 10 Field Battery RA.

1330 The usual party left for Caserta.

1400 The CO held his daily conference. The points were raised:

  1. Normal training under Coy arrangements except C Coy, which is on exercise tomorrow.
  2. The Brigade was now on 48 hours notice.
  3. Brigade has been asked for more boats to practise river crossings.
  4. Second in Command recces a new field firing area during the afternoon.
  5. Capua, St Maria and Caserta out of bounds except in organised parties.

There was a guest night in the Officers’ Mess, which was also attended by the Brigadier. L/Cpl Kane and Fusilier McGoldrick entertained on the pipes

1845 A Coy hold a night exercise and returned by 2230.

2200 ‘Last Post’ was played by two members of the RAP, Sgt Scarlett and Cpl Daniels, bring back memories of the promenade at Bangor NI.

More details for the Field Firing Exercise to be held on 7/3/44 were issued.

7th March – BELLANO (1686).

Weather overcast.Visibility good. Wind light.

C Coy, with a skeleton Bttn HQ and Mortar detachments, carried out an exercise with tanks of the 16/5 Lancers. The remainder of the Bttn carried out normal training including 30 yards range, field firing, camouflage and concealment etc. In the afternoon, the usual party left for Caserta and coys played football.

1520 The Brigadier paid a social visit to the Bttn.

Locations and traces of the new training areas was issued by the second in command.

8th March – BELLANO (1686).

Weather overcast. Visibility good. Wind light.

0830 A leave party left for Campobasso, the first since we arrived in this area.

B Coy carried out a scheme, using 38 sets, to practise fire control and use of ground. One platoon acted as the enemy and used live ammunition. Other coys carried out normal training including field firing (PIAT, 2 inch mortar and small arms), route march etc.

There was the usual recreational transport in the afternoon to Caserta and coys played football.

1730 The CO’s conference was held, the points discussed were:

  1. Training plan. Friday – boating, Tuesday – 2 Coys field firing, 2 Coys ‘Hare and Hounds’. Wednesday – Admin Day, CO’s billet and FSMO inspections.
  2. Second in Command and Squadron Leaders from 16/5 Lancers coming tomorrow for conference and supper.
  3. Coys to check next of kin, identity discs, men to be instructed in the making of wills.
  4. Complaint against staff cars with flag flying not being saluted.
  5. Vacancies for 50 men on Thursday, Friday and Saturday mornings for the cinema at Capua.

9th March – BELLANO (1686).

Weather showery. Visibility good. Wind light.

Normal training was carried out throughout the bttn and included field fighting.

Section stalks and attack and applications of fire.

0930 Fifty men left for the cinema at Capua. In the afternoon, there was the usual party for the cinema at Caserta and football matches between coys.

1500 A/RSM held a drill parade for all NCOs up to and including Sergeants.

Baths were available for coys during the day. Lieut Cassidy visited the bttn today, he was the first PoW of the bttn, who had escaped while passing through the Brenner Pass. It took him five months to reach our lines and he is now waiting to go home. 

10th March – BELLANO (1868).

Weather showery. Visibility good. Wind light,

The coys carried out normal training including boat drill on the Volturno river, field firing etc.

0915 The CO and IO left for Divisional TEWT. Exercise Hustle in area 959130.

There were the usual cinema parties to Caserta and Capua, In the afternoon, the Battalion football team played and beat 1 RIrF by 4 goals to nil.

1800 The full band, pipes and drums played ‘Retreat’:

A/Lt-Col BL Bryar is appointed T/Lt-Col and Substantive Major having held the rank of Lt-Col for three months.

A/Major Kerr is appointed T/Major and Substantive Captain having held the rank of Major for three months.

Captain EW Kendal is transferred to S Coy and assumes command.

Captain HE Mathew is transferred to D Coy and assumes command.

Captain AG Kemp is transferred to D Coy and is appointed as second in command.

Lieut JH Bradfield is transferred to HQ Coy and appointed IO. 

11th March – BELLANO (1868).

Weather fine. Visibility fine. Wind light.

A and C Coys had ‘Hare and Hounds’ runs while B and D Coys went on field firing schemes with 3” Mortar and Vickers MG detachments.

There was a friendly boxing match between 2 LIR and ourselves, the results being: 2 LIR 21 points, 6 Innisks 15 points. As usual, there were parties to Caserta and Capua, also football matches between coys.

Major Little (S Coy) leaves the Bttn to assume appointment as instructor.

1730 The CO held his daily conference. 

12th March – BELLANO (1868).

Weather showery. Visibility good. Wind light.

Today was considered a day of rest, except to zero new rifles.

0930 Church services were held for C of Es and RCs.

During the afternoon, there were the usual parties to Caserta and Capua.

A number of reinforcements arrived including CSM Gibson who we were very pleased to see again. Lieut E Harper joined this unit and is posted to C Coy.

13th March – BELLANO (1868).

Weather fine. Visibility fine.

0815 The Bttn set out on ‘Dog and Stick’ walks with rendezvous at Villa Croce 260873 for dinner. The return was by march route along the road. Total distance covered by approximately 20 miles. There were main groans of relief as sets of equipment were peeled off and weary limbs sank on top of blankets when billets were reached at 1730hrs.

T/Captain EW Kendal is appointed as A/Major.

14th March – BELLANO (1868).

Weather fine. Visibility good. Wind light.

Today was given over to admin.

0900 The CO went round all billets on an inspection.

There were the usual cinema parties.

1430 The RASC Aldershot Brass Band entertained during the afternoon.

The bttn played the LIR at football and won by 6 goals to 2.

1730 The CO held his conference. It was decided that:

  1. Today’s training programme should be held tomorrow.
  2. Hats GS should be issued in place of Caps FS as soon as sufficient were available for the whole of the bttn.
  3. All ranks to be checked not wearing Battle Axes and Shamrocks.
  4. Coy Commanders notified about further allotments of seats for entertainment viz: 350 at 1430hrs on 17/3/44 San Maria, 150 on 15th and 16th San Maria.

A standing order for the prevention of malaria was issued.

Baths were available throughout the day.

15th March – BELLANO (1868).

Weather fine. Visibility good. Wind light.

The Bttn carried out normal training including field firing, ‘Hares and Hounds’ lectures on malaria etc.

1330 The usual cinema party left for Caserta.

1400 The CO inspected the Bttn in FSMO with all weapons, ammunition etc ready for battle.

1700 A party left for San Maria for a concert by 36 Brigade.

2/Lieut R Phillips MM is promoted War Substantive Lieutenant.

16th March – BELLANO (1686).

Weather fine. Visibility good.

St Patrick’s Eve. St Patrick’s Day and St Patrick’s Night was celebrated this year in something more than traditional style. All ranks in the bttn are quite certain that they have never enjoyed themselves so much for a long time. The first visible signs that St Patrick’s Day had arrived was the publishing in Bttn Orders of the Officers’ and Sergeants’ football teams. The Officers’ team had been selected and been placed by the Sergeants and the Sergeants’ team had been selected and placed by the Officers. The teams and positions were:

Officers: Captain Dicker, Lieut Wilton, Lieut McKenna, Major Murdock, Major Cook, Lieut-Col Bredin, Lieut Myles, Captain Kemp, Captain Brown,  Major Maxwell.

Sergeants: RSM, Sergeant Salt, Sergeant Maguire, CSM Whitfield, CQMS McQuaid, CSM Fenwick, Sergeant Allison, Sergeant Ashworth, CQMS Harper, Sergeant Byrne, Sergeant Byrne.

Reserves: Sergeant Allen, CSM Ford.

Referee: Fusilier Ellis S Company.Linesmen: Sergeant McGinley.

During the afternoon, the Intelligence Office, which was next to the Bttn HQ Officers’ Mess, had been cleared by the Mess Staff in preparation for the party, which had been arranged to take place in the Mess on St Patrick’s Eve and to which all Officers, WOs and Sergeants of the Bttn had been invited. The Intelligence Office was moved into the Adjutant’s Office much to his disgust and concern. Dinner was served ¾ of an hour early that evening and all members of the Mess arrived promptly and all was ready to greet the Sergeants and WOs when they arrived en masse promptly at 730pm. The Officers arrived soon after this and it could quite easily be seen that everyone present was there for the sole reason of enjoying themselves as much as they know how. Lieut Jackson of A Coy was in fine form and was soon the centre of an envious and admiring group. He was singing native war songs and endeavouring to do native war dances. The Orderly Officer was also present but decided that the place was too full and retired to bed where he was woken up every half hour  or so by people by people very anxious of his welfare.

During the evening, the Brigade Commander, the Brigade Major, and the Staff Captain came into the party but did not stay long as they had the other two Bttns to visit. The CO was absent from the party for about half an hour while he visited the London Irish. When he returned, he brought with him Lieut Col Dunnill RIrF and his IO. The RIrF IO was rather unfortunate in his choice of parties as before he had been here too long, he was hit on the head with a cigarette tin thrown by the Second in Command Major Maxwell.

Probably, the only event out of keeping with the occasion was the arrival of 28 RASC vehicles under command of Lieut Hill, which were to be used for conveying the Bttn out of this area. It need hardly be said, however, that the RASC people enjoyed themselves as much if not more that the members of the Bttn did.

17th March – BELLANO (1686).

St Patrick’s Day was started off by the Bttn Pipe Band playing reveille at 0700hrs. The Band led by Sergeant Goldie marched past all Coy areas and started things off in the right spirit.

0800 The Bttn was formed up in three composite Coys in front of Bttn HQ where they were inspected by the CO before marching off to the Brigade Church Service, which was being held in the LIR area.

0820 The Bttn marched off and were rejoined by the RC members and the Pipe Band outside the MT Park. The Bttn was piped down to the Church Parade. The Service was taken by both padres while the RCs held a separate service.

After the service, the Bttn marched to the LIR football field where the Brigade was addressed by the Brigade Commander who then presented all Field Officers with Shamrock. The three RSMs were also handed Shamrock. The Brigade Commander read out a message, which he had received from the Divisional Commander. The LIR entertained the Brigade Officers right royally with rum, wine, tea and sandwiches.

As soon as the Bands had finished playing, the members of the Bttn returned to the Bttn area in their own time and congregated on the football field below S Coy, where the Officers v Sergeants football match was to take place.

At Bttn HQ, the Officers’ team was assembling and they were a sight for sore eyes. The CO was dressed in KD shirt, KD shorts, vivid socks, boots and an Italian black cloak and green pork pie pulled down well over one eye, anyone would have been proud to wear. The Second in Command, Major Maxwell, was resplendent in khaki trousers, shirt and a beautiful new veil. The Adjutant, Captain Blyth, appeared on the scene in FMSO complete to the last detail. Capt ‘Badger’ Dicker, HQ Coy, appeared from round the corner on a donkey with a Captain Pollard, A/Tk Platoon, riding pillion and holding an aspidistra – not the biggest in the world, but quite big enough. The most prominent feature about ‘Badger’ was his adhesive tape and black eye, a reminder of the parry the night before. During the assembly, the Doctor, Captain Brown RAMC, was ‘taken absolutely ill’ and put on a stretcher and carried to the football field. The MTO, Lieut Bradford Myles, was very handsome in the dress of an arab. He had on a gorgeous gown and a Persil white sheet on his head and a huge stick in his hand. As it was getting dark, it was decided to move off without waiting for the rest of the team, which had gone straight to the field. The members of the team, who had assembled at Bttn HQ were all mounted on donkeys and Cpl Kane, one of the Bttn pipers, was put on the leading one. The party set off, being preceded by Cpl Kane, whose donkey was led by the ‘Myles Wallah’ for the football field. They were cheered on their way, by much laughter and jeers from the men and NCOs and the local population of Italians.

The Sergeants’ team were lined up, ready to start play so the Officers dismounted, that is those that were still mounted amongst which was the CO and the Adjutant, both of whom had had a rather rough passage and took the field.

As soon as the whistle went, two carriers appeared on the Sergeants’ left flank and took up hull down positions in the Sergeants’ goal. The Officers’goal, a few seconds later, was covered with a wild rush and little could be seen of the goalkeeper ‘Badger’.

A special sit down dinner had been arranged for the men in which the cooks excelled themselves. There was plenty of beer and vino available and the men were waited upon by their Officers, WOs and Sergeants. The CO visited all Coy Messes and gave St Patrick’s Day Greetings to them, for which he was heartily cheered. The afternoon was devoted to rest in order to let the ‘good things’ settle.

1900 Nurses from the 2nd General Hospital arrived and were entertained at dinner by the Officers in the Mess. L/Cpl Beasley played the piano and once again, Cpl Kane and Fusilier McGoldrick played the Pipes and gave exhibitions of Irish dancing.

2000 An ENSA party, comprising mainly of a dance band, gave a very good show to the Bttn to finish off a very fine day.

The CO received an invitation to attend the consecration of the Bishop of Altamura and Acquavista della Fonti.

St Patrick’s Day Greetings were sent to the following: His Majesty the King, HRH the Duke of Gloucester, The Primates of All Ireland, Am Taoiseach Dail Eireann, General Sir Alan Brooke, General Sir Claude Auckinleck, Sir Basil Brooke, Major RM Vaughan MC, the 1st Bttn Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, the 2nd Bttn Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, the 5th Bttn Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, 25 ITC.

Three typescript newspaper stories concerning actions of the Bttn at San Salvo and Capracotta.

18th March – BELLANO (1686).

Weather fine. Visibility good. Wind light.

The Bttn carried on preparations for the forthcoming move. Kitbags and large packs being handed into Coy stores.

1325 The Brigadier paid a social visit to the Bttn.

1730 The CO held his conference to discuss the present situation in and around Cassino and possible future moves of the Bttn. We are now on 4 hours notice.

19th March – BELLANO (1686).

Weather fine. Visibility good. Wind light.

Today is a day of rest.  New rifles were zeroed on the range.

0930 There was an RC Service in Bellano Church.

1100 The Brigadier and CO attended the C of E service.

In the afternoon, football matches were played between coys.

20th March – BELLANO (1686).

Weather fine. Visibility good.

Coys carried out normal training, including 30 yards range and section stalks.

Inter Coy football matches were played during the afternoon.

The children of the village have unknowingly paid tribute to the Bttn Provost Sergeant; their games have taken the form of defaulters doubling from one point to another accompanied by a passable imitation of the Provost Sergeant’s manner in issuing orders.

During the day, the Pioneers and Intelligence Sergeant gave demonstrations to all coys on laying, lifting and recording of mine fields.

21st March – BELLANO (1686).

Weather fine am, rain pm. Visibility good. Wind light.

There was a Bttn shoot in the morning in which all coys took part. The Battle Platoon won the Bren and Mortar firing competitions.

1330 The Brigadier visited the Bttn to discuss future operations.

Football matches were played during the afternoon but were stopped by rain.

Baths were available to coys.

22nd March – BELLANO (1686).

Weather wet. Visibility fair. Wind light.

Normal training was carried out by the coys mainly in the nature of an exercise.

Loading of vehicles was practised as per loading tables.

A Bttn boxing competition commenced in the early afternoon but had to be cancelled due to heavy rain.

Greetings were received from HM King.

Coy Commanders were informed that no move would take place before 23 March

23rd March – BELLANO (1686).

Weather wet. Visibility good. Wind light.

Amendment and insertion to Movement Order No 5 was issued.

0900 Advance party under Second in Command moved off for the new area.

The morning was spent loading vehicles.

1700 The Bttn embussed and moved off. The civilians were very sorry to see the Bttn leave Bellano and even demonstrated with a few tears.

2020 B Echelon arrived at G 9808 and settled down for the night.

2115 The Bttn arrived at the new area (G 9214) and all had settled down by 2300 hrs.

24th March – G 9214.

Weather fine. Visibility good.

The coys spent the day ‘digging in’ and erecting bivouacs.

0905 Our own artillery registered with smoke in area G 8406.

0910 The CO and IO visited Brigade.

0925 Enemy air bursts seen over Pt 277 (9115).

1000 The CO and IO on visit to forward areas.

1105 Enemy shells (2 shells) landed on area 926152.

1210 The CO returned from his recce. An O Group was held to discuss new routine and the situation.

1340 Enemy shelling (2 shells) on area 920150

1345 One more enemy shell landed at 920150.

1350 Spasmodic enemy shelling (942147) near Bttn area.

1450 One enemy shell landed 50 yards north of Bttn HQ.

1515 Shelling becomes more concentrated on the Bttn area; only casualty was one Sergeant slightly wounded.

Shellrep sent to guns via Brigade HQ.

One of these shells landed on D Coy’s latrines; luckily no one was there at the time.

1530 Intelligence Section recced a route to G901148 for use if the Bttn is called upon for counter attack role.

1700 Captain Pollard and 60 men from S Coy proceeded to 953137 as carrying party for Kapok.

Coys informed that aircraft will drop rations to Indians, who will also fire green verey lights.

Second in Command visited the coys.

Intelligence Section carried out a census of all civilians living in the Battalion area for the purpose of periodical security checks.

1745 Warming message sent to all coys with reference to covering wind screens of vehicles to prevent reflection whilst moving in Battalion area.

2230 A message was sent out to all coys arranging a wood cutting party of 100 men to leave Bttn area at 0500 hrs on 25 March.

25th March – G 9214.

Weather stormy with snow showers. Visibility fair. Wind gale force.

0530 Rations were delivered to the Bttn from B Echelon.

0600 Sitrep. Nothing to report.

0800 Hundred men (25 per rifle company) left for woodcutting.

1330 The Bttn went to slit trenches in ease of a repetition of the shelling on the 24th and also as practice for alarm posts.

1400 The Bttn left the slit trenches and returned to normal.

1430 The CO and Adjutant left to visit B Echelon.

1510 One air burst shell over Bttn HQ area; no damage or casualties.

1530 Two shells fell 600 yards south of the Bttn area.

1600 Arrangements were made for a similar party as this morning for woodcutting.

1800 One officer and 60 men went as carrying party for Kapok from forward areas.

26th March – G 9214.

Weather fair and cold. Visibility poor until 0800hrs then good. Wind strong.

0500 The rations arrived from B Echelon.

0600 Sitrep. Nothing to report.

0800 A party of 1 officer and 130 ORs left Bttn HQ for rendezvous at 988 117 for woodcutting.

0830 Coys tested weapons, making their own arrangement and precautions in coy areas.

1100 The Brigadier visited Bttn HQ to discuss some points on future operations and instructions received for a move to 9911 tonight at 1900hrs.

1130 A warning order was issued to all Coys on move.

1400 The CO holds a conference re move and arrangements made for the Bttn to embus at Cox’s Corner (923150).

1600 B Echelon commenced move to 9911 to rejoin the Bttn. Move was completed by 1900hrs.

1700 IO leaves with coy guides to arrange transport at Cox’s Corner.

1800 IO returns with the news that the A/Provost Marshal will not allow a concentration of transport at Cox’s Corner and alternative arrangements were made for the Bttn to embus by coys (Platform system) at road – track junction 929152 at quarter hour intervals starting at 2200hrs. Order of march to be D, HQ, A, B, C, S Coys.

The move went smoothly with no further trouble and the first coy reached its area in 9911 by 2300hrs.

Captain Irwin MC is attached to C Coy.

27th March – G 9911.

Weather fine. Visibility good. Wind light am, fresh pm.

0100 The Bttn is complete in its new area (9911). Bivouacs were set up, tea and rum was issued.

The day was spent in attending to personal and admin points.

0900 Woodcutting parties were sent out.

The IO went on a recce of routes to the expected new area (8324)

1100 The Bttn Pipe Band played at Bttn HQ for three quarters of an hour.

1415 A warning order was issued for the Bttn to move on the 28th.

1800 The CO attended a conference at Brigade HQ.

1830 A demonstration on loading of mule pack was given by the RSM.

2130 An O Group conference was held and details of the move were discussed.

Baths were available to A & B Coys during the day.

28th March – G 9911.

Weather fine and cold. Visibility good.Wind fresh.

0100 From 0100 to 0600, Bttn HQ were busy making route cards, traces etc in preparation for the move on the same morning.

0530 Movement Order No 7 and route cards were issued.

0620 One officer and 3 NCOs left as recce card for San Michele (907226).

0700 The Bttn was roused and all preparations for the move were made.

0900 One officer, one NCO per Coy and the Provost staff left as advance part for San Michele.

0930 RASC Transport (TCVs and baggage) arrived in Coys’ areas.

1000 Bttn embussed, less D Coy, each many carrying greatcoats and full battle order. The rest of the Bttn’s blankets and essential stores followed on in RASC transport. Tentage and large packs were left behind at B Echelon.

1015 The Bttn passed over the SP.

1200 A Echelon is established in area San Michele (G 907226).

1215 The Bttn debussed at G 907226 in the area San Michele after an uncomfortable journey over bad roads. The clear view of the Monastery caused great interest for most of the Bttn.

1300 An O Group conference was held by the CO. It was decided that the Bttn should remain in its present location until the following evening, instead of going on to Portella (G 8924) as previously arranged.

During the afternoon, preparations were made for the move of the advance party. Trailers were brought for Jeeps and loaded up.

1715 The Bttn advance party under the command of the CO left in Jeeps. The party consisted of CO, IO, all the Coy Commanders, Coy reps, and the Signals Sergeant, who was to get the layout of lines and exchanges of the 4 RTT. Cpl Fielder (Intelligence) travelled with this party as an interpreter.

1815 The advance party was met by two French guides at Portella ((G 8924) and was guided over the Rapido Valley to their positions on Monte Castellone (G 8323) arriving at the HQ 4 RTT (835230) at 2010.

The journey took so long owing to the necessity for waiting for darkness before crossing the Rapido Valley, this being under enemy observation and subject to very heavy fire.

2010 OC 4 RTT explained to the CO that the layout and positions of his Bttn and said that they had not done many patrols owing to the fact that his Bttn comprised mostly of new and young reinforcements, who had been them a few weeks.

2120 Coy Commanders and reps were guided out to opposite numbers of 4 RTT.

29th March – SAN MICHELE (G 907226).

Weather fine. Visibility good. Wind fresh.

0400 The Bttn Support Group, MMGs and 3 inch Mortars arrived in the area of 4 RTT.

0700 The Bttn aroused and preparations made to go forward for the pending move. Blankets and greatcoats were rolled into bundles.

0730 Guided by the IO (4 RTT), the CO and IO (6 Innisks) visited the forward positions of 4 RTT.

0900 B Echelon and D Coy commenced to move to new area San Pietro (G 9715).

1200 B Echelon and D Coy complete in new area.

1200 The CO held a conference with the Coy Commanders to discuss the moving in and changeover of their Coys. The changeover had to be completed by 0200 (30 March) so as to allow the French time to cross the Rapido Valley in darkness.

1400 The Adjutant called a conference to tie up the final details of the Bttn to move to 4 RTT positions.

1400 IO 4 RTT handed over the usual documents of the area to the IO 6 Innisks.

1530 C of E Church Service was held.

1600 The CO allocated dugouts etc to Bttn HQ.

3 Inch Mortars (6 Innisks) changeover with 4 RTT completed. 2 MMGs relieve 2 French MMGs in the reserve area.

1800 Coy stores were sorted into mule loads and made ready for loading.

1815 Mules arrive and are allocated to coys. Some of the muleteers would not take the loads already made up and these needed to be untied and repacked, which entailed quite a bit of additional work on the last minute in the diminishing light. This accounted for a slight delay in the starting of the last two coy mule trains.

1830 Mules were loaded and ready to move off.

1900 The Bttn moved off to take up the positions occupied by the French troops. The order of march being : A, B, Bttn HQ, C Coys, which proceeded by route march via Portella (G 8924) – Caira (G 8425) –Monte Castellone.

1900 French guides arrived at the HQ and with our Coy Commanders set out to meet the Bttn.

1930 Two MMGs and ammunition were loaded onto eight mules supplied by the French and moved off to relieve the 2 French MMGs in the forward Coy areas.

2230 The first coy arrives at 4 RTT HQ on Monte Castellone


0200 Two shells fell in Bttn HQ area, one of which wounded Major Kendal (OC S Coy). With his evacuation, we lose the last of the officers since the day it was formed.

During the day, D Coy erected a wooden bridge across a gully in S Coy area. Pioneers organised baths and coy personnel did their washing.

Weather fine. Visibility good. Wind light.

0210 The changeover with 4 RTT is completed.

The coys’ locations being as follows: A Coy 828231, B Coy 822227, C Coy 835230, Bttn HQ at 835230.

0300 CQMSs arrived back from the Bttn to A Echelon.

0430 The Bttn ‘stand to’.

0800 Work was started where possible to clear up the Bttn area, which had been left in an untidy condition. This had to be carried out very carefully owing to enemy OPs on our flanks.

0930 The Brigade Commander of 11 Brigade visited B Coy.

0945 The CO visited B Coy.

0955 A and B Coys’ positions heavily shelled (HE and smoke) and continued until 1035.

The morning was taken up moving all A Echelon personnel and Coy dumps to a fresh position in this area to make room for 1 RIrF, who started arriving from 1400hrs onwards.

D Coy were entertained by the Pipe Band from a nearby hillside.

1400 C of E Church Service was held by personnel of B Echelon and D Coy.

During the afternoon, A Echelon prepared loads of mules which was much easier as only essential items were needed ie rations, water etc. They were once again assisted by RASC Jeeps and trailers for taking up the supplies.

1815 A Section of the Battle Patrol started on a patrol to Phantom House (827226)

1845 The Bttn ‘stand to’.

1855 A member of the patrol (Cpl Delaney of ‘Delaney’s Corner’ North Africa fame) on a mine (French) and was killed, after which the patrol returned to Bttn HQ.

2320 Rations arrived from A Echelon.

2330 MMG fire and grenade throwing started on the FDLs of A Coy. Apparently, a patrol of eight Germans rushed the left position of the right flanking Bttn where they worked to the rear of our A Coy. Sharp exchange of fire and grenades took place.

The only casualty suffered by A Coy through enemy action was Fusilier Thornbury. Sergeant McWilliams and Cpl Bryan (stretcher bearer), both of A Coy were killed by a mine. Fusilier Wilcox (A Coy stretcher bearer) did good work in bringing them in and was himself wounded while doing so.

The forward coys are having difficulty over food arrangements. They have not had a hot meal or drink of tea since arriving in the new positions.

Captain EJ Griffiths rejoined the unit from hospital and is posted to D Coy as second in command of the coy.

Baths were available to D Coy during the day.


Weather wet and foggy, Visibility poor. Wind light.

0500 Exchange of fire and grenade throwing took place periodically throughout the night along the FDLs of A & B Coys.

0515 The CO visited B Coy to view the scene of the night’s activities. Loss for the night – 1 OR wounded.

0800 Owing to carry difficulties, water supply is limited and one bottle of water was issued to personnel of the Bttn for washing, drinking etc.

1400 The CO visits forward positions and the forward positions of the 2 LIR, which is our right flanking Bttn. Taking advantage of the weather, very heavy mist, he also visited the OP in A Coy area.

1630 Hot meals cooked in reserve areas are taken up to A Coy. This is being done owing to the impossibility of cooking in their area because of the constant enemy observation.

1830 A Section of the ‘Battle Patrol’ leaves Bttn HQ to patrol ‘Phantom House’ (828226).

1845 The Bttn ‘stand to’.

1930 Rations and water reach the Bttn most nights between 1930-2100hrs.

2000 Rum was issued.

2230 The ‘Battle Patrol’ returns after seeing and hearing the enemy in his FDLs.

Otherwise nothing to report.