Lt Col Horsfall
On the evening of 19th/20th October 1944, two companies of the 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers (1 RIrF) were ordered to attack Monte Spaduro just to the north of Castel del Rio in the northern Apennines. It was during a period when the Irish Brigade were under command of the 5th Army and supporting an American push towards Bologna.
A Company, under Major Maurice Crehan, and B Company, commanded by Major Dick Jefferies, led the assault, with Major Tony Morris and C Company readying in support, but the battalion received a decisive rebuff from the German strong points scattered around Spaduro.
It proved an absolutely disastrous encounter with both A and B Companies suffering significant levels of casualties. Over that long night, Major Crehan and 22 other Faughs were killed, Major Jefferies and many others captured with scores more wounded.
Major Crehan was later discovered alongside Sergeant Elliott and eight other members from A Company and in front of them were lying fifteen Germans…
The headstones of Major Crehan and Major Boyd MC at Santenro Valley CWGC Cemetery.
Maurice Crehan was a Canadian and had been attached to the Irish Brigade under the CanLoan arrangements, which operated during 1943 and 1944. Richard Doherty, the Irish Brigade’s historian told us recently:
“It was believed that Major Crehan’s stand against the German counter-attack was worthy of the VC but with no living witnesses, nothing could be done. John Horsfall, Brian Clark et al spoke of him with great respect.”
You can read John Horsfall’s account of the assault on Monte Spaduro here.