2 LIR – July 1944

While in the Rome area many officers and men of the battalion enjoyed visits to the Eternal City, and some were received by the Pope in the Vatican.  The London Irish Rifles pipers and the bands of the two other Irish battalions in the brigade played in the precincts of the Vatican for His Holiness.

There were several changes in personnel in the 2nd Battalion.  Lieut.-Colonel Bredin, recovered from his wounds, became Commanding Officer of the battalion, Lieut.-Colonel Horsfall leaving to command the 1st Royal Irish Fusiliers.  Major Colin Gibbs MC, Captain E Bird, Captain JD White MC, and Lieutenant P Giles were among a small party who left to take up appointments as staff instructors at various training establishments. Major-General Keightley left the 78th Division on promotion to command 5th Corps.

The Irish Brigade received a most severe blow when news came that the 6th Battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers was to be disbanded.  They had played a key part in many battles in North Africa in the dark days of November 1942.  Then the battle for Centuripe in Sicily, Termoli, the crossing of the Trigno and the Sangro in Italy had all gained battle honours for the regiment.  Their place in the Irish Brigade was taken by the 2nd Battalion of the Inniskillings, and most of the non-commissioned officers and other ranks of the 6th were sent to the other battalions of the brigade as reinforcements.

As the 1st Battalion left Egypt advance parties of the 2nd Battalion arrived.  They encamped near Qassassin, and followed almost on the heels of the 1st Battalion at Sidi Bishr.  They also enjoyed a rest with ample leave.  New intakes arrived, and after a short period of training they went back to Italy.  New officers joined the 2nd Battalion at Sidi Bishr, including Captain F Cave, and Lieutenants V Bryning, Walsh, EM Salter, and S Thompson.