1st Battalion, Royal Fusiliers

Discussion in 'British Army Units - Others' started by Pete Thomas, Sep 9, 2012.

  1. Pete Thomas

    Pete Thomas Member

    Hi, can anyone tell me what brigade and division the 1st Royal Fusiliers were with in 1944?

    Also does anyone know what happened to the battalion on 21st June 1944? One of the men on our war memorial, Fusilier 4460264 Ernest Thompson, was killed on this day.

    Any help much appreciated.

  2. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    17th Indian Brigade, 8th Indian Divsion.
    17th Infantry Brigade
    1st Royal Fusiliers
    1/12 Frontier Force Regiment
    1/5 Royal Gurkha Rifles
    The Tiger Triumphs. The Story of Three Great Divisions in Italy. 1946.Chapters 1-3.

    During the afternoon of June 18th, 1/5 Gurkhas, supported by two troops of North Irish Horse, attacked the escarpment opposite Civitella. German bazooka men lying up in the village cemetery destroyed two of the Irishmen's tanks. At 0400 hours next morning the village was reported as captured and consolidated. After daybreak the Gurkhas attempted to work along the ridge towards Ripa village. As soon as the advance began, heavy shelling and mortaring revealed the presence of substantial enemy forces. German guns knocked out three tanks which reconnoitred too rashly. The enemy shoot on Civitella increased in intensity, and at 1030 hours a counter attack of approximately company strength developed from across the Tiber. The German concentrations had been observed, and the assault broke down under accurate defensive fire. At 1100 hours with Civitella secure, "D" Company of the Gurkhas supported by tanks and artillery, worked in on Ripa village. (An odd sight during this assault was Major Charles, forward observation officer, directing his guns from the top of a stepladder in the firing line, under pelting rain). Well prepared positions blocked all approaches, but as the Gurkhas felt their way around them the rearguards fled precipitately.
    Simultaneously Royal Fusiliers advanced against the ridge position above the Chiascio river. At 1530 hours the leading company ran into concentrated machine-gun fire, one thousand yards south-east of its objective. The Company Commander was killed, and all other officers became casualties. Persevering, the Fusiliers worked up on the right of the Gurkhas, took over Ripa village, and reorganized the sector. During this consolidation Major Morland-Hughes, M.B.E., M.C., commanding the Gurkhas, who led his battalion in the bitter Mozzagrogna fighting, was mortally wounded---a great loss to his men and to the Division.
    With Ripa ridge secured, 17th Brigade pushed on. 1/12 Frontier Force Regiment worked forward between Civitella and Ripa. A company of the Gurkhas crossed River Grande, a tributary of the Tiber, assailing the high ground on the northern bank. The enemy instantly reacted to this incursion, and the Gurkhas encountered such venomous opposition that they withdrew that evening. Frontier Force Regiment, however, had made good progress, and next day it was decided to re-cross the river. After darkness fell, "B" Company of the Gurkhas once more forded the stream, infiltrated on to the high ground, and established a bridgehead. Again the enemy struck back promptly and vigorously; lorried infantry and motor-cycle machine-gunners charged the intruders. This attack failed to win home, and morning broke on a noisy scene as enemy artillery softened up the Gurkha positions. That afternoon a second enemy counter-attack swept up; the Germans retrieved some ground only to lose it when the reserve company of Gurkhas raced into action. Concurrently, 1/12 Frontier Force Regiment had probed forward until securely ensconced on Belvedere Ridge, a long feature formerly used by the enemy for artillery observation. Attempts to throw back the Frontiersmen were broken up by prompt and accurate curtains of defensive fire.
    This series of sharp little actions was proving expensive. Already 17th Brigade had lost half as many men as in the great battle of the Gari. Relief was overdue, for Eighth Indian Division had been fighting steadily with little real rest since the previous November. It was known that Tenth Indian Division was on its way to take over, but General Russell and his men were loath to relinquish the front, as one of his officers put it, "without dotting the Hun one for all the nuisances he had committed". On June 23rd, 3rd King's Own Hussars replaced North Irish Horse as the 17th Brigade's tank regiment, and it was decided to sally once more into the upland ground which had been defended so obstinately. This farewell attack succeeded brilliantly. In a single bound the Hussars carried Piccione, five miles north of Ripa, caught the enemy by surprise and wrought havoc. Two hundred Germans were killed, 50 mules captured, and 1100 guns destroyed. Gurkhas, Royal Fusiliers and Royal West Kents followed up to consolidate. Bitter fighting occurred at Columbella, where it was necessary to withdraw the West Kents and to beat up the area with artillery before the ground could be held. The enemy bared his teeth at every attempt to infiltrate, and the situation was still involved when the advance parties from Tenth Indian Division arrived.

    The Tiger Triumphs. The Story of Three Great Divisions in Italy. 1946. Chapters 8-9.
    IKE26 likes this.
  3. Pete Thomas

    Pete Thomas Member

    Owen, thank you very much.

  4. IKE26

    IKE26 Member

    Anyone has the history regiment's book?

Share This Page