3/15 Punjab at Vezzani - Dec. 1943

Discussion in 'Italy' started by Wilhar, Dec 15, 2020.

  1. Wilhar

    Wilhar Member

    This might be a longshot, but it never hurts to ask: does anyone have access to, or a copy of, 3/15th Punjab Regiment's war diary for the month of Dec. 1943?

    It's perhaps timely that I've been reading about 8th Indian Division's Moro River campaign in Dec. 1943. Seventy-seven years ago this month, Indian soldiers were fighting their way across mud and snow just to the left of the Canadians mouse-holing their way through Ortona, and to the right of the Brits and New Zealanders fighting for Orsogna. The division got its first real taste of action in Italy during "Bloody December", and it appears to have acquitted itself well.

    I've been looking specifically at 3/15th Punjab Regiment's involvement in this fighting. From various sources, I've been able to follow them across "Impossible Bridge" on Dec. 9, then up to the town of Vezzani on Dec. 23, where they supported the capture of Villa Grande. Prasad's Official History of the Indian Armed Forces in the Second World War records the Punjabis took Vezzani, defended it against German counter-attack and held on in the face of severe bombardment, but were not immediately able to capture the Tollo-Villa Grande road just to the north. Fighting petered out after Christmas, as Villa Grande fell, exhaustion set in, and winter storms swept in from the Adriatic -- The Tiger Triumphs: Three Great Divisions in Italy describes near whiteout conditions on New Year's Eve.

    According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, 65 men from 3/15th Punjab lost their lives during Dec. 1943; most of these were in early and mid-December, during the fighting around Impossible Bridge, with numerous others later in the month while the battalion was defending Vezzani.

    That being said, I was surprised to find seven men identified as having died or been killed on Dec. 31, 1943, a relatively large number for a period when the fighting was supposed to have died down significantly. My best guesses are a shell hitting a particularly unlucky spot, or maybe a patrol gone horribly wrong. Does anyone know what happened to these men?

  2. Wilhar

    Wilhar Member

    The men who died on Dec. 31, 1943, were:
    • 10707 Nk. NIZAM DIN, son of Hakim Din and Malina, of Misra Wala, Shakar Dara, Mianwali, Pakistan; husband of Pasina, of Misra Wala.
    • 11289 Nk. SHIB DHAN, son of Mussadi and Dhao, of Khanda Kheri, Hissar, India.
    • 11983 Sep. GURDAS SINGH, son of Harnam Singh and Basanti, of Patrala, Mailpore, Hoshiarpur, India. Age 22.
    • 17738 Sep. ANAR GUL, son of Gul Muhammad, of Teri, Kohat, Pakistan. Age 28.
    • 18999 Sep. AMIR ALAM, son of Niaz Muhammad, and of Sahib Noor, of Mari Mukarab Shah, Bez Kund, Pakistan. Age 27.
    • 24705 Sep. FAQIR MUHAMMAD, son of Said Ahmed, of Garu, Nizampore, Peshawar, Pakistan. Age 20.
    • 31152 Sep. KUNDAN, son of Sheoka and Beo Rani, of Kher Khara, Meham, Rohtak, India. Age 20.
    Lest we forget.
  3. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    Here is a couple of pages from the regimental history of the Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment on the end of December 1943.
  4. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    Here are the December 1943 pages from the regimental history of the Mahratta Light Infantry:
    1_5th MLI_01.png 1_5th MLI_02.png 1_5th MLI_03.png 1_5th MLI_04.png
  5. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    The 1/5th Mahratta Light Infantry continued:
    1_5th MLI_05.png 1_5th MLI_06.png 1_5th MLI_07.png 1_5th MLI_08.png
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  6. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    Based on these accounts, I would say that artillery fire probably could have been the cause of the multiple deaths in the 3/15th Punjab Regiment.
  7. Wilhar

    Wilhar Member

    Thank you, as always, for your response. Shellfire definitely seems like a likely culprit. One or two unlucky hit could have easily done it.

  8. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    No problem.
  9. IKE26

    IKE26 Active Member

    Hi Wilahr. I wrote a book on 8th Indian Div. in Italy from Sept. 43 to January 44.
    From the diary of 3/15 I confirm that 3 men died and 7 wounded caused of shelling on Vezzani at 2:40 pm.
    By the way CWCG list tell us that 31 Dec. '43 these battalion's soldier died:
    17738 Sepoy Anar Gul 31-dic-43
    24705 Sepoy Faqir Muhammad 31-dic-43
    10707 Naik Nizam Din 31-dic-43
    18999 Sepoy Amir Alam 31-dic-43
    Naik Shib Dhan 31-dic-43
    Sepoy Gurdas Singh 31-dic-43
    Sepoy Kundan 31-dic-43

    4 of them probably were wounded before that date.
    I can confirm that after the end Villa Grande's battle (28 dec) the operations were stalled. Only patrols went around to find out the weight of german resistance north towards Tollo.
    An heavy blizzard the night of 31st December stopped operations at all.
    The first January 1944 the Battalion had only 378 sepoys out of 606.

    This battalion's war diary is very scanty of informations. :-(

    If you need more infos write me in private.
  10. Wilhar

    Wilhar Member

    IKE26, thank you for that informative post. I will likely be in touch as I plod through my research on this. What is the title of your book?

  11. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.

    What is the tile of your book & how much money is it going for..

    Any chance you can show the index page?

    Also, who do we purchase a copy from?

  12. IKE26

    IKE26 Active Member

    I sent pm
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  13. Instructor6

    Instructor6 New Member

    I am afraid I cant answer the question but would like to thank those who made various contributions which are very interesting. I have also recently been researching this period including the 8th Indian Division's role as part of 5 Corps in the fighting on the Sangro and to the Moro.

    I have found Prasad's official history to be excellent in understanding the operations along with various Regimental histories. It was interesting to learn you followed the unit from the Impossible bridge. Can anyone give a definitive answer (i.e. based on primary sources) as to where exactly this was built. I have seen a number of accounts but they conflict in their descriptions of the location. I assume the War diary for the Indian Engineer company that built it would have the Grids and perhaps a sketch of the area. I believe this was 69 Fd Coy (Bengal) (commanded by Maj RGG Higham, RE)

    Thanks again for the thread
  14. IKE26

    IKE26 Active Member

    Impossible bridge was built here
  15. IKE26

    IKE26 Active Member

    Impossible bridge was built here

    Attached Files:

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