56 Division at Enfidaville - May 1943

Discussion in 'North Africa & the Med' started by Tom OBrien, Jan 19, 2021.

  1. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    Hi,

    I couldn't find much here about the battle of Enfidaville in May 1943 so thought I'd put up so details from the 167 Inf Bde war diary (WO169/8966) and hope they are of interest:

    167 Infantry Brigade HQ

    May 1943 C.O.: Brigadier J.C.A. Birch, D.S.O.


    1 May 1943 ENFIDAVILLE For enemy front see PANORAMA 1
    0010
    8 R.F. in posn 352893.
    0100 7 Oxf + Bucks in posn. Taking over from 3 Coldstream Guards area 3589.
    0135 302 Bty A.Tk guns in posn.
    0245 7 Oxf + Bucks report. Hand over complete.
    0240 Contact between units to be made at first light.
    0530 Div reported. Enemy D.F. fire appears to be in area 3897 – 325880 – 317875. Particularly hy fire in area 5101 SRAFI (pt. 330).
    1100 Bomb line 368920 – 340910.
    Morning
    Brig. J.C.A. Birch visited 8 R.F., 7 Oxf & Bucks in the line.
    1400 Lt. DULLEA + Lt. DUDMAN (8 R.F. & 7 Oxf & Bucks) reported for duty as M.C.Os.
    1622 Div Comdr visited Bde H.Q.
    1815 Slight enemy activity. Area 3493. Intermittent shelling & mortar fire.
    1940 Div reported hy shelling of F.D.Ls 1000 – 1030 hrs. 9 R.F. exchanged M.G. fire with enemy on Pt. 141.

    Night 1/2 May 1943
    Quiet night patrolling by own tps.

    2 May 1943 ENFIDAVILLE
    Bomb line 368920 – 340910.
    Deserter from 200 P.G.R. picked up by 8 RF during night 1/2. Nothing to report during night except slight patrol activity.
    1115 65 Fd Regt fired regimental concentration on working party 355923.
    1325 220 Fd Coy moving to 345888.
    1603 4 enemy A/C dropped bombs & machine gunned 500x SOUTH of this H.Q.
    1610 5 enemy A/C over 8 R.F. Well engaged by A.A. fire.
    1650 Information received that “C” Sqn 40 R.T.R. will be moving to 50 R.T.R. area tonight 3486.
    1750 Information that 220 Fd Coy is to construct a screen over the railway tonight 2/3 May area 359892.
    2000 Enemy shelling 346892.
    2000 Brig. J.C.A. Birch requested to see offr comd 302 A.Tk Bty at 0830 hrs 3 May to co-ordinate A.Tk layout in area.
    2000 Two patrols left 8 R.F. to recce areas 3392 & 3291. A mine believed to be of a new type was discovered in the latter area. Later found to be a charge only.

    3 May 1943 ENFIDAVILLE
    0130
    Two patrols from 7 Oxf & Bucks recce’d areas 3591 & 3691.
    0106 Code Word “ROSE” received denoting that the changeover to the new area was completed. New front now extends from 330903 – 355910. 8 RF on left, 7 Oxf & Bucks on right.
    For Operational Role see O.O. No.1. Appx II
    Bombline for today unchanged.
    1030 Big explosion reported in area 358923.
    1040 H.Q. 40 R.T.R. 337363.
    1400 H.Q. 8 R.F. moved to 343889.
    1600 8 RF now at 344895. DF Tasks see Trace. Trace II
    1820
    “C” Coy 6 Chesh. moved to 352875.
    2040 Bde Comdr & Lt. Cols received instructions to report to Div H.Q. 1100 hrs 14 May to meet Army Comdr.
    Morning
    Lt. DUDMAN rejoined 7 Oxf & Bucks. Intermittent shelling during day.

    Night 3/4 May 1943 ENFIDAVILLE
    8 RF sent 2 recce patrols to areas 328123 & 331913.

    4 May 1943 ENFIDAVILLE
    0001
    7 Oxf & Bucks fighting patrol area 347922 also a recce patrol to HUMPS 357923. One man injured but later rejoined unit.
    Quiet night. Bombline for day unchanged.
    0800 Minefield laid area 365278. Trace IV
    9 R.F. in Div reserve. H.Q. at 338858.
    Morning
    Capt. B.C. PINCOMBE left Bde H.Q. to become O.C. Coy 2/6 Queens.
    2020 Fire at Red House 342892. Spasmodic shelling during the day.
    2030 Standing patrol by 8 RF area Roman Ruins 337913.
    2230 Recce patrol by 8 RF in area 3491.

    5 May 1943 ENFIDAVILLE
    0145
    Relief of 6 SEAFORTH not taking place before 2200 hrs 6 May. Code word “MAUDE”.
    0745 Low flying enemy A/C making towards Enfidaville. Fired two bursts of M.G. fire.
    1045 Brig. J.C.A. Birch ask to see O.C. 6 Cheshire + Maj. Coates as soon as possible with ref. to “COATES FORCE” counter preparation & counter attack roles.
    1130 302 A/Tk Bty moved to 352873.
    1600 One ME 109 flew northwards over this HQ. It was engaged by AA fire, and believed brought down.
    1530 Div comd visted this H.Q.
    1924 44 Recce H.Q. moved to 355875.
    2040 MG fire from HUMP.
    2103 Enemy mines reported area 364917.
    2140 44 Recce HQ moved to 357878.
    1945 Heavy concentration of fire on enemy posn.
    167 Bde Op Instr 1. Appx 1
    After his visit to this H.Q. the Div Comd was slightly injured and the G1 Col. T.H. Ely died of wounds received area 44 Recce HQ. Brig. J.C.A. Birch temporarily assumed Command 56 Div & Lt. Col. R.C. Cruddas assumed command 167 Bde. Col. Drew was temporarily appointed G1 56 Div.
    2150 Enemy A/C flew NE over 9 RF. Enemy replied to our arty concentration by bringing DF & M.G. fire to bear on our fwd Coys on both Bde fronts. Our patrols reported enemy standing to during our bombardment and engaged all our patrols with M.M.G. fire.

    Night 5/6 May 1943 ENFIDAVILLE
    8 RF patrol to area RR 337914. Lt. Brownrigg (patrol comd) injured.

    6 May 1943 ENFIDAVILLE
    Brig. GRAHAM (51 H.D.) assumed comd 56 Lon. Div. & Brig. BIRCH reassumed comd of 167 (Lon) Inf Bde.
    0559 Div reported relief of 6 SEAFORTHS by 2/5 Queens completed without incident.
    1240 7 Oxf & Bucks reported work in progress under arc lamp during night 5/6 area 4095 – 4096.
    1946 Bombline 169 Bde now 330910 – 320910 – 290890 – 290860.
    Quiet day with intermittent shelling & mortaring. Enemy M.T. & working parties engaged over the whole front.
    1750 Div concentration of 3 rds gunfire on area 358923. All rds fell within 200x of each other.
    2200 7 Oxf & Bucks recce patrol area of track 355917 to 347919. Another 7 Oxf & Bucks recce patrol between rd & railway towards the HUMPS. Recce patrol by 8 R.F. area Roman Ruins 337914 & Eastwards.

    7 May 1943 ENFIDAVILLE
    SITREPS show little change during the night.
    0720 2/5 Queens reported suspected enemy H.Q. area 288882.
    0700 169 Bde suspected MENGOUB lightly held.
    0954 Enemy arty seen at:- 353946, Div arty put down concentration.
    1310 8 R.F. reported 20 to 30 Italians (later confirmed 12) strolling towards their (8 RF) fwd coy.
    1457 Enemy approaching now crawling. Carriers stood by to aid their progress.
    1245 18 Germans reported by 7 Oxf & Bucks to be advancing towards their right fwd coy. Engaged by our arty, mortar and S.A. fire.
    1320 Party hurried back after coming within 100x of 7 Oxf & Bucks right fwd coy sector and forcing one of our Arty OPs to withdraw. This was later re-occupied.
    Patrol Comd later P.W. (Lt. EISINGER). He stated that the patrol came to recce our F.D.Ls. They did not think them occupied. He had no casualties.
    1850 Location 220 Fd Coy R.E. 345793.
    1945 Two recce patrols from 7 Oxf & Bucks to area BROWN WILLY 3592. Enemy still in occupation.
    2030 8 R.F. recce patrol to area 327925. Had to fight their way out. Spasmodic shelling during day. Quiet night.

    8 May 1943 ENFIDAVILLE
    0230
    330 Bty TAC H.Q. 333847. Bty H.Q. 354743.
    0300 HUMPS still occupied by enemy.
    0500 Rd North of 358897 under enemy observation. Traffic warned not to use it except during hours of darkness or on urgent business.
    0800 Div SITREP. No enemy in area olive grove 291877. 3” gun defiladed posn at 298890. Enemy holding East of village 2889. Enemy O.P. at pt 64 area 3494.
    0850 Brig. J.C.A. Birch arrived at Div H.Q. ref 7 Oxf & Bucks attack tonight.
    0852 169 Bde reported pt 141 held at first light. 2/5 Queens patrol report that village 289895 strongly held by Italians. Village 292865 unoccupied.
    1115 P.Ws still say HUMPS unoccupied. (Later found untrue).
    1230 Conference at Bde H.Q. ref 7 Oxf & Bucks attack today. Orders issued verbally to the effect that 7 Oxf & Bucks would occupy the HUMPS. Zero hour 1835, 8 May.
    1515 Div Comd arrived to discuss tonight’s operations.
    1815 Arty barrage opened prior to 7 Oxf & Bucks attack.
    1845 R.A. report phase 1 completed. No enemy retaliation.
    1914 O.P. on hill 60 reported inf appear to [be] making progress. Very little opposition apparent.
    1945 Arty barrage finished. First wave of inf reached objective.
    1950 Tks on both HUMPS. Inf going fwd.
    2004 S.W. of this H.Q. shelled. Believed by 88 mm probably using A.P. as some of the rds failed to explode.
    2030 8 R.F. recce patrol area Roman Ruins 33914 on bank of WADI GASTLA.
    2045 OMELETTE received signifying that WADI GASTLA has been reached by the 7 Oxf & Bucks.
    2345 Additional D.F. tasks – MARY, 338915 – 334909; GEORGE, 342922 – 338915.
    During night of 8/9, 42 P.W. taken, those from left HUMP GERMAN (155 P.G.R.). Those on right HUMP, Italian (Young Fascists).

    9 May 1943 ENFIDAVILLE
    0810
    9 R.F. O.P. 360980 reported mortar (enemy) fire on HUMP 3592. Approx area of mortar ORCHARD 3692. 65 Fd Regt put down concentration & large column of black smoke was seen.
    1007 7 Oxf & Bucks called for D.F. task DELILAH 340928 – 339922.
    0600 169 Bde SITREP: patrol found “S” mines in gap 312917. No enemy between pt. 130 & track junc. 304897. Village 288895 still held by enemy.
    1135 Div. report: enemy asking for terms of surrender in RAS ZEBIB, PORTA FARINA area. Unconditional terms only being offered.
    1212 7 Oxf & Bucks report: Enemy infiltrating into “B” Coy lines. Occupied Arty OPs on right HUMP but driven out later.
    1220 D.F. tasks: DELILAH, GEORGE, MARY plus 300x.
    1304 R.A. reported 30 enemy in pillbox 360923. Regt. Concentrations put down on same.
    1345 News from 1st Army via Div that 15 Pz Div surrendered “in toto” area RASS ZEBIB.
    1535 64 Fd Regt reported 3 men with a white flag coming in on Western HUMP.
    1540 Visit of Corps Comd ref 8 RF & 9 RF attack on northern end of Tebaga, Pt 162 – 325923, Pt 125 – 334937, + Pt 125 – 337940. 8 RF on left. 9 RF on right.
    1505 44 Recce carrier patrol working up S.E. of BORDJ.
    1735 Arty barrage opened to cover 7 OXF BUCKS left flank which was being heavily attacked. Barrage was also preliminary to attack by 8 RF & 9 RF.
    1800 “C” Coy 6 Cheshires moved to area 346900.
    1800 8 RF at Roman Ruins 328911 and going strong.
    1811 40 RTR contacted 7 OXF BUCKS.
    1815 A Sqn 40 RTR asked for concentration on orchard 3692.
    1830 3 rds gunfire laid on 3692. “A” Sqn asked for same again plus 500 yds (put down at 1840 hrs).
    1840 8 RF reported under hill 10 mins early and waiting. No S.A. fire.
    1851 167 Bde informed 44 Recce that they (44 Recce) would be responsible for Orchard 3692 from tonight.
    1849 Situation 7 Oxf Bucks left flank becoming serious with M.G. fire from WADI GASTLA. 8 RF under M.G. fire from Pt 162 + TEBAGA also under shelling.
    1900 169 Bde closed present location; re-opened same time 323873.
    1900 Brig. J.C.A. Birch enquired of Div as to posn. if some objectives should not be taken as he had practically NO reserves.
    1905 8 RF requested smoke urgently. Put down at 1915.
    1912 8 RF reported Pt 136 (330924) taken.
    1925 9 RF held up. Col. Hillersden injured. 9 RF asked for smoke on right objective.
    1935 7 Oxf. Bucks suspected enemy tanks still in WADI GASTLA. (This report later proved false).
    1944 40 RTR tanks asked to swing eastwards and clear.
    1945 2 Btys 65 Fd Regt put smoke on 342948.
    1950 Arty barrage ended.
    1955 8 RF want more smoke on Pt 162.
    1957 9 RF unable to reach objective. Trying to hold line after withdrawing 500x.
    2015 Maj. Coleman (2i/c 9 RF) went to 9 RF to take over. May arrange special shoot to put them on objective. Maj. Coleman returned 0015 hrs without having contacted 9 RF.
    2020 8 RF reported “sticky going” centre + left, but progress being made.
    2021 Div Comd informed by ‘phone of situation.
    2033 D.F task SAMSON plus 200x put down. 9 RF reported they are under our own Arty fire. It was stopped immediately.
    2048 All units informed that NO original DF tasks would be called for. New D.Fs JIMMY 359931 – 351931. JOKER 368924 – 359932.
    2105 8 RF reported enemy still on Pt. 162. Have gained 330924.
    9 RF area 335932, 500x short of objective.
    2110 9 RF reported 2 coys left on track 335922.
    2110 Col. Macdonald (O.C. 167 Fd. Amb.) killed).
    2134 9 RF reported that they got within 500 yards of objective and were met by M.G. + mortar fire + withdrew to WADI GASTLA, were again heavily mortared. They withdrew and dispersed.
    2145 9 RF reported (through 64 Fd Regt) 150 men left + they do not think posn. theirs.
    2200 8 RF reported they have not got Pt. 162 (324923). Very heavy casualties. C.O. said they are not likely to take Pt. 162.
    2210 8 RF reported 2 coys on ATEYA. 60 men between them and res. coy attacking NW objective.
    2220 169 Bde reported relief completed.
    2240 Div Comd ordered us to get organised and take Pt 162 if at all possible. 8 RF may have to withdraw.
    2258 7 Oxf Bucks asked for Regt concentration on 364927. This was too close and was lifted to 366927.
    2310 Div comd gave orders that if we were not on TEBAGA by midnight, units must be prepared to withdraw.
    2325 Enemy jamming W/T.
    2345 One Pl. M.G. (6 Ches) reported to 8 R.F.
    2346 8 RF reserve coy withdrawn from right to attack Pt. 162.
    2350 Div comd arrived and ordered the attack off.

    10 May 1943 ENFIDAVILLE
    0001
    Orders to 9 RF. By first light (0400 hrs) Bn will be back behind ridge from which they started and will then occupy F.D.Ls. recently held by 2 right coys 7 Oxf Bucks. Casualties will be got away as far as humanly possible. Rear patrols will be left to cover parties collecting wounded. All withdrawals to be covered by rear parties and arty.
    Orders to 8 RF as above, but bn will occupy left hand posn recently vacated by 7 OXF BUCKS and 2 fwd posns previously held by 8 RF. Tks will remain until daylight and give what cover they can.
    Div Comd left this H.Q.
    0055 We informed 7 OXF BUCKS that stragglers may be coming in from 8 RF + 9 RF. D.F. tasks as for yesterday (9 May).
    0105 8 RF reported Pt. 162 taken. (This was not actually done).
    0135 Unconfirmed report from 44 Recce Regt that enemy area in area BORDJ and there is danger of infiltration.
    0245 44 Recce forced out of BORDJ by M.G. fire.
    0420 8 RF withdrawal progressing satisfactorily.
    0450 Lt. Col. Poulter wounded by mine. (OC 8 RF).
    0450 9 RF reported as many as possible are in. Strength 125.
    0500 9 RF reported exact strength unknown.
    0535 7 OXF BUCKS at 364906.
    0540 P.W. from 155 P.G.R. stated that he had heard offrs say that 90th Lt. Div. were going to surrender today.
    0550 64th Fd Regt reported BORDJ held by enemy.
    0650 Bde comd ordered that NO arty or M.G. fire was to be put on ATEYA as there were 20 – 30 wounded there.
    0710 44 Recce carriers in orchard 366926 report nothing happening.
    0715 Sitrep as at 2100 hrs 9 May. 7 OXF BUCKS had 3 c/attacks on HUMPS. No ground lost. 167 Bde attack 50% successful.
    0730 Sitrep 0600. 9 RF re-formed and relieved to 7 OXF BUCKS old posns. For new posns see TRAC III.
    Casualties got out by any means. Last pl. returned 0300 hrs.
    0837 8 RF reported 40% casualties.
    0850 Casualty state (from 167 Fd Amb) 0600 hrs. Waiting evac. – sitting 5, evac. 180. Distribution: 8 RF – 65. 9 RF – 82. 7 OXF BUCKS – 10. 6 CHES – 6. 221 Fd Coy – 5. 44 Recce – 4. 67 A. Tk – 3.
    0917 Enemy mortar at 366918. Recce attacked BORDJ. Air O.P. to direct fire on enemy mortar posn 3694.
    1045 65 Fd Regt reported large column black smoke seen in BORDJ area.
    1103 9 RF casualty state. Killed 10 ORs. Wounded 4 offrs + 51 ORs. Missing 103 ORs as at 0600 hrs.
    1130 9 RF O.P. (343904) reported enemy activity on line 349927 – 345920. The enemy appeared to be bringing up ammunition.
    1132 Location 220 Fd Coy S.E. main rd 3485.
    1133 I.O. 2/7 Queens reported Bde H.Q. ref. taking over of 7 OXF BUCKS posns.
    2/7 Queens to take over from 7 OXF BUCKS posns tonight under comd 167 Bde.
    2/6 Queens to take over from 8 RF + 9 RF on night 11 May. 167 Bde to move to area vacated by 169 Bde on 11 May. Sqn 40 RTR + 6 Cheshires to stay in present location.
    1400 B.M. called for one officer volunteer from either 8 RF, 9 RF, 7 OXF BUCKS or COATES FORCE who could speak German, Italian or both, to go out under a Red Flag + make arrangements with the enemy to collect wounded. Lt. Clark (8 RF) volunteered.
    1515 Arty task “SCRUM” to come into operation if Lt. Clark is fired on (10 rounds gunfire from 9 Fd Regts).
    1525 8 RF ordered to send an offr to 65 Fd Regt O.P. during parley.
    1702 New D.F. tasks MUTT 400921 – 390921. ASS 390921 – 379923. TIGER 379923 – 366924. LION 366924 – 359932. D.F. tasks LONDON, CHESTER, THAMES cancelled.
    1730 German P.W. to be sent from Corps this evening with white flag + a letter from Gen. Freyburg demanding the enemy to surrender. Postponed until 0400 hrs 11 May.
    1735 Parley re wounded called off.
    1740 65 Fd Regt reported that HERMAN GOERING DIV had surrendered.
    Enemy armour moving towards GROMBALIA. Enemy tpt streaming towards HAMMAMET + northwards towards eastern end CAP BON.

    11 September 1943
    0550
    65 Fd Regt reported 3 Germans passing O.P. (3459230 into our lines (with white flag). Later confirmed 1 German, 1 Italian and 1 British wounded.
    0600 3 above-mentioned being mortared by enemy. Went to ground, area 344924.
    0610 65 Fd Regt ordered to put down smoke (10 mins) in front of wadi to assist them to come inn. (Germans with white flag).
    0640 The 3 men now approaching accompanied by two of our own troops.
    0656 11 ORs 8 RF who were missing during night now returned. 9 RF report quiet night.
    0705 9 RF reported 1 German + 1 Italian arrived with white flag, and message we sent apparently unopened.
    0800 Div comd arrived this H.Q.
    0812 Div reported 6 British Armd. Div. at HAMMAMET. 26 Armd. Bde directed to BOU FICHA.
    0830 Enemy standing up in trenches area 348913.
    0845 ADS moved to area HERGLA.
    0846 26 Armd Bde arrived BOU FICHA.
    1000 Div comd visited 8 RF in the line.
    1020 German P.W. sent fwd again under white flag with letter + British escort through our FDLs. They were fired on by German mortars + one of the escort (2/7 Queens) was killed. Remainder went to ground in wadi.
    1035 40 RTR set out to meet 26 Armd. Bde.
    1039 Div. reported 1st Army tanks moving along rds pushing 6 enemy tks in front.
    1100 Div comd visited 9 RF in the line.
    1105 All units instructed that on word from Div, Regt offrs to RV at this H.Q. to act as guides to collect wounded.
    1108 2/7 Queens being heavily shelled. Called for CB (brought to bear 1114 hrs).
    1154 64 Fd Regt saw our tks at 364935 firing at enemy.
    1430 Car [??] post opened at 335854.
    1605 P.W. returned with message from VON SPONECK (comd 90 Lt Div) to this effect: “As a soldier you realise I can never surrender, but intend to finish this campaign in a chivalrous manner. All I ask is that your native troops cease to mutilate the wounded.”
    1845 167 Bde HQ left present location. Arrived 333856 at 1900 hrs. 169 Bde re-assumed comd 2/7 Queens.
    2040 268 A/Tk Bty location 323873. Guns at 328862.
    2030 Div reported PFEIFER DIV (10,000 strong, incl. elements 10 Pz Div) surrendered to 19 French Corps at 0700 hrs.
    2041 9 RF new location 322876.
    2042 7 OXF BUCKS location 332860.
    2342 8 RF partly in posn 500x west of RF.

    12 May 1943 ENFIDAVILLE
    0046
    9 RF reported relief complete.
    1110 CRA informed that there is to be NO firing north of 95 northing from 1110 hrs. Parties going to collect wounded on “Cease Fire”.
    1150 D.F. tasks: MUTT 400921 – 390921. ASS 390921 – 379923. TIGER 379923 – 370928. LION 370928 – 362925. JULIET 362935 – 351931. SAMSON 351923 – 340928. DELILAH 340928 – 339922. GEORGE 339922 – 335915. Mary 335915 – 331909.
    1151 90 Lt. Div. H.Q. located sq 2293. Arty concentration put on it.
    1151 26 Armd Bde in area 3297.
    1200 Conference for Bn comds.
    1520 Code word “FOLD UP” received indicating that 90 Lt. Div + TRIESTE Div willing to surrender if given honours of war. This was not given + 8 sqns bombers were sent over.
    1640 Tks reported VON ARNHEIM [sic] is a P.W.
    1655 RA reported enemy streaming down road towards their posns.
    1700 Gen FREBURG (Corps Comd) went to meet Italian comd.
    1715 169 Bde reported white flag on TEBAGA.
    Spasmodic mortaring by Nebelwerfer during the day.

    13 May 1943 ENFIDAVILLE
    0845
    Intercepted message from Italian 1st Army to British 1st Army “As our representatives who left 2100 hrs 12 May have not yet returned + as fighting is still going on by tps of 10 Corps, I have ordered my troops to lay down their arms.” Signed Fd Marshal MESSE.
    0900 DIV SITREP 0600 hrs. Fires seen burning over enemy lines along whole front. Suspect P.Ws incl. Italian General frightened of own minefields and have moved north.
    Br. over GASTLA completed 0300 hrs.
    0950 167 Bde informed that they are to take over the front from the NZ Bde.
    0956 CEASE FIRE. Collection of casualties started. Appx VI
    1200
    DIV TAC HQ closes.
    1400 Div report that all resistance on FRENCH front now finished.

    14 May 1943 ENFIDAVILLE
    Clearing of battlefield & collection of salvage started.
    For areas see Trace No. 5.

    15 May 1943 ENFIDAVILLE
    Continuation of salvage.

    16 May 1943 ENFIDAVILLE
    1200
    Conference at DIV HQ, for offrs of Capt. & above & all WOs ref. future movements & training.
    System of 24 hr leave to TUNIS started within the Bde. Later amended to ‘From Dawn to Dusk’.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2021
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  2. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    There were also several diagrams that might add to the account:

    WO169-8966 - 167 Bde - Trace 1 - May 43.JPG
    WO169-8966 - 167 Bde - Trace 2 - May 43.JPG
    WO169-8966 - 167 Bde - Trace 3 - May 43.JPG
    WO169-8966 - 167 Bde Panaroma Enfidaville May 43.JPG
     
  3. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    Moving down to the Battalion level, firstly from the perspective of 8th Royal Fusiliers (WO169/10213):

    8th Bn Royal Fusiliers

    9 May 1943 ENFIDAVILLE
    A.Fs. W.3008 and 3009 att as appendices H & I. Appx H & I
    In the morning a warning order was received that the Bn was to take part in an attack in the evening.
    1200 C.O. attended “O” Group at Bde HQ. Acting Div Commander, Brig. D.A. Graham was present. 167 Bde to attack enemy posns West of ENVIDAVILLE – BOU FICHA road. 9 R.F. on the right, 8 R.F. to attack and seize (1) Hill feature 162 and 136 (“ATEYA”) on East end of TEBAGA (“RAZOR BACK RIDGE”) map ref 3292. (2) Hill 115 (330930) and DJEBEL EL MATOUCH (3293).
    1430 C.O. returned to Bn, gave his orders for the attack. W Coy to be right fwd coy, objective ATEYA (Hill 136, sq 3292) and Hill 115; X Coy to be left fwd coy, objective Hill 162 (3292); Y Coy to follow X in the advance, and on capture of first two objectives, to capture DJENEL EL MATOUCH; Z Coy were to be reserve coy following W in the attack. Adv Bn HQ was directly behind W Coy.
    1710 Bn formed up for the attack, area wadi 338896. Shelling caused come casualties from the start. In support were a squadron of Valentine tanks.
    1735 Advance began. The advance over the crest of the DJEBEL HAMADET ES SCURRAH feature and across the broad valley of the WADI RHERIBI was made under a good smoke screen laid by arty, and strong concentrations of H.E. were put down on the enemy posns.
    1830 Leading tps reached the foot of the ridge, and there was a delay of between 10 and 15 mins while they waited for the arty programme to finish. The enemy’s defensive fire, a very heavy one of arty, mortars and M.G’s came down in front of Bn’s posns, and many casualties were caused to our tps at this time. Shortly afterwards the smoke began to clear, and the enemy had observation of the Bn deployed for the attack. Later the arty armd. O.P. in support was able to bring down more smoke on the crest of the ridge.
    1850 W Coy began to advance up the ATEYA feature. They encountered a minefield at the foot of the hill, but the Coy Comd, Major H.E. Little, led them through at the double. Using their own 2” Mortars and LMGs for support, they continued up the hill, in the face of very heavy fire both from above and in enfilade from Hill 162.
    The final capture of the enemy posts at the top of the hill was achieved by a storming party with grenades, led by Major H.E. Little.
    1900 - On the left, X Coy did not meet with such success. They were held up for a while on a
    2200 minefield at the foot of 162, but one platoon, led by Lieut. L.J. Taylor advanced up the side of the hill, despite several casualties. Here they were halted by intense M.G. fire. W Coy suffered most heavily, but remained on ATEYA and continued to consolidate. Y Coy, who had been waiting in the low ground at the foot of Hill 162, had been under heavy fire, and became rather split up in the smoke and growing dusk. The Coy Comd, Capt. P.H. Thomas moved to the foot of ATEYA and with part of his Coy, joined what remained of W Coy on top. Lieut. D. Waton, W Coy, who had been wounded by M.G. fire earlier, was killed about this time by shell fire. Lieut. H.W. Bayliss, also of W Coy, was severely wounded.
    X Coy was unable to advance further, and the Commanding Officer, learning that only 1 Officer and about 20 O.Rs were still available, withdrew them some way to rally.
    Advanced Bn HQ with the C.O’s carrier, had remained on the move in the area of the cross-tracks 333924, East of AMEYA, since first arriving at the foot of the ridge. Very heavy mortar and M.G. fire was directed at this group. One of the reserve section of carriers, following the C.O’s carrier, struck a mine and caught fire, burning for five hours.
    Rear Bn HQ under Major G.F.H. Archer, came under severe mortar fire as they approached the small underfeature [sic] 332925, and had several casualties, including the Adjutant, Capt. G.M. Williams, the Signal Officer Lieut. R.F. Ward and the M.O. Capt. J. Hartley.
    2100 When darkness had fallen advanced Bn HQ was established North of x-tracks 333924. The situation then was that W and Y Coys, with approximately 60 men between them, were holding ATEYA, a cone shaped hill which was open to fire on all sides. X Coy had failed to take hill 162, which continued to be strongly held. Z Coy then came up to a position some 150 yds North of Bn HQ, to deal with enemy counter attacks from the direction of Wadi GASTIA.
    The C.O. then ordered Z Coy to advance towards the second objective, DJEBEL EL MATOUCH.
    2300 News was received by R.T. that 9 R.F. on the right had failed to take their objective, to the right of MATOUCH. An order was received from Bde to recall Z Coy, and this was done.
    2400 Bn HQ withdrawn from area of x-tracks to a point 100 yds west of track and wadi junct 335912, and established in the bed of the wadi.

    [see 14 May for casualties of 9 May: Killed 1 Officer and 40; missing 1 O.R.; wounded 11 Officers and 90.]

    10 May 1943 ENFIDAVILLE
    0030
    An order was received from Bde “If humanly possible capture 162”. C.O. ordered Z Coy to undertake the task, but while the Coy Comd, Capt. H.W. Fillery, was still giving out his orders, there came an order from Bde by R.T. “Do not commit reserve company”. Meanwhile the firing had died down on Razor Back Ridge. The enemy had made three attempts to counter-attack our tps on ATEYA, but each time had been driven off. He was putting up frequent Verey lights from TABAGA, and firing intermittently with mortars and M.G’s on ATEYA, where our men were having a hard time digging in on the rocky top.
    0210 Orders received from Bde to withdraw Bn to the line of the F.D.L’s on DJEBEL HAMADET ES SOURRAH.
    0230 Withdrawal began. The elements of W and Y Coys on ATEYA successfully withdrew by 0315 hrs, and by 0400 hrs the Bn had left the valley.
    0345 The C.O., after seeing the last tps through, went back in a carrier with the I.O. As the carrier approached the crest of point 70 (3490) several wrecked vehicles were seen in a minefield. The C.O. and I.O. walked ahead to guide the carrier through, but the vehicle hit a hidden mine and was wrecked, the driver being killed. The C.O. sustained slight concussion, and was taken to hospital.
    0415 Coys stood to in their old positions.
    Day spent in counting losses and hurried reorganisation in men and equipment. Some men who were first reported missing came in after dark, after lying up near the enemy lines all day. Some of our wounded are believed still to be lying in the open.
    Some shelling and mortaring of Bn area during the day. Lieut. H.F. Clark appointed Acting Adjutant. A plan was prepared for the I.O. and an M.O. to go fwd under a Red Cross flag to arrange a truce for attending to the wounded, but this was cancelled in the afternoon.

    11 May 1943 ENFIDAVILLE
    During the day there were many reports of imminent collapse of the enemy opposite. The Bn was heartened by news of the First Army’s successes.
    Two prisoners who had been sent to the enemy lines with a message from Lt. Gen. Freyberg, acting Corps Commander, demanding the surrender of the Axis forces opposite, returned to Bn lines. They bore a message which was read first by Major R.C. Coates, signed by Lt. Gen. Graf von SPONECK, Commanding German 90th Light Division, refusing to surrender. The answer was in German with an English translation, addressed to Lieut. Gen. Freyberg.
    In the evening the Bn handed over the sector to 2/6 Queens and moved after dark to a harbour area 319874.
    Here the Bn was about 1000 yds east of our F.D.L’s, held by the 2nd New Zealand Division.

    More to follow:

    Regards

    Tom
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2021
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  4. Takrouna

    Takrouna Member

    Tom, this is great stuff - I know the area well having walked the course many times - got a few pics if you are interested.
     
  5. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    That would be of great interest, so yes please. There is very little in the 56th Division history but I’ll post that up when I’m done with the war diaries of the infantry units.

    Regards

    Tom
     
  6. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    And moving on to the 9th Royal Fusiliers (WO169/10214):

    9th Bn Royal Fusiliers

    8 May 1943 ENFIDAVILLE, 338858
    Capt. SKILLERN took over command “D” Coy. with Lt. MENCE as 2 i/c. Capt. SANDFORD returns as 2 i/c “A” Coy.
    7th OX. And BUCKS. successfully attacked hill 3592. The L.M.G. groups (1 N.C.O. and 2) of “A” and “D” Coys. under coy [sic] 2 i/c took over fwd posns. of OX and BUCKS as soon as attack started. “A” Coy 363912, “D” Coy 365912. The C.O. and I.O. with a skeleton BN. H.Q. established themselves at 353888. This H.Q. was shelled heavily whilst the attack was progressing. 3 Italians and 1 German walked into our posns. during the night and were taken prisoner. The Italians were from a YOUNG FASCIST BN whilst the German was from 90 LT.

    9 May 1943 ENFIDAVILLE, 338858
    From after midday the bn. was given orders to attack feature 334938 and 337941 with a second objective, the village at 348940. We were to be supported by a squadron of VALENTINES from 40 R.T.R., 5 FD. Regts, 2 med. regts. and a pl. of CHESHIRES. Under command a detachment of 221 FD. COY. R.E. and a detachment from 56 DIV. PROVOST to picket the axis of advance.
    8th R.F. were to attack 329927 on our left a few minutes before. The C.O. then had a look at our objective but did not have time to make a recce of the ground we had to cross. At 1630 hrs a bn. “O” Gp. was held:- Forming up place on edge of grove 342895. Start line to be 90 GRID LINE which was taped by the “I” Sec. Axis of adv. the left flank of the left pl. moving on immediate right of track running from 342900 – 333923 – 333934. “B” Coy left forward. “A” Coy rt. Forward. “C” Coy left rear. “D” Coy right rear. Tanks to travel in between rear and fwd. coys. Bren carriers to protect right flank. 1 detachment mortars with each of the fwd. coys. Adv. H.Q. consisting of C.O’s carrier in which were C.O. and I.O. with 18 set and 11 set to travel in rear of fwd. coys. but in front of the tanks. Zero 1735 hrs. We cross start line 1745. Ten minutes after 8th R.F.
    We left the forming up place under heavy shell fire. As soon as we crossed the start line an excellent gunner smoke screen came down. It was very thick and caused the bn. to lose direction slightly to the right. This proved to be advantageous as there was more cover on the right. We advanced 3000x and then had to wait for our barrage to lift. When we tried to advance further, there was no smoke and the arty barrage had ceased. We were shelled, mortared and machine gunned from three sides by the enemy. Casualties were becoming heavy. The C.O. was hit but crawled to a tank and carried on from inside. It was nearly dark when orders to withdraw to WADI GASTLA were given. When we arrived here we were mortared heavily by the enemy and shelled heavily by our own guns, this was caused by some one a unit on our right calling for defensive fire. Wireless communication had broken down in coys and to Bde. H.Q. The I.O. went back to bn HQ at 338858 and was given the following orders from bde H.Q.:- the bn was (i) to reform in a forming up place selected by the C.O. (ii) to send out patrols to bring in wounded or any men lost, and to stop enemy thrusts. The C.O. reformed the bn. in WADI GASTLA, deciding that he could not retire further as it meant leaving 8 R.F’s right flank open. Patrols were sent out, wounded brought in and evacuated by carriers. Tanks were then ordered to withdraw, and as the bn. 2 i/c was on his way out the C.O. handed the bn. of 11 officers and 128 men over to Capt. SKILLERN and was evacuated by tank taking the I.O. with him in order to obtain further orders.

    10 May 1943
    Capt. SKILLERN received these at 0215 hrs. These stated that both 8 R.F. and 9 R.F. were to be in the posns they were in prior to the attack by 0400 hrs. The bn. moved back with one pl. of “D” Coy covering the withdrawal. Officer casualties were:- Lt.Col. HILLERSDON, Capt. VAN GELDER who was wounded three times before handing over command of “A” Coy. Capt. BAKER commanding “B” Coy. Lt. BAXENDALE of “B” Coy.
    Fwd coys shelled and mortared (NEBELWERFER) during the day. On reviewing the attack our casualties were not so great as expected being approx. 4 officers and 150 O.R’s. Many men lost their platoons in the dark.

    11 May 1943 ENFIDAVILLE, 338858
    Major COLEMAN took over command. Lts. DOORN and HARDING to be acting capts. Lt. BATEMAN of 2/6 QUEENS killed in “A” Coy’s area on recce prior to taking over. Bn. relieved by 2/6 QUEENS and moved to 321865.

    12 May 1943 ENFIDAVILLE, 321865
    We were shelled in the afternoon. Enemy appear to be firing all available ammunition. R.A.F. very busy.

    13 May 1943 ENFIDAVILLE, 321865
    Enemy blowing up equipment. “D” Coy took over from NEW ZEALANDERS at 297885. Enemy surrender on our front.

    14 May 1943 ENFIDAVILLE, 321865
    Parties went out to bury our dead at the WADI GASTLA.
    Capt. DELFORCE officer i/c salvage.

    Regards

    Tom
     
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  7. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    I thought these details of medal awards from 167 Inf Bde WD for July 1943 would be useful:

    Appendix J1

    Subject: Honours and Awards

    15 Jul 43

    Os.C.
    8 RF
    9 RF
    7 Oxf Bucks

    Please convey the Divisional and Brigade Commanders’ heartiest congratulations to the following on their immediate awards:-

    Name
    Unit Award

    6472762 Cpl. G. MILLER 8 RF MM

    6468703 Cpl. S. GREEN 8 RF MM

    6467431 Sgt. W. WEBB 8 RF MM

    75539 Major H.E. LITTLE 8 RF DSO

    226563 Lieut. R.E. RUSSELL 8 RF MC

    6479084 Sgt. A. RAYNER 8 RF MM

    237881 Lieut. D. JENNINGS 9 RF MC

    6468001 L/Sgt. G. CONN 9 RF DCM

    6465061 L/Cpl. E. COCHRAN 9 RF MM

    6476167 Fus. A. BARRETT 9 RF MM

    36275 Lt-Col. E.H. HILLERSDON 9 RF DSO

    6472355 Fus. F. HAWTHORNE 9 RF MM

    6468039 Cpl. W.G.L. DIXON 9 RF MM

    647 Lt-Col. R.C. CRUDDAS 7 Oxf Bucks DSO

    56699 Maj. J.R.P. MONTGOMERY 7 Oxf Bucks MC

    67161 Capt. M.T. ST AUBIN 7 Oxf Bucks MC

    116998 Lieut. M. BENSON 7 Oxf Bucks MC

    5345915 Pte. E.T. ATKINS 7 Oxf Bucks MM

    5389710 Pte. E. COOKE 7 Oxf Bucks MM

    5389446 Cpl. S. STANTON 7 Oxf Bucks MM

    5441989 Cpl. C. RAYMOND 7 Oxf Bucks MM

    5389690 Pte. J. FATHERS 7 Oxf Bucks MM

    5389690 L/Sgt. H. ANDREWS 7 Oxf Bucks MM

    5385705 Pte. E.L. BADHAM 7 Oxf Bucks MM

    5346148 Cpl. D.L. WIGGETT 7 Oxf Bucks MM

    5388079 Sgt. C.A. MERRY 7 Oxf Bucks MM

    5389694 L/Cpl. G. A. BARTLETT 7 Oxf Bucks MM

    For your information the following immediate awards have also been made:-

    91843 Capt. D.S. APPLEBY HQ 167 Inf Bde MC

    2573797 Cpl. M.T. GOODCHILD 167 Bde Sigs MM
    (now posted 56 Div Sigs)

    56428 Maj. R.M. JOHNSTONE 167 Fd Amb MC

    7345142 Sgt. E.H. BONNER 167 Fd Amb MM

    7348809 Cpl. H.N. HIGGINSON 167 Fd Amb MM


    J.D. Carter, Captain,
    Staff Captain,
    167 (Lon) Inf Bde.
     
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  8. Bayonet Productions

    Bayonet Productions Lead Researcher

    Do you have anything on 169th Brigade, possibly 2/6 Queens?

    V/R
    Chris
     

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