Irish Brigade in Italy, Oct to Dec 1943.

Discussion in 'Italy' started by bexley84, Sep 24, 2013.

  1. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    In the spirit of commemorating the actions of the friends and comrades of my father, CQMS O'Sullivan, who 70 years ago fought with great endeavour and bravery along the Adriatic Coast, I shall be travelling next week to Italy to follow his/their route of progress from October to December 1943. 200 men of 38 (Irish) Brigade were killed during that two month period, and most were laid to rest at the Sangro CWGC cemetery, and I shall, of course, be paying my respects to these men.

    Photos and story will emerge in due course.

    My route will include visiting:

    - Termoli, where the Irish Brigade landed on the evening of 5th October 1943 to support the bridgehead there and the following day successfully attacked with the Canadian 12th Armoured Regiment to secure their position.

    - the River Trigno, which my father would cross nightly with a mule train to provide provisions to the forward bridgehead units.

    - San Salvo, which the Faughs and Irish Rifles attacked on the evening of 27th October 1943 at great loss to both battalions.

    - Li Colli Ridge (Fossacesia, and Mozzagrognia) to the north of the River Sangro, which was taken by the Skins and Irish Rifles along with 3 CLY and 44 RTR to break through the Winter Line on 30th November 1943.

    - San Vito, which two companies of Faughs entered on 1st December 1943 to the jubilation of local residents. Lieutenant Day was recommended (unsuccessfully) for a posthumous Victoria Cross for his actions that day.

    My travel companions, as well as Ray, Ford, Doherty, Horsfall, and Russell will be the memoirs/letters home of three men who served with the Irish Brigade in Italy.

    Captain Percy Hamilton MC, 6 Innisks described arriving by sea at Termoli:
    "...After dark, we saw several fires burning on the land but didn’t take much notice. We had the Faughs HQ on board and we heard that we were going to land first. We sailed slowly into a tiny harbour and nosed up to the quay. There didn’t seem to be anybody about but the Faughs got off and disappeared into the town and we got off and collected ourselves at the head of the quay. Next thing, there was a hell of a bang just over the end of the pier. Somebody was shelling it....
    ....Meanwhile the odd shell kept falling, dropping just a little bit away in the sea. It can’t have been very pleasant for the other LCIs cruising about waiting to come in...
    .....While we were still wondering what was going on, a Commando Officer turned up and told us the situation: 36 Brigade and S Coy of the Skins, who had come up by road in the carriers had been holding a line north of the town and Jerry had counterattacked, so that at the moment, things were pretty sticky. We spent the next half hour expecting to see a German head poking over the wall.."

    CQMS Edmund O'Sullivan 2 LIR crossing the Trigno:

    "...At that time, the Trigno was only about 20 or 30 yards wide and generally less than a foot deep....E Company was sent to relieve the Faughs at the bridgehead. I followed with a string of about a dozen mules and crossed the Trigno by a ford....
    ....The silence was eerie and the darkness complete...
    ...The muleteers were immaculately accoutred Sikhs. Their mules had been spotless when they had been loaded with supplies for E Company earlier that day under the supervision of a Subadar Major with a great sweeping moustache and a beautiful beard. All wore the Pagre ritual turban. None had steel helmets. On the way back from the company’s lines that night, they stopped in the middle of the Trigno and washed their mules. They were immediately heavily shelled and some were killed.....
    ...I waited until it was quiet and walked alone a couple of miles back to the mule point in pitch blackness. I crossed the Trigno ford in which there were now bodies..."

    Captain Lawrence Franklyn-Vaile 1 RIrF at San Salvo:
    "...I have had a dreadful few days, culminating in John Glennie and Dennis Dunn being killed and myself wounded. My wound is not serious - a blast from an artillery shell puncturing the chest and left arm but poor Dennis, who was beside me, got it in the back and died immediately.....
    ...We launched a big night attack on a certain day [on 27th October at San Salvo] and met with very fierce opposition. My company got rather badly knocked about and amidst the confusion, John and I bumped against each We decided to rally what men we could and push forward and, by using our ground carefully, we made a considerable advance...Once, I got hit in the face by a piece of shrapnel and gave a groan and he raced out exposing himself and insisted on examining me, before he took cover again...."

    Owen likes this.
  2. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Have a super trip & I look forward to seeing the photos .
  3. 4jonboy

    4jonboy Daughter of a 56 Recce Patron

    Have a good trip Richard

  4. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    Have a good trip & look forward to seeing photos.

  5. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Richard -
    Don't forget your "cardie" as it can be nippy in the evenings at this least you won't be jumping around swotting mosquitos..have a good trip


    meant to add that the Canadian 12th Armoured Regiment was the Trois Rivieres regt from Quebec...and along with the - Ontario and Calgary regts made up 1st Cdn AB

    who had been assisting British 5th Div over by the Garilgliano
  6. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member



    yes - cardie at the ready..will end up near Castel di Sangro so will be nippy around there.

    My Dad fondly remembered the very friendly Canadians:

    “In my journeys between Termoli and the farm where the company was, I saw many burnt and knocked out German tanks with the gruesome sight of their crews who had been roasted in their vehicles. During the fighting to the north of Termoli, a troop of tanks approached and an officer leant out and shouted: ‘Any targets, Buddy?’ They were from the Canadian Three Rivers Regiment. E Company commander John Lofting was very grateful for their assistance in shelling suspect buildings.”

  7. Oldman

    Oldman Very Senior Member

    Enjoy your trip, look forward to reading the review in due course, my father fought on the Sangro River minefields
    with the skins in Nov 43, left some friends in the cemetery there

Share This Page