Primosole Bridge Sicily 1943

Discussion in 'Italy' started by Verrieres, Nov 15, 2008.

  1. Verrieres

    Verrieres no longer a member

    Excellent stuff inspired by your lead I`ve had a look through some of my stuff and found this;-
    D.A. ffrench-Kehoe M.C .
    He joined 6th DLI on the 29th March 1943 When 6th DLI landed in Sicily Captain H E Walton was in command of C Company during the Initial landings Walton was hit in the Stomach and was last seen by his men singing The Blaydon Races as he was washed away presumed drowned Lieut ffrench Kehoe took command of C Company and using mines he had borrowed from the sappers blew holes in the barbed wire realising his company had been landed in the wrong place he quickly moved his company and elements of A Company off in the direction of Avola.Major Dominic Parker assumed command of C Company but it was ffrench Kehoe who once again stepped in to take command when Parker was wounded ffrench kehoe once again handing over his temporary command to Capt W D Glass immediately the action was over.On the 11th-12th August ffrench Kehoe entered intoRiposto where he came face to face with a German both drew their pistols and fired ,it is not known if the German survived but ffrench Kehoe was hit in the Leg/Foot and evacuated away from the front line.He was also mentioned in dispatches TWICE.


  2. LJW

    LJW Junior Member

    That is quite something, new to me. Thank you so much. Can I ask what the original source(s) was? Sorry, don't want to hijack this thread, you can pm me if you prefer.

    I have seen the London Gazette references - the online search is fantastic. I just noticed I had the wrong gazette date for his MC, which I've now changed in my original post.

    Any idea what they might be referring to in the report where it says "... Company was on its objective forward of [?unken] lane..."?
    It appears to be hole punched right at that point but could be an 's'.
  3. Verrieres

    Verrieres no longer a member

    That is quite something, new to me. Thank you so much. Can I ask what the original source(s) was? Sorry, don't want to hijack this thread, you can pm me if you prefer.

    I have seen the London Gazette references - the online search is fantastic. I just noticed I had the wrong gazette date for his MC, which I've now changed in my original post.

    Any idea what they might be referring to in the report where it says "... Company was on its objective forward of [?unken] lane..."?
    It appears to be hole punched right at that point but could be an 's'.

    You are right in your assumption regarding the sunken road ,it ran parallel to the river and was situated I believe to the left of the main road on the far side of the vineyard it was descibed as a very wide trench with vines and cactus making it a strong position for the German Defenders commanded on the 15th July by Capt Fassels (signal company)
  4. LJW

    LJW Junior Member

    Hi there,
    I came across a rather interesting and detailed account of the battle at Primosole from of all places a gaming book scenario from 1983 (Never knew until recently such things existed).

    If anyone is interested in this let me know.
  5. leonvdm

    leonvdm Junior Member

    Hi guys,

    Recently I again read the account of the battles of Sicily and as I am a scripter for a computer game re the 2nd WW this seems like a very nice battle to depict.

    I have been trying to get some wartime photographs of the area and have turned up blank. Then suddenly this appears.

    The gods seem to be smiling on me.

    Any more WARTIME photos available?
  6. Bodston

    Bodston Little Willy

    Here are some scans from 'Operation Husky' by SWC Pack.
    An account of the battle from the Royal Artillery viewpoint, with pictures from the collection of Captain Price.

    Battle-torn observation post near Primosole (DLCP)

    Top storey of villa overlooking Simento river (DLCP)

    Bridge across Simento, scene of the bloodiest fighting (DLCP)

  7. sicily43

    sicily43 Senior Member

    Hi all.
    I think next week I will go in Johnny hills around primosole bridge.
    You can just see observation tower of primosole bridge and other pictures in my tread Sicily after 65 yars, in battelfield today
  8. Bodston

    Bodston Little Willy

  9. Lehrgang

    Lehrgang Junior Member

    ehehh Montgomery mistaked
  10. Charlie Xray

    Charlie Xray Junior Member

    My father-in-law was a C-47 pilot with the 60th Troop Carrier Group and was on this operation at the Primasole Bridge. His plane was badly shot up crossing the coast, wounding several paras and killing his radio operator. It took another hit from AAA in the nose just after dropping the paras. He and those that remained alive of his crew bailed out very close to the ground.

    He ordered his crew out first and he stayed with the ship to give them some time to get out. Then he pulled the nose up to buy some altitude and ran for the rear door. The plane rolled on its left side and he ran along the windows. He found his crew chief wounded and out cold near the door. He shoved him out and pulled his rip chord and dropped through right behind him.

    Knowing he was very close to the ground, he pulled his rip chord as he went out the door. His chute opened just before his feet hit the ground. Either his copilot waited too long to open his chute or it just never opened because he splattered. They had accidentally switched chutes in the confusion.

    He found his crew chief in the dark and they eventually E&V to the south and reached the British lines after taking a squad of eager to surrender Italians prisoners.

    He was awarded the Silver Star for his actions. I have a picture of him standing on the wreckage of his plane a few weeks later.



    PS: Just found this site! This place is great!
  11. Bob_Mackenzie

    Bob_Mackenzie Member

    To resurrect an old thread...

    Some maps. "Military" maps are of unknown provenance. the 100K and 25K topos come from an Italian map server, apparently they are 50's (ish) maps






    dbf likes this.
  12. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    For anyone interested in gallantry awards to the DLI for this period
    The Durham Light Infantry had a quite astounding record in Sicily including the action at Primosole Bridge. No less than twenty-one medals for gallantry:
    4 Military Crosses, one a Bar
    1 Distinguished Conduct Medal
    16 Military Medals.
    The recipients, as listed, were:
    SUPPLEMENT TO The London Gazette Of TUESDAY, the 19th of OCTOBER, 1943. Published by AuthorityWar Office, 21st October 1943.
    The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the following awards in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in Sicily:
    Lieutenant William James Hedley Muir, M.C. (203140), The Durham Light Infantry (South Shields).
    Lieutenant (temporary Captain) Christopher Lowery Beattie (75176), The Durham Light Infantry (Timperley, Cheshire).
    Lieutenant (temporary Captain) John Angus Leybourne (73424). The Durham Light Infantry (Springwell, Co. Durham).
    Lieutenant (temporary Captain) Dennis Arthur Neale (130505), The Durham Light Infantry (Oswestry, Shropshire).
    No. 4455800 Sergeant (acting Warrant Officer Class II (Company Sergeant-Major) Frederick. Thompson, The Durham Light Infantry (Newcastle-on-Tyne) (since killed in action).
    No. 4451703 Colour-Sergeant (acting Warrant Officer Class II (Company Sergeant-Major) Selby Wardle, The Durham Light Infantry (Chester-le-Street) (since died of wounds).
    No. 3191164 Sergeant (acting Warrant Officer Class II (Company Sergeant-Major) John Ritchie Hannah, The Durham Light Infantry (Eastriggs, Dumfriesshire).
    No. 3967322 Corporal (acting Sergeant) Charles Joseph William Mackmin, The Durham Light Infantry (Enfield).
    No. 4461364 Corporal (acting Sergeant) Frederick Mitchinson, The Durham Light Infantry (Cramlington, Northumberland).
    No. 3658132 Lance-Sergeant Charles Richard Critchley, The Durham Light Infantry (Liverpool).
    No. 4039943 Lance-Sergeant Patrick Daly, The Durham Light Infantry (Limerick, Eire).
    No. 3955493 Lance-Sergeant David John Richards, The Durham Light Infantry (Swansea).
    No. 4458341 Corporal John Dowling, The Durham Light Infantry (attd. Special Service Troops)(Liverpool).
    No. 3970084 Corporal William Donald Scriven, The Durham Light Infantry (Gloucester).
    No. 5677650 Lance-Corporal Stanley Seymore Rose, The Durham Light Infantry (Stunninster Newton, Dorset).
    No. 4461144 Lance-Corporal George Frederick Shepherd, The Durham Light Infantry (Bradford).
    No. 4454467 Lance-Corporal Frederick Herbert Spink, The Durham Light Infantry (Sherburn, Durham).
    No. 4459865 Lance-Corporal George Worthington, The Durham Light Infantry (Hyde, Cheshire).
    No. 4036125 Private Reginald George Goodwin, The Durham Light Infantry (Hereford).
    No. 4453511 Private Richard Robinson, The Durham Light Infantry (Sunderland).
    No. 4464458 Private Douglas Harry Saban, The Durham Light Infantry (London, E.17).


    Hello Jim,

    I have found further awards of medals for gallantry made to men of 151st Infantry Brigade, being the 6th, 8th and 9th Battalion's Durham Light Infantry and Brigade HQ Troops, for the Sicily Campaign. Most of these were post the 21 October 1943. I have been able to identify 39 in all, including the 21 in your list. My main source is 'The Sign of the Double T, by Barrie S Barnes' and two/three from Regimental histories (referred to as applicable). The 18 further awards that I am aware of are listed below:

    Major RG Atkinson MC
    Captain R 'Spike' Galloway MC
    Lt DA ffrench-Kehoe MC (as mentioned already in an earlier Message)
    Lt DA Loveridge MC (Suffolk Regt, att'd 6DLI)
    L/Sergeant J Connel DCM (sometimes spelt Connell)
    Private H Duckworth MM
    Private P Kay MM (source: The Faithful Sixth, by Harry Moses)

    Lt Col RP Lidwill DSO (King's Liverpool Regt, att'd 8DLI)
    Captain A Noble MC (RAMC att'd 8DLI) (source: 8th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry 1939-1945, by Major PJ Lewis & Major IR English)
    Lt PG Hampson MC
    Sergeant JJ Lee MM (Army Catering Corps, att'd 8DLI)
    Signalman PJ Horton MM (50 Div Signals, att'd 8DLI)
    Private CB Simpson MM

    [Captain KH Whitaker MC (Somerset Light Infantry, att'd as Commander 9DLI Anti-tank Platoon)] (update & source: The Gateshead Gurkhas, by Harry Moses)

    Attached 151st Brigade:
    [Whitaker moved to 9DLI:]
    L/Corporal H Bleakley MM (50 Div Signals)
    L/Corporal A Crockett MM (50 Div Signals)
    Signalman TP Boyd MM (50 Div Signals)
    Driver S Searle MM (50 Div Signals)

    I am also aware that other honours were won, as follows:
    Captain W Field MBE
    CSM JN Howson MiD
    Corporal H Lord MiD
    This is still under review and will post again in due course if I can track down the relevant information.

    Of the Durham's receiving awards during this campaign, the following were later KIA or died of wounds:

    Private A Saban MM - 14 June 1944 (NW Europe);
    Major R 'Spike' Galloway MC - 12 August 1944 (NW Europe);
    Private R Robinson MM - 10 September 1944 (NW Europe);
    Sergeant CR Critchley MM - 15 September 1944 (NW Europe);

    CSM S Wardle MM - 13 August 1943 (Sicily);
    Major CL Beattie MC - 9 September 1944 (NW Europe);

    CSM Thompson DCM - 9 August 1943 (Sicily);
    Corporal CB Simpson MM - 14 June 1944 (NW Europe) - award won as a private with 8DLI.

    I will insert further detail on this Message/Thread, for example, Gazette reference, address, service number, as and when found!

    In addition, I have information on other 50th (Northumbrian) Division gallantry awards during this campaign and wonder if these are appropriate to this thread?


    Craig73OK likes this.
  13. airborne medic

    airborne medic Very Senior Member

    If anyone has any pictures of the farmyard buildings used as the MDS by 16PFA on Operation Fustian be pleased to see them.....
  14. Peccavi

    Peccavi Senior Member

    A little aside on one of my favorites - Major Wigram - because he was indeed the "War Office Observer" who is mentioned in the first post in this Thread.

    After the four alternative plans for calling up the 44th RTR and the remainder of the battalion had failed (thanks to missing flares, dud radios etc) including an apparently desperate and farcical attempt by the 8th DLI Coy Commander, Lt Col Lidwell himself to relay the message via a Sherman tank. Unfortunately the tank engine was running and the tank commander could not hear Lidwell above the engine noise. So Lidwell tapped him on the head with his swagger stick. The tank commander, thinking he was under attack, slammed the the hatch shut!

    Just at the critical moment, however, a War Office observer turned up at the bridge riding a bicycle. It was rather like a fairy tale but the C.O. dispatched him back to the Battalion to tell it to come forward at once.

    None other than Wigram!

    Wigram was the chief instructor at the Battle School in Barnard Castle, which thanks to his efforts ultimately became the School of Infantry. He had joined Monty's Army at Sicily to see how he could improve the instruction and tactical techniques that were being taught at Barnard Castle.

    Having coolly turned up on his bike Wigram rode off to get the cavalry!, and returned with the tanks. He then apparently rode his bicycle across the bridge in order to observe the Battle at close quarters.

    Unfortunately this all has a sad ending. Wigram (who was a brilliant lawyer and as a Jew had a burning hatred of Nazis) naively produced a report and recommendations which Monty took to be a criticism of his tactics. Wigram was sacked and was killed leading a bunch of Italian partisans.
  15. Pollendodger

    Pollendodger Junior Member

    Hi, very new here on this forum, really enjoyed reading this thread. Thought I would attach a citation to a man of the 44th RTR who I have an interest in. T/Major Ralph George MARTIN. Awarded for deeds on the 18th/19th July, I think somewhere a little further on from the bridge but perhaps he was involved in the events at the bridge as well?


    Attached Files:

  16. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    Hello Pollendodger, welcome to the forum.

    Primosole Bridge was an initially Para and then mainly, 6, 8 and 9th Durham Light Infantry, 151st Infantry Brigade, 50th (Northumbrian) Division, battle. That said, the 5th and 50th Divisions had worked side by side when with the BEF in 1940 - 'Frankforce' at the Arras defence and Counter-Attack - and 5th Division were also prominent in Sicily.

    So, although not specifically relevent to this thread you have posted a fitting tribute to friends of the Durhams and 50 Div...


  17. mkeilty

    mkeilty Junior Member

    Hi all,

    I just wanted to add that Major Christopher L Beattie (MC) of the 8th DLI, was actually my great uncle. Who im very proud to be associated with.

    I have been researching him for a number of years, and have copies of the report recommending him for the MC for his bravery and leadership on Primosole bridge.

    So any new information that you can shed on him would be greatfully received.

  18. skolten

    skolten Junior Member

    Lynda Sebire likes this.
  19. LJW

    LJW Junior Member

  20. horsapassenger

    horsapassenger Senior Member

Share This Page