War Diary: 1st Battalion IRISH GUARDS, September 1939 - July 1944

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  1. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Bizerta
    December has been an eventful month for the Battalion, although, perhaps less eventful than some of us anticipated.
    But it has been no small thing to spend Christmas and the New Year in peace conditions.
    About the future it is idle to make any forecasts, for even the best founded conjectures prove, more often than not, to be incorrect.
    We ourselves area a case in point: forty-eight hours ago nothing seemed more certain than that the Battalion as part of the FIRST DIVISION would fight along with the EIGHTH ARMY.
    However, it is considered no less certain that our Destiny was with the FIFTH.
    In December the Battalion left NORTH AFRICA and came to ITALY.
    The voyage from BIZERTA to TARANTO and the subsequent journey up to CANOSA there is little to add to the account given below.
    Events which happened during the latter part of the month have been described in detail according to their interest or importance.

    Transit Camp No. 2, Bizerta

    1943 December 1

    When we first arrived here the weather was unpleasant and very wet, but today has been clear and sunny.
    The ground is drying rapidly and it looks as though we may be in for a fine spell.
    There is nothing we can do at present except wait for instructions to embark.
    We are prepared to move at any time, but the probability is that we shall remain here for several days.
    A stage show was put on this evening by the Americans in the large warehouse on the docks which they use as a cinema.
    A fair proportion of the Battalion went down to see it but the place was packed and there were no seats to be had.
    But this was a minor disappointment compared with the discovery of the fact that the cast was an all-male one.

    1943 December 2
    During the morning the Battalion went down in relays of Companies to have shower baths on the premises of a Mobile Bath Unit.
    This was the first opportunity that many of us had had of seeing BIZERTA itself.
    It has been very badly bombed but it was possible to imagine that in peace time it might have been a pleasant place to live in.
    Now it is in ruins and completely deserted.

    1943 December 3
    The very good news had come through that we shall not after all be sailing in L.C.Is.
    Instead we are to travel in a steamer, the LLANGIBBY CASTLE with the rest of the Brigade.
    The remainder of the Division is split up between the CUBA and the LETITIA.
    We are to go aboard tomorrow and the move is to be made by daylight.
    The only flaw, if there is one in this most satisfactory turn of events is the fact that the LLANGIBBY’s last shipload was a Brigade of GOUMS.
    From all accounts the filthiness of their habits was only rivaled by the extent of their inexperience of the sea.

    Aboard the Llangibby Castle

    1943 December 4

    The whole Brigade went about the LLANGIBBY CASTLE during the course of the morning: the Battalion embarking about 11 a.m.
    The “LLANGIBBY” is a fifteen-twenty thousand ton Union Castle Liner, and in peace time used to carry the Royal Mails on South and East African routes.
    There is a certain amount of crowding, but no more than one has come to expect on this sort of voyage.
    On the whole, conditions are fairly good, apart from the feeding arrangements which at present are not satisfactory.
    About 4 p.m. we cast off and drew out into the “LAE DE BIZERTA” where we are expected to remain until the rest of the convoy is ready to sail.

    1943 December 5
    At mid-day we sailed out of BIZERTA harbour.
    It was clear and sunny like an English Summer’s day, with everybody sunning themselves on the decks.
    Our convoy consisted of ourselves, the CUBA, the LETITIA, and the ANTWERP, a cross-channel steamer, and an escort of five Destroyers.
    So far there has been no excitement and the passage of time is marked chiefly by Boat Drills at 1000 hours, 1600 hours and 2030 hours - and meals.
    These have been better organized today and have improved a great deal in quantity and quality.

    1943 December 6
    We passed a peaceful night and an uneventful day followed.
    During the early morning we ran into a light fog but soon came out of it.
    The visibility however remained poor and although we must have passed quite close to the South East corner of SICILY at about 1 p.m., it was impossible to see any land.
    Apparently our course lies along the coast of SICILY and across the Straights of MESSINA, South of REGGIO and so on up to TARANTO.
    So fare there has been one ‘Boat Drill’ and one ‘Action Stations’ practice.

    TARANTO, ITALY

    1943 December 7

    Salve ... Saturnia tellus.
    The Battalion disembarked at TARANTO, ITALY at about 1 p.m., after the most peaceful voyage.
    Land was first sighted shortly after 8 a.m., and at the same time the convoy moved into “line ahead” formation.
    We kept this order until we reached the harbour.
    Unfortunately it was impossible to see much as we sailed in.
    Low clouds and a mist hung over the mainland and blotted out all but the edge of the coast.
    As we drew nearer inland the convoy was joined by two Italian Destroyers, which later left us - just before we sailed through the boom.
    The LLANGIBBY was the first of the troopships to tie up and very soon afterwards she was unloading.
    The Battalion followed a Northerly road by march route, to a tented camp four miles outside the town and here we were to spend the night.
    The number of tents were inadequate and there were no signs of organisation.
    However the night was a fine one, and that mattered more than anything else.

    1943 December 8
    The morning passed quietly, and a roaring trade was done by Italian pedlars who sold fruit and nuts and Italian Dictionaries and phrase books at the road side.
    Just after dark the Battalion marched out of camp to a railway station a few miles distant and a little way out of TARANTO.
    By 1845 hours the Battalion had ‘entrained’ aboard its allotted cattle trucks; thirty-four men to a truck plus kitbags and large packs.
    About 2000 hours we pulled out of the station.

    1943 December 8 - 9
    We travelled all night with the innumerable and unaccountable halts which always seem to be an essential part of this sort of railway journey.
    By about 10 a.m. in the morning we had reached BARI, and had our first glimpse of the ADRIATIC.
    Soon afterwards we reached BARLETTA.
    We spent about an hour in this large, but down-at-heel, station where tea was made for us by the ROYAL ARMY SERVICE CORPS.
    The weather was noticeably colder, and the tea, long though it was in coming, was extremely welcome.
    We reached our destination CANOSA at about mid-day.
    There we found transport waiting for us and it was not long before the Battalion complete with luggage had been ferried to its “Staging Area”.
    The name Staging Area suggested another cheerless tent camp.
    But in this instance the Battalion was in luck and found itself allotted to an area in and around an Italian mansion of uncertain age, with many spacious whitewashed rooms and immensely thick walls.

    Monte Carafa, Near Canosa, di’Puglia

    1943 December 9

    The Divisional Commander visited the Battalion this morning, and stayed for luncheon with the Commanding Officer.
    He confirmed that it was probable that the Division would be able to spend Christmas in peace.
    Beyond this our future remained uncertain: and it is not yet known whether we shall join the V CORPS or XIII CORPS, although it seems more likely to be the former.
    Companies spent their day settling into their new quarters.

    1943 December 10
    -

    1943 December 11
    Spent very much as yesterday
    There is a great need for oil lamps and stores.
    The large bare stone rooms of the house are particularly cold, and have no form of lighting.
    It has been possible to buy the oil lamps locally but stores appear to be unprocurable even in BARLETTA.

    1943 December 12
    The M.T. arrived at 4 a.m. this morning from NAPLES bringing some tones of awaited of much needed kit.
    Divine Services were held this morning .
    Roman Catholics at 0930 and 1015 hours and Church of England at 1000 hours.
    The former was held in an attractive chapel which is part of the main buildings, built according to the inscription, by the Conde di Vaclio towards the end of the last century.
    The weather continues to be cold but is drier today.

    1943 December 13
    The Commanding Officer addressed the Battalion assembled in the courtyard at 1000 hours this morning.
    Concluding his address which dealt with the discipline and good behaviour of the Battalion in the district.
    The Commanding Officer announced that he hoped to be able to make arrangements for the Regimental Band, at present in the NAPLES Area, to visit the Battalion in the near future.
    Accompanied by Major H.L.S. YOUNG the Commanding Officer left by car for NAPLES shortly before mid-day.

    1943 December 14 - 15
    The process of “pulling down of barns and buildings greater” goes on a pace.
    The Battalion is now very expert at adapting itself to new conditions and can very rapidly assess the potentialities for comfort and suitability of any new site.
    Great use has been made of sheds and outhouses which have been swept out and repaired; and already nearly half of the Battalion is accommodated under some sort of roof.

    1943 December 16
    After spending the best part of a week settling into our new quarters it has been possible to begin serious training over again, with particular emphasis on shooting practice.
    This afternoon a special shoot by the Battalion Mortars in charge of Lieutenant J.F. BELL was “laid on” under Brigade arrangements.
    The shoot was watched by the Brigade Commander and Commanding Officer.

    1943 December 17
    In the morning a training Conference for Company Commanders was held at Battalion H.Q.
    In the afternoon a Demonstration of Maintaining Direction by means of a Wireless Beam was given by the Brigade Signallers at H.Q., SCOTS GUARDS.
    The Demonstration which was not altogether convincing, showed however, that there were considerable possibilities along these lines, particularly for guiding patrols and for maintaining direction in a night attack.

    1943 December 18
    The great spectacle arranged for today in the form of a football match, the ‘Battalion versus CANOSA Town’ cancelled at the last moment by the visiting team ‘on account of sickness’ caused a lot of disappointment among everyone and was regarded by most as “a typical Italian cart”.

    1943 December 19
    Divine Services were held as usual.
    We are now allowed, for the first time, to mention our arrival in ITALY, and our postal address is officially changed from B.N.A.F. to C.M.F.

    1943 December 20
    Bathing facilities (not showers) have lately been arranged for the Brigade in an Italian Barracks in BARLETTA; today being allotted to the Battalion.
    T.E.W.T. on River Crossing for Company Commanders, given in the form of a play, was held at Brigade H.Q., at 1700 hours this evening.
    2719054 Lance Serjeant C. O’DOWD, SPECIAL RAIDING SQUADRON awarded the MILITARY MEDAL. (Since Killed in Action).
    APPENDIX A GRO 575 Seri. No. 41, 5th November 1943

    1943 December 21
    A rather uneventful day.

    1943 December 22
    The Brigade Commander addressed the Battalion this morning.
    He wished us first a happy Christmas, and then went on in a guardedly optimistic way, to speak of the future.
    He reviewed the training the Brigade had done during the past six months, and spoke of the warm reception that had been accorded the 1st DIVISION by the EIGHTH ARMY.
    The Division was doubly welcome he said because it included a Guards Brigade.
    A touching Christmas greeting has lately been received by the Commanding Officer from the Archbishop of CARTHAGE who had known and visited the Battalion in TUNIS.
    A translation of the message is given below:
    “The Archbishop of CARTHAGE thanks Lieutenant Colonel C.A. MONTAGU-DOUGLAS-SCOTT, D.S.O., and the noble 1st Battalion IRISH GUARDS for their Christmas wishes which deeply touched him.
    In his turn he sends them his Best Wishes, with the re-newed assurance that they will always have his blessing and his prayers.
    Signed CHARLES GOUNOT, Archbishop of CARTHAGE, Primate of AFRICA.”

    1943 December 23
    All the Battalion M.T. was paraded for inspection by the Commanding Officer, and appeared to be in excellent condition.
    On the recreational side, this has been the third day of the Inter-Company Football Matches.
    Support Company played No. 1 Company in a Final, which resulted, after a hard struggle, in a win for the latter.
    The text of a Christmas greeting from the Commander-in-Chief to the Battalion is re-printed as follows:-
    “To All Ranks, 1st Battalion IRISH GUARDS,
    Wishing you a Happy Christmas and all Good Fortune in the New Year.
    Signed H.R. ALEXANDER, General.”

    1943 December 24
    Other Christmas Greetings to the Battalion have been received from:-

    Field Marshal The Earl of CAVAN, K.P., G.C.B., G.C.M.G., G.C.V.O., G.B.E., Colonel of the Regiment, and
    Colonel J.S.N. FITZGERALD, M.B.E., M.C., Commanding IRISH GUARDS,
    wishing the Battalion a Happy Christmas and a great success in the New Year.

    Major General W.R.C. PENNEY thanks Lieutenant Colonel C.A. MONTAGU-DOUGLAS-SCOTT, D.S.O., Officers, Warrant Officers, N.C.Os and Guardsmen of the 1st Battalion IRISH GUARDS for their Christmas greetings.
    He heartily reciprocates and wishes them all the best of luck and good fortune in 1944 and years to come.

    Good wishes for Christmas to you all, from the SANDERSTEAD Y.M.C.A. (especially all the Sunday morning helpers). Congratulations and heaps of Good Luck.

    “The happiest possible Xmas to you all, and the best of luck in 1944. The vital year ahead will bring hard fighting and I know that the glorious 1st Battalion will add fresh laurels to the Regiment.
    ‘Up the Micks.’
    Signed J.S.N. FITZGERALD, Colonel, Lieutenant Colonel, Commanding IRISIH GUARDS.”

    From Lord GORT for Brigadier MURRAY, 24th GUARDS BRIGADE:-
    “Delighted to receive your telegram. To you and All Ranks 24 GUARDS BRIGADE I sent every good wish for success in 1944.”

    “All Ranks of SANDERSTEAD HOME GUARD join in wishing you good hunting in 1944.”

    From General DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER:
    “Dear General PENNEY, I deeply appreciate your greetings. Please accept for yourself and extend to All Ranks of the 1st (BRITISH) DIVISION, my best wishes for 1944”

    From Colonel The Honourable T.E. VESEY:-
    “Every possible Good Wish to All Ranks for Xmas and 1944. Best of Luck to you all.”

    1943 December 25
    CHRISTMAS DAY, 1943, has been a very cold one and from the point of the weather a full one.
    But from every other aspect it has been about as great a success as it could be in the circumstances.
    Outstanding was the dinner itself which must have compared very favourably with any similar Christmas Dinner in peace-time.
    It may be of interest to put on record the menu and on this the fifth Christmas Day of the War: Turkey, pork, roast potatoes, cauliflower, fruit salad, plum pudding, beer, oranges, apples, nuts and cigarettes.
    The traditional rite of “Seeing Dinners” was observed, and at H.Q. Company the Commanding Officer was toasted by
    2726792 Corporal O’DONNELL on behalf of the Company.
    A very popular event which took place earlier in the morning was an Officers versus Sergeants Football Match with the following teams:-
    Officers Team:-
    Commanding Officer
    Second-in-Command
    Adjutant
    Major SIr I. STEWART-RICHARDSON
    Major G.P.M. FITZGERALD
    Captain D.M. KENNEDY
    Major I.H. POWELL-EDWARDS
    Captain S.H. VERNON
    Major H.L.S. YOUNG
    Captain J.T. EGAN
    Lieutenant G.V. BLAND
    Reserves:
    Lieutenant J.C.F. QUINN

    Serjeants Team:-
    Regimental Serjeant Major McLOUGHLIN
    Drill Serjeant ROONEY
    Drill Serjeant KENNY
    Company Serjeant Major GILMORE
    Company Serjeant Major PESTELL
    Company Serjeant Major MORAN
    Company Serjeant Major MERCER
    Company Serjeant Major STUART
    Company Serjeant Major STONE
    Serjeant KELLY
    Serjeant CRAWFORD
    Reserves:
    Serjeant BENNETT

    Referee:
    Guardsman CORMACK

    A match of more serious nature was the inter-company knock-out final between No. 1 and No. 4 Company, and it was only after much overtime that a decision was reached in favour of No. 4 Company; the score being 4 - 2.

    1943 December 26
    On Thursday night instructions came through relating to an immediate move by the Brigade.
    This would have been all but disastrous to the arrangements that had been made for Christmas.
    Fortunately however subsequent instructions postponed the likelihood of a move for forty-eight hours.
    An now the latest news is that the length of the postponement is indefinite.
    So far there has been no official indication as to the reason for this latest change of plan.
    The main events of interest today were a football match on the home ground against the GRENADIERS, the result of the game was a draw 1 - 1; and a Cinema show.
    The film was “Hit the Ice” and there were three performances.

    1943 December 27
    The weather continues to be extremely cold.
    There is a general feeling of anti-climax after Christmas and the day has been spent very quietly.

    1943 December 28
    The events on the EIGHTH ARMY Front are watched very closely by everyone here, and the news today of the fall of ORTONA to the 1st Canadian Division has raised fresh speculation as to when and where the Division will be required.
    At present however, apart from the fact that kit-bags and surplus kit are to be packed and stored in BARLETTA, there is no new indication of a move by the Battalion.

    1943 December 29
    The weather seems to have stabilized a bit, and it is drier and not so intolerably cold.
    Officers, Warrant Officers and some companies had their photographs taken today by the local photographer, who has also done a great trade with the Battalion in the portrait line.

    1943 December 30
    The principle event of today was the arrival of the Regimental Band.
    So we can at least look forward to a fully musical New Year’s Eve.
    It seems certain now that the Battalion will be here until the 1st January, and it seems also certain that we shall move up to the Line the day afterward.
    As if to confirm this Lieutenant T.C. KEIGWIN left this morning at short notice with a Brigade Reconnaissance Party.

    1943 December 31
    Once again the unpredictable has happened; and instead of moving up to take over from the EIGHTH INDIAN DIVISION and continue the push for TOLLO and CHIETI, as everyone expected, we are now being transferred to the 5TH ARMY.
    What our new destination will be is not yet made public.
    The general impression is that it will be somewhere in the neighbourhood of AVELLINO.

    Written on 1st January 1944:
    Fortunately the change of plan did not clash with the arrangements for celebrating New Year’s Eve.
    The Band in particular was kept very busy.
    In the afternoon it played to Divisional Personnel at CERIGNOLA on the Cathedral steps, and again in the evening at 1930 hours it played to an enthusiastic audience in Support Company’s Mess.
    The Concert was open to anyone in the Brigade who wished to attend and all visitors were welcome.
    Serjeants’ and Corporals’ Mess parties were held in the traditional style and were well up to the standard which makes it difficult to have any precise recollection of the last hours of 1943.
     
  2. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Canosa

    1944 January 1

    Very wet and cold.
    This would have been a cheerless beginning to the New Year had it not been for the opportune issue by the Quartermaster of the long-awaited AFRICA STAR ribbon.
    The result of this was an intense sewing activity which lasted until tea time.
    After this there was an excellent Concert given by the Regimental Band in the large barn which is Support Company Mess.
    Earlier in the afternoon Captain O.F. McINERNEY set out i/c ... ..., secret location. [sic]
    In this connection a move order has been circulated today from which it appears that the Battalion will move early on Monday morning.
    APPENDIX

    1944 January 2
    The ground has dried up considerably and the weather seems to be more settled.
    Voluntary Church of England and Roman Catholic Services were held as usual.
    At 1100 hours the Regimental Band played for half-an-hour on the football ground.
    All day there has been the usual bustle of activity associated with the Battalion move.
    This subsided shortly before dark.
    All the vehicles have been loaded and the last arrangements made.

    1944 January 3
    Breakfast was at Midnight and soon afterwards the first elements of the Brigade began to move.
    The Battalion, which was last in the Brigade convoy passed the Starting Point at 03335 hours.
    Just before we reached FOGGIA it became light - the dawn of a clear sunny day.
    By about 0700 hours we could see everything clearly to the snow on the mountains on the promontory of MANFREDONIA in the North.
    We had a very memorable journey through some magnificent scenery - green valleys, snow topped mountains.
    On the way we passed through a village where the snow was thawing in the streets.
    We saw numerous trucks out of action as a result of collisions on the twisty and very steep roads.
    Our route lay through ARIANO and AVELLINO.
    From ARIANO the drive down into the valley to sea level was extremely precipitous and full of hair-pin bends and an aerial view of miles of country which was very impressing.
    Just as it was beginning to get dark we caught our first glimpse of VESUVIUS with the wisp of cloud-like smoke trailing from the summit.
    By this time we were on the road between S. SEVERINO and POMPEII.
    From this point onwards the road was very bad and the going was slower still.
    But at last we reached our destination, a small town called GRAGNANO near to CASTELLAMMARE on the South side of the Bay of NAPLES.
    By this time it was about 2000 hours and the moon was high in the sky.

    1944 January 4
    After yesterday’s sunshine, a dull grey day.
    It was spent in finding additional space for the Battalion, where it was needed, and improving and in setting in order the premises already occupied.
    The whole Battalion is in a large macaroni factory, and is really very well off.
    The Orderly Room and various other offices are all in the same block of buildings as the Battalion and are fitted with electric light.
    Intelligence Section have got the proprietor’s personal office, who has been extremely obliging, as have been all the Italians with whom we have had to do, a noticeable contrast to the BARI region.
    The officers have been billeted by companies round the town and are all within easy reach of Battalion H.Q.
    The Regimental Serjeant Major, Drill Serjeants and Company Serjeant Majors have also all got private billets.
    The latter have settled themselves amongst the Archives of GRAGNANO in the Municipal Buildings.
    It has been a wet and unpleasant day, but nobody has noticed it because there has been too much to do, but not least because for the first time since we left ENGLAND everyone is under a roof.
    Amongst the amenities of this village is a Cinema which has been revived by the coming of the Brigade. (The 5th Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS and Brigade Support Group are also here) and a fresh lease of electric current.
    Drill Serjeant ROONEY, M.M., has combined with the proprietor to organize the times of performances and the selection of films.
    In the outside world the great news from the Russian front has encouraged everyone.

    1944 January 5
    The Commanding Officer held an ‘O’ Group at 0930 hours at Battalion H.Q. Officers’ Mess, which is in a flat at the top of the same building in which the GRENADIERS have their H.Q. at the bottom.
    The Commanding Officer outlined the training programme - combined operations training.
    In view of the fact that the Battalion, has already done a lot of this - DARTMOUTH, SOUTHAMPTON, GLENBORROWDALE, AYR, it should be merely a question of brushing up our knowledge.
    The Commanding Officer emphasized the fact that the main problem for us will be the land fighting - the advance to first contact.
    And this we were to practice.
    The tendency had been to stress over much the importance of the actual landing operation, and to forget that what comes after that is a longer and bigger affair.
    Other points dealt with were:-
    (i) Our journey in convoy from CANOSA to GRAGNANO. This was not well done although it had been the best in the Brigade according to the Brigade Commander.
    (ii) Necessity for 100% maintenance of vehicles. The Band played in the Main Street, ‘Via Roma’ and drew great crowds. Another dark day very cold and rainy.

    1944 January 6
    The Battalion was visited by the Divisional Commander at 1030 hours.
    No.s 1, 2, 3 and 4 Companies practiced a landing from the ROYAL ULSTERMAN (The same ship which took the Battalion from ALGIERS to BONE), in L.C.As in the Bay of NAPLES.
    The Landing was made just South of CASTELLAMMARE and was watched by the Brigade Commander.
    Beautiful day but bitterly cold.

    1944 January 7
    Accompanied by the Brigadier, C.R.A. and other members of his staff, Major-General LUCAS, Commanding VI CORPS visited the Battalion this morning at 1130 hours.
    He saw the Battalion billets and was able to inspect No. 1 Company who ‘happened’ to arrive in off a route march just as he was leaving.
    He expressed the opinion that the Main Guard, under command
    Serjeant BIRD was ‘mighty fine’.
    The rest of the day passed peacefully.

    1944 January 8
    The Commanding Officer went to Brigade Conference on provisional M.T., Loading Table.
    Afterwards he went on with the Commanding Officer, 5th Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS to see 201 BRIGADE who are now out of the Line.
    The Serjeants’ Mess gave a party in the evening.
    Music was provided by the Dance Section of the Regimental Band.

    1944 January 9
    Uneventful day.
    Very went though much warmer.
    Church of England Services were held in the Cinema.
    Roman Catholic Services in the Chapel at the top of the town.

    1944 January 10
    The Regimental Band went off to 201 BRIGADE.
    The warm spell continues.
    A party of Officers and N.C.Os from each rifle company went to CASTELLAMMARE to look over L.C.Is.
    The latest news is that our Combined Operations will now be in this type of ship and not in L.C.As.
    Very wet morning.
    The Commanding Officer went to a special Conference at Army Group H.Q.
    Outwardly life is very quiet and days passed agreeably.
    But there is no doubt that our fate is in melting pot.
    The news is very good.
    Our advance on CASSINO quickens; and the Russians are threatening to exterminate Germans on the DNIEPER Bend.

    1944 January 11
    Quiet day.
    Fine and warm.
    Snow off the mountains.
    VESUVIUS in clouds.
    Battalion played football versus GRENADIER GUARDS at local station.
    Result Draw 1 - 1.
    The “Rooney” Cinema continues to draw great crowds and today is showing Bing Crosby in “If I had my Way”.
    There is an abundance of fruit and nuts, but apart from knick-nacks little else to buy in the shops.

    1944 January 12
    During the last few days Company and Platoon Commanders have taken the opportunity of taking their men to see the ruins at POMPEII.
    And plans have also been projected for climbing VESUVIUS.
    In general life continues peacefully enough, and the Guardsman at least are thoroughly happy to be living in an town again.
    Training continues subject to the limitations of the surrounding country which is extremely mountainous.
    Today a Snipers Course was begun under the aegis of the Second-in-Command.
    There is however a strong feeling that important events are impending and that there are perhaps very imminent.
    For this reason it seems inadvisable to make any detailed arrangements for training or recreation very far ahead.

    1944 January 13
    At 1130 hours this morning the Commanding Officer held an ‘O’ Group and made known the future of the Battalion, outlining the plan for the Combined Operation “SHINGLE” and explaining the Divisional and Brigade objectives.
    Early in the afternoon the personnel of the ‘O’ Group drove to ‘LIGHTING’ - (H.Q., V ARMY, in the King of NAPLES Palace, CASERTA) and were there able to examine aerial photographs and map enlargements of that part of the coast at which we are to land.

    1944 January 14
    During the last 24 hours the activity within the Battalion has been chiefly administrated, involving the drawing up of nominal rolls and the drafting of loading tables.
    All our M.T. “Assault Vehicles” are due to be loaded aboard L.S.Ts early tomorrow morning.
    Major J.S.O. HASLEWOOD has arrived from NORTH AFRICA and Lieutenant A.M.C. ASKIN from CAIRO after completing a Signal Course there.

    1944 January 15
    The M.T. vehicles were not in fact loaded this morning, but it is expected now that they will be put on board some time tomorrow.
    Fresh instructions about this have been issued and the vehicles have been sent to an assembly area where they are to wait until called forward.
    At mid-day there was a Demonstration in the court-yard of the factory of American uniform and equipment.
    The Demonstration was given by an Officer and half-a-dozen Other Ranks of a U.S. Parachute Battalion with the object of familiarizing us with the appearance of their ‘Fighting Order’ which is very similar to that of their opposite number in the German Army.
    As it so happened this display of very practicable and enviable equipment coincided with an issue by the Quartermaster to the Companies of a most serviceable article of kit in the form of a leather jerkin.
    Unfortunately however the supply and demand were not equal, and in one company there were 118 applicants for 100 jerkins - with the inevitable consequences.

    1944 January 16
    A quiet day.
    Preparations continue to go ahead smoothly within the Battalion.
    Our destination is still kept secret and on this account it has been specially interesting to hear the various speculations.
    Examples of these are “The South of FRANCE”, “CORSICA”, North of ROME”, “YUGOSLAVIA” and a few have said “South of ROME”.
    Only one incorrigible optimist has suggested “ENGLAND”.

    1944 January 17
    The order came through this morning for the personnel detailed for L.S.T. Serial No. 106 to embark.
    This party marched off in due course, but returned within the hour with the information that the Port Authorities were not yet ready for them.
    A second attempt to embark later in the day was successful.
    APPENDIX

    1944 January 18
    Apart from an excellent Concert given by the GRENADIERS in the Theatre in CASTELLAMMARE at 1700 hours this has been a most uneventful day.

    1944 January 19
    The Commanding Officer held a Conference for Company Commanders at Battalion H.Q. at 0930 hours when he explained the Battalion role in the Landing and issued final instructions.
    Except in the unlikely event of fierce opposition by the enemy this appears a fairly simple one, and involves the earliest possible concentration of the Battalion, in a pre-arranged locality and the simultaneous establishing of contact with the GRENADIERS on our Right or Left depending on whether we or they disembark first.
    Personnel for the second L.S.T. Serial No. 107 embarked this afternoon.
    This makes the load of men and vehicles on both L.S.Ts complete, and it only now remains to embark the marching personnel, which are all the remainder of the Battalion - 490.
    APPENDIX

    1944 January 20
    The Battalion is now afloat distributed between two L.S.Ts and four of the much less comfortable L.C.Is.
    These are the same L.C.Is which took part in the invasion of SICILY and which landed the 201 GUARDS BRIGADE at SALERNO.
    Of our last day in GRAGNANO there is not much to relate.
    In the evening the Regimental Band made its farewell appearance in the ‘Via Roma’.
    Dinners were at 1130 hours, and at 1230 hours the Battalion paraded in the court-yard of the factory preparatory to marching down to the quays.
    There followed, as so often happens an exasperating delay while everyone hung around in “Christmas Tree Order”.
    Eventually at 1530 hours the GRENADIERS, preceded by our Band marched off.
    Soon afterwards we followed ourselves, once again headed by the Band which had returned after playing the GRENADIERS out of the town.
    In the square of CASTELLAMMARE the Commanding Officer took the salute as the Battalion marched past.
    Serials went straight aboard their respective L.C.Is, and within half-an-hour the whole Battalion had embarked.
    At about 1730 hours the L.C.Is drew out from the shore to a distance of about half-a-mile and then dropped anchor.
    It is not expected that we shall sail until tomorrow morning.

    1944 January 21
    This has been a perfect day for sailing - sunny and warm and very calm.
    Shortly after 1100 hours the convoy began to sort itself out and by mid-day we were all under way sailing due South and passing CAPRI on our right hand.
    Teh convoy was an impressive sight.
    Almost as far as the eye could see there were ships - L.C.Is , L.S.Ts and escort vessels.
    Every now and then we changed formation from extended order to Line Ahead and vice versa.
    Since night fall we have been following a North Western course and within the last hour have been able to see flashes of gun fire far away on our right - presumably on the GARIGLIANO sector.
    Up to the present our voyage has been completely peaceful with no signs of the enemy either on the sea or in the air.

    A wood about 3 miles North of Anzio

    1944 January 22

    The landing began this morning at about 0800 hours, but it was broad daylight and nearly 0900 hours by the time the Battalion came ashore, disembarking on to a sandy beach some four miles North West of ANZIO.
    It was a clear spring-like day and the whole operation went very much according to plan.
    Complete surprise was achieved and enemy opposition was negligible.
    The small defence force of NETTUNO and ANZIO were easily dealt with by the combine efforts of the Commandos and U.S. Rangers.
    Artillery fire from enemy coastal batteries directed at the armada was surprisingly ineffective; most of the guns were soon accounted for by our Cruisers and Destroyers.
    Enemy air activity was limited to a single unsuccessful attack by a few Fighter Bombers which came in later in the day.
    By 1100 hours the Brigade was in an assembly area just South of the ANZIO - S. LORRENZO road amongst thick trees.
    It was about this time that General ALEXANDER was to be seen driving up and down the road in a ‘Jeep’ between ANZIO and the beaches.
    On one of his visits to the latter he told the Commanding Officer that he was very satisfied with the progress of the invasion and was optimistic about the future.
    At about 1430 hours ad two hours before dusk the Battalion moved forward to take over a plateau (thickly wooded on the North side) form the SCOTS GUARDS, who in turn moved to a new position a mile or two to the East where the wood meets the ANZIO - ALBANO road.
    During the night the only contact with the enemy within the Brigade sector was made by a SCOTS GUARDS patrol which shot one German and took several others prisoner.

    1944 January 23
    There was more or less continued gunfire throughout the night but none of the shells landed in the Battalion area, and the chief target appeared to be the harbour at ANZIO.
    Otherwise it was an uneventful night and memorable chiefly for the extreme cold.
    It had been hoped that the M.T., would be unloaded before dark last night but this, for various reasons, was found to be impossible and it was nearly daylight this morning by the time it arrived.
    At 1330 hours the Commanding Officer went to a Conference at Brigade H.Q., at which the progress of the Landing and future operations were discussed.
    On the enemy’s side it appears that the 3rd P.G. Division less one Regiment, is being detached from the 5th Army Front and with the support of a Regiment of the 90 Light Division, is to meet the threat of the 3rd U.S. Division, North East of ANZIO.
    Our own future movements depend to a large extent on developments on this sector.
    In the meantime we are to stay where we are.
    At about 1500 hours it began to rain and continued intermittently for the rest of the day.
    Just before dusk several bombing and machine-gunning attacks were made on the shipping off the coast and on the beaches.
    Our Anti-Aircraft Gunners put up a considerable barrage but it was impossible to see whether or not any hits were scored.
    Shortly after 2200 hours the alarm was given that Parachutists had been dropped and all guards were doubled.
    The night however passed without incident and it is probable that the alarm was groundless.

    1944 January 24
    This has been a very quiet day for the Battalion, as it has been for the whole of the Brigade with the exception of a strong patrol sent out in the morning by the GRENADIERS to reconnoitre the factory at CARROCETTO which lies about 6000 yards Norht of the “CAMPO” (CAMPO DI CARNE) fly-over bridge.
    As a result of this patrol it was estimated the factory area was held by at least one Company of various supporting arms.
    At 2000 hours the Commanding Officer together with the Commanding Officer SCOTS GUARDS (Lieutenant Colonel David WELDERBURN) went to an ‘O’ Group, at Brigade H.Q.
    Orders for an advance tomorrow morning by the Brigade on CAMPOLEONE were issued and the latest information of enemy dispositions made known.
    At 2200 hours the Commanding Officer held an ‘O’ Group.
    The order of march of the Battalion was decided upon, and all necessary arrangements made for an early start.

    1944 January 25 - 26
    The events of these two days have been recorded in a special account written by Major D.M.L. GORDON-WATSON, M.C., Second-in-Command, under the heading of:-
    The Battle of Carroceto Factory’
    APPENDIX


    1944 January 27
    The enemy continued to shell us throughout the whole of the day but slightly less heavily than before.
    His infantry activity was also on a reduced scale, the result no doubt of his setbacks yesterday.
    In the intervals between the shelling, sometimes a matter of several hours, Advance Battalion H.Q. was transferred from the culvert where Support H.Q. and the Regimental Aid Post, had installed themselves, to a couple of slit trenches dug for the purpose at the foot of the embankment just off the road on the left hand side of the railway bridge.
    During the course of the morning a patrol was sent out from No. 4 Company under command Lieutenant J.C. DODDS consisting of a Platoon supported by Carriers.
    The object of the patrol was to contact the enemy immediately North of us and to gain some idea of their strength and dispositions without becoming engaged in any major action.
    Lieutenant DODD’s patrol did most successfully, advancing one to two miles and locating in all about 50 Germans.
    The patrol took prisoners and sustained one minor casualty.
    APPENDIX

    1944 January 28
    Last night passed comparatively quietly.
    Routine patrols were sent out but had nothing to report.
    It appears that there are about three companies of German Paratroops based in the incomplete railway line to the North West of our positions.
    So far however they have not been particularly troublesome, although their snipers do their best to discourage any movements of ours in the open.
    To supplement the information gained about the enemy by Lieutenant DODDS patrol yesterday, another patrol was sent out today from No. 3 Company under Lieutenant The Honourable S.E. PRESTON with the object of discovering the strength and dispositions of the enemy to our left front, particularly with regard to the road that runs left of and parallel to the main ANZIO - ALBANO road.
    This patrol, which was out for over 8 hours did not return until 2030 hours having been obliged to make a wide detour round the enemy’s flanks.
    The patrol had had no direct contact with the enemy but had observed the position of an enemy company and had on their return journey by accident found their way into the harbour area of between 30 and 40 German tanks.
    This important information after being checked was passed back to the gunners who put down a concentration of 800 shells in that area during the early hours of this morning.

    1944 January 29
    No. 4 Company has, at present, the role of reserve Company
    And from it was found the personnel for another patrol, again under the command of Lieutenant J.C. DODDS.
    The object of this patrol was to confirm the information already obtained and if possible to discover the effect of last night’s artillery concentration on the harbour haven of the German tanks.
    Lieutenant DOODS’ patrol set out at 0930 hours.
    About an hour later the Commanding Officer was sent for to Brigade H.Q., and informed that the Brigade was to advance that night.
    It was believed that the ground was only lightly hold, and it was not anticipated that he would offer and serious resistance after our artillery and paved the way for the advance.
    The plan was for the IRISH GUARDS to move up the left flank after dusk, to a position approximately parallel with the SCOTS GUARDS H.Q., on the right of the road.
    This was to be the Start Line.
    Then at Zero (2300 hours) both Battalions were to advance about a mile on either side of the road and capture some high ground which was essential to any further advance by the Division.
    During the afternoon the Commanding Officer first, and later Company Commanders were able to get an idea of the ground over which the Battalion would have to advance, from an Observation Post in an hay barn, close by the SCOTS GUARDS H.Q., a position which was continually shelled by the enemy but never hit.
    By nightfall the artillery programme and all other arrangements had been made.
    Lieutenant DODDS patrol, which had returned without mishap, reported some enemy activity on the left of our line of advance, and No. 3 Company (Captain D.M. KENNEDY) was ordered to be prepared to proceed the main body of the Battalion and secure this flank as far as the start line.
    At 1945 hours three quarters of an hour before the Battalion was due to move, it was decided to alter the time of zero because of the fact that the “Dukes” were not yet ready to take over our positions.
    The necessary alteration of timings were made with our supporting arms, and shortly before 2100 hours the Battalion moved off along the line of the railway.
    The Order of March was:-
    No. 1 and No. 2 Companies, followed by No. 4 Company with Battalion H.Q.
    No. 3 Company had already gone on ahead as arranged.
    The plan was that when the Start Line had been reached, a couple of miles from the embankment - contact was to be made with No. 3 Company on the left and with a standing patrol from the SCOTS GUARDS on the right.
    The advance went smoothly at the outset and artillery concentrations were put down in a number of points suspected of being held by the enemy.
    Unfortunately these concentrations which kept the enemy’s head down and secured the initial stage of the advance cannot have caused many casualties and when the fire lifted the Battalion was met by very heavy Machine Gun and shell fire.
    Resistance was especially strong from the right front opposite No. 2 Company (Major G.P.M. FITZGERALD) and it was only after some fierce fighting at close quarters that this Company was able to fighting at close quarters that this COmpany was able to reach its objective.
    On the left No. 1 Company (Major Sir Ian STEWART-RICHARDSON, Bt.) taking advantage of more favourable cover was able to reach its objective with only one casualty.
    This objective was dominated by two houses and those were effectively cleared of the enemy who were either killed or put to flight.
    On the extreme left No. 3 Company had also met opposition, but this too was dealt with decisively and the Company objective secured.
    No. 4 Company and Battalion H.Q. (Captain D. DRUMMOND) which had the role of pivot company, had all but reached its objective, between No.s 1 and 2 Companies and in rear of them, when it was caught by machine gun and shell fire, evidently ?.E. tasks, and a number of casualties were sustained before the position was consolidated.

    1944 January 30
    By dawn the Battalion had secured and consolidated its objectives on all sectors.
    In the forward area No. 2 Company, depleted in numbers, had joined forces with No. 1 Company this composite force, consisting of four platoons, strong enough to repel on attack by infantry but lacking the support of Anti-Tank guns or “Tank Busters” was in nos [sic] position to oppose any serious threat by enemy armour.
    This threat of a counter-attack with tanks soon became a certainty and although temporarily frightened off by the bold use of Anti-Tank grenades it was only a matter of time before they again began to close in on the positions.
    The gravity of the situation was further increased by the fact that the dominating ground on our right flank was held by the enemy who had succeeded in preventing the advance of the SCOTS GUARDS during the night.
    In view of these and other considerations it was decided to withdraw No. 1 and No. 3 Companies to temporary positions in the rear.
    During this withdrawal the companies were caught by heavy machine gun fire and several casualties were sustained including Lieutenant DA COSTA and Lieutenant PRESTON killed and Lieutenant GILLOW fatally wounded.
    Throughout the remainder of the day no attempt was made by the enemy to recover the ground he had lost during the night, but rather the reverse.
    Under Captain D.M. KENNEDY a mobile patrol from No. 3 Company with three American Tank Busters under his command made several most successful sweeps over our left flank bringing in a total of 55 prisoners and much valuable information.
    During one of these local engagements Lieutenant C.M. MUSGRAVE was killed - due no doubt, in a considerable measure to his enterprising action.
    The left flank was made safe and the subsequent advance of the 3rd INFANTRY BRIGADE along the axis of the main road materially assisted.
    When night came the Battalion found itself, in common with the remainder of the Brigade, in semi-reserve and in part responsible for the right flank; the defence of this sector now being centred around the farm which had formerly been the SCOTS GUARDS H.Q.
    No. 3 Company occupied a harbour area, previously held by No. 1 Company in CARROCETO village, while No. 4 Company continued to hold its position near a cottage on the railway line.

    1944 January 30 - 31
    The night was undisturbed and provided a majority of the Battalion with the opportunity of making up some badly needed sleep.

    1944 January 31
    More patrolling was carried out at first light by No. 3 Company with a similar force to that employed the day before.
    Several German snipers were killed and others taken prisoner.
    In the meantime the 3rd INFANTRY BRIGADE (1st D.W.R., 2nd K.S.L.I., 2nd FORESTERS) had moved up the road towards CAMPOLEONE and had taken up positions just South of the lateral railway line to ROME.
    This meant that the Divisional front was secured but the left flank still open.
    To remedy this Battalion moved up after dark and re-occupied the positions originally captured; thus, together with the SCOTS GUARDS on our left rear, filling or partially filling the gap between the 3rd INFANTRY BRIGADE and forces South of the embankment.
    Owing to the wide extent of ground to be covered the exact positions to be occupied were not easy to decide, and it was nearly 0400 hours before the Company positions were dug-in.
     

    Attached Files:

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    THE BATTLE OF CARROCETO FACTORY

    On the morning of the 25th January, 24TH GUARDS BRIGADE advanced on the rail and road crossing at CAMPOLEONE as its objective.
    The order of march was a forward body of Sherman tanks, S.P. guns, and two companies of GRENADIERS, the remainder of the 5th Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS, IRISH GUARDS, SCOTS GUARDS.
    The GRENADIER GUARDS soon met opposition from the factory area, which made it necessary for a Battalion attack to be launched.
    This was done at 2.15 p.m. after a heavy bombardment by Mediums and 25-pounders, and was successful.
    It was a hard fight and though the GRENADIERS had heavy casualties, they captured around 160 prisoners and inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy.

    The IRISH GUARDS followed up and occupied positions around the CARROCETO railway station.
    In the mopping up, the IRISH GUARDS rounded up around another twenty prisoners.
    Spasmodic machine gun fire still continued from some quarters and the Commanding Officer and Second-in-Command were pinned behind the bank at the level crossing for about a quarter of an hour before a patrol mopped up the enemy post - two Germans aged fifteen and sixteen were found behind the gun.
    During the night Major Ian STEWART-RICHARDSON, whilst going round his company, stepped into a ditch and trod on a German hiding there.

    The Battalion took up positions, No. 1 Company around the cross roads 500 yards North of the railway bridge, No. 3 Company a thousand yards out to the North West, No. 2 Company around and left of the railway bridge and No. 4 Company right of the road and around the railway embankment.
    Advance Battalion H.Q. set up under the bridge, rear Battalion H.Q. with some of the transport, in some houses about 200 yards left and South of the railway embankment.
    Most of the transport harboured in lee of the embankment.
    Support Company was apportioned out to Companies.
    The Battalion was also supported by a troop of 17-pounders.

    The GRENADIERS consolidated in the Factory area, the SCOTS GUARDS further back down the road and in read of the IRISH GUARDS.
    A captured Operation Order showed that the factory had been held by N. 11 Coy of the II Bn 29th Panzer Grenadier Regt of the 3rd Panzer.
    The same order showed that the axis of the road was held by the II Bn with III Bn on its left and I Bn in reserve.
    Various Battle Groups were on their right and it seemed that elements of 90th P.G. and 29 P.G’s were in the area and on the left of the railway line.
    The general picture at this time was rather similar to that of the BOU battle in TUNISIA.
    The American 3rd Division were echeloned back and making slow progress to CISTERNA, the 2nd Bde were on the left holding the line of the MOLETTA river about 4,000 yards in rear, and the 24th GUARDS BRIGADE had pushed a finer up the road and seized a medal point in the enemy outpost line with the enemy MLE about 4,000 yards ahead of them.
    The position of the Brigade and the only road to it were in full observation to enemy Observation Posts on the Celli.
    It seemed that the GRENADIER factory battle had eliminated II Coy of the enemy’s II Bn, but it was obvious that enemy positions in front were heavily held.

    Orders were given on the night of January 25th for the IRISH GUARDS to make a “reconnaissance in force” up the road towards the CAMPOLEONE crossroads, known as GOLD FLAKE.
    They were not to get engaged in a major battle.
    The advance was to have the support of 10th Field Regiment, 24 S.P. Regiment, and a Medium Regiment of the SCOTTISH HORSE.
    Two troops of Shermans from the 46 tanks were allotted.
    All these representatives were to meet the Commanding Officer at the Bridge at 0745 hours.
    Rather than do the obvious and advance up the main road, it was decided to send a weak force up the main road and send the bulk of the Battalion up the parallel road to the right.
    To recce this road Serjeant BENNETT and two members Intelligence Section, were sent out at 2030 hours to report on the state of the road and to see how far they could get before encountering enemy.
    This was a ticklish job especially as the night was pitch black and it was then pouring with rain.
    The patrol returned after having had trouble in the confusion getting through our own Brigade’s outposts.
    They got as far as the crossroads 2,000 yards North East of the factory where they heard enemy patrols.
    Owing to fear of counter attack and on account of the great deal of work to be done by Company Commanders, the Commanding Officer arranged for the time of start to be put at 0850 hours January 26th.
    At 0600 hours the weather further deteriorated and a violent thunderstorm broke out.
    All was quiet at Stand To.
    At 0800 hours Captain KENNEDY reported to the Second-in-Command that six enemy tanks had been sighted near his position.
    The map reference was quickly sent to Brigade and from then on the Commanding Officer took over control from Advance Battalion H.Q. at the railway bridge.
    It was a great piece of fortune that by that time, two troops of Shermans were rolling up from the road and the representative of the Tank Squadron, and F.O.O. or 19th Field, 24th S.P. and the Medium Regiment were all already with the Commanding Officer.

    Events then happened at such a pace that it was difficult to keep pace of them in chronological order.
    The battle was on in No. 3 Company area and reports of tanks soon mounted up to twenty-five in number.
    The two Sherman troops immediately went into action, some moving up under the railway bridge and forward, others creeping up hull down behind the railway embankment.
    Heavy fighting could also be heard on the GRENADIER front around the factory.
    It was soon obvious that this was the well expected German counter attack with infantry and tanks with the object of knocking the Guards Brigade out of this vital position.

    The first physical effort of the attack in Battalion H.Q. areas was felt when an A.P. shell took the top corner off the roof of the house in which they were. Most of the signallers, pioneers, orderly room staff and several officers were in or around the area of the house.
    What had actually happened was that a Sherman had played itself in front of and in a line with a German tank and the house - the misses were hitting the house.
    The first shell was quickly succeeded by another, this time into the bottom of the house.
    The house was quickly evacuated and just in time as the third shot entered the room where the signallers had been and wounded Guardsman HIGGINSON who was still there.

    Also in the area of this hours was some of the Battalion’s transport including two ammunition 15-cwts, one 17-pounder still hooked on to its lorry and one 17-pounder in position.
    Frantic efforts were made to get the mobile 17 pounder in position and Lieutenant BURTON, Lance Serjeant MILNER, Guardsman GIBSON and Guardsman HITCHEN from No. 2 Company ran to assist them.
    A direct hit from an 88 mm. H.E. killed three of the gun crew, wounded Lieutenant BURTON, Lance Serjeant MILNER and the two Guardsmen, both of whom died of wounds.
    The other 17 pounder fired one round and then the gun jammed.
    These incidents were spotted by the German O.P.s and 105 mm. heavy shells started to pound the area of the house.
    Battalion H.Q. personnel were well dug in, but an unlucky shell killed Guardsman AYRES, the Regimental Serjeant Major’s Batman, and Guardsman MILNE, the Medical Officer’s Servant, and wounded Serjeant MITCHELL of the M.T. and Guardsman FARRELL the Medical Officer’s Driver.
    All these casualties were first evacuated to in rear of another house just in rear of the Battalion H.Q. house and near the 17 pounder still in action.
    In spite of the shelling Father BROOKES and Serjeant THOROGOOD dealt with all the wounded.
    The Medical Officer was with the main R.A.P. near the bridge.
    Stretchers were soon forthcoming and all casualties were got back to the main R.A.P. and there was no shortage of men to carry them.
    The problem of evacuating Lieutenant BURTON’s 17 stone over the rough ground was solved by eight men and a door.

    Meanwhile the brunt of the battle was being borne by Captain KENNEDY’s No. 3 Company.
    Unfortunately an enemy tank over-ran Lieutenant PRESTON’s Platoon which the 17 pounders were unable to engage.
    Two Sections were cut off and lost but Lieutenant PRESTON with his Platoon headquarters and one Section lay low and got away with it.
    This tank lay up against the wall of the house where this Platoon was and was very troublesome and difficult to get at until it was seen off by the medium guns.
    There were four of our 6 pounders with No. 3 Company, and in the ensuing action two crews were knocked out and many killed including Lance Serjeant WYLES and Lance Corporal HENNESSEY and a third gun was damaged.
    Of these people several including Lance Serjeant TOBIN and Lance Serjeant PEOPLES of No. 3 Company and Lance Serjeant BOWERS were reported on the German wireless as prisoners.
    At the same time as this was going on, enemy infantry were advancing up the valley between No. 3 and No. 1 Company astride the railway.
    These were taken on by the Mortars and the Gunners, checked and broken and forced to withdraw suffering heavy casualties.

    All this time the remainder of the enemy tanks were working round the Left flank (one was revealed within 1,000 yards of Brigade Headquarters three miles in rear, together with odd parties of infantry and snipers).
    Occasional sniping shots and burst of M.G. fire arrived in No. 2 and Battalion H.Q. areas.
    These tanks were heavily engaged by the Medium Guns who fired a thousand rounds in a space of three hours.
    To counter this threat the remainder of the Squadron of Sherman tanks moved up, some going up to support the GRENADIERS and the remainder fanning out to protest the Left flank.

    On the GRENADIER front, where there was also a Company of SCOTS GUARDS, the attack had been equally violent.
    A SCOTS GUARDS anti-tank gun knocked out a Mk VI and Mk IV at about 500 yards range before being knocked out itself.
    The GRENADIERS themselves tacked the tanks effectively and dealt heavy blows to the enemy infantry helped by the timely arrival of two Sherman tanks.
    In all, on their front the GRENADIERS and SCOTS GUARDS knocked out five tanks, many S.P. guns and took eighty prisoners, twenty of whom were wounded.

    By about 1030 a.m. the attack itself appeared to be checked and held thought there were undoubtedly many enemy infantry and tanks over to the left of our positions; however these could make no progress against the shelling from our guns.

    All these events necessitated a certain amount of re-organisation.
    A Platoon of No. 4 Company, under Serjeant QUILFOYLE was sent to re-inforce No. 3 Company and took up positions slightly in rear of Lieutenant PRESTON’s old Platoon position.
    Rear Battalion H.Q. was moved by Lieutenant BLAND from the house area across the road and under the embankment on the right of the railway bridge.
    A welcome tunnel under the embankment which had been used by the Germans was found and here Support Company H.Q., the ROYAL ARTILLERY and portions of Battalion H.Q. established itself.
    By this time the weather had cleared and the sun was shining brightly giving perfect observation to the enemy O.Ps in the COLLI LAZIALI Area.

    Then the shelling began with 105 mm. on the houses in the 17 pounder area and from that moment it continued with unabated fury.
    It was further augmented by the appearance of an armoured train which seemed to carry 17 cm guns.
    Most people were quick to realise that the lea of the railway embankment was his safe as anywhere, but although no shells had actually landed there, there was no man who did not believe that one might at any moment.
    Picks and shovels rose and fell with a will and the scene was rather akin to a Bank Holiday crowd lining the stands for SURRY v MIDDLESEX at the Oval.
    All this time the Commanding Officer’s car was under the railway bridge with the 22 Set just off the road under the embankment with the Operators Lance Corporal BARROW and Lance Corporal HAYMAN, M.M. and Lance Corporal HISLOP, ROYAL CORPS OF SIGNALS in slit trenches alongside it.
    No. 2 Company however, who were nearest to the railway had to stick to their positions.
    Their casualties were not heavy which proved the value of the slit trench.
    Most of the Mortar Platoon and some of the M.G. Platoon were in this area, though the M.G. Section here eventually went to join the Section with No. 3 Company which had helped them to repel the infantry counter attack earlier in the morning.

    People who looked at their watches at about 1100 hours, got a shock to find it still so early, as these three ours had seemed an eternity.
    The rest of the day was spent in sticking it out under this very heavy shell fire.
    Sherman tanks were still in our area although they had nine of their sixteen knocked out, six of which were recoverable.
    Unfortunately these tanks, as always, drew a lot of fire and from one of these salvoes the tank Squadron Leader, standing next to the Adjutant, was hit.
    A stretcher was quickly available, and two Sherman tanks were invited to move away about 300 yards off.

    In the Battalion H.Q. area the vehicles had suffered heavily.
    One jeep burnt out, two damaged but recovered, the signal and R.A.P. trucks blow up, one Res S.A. truck damaged and the other hit.
    This now caught fire and started to blaze furiously which caused several people to make a dart for the house and salve thier kit before it was too late.
    This ammunition truck eventually went off with a terrific and deafening explosion.

    On the other side of the road a GRENADIER ammunition three tonner had arrived in the midst of our transport.
    Tis too was hit, and from that moment those in slit trenches alongside it and some not more than 10 yards from it had the worst hour of their lives.
    Mortar bombs started to go off and continued to do so for the next hour and all feared that they might go off in one big bang but, by the mercy of God, unlike the other truck, they did not.
    Drill Serjeant ARMSTRONG of the GRENADIERS was wounded by this, but his wounds were instantly dressed by Lance Corporal CROSS of the Orderly Room Staff.
    To make matters worse the wooden hut where Support Company Officer’s kit and the old R.A.P. had been, also caught fire and burnt furiously.
    All this fire of course drew more shells from the enemy guns.
    These guns were at that time out of range of our Mediums and the armoured train was very difficult to spot.
    It was reported that the armoured train was dealt with shortly afterwards by bombing the track either side of it and then shelling it.
    At about 1630 hours No. 3 Company heard movement over the crest from them and called for Mortar fire.
    The first round got a direct hit on something and yet another violent fire started.
    So the battlefield was studded with fire from burning tanks, burning houses and burning vehicles.
    All hoped that darkness would bring a stop to the shelling, which it did owing to the fear of the enemy that we should spot their flashes.

    So ended the day of January 26th.
    Casualties had been coming in all the time including Major I.H. POWELL-EDWARDS of No. 4 Company.
    Night time brought re-organisation, D.F. tasks allotted, fresh Anti-Tank guns brought into position, vehicles recovered and searches for the missing.

    So ended what Father BROOKES described as the worst day he had ever spent in this War or the last.
    The casualty count appeared to be 89 - exclusive of casualties amongst the Anti-Tank gunners and Lieutenant PRESTON’s Platoon, the position of which was still obscure.
    Of these eighty nine casualties, an undetermined number up to twenty had been killed.
     
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    APPENDIX TO WAR DIARY FOR THURSDAY, 27TH JANUARY, 1944.
    Written by Lieutenant J.C. DODDS.

    To Battalion WELSH GUARDS.

    Having taken the two prisoners, we then took up a defensive position round the house at the back of the bridge at 878350.
    We then saw about a dozen Germans coming down the road, we opened fire on them, and another section, noticed 30 or 40 had worked round to the left.
    The Bren Gun engaged them while the platoon got into the Carriers and moved back to the high ground where we could observe them.
    We are now at cutting by crossroads 278344.
    From here we can observe the valley in front.

    Signed J.C. DODDS, Lieutenant
     
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    APPENDIX WAR DIARY SATURDAY, 29TH JANUARY 1944.
    NIGHT ATTACK SATURDAY, 29TH JANUARY - No. 2 COMPANY.


    Sir,
    I have the honour to submit an account of the night attack and subsequent withdrawal of my own Company and of No. 1 Company while it is still fresh in my mind, which may be attached to the War Diary and possibly be of use in completing the Regimental History after the War.
    As far as possible with the latter consideration in view I have mentioned names, particularly of those who did outstanding work.

    During the morning of the 29th Company Commanders were sent for and ordered to go up to an O.P., in the area of one of the SCOTS GUARDS localities.
    The plan was explained.
    The object was to capture and hold the road running across the main road, No. 2 Company on the Right, No. 1 Company on the Left, No. 3 Company to provide Left flank protection and No. 4 Company to provide depth on the railway line.
    On the capture of the objective, which was to be the Start Line of an attack by the 3rd INFANTRY BRIGADE at 1200 hours on the 29th, No. 2 Company had to contact the SCOTS GUARDS on the Right and No. 1 Company had to contact No. 3 Company on the Left.
    As soon as possible supporting arms, including Tank Busters would come up, together with Company ‘F’ Echelon transport.
    From Zero minus 40 until Zero there was to be an artillery barrage from 200 yards in front of the Start Line which should lift on to the objective.
    From the O.P., already mentioned it was possible to see only a part of the objective and only certain areas of the ground to be crossed.
    There was little information of the enemy in this area.
    But it soon became obvious that there were enemy localities in the area because Company Commanders were straffed by German machine guns returning to their Companies.

    Zero Hour was put back three quarters of an hour and eventually the Companies led off to the Start Line, down the railway in the order:-
    No. 2 Company
    No. 1 Company, and
    No. 4 Company
    It is interesting to point out here that over sufficient time cannot be allowed for night movements, especially where Companies have to move in single file.
    On reaching the Start Line companies got into their deployed positions.
    This was somewhat difficult as, first the noise was excessive and second many of the shells were failing very short.
    However at Zero the two forward companies moved off, both two platoons up on either side of the railway line.
    Both Companies got about half way when German lights went up and one Machine gun from the Left opened up on No. 1 Company and then from the front at No. 2 Company.
    On the Right the ground was ideal for enemy machine guns, on the Left there was dead ground which extended to about 200 yards to the Left of the railway line.
    Fortunately No. 1 Company had made very good use of this and with one casualty reached its objectives.

    On the Right owing to the reasons already given also again to the fact which soon became obvious, insufficient artillery support, things were not so easy.
    Machine gun fire was accurate and unfortunately severely wounded the right hand Platoon Commander Lieutenant H. GILLOW and three or four men.
    Both forward platoons worked their way into a gully.
    Immediately Serjeant MURPHY, Platoon Serjeant of the Right hand platoon rallied his men and with cover from the Left hand platoon, attacked a small house on an old railway bed.
    The conduct of Serjeant MURPHY’s platoon in fact of the veritable nest of machine gunners was outstanding.
    Section Commanders led their sections in a most daring manner, Serjeant DEMPSEY, Corporal DAY and Lance Serjeant CARTLEDGE particularly showing enterprise and dash.
    This platoon took one post, which consisted of one machine gun and two rifle posts in the front of the house, the left hand section swung round on the left and took another post.
    The remainder of the platoon was advancing led by Serjeant MURPHY when another machine gun, as yet undetected but situated about 50 yards behind the house with light machine guns and riflemen with grenades opened up at point blank range; this platoon fought it out, just short of their objective but he fire was too deadly and just short of their objective they were overwhelmed.

    Meanwhile the left hand platoon had pushed slightly forward on the left which actually was then enemy’s F.D.Ls, as it had passed a machine gun post full of enemy dead.
    The reserve platoon (Serjeant GUNDEL) had been pinned down behind and, shortly, further fire was opened up on the two remaining platoons by enemy machine guns from the right, the objective of the left hand Company of the SCOTS GUARDS. Serjeant GUNDEL, cut off from the Company Commander, together with rear Company H.Q., wisely decided to get on the left of the railway line as they could not go forward.
    The Left hand platoon, Lieutenant C. BRAND, with advanced Company H.Q., then took the only course available, which was to pass round the left and get up to No. 1 Company.
    Except for a tussle with an invisible German grenade thrower, which wounded Serjeant WYLIE in the cheek, this was successfully done.
    They linked with Serjeant GUNDEL’s now weak platoon and the Company Commander got through on the wireless to Battalion H.Q.

    No. 1 and No. 2 Companies now formed four strong platoons in the area of the sunken road which was the left of the Battalion objective.
    It was learned that the left company of the SCOTS GUARDS had been unable to get up and so contact with them was impossible.

    Both Company Commanders shared their H.Q., as No. 2 Company’s wireless went off the air.
    Digging was extremely difficult on account of the extreme hardness of the ground; it did not make things any easier when the noise of the approach of tanks became obvious.
    It is interesting to note here how the Germans use so effectively three or four tanks in the moonlight.
    Lieutenant BARTLETT, No. 1 Company’s right hand platoon was ordered to prepare a 75 grenade in ordr to prevent tanks coming under the bridge into the sunken road and so into the position.
    But there is no doubt that although the grenade did no great damage to the leading tank it did frighten them considerably and for the remainder of the time that the Tanks remained in the area they could only be very unpleasant and not deadly.

    Shortly Lieutenant PRESTON arrived with a small patrol from No. 3 Company.
    He later remained with No. 1 and 2 Companies as he could not get back to his own Company.
    It was now getting fairly late and the fact that supporting arms could not get up became obvious.
    Contact was made with Battalion H.Q., and the situation explained.
    Very little news was known of No. 3 Company and shortly afterwards the only remaining wireless went off air.
    At 0600 hours on the 29th just as it was becoming light the situation was not very bright.
    Too much praise cannot be given to Lance Corporal HOLWELL, who mending his wireless in the open and in spit of fire from enemy tanks, succeeded in getting in touch at about 0615 hours when the force had orders to withdraw and link up with Battalion H.Q., who were in the area of the SCOTS GUARDS.
    It was decided to take the obvious route back down the railway line.
    The Companies were approaching this route when an Officer came running with a revolver from the area of some buildings from the right.
    The German officer was duly killed, but the fire attracted a nest of machine gunners in the area beyond.
    Bren Gun covering fire was not very effective because of the long range and the companies received rather heavy casualties getting into the railway embankment, unfortunately Company Serjeant Major GILMORE who had been invaluable throughout was mortally wounded along with Lance Corporal HOLWELL who was killed.

    Touch was made with Battalion H.Q., again and the only help they could give effectively was asked for, that of providing smoke.
    The leading platoon - Lieutenant P. DA COSTA led off with this platoon, again covering fire was not very effective because of the long range, and enemy machine gun fire very deadly.
    Lieutenant P. DA COSTA was killed leading his platoon back, Lieutenant BARTLETT took his platoon slightly left down a gully, this platoon also received casualties.
    Lieutenant BRAND took his platoon with No. 2 Company’s H.Q., attached down the railway line.
    It is time now to mention admirable work done by Corporal MORIARTY, No. 2 Company Corporal in charge Stretcher Bearers.
    He had an immensely difficult time during the night attack walking under fire and collecting wounded in the pitch dark.
    Battalion H.Q. collected all the wounded and harboured them under the railway line.
    During the morning of the 30th Lance Corporal MORIARTY again, with no consideration for his own safety, collected all the wounded, bandaged them and freed them of any pain, remaining with them all that day and night until they could be evacuated.
    He reported at about 2400 hours on the night of the 30th as if he had been on a Battalion scheme.

    Finally the time came for the covering party to retire.
    Unfortunately Guardsman TAYLOR was wounded in the leg and had to remain with the wounded.
    Both he and Guardsman MONTGOMERY did invaluable work by providing continuous fire for about an hour.
    German mortars and 88 mm. soon put down accurate fire on the railway line, one of which cut Major Sir Ian STEWART-RICHARDSON on the eye, but he remained at duty, and shortly afterwards Lieutenant PRESTON was killed.
    It was owing to admirabLe leadership of platoon and section commander, that in spite of what looked like a very ugly situation, a company could be formed immediately on reaching Battalion H.Q., and that some of the men of both companies who had been captured had been able to turn on their captors and bring them in.
    Valuable information was given to the Officer Commanding the DUKE OF WELLINGTON REGIMENT, who eventually was to carry out an attack with Tanks at approximately 1800 hours with special reference to ground he had not seen and known machine gun posts.

    Signed G.P.M. FITZGERALD, Major,
    Commanding No. 2 Company, 1st Battalion IRISH GUARDS.
     
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    APPENDIX WAR DIARY 29TH/30TH JANUARY 1944.

    An Account of the part played by No. 4 Company and Battalion H.Q., in the Night Advance of 29/20th January 1944.

    On the night of the 29th January the Battalion had formed up behind the railway embankment with No. 1 and No. 2 Companies in front and No. 4 Company and the main body of Battalion H.Q., bringing up the rear.
    At 2100 hours under cover of an artillery barrage the Battalion moved forward following the line of the railway which runs parallel to the main road.
    For three quarters of an hour all went well and the advance was fairly rapid although it was a moonless night and the only formation possible was single file.
    Apart from the firing of our own guns everything was quiet.

    By about 2150 hours we calculated we must have reached, or all but reached our allotted positions, although no contact had been made either with the enemy or our own troops.
    Just at this moment firing broke out on our left flank, simultaneously a succession of verey lights and flares lit up the ground all around, and a moment later we were being shot at and shelled with a vengeance.
    Fortunately there was a cutting straight ahead of us and this provided good cover - at least against the machine gun fire.
    After the initial surprise an all round defensive position was rapidly organized by Captain D. DRUMMOND, Commanding No. 4 Company.
    This defence was based on the cutting and around a railway man’s cottage immediately to the left and slightly in rear.
    Lieutenant BOYD, Lieutenant WHITE and Lieutenant BRAND being each made responsible for a sector.
    At this time the machine gunning and shelling of our positions continued unabated, causing several casualties, including Lance Corporal O’DONNELL (H.Q.), mortally wounded, and it seemed very possible tat this might be accompanied by an attack by infantry.
    The probability of such an eventuality made the need of our own support of first importance. In spite of continuous fire along the length of the railway line Major YOUNG and Lieutenant J.F. BELL at once set out to bring up some mortars and machine guns.

    Meanwhile wireless communications had been established with the Battalion Command Post located at the SCOTS GUARDS H.Q.
    By this means it was possible to get some idea of what had been happening to the other companies, but the situation still remained confused and Captain DRUMMOND decided to send Lieutenant LAMBERT and Serjeant BENNETT to contact the nearest Company, and thus, indirectly, it was hoped, the other two.

    The next and greatest need was to evacuate the wounded of which there were by this time about half a dozen. An attempt to do this was made by the Intelligence Officer, with two casualties, one of these a stretcher case, but an intensification of small arms fire along the railway line made any movement of this kind impossible and the project had to be abandoned.
    A little later another attempt was made by the same officer and Guardsman MILES to reach the R.A.P., and bring up a Carrier.
    This attempt was successful and just before first light all the wounded were evacuated.

    By this time the Company locality had been considerably strengthened and platoon well dug-in.
    In the darkness and owing to the inaccuracy of the map it had been difficult to pin point our whereabouts but by daylight it was possible to get a better idea of the ground and to confirm that the position we had occupied was in effect, the one intended.
     
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    From The Times, April 6, 1944:

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    The National Archives | DocumentsOnline | Image Details
     

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    | The National Archives
     

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    The National Archives | DocumentsOnline | Image Details
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    Lance-Corporal Moriarty’s name and citation appears in the publication Volunteers from Eire who have won Distinctions while serving with the British Forces. It states that he was born in DINGLE.

    Casualty Details
    :poppy: Lance Corporal MAURICE MORIARTY D.C.M., 2718497, 1st Bn., Irish Guards who died age 26 on 24 February 1944
    Son of Maurice and Elizabeth Moriarty, of Dingle, Co. Kerry, Irish Republic; husband of Mary Moriarty, of Cricklewood, Middlesex.
    Remembered with honour ANZIO WAR CEMETERY
    Grave/Memorial Reference: I, N, 6.
    CWGC :: Casualty Details

    QS


    From The Irish Independent, July 11, 1945:
     
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    1944 February 1
    With daylight came renewed shelling by the enemy.
    That they had the exact range of our position was evident from the shell holes and the bodies of the previous occupants.
    The day was spent digging new trenches and improving old ones until the Battalion locality was forfeited as strongly as possible.
    An Observation Post, to the right of Pt. 115 was established forward of our positions.
    This now manned by a detachment from No. 4 Company under the command of Lieutenant M. WHITE.
    At this point there was every indication that the role of the Brigade and of the Division as a whole, would be temporarily, at least, a static one.
    The larger strategy, as it appear, being to wait until the American Forces on the right had drawn level and had captured CISTERNA, and then to make a joint push towards the COLLI.
    During this interim period the Commanding Officer decided to take advantage of the opportunity to rest as many of the Battalion as possible by sending back relays of the Officers and Other Ranks to ‘B’ Echelon and replacing them for the time being by reinforcement personnel.

    1944 February 1 / 2
    After a comparatively peaceful night, the day of February 2nd was a very noisy one including some heavy shelling, and ground straffing by a Messerschmitt which wounded Guardsman GREY.
    During the night which followed an enemy patrol penetrated our lines and machine gunned the area of Battalion H.Q.
    In the meantime enemy infiltrations in the area of Pt. 115 and reported concentrations of troops to the North of it rendered our position then increasingly insecure.

    1944 February 2
    To counter this harassing fire the medium guns were brought to bear on the two houses in Sq. 8637 while their staircases, which were on the outside, were covered by fire by the MMGs.
    This tactic proved most successful as the enemy bolted downstairs and were caught fair and square by the MIDDLESEX machine guns.
    In all, the Battalion suffered about eight casualties during the day.

    1944 February 3
    February 3rd was as quiet as the 2nd had been noisy.
    As it seemed at the time, and as it was later to prove, it was a bad omen.
    Throughout the hours of daylight the only interesting event was that about a thousand sheep came in from the enemy lines past No. 3 Company’s position.
    In the light of subsequent events this fact, insignificant at the time, may well have been a deliberate manoeuvre of the enemy to test for A.P. mines.
    To our front the DUKES were attacked in the afternoon but with the help of some Shermans this attack was beaten off without great difficulty.
    At 1800 hours there was a Conference at Brigade about wiring and mine laying.
    The question of the defence of Pt. 115 was also raised and of whose responsibility it should be.
    It was finally decided that the Battalion should be responsible for Pt. 115 itself and the 3rd INFANTRY BRIGADE for the house on the right of it.
    This decision was soon afterwards confirmed with Brigadier JAMES, Commanding 3rd INFANTRY BRIGADE.
    At 2130 hours a Battalion ‘O’ Group was held at which all Company and D.F. tasks were checked and confirmed and arrangements made for permanent Observation Posts by day and Standing Patrols by night on Pt. 115 and about Pt. 104.
    No. 3 Company had earlier been ordered to put an Observation Post, and standing patrols out on their front in the Pt. 104 direction.
    At 2300 hours dead an exceptionally heavy barrage came down, apparently concentrated in the Battalion area and in the direction of No. 3 Company.
    This lasted for five minutes.
    It was obvious at once that this must be the prelude to an attack.
    Brigade was informed on the air and all D.F. tasks called for.
    Simultaneously the 4.2” mortars were ordered to fire their S.O.S. tasks.
    This came down between the track on which Pt. 102 and the wadi bed North East of it; and linking up with the 3” Mortar S.O.S. tasks, which was also fired, all the ground in a rectangle up to Pt. 115.
    The artillery S.O.S. tasks (Nos. 252 and 253) were temporarily withheld until the situation should have developed and were eventually called for about 2330 hours.
    In the meantime the enemy’s barrage recommenced, lasting from approximately 2308 to 2313 hours.
    But this time it appeared to have been lifted from the back.
    No. 3 Company then reported Germans all round them and said that the enemy had broken through the broad gap between their positions and the SCOTS GUARDS.
    This gap was covered by the machine guns in No. 3 Company’s area, with a platoon of No. 4 Company (Lieutenant HARCOURT) “doing longstop” between the SCOTS GUARDS and No. 3 Company.
    No. 3 Company reported the strength of the enemy as “at least one battalion”.
    In actual fact it seems fairly certain that the strength of the attack was not less than two battalions.
    At any rate it is to be hoped that the Battalion following up was properly caught by the 4.2” mortar S.O.S. task.
    At 2315 hours No. 3 Company Commander, Captain O.F. McINERNEY, reported his H.Q. in an extremely critical position and this was the last news heard from him.
    His Company was composed of No. 3 Company, the MMG Platoon, a Mortar Detachment, three of our own Anti-Tank guns and two from the Anti-Tank Regiment.
    The difficulty was to discover whether the whole company was in the same plight as Company H.Q., and there was no means of doing this.
    From subsequent reports it appears that the enemy artillery was effective in neutralising our positions until their infantry were within striking distance, who then, by sheer weight of numbers, overwhelmed the defenders.
    Some idea of the scale of the attack may be gained from Lance Corporal FAHY’s account.
    This Corporal who was with the machine guns described how the Germans “came on in a masse, very hard, thick and fast after the barrage and how the machine gunners mowed them down, but how they came on just the same ...”
    A second report which tends to corroborate Corporal FAHY’s account was given by the crew of another gun (Guardsman FLANAGAN, Guardsman NICHOLSON and Guardsman MAHONEY).
    These Guardsmen kept on firing until their ammunition was exhausted, by which time they had expended to check the enemy who appeared to come on shouting and gesticulating wildly as if doped.
    It would not do to end this account without relating when they were right on top of them three of the Germans jumped into the machine gun post, shouting “hands up Englishmen”.
    This was too much for the “Micks” and all three let fly with their fists.
    Momentarily bewildered the Germans were at a loss what to do, and by the time they had recovered their wits, the three Guardsmen had made good their escape.
    With No. 3 Company gone, the position was obviously serious as the gap between ourselves at the railway bridge and the SCOTS GUARDS was not something in the nature of 1200 yards.
    This state of affairs was explained to Brigade and the urgent necessity for reinforcement pointed out.
    Simultaneously the SCOTS GUARDS were heard passing on the same information and making the same request.
    Communications incidentally were not of the best as the Germans jammed the 22 set frequency.
    In their No. 3 Company battle the enemy made the great mistake of setting fire to a haystack, for this acted as a permanent parachute flare and each time they formed up for an attack in the light of these flames they were plastered by the gunners of the SCOTS GUARDS and the machine gunners of the MIDDLESEX REGIMENT with us.
    In the meantime it was obvious that the Germans were infiltrating in all around us and that there was little could be done to prevent this until dawn when it seemed that a couple of sweeps with infantry and a troop of tanks would clear the whole situation.
    No. 4 Company reported shelling of their positions and enemy voices and movement between them and No. 3 Company and between them and us.
    Three of the 3” mortars which had been moved further up towards Battalion H.Q., so as to get them in a more central position, then went off the air and nothing more was heard of them.
    Meanwhile, red and white flares came up from the middle of our area which appeared to give the signal to the enemy gunners “more fire but I am now here”.
    Green smoke and flares were also fired, so in order to create confusion we ourselves used fired their red and white.
    A cause for concern was our limited supplies of illuminating flares and companies were ordered to conserve these until the moon went down.
    In the area of Battalion H.Q., an all round defensive position was organised with the help of Lieutenant JARVIS and Lieutenant SERTZ with their tank busters who were given the task of covering the road in front of Battalion H.Q., with their machine guns.
    Although this was no task for them they co-operated most willingly.
    By this time the Germans had established several machine gun positions in our rear and were firing from the East end of the railway embankment, and from the sunken road area half way between No. 4 Company and Battalion H.Q.
    These guns were always a nuisance but except that they made observation and movement more difficult, and except for the fact that there was a possibility that the enemy might get close enough to throw stick grenades, there appeared to be no immediate threat to Battalion H.Q.
    And in the meantime the reserve platoon of No. 1 Company was moved up the area of the railway embankment so that we could deal with the Germans in that area in the morning.
    The tank situation was “Yes the tanks are coming, they should be with you at first light - how many? - a whole squadron”.
    So with this assurance one felt confident that the whole situation could be retrieved in a matter of hours.
    Four tank busters were also promised and did in fact arrive before first light.
    It seems that even with all the explaining, that people did not fully realise our situation, as we were asked to sent guides on several occasions.
    Captain R.N.D. YOUNG and Lance Corporal DOONAN did succeed in meeting the tank busters but were badly shot up in doing so as we had anticipated.
    These tank busters were as uncooperative as the others had been co-operative.
    Admittedly it was not their role but they made little attempt to help.
    The plan was to push two of them along with their machine guns on the turret to help No. 4 Company, and keep the other two in reserve at Battalion H.Q.
    Even with Captain YOUNG in the turret beside the tank commander next to nothing was achieved.
    But its hardly fair to criticise too much because it was definitely only nibbling at the task to send tank busters to do tanks work.
    So the situation continued until dawn with brisk exchanges of fire between Corporal CARR in a nearby house, Serjeant McCONNELL on the Bren bed a knocked-out 99 mm. and the tank busters versus four or five enemy M.G. posts.
    The tank busters also fired on the enemy in No. 3 Company’s area forming up in the light of the blazing haystack.
    The situation at dawn was so complex that it can best be described by a sketch map.
    When light came the picture became a little clearer, and it was possible to form some plan of action.
    I was decided that if one troop of tanks came that it should move down the track towards No. 4 Company with the Platoon of No. 1 Company parallel with it on the right and the Carrier Platoon on foot moving on the left.
    This would have cleared up on the bottom half, then with the Carriers coming back and mounting their Carriers they were to sweep the top (No. 3 Company’s area) with the tanks.
    Owing to the peculiar situation, to try and clear up posts with infantry alone was exceedingly difficult, since to try and attack one post always meant that one was shot in the back by another.
    With the whole day before one and the tanks in sight on the other side of the road and in rear of the unit on our right, there seemed not object in wasting valuable lives in Platoon attacks on MG posts when tanks were so close and soon to be available.
    Meantime, in the area of the house North East of the Battalion H.Q., “Tiger” and Mk IV tanks began to appear.
    That meant machine guns firing from yet another direction and they also knocked out one of the tank busters.
    However the other tank busters (the two “co-operative ones”) did great work.
    Tucked in under the railway bridge they were in a perfect position and any tank that moved to menace the troops on the right was immediately knocked out by this magnificent 3” Naval Gun.
    As far as we could see they accounted for three Mk VI and one Mk IV.
    About this time an event occurred which was to have the most serious repercussions for ourselves and to render the position of the Battalion infinitely more precarious.
    Whilst the Shermans could be clearly seen taking about a hundred prisoners in the rear of the unit on our right, in the forward positions a large body of men were soon to lay down their arms and go over to the enemy.
    There appeared to be no conceivable reason why this should have happened, and particularly so as the Germans seemed to be totally unprepared for such a turn of events.
    Whatever the explanation, the altercation that his action made to the whole situation must be too apparent to need explaining, completing as it did, with the exception of No. 1 and No. 2 Company area, the enemy’s bid to encircle and isolate us.
    However it seemed that if things happened quickly that the situation could be retrieved.
    There were as yet few Germans on the hill on the right, and it was pointed out to Brigade that if some men could be promised quickly from somewhere, they could re-occupy and hold it, especially as the tanks were close behind.
    In reply the Battalion was asked if it could undertake this task.
    There were at that time about forty men at Battalion H.Q. who could probably have re-captured the hill, but would scarcely have been sufficiently strong to hold it.
    The second alternative was to get at least a troop of tanks, and with those to clear up our site first, and then to send No. 4 Company to take over, temporarily, the hill in question.
    Unfortunately neither fresh troops came to deal with our right flank nor did even a troop out of the squadron of tanks arrive at the pre-arranged Rendez-Vous under the bridge, as ordered.
    Brigade was informed of this fact and it was pointed out, that unless our right flank could be sourced within half an hour, our position would become untenable.
    In the meantime a look-out was being kept for the tanks, but none seemed to arrive, and already the Germans were establishing spandau posts in their new positions and had begun to rake the railway bridge with fire.
    Back in Battalion H.Q.’s gully the same guns were making life most unhealthy and it was decided to move to a position West of the railway bridge.
    Whilst this was going on No. 4 Company had been warned to be prepared to counter-attack up towards Battalion H.Q. - which it was later ordered to do.
    The new position however on the other side of the railway bridge was not much improvement on the gully and, after consultation with Major Sir Ian STEWART-RICHARDSON (No. 1 Company) it was decided that the best course would be to fight through to the SCOTS GUARDS and take up a position on their right.
    No. 4 Company were sent this message and No. 1 Company was ordered to warn No. 2 Company and the MIDDLESEX machine gunners in their area.
    As it later transpired, Sir Ian STEWART-RICHARDSON was seriously wounded before he was able to pass on this information and the message never reached No. 2 Company or the machine gunners.
    These machine gunners, under Lieutenant MORTIMER of the MIDDLESEX REGIMENT, fought most gallantry throughout the whole action and inflicted, as elsewhere recorded, very heavy casualties on the enemy, besides silencing seven enemy M.G. positions.
    Battalion H.Q. the Carrier Platoon has soon formed up in the road running North and South on the West of the railway line and with casualties occurring more and more frequently, it seemed no time for “dilly-dallying”.
    105 mm. shells were coming down on to the bridge and one of those accounted for about ten men alone.
    In addition to this an enemy tank had got in to a position from which it could fire straight up the road under the railway bridge and had killed or wounded three men in No. 1 Company.
    The original plan had been for the carriers to go up the road and along past No. 3 Company’s position, with No. 1 and No. 2 Company’s combined, moving back in extended order West of the railway line with Battalion H.Q. in rear and No. 4 Company on the East of it.
    This now appeared impracticable with the tanks’ 88 mm. dominating the road (the tank busters had left by this time) and the prospect of going along the railway line machine gunned from all sides was a most unsavoury one.
    The only other way out of “what appeared a rather impossible position” was for Battalion H.Q. and the company groups to withdraw independently.
    This plane was eventually decided upon, and after informing Brigade the withdrawal began.
    From this moment onwards a series of events occurred, at first sight bewildering by their rapidity and apparent irrelevancy, any detailed account of which would spoil and distort the perspective of the whole.
    It is however possible to give a brief picture of what were for some of us the most eventful two hours of the whole campaign.
    At the same time that Battalion H.Q. began to make its way back towards No. 4 Company, this Company under command of Lieutenant T.C. KEIGWIN had already begun the first phase of a counter-attack up to the former Battalion H.Q. position in the gully, believing this position to be still held and not having received the last wireless message to withdraw.
    Between these two small forces, moving in opposite directions and entirely unaware of one another, the ground was held by a scattered but numerically far superior enemy.
    It was, therefore, not long before both parties were involved in a series of hectic engagements.
    In every one of these local encounters the IRISH GUARDS were decisively victorious.
    No. 4 Company killed twelve Germans and took one hundred and fifty prisoners; whilst Battalion H.Q. led by Major D.M.L. GORDON-WATSON M.C. accounted for another score either killed or wounded, besides several prisoners.
    Our own losses were, in comparison, negligible.
    About this time the Battalion H.Q. party was involved in an incident which typified the stat of flux of the whole battle.
    Owing to the narrowness and many twists of the gullies which led South, the party had to move in single file, and it so happened that while the head of the column was putting Germans to flight and taking others prisoner, the roar found itself surrounded and cut off by more of the enemy.
    This half of Battalion H.Q. now found themselves prisoners, and were compelled to turn North again and march up past the railway bridge towards the FORESTERS positions.
    Quite rightly the FORESTERS began shooting across the front of the party which was very mixed, to prevent the Germans getting through.
    The position was so ludicrous that Captain S.H. COMBE picked up a rifle that was lying on the ground and shot his own particular guard.
    He then picked up a Tommy gun and killed five more.
    In the end, of the thirty guards, twenty were killed and nine prisoners handed over to the FORESTERS.
    The “Micks” and others broke and ran; most under Lieutenant John BELL stayed and fought it out with the FORESTERS.
    Captain COMBE and Captain YOUNG, Lieutenant GRACE, Major STREATFIELD, M.C., ROYAL ARTILLERY and a FORESTERS Officer with ten guardsmen and a few others, then went South back down the others, then went South back down the railway, and once again reached the railway bridge where they found two carriers still intact.
    These they piled into and going “flat out” up the track past the No. 3 Company positions reached the GRENADIERS lines.
    Meanwhile what remained of the original Battalion H.Q. party - ‘the head of the column’ consisting only of the Second-in-Command, Lance Corporal DODD, Lance Corporal ROSS, and Guardsman O’SHEA, D.C.M., had made good progress and had been fortunate to contact No. 4 Company coming in the opposite direction along the line of the main road.
    It was obvious that any further advance of No. 4 Company would be most costly and could effect little by itself.
    The Second-in-Command ordered Lieutenant KEIGWIN to withdraw to a position behind a bank near the R.A.P.
    Simultaneously with the events described No. 1 and No. 3 Companies, under Lieutenant VESEY and Lieutenant AIKENHEAD had started to fight their way back East of the railway.
    The fire was back East of the railway.
    The fire was very heavy here and it is to be feared that the casualties from M.G. fire and from the 88 mm. on the tank firing under the bridge must have been high.
    Out of a combined total of about two hundred and sixty men only half of them reached safety.
    Finally, there is little more to tell.
    No. 4 Company remained in position as a firm base, whilst the LONDON SCOTTISH attacked and the Battalion re-formed that night in reserve behind the GRENADIERS.
    Our own casualties which reached hospital during the day numbered three Officers and forty Other Ranks wounded.
    APPENDIX


    1944 February 4
    Back at ‘B’ Echelon the first repercussions of the events at ‘the front’ began to make themselves felt at about 1300 hours when Major G.P.M. FITZGERALD received a message from the Commanding Officer, who was at Brigade at the time, instructing him to form a company of all available personnel at ‘B’ Echelon.
    This was done speedily and a new No. 2 Company was formed.
    A few hours later another message from the Commanding Officer arrived ordering the Signal Officer, Intelligence Officer and now Company complete with Officers to concentrate in what had formerly been Brigade H.Q. and was, in fact, about a mile behind our own original H.Q. at the embankment.
    This Battalion was to occupy a reserve position behind the GRENADIERS and NORTH STAFFS and there to re-form.
    The actual site of this position was in and around a series of caves cut deep into the side of a low hill which went by the name of the CAVA DI POZZOCANA and already partially occupied by Italian refugees from ANZIO.
    During the first hours of darkness numbers of men, who had escaped from the Germans or had got separated from their Companies during the battle began to come in.

    1944 February 5
    By first light the Battalion was about two hundred and seventy strong (including the reserves that had come up from ‘B’ Echelon.
    This number was re-inforced by a further 80 during the day made up of those who had found their way back to ‘B’ Echelon during the night and from various sources.
    The Commanding Officer decided to try and make up to strength No.s 1, 2 and 4 Companies, to be each about 80 strong and No. 3 Company was to be made up as soon as the men became available.
    The only operational commitment of the Battalion at this point was the protection of its own left flank.
    The night passed quietly.

    1944 February 6
    During the day the Battalion improved its positions in the area of the caves.
    At about 1100 hours the Divisional Commander paid us a visit and from him we were able to gain some idea of the general strategy.
    For ourselves this meant “sitting-tight” and being prepared to repel any German counter attack.
    Emphasis was again laid on the main drive of the 5th ARMY and it was though that a new offensive was about to begin in this quarter.
    Deficiencies in arm were largely made up in the afternoon when an assignment of Brens, rifles and T.S.M.Gs was sent up.
    But losses in Anti-Tank guns and Mortars were still to be made good not only in material but in men.
    In addition to our own local protection we were given a task in the form of a counter attack role on to the NORTH STAFFS who were in position due North of us.
    A recce was made of the route to and from their area just before dark by the Commanding Officer and Company Commanders.
    In the matter of our own defences:
    No. 1 Company was allotted to the locality of the Yellow Farm (known subsequently as Carrier Farm) on the high ground on the left;
    whilst No. 2 Company was made responsible for the area of the Caves.
    The former position was manned full strength by night and by one platoon by day.
    (This position also included an excellent Observation Post).
    At 2230 hours No. 4 Company under Captain DRUMMOND left the Battalion area to come under command of the SCOTS GUARDS and to help to strengthen the defences North of the embankment, where they were allotted a position between the railway line and main road, and just to the North of APRILLA Station.
    In the meantime a warning order had been received from Division which said that there were indications that an enemy attack with tanks might be expected about 0400 hours 7th February.

    1944 February 7
    The anticipated attack did not materialise and the night passed quietly.
    About 0400 hours we received four Prisoners of War II Bn IR from the NORTH STAFFS captured by one of their patrols.
    From one of these who spoke English and was very willing to talk, we learnt that the enemy on our left was thin on the ground and their Companies much under strength.
    The day passed with a rather ominous lack of activity, and all remained apparently peaceful until darkness fell again.
    And then at about 2200 hours the NORTH STAFFS were heard on the air announcing an attack in strength by the enemy on their left flank.

    2200 - 2400 hours
    The situation in this sector - to the North and North West of us rapidly deteriorated and the enemy was reported to have over-run all but one of the NORTH STAFFS Company positions.
    Their Battalion H.Q. also reported themselves to be surrounded although still operating.
    The threat to our own forward and left hand positions thus became very real and a general Stand-To was ordered.
    Every man capable of bearing arms and not urgently required as a runner or signaller was allotted a defensive position and all the entrances to Battalion H.Q., and Company positions in the Caves were blocked.
    Soon after midnight the situation at the NORTH STAFFS H.Q. was reported to be very critical and the Battalion was asked to send a Company to reinforce them.
    In view of No. 4 Company’s commitment with the SCOTS GUARDS and our already very stretched defences, the Commanding Officer was most unwilling to let go another Company.
    One did however set out soon afterwards, two platoons strong, under command Captain C.D.P. O’COCK.
    As a result of the confused situation in the NORTH STAFFS area it was sometime before No. 1 Company was able to establish contact, but the last information received indicated that this contact had been made with the left forward company of the NORTH STAFFS and that this was in accordance with the wishes of their Commanding Officer.
    There was no further contact of any sort between Battalion H.Q., and No. 1 Company.
    About the same time that No. 1 Company set out to the relief of the NORTH STAFFS on our left, our right flank was being reinforced by the withdrawal to posts South of the bridge of the 504 U.S. Para Regiment.
    Contact between ourselves and the Americans was immediately established by means of line telephone.
    In the meantime the GRENADIERS on the line of the railway bed were being engaged from all angles with the enemy endeavouring to isolate their Company positions and to break between them and us and to cut the main road.
    This attempt was not successful and not Germans reached the main road.
    They did however held on to the positions they had reached as a result of their initial infiltration, and thus provided a menace to the GRENADIERS rear and our own front.
    To restore this situation it was decided to make a sweep of the battle area with two companies of the 504 Para Regiment, and about a squadron of British Tanks.
    The Battalion , such as it was, was to provide the cover for this operation supported by several U.S. S.P. guns whch had been placed under our command.
    At approximately 0600 hours the final arrangements were made, and the Commanding Officer had made contact with Colonel Freeman of the Paratroops and the Colonel of the tank regiment.
    Just before the first light of a red dawn, the tanks passed along the main road and took up a position in the neighbourhood of the bridge.
    Fairly soon afterwards the 504 Paratroop moved up in support.
    Fighting continued throughout the day, the Paratroops doing excellent work and established contact with the GRENADIERS before mid-day.
    1330 hours Meanwhile on our left the ground was still held by the enemy.
    To clear up this situation a counter attack was launched at 1330 hours against the old NORTH STAFFS position by the FORESTERS on the left, and the K.S.L.I. on the right.
    The results of this counter attack were not very clear and it was sometime before the new dispositions of these two battalions of the 3 I.B., were confirmed.
    Night By nightfall the fighting had quietened down and an opportunity was provided for the forming of a rough defensive line South of the railway composed of ourselves, the Paratroops and what remained of the GRENADIERS.
    No. 2 Company moved forward and right of around “Ration Farm” and provided the link between ourselves and the paratroops.

    1944 February 8 / 9
    In addition a mobile patrol was provided by what remained of the Carrier Platoon under Lieutenant BOYD with the task of patrolling up and down the main road and ‘liaising’ between the paratroop H.Q., at the level crossing, a couple of hundred yards East of “Ration Farm”, and the main force of paratroops in the area of the embankment.
    Rather unexpected an intensification of enemy shelling began about 2 a.m. - in preparation it seemed for another attack by infantry.
    This however did not materialize and after a time the shelling died down.

    1944 February 9
    About breakfast time shelling recommended and continued intermittently throughout the day.
    For the first time since we arrived in the Caves the enemy began to fire air-bursts.
    These were effect in killing Serjeant O’CONNELL and wounding slightly Lieutenant A.N. BELL in an Observation Post position in Ration Farm.
    The arrival of a couple of tank busters brought down an increased fire on the area of Battalion H.Q. which continued until they withdrew and took up a position in some dead ground in the area of Carrier Farm.
    Apart from this artillery activity the day was uneventful in our sector.

    1944 February 9 / 10
    During the night there was little activity South of the embankment, but North of it and particularly in the area of the SCOTS GUARDS the enemy, supported by tanks made a fierce attempt to gain ground, and the situation remained confused.
    With the coming of daylight the situation seemed to have improved, although it was learned that the ‘factory’ at CARROCETO had been reoccupied by the Germans.
    The day was marked by a rapid deterioration in the weather and for almost the first time since the leading, rain began to fall heavily making the ground outside the Caves very thick and heavy with mud.
    During the morning the SCOTS GUARDS and GRENADIER GUARDS combined their H.Q.s behind the embankment.
    In the afternoon the Divisional Commander paid another visit to the Battalion and had a long talk with the Commanding Officer.
    Just before dark the Battalion sent out a small patrol to investigate an Italian farm to the South West of our position, under the guidance of an Italian civilian who alleged that it was occupied by Fascist Officers operating a wireless transmitting set.
    The patrol returned about 1900 hours but had been unable to find the Fascists.

    1944 February 10 - 11
    The night of the 10/11 was again a fairly quiet one for the Battalion.
    In the earlier part of it the D.W.R. began to relieve the GRENADIER GUARDS and SCOTS GUARDS in the area of the embankment.
    This relief was effected successfully with the exception of our own No. 4 Company.
    Owing to difficulties of inter-communication it had been impossible for the SCOTS GUARDS H.Q. to effect satisfactory contact with No. 4 Company and inform them of what was about to take place.
    From subsequent reports it appears probable that this Company, which had for four days held an isolated forward positions against repeated attempts at infiltration, found itself on the night of the 9/10 February, cut off from the remainder of the Battalion by the German tank and infantry attack, and was in the same position as Battalion H.Q. being unable to establish contact either physically or by wireless.
    With the withdrawal of the GRENADIER GUARDS and SCOTS GUARDS into reserve, the Battalion came under command of the 3rd INFANTRY BRIGADE.

    1944 February 11
    The heaviest fighting of the eleventh developed on the right where the 45 U.S. Division made an attempt to recapture the factory.
    Even so the German gunners did not neglect to give us some of their attention and the Battalion area was shelled at intervals throughout the day.
    This shelling had been becoming increasingly accurate and Ration Farm in particular was badly ‘pasted’, causing several casualties, including Lieutenant A.N. BELL, this time seriously wounded.
    During the day two small patrols were sent out.
    The first of these (Guardsman ELLIOT and Guardsman McCRACKEN, No. 3 Company) was sent out to locate an enemy sniper who had been troubling the platoon in Carrier Farm.
    The second, Guardsman MONTGOMERY and Guardsman ADAMSON, guided by Vittorio, the Italian, made a second, and this time successful attempt, to locate the so-called Fascist Spies.
    They returned to Battalion H.Q. with their prize - an unimpressive looking little Italian Army Captain, his aide, and an Alsatian dog.
    After a lengthy deliberation the Adjutant decided not to shoot them and they were passed on to Brigade H.Q.
    Towards dark the weather, which had been generally bad for forty-eight hours, began to improve and by the time the Quartermaster arrived with the rations, it had stopped raining although the ground was still very wet and inches deep in mud.

    1944 February 12
    This attack was successful and largely recovered their old positions, the possession of which was not challenged during the remainder of the day.
    The morning which followed was one of the quietest the Battalion had spent in the Caves.
    This may have been intended to give greater effect to the shower of propaganda leaflets which the enemy shot over at about 1000 hours, urging us to lay down our arms.
    This was an amusing diversion which helped to pass the morning, and the leaflets themselves came in very useful, as the Commanding Officer pointed out, for purposes other than those originally intended.
    By way of immediate reply it seemed, several waves of American bombers, forty or fifty in all, flew overhead and a couple of minutes later could be heard dropping their loads in the direction of CAMPOLEONE.
    During the afternoon we learned that we were to be relieved that night by the GORDONS.
    The relief was completed by 2230 hours without incident; and the Battalion returned by march route to the flyover (CAMPO DI CARNE) an thence by truck to ‘B’ Echelon in the same woods in which we had spent our first night in the bridgehead.

    1944 February 13
    Ever since the earliest days after the landing the Battalion had had an operational role - and this without respite.
    As a result, although in good spirits, the Battalion was extremely tired, and the first couple of days after the return to ‘B’ Echelon were spent very quietly.

    1944 February 14
    At 1230 hours the Battalion was visited by General ALEXANDER.
    He told us that he had made it his first concern to come and see the Battalion as soon as he had landed.
    He also congratulated the Battalion on its “fine performance” in what was a “very tough slogging match”, and promised that the time would come when the enemy would be permanently on the defensive.

    1944 February 15
    After a noisy night with a good deal of long-range shelling and bombing of gun sites - which were all to near at hand - another beautiful day came with a warm sun and blue skies.
    Those who had not already done so began to ‘dig themselves in’ as far as the marshy soil would allow, reinforcing what remained above ground with sandbags, faggots, earth, doors from bombed houses in ANZIO and whatever was available.
    Apart from this type of activity the day was spent quietly.
    Companies hold rifle and kit inspections and began to try and sort things out.

    Another very interrupted night’s sleep was followed in the early hours of the morning by a bombing attack on gun positions and ammunition dumps to the South of us.
    About 1030 hours the Brigadier (Brigadier Malcolm ERSKINE) sent for the Commanding Officer to reconnoitre a counter attack and emergency role which the Battalion was required to fill immediately.
    The role was to stop any attempt at infiltration through the woods to the West and South of the Fly-over, or alternatively to be prepared to counter-attack the positions of the LONDON SCOTTISH immediately South of the lateral road connecting with the Flyover, and about a thousand yards to the West of it.
    By 1300 hours the Battalion consisting of two composite Companies - a combined No. 1 and No. 3 Company under command Major D.M. KENNEDY, and a combined No. 2 and No. 4 Company under command Major G.P.M. FITZGERALD - with 2 mortars in support, had established themselves astride a track which rang North East across our front.
    Unfortunately the ground was very low-lying and wet which made it impossible to dig in satisfactorily.
    Another drawback to the Battalion locality was that it was situated directly in front of a very active troop of twenty-five pounders.
    However there was no help for it and the Battalion settled down as best it could.

    1944 February 16
    For sheer noise alone the previous night spent at B Echelon paled by comparison.
    Our own guns fired incessantly and the enemy’s C.B. artillery grew correspondingly more active.
    An attack was also made by a small number of enemy aircraft which dropped bombs near gun positions on either side of us.
    As a result of the shelling several casualties were sustained at Battalion H.Q., including Guardsman GILBERT (H.Q. Company) killed, Lieutenant F.S. COLLIN (Signal Officer) and Lieutenant R.C. TAYLOR wounded, besides Corporal KERR and Corporal HARRISON also wounded.

    1944 February 17
    Fortunately another very fine dry day, and good use was made of the opportunity to improve and reinforce our slit trenches.
    During the afternoon Company and Platoon Commanders made a reconnaissance of the route from the Battalion area to the LONDON SCOTTISH.
    The situation there seemed to be satisfactorily under the control of a combined battalion of LONDON SCOTTISH and LONDON IRISH.
    From our point of view and the point of view of a counter-attacking force, the chief difficulty seemed to be the route between our two positions.
    For in addition to being a very long one, the only practicable path lay through low-lying brush covered woodland at several points ankle-deep in mud and at others almost impassable as a result of the recent ruins.

    1944 February 17 / 18
    The night was suspiciously quiet, until, a few hours before dawn, the Germans began to range on our flanks with six-barrelled mortars.

    1944 February 18
    About daylight a further outbreak of shelling by the enemy caused us several casualties including Guardsman IRVINE (Support Company) and one other Guardsman killed.
    This shelling continued at intervals throughout the day.
    Early in the afternoon a reconnaissance was made of the route from the Battalion area to the GORDONS, and later the Commanding Officer, Intelligence Officer and Company Commanders paid a visit to the GORDONS H.Q., narrowly missing being dive-bombed on the way.
    Arrangements were made for counter-attack and emergency roles and for the most effective employment of our tow companies if and when the situation should demand it.
    To all appearances the situation was quiet and promised to remain so.
    But at about 2100 hours the GORDONS reported the threat of an attack in the neighbourhood of the flyover and on the left of the road.
    As this thread appeared to be genuine the Commanding Officer ordered Major FITZGERALD and Major KENNEDY to move their companies over towards the main road and take up a position on the edge of the wood covering the GORDONS’s rear.
    The Commanding Officer meanwhile established a temporary Observation Post at the GORDONS H.Q.

    1944 February 18 / 19
    A cable had already been laid between the GORDONS H.Q. and our own and an additional one was then laid to Major KENNEDY’s H.Q. in the wood which was also to be advanced Battalion H.Q.
    At 2230 hours the Germans began to shell the edge of the wood on both sides of the road with unprecedented violence, and soon afterwards there were reports that they were making desperate efforts to establish themselves on the right of the flyover.
    But in all these attempts they were resisted most resolutely by the LOYALS.
    In the meantime there was nothing for the Battalion to do but to dig in as hard as possible, for the shelling had already taken toll of No. 2 Company.
    But once again the ground was very sodden and it was impossible to dig down more than six inches without coming to water.

    1944 February 19
    Shelling continued until nearly daylight by which time the fighting around the flyover had died down.
    The initiative then passed to the Allies and a very heavy barrage by our guns prepared the way for an advance by tanks and infantry of the 1st U.S. Armoured Division up the right flank towards CARROCETO.
    In view of this improvement in the general situation it was possible to withdraw No. 3 Company from behind the GORDONS area to its original position.
    No. 2 Company however remained temporarily where it had been during the night until the machine gunners of Support Company had settled themselves in a suitable position to cover by fire the ground previously held by the two rifle companies - i.e. the road and flat ground between the edge of the wood and the flyover.
    During the morning the American Armoured Division made fairly good progress on the right, and in our own sector the remainder of the day passed comparatively quietly.
    Before nightfall the commitments of the Battalion were further reduced; and we were made responsible only for the defence of our area.
    In rear of the GORDONS the position previously occupied by us, was to be made secure by a unit of the 45 American Infantry Division.

    1944 February 19 / 20
    A certain amount of shelling and bombing during the night, but none of it very close.
    By comparison it was a quiet night.

    1944 February 20 / 21
    The day of the 20th was fine and passed uneventfully as did the night following it.

    1944 February 21
    At mid-day the Battalion was visited by Brigadier A. CLIVE, D.S.O., M.C., who had just assumed command of the Brigade.
    He first addressed Officers and N.C.Os at Battalion H.Q. and then went to each Company in turn.
    He emphasized the importance of every one having the latest and fullest information possible about the battle, from the most senior Officer to the newest Guardsman and promised that he would do all in his power to see that this was so.
    Of our own future and the future of the Brigade he seemed confident.
    Our role was a static one and there was the prospect of being relieved in the near future.
    It came therefore as a great surprise when at about 1330 hours it was intimated that the Battalion would be required to relieve an American Battalion (II/VI) in the gullies on the left of the main road and North West of the flyover, even although there was the assurance that this change of plan had ‘no operational significance’.
    Owing to the very open nature of the ground no reconnaissance of our future positions was possible by daylight, and any sign of movement on our part forward of the wood instantly brought about an intensification of shelling.
    However, it was arranged that the Americans should provide guides on the edge of the wood to await Battalion H.Q. and the two rifle companies.
    Soon after dark the ‘take-over’ began.
    No. 2 and No. 3 Companies and Battalion H.Q. moving up independently.
    By 2030 hours Battalion H.Q. had established itself along with the Americans at their C.P. in an overgrown hollow on the right of a small bridge.
    Up to this point there had been no interference by the enemy but a few minutes later with the arrival of No. 2 Company heavy and accurate shelling began all around the bridge and on the flat ground above the hollow, causing a number of casualties including Lieutenant HARCOURT seriously wounded.

    1944 February 21 / 22
    After a little time the shelling stopped and No. 2 Company was able to push on again.
    In the meantime No. 3 Company had been moving on ahead, and, following a small track, had all but reached its position, when by an almost incredible stroke of ill luck, it was spotted and bombed by a low-flying German aircraft.
    The effects of this attack were upwards of twenty casualties in killed and wounded.
    It was not until after midnight that the relief was finally completed, and companies were able to report themselves in position.

    1944 February 22
    Daylight came and it was possible to get a better idea of the ground.
    It looked flat, and featureless, except for a few battered houses and burnt out tanks, and gave the false impression of being utterly deserted.
    The day passed slowly and only when there was movement did the firing recommence.
    The role of the Battalion was essentially a defensive one with the task of blocking any attempt by the enemy to infiltrate either towards the flyover or towards the lateral road behind us.
    Both these things the Germans made repeated and determined efforts to do - but without success, thanks not least, to the most effective cooperation of our gunners.

    1944 February 22 / 23
    In marked contrast to the inactivity of the day, the enemy began to shell the Battalion positions with an intensity greater even than that with which he had met our arrival on the previous night.
    This shelling, which lasted about 1/2 hours, reached its fiercest pitch around the area of Battalion H.Q. and the R.A.P.
    By 2130 hours it began to diminish, and ten minutes later the Brigade Commander arrived with orders for the Commanding Officer to strengthen the Battalion position.
    This was not easy in view of our greatly depleted numbers and the only possible solution was to consider Battalion H.Q. as primarily a fighting force and to move it up into a position alongside No. 2 Company in the gully.
    This course was agreed upon and the Brigadier promised to get together a platoon out of the remaining personnel at ‘B’ Echelon and send it up immediately.
    Soon after midnight Battalion H.Q. less the R.A.P., began to move out of the hollow.
    The move was effected at intervals in three lots headed by a small advance party with the Commanding Officer, a little later the Adjutant followed with the main body of Battalion H.Q. and after him Major H.L.S. YOUNG with the wireless sets and gunner Forward Observation Officer.
    Just before the third party left the Quartermaster arrived bringing with him the rations, water and the reinforcement platoon under command Lieutenant CHICHESTER-CLARKE.
    By this time it was nearly 0200 hours and as the situation did not seem favourable for the issue of rations it was decided to dump them in the hollow with the R.A.P. until them in the hollow with the R.A.P. until the following night.
    As we learned later the Quartermaster’s truck got a direct hit from an 88 mm. very soon after leaving the R.A.P.
    Fortunately, however, the Quartermaster himself and the Staff Captain (Captain D HAGUE, M.C.) were together in the front and escaped with minor injuries, but the occupants in the rear of the truck, the majority of whom were Germans captured by No. 3 Company, were either killed outright or fatally wounded.
    Our own casualties were Drill Serjeant ROONEY, M.M., wounded, and Corporal BROADBENT killed.

    1944 February 22 - 23
    The transfer of Battalion H.Q. to the area of No. 2 Company proceeded satisfactorily and by first light a position had been organised and manned to protect the Southern end of the gully the Northern end of which was defended by No. 2 Company.

    1944 February 23
    Another day came and No. 3 Company was kept very busy with a succession of attempts by the enemy to penetrate East and South East.
    In the area of the Gully No. 2 Company captured three Germans who had lost their way and were hiding up.
    Spasmodic artillery fire caused a small number of casualties, and an unlucky shell, which fell in the Gully itself, seriously wounded the gunner Forward Observation Officer and killed his batman.
    In the afternoon it began to rain and the water which had lain in the bed of the gully when we arrived rapidly mounted, swamping out low-lying slit trenches.
    As a result of the rain the batteries of the Brigade wireless set refused to work and the only communication with Brigade was through a spare 18 set operated by Captain S.H. COMBE, at rear Battalion H.Q. on the edge of the wood South of the lateral road.
    By this means we learned that an attack was to be put in during the night on our left flank which was to pass through No. 3 Company and clear up the enemy in this area.
    This attack was to be put in by the 2/6 QUEENS - known by the code-name of Devishes.
    This information was confirmed by Lieutenant G.K. HOOD who arrived from Brigade at about 2000 hours.
    This news was particularly important to No. 3 Company which had been in almost continual contact with the enemy since the night of 21 / 22 and had inevitably suffered a fairly high proportion of casualties.
    At 2100 hours the rations, including the much needed wireless batteries, arrived at the R.A.P. and were collected by a carrying party.
    On their return journey this combined Battalion H.Q. and No. 2 Company party was surprised by an enemy patrol but succeeded in getting through.

    1944 February 23 - 24
    The night wore on and there was no sign of the QUEENS but rather of renewed enemy activity and about 0200 hours it seemed that an attempt would be made to isolate our position.
    In the meantime reports from No. 3 Company indicated a similar development in that sector.
    But an hour or so later the ‘Devishes’ had begun their sweep and had contacted No. 3 Company.
    After this the enemy apparently decided against any further offensive action, and the remainder of the night passed without incident.
    When daylight came the Commanding Officer of the QUEENS visited Battalion H.Q. and explained the dispositions of his companies.
    One of these had occupied a position near to No. 3 Company during the night and this had enabled the Commanding Officer to send back No. 3 Company to the area previously occupied by Battalion H.Q., thus filling the gap between our rear and the lateral road.

    1944 February 24
    The gully was again shelled during the morning and there were several casualties.
    At about 1300 hours a message was received in code which confirmed that the Battalion would be relieved during the night by the D.W.Rs.
    After this the day passed with inevitable slowness, but eventually the light failed and at 1845 hours soon as it was dark, the Commanding Officer and part of Battalion H.Q. returned to the R.A.P. to await the arrival of the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant CColonel WEBB-CARTER, D.S.O., and the H.Q. of the DUKES.
    This party, followed afterwards by the remainder of the Battalion, arrived at 2130 hours and was shelled just as we had been four nights previously.

    1944 February 24 - 25
    By mid-night the take over had been successfully completed, although interference by enemy artillery had been very vicious and B Company of the DUKES had had several casualties before reaching the gully.
    In the gully itself several shells had scored direct hits, causing momentary confusion which was magnified by the narrowness of the place, the congestion, and the fact that the mud and water was sometimes knee deep.
    After a time however this shelling subsided and an opportunity was given to the relieving Battalion to re-organise itself.
    This it splendidly did, and No. 2 Company and the remainder of Battalion H.Q. were enabled to withdraw; first to R.A.P. and thence back through the woods to B Echelon.

    1944 February 25 - 27
    The Battalion came out of the line in the early hours of the 25 February, and did not again take part in any active operations in the bridgehead.

    There were times, however, during the next 10 days when it seemed very possible that the Brigade might be committed in support of 56 DIVISION, and this appeared increasingly likely when the date on which we were to have sailed was postponed, and when the GRENADIERS came under command of 167 BRIGADE.
    Fortunately, however, this postponement was not a long one and on 7th March the Battalion embarked for NAPLES.
    Before sailing we were addressed by the Division Commander, Major General W.R.C. PENNEY, C.B., C.B.E., D.S.O., M.C., who bid us God Speed and Good Luck.
    Referring to the part played by the 24 GUARDS BRIGADE in the bridgehead, General PENNEY applied the famous dictum of our PRIME MINISTER that ‘Never was so much owed by so many to so few’.
     
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    From The History of the Irish Guards in the Second World War; FitzGerald

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    THE BRITISH ARMY IN ITALY 1944 | Imperial War Museums
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    THE BRITISH ARMY IN ITALY 1944 | Imperial War Museums
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    Last edited: May 17, 2018
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    APPENDIX
    ACCOUNT OF THE ACTION OF No. 4 COMPANY, 1st BATTALION IRISH GUARDS, FEBRUARY 3/4, 1944.

    (By order of Major D.M.L. GORDON-WATSON, M.C., Second-in-Command, 1st Battalion IRISH GUARDS.

    To: Major D.M.L. GORDON-WATSON, M.C.
    From: Lieutenant T.C. KEIGWIN, No. 4 Company, 1st Battalion IRISH GUARDS


    At 2300 hours the enemy’s barrage began.
    Although most of it was directed at No. 3 Company in front of us, we had our fair share from guns of all calibres.
    It was evident also that small parties of the enemy had infiltrated across the railway lie, for as soon as the initial concentrations were over, burst after burst of L.M.G. fire came whipping through our position from all directions.
    Fortunately we had just completed a telephone line to Lieutenant HARCOURT’s forward platoon and he was able to give us a running commentary on what he could hear of the attack on No. 3 Company’s position.
    He said he could hear them shouting and yelling “Seig Heil, Gott mit uns, and Gott, Gott, etc”, and reported that the haystacks had been set alight.
    I fully expected that we should be attacked any minute, particularly after No. 3 Company went off the air.
    Lieutenant HARCOURT reported a body of enemy moving across the dip towards the railway line, and he engaged enemy moving across the dip towards the railway line, and he engaged them with H.E., from his 2” Mortar.
    This appeared to cause shouts of alarm and despondency. We also put up flares from time to time, although we had to husband them, and I think the enemy realised that our position was fairly strong.
    At any rate when dawn came he had made no attempt to assault our position, and contented himself with shelling and continuous sniping from all sides.
    At first light I established an Observation Post in the top room of the house, manned by Guardsman DONALDSON, and either Lieutenant DODDS, Lieutenant BOYD (whose 6-Pounder was in our area), or myself were up there most of the morning.
    From there we could see the enemy crawling about in groups and firing on No. 1 and No. 2 Companies’ area.
    I tried to get the gunners on to this target but with limited success, as i suppose they had to go carefully with their ammunition.
    The greatest tragedy was that the 3” Mortars had been moved out of our area an hour before the attack began, and were caught on the hop.
    At about 10 o’clock I spoke again to Captain COMBE on the “18” set and he assured me that the Battalion had been promised tank support immediately and that they would soon sweep the ground between ul [sic] clear of their way. -
    “No, they have not yet actually arrived, but are on their way.”
    Then the wireless, so carefully nursed all night by Guardsman BUCKLEY, broke down.
    At last, an hour later, we got it going again, and on getting through to the Adjutant again I was told that the tanks had not arrived and that the situation had greatly deteriorated.
    I was ordered to concentrate the Company, and fight my way forward to help Battalion H.Q.
    From the top window I could see the enemy machine gun posts dotted all over the field on both sides of the railway line, and I decided that it would be quite impossible to go straight up to the bridge.
    Our tanks had now established themselves on a firing line East of us near the main road, and I decided to try and work around to the right by the main road and then bear left handed up the gully to the bridge.

    No. 17 Platoon managed to withdraw to us without casualties although several men were shot at; and within a quarter of an hour we were on our way; we moved with Lieutenant DODD’s Platoon (16) in front, then 18 and 17 in the rear.
    We just skirted the tanks who were firing hard at the Germans on the skyline near No. 3 Company’s late position, and then moved along the left hand side of the main road.

    We had gone about 200 yards beyond the tanks, when we branched off left handed up the gully, which was very overgrown.
    We ran straight into a large body of Germans and after a few bursts of Bren and Tommy gun fire about 40 ran out with their hands up.
    The Company were elated by this and we proceeded to winkle them out at a great pace.
    Lance Sergeant WEIR’s section greatly distinguished themselves on the left, and then we began to meet with stiffer opposition, the enemy had a tremendous number of M.G. 34’s, about one to every three men, and we began to have casualties.
    I could see that we had little chance of getting any further frontally, so I sent 17 Platoon, the only one not committed, across the main road, with the intention of getting forward on the rising ground, and shooting up the enemy from the right flank.
    Lieutenant HARCOURT led the Platoon around with great dash, and the Germans in the gully in front of us proceeded to pull out, several more giving themselves up.
    Germans now began to appear from their holes all over the place, and Lieutenant HARCOURT’s Platoon ran into at least another company in the olive grove on the right.
    Lance Corporal FORAN was killed after doing great execution himself.
    It was at this stage I was told that Major GORDON-WATSON was on the road on my right.
    I knew then for the first time that Battalion H.Q. must have been over-run, and ordered the Company to concentrate in the ditches near the road.
    I sent a runner round to contact No. 17 Platoon on the right, but he returned stating that he had been forwards 200 yards and came under heavy fire - there was no sign of 17 Platoon.
    It turned out that they had fought their way up the gully towards Battalion H.Q., unaware that it was in enemy hands.
    Lieutenant HARCOURT was taken prisoner on reaching there, but managed to escape, and most of 17 Platoon joined the company that night.
    I was then ordered to take the Company back to the “Gordon’s farm” about a quarter mile along the road.
    We remained there, dug in behind the road embankment until dusk, and then withdrew to a rear R.V.
    We suffered one or two casualties by the farm, through heavy enemy shelling, but apart from these and some of 17 platoon who were still missing, the Company was still fairly intact, and the wireless set still with us.
    It is difficult to estimate the total number of prisoners taken, but we sent back well over 100 under escort, apart from very many others who went back on their own.
    The Company fought with unfailing cheerfulness throughout a very harassing day.

    I have the honour to be Sir,
    Your obedient servant,
    signed T.C. KEIGWIN, Lieutenant,
    No. 4 Company, 1st Battalion IRISH GUARDS
    7 February 1944.
     
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    APPENDIX.
    No. 3 COMPANY - NIGHT 3rd / 4th FEBRUARY 1944

    Written by
    2718336 Sergeant J. DUNNE, No. 3 Company.

    Sir,
    While I was standing in my Platoon area on the night of the 3rd February at approximately 2230 hours I heard the pre-arranged signal from the forward observation post.
    Knowing that an attack was imminent I immediately ordered the Platoon to “Stand To”.
    As quickly as possible I ran round to the Officer in command of the 4.2” Mortar Observation Post, which was in the house in the rear of my Platoon.
    I informed him that the enemy were attacking in strength and told him that a defensive plan must be laid on immediately.
    He replied “Surely it isn’t necessary”.
    I repeated my order, and left him to return to my Platoon position.

    On encountering the heavy enemy barrage on my return, I took shelter in a nearby cowshed until I could cross the open ground to my Platoon.
    On reaching my Platoon I found Guardsman BURKE to be badly wounded, lying in his trench.
    I lifted him from the trench and sent another Guardsman for the Stretcher Bearers.
    Then Captain McINERNEY joined me.
    I explained to him that I had already given orders to the Mortar Officer for the defensive fire to be brought down.
    He immediately left me to return to Company H.Q., and I did not see him again.

    Whatever happened I do not know, but I saw the enemy at the far edge of the gully.
    My Platoon at cone engaged the enemy, as did No. 15 Platoon simultaneously on my left, joined by the attached machine guns.
    The hayricks in front of Nos. 14 and 15 Platoons’ positions were set alight and heavy fire was brought to bear upon the front of the positions by the Vickers machine guns.

    On my Platoon front the enemy seemed to have moved over to both flanks, as only a number of enemy snipers remained.
    Next I observed the enemy attacking Company H.Q., from the rear, and after approximately 30 minutes the firing quietened down.
    I then decided to withdraw my platoon to Battalion H.Q., to support them in defence of their positions, knowing that 14 and 15 Platoons had been over-run.

    After giving orders to my Section commanders of my intentions we moved forwards, then swung to the right.
    We made good progress until we reached the railway, then we came under heavy fire, which I though came from our own troops.
    I shouted to them and then found that the embankment was strongly held by the enemy, thus making our object almost an impossibility.
    I left two Sections of my Platoon in the gully, which runs from the road to the railway, whilst Lance Sergeant ASHTON, D.C.M., Lance Corporal WILSON, 5 Guardsmen and myself went forward to the high ground.
    On reaching this we were pinned down by fire from both flanks and the rear, and Lance Corporal WILSON (who was the link-man) reported to me that the two Sections in the gully had been cut off.
    I remained with this Section on the high ground overnight and at 0800 hours the following morning Lance Sergeant ASHTON and Guardsman SWIFT were badly wounded by enemy machine gun fire.
    The enemy by this Guardsman SWIFT were badly wounded by enemy machine gun fire.
    The enemy by this time had encircled the Section; and having exhausted our ammunition we were taken prisoners, and put in the gully.

    We were later moved to a house, leaving Lance Sergeant ASHTON, as we were refused permission to carry him with us.
    Guardsman SWIFT was able to accompany us, with help.
    We had been in the house for about an hour when one of our tanks opened up on it, causing the enemy to seek safety in the trenches outside.
    We were left under a guard of 2 Germans, whom we overpowered, and made our escape, taking them with us.

    We made our way back by the gully, taking two more prisoners.
    We passed through the Mortar Platoon, who were in the gully under the railway line.
    On reaching the road we handed over the prisoners, and Guardsman SWIFT and myself were conveyed by carrier to the M.D.S.

    Signed Sergeant DUNNE, Commanding No. 13 Platoon.
     
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    APPENDIX
    24 GUARDS BRIGADE

    Diary of GERMAN Counter-Attack on 1 DIVISION, 3rd / 4th February 1944.

    German Troops taking part:-
    725 and 104 Regiments plus Tanks and S.P. guns.

    1944 February 3 1400 hours 1 DWR attacked from WEST and SOUTH WEST.
    1630 hours Situation restored by 2 FORESTERS.
    2300 hours 24 GUARDS BRIGADE attacked from WEST after heavy artillery concentrations and Machine Gun fire.
    (Artillery on 3 INFANTRY BRIGADE as well).
    2330 hours 1 IRISH GUARDS report infiltration between themselves and SCOTS GUARDS.
    2330 hours 6 GORDONS report attack with some infiltration (infantry) from WEST.
    2350 hours 5 GRENADIER GUARDS forward company attacked - out of touch with Forward Observation Officer and 2 Company.
    Midnight IRISH GUARDS can get no reply from their left Company.
    Enemy going in all directions.
    SCOTS GUARDS report situation in hand.

    1944 February 4 OOO6 hours GORDONS report situation in hand.
    0015 hours IRISH GUARDS estimate one battalion enemy in behind them.
    0020 hours NORTH STAFFS report GRENADIER GUARDS are using mortars to their front.
    0025 hours GRENADIER GUARDS report part of forward company had been overrun.
    Ask for artillery fire on left.
    0030 hours SCOTS GUARDS report heavy enemy artillery fire on their left.
    NORTH STAFFS report everything in hand.
    0045 hours 4 Company IRISH GUARDS being attacked by 50 enemy.
    Commanding Officer thinks gap may have widened.
    100 hours NORTH STAFFS report being heavily shelled.
    IRISH GUARDS report 1 and 4 Companies practically OK.
    3 Company rather disintegrated.
    115 hours KSLI (3 INFANTRY BRIGADE) being attacked from NORTH and NORTH EAST.
    115 hours GRENADIER GUARDS report 504 Paratroops (U.S.) being shelled
    120 hours GRENADIER GUARDS ask help for their forward company.
    125 hours Tank Destroyer Battalion report enemy up to road to SOUTH of them.
    130 hours ROYAL TANKS report confused fighting on main road.
    130 hours GRENADIER GUARDS report own artillery fire exactly right.
    140 hours SCOTS GUARDS trying to close gap, moved up one platoon to do so.
    IRISH GUARDS report ‘tank-busters’ being used to great effect.
    145 hours GRENADIER GUARDS withdraw forward platoons behind lateral road.
    NORTH STAFFS call for D.F. fire.
    150 hours IRISH GUARDS fear they have lost 5 Tankbusters.
    220 hours SCOTS GUARDS think they have closed gap with assistance of Para Platoon.
    FORESTERS (3 INFANTRY BRIGADE) under Machine Gun fire.
    300 hours Enemy in very close contact with KSLI (on EAST) and are inside some of Company positions.
    315 hours SCOTS GUARDS report enemy S.P. guns on ridge to WEST.
    440 hours GRENADIER GUARDS report 2 Company situation now restored.
    500 hours 168 INFANTRY BRIGADE comes into Division reserve area ‘Flyover bridge’.
    515 hours IRISH GUARDS report situation more serious.
    Require tanks.
    550 hours ‘Tankbusters’ from GRENADIER GUARDS to IRISH GUARDS.
    605 hours IRSH GUARDS engaged enemy at close range with S.A.A.
    615 hours Squadron tanks come under command to clear situation on IRISH GUARDS front.
    630 hours GORDONS report 6 ‘pockets’ of enemy in their area, would like help from tanks.
    730 hours Enemy infiltrating into DWR positions.
    745 hours SCOTS GUARDS report they are not yet back on ridge.
    745 hours 3 INFANTRY BRIGADE report S.P. guns to their EAST and 7 tanks moving up towards GORDONS.
    800 hours ‘A’ Company GORDONS overrun by eight ‘Tiger’ tanks.
    820 hours ROYAL TANKS report having captured a lot of prisoners.
    900 hours ROYAL TANKS report having a tank battle.
    900 hours Situation restored within 3 INFANTRY BRIGAE sector.
    1030 hours IRISH GUARDS falling back to conform with SCOTS GUARDS.
    1030 hours 3 INFANTRY BRIGADE report rescuing 100 British PW.
    3 INFANTRY BRIGADE report infiltration into DWR positions.
    2 INFANTRY BRIGADE report nothing known of C and D Companies GORDONS.
    1115 hours GRENADIER GUARDS report attack on forward company.
    1125 hours NORTH STAFFS report attack on right company.
    1145 hours NORTH STAFFS require more mortar ammunition.
    1200 hours Attack on GRENADIER GUARDS and NORTH STAFFS beaten off.
    1200 hours LONDON IRISH now under command 2 INFANTRY BRIGADE.
    1335 hours KSLI (3 INFANTRY BRIGADE) being attacked from EAST and WEST.


    Thereafter enemy pressure relaxed and DIVISION front was withdrawn to present line.
    3 INFANTRY BRIGADE ? into Division reserve.
    1 IRISH GUARDS going into Brigade reserve.
    168 INFANTRY BRIGADE coming up on right of Brigade
    Left flank as before

    Prisoners of War taken to 0600 hours 5 February - 260

    Signed ??????? [sic] Major,
    BM,
    H.Q. 24 Guards Brigade.
     
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    1944 February 25 - March 7
    Anzio
    The Battalion came out of the line in the early hours of the 25 February, and did not again take part in any active operations in the bridgehead.
    There were times, however, during the next 10 days when it seemed very possible that the Brigade might be committed in support of 56 DIVISION, and this appeared increasingly likely when the date on which we were to have sailed was postponed, and when the GRENADIERS came under command of 167 BRIGADE.
    Fortunately, however, this postponement was not a long one and on 7th March the Battalion embarked for NAPLES.

    Before sailing we were addressed by the Division Commander, Major General W.R.C. PENNEY, C.B., C.B.E., D.S.O., M.C., who bid us God Speed and Good Luck.
    Referring to the part played by the 24 GUARDS BRIGADE in the bridgehead, General PENNEY applied the famous dictum of our PRIME MINISTER that ‘Never was so much owed by so many to so few’.

    1944 March 8
    Early this morning we steamed into BAGNOLI a small port in the Gulf of PUZZUOLI, a few miles to the West of NAPLES.
    We formed up by companies on the quay and marched to the outskirts of the town where we were met by Captain J.T. EGAN and the transport.
    Fortified by mugs of hot tea and a type of rock-cake peculiar to the Army.
    We then embussed for a 2 1/2 hour drive to our billets.
    The Battalion is split up over an area of about 4 miles, with Battalion H.Q., and H.Q. Company in a small hotel.
    Support Company and the Officers Mess about quarter of a mile away in the little village of St. AGATA and No. 2 Company, M.T., and B Echelon in MASSALUBRENSE.

    1944 March 9
    The Battalion proceeded by Companies to CASTELLAMARE for Medical Inspection, Baths, and a complete new set of clothing.

    1944 March 10
    At 1100 hours this morning Mrs. BARTON, the Driver/Operator” of the Y.M.C.A., Mobile Canteen paid us a visit.
    She was welcomed by the Commanding Officer who congratulated her on the fine display of “jammy wads”.
    The rest of the day was spent in scrubbing web.
    The Commanding Officer and Father BROOKES left for a short visit to General ALEXANDER.

    1944 March 11
    This afternoon the Regiment Band arrived.
    Rumour has it hat some of them are “Bassoon-Happy” but this has not been confirmed officially.
    The Commanding Officer and Father BROOKES retuned to-night.

    1944 March 12
    Holy Mass was celebrated in the Church of Our Lady in St. AGATA, also in the Church of Our Lady in MASSUALBRENSE.
    A Church of England Service was held at Battalion H.Q.

    1944 March 13
    The Commanding Officer inspected billets at 1100 hours.
    At 1330 hours the Brigade Commander addressed the Battalion on the square at MASSALUBRENSE.
    Expressing his regret that we were leaving his Brigade, he said that he had been told that we were the finest Battalion in the British Army - a dangerous statement, but a nice thing to have said about you.
    We then practised the ‘March Past’ for ST. PATRICK’S DAY with the Regimental Band which later gave a performance to a motley crowd of civilians and soldiers.
    In the evening there was an ENSA show in the Cinema at SORRENTO.

    1944 March 14
    A new No. 3 Company was formed today under the command of Major D.M. KENNEDY with C.S.M. SMYLIE as its Company Sergeant Major.
    The Company is billeted in the village of PASTENA, half way between Battalion H.Q., and No. 2 Company.
    In the evening the Regimental Band gave a performance in the road outside Support Company’s billets.
    There was a Sergeants Mess Meeting in the evening.

    1944 March 15
    There was another practise for ST. PATRICK’S DAY in the morning, and in the afternoon a fresh batch of men arrived from the I.R.T.D.
    This evening marked the beginning of a series of Cinema shows which are being shown in No. 2 Company’s billet, a former fascist school building in which one of the rooms is equipped with a screen and a projector.

    1944 March 16
    Another practise parade was held in the square at MASSALUBRENSE: otherwise an uneventful day spent chiefly in cleaning up for to-morrow.

    1944 March 17
    ST. PATRICK’s DAY.
    The parade was held under ideal conditions and in the attractive setting of the square of MASSALUBENSE.
    The Commander-in-Chief, General The Honourable Sir Harold ALEXANDER presented the shamrock which had arrived - only just in time by air.
    Immediately after the presentation General ALEXANDER decorated several Officers and men of the Battalion and Brigade with awards earned on the ANZIO Bridgehead.
    The parade concluded with a March Past and High Mass in the Church of Our Lady.
    Colonel RYAN, Senior Chaplain of the U.S. ARMY, gave the address.
    Much to everyone’s disappointment the General had to leave immediately after the parade to get back to the Battle of CASSINO.
    That this parade, a never-to-be-forgotten occasion for all who took part, was equally impressive for the many spectators was fully born out by the congratulations of our visitors and guests: but our chief pride is in the tribute - contained in a letter to the Commanding Officer - paid by General ALEXANDER.

    http://www.criticalpast.com/video/65675059354_Azio-rocket-gun_Saint-Patricks-Day_shamrocks_General-Eisenhower

    In this letter General ALEXANDER says:-
    “I do so heartily congratulate you on having such a really fine Battalion.
    It was a real joy to me to be with them to-day, and I though they looked just fine.
    Smart, proud of themselves, in fact just what one wishes and expects guardsmen to look like.
    It must have impressed all the onlookers very much, like it did me.
    The Micks were always good (the best in the whole Brigade) but I really believe they are better to-day than ever they were, or ever have been.
    I am only sorry I could not remain longer with you - to to High Mass and go round the Company dinners and then lunch with you - but as you know I have this important and tricky battle of CASSINO in full swing, and it must be won.
    This is my 15th ST. PATRICK’S DAY on parade with the Regiment and the 5th on active operations - not counting CONSTANTINOPLE and GIBRALTAR in 1922 - 1924.
    Good luck to you all.”

    Dinners followed [strike]with the customary speeches[/strike] and great credit is due to the Quartermaster and his staff for the magnificent meal provided.
    The Battalion then quietly disappeared to “sleep it off” and the rest of the day was free.
    There was a very successful party in the Sergeants Mess in the evening, lasting until the early hours, when one well known character was seen to give the sentry on the door a tip, and tell him to call a taxi?

    1944 March 18
    VESUVIUS today began an alarming series of eruptions unparalleled in violence since 1929.
    By night especially the fiery streams of molten lava moved slowly down the mountain side provided a magnificent and unforgettable sight.
    With the Battalion the day passed quietly.

    1944 March 19
    Divine Services were held as usual.
    The Church of England Service being conducted by a Padre from the 201 GUARDS BRIGADE in place of Reverend BROWNING, 5th Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS.
    About mid-day Lieutenant General LLOYD, G.O.C., London District, paid an informal visit to the Battalion and spoke to several Officers and Other Ranks.

    The following extract from Part I Orders is printed below:-
    ST. PATRICK’s DAY PARADE.
    The Commander-in-Chief wishes to congratulate the Battalion on their fine bearing on parade.
    The Commanding Officer wishes All Ranks to know that the Commander-in-Chief purposely saluted the Battalion before it saluted him, in order to show his respect and admiration.

    1944 March 20
    A quiet day - nothing of interest.

    1944 March 21
    Main Guard was posted for the first time since leaving ANZIO, in MASSAULBRENSE.
    Captain T.C. KEIGWIN, M.C. appointed Musketry Officers.
    Sergeant KENNEALLY, V.C., appointed Sergeant Instructor Musketry.
    The Isle of CAPRI has been placed Out of Bounds to All Ranks.

    1944 March 22
    Battalion parade this morning had to be cancelled owing to bad weather.
    The Battalion proceeded to CASTELLAMMARE for baths.
    An Intelligence course at Brigade H.Q., started today.
    Four Officers and the Battalion Intelligence Sergeant, attended.

    1944 March 23
    Drill Course for Lance Corporals started today.
    There was heavy rain early in the morning which later gave way to a dust storm; this dust, which had to be seen to be believed, was hurled out of VESUVIUS every few minutes in enormous clouds which rose several thousand feet and was then blown over the country-side to fall like light rain.
    Civilians are being evacuated from the base of the Volcano.

    1944 March 24
    All roads near VESUVIUS have been placed Out of Bounds to All Ranks not on duty, so as to facilitate the evacuation of civilians from the danger zone.
    So thick was the dust that ‘Duties’ were mounted wearing anti-gas eye-shields.
    In the evening a Guardsmen’s Dance was held in No. 2 Company’s billets; dance music was provided by a section of the Regimental Band.

    1944 March 25
    On the occasion of the Battalion leaving the 24th GUARDS BRIGADE a farewell Ball was given by the Commanding Officer at the PENSIONE JACCARINO, ST. AGATA.

    1944 March 26
    The usual Divine Services were held in the morning.
    Main Guard will in future mount outside Support Company Billets instead of the square at MASSALUBRENSE.

    1944 March 27
    It is announced in Part I Orders that the President of the Supreme Council of the U.S.S.R., has conferred on General ALEXANDER the ORDER OF SUVOROV, 1st Class.

    1944 March 28
    An Officers and Lance Sergeants class started this morning.
    The Commanding Officer congratulates Lance Corporal HISLOP, ROYAL CORPS OF SIGNALS, on the immediate award of the Military Medal.
    Lance Corporal HISLOP joined the Battalion at WELLINGTON BARRACKS before it embarked for NORWAY, and remained with us until the Battalion left the 24th GUARDS BRIGADE.
    A part of men who went on leave to SALERNO several days ago returned tonight.

    1944 March 29
    Battalion Parade cancelled.
    Companies held Drill parades under their own arrangements.

    1944 March 30
    Message of congratulation received from Officer Commanding 1st (British) Division; Major General W.R.C. PENNY, C.B.E., D.S.O., M.C., on immediate awards to members of the Battalion.
    Several men from the Con. Depot in SORRENTO joined the Battalion today.

    1944 March 31
    A quiet and uneventful day.
     
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    APPENDIX
    AWARDS TO BE PRESENTED BY G.O.C. in C.
    17th MARCH 1944

    Distinguished Service Order
    Major H.L.S. YOUNG, IRISH GUARDS


    Military Cross
    Major The Lord STANLEY, GRENADIER GUARDS
    Captain T.S. HOHLER, GRENADIER GUARDS
    Lieutenant G.W. CHAPLIN, GRENADIER GUARDS

    Captain G.R.E. BLOIS, SCOTS GUARDS
    Lieutenant G. GRAHAM, SCOTS GUARDS
    Lieutenant T.C. LINDSAY-PETO, SCOTS GUARDS

    Major D.M.L. GORDON-WATSON , M.C., IRISH GUARDS
    Major G.P.M. FITZGERALD, IRISH GUARDS
    Major D.M. KENNEDY, IRISH GUARDS
    Captain T.C. KEIGWIN, IRISH GUARDS


    Distinguished Conduct Medal
    Drill Sergeant G. ARMSTRONG, GRENADIER GUARDS
    Lance Sergeant H. HOUGH, GRENADIER GUARDS
    Sergeant C. GUNDEL, IRISH GUARDS


    Military Medal
    Sergeant G. SIMMONDS, GRENADIER GUARDS
    Lance Sergeant J. WILKINSON, GRENADIER GUARDS
    Guardsman W. THORMAN, GRENADIER GUARDS
    Guardsman R. STRATTON, GRENADIER GUARDS
    Guardsman W. HEATH, GRENADIER GUARDS

    Sergeant T. RIMMER, SCOTS GUARDS
    Lance Sergeant D. McKAY, SCOTS GUARDS
    Guardsman H. CAULFIELD, SCOTS GUARDS
    Guardsman J. DUFF, SCOTS GUARDS
    Guardsman J. HOPGOOD, SCOTS GUARDS

    Company Sergeant Major M. MORAN, IRISH GUARDS
    Sergeant R. McCONNELL, IRISH GUARDS
    Lance Sergeant C. WEIR, IRISH GUARDS
    Lance Sergeant R. MURPHY, IRISH GUARDS
    Lance SergeaNT M. O’BRIEN, IRISH GUARDS
    Lance Corporal A. CROSS, IRISH GUARDS
    Guardsman J. BRANTHWAITE, IRISH GUARDS
    Guardsman J. RYAN, IRISH GUARDS
     
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    1 April 1944
    The Battalion paraded in the Square at MASSALUBRENSE.
    A message to the Commanding Officer from Field Marshal the Earl of CAVAN has been published, of which the text is as follows:-
    "Please tell the gallant remnants of the its Battalion that I am prouder of them than ever. Even they cannot do the impossible, but they did a very wonderful thing, which will always live in my memory, and will, I am sure, be a very bright spot in the history of Ireland’s best men.”
    A small party left this morning under command Lieutenant J.R.A. MACMULLEN to provide guards at 103 GENERAL HOSPITAL and 372 Prisoner of War Camp.
    During the day a party of 20 rejoined the Battalion from Hospital.

    2 April
    During the night 1/2nd April, the customary one hour’s sleep was sacrificed in order to bring Double Summer Time into operation.
    Church Services were held at ST. AGATA, PASTENA and MASSALUBRENSE at various times during the day, for the Companies billeted in those areas.

    3 April
    A new No. 4 Company has now been formed under command of Major J.S.O. HASLEWOOD.
    Captain D.A. GILLIAT is Second-in-Command, and C.Q.M.S. DOONAN is Acting Company Sergeant Major.
    They are billeted in a house near ST. AGATA, with a magnificent view across the bay of NAPLES.
    A Battalion Shoot was held today on the 100 yards Range behind the Sergeants’ Mess.
    There were three events - a Pool Shoot open to all comers, a competition between eight-men teams of officers and sergeants, and an all ranks inter Company Test, which was won by Support Company.

    4 April
    Messages have recently been sent by the Commanding Officer to O.C. 5th Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS, congratulating him on the award of the Victoria Cross, to Major W.P. SIDNEY’ to Brigadier R.B.R. COLVIN, Commanding 201 GUARDS BRIGADE, on his being awarded the Distinguished Service Order; and to Major General W.R.C. PENNEY CBE DSO MC, on his award of the C.B.

    5 April
    A day of normal routine, in which the Battalion paraded at MASSALUBRENSE, and parties went to CASTELLAMMARE for baths.

    6 April
    The Commanding Officer inspected the Battalion’s billets this morning and afterwards all ranks who had seen action in the ANZIO bridgehead, and who had left it with the remainder of the Battalion on March 7th, were photographed on the road outside the Pensione Jacharino, St. Agata.
    A message was received from Brigadier COLVIN DSO thanking the Commanding Officer and all ranks for their congratulations.

    7 April
    THE 1ST ANNIVERSARY OF THE BATTLE OF 212.
    At Pay Parades today money was issued in British Military Authority notes, and all holdings of Lire were changed.
    Although not quite so comforting as real English money, it was felt that this was a step in the right direction.

    8 April
    No Battalion Parade.
    The following message from O.C. 5th Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS was received by the Commanding Officer:
    "Your kind message much appreciated by all ranks this Battalion. All very grateful to Major SIDNEY for completing old 24TH GUARDS BRIGADE’s “Hat trick”. Miss you all very much.”
    Before lunch the Brigade Commander addressed all Officers, at Battalion H.Q., on the subject of the Commanding Officer’s promotion to Brigadier.
    He told us that although every effort had been made to make it possible for him to take his Battalion home, military requirements had made this quite out of the question.

    9 April
    This morning at 1015 hours the Battalion was assembled outside the Church at ST. AGATA, and the Commanding Officer bade it farewell.
    He said that although he himself had considered it his duty to bring the Battalion, which had fought under him, home under his command, higher authority had unfortunately left no course open to him but to accept a Brigade immediately.
    This he was leaving immediately to do, but he gave us the comforting information that the travel ban to EIRE which was at present in force would almost certainly be set aside for those going to IRELAND on Disembarkation Leave.
    This particularly concerned him, for Irishmen were “the rock on which the Regiment has been built”.
    He could not say much about the future of the Battalion, but he gave the warning that the hard fighting which was just over, and the period of rest which was probably to come, did not mean that the Battalion had seen the last of the War.
    On the contrary, almost everyone was likely to be committed again in the near future, and should prepare for that event.
    The lost of the Commanding Officer was deeply felt; the Battalion had always had complete confidence in him as a soldier, and his words today made everyone realise how careful he had looked after his men and considered their true interests.
    At the same time, satisfaction was felt at his magnificently deserved promotion.
    At 1230 hours the Battalion embossed for the rail-head at CASTELLAMMARE - the first stage of the homeward journey, of which indeed the very short distance to NAPLES appeared to be the most complicated stage.
    The train was made up of dual-purpose (i.e. horse or human) Italian trucks, and from the time at which the last man reached the station, about 1630 hours, there was a delay of four hours before the train actually left.
    At 2030 hours we began to move, very slowly, on the way to NAPLES.

    10 April
    At 0030 hours the train pulled in to the GARIBALDI Station, NAPLES.
    The first signs of life appeared at about 0415 hours, at which time cooking began on the platform, and a certain amount of shaving was attempted.
    When everyone had eaten at 0615, the Battalion formed up by Companies, and marched through NAPLES to the Docks.
    We were compelled to halt for a time just before we got there, as our ship was a large one and we were among the last to embark: without much delay, however, we marched to “E” pier, and on to the “Capetown Castle” - 27,000 tons or so, owned by the Union Castle Line.
    Master: Captain T. THORNTON; O.C. troops: Lieutenant-Colonel O’CONNOR, MC, K.O.Rs.
    There were about 5,000 troop aboard, mostly American, and among them the 3rd Battalion 504 Paratroop Regiment, U.S. Army, who fought with the Battalion on the Bridgehead.
    The Battalion, with the exception of Officers, Warrant Officers, and full Sergeants was accommodated on ‘C’ deck.
    By 0900 hours everyone was established on board, and after an early breakfast and a march, quite ready for the next meal: enquiring revealed that it could be expected at 1700 hours.
    At first it was felt that this could not be true, but true it was.
    Owing apparently to the number of troops on board, only two meals a day were served, at 0900 and 1700 hours.
    However, both the quantity and quality of these meals was usually excellent, and there was a ship’s canteen to fill the gap.
    As soon as the Battalion embarked we provided a guard of 6 N.C.Os and 93 men, one guard-room orderly.
    Rifles were stowed in the Ship’s Armoury.
    The perfect cleanliness of the ship was very welcome after the volcanic dust in which we had recently been living.

    11 April
    Anchor was weighed this morning at 0515 hours.
    When people began to appear on deck we were passing between the ISLE OF CAPRI and our recent billet area of SORRENTO - ST. AGATA.
    The land on each side looked very pleasant, perhaps because we were (probably) seeing the last of it: but for once the weather was suitably “Mediterranean”, and the first boat drills were carried out in warm sunshine.
    The ship's Dry Canteen was opened during the day, so that cigarettes etc, were available.
    Our ship was on the right flank of the convoy - eight or nine ships in all, with a considerable escort of destroyers and, on our starboard bow, a remarkable ‘converted’ craft of no particular class, but well equipped with guns.
    By early afternoon our accompanying ships were the only feature of interest, as we had left ITALY behind and not yet arrived within sight of AFRICA.

    12 April
    CAP BON was sighted at 0500 hours this morning.
    The weather continues excellent, the sun warm and the sea absolutely still.
    Just after the start of the lengthy period of boat drill which fills the time normally devoted to lunch, BIZERTA came into view.
    Our boat drill in the early stages has been complicated by the fact that we have frequently found our life-boats to be full of sleeping soldiery: it is to be hoped that our perseverance in removing them will be rewarded.
    This afternoon three naval ratings, recently disembarked at NAPLES, were discovered on board ship and placed in arrest as stowaways.

    13 April
    In the course of the morning our convoy altered course slightly, leaving the coast of AFRICA further and further away on the port beam.
    At 1430 hours we saw the reason for this: between us and ALGIERS there appeared very large and slow-moving convoy, estimated at more than 60 vessels, moving West.
    In an hour or so we had left them behind, but we contented unusually far North, nearer to the Spanish than the African seaboard.
    There were two rather unpleasant incidents - an American has been accidentally shot in the stomach, and another on reporting sick is suspecte of smallpox.

    14 April
    This morning we were well within sight of the coast of SPAIN.
    The peaks of the SIERRA NEVADA of course stood out, and remained in view on the starboard beam nearly all day.
    The weather is still perfect - perhaps fortunately, because urgent medical supplies for the wounded American had to be collected this afternoon from a destroyer, and the business of passing them over on a rope might have been quite tricky in a strong swell.
    At 1900 hours all ranks who had not been vaccinated in the past 12 months paraded to be re-vaccinated by the Medical Officer.
    Sunset this evening was so perfect that it was possible to measure exactly the time between the sun’s first contact with the horizon, and its final disappearance - 2 minutes 51 seconds.
    Immediately at the end of this period the loud-speaker announced with true naval accuracy, that “it was not black-out time”.
    At 2230 hours we passed through the STRAITS OF GIBRALTAR.
    The lights scattered up and down the ROCK were plainly visible on one side, and the close packed, low-lying lights of TANGIERS on the other.

    15 April
    A remarkably sudden change of weather attended our first day in the ATLANTIC.
    A considerable swell got up, and there was a cold wind with occasional rain.
    At about 1315 hours a Sunderland flying-boat appeared over the convoy, and earlier in the day we had collected one more cargo vessel and another destroyer.
    The swell, though very sudden, was not serious enough to produce much sea-sickness, and attendance at meals continued to be good.

    16 April
    Services were held aboard ship.
    Morale sank slightly as the wind rose; but our ship, being too large to roll really badly, confined itself to creaking as each wave passed us.
    Boat drill as usual.

    17 April
    Bad weather this morning, improving in the afternoon.
    A light mist, which seemed to reduce the swell, cut down visibility and made the prospect very grey and dismal.
    P.T. Parades were started today on the open decks.
    They are arranged so that each individual should get 30 minutes exercise every two days, which is the best that can be done with such large numbers.

    18 - 20 April
    Three days of utterly unbroken routine.
    The weather still very grey and gusty.
    P.T. and Boat-drill provided the only parades.
    During Thursday we were reported to be near the Irish coast, and although we were not within sight of land, we judged from our course that we were sailing round the North of IRELAND before turning south to the port of disembarkation.

    21 April
    Warning Orders were issued today indicating that we ware nearing U.K.
    The canteen will be open for the last time today, and all troops are to hold themselves in readiness to disembark tomorrow.
    At 1745 hours we had our firs dim sight of the BRITISH ISLES.
    We were moving SOUTH EAST, with the MULL OF KINTYRE on the port beam, and FAIR HEAD, Co. Antrim, and RATHLIN ISLAND to starboard.
    After the dreary days in the ATLANTIC this was a most welcome sight, and everyone came on deck to have a look.
    At 1820 hours the O.C. Naval Escort signalled by Morse Lamp the following message to O.C. Convoy (S.S. Orient):
    “Glad it was a dull voyage for convoy’s sake.”

    22 April
    Early this morning there was, rather surprisingly, no land in sight.
    Wooden platforms in the sea carrying Anti-Aircraft guns proved, however, that we were near port, and the changed formation of the convoy - two parallel files on a narrow front - suggested that we were in the MERSE
    The pilot joined us at 0845 hours, and we were soon moving steadily between buoys.
    Just before 1300 hours, we dropped anchor, and had our first close view for some time of English scenery.
    I suppose it is not often that LIVERPOOL seems bright and clean, but most of the troops on board undoubtedly found it so.
    The other ships of the convoy and dropped off here and there as we came into the Docks, and we lay in midstream for some hours waiting out turn to draw alongside.
    By 2030 hours we had been pushed and pulled into position at the Prince’s Landing Stage, and the Port authorities came aboard with other officials.
    A representative of the Minister of State, made a speech welcoming the British troops, and Colonel DUFFY, U.S. Military Commander, Port of Liverpool, spoke to the Americans, many of whom were arriving in ENGLAND for the first time.
    So many men packed the near-side rails and portholes that the ship heeled-over considerably, and urgent appeals were made in an attempt to restore the balance.
    However, the attraction of staring at the M.Ps etc, on the quay proved very strong, and eventually all troops had to be ordered below.
    The Battalion disembarked in two parties, beginning at 0100 hours on Sunday.
    The baggage party under Captain T.C. KEIGWIN MC worked very hard to look after the Battalion’s kit in difficult conditions of darkness and (to some extent) confusion.

    23 April
    The arrangements for the reception of the Battalion when they left the ship could hardly have been better.
    Our train was only about 200 yards from the quay, and everyone was comfortably settled, in very little time and with no difficulty.
    Containers of tea were in abundance, and every man received 10 cigaretts, a bar of chocolate, and a local newspaper.
    This put everyone in excellent spirits, and the NAAFI authorities are to be congratulated on this achievement, which seemed so exactly right in every way.
    At 0220 hours the train left for LONDON.
    We arrived at St. PANCRAS Station shortly after 1100 hours, where the Regimental Lieutenant-Colonel was waiting to meet the Battalion.
    When he had greeted the Commanding Officer, the Battalion embossed by companies outside the station, and was taken to Chelsea Barracks, our temporary quarters.
    Major G.M. TYLDEN-WRIGHT from the TRAINING BATTALION supervised the distribution of the men to their barrack-rooms.
    Before dinner the Lieutenant-Colonel addressed the Battalion in the Mess Room, welcoming them home, and regretting that the shortage of men and made it impossible to keep an IRISH GUARDS battalion in ITALY.
    He gave us the first hint of our future - that the 201 GUARDS BRIGADE was to form a training cadre for a large new intake to the BRIGADE OF GUARDS.
    In the afternoon permanent passes were issued, and the Battalion had its first look round LONDON.
    The Officers of the Battalion, together with the Officers of the 2nd Battalion SCOTS GUARDS, are living in the Lion Services Club, Lygon Place, which has been temporarily closed and taken over for their use.

    24 April
    This morning a medical inspection of all ranks was held by the Medical Officer: as a consequent of the suspected small-pox case on the ship, any of us may develop the disease at any time up to May 9th.
    Leave is therefore postponed till that date, and inspections are to be held daily.
    Otherwise the day was uneventful, occupied mostly with the cleaning of equipment.

    25 April
    The Battalion paraded for drill this morning at 0915 hours, and will continue to do so daily.
    After Parade the Brigade Commander spoke to the Battalion on the question of Disembarkation Leave, explaining the necessity of the delay and the limits to be imposed on our movements.
    In fact restrictions seem, in the circumstances, to be very few indeed, and as the delay meant no actual loss of leave, no one really objected to this ruling.
    Practise Drills were held in the afternoon.
    Second suits of battle-dress and S.D. caps were issued.

    26 April
    Parades as usual.
    A party of about 100 men has been chosen from the Battalion to do Public Duties - rather a splendid privilege for a Battalion so recently returned from Overseas.
    Barrack-rooms, chairs, tables, etc were scraped clean and scrubbed, and later the Commanding Officer inspected the Battalion’s quarters.
    The attainment of a really high standard of cleanliness is at present the Battalion’s chief concern.

    27 April
    Parades as usual, otherwise an uneventful day.
    Parades as usual and pay.

    28 April
    A new list of Prisoners of War from the Battalion had been published.
    Practise Drill Parades are being held by the party chosen for Public Duties.

    29 April
    Usual Parades.
    More information was publishes about Prisoners of War, and also details of men now in hospital in this country.

    30 April
    Church Services were held, and the Battalion attended Dental Inspection during the morning.
     
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