Remembering Today-Private JAMES JOHNSTONE 2991098, 1st Bn., Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders

Discussion in 'British Army Units - Others' started by CL1, Dec 9, 2010.

  1. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery


    2991098, 1st Bn., Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
    who died age 23
    on 09 December 1944
    Son of William and Janet B. Johnstone, of Paisley, Renfrewshire.
    Remembered with honour
    CWGC :: Cemetery Details
  2. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Nothing for actual day but some background to where they were & what they doing.
    The Tiger Triumphs. The Story of Three Great Divisions in Italy. 1946. Chapters 15-16.

    For 19th Brigade to travel fifteen miles as the crow flies necessitated a two days' journey. The weather was windy, wet and cold. Skidding and sliding, the troop carriers negotiated the wintry mountain roads: over the crest of the snow-girt peaks, down the multiple switchbacks along the western slopes, thence to turn back uphill at Borgho San Lorenzo, to grind slowly forward over the summits again, and along a second class track into the valley of the Sillaro. On steep inclines it was sometimes necessary to winch uphill, while the troops warmed their chilled and cramped limbs by pushing behind. Only a mule track led from the Sillaro, to the battle positions on Monte Grande; in its mudholes even the seldom-beaten jeeps bogged down. Trudging doggedly, the Indians clambered upwards and by December 6th, 19th Brigade had relieved 2nd British Infantry Brigade. All three battalions were covering the main Monte Grande positions. On the right, the Argylls held Frasinetto Ridge; in the centre Frontier Force Rifles occupied Monte Cerere; on the left 3/8 Punjabis were astride Monte Grande itself. In each position the crest was narrow, and defence in depth impossible. Anywhere a sudden rush might win home, and sudden rushes were the speciality of the paratroopers.
    An Argylls officer in a private letter gave a description of this ominous sector.
    "I know how my grandfather felt at Majuba Hill. We had the high ground and it was of little use to us. Our positions were under constant observation. We had to sit tight all the time, just like old Bill in Flanders. A bitter wind whistled up the valley and curled over the crests, adding one more misery to sitting in a slit trench all day and all night, with a drizzle gradually soaking clothing and blankets, and freezing the bones. A heavy mist would come down; if the paraboys could not see us, neither could we see them. It was rather eerie this being hunted through the fog, and we grew very quick on the trigger."

    The only positions for artillery and dumps lay in the Sillaro valley, under intimate enemy observation. The fog which the Argylls officer mentions was a blend of natural elements and smoke from the canisters, released to screen traffic movements and gun positions on the lower ground. Short of the impossible, supply difficulties achieved on all-time nadir. The journey from jeephead to Frontier Force Rifles, a distance of under two miles, occupied five hours. Even the surefooted mules sometimes failed to negotiate the slimy mud of the hillsides, crashing to death on the rocks below, with wounded men in their litters.
    The enemy was spoiling for trouble. The quiet of the day was broken regularly by the weird moans of the nebelwerfers, heralding short fierce mortar shoots on the advanced Indian positions. At night men slipped from their holes to patrol forward, to lay traps and ambushes, to stalk on sound and to kill the unwary. The Argylls were no sooner in position than they were assailed. On the night of December 6th a fighting patrol of paratroopers sprang out of the darkness, and after a savage melee managed to snatch three prisoners. On the same night after vicious mortaring forty Germans closed from all sides on a house which sheltered a combined post of Punjabis and Gordon Highlanders, at the junction of the British and Indian positions. Setting fire to the building with a bazooka, the paratroopers sought to flush the garrison into the open. The Punjabis blew back the rush after suffering twelve casualties; the Gordons lost an officer and eight men as prisoners. These scrimmages were prelude to the main assault on Monte Grande.
    CL1 likes this.
  3. John McLoughlin

    John McLoughlin Junior Member

    Just wondering which divisions featured in "The Tiger Triumphs", as I´m pretty sure British the 1st Arylls were 1st Infantry Division. My dad was on Monte Grande, too.
  4. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Just wondering which divisions featured in "The Tiger Triumphs", as I´m pretty sure British the 1st Arylls were 1st Infantry Division. My dad was on Monte Grande, too.

    Click link at top of my post , the book is all online.
    The Tiger Triumphs. The Story of Three Great Divisions in Italy. 1946. Foreword. Table of Contents.
    It features 4th, 8th & 10th Indian.
    1st Argylls were in 19th Indian Brigade, 8th Indian Div from Feb '44.
    8th Infantry Division (India) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Here's link to orbat of 1st Div.
    1st Division
  5. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    John -
    Owen has it right as the 8th INDIAN DIV and particularly 19th Bde relieved 2nd inf bde of the 1st DIV on Monte Grande....not too long after this action my bde 21st Tank bde was reorganised and when the Canadians moved out of Italy - we then supported 8th Indian for the final months of the war....
  6. Mr Bradbury

    Mr Bradbury Junior Member

    My grandfather served in Italy (REME),. He brought back a little book on the Eighth Indian which highlights their exploits.

    I think it may be of interest.



    Attached Files:

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  7. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Hoping to help others

    Supported by 446 Bty 67th Field Regt defending Monte Cerere where a big attack develops on 12th December. The Gordons were occupying Monte Calderaro.
    The Indian Div Artillery had difficulty moving up within range so 1 Div Artillery gave support if my Memory is correct.
    The Germans over ran a house between Monte Calderaro and Cerere blowing out the walls with Panzerfaust taking prisoners from the Punjabis of the 19th Indian Div and reserve HQ of the Gordons next door. They took 9 Gordons prisoner and withdrew after demolishing the house, under their own artillery shellfire.
    The Frontier Force Rifles did the Bosche great damage,.the 19th Indian Division did great execution of the Bosche on Monte Cerere 5th -18th December. View attachment 243786 View attachment 243786

    Attached Files:

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  8. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Hoping to help others

    12th December 10.32 hrs. Col Flay reports that battle is still raging in Frassinetto, two platoons of the A&SH have been lost and that Lt Ivamy in OP with A&SH and Capt Raban at Bn HQ are all right.
    1 A&SH were on Frassinetto from 3-17th December. It is also thought that enemy had infiltrated the woods between Cerere and Grande.
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  9. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Hoping to help others

    To back track there was a lot of patrol activity at this time as the front line troops were changing over.
    On 10th December 1944 Monte Calderaro. Major Shepherd of 266 Bty 67th FR having taken over with the Gordons the previous night, went up with 2 i/c the 6th Gordons to check on the Rovine OP.
    Major Clapham 2i/c Gordons went on to his Company at Calanco.
    Major Shepherd not waiting for his escort set off from Rovine. His helmet was found on the path he had taken and was never to be seen again. His grave was found in Ferarra in May 1945.
    He lies in Argenta Gap War Cemetery.
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  10. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Hoping to help others

    Either the change over was noticeable or the Americans had left signs that they had gone. The German Para Division became aware of this so organised Patrol activity to assess the capability of their new opposition. To do this they needed prisoners to interrogate. They then moved quickly to attack before the opposition knew the ground they were defending well enough to put up effective resistance. The front lines were very open to infiltration as the British had far less men than the Americans to hold the area.
    When the area was taken by the Americans they had fought the German Para Division which contained a number of local Italian Paras trained in Germany by the Herman Goering Div. They fought with them at Anzio and returned home to await the Allied advance in the Apennines. Over the past few years they have appeared on various videos bragging of their experiences in both the Senio Valley and at Monte Cerere.
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2019
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