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201 Guards Brigade – War Diary March 1944

1st March 1944 – Basile 804956

Another showery day.

The Brigade Major went to Rear Brigade and Major E. Penn, Grenadier Guards, came temporarily to carry out his duties.

2nd March 1944

The Corps commander visited the Brigade and had lunch at the Brigade HQ.

After last light 156 Field Regiment was relieved by 337 Field Artillery Battalion in support of 201 Guards Brigade.

3rd March 1944

Enemy patrol which had come down the Ausente was seen and fired at by the Carrier Post of the 2 Scots Guards at 821963. The patrol then withdrew, no casualties having been suffered on either side.

The Brigade commander, who had been appointed commander of the British increment in 88th US Division, returned to HQ 5 Division Carano. From Carano he was to supervise the relief of the remaining British troops, after command of the division sector had passed to 88th Division.

A wireless deception plan was put into force.

4th March 1944

Quiet day.

Colonel Champeney, commander 351 RCT, and his S3, Major Hobson, came to stay at Brigade HQ.

After last light COs of the relieving American battalions came to live with Battalion HQs.

2300 Enemy patrol of approximately nineteen men bumped a Coldstream ambush patrol led by Lieutenant McGill at 794967. The Coldstream ambush killed two enemy and then withdrew according to plan having suffered no losses.

5th March 1944

We requested a fighter-bomber sortie on guns in the Formia-Gaeta area. This was accepted as an alternative to a priority target at Anzio.

1105 Twelve fighter-bombers, having failed to find a target owing to bad visibility in Anzio area, bombed gun pits and buildings between Gaeta and Scauri. No results observed.

After last light American company commanders came up to live with the companies they were to relieve.

Approx. 2300 C Company 7th Cheshires passed from command on relief by heavy weapons companies of 351 RCT.

Night 5th/6th March 1944

Patrol of 6 Grenadier Guards found Point 165 783978 unoccupied. This feature had previously been occupied by the enemy.

Patrol of 2 Scots Guards found plank bridges at 810980 and 811982 destroyed by delay action booby-traps which they had laid a week earlier. Patrol suspected enemy in house 810975. House mortared on return of patrol.

Operational Instruction No. 5 issued.

6th March 1944

Quiet day. NTR.

By a curious coincidence, A Squadron 40 RTR, commanded by Major Bradley-Cook, RTR, which was in support of 6 Grenadier Guards in their first action at Medenine on 6th March 1943, was under command of 201 Guards Brigade with one troop under command of 6 Grenadier Guards at Minturno on 6th March 1944, in what will probably be 6 Grenadier Guards last battle.

After last light battalion anti-tank guns were relieved by battalion anti-tank guns of 351 RCT. Battalion mortars and Cannon Company of 351 RCT moved in during the night preparatory to taking over tasks of our battalion mortars and 227 Anti-Tank Battery during daylight 7th March. Operational Instruction No. 6 issued.

7th/8th March 1944

After last light the Brigade was relieved by 351 RCT – 6 Grenadier Guards by 1st Battalion, 3 Coldstream Guards by 2nd Battalion, and 2 Scots Guards by 3rd Battalion. The relief went off extremely smoothly without any shelling on the outgoing or incoming troops and was complete by 0300hrs. After a halt on the road for tea and rum the Brigade Group proceeded to the Sorrento area, 6 Grenadier Guards to Piano Di Sorrento, 3 Coldstream Guards to Meta, 2 Scots Guards and 5 Light field ambulance to San Agnello and Brigade HQ to Seinao. On completion of this move 201 Guards Brigade passed from command 10 corps and came under command 3 district for administration and HQ ACMF for operations.

8th March 1944 – Seiano 3528

The Brigade commander visited HQ ACMF.

9th March 1944

The Brigade commander held a conference with commander 24 Guards Brigade.

10th March 1944

The Brigade commander held a conference with commander 24 Guards Brigade and all COs.

11th March 1944

The Brigade commander addressed all officers and NCOs of 6 Grenadier Guards, 3 Coldstream Guards, 2 Scots Guards, Brigade Workshops, 5 Light Field Ambulance and 543 Company RASC before they transferred from 201 Guards Brigade to 24 Guards Brigade.

12th March 1944

The Brigade commander held a conference with commander 24 Guards Brigade and all COs.

13th March 1944

3 Coldstream Guards passed from command of 201 guards Brigade to under command of 24 Guards Brigade. 1 Irish Guards passed from command of 24 Guards Brigade to under command of 201 Guards Brigade.

5 Light Field Ambulance and 543 Company RASC and 201 Guards Brigade workshops and OFP passed under command of 24 Guards Brigade. Contingents of officers and men to make 5 Grenadier Guards and 1 Scots Guards up to strength left 6 Grenadier Guards and 2 Scots Guards.

The Brigade Major and Major Sir Hugh Cholmeley left by air for Cairo to check on Brigade of Guards personnel in MEF.

14th March 1944

The Brigade commander held a conference with commander 24 Guards Brigade.

15th March 1944

NTR.

16th March 1944

Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Loyd, Major-General commanding the Brigade of Guards arrived by air from North Africa and was met at the airport by the Brigade commander.

17th March 1944

General Sir Harold Alexander, C-in-C, Central Mediterranean forces, visited 1 Irish Guards and presented the shamrock on St. Patrick’s Day Parade. He also presented the immediate awards for gallantry to officers and ORs.

18th March 1944

Conference at Brigade HQ attended by the Major-General commanding the Brigade of Guards, commander 24 Guards Brigade and Lieutenant-colonel Harcourt Vernon, Grenadier Guards, commander No1. Guards Battalion IRTD.

Major-General commander the Brigade of Guards spent the night at Brigade HQ.

19th March 1944

Major-General commander the Brigade of Guards inspected both the 2 Scots Guards and 1 Irish Guards.

20th – 22nd March 1944

NTR.

22nd – 25th March 1944

NTR except Vesuvius’ eruption which covered the whole countryside inches deep in volcanic dust.

26th March 1944

Brigade Major visited HQ AAI and reported the reorganisation completed. Orders were received that Brigade HQ less signals section, LAD and postal section should return to UK with the battalions. 201 Guards Brigade came under command 3 District for all purposes.

27th March 1944

The Brigade commander saw COs at 1000hrs and told them the men were to be told of their impending return to the UK and discussed details of winding up the affiars of the Brigade in the Mediterranean theatre.

28th March 1944

NTR.

29th March 1944

The Brigade commander went to No. 1 Guards Battalion IRTD.

30th March 1944

Order received for 800 ranks to embark on 4th April 1944.

31st March 1944

Above orders cancelled. The Brigade commander returned. AFW 3007, 3008 and 3009 are attached.