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201 Guards Brigade – War Diary October 1943

San Severino

1st October 1943

The Coldstream and Scots Guards moved up early in the morning to join the Grenadiers in the San Severino area. Brigade HQ was established for the day with Tac at 618416. Late in the evening two Scots Guards companies on the flank guard were ordered to return to battalion which they did next day. The Brigade was ordered to send an ADC to General Mark Clark, commanding 5th Army. Captain G. Lampson, Scots Guards, left to take the appointment next morning.

2nd October 1943

Brigade HQ established at 629417.

3rd October 1943

A platoon of Grenadiers was sent to Sarno to guard the military hospital, which had been rushed by an Italian mob earlier in the day.


4th October 1943

The Brigade was moved to Nola, Brigade HQ being established in a former monastery at 448597.

5th October 1943

Use was made for the first time by the brigade of Italian labour. Two houses had been demolished across the main road to Naples and all Italians wishing to pass were made to "pay a toll" of 20 minutes work with a shovel – the order of the day being "Non passere san lavaro".

Parties of Grenadiers visited Pompeii and parties of Scots Guards climbed Vesuvius.

6th October 1943

Operation instruction No. 4 was received.

169 Brigade occupied Capua and the Brigade was ordered to move next day to face up to the line of the Volturno river, behind which the enemy had withdrawn.

S Maria di Capua

7th October 1943

The Brigade moved up to the line of the Volturno. Brigade HQ was established n the western outskirts of S Maria di Capua (205756). The Grenadiers held the town of Capua with two companies. (No.1 – 170790. No.2 – 169782) No. 4 Company took up positions at 192777 and No. 3 Company at 227758. The Scots Guards were to hold the area from the Grenadier’s right (stream and river junction 190786) to the Corps boundary, which ran along the south western edge of the mass of high ground on our right, to cross the Volturno at the road bridge (inclusive to 3rd US Division 218810). No sign of the 15th Infantry Regiment, our right-hand neighbours, could be seen however and a reconnaissance onto the high ground revealed only 1 dead American. One company of the Scots Guards, Left Flank, was therefore placed just on the reverse slope (platoons at 210800, 213802, 221802). F Company took up positions astride the road leading south from the road bridge to S. Maria di Capua (platoons at 208785, 208790, 211790). The remaining companies were held in reserve (G Company 231776, Right Flank 233772). The Coldstream were in reserve, billeted in the area of Pellegrino, Battalion HQ being at 224756. The primary objective was to find possible crossing places over the Volturno, for infantry, wading or in assault boats, for tanks and for anti-tank guns. The Brigade Commander ordered intensive patrolling with this end in view. The Grenadiers sent a patrol to reconnoitre the bank from the eastern edge of Capua to their boundary with the Scots Guards. Two flights of steps each 10 yards wide were found leading down to the river, one from a part house, the other from a small promontory 200 yards to the east. They were however very steep and only two small assault boats could be simultaneously be launched from either. A mud track was discovered by the second leading into the river which it was thought might possibly be made fit for tanks. The Scots Guards patrols brought little information, one losing itself and never even reaching the river, the second reporting that infantry could only cross if prepared to get wet.

S Maria di Capua

8th October 1943

The Brigadier held a conference at high he gave orders for intensive patrolling by both Grenadiers and Scots Guards. He ordered four to be found from each. These were all to be accompanied by a sapper. The Scots Greys were to send two officers with one of the Grenadier patrols to investigate the track down into the river bed from the small promontory east of the power station. All day heavy rain fell. Approaches to the river bank became softer and it was realised that the Volturno must be rising. It was a dull, depressing day - only relieved by a successful concentration on a Nebelwerfer facing the Scots Guards. General Graham visited the Brigadier.

S Maria di Capua

9th October 1943

The reports of the previous night’s patrols were in great detail. The Scots Guards patrol commanders had made a very careful examination of both the near and far banks, the depth of the river and the firmness of the river bed. One subaltern - Tom Bland - actually swam and waded the Volturno at four different points. These reports clearly showed that though men might wade the river there was no place possible for assault boats, bridging nor for a tank crossing. The Grenadiers' reports were little more hopeful. Two places were found east of Capua where assault boats could be launched, the junction t of the stream marking the battalion boundaries with the river and a slipway 100 yards east of the power station. At neither how ever could more than two assault boats be launched at a time. The Greys reported that the track on the promontory, after considerable labour might be made fit for tanks to enter the river. However, the ground was very soft and they estimated that the Shermans would tear it up badly. They considered that only one troop could use it. Furthermore, there was no sign of a possible exit on the far bank. In Capua itself, by lowering assault boats over a 30 ft wall, a point could be reached on the southwest side of the town from which some might be launched although the drop into the river was 8 feet. The reports were taken direct from the patrol commanders by the IO to 56(London) Divisional HQ to be shown to General Mark Clark, commanding 5th Army, General McCreery, commanding 10 Corps, and the Divisional Commander. General McCreery visited Brigade HQ. He was extremely anxious that an attack should be launched on the Brigade’s front if any practical crossing point could be found. Up to this point the Grenadier companies in Capua had committed no hostile acts on the enemy infantry facing them across the Volturno. The enemy appeared not to realise that the village was occupied. The Grenadiers’ policy had been to learn exactly where the enemy’s positions were, but not to engage them, so that if they had to attack they would be able to pin-point a large number of his weapons. They had built up a very complete picture of the dispositions north of the town, where the ground was clear. A regimental concentration was fired into the centre of the German posts. Some disconcerted men were seen diving for cover and a half-tracked armoured car burst into flames. Next morning the enemy was observed still clearing the effects of this stonk, and two dead were seen to be carried away.

10th October 1943

Much movement was observed on the banks north and south of Capua by the Grenadiers. A Nebelwerfer was pin-pointed by the Scots Guards. The 65th Field engaged it at once and it received a direct hit.

Colonel Rogers, commanding 30th US Infantry, and Lieutenant-Colonel Banard, commanding 2nd Battalion 30th US Infantry, visited Brigade HQ. The Brigadier made a personal reconnaissance of the banks at Capua, accompanied by Major Lord John Hope. The Scots Guards were relieved by the Grenadiers. The relief passed off quietly without incident.

11th October 1943

It was now recognised by the Corps commander that an assault across the Volturno on 201 Guards Brigade front was impracticable. We were to have a diversionary role and to support 167 Brigade’s crossing on our left with all available firepower. This decision was a great relief as it was realised that if we had been made to make the attempt the assaulting battalion must in all probability have been lost.

The Brigade Commander ordered the Scots Guards to send a fighting patrol across the river to obtain an identification. The patrol saw little signs of enemy activity until by a burned-out house they met 2 patrolling German sentries. They waited to ambush them but they did not reappear and the patrol returned empty handed.

12th October 1943

56 Division Operation Order No. 14 was received. At about 1330 hrs a Coldstream sniper on the bank saw a considerable number of enemy carrying out practise in embarking and debarking with assault boats in the tress south-west of the Capua bend. It took him some time to crawl back and report this news but as soon as possible an artillery concentration was put down. The enemy activity on the opposite bank has generally increased today, Coldstream snipers however were able to pick off 3 Germans. At 2020 hrs the Grenadiers made a diversion on the river bend 89786 by hammering, shouting orders and letting off smoke. This at once drew fire from the enemy. At 2025 hrs G company of the Scots Guards made a diversionary raid across the river, crossing by the island at 188792. It was probably the heaviest concentration of artillery that has ever supported a company in the history of war – six field and one medium regiment and two batteries of heavies. The company crossed without opposition and after carrying out a fight with four Spandaus returned with two casualties. At 2050 hrs on our left 167 Brigade attempted to launch assault boats but were driven back by heavy mortar fire. Operation Order No. 14 issued.

13th October 1943

At 0200hrs the 3rd US Division on our right assaulted the line of the Volturno at three points. The Brigade Commander and Major Lord John Hope visited the command post of 30th Infantry Regiment, commanded by Colonel Rogers. Colonel Banard’s battalion, the second, sent 3 strong combat patrols across the river between the railway bridge (217809) and the power cables (214810), directed on the high ground opposite. They failed to consolidate this and were withdrawn.

The Coldstream engaged any movement opposite Capua with snipers and mortars, inflicting 3 known casualties on the enemy. The Brigadier, on his return, ordered a close watch to be kept for any signs of the enemy withdrawing.

14th October 1943

Left Flank, Scots Guards crossed the Volturno at 217811 and attempted a sweep along the bank to the west. The crossing was effected in pouring rain but mines were soon encountered. After losing an officer and 3 ORs the company returned. At 1600 hrs the Brigade was ordered to move as soon as possible across the Volturno by the American bridgehead and occupy or if necessary, assault the line of Monte Grande to Point 210 (north of Bellona and Vitulazzio).

Quarry at 219819

15th October 1943

The Grenadiers crossed the Volturno in the early hours of the morning. The bridge a great tribute to the US engineers, was constructed at 222812. A thick smoke screen hid it from the view of German OPs to the north west and as the direction of traffic was very efficiently controlled by colonel Schneider, US engineers, the river was crossed without incident. On the north bank of the Volturno a high ridge rises rapidly to nearly 2000 feet within a few yards of the river. This ridge runs north west for nearly ten miles to the village of Rocclietta, dominating completely the foot hills to either side.  

The Grenadiers took over the ridge from the 30th US Infantry Regiment in the area of a large house called Jersusalem, a very prominent landmark. The Coldstream occupied the southern half of Monte Grande, the next feature to the north. The Scots Guards occupied the southern end of the ridge, south of the Grenadiers, overlooking the Volturno. During the morning a force of 24 enemy planes appeared and attacked the jeep bridge, east of our river crossing. It was the largest force we had seen the Luftwaffe use since the Brigade was facing the Mareth Line.

At 2130 hrs the Coldstream reported that they had met four Spandau posts on the northern half of Monte Grande – the first intimation we had had that the mountain was not completely clear of the enemy.

Quarry at 219819

16th October 1943

Lieutenant Benson reported the results of his patrol to the north of Vitualzzio and Bellona. He had met a German patrol on the lower western slopes of Monte Grande and had found both Bellona and Vitualazzio occupied. He had seen seven posts on the Point 210 feature, unoccupied but showing all signs of recent use and there were Germans on the hill. On the way home the patrol ran into an ambush and separated one Lance Corporal, a PT instructor, found an isolated German sentry and throttled him. The Brigadier visited the Coldstream and ordered the enemy positions on the northern half of Monte Grande be taken. After a prolonged reconnaissance a platton attack was put in but failed to take the objective. It was decided to attack with the whole of the Coldstream at first light the next day. Meanwhile at 1930 hrs concentrations were put down by one heavy, two medium and three field regiments. Lieutenant-Colonel T.E.P. Falkiner Bt relinquished command of the 3rd Coldstream and was succeeded by Major D.W.A.W. Forbes, MC. Major-General Templer, the new GOC, visited Brigade.

17th October 1943

A German officer of No.1 Company, I/115 Panzergrenadier Regiment stumbled into the Coldstream positions about 0100 hrs. He was lost and was looking for his platoon. As his only map was rather small scale, the whole Mediterranean area, this did not seem surprising. He said Monte Grande was occupied by all his company, with No. 3 Company behind. This, couple with reports from Coldstream patrols that the enemy had not retired resulted in artillery concentrations preceding the Coldstream attack. In fact, however, as was discovered later from prisoners of war, I/115 Battalion had withdrawn and the Coldstream occupied Monte Grande without opposition. Brigade HQ put out a Tac to 215839. The Grenadiers attacked the Mount Maggiore feature, up to the 87 Northing. Only a few Germans had not withdrawn and these were so cowed by artillery fire that they offered little resistance. The Grenadiers had soon secured the objective and 12 PW – all but one from 1 Company I/115 Panzergrenadier Regment were collected. A German Signal Instruction, revealing the whole order of battle of the Hermann Goering Division was found. The Scots Guards went through the Grenadiers and without almost any opposition occupied Points 240, 210 and 216 to west of the ridge, above Bellona and Vitualazzio. The Grenadiers were ordered to advance up the ridge and take over Point 720 from the 3rd US division.


18th October 1943

The Coldstream were moved to Bellona and in the early afternoon went through the Scots Guards to clear the high ground up to the small winding mountain road that runs from Partigiano to Pozillo. The advance was at first unopposed but near this road they met a certain amount of small arms automatic fire. No. 2 Company of the 1st Battalion of II Hermann Goering Panzergrenadier Regiment – some 60 strong – supported by the sapper platoon of 40 men were holding this position. By soon after last light however they had been driven out – an officer and 5 ORs being captured.

19th October 1943

Lieutenant Straube, the German officer captured the night before after considerable pressure had been brought to bear revealed that there had been no German troops behind his company. This proved to be the case and at dawn the Scots Guards occupied without opposition Monte Calvento a mountain some 450 metres high, dominated by Monte Maggiore and Point 860. The enemy, taking advantage of this observation, inflicted some casualties by shellfire. The Grenadiers to the right advanced further up the ridge, occupying the other Point 720 feature. A company had to be sent over the US boundary to stop the approaches of Formicola. The Grenadiers discovered in a German officer’s overcoat the Operation Order of the Hermann Goering Division, dated 14th October 1943ober, and of the Corvin Battle Group of the division, dated 16th October 1943ober. These were in the Corps Commander’s hands by mid-day. The Coldstream were moved onto the eastern half of Monte Calvanto, on the right of the Scots Guards.

Preparations were now being made to maintain the Brigade in the forthcoming assault on the towering heights above the village of Rochetta, the northern tip of the ridge. Orders were issued to requisition every able-bodied mule and horse. Lieutenant J.B. Clerk Rattray, Scots Guards, the Camp Commandant, an ex-cavalry officer, was but in charge of this task. The first conscripts included four stallions who proceeded to chase their attendants up trees and bit the OC Horse & Mule Transport. The GOC, 56 Division visited the Brigade. A patrol of the Grenadiers was sent to the foot of Point 860. It fired small arms but drew no answering fire, Operation Order No.15 was issued.


20th October 1943

An Italian civilian reported that 55 men had been shot by the Germans and buried between Bellona and Vitulazzio in a pit, shortly before the enemy withdrew. These executions were in reprisal for the murder of a German soldier. The story proved to be correct, and the bodies were discovered. All day, as on the day before, the Sappers worked to re move mines and clear demolitions on the road to Partignano. In this crowded over-populated stretch of country, the road makes its way through narrow streets and closely adjacent villages. The German engineers had left nothing to chance. Whole houses had been dynamited across the streets. Mines had been thickly laid, often two deep. Progress consequently was very slow but we were able to move up to Partignano that evening. The Scots Guards sent patrols down from Monte Calvento and located a number of Spandau posts in the dried stream beds at the foot of the Rochlietta heights. That night the Grenadiers carried out some extensive patrolling to test the enemy's disposition. Two good patrols by Lieutenants Brocklebank and Harrington showed that the enemy was digging himself in between the village of Rochlietta and Point 860, that Point 860 was held and that digging was in progress to the east of that height, particularly on the reverse slope in the area of a small chapel. From the Operation Order captured by the Grenadiers we knew that this was the 1st Battalion of 115 Panzergrenadier Regiment our old opponents on Monte Grande.


21st October 1943

No.2 Company of the Grenadiers moved up to the village of Croce from which it was advanced next morning to storm the heights of Pt 860. Two battalions would be used for the assault. it was possible to drive transport over the narrow, winding one-way lane as far as Pozzillo - though only by night as it was dominated by the enemy’s OPs in the mountains above. Beyond this village every round of ammunition, every morsel of food, and every drop of water had to be carried by hand. A rough track led up a precipitous mountain side to a point 720 metres high, where a dump was to be established. The labour needed to keep two fighting battalions supplied, as they advanced onto the succeeding heights beyond this point was prodigious. The entire battalion of the Coldstream was to be employed for this purpose. A company of Basutos, a company of Mauritians, 100 Italians and two companies from 167 and 168 Brigades were to assist them. The whole organisation of this formidable task was controlled by Major D.W.A.W. Forbes, MC, commanding the 3rd Coldstream. Meanwhile the Brigadier gave orders to the artillery and a conference was held with the CRA at our HQ. The assault was to begin at 0505 hrs with a concentration of six Field, two Medium and and one Heavy Regiment firing rapid fire into Point 860. Operation Order No.16 was issued. The GOC 56 (Lon) Division visited the Brigade. At 2200 hrs the Brigadier and a small Tac HQ went up into the mountains to Point 720 (154909).

Partignano (M 1487)

22nd October 1943

From 0505 to 0525 a concentration of six Field, two Medium, and one Heavy Regiment came down from inclusive Point 860 (1492) to Rocclietta (1392). 860 itself received the attention of two Field, two Medium and one Heavy Regiment. 6 Grenadier Guards then assaulted 860. No. 2 Company (Gerald Potter) led the way up through thick cover. They advanced three platoons up, direction being kept by a bugle sounding a ‘G’ with the centre platoon. The enemy was completely surprised and fled, leaving behind 30 pairs of trousers. A few dead Bosche were found on the top, and POWs taken - 1 NCO and 6. Equipment captured 5 Spandaus, 47 rifles, 1 x 81 mm mortar. Pointt 615 was the second objective, to be taken by 1 Company (Peter Marsham). It was captured after slight opposition and a counterattack was beaten off, largely by 2" mortar fire. 4 Company, (Pat Hanbury) then formed up to attack Point 520 (132933), but unfortunately the AGRA cone which was meant to help him included his company in its attentions, as well as 1 Company on Point 615. Some disorganisation inevitably followed. 2 Scots Guards were therefore ordered to attack 520. This attack, which was to include an attack Rocclietta was laid on for p.m. 2 Scots Guards plan was that G Company would take 520, while LF was to capture ROCCLIETTA simultaneously. Unfortunately, Left Flank (Sammy Holdsworth), who advanced down the only track into the valley, ran into converging Spandau fire suffered heavy casualties, including company commander badly wounded and one platoon commander killed. The company was pinned, and it was not possible to reach the wounded until after last light. Meanwhile G Company was also held up on the right, though not very seriously. But the attack generally had failed. A fresh plan made for a dusk attack. RF were ordered to take 520, and ‘G’ Company Rocclietta. After artillery preparation RF put in a bayonet charge and the enemy bolted leaving some dead. G Company got into the village without difficulty.

Below 860 (1492)

23rd October 1943

About 2200 hrs Brigadier Davidson (Commander 168 Brigade) arrived at Tac HQ with his COs to make a first light recce of the hill beyond Rocclietta. He was to push on later in the morning.

24th October 1943

168 attacked and met no opposition whatever.

26th October 1943

201 Guards Brigade relieved 168 Brigade on the hills west of Rocclietta, leaving one company on 860 and one on 520. HQ moved down to Petrulo (1290).


27th October 1943

Patrol from 2 Scots Guards accompanied two Italian policemen who had reported that they had got two Bosche in Riardo (1295). This proved correct and the Bosche were brought back. They had been part of the German company holding Point 860. They said that the Grenadiers attack had been a complete surprise. They had never anticipated an attack from that direction. They had been expecting to hold their position for some days and had no orders whatever to withdraw. When the artillery concentration lifted, they had run back in some disorder and hidden in a ravine at 1593 until dark. The company had retreated under cover of darkness to Riardo, where they had deserted.

3 Coldstream Guards Commanding Officer, Lieutenant-Colonel D.W. Forbes, MC, took out his company commanders on a recce onto the high ground with a view to the battalion taking up positions in the fork of the two streams at 0894.

The squadron of Kings Dragoon Guards under our command was ordered to patrol along Route 6 to 089932.

An Italian Liaison Officer, Captain the Marchese di Bugano, reported to Brigade Intelligence Officer.

167 Brigade sent recce parties with a view to taking over Point 407 from 2 Scots Guards in the near future.

General Giraud, commanding the French Armed Forces, was taken up to the 2 Scots Guards OP by the Brigade Commander at 1615 hrs.

28th October 1943

0300 hrs

Lieutenant Stilwell, 3 Coldstream Guards, reported to Brigade Intelligence Officer that he had found a bridge at 091942 by which portees, carriers and all transport could move into the prospective position. The Coldstream were in this by mid-day. Battalion HQ at 069946, No. 2 Company at 092944, No. 3 at 086946 and No. 4 at 090945. 2 Scots Guards were withdrawn at 1550 hrs from the high ground.


3 Coldstream Guards reported they had contacted the Americans on our right at 100958. At 1940 an American patrol came through the Coldstream on its way to Teano, several miles on British side of the Corps boundary to they never felt very strictly bound.

29th October 1943

The Grenadiers took over the Coldstream area, the Coldstream moving further west. The Grenadiers were now established with Battalion HQ at 090942, No.1 Company at 088948, No.2 at 089942, No.3 at 088941 and No.4 at 086945. 3 Coldstream Guards were now in position as follows: Battalion HQ in the farm Olivetta, No.2 o at 072953, No.3 at 075948, 070951 and 073948, and No.4 Company at 080953. “ Scots Guards established with Battalion HQ at  091906, Right Flank at 081908, F Company at 085912 and G Company at 090911. The King’s Dragoon Guards squadron under our command continued active patrolling of roads reporting to us by wireless. At 1.630 they reported the bridge at 097969 intact but the bridge at 067959 blown. They reported the road leading north from the cross roads 073973 to be cratered to a depth of 30 feet over a width of 40 feet and the road leading west to be cratered to a depth of 15 feet for 20 feet. At 1655 they reported they had reached 062973, the road being spasmodically mined and the village of Versano blown into the road.

30th October 1943

At 0601 news came through that 167 Brigade’s offensive to the south west of Teano was making progress and that 7 Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry had captured the Tranzi feature and were now attacking Point 363 (0293). The King’s Dragoon Guards continued their active patrolling and at 0953 reported the crossing at 088959 impassable. At 1158 they reported meeting mines at 73966. A 1215 both 167 and 168 Brigades were making satisfactory progress, the former having taken about 70 POWs and the latter at last capturing the station at 064920. At 1226 three enemy tanks were reported at 058952. Lieutenant-Colonel Forbes made dispositions to meet this possible threat but it never materialised. At 1435 the King’s Dragoon Guards reported the bridge at 074973 blown and mines at 094976 and the bridge at 066959 blown in three places each 20 feet across. They reverted to Divisional command at 1930 hrs.

At 1830 hrs we were ordered by division to send armoured recce parties next day to find routes to the west of Teano in order to concentrate in the area 0393 and 0394. This would be in preparation to attacking the second divisional objective on November 1st if it had not already fallen to 167 Brigade, or the third objective on the 2nd in the drive on Roccamonfina.

31st October 1943

At 0900 hrs news came that 168 Brigade was now west of Teano. At 0935 3 Coldstream Guards were ordered to carry out the recce to the prospective concentration area, carrying wireless and reporting progress as they went. At 1120 hrs the Coldstream reported the bridge at 069929 to be being repaired but the road beyond to Teano heavily mined. At 135 they reported that between this bridge and the one at 072925 there were 12 trees blown across the road which was also mined. At 055940 a house had been demolished across the road. The bridge at 050945 had been destroyed and here there was a crater 100 yards across and 30 yards deep. This crossing was passable for infantry but too precipitous for porters. As the day passed however it looked more and more as if the enemy would not stand again this side of Roccamonfina. He had lost 150 PW to 167 Brigade and patrols pushing along the Roccmonfina – Teano road found several demolitions prepared but abandoned without being blown.

This became quite clear when the King’s Dragoon Guards contacted American troops in Terra Corpo and later at the road junction from Terra Corpo on to the road north of Roccamonfina. 168 Brigade was to carry on the pursuit and we were left in our present area.