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9th Battalion Royal Fusiliers – Patrol Reports December 1943

Patrol Report 16th December 1943

Patrol Strength  1 Officer and 15 Other Ranks.

Patrol Commander Lieutenant J. A. Graham.

Object of Patrol  Search cover and houses on given route.

Route Out and Time Through B Company forward positions near tunnel on canal.

Time Out 2345hrs from B Company.

Route In Entered B Company positions from west over canal.

Time In 0250hrs.

Description of Ground Covered Undulating ground, open for the greater part.  Occasional copse and orchards.  Many ditches.

Patrol Report

Patrolled left B Company forward positions at 2345hrs on 16/12/1943 and turned east down the road alongside canal.  Finding no way across canal we returned to tunnel.  After investigating noises in undergrowth we crossed the canal and turned east along the far bank for about 150 yards – then proceeded north searching all cover and watching all buildings from position about 30 yards from them.  Went as far north as buildings at 878982 and then walked south and west as cover permitted to house at 878979.  Then came south and east moving back towards tunnel, when we again across the canal.  No enemy were seen.  During whole of patrol activity by motor transport was heard on north side of the River Garigliano.  Sounded like heavy lorries.

Patrol returned through B Company forward position at 0215hrs.

Patrol Report 17/18th December 1943

Patrol Strength  1 Officer - 12 Other Ranks – 3 Brens.

Patrol Commander 7th Ox and Bucks.

Object of Patrol  To establish a strong standing patrol in area Massa Prete 879979 to prevent any enemy infiltration southwards.

Route Out and Time Canal crossing 882974 – House 880975 Massa Prete.  Cross canal 882974 at 1900 hrs.

Route In and Time Bend in track 879975 – Canal crossing 882974.  Leave Massa Prete area 0030hrs.

Patrol Report

Nothing to report. No enemy seen.

Patrol Report 17/18th December 1943

Patrol Strength 1 Officer 28 men.

Patrol Commander  Lieutenant Bannermann.

Object of Patrol To see if house was occupied.

Route Out  Through right forward position D Company through orchard to house.

Time Out 1800hrs across canal.

Route In Down to lying up area to canal – D Company left forward position.

Time In 0230hrs.

Description of Ground Covered  All ground open, mostly rough crops and widely spaced orchards. Trees very sparse on ground.

Patrol Report

Crossed canal at 1800 hrs and followed track about 50 yards. Xxx xxx would have been possible to ambush patrol on track. I turned to the right and went through an open orchard leaving three houses off my left. I then bore slightly left between two houses and came on rough plough. I crossed this bearing left again and got into some crops, here we saw a light some distance ahead. Keeping same direction came onto of listening I heard what an orchard planted about 12 feet between rows and binding between canes. During period I heard what I think to have been a half track vehicle and later a motorcycle on the north side of the river. The orchard bordered a track and Apostle could be seen standing in the open. I left the covering section and approached the house in open formation as there was no cover. The house was large and all doors and windows had one half covered in by a shutter or half door and the other half open. We investigated all rooms on ground level and the house was unoccupied. I think it had been occupied as I passed a machine gun position about 50 yards from the house in a deep ditch. I then collected my fire section and moved down by bounds still in the open to my lying up area.

During this move Vickers opened up and two green Verey lights were fired to the south. Whilst I was lying up a German patrol fried from my right rear but not at us and another green Verey light was fired from south towards me landing not more than 200 yards away.

At 0100hrs I moved east and cut track bordering orchard. As again a steep bank on the left, I moved over and struck across some rather wet farm land leaving three houses on my right. I came on a series of small dykes and eventually lost my way. I struck down and hit canal. I followed it past three houses to a demolished bridge. I thought I must now be too far north and could not check since mountains were hidden in mist so knowing our positions stretched to south, I followed canal back some distance and eventually crossed it by bridge of wooden sleepers in D Company’s left forward platoon area. I moved track and followed the signal cable to my Company HQ. I reported by phone to Battalion HQ on arrival at 0320 hrs.

Note:- At no point other than bridge was the canal fordable. The walls sloped sharply to water on either side and were never lower than approximately 15 feet.

Patrol Report 17/18th December 1943

Patrol Strength 1 Officer, 1 Sergeant, 2 Corporals, 28 Fusiliers.

Patrol Commander Lieutenant W. Rees.

Object of Patrol            

1) To find out if di Solto 862966 was occupied

2) If so, to damage and gain identification

Route Out Track running north west from 879949 – track junction 868961, then approach di Solto from left rear.

Time Out1900 hrs.

Route In Same as route out.

Time In 0015 hrs.

Description of Ground Covered Track running northwest from 879949 approximately 20 foot wide, images on both sides, trees on right edge.  Bad road, water and mud in places to 1 foot deep.  Very heavy going.  Bridge at 869959, partially demolished, river about nine yards wide, but sunken about 20 foot – perfect anti-tank obstacle.  Road from bridge to the di Solto sunken about three feet, in places mud and water to a depth of 18 inches.  Ditches on both sides of road.  Travelling on to open ground left of road, ground abounds with ditches, and filled with water – heavy clay soil made going heavy.  This cultivated land is very flat and open.  Because of the ground it took 8 hours to arrive at di Solto.

Patrol Report

On arriving at point 864964, I dropped one section, along with 2-inch mortar to cover approach.  Two remaining sections approached village from left rear, one section covering other section into house.  As entering di Solto fired from area to our north.

A tree (fairly big) across road to di Sopra.  The road in di Solto of fairly hard surface, only slightly muddy.

Followed for passed to back of house – but didn’t seem to be recently used.  Entered house from rear.  The walls were demolished (partly).  In barn at bottom of the house were two boxes, threshing machine and empty sacks.  The rest of the house was damaged hand and uninhabitable.  The roof of the barn was intact the rest was fallen in.

The courtyard to the right of the house has been upturned by shelling.  A culvert on the south side of the village was reinforced and had been used as a dugout.

The vineyard and orchard around searched for positions but none was found.

Patrol Report 18/19th December 1943

Patrol Strength  1 Officer and 20 Other Ranks.

Patrol Commander  Lieutenant Burnett.

Object of Patrol Anti-inflitration.            

Route Out and Time 1805

Route In and Time 0225

Patrol Report

I left by crossing place at 876964 and went along the track straight to the junction at 873906 where I put my sections out in all round defense positions facing down tracks.

The whole time we were in position we saw three Verey lights at some distance and nothing else. We saw one red from the direction of Sopra, one white from direction of Haybag and one white from right of Haybag. We neither saw or heard anything else whatsoever and returned by same route at 0200hrs.

The track we used was muddy but quite jeepable. It was sunken some of the way. The bank on the left was a fairly regular height of three or four feet until just short of the houses at 874965 where it flattened out and became wooded. The right bank was higher until area of houses where it stopped altogether and there was open grassland all the way to the junction where it rose up sharply.

Patrol Report 19/20th December 1943

Patrol Strength 2 Officers (one for experience) – 23 Other Ranks.

Patrol Commander Captain C.B. De Jager.

Object of Patrol To find out whether enemy were occupying Haybag.

Route Out and Time  Canal crossing 883974 and through cross roads at 877974. Crossed 1800.

Route In and Time  Canal crossing 883974. Crossed 2120 hrs.

Description of Ground Covered Very open, very little cover and many dykes.

Patrol Report

We reached house on right of route without incident, continued on right of track up to low tree (can be seen on photo). A green light went up from Haybag and on our advance one more was fired. The country being low and open, I moved my patrol over to cover on left of road, again lights went up.

I then took one section up to dyke and road junction in 872974, and came under machine gun and rifle fire. This section took up position and remainder of the platoon came up and were fired on as well. Numerous lights went up.

By this time a battle was going on, on my left, and lights went up from there, made us seen to the enemy and progress was slow. I tried to move round the left on the open but was fired on by two machine guns from behind first position. There as also mortar fire but the bombs fell wide. After several times trying to move around and fired on, I retired with the platoon having found out where the positions are from the fire.

It was a very bright night and visibility was good.  Of

Patrol Report 19th December 1943

Patrol Strength 1 Officer and 12 men, 3 Brens.

Patrol Commander 2nd Lieutenant B. Godbolt.

Object of Patrol  Anti-infiltration patrols. To occupy area of house at 879982 to prevent enemy patrol infiltrating towards right or our position.    

Route Out and Time Canal crossing 883974 – bend in track 879975 – Massa Prete. Cross canal at 1915hrs.

Route In and Time House 880876 – canal crossing 883974. Re-cross canal at 0230hrs

Patrol Report

Contact was made with 9 Royal Fusiliers on way out and canal was crossed at 1915 hrs. The route was adhered to on the way out until the house at Massa Prete was reached. This was searched and found on close inspection by my Sergeant and myself to be vacated – we then placed the patrol in a defensible position in the vicinity of the house while my Sergeant and myself went to make a close recce of the area and the house at 879982. The area around the house and the out buildings were found to be unoccupied and we stealthily approached the house. After having walked around close to the wall and the … of the house, we came around the one corner and saw standing in the doorway some figure, and he had around him some wooden or brick L-shaped structure. We could look straight at the doorway and the person standing in it, and another L-shaped shelter right on the corner limited the view. On challenging the person in the doorway, he gave a grunt and I did not want to throw the grenade in my hand as I suspected that it could possibly be an Italian resident or a member of one our patrols. I therefore challenged a second time and by then some other figure came around the structure carrying in front of him either some straw or other irregular shaped objects. My Sergeant then fired a burst there was a wail from two or three persons and we hastily withdrew to where our patrol was waiting.

We waited approximately 1/4 hour, then withdrew by the same route as I considered it gave more cover.

Before withdrawing and immediately on forming the patrol, a green flare was fired from the house. We withdrew as we did not know the possible strength of the enemy in the house and the vicinity. We took up a defensive position at the canal crossing for 1/2 hour then withdrew, notifying the 9th Royal Fusiliers sentries on our way of the incident.

I withdrew at approximately at 2345hrs as I did not realise my task was to withdraw at 0230hrs but by 0230 hrs.

Patrol Report 19/20th December 1943

Patrol Strength  1 Officer and 12 Other Ranks.

Patrol Commander  2nd Lieutenant B. Godbolt.

Object of Patrol  To form a stop to enemy infiltration in area house 880976.        

Route Out and Time Canal crossing 883974. Cross canal at 1730hrs.

Route In and Time Canal crossing 883974. Re-cross canal at 0230hrs

Patrol Report

The route out before crossing the canal was taken at the fork marked with white tape. i.e. the left-hand fork. Our CQMS was to provide the patrol with transport as far down as this track as possible. On arrival at the place where he had parked his vehicle he found that it had been moved by the Field Security Personnel. We therefore had to walk down the whole length of the track and this caused a delay of one hour in crossing the canal by the ruggedness of it and the fact that we had to contact D Company of the 9th Royal Fusiliers before the crossing was made.

After the crossing was made no enemy was encountered during the advance and rapid progress was made. The position was reached at 1920hrs and rapid progress was made. The position was reached at 1920hrs and an area was selected for defence. From 1930hrs periodic green flares, totalling five, were fired from the vicinity of the fighting patrols activities which landed approximately 300 yards from us and kept us pinned down. The defence was made and thereafter more flares were fired of varying colours. We lay doggo and during the whole time of our presence there the enemy made no sortie towards our position nor could hear the presence of the enemy in the immediate vicinity. When the stonking of the occupied house at 879982 started, a shell splinter from an air burst fell near our position. We withdrew from the position at 0135hrs without any encounter and arrived at the canal at 2200 hrs. We took up a defensive position there for ½ hour and then crossed over, making contact with D Company on our way in.

Patrol Report 20/21 December 1943

Patrol Strength  1 Officer – 12 Other Ranks – 3 Brens.

Patrol Commander Lieutenant R.  Illes.

Object of Patrol  To prevent any enemy infiltration towards our position from area cross tracks 872967.

Route Out Canal crossing 877964.

Time out Cross canal 1800 hrs.

Route In Canal crossing 877964.

Time In  Leave the area cross tracks 872967 0200 hrs.

Description of Ground Covered Very open, very little cover and many dykes.

Patrol Report

My patrol reached the cross tracks at approximately 1845 hrs.  We did not encounter or hear the enemy during the night.  The only movement we saw was six white Verey lights from the direction of Haybag between the hours of 1900 and 2000 hrs.

The National Archives (TNA) WO 169/10214,  9 Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment).