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9th Battalion Royal Fusiliers – War Diary April 1945

1st April 1945

Battalion advance party at three hours’ notice to leave.

2nd April 1945

0330 Advance party leaves for new area.

1930 Battalion moves to new area by TCLs.

3rd April 1945

0130 Battalion arrived in new area, ac HQ established 541509, Map sheet 89 IV Alfonsine. W Company 538513, Y Company 543508. Rest of day spent in settling in and preparing for coming attack.

4th April 1945

Intelligence Officer establishes OP o river bank at 536525. All company commanders visited OP during the morning.

1730 Commanding Officer orders O Group. Major Millman 2 i/c, rejoined battalion with Z and X Companies, after working with commandos on Lake Commachio spit raid.

5th April 1945

Day spent preparing for crossing of River Reno.

1700 Y Company (with one platoon X Company under command) and Battle Patrol cross over the Reno being ferried by Z Company in assault boats. Crossing established at approximately 546526 without incident.

1930 W Company cross over Reno followed by Tac HQ.

2100 Artillery opens up in support of attack.

2230 1 London Irish Rifles fail to open up north bank owing to strongly held position at 527528.

2400 Battalion axis changed to left London Irish Rifles Crossing. Y Company commander ordered to re-cross river.

6th April 1945

0030 Y Company cross back over original crossing place. Transport rushed up to convey Y Company to crossing place established west of San Alberto at approximately 518523 by 1 London Irish Rifles.

0300 Y Company cross and report making good progress. W Company and advance Tac HQ concentrated in area 524518. Fairly heavy shelling and mortaring by enemy of approaches to River Reno.

0600 Intelligence Officer (Lieutenant Warwick) and two Intelligence Section with signallers cross Reno to establish communications with Y Company.

0630 W Company ordered to return to old area.

0700 Advance Tac HQ established at rice factory 506536. 1 London Irish Rifles attack on our left continuing after being held up most of the night by Spandau fire from well concealed positions. Y Company established Punt Albernana 492547 and Casa Cesti 488548.

0730 Y Company being engaged by enemy tanks. 14 Platoon remains in Punta Albernana but rest of company forced to withdraw to area 493538.

Shelling of Y Company area continued all morning.

1900 Y Company took 12 PoWs during day from 25 Jager Regiment.

2130 Remainder of battalion crosses Reno at 530524.

2400 Tac HQ established at rice factory 506536.

7th April 1945

0600 14 Platoon Y Company established at pumping station 494556.

0900 Remainder of Y Company dug in along Canaletta Umana 4954, 4955, HQ 494539. Z Company HQ 474547. Line of road clear 473547.

1135 W Company clearing area of C. Nuova 4745.

1630 Z Company platoons 473551, 482546, 473546. Z Company shelled during day.

1800 W Company HQ 472544, platoons 471541, 468542, 465536. X Company HQ 484539, platoons 479539, 478537. Mortars 488545.

1830 Over 150 PoWs mostly 25 Jager Regiment taken during day.

8th April 1945

0700 All companies quiet night.

1800 Light mortaring and shelling of forward areas during day. Recce parties during the night to find possible crossing place over Navigazione 4654, 4655.

9th April 1945

Another quiet day and further patrols during the night to Navigazione.

10th April 1945

Y Company less 14 Platoon moved back to San Alberto for a rest.

1100 Tac HQ moves forward and established at 479539.

11th April 1945

1030 X Company comes under command 1 London Scottish and crosses over south side of Reno to continue advance.

12th April 1945

0830 Battalion moves forward to new concentration area. Tac HQ established 439533. W Company 433553, Y Company 438545, Z Company 428563.

1800 X Company made very good progress against scattered opposition during day and forward platoons now 405545 on south side of River Reno.

2200 Commanding Officer’s O Group. Y Company ordered to relieve X Company on south side of Reno.

13th April 1945

0600 Y Company contact X Company.

0730 Y Company HQ established at 386547, platoons 384543, 382545. Under automatic fire from Santero bank.

0830 Tac HQ moves forward again and establishes at 408552. Z Company 418564, X Company 406548, W Company 408548.

1000 Y Company contact Cremona ICG at Pasturara 377537.

1900 Y Company established along River Santero 3854. Four PoWs.

1930 Y Company across Santero.

2100 Y Company HQ at Gamerini 382545, platoons 377540, 380550. No contact.

14th April 1945

Battalion ordered to pass through 1 London Irish Rifles and continue advance.

0800 Z Company pas through 1 London Irish Rifles at Palzo Tamba 385553 followed by W Company.

0815 Y Company relieved by 1 London Irish Rifles.

1000 Z Company being held up by minefield.

1200 Brigade pioneers on clearing minefield, advance held up.

1430 Track from 360556 to 355574 clear of mines. Tac HQ at 373555.

1800 Self-propelled 88mm guns holding up advance after forward companies had passed through minefield. Z Company 344571, W Company 346560, X Company 376554. Map Sheet 88 I Argenta 1/50,000.

15th April 1945

0800 Advance continues.

1200 W Company reach line of railway 316564 to 316566. Z Company line of railway 317573 to 311583. Y Company line of railway 316566 to 317573.

1600 X Company clear factory area 313572. Rest of battalion consolidating on line of railway.

16th April 1945

W, X and Z Companies relieved during the night by 1 London Irish Rifles and returned to area of Tac HQ. Locations Z Company 365557, X Company 376553, Y Company 377553, W Company 378553. Rest of the day spent in reorganising and rest.

17th April 1945

Battalion resting and baths. Captain M.H. Donne takes over duties of Intelligence Officer.

18th April 1945

1000 Commanding Officer visits Brigade HQ for conference. Brigade Commander emphasises policy of consolidating far side of any obstacle.

1230 Company Commander’s conference at Battalion HQ. Discussion on future role and formation and composition of Mobile Force.

19th April 1945

1000 Commanding Officer visits Brigade HQ for conference.

1200 Commanding Officer’s O group. Major T.W. Woollam assumes command of Support Company vice Major T. Alington MC posted to 1st Battalion Royal Fusiliers. Captain C.M. Lewis assumes command of Y Company vice Major T.W. Woollam.

20th April 1945

0900 Commanding Officer visits Brigade HQ.

21st April 1945 – 1/50,000 76 II Porto Maggiore

0515 Advance party under 2 i/c to new area.

0630 Battalion moves to concentration area.

0800 Battalion established 266684.

1700 Commanding Officer visits Brigade HQ.

22nd April 1945

0520 Advance party under 2 i/c to new area.

0720 Battalion moves to new concentration area.

0830 Battalion HQ established 276794. Four PoW rounded up in area from 26 Panzer and 29 Panzergrenadier Divisions.

1000 Commanding Officer visits Brigade HQ.

1030 Commanding Officer O group at Battalion HQ attended by OC A Squadron, 12 Royal Tank Regiment.

1430 Commanding Officer visits Brigade HQ.

23rd April 1945 - 1/50,000 76 I Copparo

0030 Battalion moves to new area 2728.

0230 Commanding Officer’s O Group visit 1 London Irish Rifles Tac HQ at 273849 for latest situation by means of assault boats.

0300 Battalion Tac HQ established 272874.

0430 Y Company on left and W Company on right move up to contact 1 London Irish Rifles forward positions 2689.

0515 A Squadron 12 Royal Tank Regiment arrive at Tac and go forward to marry up with companies.

0550 Y Company at 265891, Z Company at 271884.

0605 W Company report 273901 cleared.

0630 Tac HQ recce party go forward.

0635 Tanks with W Company reach 271909.

0700 Tanks on railway at 276914 report suspected enemy AFV.

0705 W Company at 271909.

0720 Y Company at 257898 report enemy MG firing from church 245896 being engaged by artillery.

0800 Tac HQ established 271909. Z Company at 273901, X Company 261896.

0820 Tanks report sniping in area north of 276914. Heavy explosions area 2490 and 2491.

0835 W Company report considerable opposition in built up area 282920.

0845 X Company take two PoW area 2589.

0850 Y Company attacking houses 261913.

0920 261913 cleared, two PoWs. Tanks reach railway 260913 and are going for bridge 257913.

1000 X Company report four more PoWs area 2589.

1045 Y Company report investigating bank 257913 – 263917. No tank crossing places.

W Company report forward troops pinned down by heavy sniping and automatic fire from cemetery and factory buildings south of canal bank 2892. Some casualties. Tanks investigating canal bank to right.

1100 Commanding Officer goes to W Company HQ.

1115 Brigade Commander orders X Company to attack Tamara 2489.

1215 1 London Irish Rifles are to attack Tamara after artillery preparation. X Company and tanks to co-operate.

1230 Y Company on far side of canal at 259916. Bridgehead 300 yards deep.

1235 Battle Patrol across canal 264917 which Royal Engineers recce reports as suitable site for Ark bridge.

1250 Commanding Officer returns to Tac HQ and issues orders for further advance. W Company to pull back to enable artillery to engage area north of Copparo. Z Company to cross as soon as Ark available at 264917 and swing right-handed. Tanks in support of Y Company to cross by Ark and link up again with Y Company on north bank. W Company to follow up behind Z on original axis due north from Copparo.

1300 X Company married up with the tanks.

1330 Y Company two PoW area 2591.

1345 Y Company ordered to patrol to 258923.

1350 X Company not now to attack Tamara. 1 London Irish Rifles only.

1415 Y Company report patrol investigation movement on left flank.

1430 Battle Patrol report movement 268930 – 262930. W Company send back eight PoWs.

1530 Z Company report Ark in position; tanks moving forward. Company on railway line at 265914.

1545 X Company report one platoon in Tamara has not contacted 1 London Irish Rifles.

1820 27 Lancers across canal and going forward.

1825 Y Company linked up with tanks and going forward.

1850 X Company to move one platoon to protect Ark crossing.

1905 Z Company report 273925 clear; moving on to 283930.

2000 Y Company consolidated area S. Venanzio 2692.

2130 Report of general German withdrawal across Po from Brigade HQ.  

2150 Order to push on as fast as possible; runner sent to Z Company.

2359 W Company report HQ 286918, forward platoon 284924.

24th April 1945

0005 Z Company report HQ 281921, forward platoon 286926 was forced back from 284929 by heavy MG fire. Second platoon passing through now. W Company’s FOO and all tanks at Z Company HQ.

0217 Y Company report no news from patrols; all quiet.

0345 Brigade Commander wants immediate information about progress and state of axis bridges etc. Dispatch rider sent to Z Company.

0455 Z Company report one platoon 285934, HQ and second platoon moving to join it.

0530 Z Company report tanks joined them at 285934.

0615 27 Lancers report opposition at 284954.

0815 Battalion Tac HQ established at 287936.

0915 27 Lancers have linked up with Y Company and are carrying them forward to 260950.

0930 Z and X Companies to attack with tanks across Canale Bianco at 1030.

1040 Z Company reach obstacle.

1050 Tanks report Canale Bianco at 284954 too big an obstacle for tank bridge or Ark can cannot cross.

1100 Y Company report clearing up with 27 Lancers in area 260955.

1230 Y Company complete handover of sector to company of 1 London Scottish.

1240 Z Company: One platoon 200 yards north and one platoon 500 yards east of bridge 285954 pinned down in very open country by mortar and small arms fire.

1500 X Company now consolidated at 287954. Y Company move to area 278947.

1700 Commanding Officer’s O group at Battalion HQ. Z Company to start patrolling at last light and clear line of Canale Luiba 284960. X Company left and W Company right to pass through at 0200hrs and consolidate Canale Andio 284975 to 305974 by first light. Tanks to follow as soon as bridge completed. Push on towards Alberone 2999 at first light.  

2230 Z Company land seven PoWs 362 Division at 286960.

25th April 1945

0015 Z Company eight PoWs 362 Division, 291956.

0135 Two platoons X Company moving off.

0215 X Company passed through Z Company. X company crossing Canale Luiba.

0320 X Company reach Canale Montecchio 288964.

0345 W Company 300960.

0355 X Company reach Canale Andio 289974: bridges blown.

0520 W Company on Canale Andio 3097.

0600 Tanks going up to join X and W Companies.

0645 X Company at Nagliata 284988. Tanks across Canale Andio.

0800 Tac HQ established at Caprilla 289974. Y Company to be brought forward as soon as possible.

0815 X Company engaged by heavy automatic fire from false bank of Po.

0820 W Company reach S. Antonio 299993. Battle Patrol to clear houses, Alberone 2999.

0840 Y Company reach 301997 in carriers and move up towards Po bank.

0910 X Company on Po bank at 294001. Germans retreating across river engaged by small arms fire.

0930 Battalion Tac HQ established at Nagliati 283988.

1015 Companies line river bank and engaging far bank with intense small arms fire. X Company 294002. W Company 297001. Battle Patrol 301001. Y Company 304002.

1030 Mark II assault boats to be brought up to X and Y Companies by carrier.

1115 Assault boats off loaded behind X and Y companies.

1345 Leading assault boat, after a labourious but uneventful 600 yards paddle against the current reaches north bank of Po at 295006. Lance Sergeant Mitchell in charge.

1400 Owing to shortage of assault boats, OC Battle Patrol swims Po to collect German boat for crossing operation.

1425 Battle Patrol crossing held up by heavy MG fire from 304008 and 310008.

1435 3-inch mortars engage Spandaus on north bank.

1510 X Company platoon at 292000 being lightly counter-attacked.

1635 X Company report remainder of company across river.

1715 Two sections Y Company cross under heavy MG fire.

1730 Two sections Y Company at 301006.

1745 X Company forward positions heavily counter-attacked from west. Mortars and artillery DF tasks cause enemy thirty casualties but slight interference continues.

1810 Sections of Y Company on north bank ordered to contact X Company.

1915 X Company reports two sections of Y Company now with them.

2100 2/5 Queens execute Po crossing on 9 Royal Fusiliers sector with Fantails, DUKWs and Shermans.

2335 X Company all back on south bank after being relieved by 2/5 Queens.

2359 All companies resting in present areas. Y Company concentrated at 298997.

26th April 1945

Battalion resting in Alberone area.

27th April 1945

0600 Advance party to be prepared to move at 0700; main body 1100.

1900 Main body leaves for Rovigo area via Ferrara.

28th April 1945

0400 Battalion established 286161. Sheet 64 Rovigo.

29th - 30th April 1945

Resting and reorganising.

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