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9th Battalion Royal Fusiliers – War Diary February 1944

1st February 1944

1530 Battalion moved to C. Saluatito area.  B Company remained in present position Point 275 under command 7 Ox and Bucks.  A and D Companies relieved by 40 Marine Commando. Battalion took over from 2/7 Queens and found themselves once more in position on Salvatito. A Company left, D Company right, Tac HQ 842975. Battle Patrol 8 Royal Fusiliers placed under command to work with our own.


2nd February 1944

1130 Divisional Commander visited Tac HQ.

1530 Aggressive mortar shoot – 40 HE bombs – by 3-inch mortars on area 826988-830990.

1930 Battle Patrol out to area 821990.

2030 Two Italians sent back by Battle Patrol.

2035 Commanding Officer takes advantage of patrolling possibilities in our area to exercise new drafts. D Company patrol sent to houses 829981.

2325 Battle patrol returns.  Four Teller mines lifted and track cleared at 823974.

2330 D Company patrol returns.  Houses empty.  Teller mines lifted track 832978.

2335 Brigade order further patrol to Point 106.


3rd February 1944

0420 Enemy automatic fire reported right flank.

0630 Battle patrol returns from Point 106.  Were engaged by small arms fire and machine pistol from buildings 81895.

1700 3-inch mortars engage Point 106 heavily.


4th February 1944

1905 Slight shelling forward area of D Company.

2300 A and B Companies change over completed.


5th February 1944

0630 Battle Patrol returns.  Held up by Spandau fire when moving up track 811906.

1320 Two Italians brought in with reports on enemy gun positions, tank localities and details of road construction.

1800 Battalion now under command 169 Brigade.


6th February 1944

0615 B Company’s standing patrol returns.  Nothing to report.

1900 Battalion relieved by 10 KRRC.  Marched to Route 7 and then by transport to Fontanelle.

7th February 1944 - Fontanelle

Battalion in rest area for maintenance tasks.


8th February 1944

Check of all stores ready for further action.


9th February 1944

Battalion ready to move.


10th February 1944

0330 Battalion moved by TCL to concentration area Potsuelli.


11th February 1944 - Potsuelli

Battalion waiting to move.


12th February 1944

0900 Battalion moved by own transport and route marched to embarkation point.

1600 – at sea Underway for Anzio by LST and LCI.


13th February 1944

0730 Convoys lies at Anzio waiting to come in.  All eyes on the sky which was very clear.  Our own fighters were patrolling the overhead.

0800 LST 412 and training Battalion HQ personnel and all Battalion’s transport arrived at beaches.  Greeted by a fighter bomber had dived attack by about 4 FW 190s.  One bomb landed in the sea near our stern.

1200 – 806252 Battalions in harbour area 8025 all men dug in.  There was an air raid during the night.

1400 – 885281 CO on recce 180 RCT and 8828.


14th February 1944 - 8127

0900 CO on recce of the area 157 RCT.  A and D Companies placed under command 8 of Royal Fusiliers.

1330 CO returns.

1500 CO, OCs B and C Companies, 1, 3, 4, 5 platoons recce the locations of 157 RCT.

1530 CO and IO recce area 8130 and 8230.

1745 - 813298 A Company move forward to go to area 816310 and D Companies to area 835295.  Still under command 8 Royal Fusiliers.

B and C Companies to area 3/157 RCT Companies.

1845 - 816276 Battalion HQ moved to area 3rd Battalion HQ 157 RCT.  Dug-in.


15th February 1944

0900 - 813298 CO on recce with Brigade Commander in area 8330 and 8331.

1000 OCs B and C companies reported to RV 813298 to wait for CO on completion of his recce.

1400 - 806252 CO return from recce.  Brigade plan was now for 9 Royal Fusiliers to take over front on line of Moletto River from 815311 to 826317.  A Company to remain in present position.  D Company moved to area 823363.  B Company to 828308. C Company in reserve at 820295.

Battle Patrol to give local protection to 3 Platoon in area 822304. Tac HQ to area of wood 815295.

1800 Battalion HQ, B and C companies moved forward to new positions.


16th February 1944

2400 - 822309 B Company in position.

0300 - 815310 D Company in position.

0615 - 818310 Strong German counter attack along Brigade front. Two forward positions of A Company and D Company cut off. The country here was very close shrub and our positions were isolated and then enveloped at very short range. Reports of men who did return show that in most cases men were taken prisoner.

1200 - Molletta Line Captain Rider and 11 men moved forward covered by smoke to take up positions at 818302 near the Battle Patrol.

1800 - 824305 C Company move forward and take up position on the right of Battle Patrol at 824305. Quiet night.


17th February 1944

1000 - 814306 2 POW from 10 Para brought in by 9 Platoon A Company and sent back to Brigade.

1750 - 824305 C Company report a Spandau between them and B Company. Have no reserves to send to deal with this and a carrier section is sent forward.

1800 - 818296 Telephone lines broken but 18 sets working well and B and C Companies on set.

1820 - 824305 Country unsuitable for the carrier section who are now to be employed in ground action.

1825 - 830307 B Company now tole to deal with Spandau post. Line communication now working to C and B Companies.

1856 - 818296 Companies now on set only.

1858 - 818302 Voices reported by Captain Rider in the wadi below his position. They were in English and very loud and suspicious. Grenades were thrown.

1900 1/36 Engineer Platoon in wadi contacted to try and clear the question of voices.

1900 830307 B Company on line. Have some infiltration and their strength is now about 40.

2000 826306 C Company located Spandau area shack 826306 to their right front.

2035 818302 Voices confirmed as American wiring party.

2229 B Company patrol reports the Spandau has now withdrawn.

2258 - 826306 C Company send small patrol to shack and find it empty although enemy heard in area of it. Mortars engaged area.

2350 818302 Captain Rider reports enemy movement and probings in line in wadi below him. Brigade informed and DF tasks were fired very frequently.


18th February 1944

0115 - 830307 Line through to B Company. Nothing to report.

0130 - 817305 Battle Patrol report enemy on north side of wadi between himself and C Company and firing Very lights.

0140 - 826307 C Company report enemy still moving in area shack 826307. C Company ordered to engage with fire. B Company warned. C Company contacting B Company reference B Company’s standing patrol in area 828309. B unable to assist with fire.

0230 - 818296 Brigade informed of all recent events.

0415 B and C Companies reported all quiet and no sound of enemy movement.

0525 - 824305 Carrier Section dismounted placed under command C Company and carriers returned to TAC area.

0755 - 830307 B Company report one Spandau to their front which was being dealt with.

0800 - 818296 Tanks contacted to try and direct C Company shack but were unable to obtain direct shoot.

0914 - 830307 B Company report situation sticky but not critical, would like C Company to be prepared to give assistance.

1000 B Company ask for assistance. They have had to accept infiltration in their area especially in the main wadi.

Portering party told to stand by.

Despatch rider sent to B Echelon for reserves.

1012 C Company observing ground forward of B Company.

1030 - 818296 Captain G. Brooks leaves B Company with a party of 47 B Echelon men. Brigade, Cheshires, 36 Engineers informed.

Leaves for?

1035 Liaison Officer 1st Armoured Division contacted.

1146 CO asked for naval fire to engage high ground 820312.  This firing was done most effectively.  Aggressive shooting by mortars and DF and Royal Artillery tasks.

1222 - 830307 B Company ask if reinforcements have left.  Yes.

1245 B Company still in position.  A Spandau is now in the rear of them.

1247 - 819295 F Company 1/36 Engineers man their night positions area 819295. 

1250 - 824305 DF tasks asked for several times during the morning by C Company to harass any enemy concentrations.

1253 - 818296 Royal Artillery report following enemy locations.  Infantry 885318.  Tanks at 890333.  Further tanks concentration of 900340.

1630 Tonight’s patrols are only lateral ones between companies and 8 Royal Fusiliers.

1840 - 835301 8 Royal Fusiliers report that Captain Brooks and his party are enabled to approach B Company in daylight owing to snipers.  He will move at dusk.

1902 - 818302 Captain Rider reports voices in wadi.  Told to contact American platoon on his right and interchange one man for the night time. 

1930 - 826306 C Company patrol report enemy digging in in area of the shack.  B Company ordered to deal with this at 1945 hrs.

2053 Cheshires engage shack from 2015 hrs.  Concentrate medium machine gun fire by guns from area 816316.  Royal Artillery stonk the gun area.

2230 - 830307 B Company report Lieutnenant Illes on job for 8 Royal Fusiliers.


19th February 1944

0215 - 818296 Prisoners brought in through this HQ by 7 Ox and Bucks.

0534 Counter preparation stonk by our guns.

0550 - 826306 C Company report enemy movement still fairly near their right front and occasional shooting.

0630 - 827308 Spandau fire from about 827308 towards B Company.  The Company also suspect enemy moving in wadi running towards 8 Royal Fusiliers Tac HQ.  Artillery engage machine gun post.

0825 - 827307 Our mortars engage area of two wadis at 828307.  No communication with B Company.

0830 - 813303 Machine gun platoon on our left flank asked to fire on the area C Company shack.

0848 - 830307 B Company contacted are in same position.  They want someone to contact them from the rear.  8 Royal Fusiliers agree to send a section of their Battle Patrol.

0910 - 818296 B Company asked for artillery concentrations on to the area of their front.

0945 - 818296 Fusilier Banford, D Company, who had returned to Tac HQ exhausted now able to tell his story.  He had remained for 48 hours in his original platoon area waiting for the rest of the company to return and re-occupy the position.  Finally decided to return and cautiously made his way back to the enemy lines.  He gave a very valuable information.  The enemy’s habit was to base in the main wadi and work in strong patrols in relays.  Positions were dug on the spur at 824315, gully 826315, spur 828316 and a mortar behind 826316.  On his way back through the wadis he passed three German patrols of 12-15 men of.  The wadi was full of dead Bosche.

0942 Shells in area Tac HQ.  Our guns replied.  More DF fire by our guns

1122 -832307 B Company report enemy digging in in the wadi at 832307.

1138 - 826204 C Company report Spandau fire from area 826204 towards B Company.

1220 - 824305 Mortars engage shack.

1230 830304 8 Royal Fusiliers report two snipers in bushes above track leading into wadi behind them.  Also inform us that Captain Brooks has been wounded and not picked up.

1455 - 825310 C Company reports black smoke area 825310.  Guns engage.

1700 - 818296 Plan made for tonight’s harassing of enemy.  Artillery, one round gunfire every 15 minutes on the wadi tasks.  Mortars every 20 minutes one round per mortar. MMG unevenly on the shack area throughout the night.


20th February 1944

0045 Bombs – mainly anti-personnel in area of the Tac HQ. Apart from air-raid the remaining hours of darkness were quiet.

AM - 8330 No enemy movement observed. Our activities consisted of offensive 3-inch and 4.2-inch mortaring and artillery fire.

1205 - 820306 Digging reported area 820306. Difficult to confirm or observe.

1418 Recce sent out to observe digging.

1432 -8143069 Platoon, A Company reported 2 Bosche seen moving below them. Party sent out to bring them in but the enemy dropped their arms and made off through close woods and could not be traced.

1445 - 815327 Gunner OP reports Red Cross now at house 815327. This house has previously been in harassing programme.

1450 - 819306 Mortars engaged 819306.

1455 - 815313 Gunners fire on observed enemy movement area 815313.

1456 - 825309 Gunners engage suspected mortar at 825309.

1500 - 815311 All informed of patrol programme for tonight. 1/36 Engineers sending patrol to cut enemy supply line and endeavour to obtain a prisoner.

1548 - 8132 9 Platoon A Company report 3 armoured vehicles seem to be 357 degrees from house. Range 800-900 yards. Guns engage.

1620 - 826306 C Company report activity in area of shack. A red very light went up and single shot believed to be Bren. B Company contacted and they report engaging Spandau with mortar and LMG fire.

1705 -827305 Mortars engage target 827305. Enemy seen there.

1940 - 818309 Captain Rider reports white very lights area of 9 Platoon. 9 Platoon say US patrol had started out shortly before. C Company also report one red very light.


21st February 1944

0100 - 818296 Everything okay. Communications intact but Tec 18 set not working well.

0335 Set still poor but groups can hear us. C Company report shot near shack. Intermittent shelling on right in factory area. Otherwise our front very quiet.

0430 American patrol confirmed returned but believed to have done so considerably earlier.

0505 - 825300 Enemy barrage dropping behind C Company.

0510 - 818296 Artillery reply with stonk.

0550 Enemy return stonk and we increase with further DF tasks.

AM Absolutely no enemy movement seen. Our 3-inch and 4.2-inch mortars fired at likely targets whilst guns engaged observed enemy movement in road across main wadi.

1250 - 814306 9 Platoon pick up gun flash and report hearing.

1700 - 826306 C Company shoot guns on to shack.

1725 - 818296 1 round gunfire fired by C Company.

1800 Shells believed 105mm SP fell well in the Tac HQ area. One Royal Artillery jeep destroyed and shrapnel damage to 1 motorcycle and a jeep trailer. No casualties.

1900 - 815311 American patrol sets out on same task as the previous night.

2050 - 819309 Spandau fire from left. 9 Platoon reported it as coming from in front right American platoon.

2100 - 818296 Information from Brigade giving several enemy locations as observed by gunner OP on our left flank given us – passed to Royal Artillery.

2250 - 822309 Some enemy movement and C Company asked for DF.

2255 - 818296 American patrol returns. No results.

2330 Americans on our right contacted for information but they have none. Remainder of the night quiet.


22nd February 1944

AM - 8230 No enemy activity. Our mortars and artillery again spent an aggressive morning. Brigade commander visited CO.

1500 - 818296 Americans to repeat same patrol for third time. Our patrols again confined to lateral contact ones only including to 3 Platoon B company 2/36 Engineers.

1835 - 826308 MMG engage shack on observed enemy movement from C Company. Mortars told to maintain regular stonk on wadi in front of B Company throughout the night.826306

1940 - 826306 C Company report enemy movement near shack and noises seem to be closing in on their position. 3-inch mortars engage and no further noise heard.

1946 - 830307 B Company nothing to report.

2005 - 826308 MMG asked to engage area of shack.

2045 - 830307 B Company OK. Some Spandaus are sniping but not in the Company’s area.

2216 - 815311 US patrol returns. Reports enemy stacking boxes in wadi 815311. Guns engage heavily.


23rd February 1944

0028 - 813298 Heavy shelling on road near Tac HQ. Royal Artillery OP obtains flash bearing.

0140 - 814306 Prisoner brought in from 9 Platoon A Company.

0430 - 830307 B Company nothing to report.

0510 - 818296 C Company nothing to report except for some mortar shelling. Our mortars then fired.

0715 Situation not clear on 8 Royal Fusiliers front. Companies and tanks informed to watch right flank.

0750 PoW reported to be a Sturm Regiment cook and of a stretcher bearer party and had lost himself. Did not like our artillery and they had had heavy casualties.

AM - 828296 Companies contacted to try and trace MMG and shellfire. None in our area. Enemy artillery shelling our guns. C Company contacted B Company.

1400 - 830307 B Company watching to give assistance to 8 Royal Fusiliers. Nothing on their own front.

1426 - 825305 Contact patrol from B Company returns. Route was rearwards and not across direct.

1500 - 828313 4.2-inch mortars engaging targets throughout the afternoon. Special targets engaged for 8 Royal Fusiliers were 2 x 50 bombs on 828313 and 50 on 830314.

1545 - 818296 Shelling Tac HQ area. Believed by self-propelled guns. Damage to 18 Set and motorcycle. No casualties.

1620 - 827306 Guns engage enemy movement seen at 827306.

1745 - 8130 Royal Artillery do evening hate onto Martin Rook and Garden.

1910 - 818296 Companies told of success by 8 Royal Fusiliers. 40 killed, 10 prisoners, 11 Spandaus taken.

2120 - 8230 Contact patrols ordered at 2200, 0200, 0400 hrs between C Company, Captain Rider and Americans. C Company report their standing patrol out and have already engaged 3 men in area of shack.

2145 - 815311 3-inch mortars engage wadi junction where enemy were observed stacking boxes on previous night.

2200 - 8131 4.2-inch mortars asked to engage registered targets at intervals throughout the night.


24th February 1944

0900 - 825309 C Company report that their standing patrol further engaged a small party of about 4 men and fired lights. 2 probables.

1130 - 818296 Brigade informed of station heard on 6.8 frequency using call sign Rudolph (23) and Aveito (24) speaking in mixed German, Italian and French.

AM - 830307 B Company contacted by Captain Reid, London Scottish to make plans for counter attack roles forward. Recces to be completed today as early as possible.

1250 - 815312 9 Platoon A Company report ten Boche crossed wadi 815312 went into some scrub 100 yards to right and returned carrying stretcher. Went to road and believed to have gone to house with Red Cross flying 815327.

1338 - 815327 Gunner OP reports ten enemy moving about on high ground near shack. 3-inch mortars engaged corrected from gunner OP. On target after first correction. About 25 bombs fired, 2 men in a slit trench. Target recorded and on call when Royal Artillery next see movement.

1520 - 813325 B Company report seeing tank, checked with 8 Royal Fusiliers and believed to be damaged one at 813325.

1930 - 8230 Heavy enemy stonk area C Company – road – Tac HQ.

1932 - 829307 B Company contacted to send patrol to beat up enemy in wadi area 829307 – asked for by 8 Royal Fusiliers. Patrol sent out under Lieutenant Illes.

1935 - 824305 C Company report some casualties when shells landed in the area of their standing patrol believed 3 wounded 1 killed. Stonk was by mortar at close range.

2005 Stonk still intense and covering same area. Our guns reply with CB and CF tasks. Furious inter-artillery duel issues.

2150 - 8131 Corps artillery continuing stonk on main wadi area. MMG firing throughout the night 20,000 rounds at approximately 3000 yards range.

2315 - 829307 B Company patrol returns. Reports about 12 men dug in just below crest 829307 in the angle of the wadis. More men to the left and also some movement in the main wadi.


25th February 1944

0125 - 818296 Battle patrol raid on C Company shack at 0530 hrs cancelled in view of fact B Company sending patrol at 0515 hrs to beat up enemy observed by previous patrol at 2315.

0515 - 830307 B Company patrol leaves Company area.

0745 - 828308 Patrol returns. Enemy engaged with Thompson SMG fire and grenades. Patrol withdrew and was fired on from high ground by 4 automatics. One was a Bren gun and one a Spandau. Enemy locations given as 828308 – 829307. Gunners shoot No. 3 task. 3-inch mortars engage wadi.

1000 - 818311 A man from A Company, Fusilier Williams 210, who had been in his original platoon area until 24th now fit enough to supply information. States the enemy rest in the trees in the wadi – line 31 grid – and move forward 40 yards at night. He is on reverse slopes by day and high ground by night at 818311 and 820311. Here our DF task falls 100 yards north of these positions. A mortar is in the same area near a north-south farm wire with an OP on the crest. Bosche used the small gully at 819311 and also the main wadi. He always doubles when moving in that area. Their recce signals here are the rattling of a stone in a tin.

1110 - 825305 Three airbursts over C Company area.

1530 - 818296 Shells land area of road near Tac HQ most intense as usual. Ammunition dump on road fired. No casualties.

1600 - 829307 3-inch mortars told to engage wadi 829307 at intervals throughout the night.

2025 - 818296 B Company carrying party report Lieutenant Tarrant’s party held up by shellfire. Waiting for shellfire to cease and then continuing by alternative route.

2040 - 818298 Spandau bullets flying in area of road near Tac HQ.

2050 - 8230 Party from 7 Ox and Bucks start wiring in our area.

2120 - 819296 Occasional shell still landing in our area.

2240 - 827307 Gunner OP reports sniper firing on to road from area 827307. B Company cannot locate sniper. Also have a party standing to deal with suspected infiltration to rear of 8 Royal Fusiliers Tac.


26th February 1944

0500 - 819296 Wiring programme not completed – will be continuing this evening.

0630 - 826307 C Company standing patrol engaged two enemy seen leaving shack.

0815 - 826307 B Company patrol at 0500 reports no enemy at 829307 but 8 Royal Fusiliers now report 3 there. Royal Artillery and 3-inch mortars engage.

1400 - 819298 Very quiet whole of Battalion front.

1710 - 8330 220 Field Company will patrol to B Company at 2030 hrs.

1910 Major Davies contacting 220 at 2100, 0100, 0400.

2138 - 8131 Two bursts Spandau followed by Bren on extreme left.

2245 - 826308 C Company report noises in area of their standing patrol and line now dead.


27th February 1944

0245 - 819309 Royal Engineers report their patrol to B Company met enemy at 825304 – went to C Company instead.

0305 - 826307 C Company report LMG of their standing patrol still firing.

0400 - 829296 Battle Patrol go out to investigate wadi Martin.

0520 - 826307 C Company report standing patrol OK.

0640 - 829296 All patrols in. B Company nil. Battle Patrol unable to reach objective, heard digging en route and Spandau fire.

1015 Spasmodic shelling single gun (?) Tac area.

1500 - 8130 Recce of start lines area wood 8130 for battalion of Yorkshire Dragoons in counter attack role.

1600 - 826306 C Company make raid on shack 826306.

1730 C Company report three prisoners taken near shack and 1 Bosche killed.

1830 - 829296 Three prisoners to Brigade. Identified as 2 Sergeants and 1 Corporal of 3 Sturm Regiment. Useful information of the habits was obtained.

2230 - 830307 B Company report they were mortared earlier in evening but now all quiet. OP suspected at 834307.

2240 8230 Wiring completed in our area by 7 Ox and Bucks working party.


28th February 1944

0400 - 819308 Battle Patrol patrol to wadi 819308.

0830 - 815312 Patrol returns and reports enemy heard in area wadi junction 815312. Also Spandau fire.

1200 - 819296 Quiet morning.

1515 Two enemy fighters flew across at 500 feet.

1915 - 815306 9 Platoon now on line report 2 shells in wadi 815306 at 1100 hrs followed between 1530 – 1630 hrs by an intense period of shelling. No casualties but 3 Platoon 2/36 Engineers had 1 killed, 4 wounded.

2031 - 823305 C Company 3 casualties own barrage. Some activity on both our left and right flanks.

2035 - 819308 Battle Patrol starts for 819388.

2215 2/36 Engineers report having seen two Bosche officers with maps at 879308 at 1630.

2219 - 819296 Message on 22 set from 8 Royal Fusiliers passed to Brigade. Now appears that right flank party has eased.


29th February 1944

0115 From Royal Artillery – Corps expect attack about dawn. Asked for 2/36 Engineers to remain in night positions also our troops until situation clear.

0625-  815312 Patrol returns. Reached objective without contacting any enemy. Noises heard wadi junction 875312. Puffin fired.

0700-  819296 General artillery fire in view of probable attack.

0700 - 8230 Whole front very quiet.

1000 - 830307 CO visited B Company

1600 B Company reported mortaring of their position. Royal Artillery engage known enemy position and mortaring stopped.

1840 - 826306 Tracer fired from area of shack goes over C Company positions. Then fire swinging to across from B Company. One white very light from area left shack.

1940 - 8130 Captain Rider reports enemy shelling 36 Engineers on his left flank.

2010 - 8230 Enemy aircraft overhead. Two parachute flares dropped 600 yards right of C Company area.

2255 - 825305 3 Platoon leave to take up new positions.


Appendix A

Royal Artillery defensive fire tasks fired by 254 Battery 64th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery. Either Battery Commander Major G. Masters MC or Battery Captain A. Sturge always at Tac HQ 818296.

OP Officer Captain Weld at OP at 815298.

DF

Martin  819308

Puffin   812312 – 819310

Rook     819310 – 824310

Gander 824310 – 828308

Finch     828308 – 832310

These tasks were usually fired by Divisional artillery. There were also point targets for Corps artillery stonks in the DF area. Naval support was also available from 5.5-inch cruiser.


The National Archives (TNA) WO 170/1391 9 Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment)