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April 1944

For the first three weeks of April 1944, the 2nd Battalion (2 LIR) continued in defensive duties near to the summit of the 771 metre high Monte Castellone, where their four company positions were named Arsenal, Chelsea, Celtic and Lindfield.

A most uncomfortable period was spent here with absolutely no movement possible during daylight hours and all supplies having to be transported after dark by jeep across the Rapido Valley from San Michele before a mule train took everything up to the front line companies. The company quartermasters and muleteers did an outstanding job even sometimes being able to provide freshly baked cakes.

On 25th April, 2 LIR’s positions were taken over by the Polish Corps and along with the rest of the Irish Brigade, they withdrew to the picturesque and peaceful village of Formicola, ten miles to the north of Caserta. Men were now able to take much needed leave in Naples and on the Amalfi coast and, by the end of the month, were ready to start training for imminent further action near to Monte Cassino.

As 2 LIR were preparing themselves for further battle, the much depleted 1st Battalion (1 LIR) had arrived in Egypt in early April. They had expected an extended period of rest, but in the middle of the month, a multibadged London Battalion force was formed from all three companies of 168 Infantry Brigade and commanded by Lieut-Col Baucher and sent to put down a mutiny by the 1st Greek Brigade. By 28th April, this task was successfully completed and soon after, they returned to the brigade.

At the end of the month, news came through of the disbandment of 10 Royal Berkshire Regiment with many of their officers and men volunteering to join with 1 LIR. In early May, the brigade was augmented by the transfer in of 1 Welch Regiment to create an integrated Irish, Scottish and Welsh threesome within 168 Brigade.

By the start of May, 1 LIR were encamped at Sidi Bishr near to Alexandria.

Key Dates:

2nd April: 1 LIR arrive in Egypt and move the next day to Qassassin.

16th April: A combined 168 Brigade force, including men from 1 LIR and commanded by Lieut-Col Baucher was sent to Burj al Arab to help to put down a mutiny of 1st Greek Brigade.

25th April: 2 LIR are relieved by Polish Corps on Monte Castellone and move south to Formicola.

Roll of Honour: April 1944.

Rifleman HC Wasley 01/04/1944 Cassino Italy 2 LIR.

Cpl H Wyatt 05/04/1944 Cassino Italy 2 LIR.

Rifleman R Barrett 07/04/1944 Cassino Italy 2 LIR.

Rifleman EW Hull 08/04/1944 Cassino Italy 2 LIR.

Rifleman W Stewart 10/04/1944 Cassino Italy 2 LIR.

Rifleman RE Langley 12/04/1944 Cassino Italy 1 LIR.

Rifleman JJ Dorriss 24/04/1944 Cassino Italy 2 LIR.

Read The London Irish at War – April 1944.

Read May 1944 here.