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August 1943

The start of August 1943 saw the 2nd Battalion (2 LIR) playing a full part in 38 (Irish) Brigade’s assaults on the strongly held German defensive lines to the west of Mt Etna in support of the 78th Infantry Division’s plan to cut all lateral road contact with Catania.

On the evening of 2nd August, 2 LIR was given responsibility for the taking of three 2000 foot high hills just to the west of German strong points in Centuripe. Their attack was timed in advance of the direct assaults of the rest of the Irish Brigade, with 6 Inniskilling Fusiliers (6 Innisks), and 1 Royal Irish Fusiliers (1 RIrF) fighting up precipitous cliffs into the village. A most famous success for the Irish Brigade was completed during the night, with Winston Churchill announcing the outcome in Parliament on the following day..

Over the next three days 2 LIR, along with 1 RIrF, followed the German retreat to the north, by crossing the shallow Salso River and the much deeper, and fast flowing Simeto River despite strong enemy resistance.  Significant levels of casualties were suffered by the battalion during these two successful river crossings.

Following five days of rest, 2 LIR were again brought forward to join up with 1 RIrF in the assault on Maletto, the last settlement before Randazzo. 2 LIR’s task was to advance on the right flank of the attack, their objectives being Mt Speina and Mt Maletto, with 1 RIrF targeting Mt Capella, and the village of Maletto. The countryside was almost impossible to cross with lava beds and high walls blocking the path of all transport, including mule borne ones. During the final assault, Major Fitzgerald MC, OC of F Company, was killed near to Sperina.

Following the capture of Messina on 16th August, both battalions of the London Irish Rifles settled down for well deserved rest periods, with the 1st Battalion (1 LIR) on the east side of the island, and 2 LIR on the north coast – with plentiful supplies of fruit and close proximity to the warm Mediterranean adding to their sense of well being.


Key Dates:

August 2nd – 2 LIR take part in the Irish Brigade’s successful assault on the hill top village of Centuripe.

August 4th –  Successful crossing of the Salso River undertaken by 2 LIR and 1 RIrF.

August 5th –  2 LIR continue advance north along with 1 RIrF and form bridgehead cross the Simeto River.

August 11th – Attack on Mt Capella  by 1 RIrF and on Mt Sperina and Mt Maletto by 2 LIR, which was the last action for the battalion in Sicily.

August 15th – 1 LIR move to a rest area at Fiumefreddo on the east coast, before moving to Piedmonte, north east of Mt Etna.

August 23rd – Elements of 2 LIR move to a rest area at Patti on the north coast of Sicily, and by the end of the month the whole battalion had moved there to start a new training regime.


Roll of Honour, August 1943:

Rifleman B Radford 02/08/1943 Cassino Memorial Italy 2 LIR

Rifleman N Wildgoose 02/08/1943 Catania Italy 2 LIR

Rifleman H Imbush 03/08/1943 Bone Algeria 2 LIR

Sgt RG Allen 05/08/1943 Catania Italy 2 LIR

Rifleman W Cathcart 05/08/1943 Catania Italy 2 LIR

Rifleman RBK Chapman 05/08/1943 Catania Italy 2 LIR

Rifleman EE Crisp 05/08/1943 Catania Italy 2 LIR

Rifleman SG Curwen 05/08/1943 Catania Italy 2 LIR

Rifleman WJ Fitzgerald 05/08/1943 Catania Italy 2 LIR

Rifleman AT Fitzpatrick 05/08/1943 Catania Italy 2 LIR

Rifleman JP Forde 05/08/1943 Catania Italy 2 LIR

Rifleman AJ Gardiner 05/08/1943 Catania Italy 2 LIR

Rifleman SG Garratt 05/08/1943 Catania Italy 2 LIR

Rifleman G Haggerty 05/08/1943 Catania Italy 2 LIR

L/Sgt V Hooke 05/08/1943 Catania Italy 2 LIR

Rifleman N Hopkinson 05/08/1943 Catania Italy 2 LIR

Lt AG Howells 05/08/1943 Catania Italy 2 LIR

Rifleman AT Hunt 05/08/1943 Catania Italy 2 LIR

Rifleman R Lee-Kinch 05/08/1943 Catania Italy 2 LIR

Rifleman RC Mark 05/08/1943 Catania Italy 2 LIR

Cpl J McCrone 05/08/1943 Catania Italy 2 LIR

Rifleman J Mullan 05/08/1943 Catania Italy 2 LIR

Rifleman G Orr 05/08/1943 Catania Italy 2 LIR

Rifleman DM Patterson 05/08/1943 Catania Italy 2 LIR

Cpl JA Rodden 05/08/1943 Catania Italy 2 LIR

Rifleman FW Sargeant 05/08/1943 Catania Italy 2 LIR

Rifleman WH Beavis 06/08/1943 Catania Italy 2 LIR

Rifleman W Cartledge 06/08/1943 Catania Italy 2 LIR

Rifleman TE Griffiths 06/08/1943 Catania Italy 1 LIR

Rifleman A Johnston 06/08/1943 Dely Ibrahim Algeria 2 LIR

L/Cpl WJ Land 06/08/1943 Catania Italy 1 LIR

Lt JS Leahy 06/08/1943 Catania Italy 1 LIR

Rifleman FC Lloyd 06/08/1943 Catania Italy 2 LIR

Rifleman AT Marsh 06/08/1943 Catania Italy 1 LIR

Rifleman S Osborne 06/08/1943 Catania Italy 1 LIR

Rifleman JE Rowe 06/08/1943 Catania Italy 1 LIR

Rifleman M Weir 06/08/1943 Catania Italy 2 LIR

Rifleman LW Whiting 06/08/1943 Catania Italy 1 LIR

Rifleman J Dooey 08/08/1943 Syracuse Italy 2 LIR

Rifleman AR Ewing 10/08/1943 Catania Italy 2 LIR

Rifleman D McClatchey 10/08/1943 Cassino Memorial Italy 2 LIR

Rifleman F Creaney 12/08/1943 Catania Italy 2 LIR

Major JG Fiztgerald MC 12/08/1943 Catania Italy 2 LIR

Rifleman PL Gregory 12/08/1943 Catania Italy 2 LIR

Rifleman J Law 12/08/1943 Catania Italy 2 LIR

Rifleman LP McRory 12/08/1943 Catania Italy 2 LIR

Rifleman ARE Roberts 12/08/1943 Catania Italy 2 LIR

Rifleman WA Roffey 12/08/1943 Catania Italy 2 LIR

Rifleman JG Murtagh MM 15/08/1943 Tripoli Libya 2 LIR

CSM JJH McKee 28/08/1943 Catania Italy 2 LIR


Read The London Irish At War – August/September 1943.

Read September 1943 here.