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February 1944

The 2nd Battalion (2 LIR) spent the early part of February 1944 at rest near to Campobasso before they were transferred, along with the rest of 38th (Irish) Brigade, to join the New Zealand Corps and started to ready themselves for a possible early further assault on German defensive positions at Monte Cassino. The battalion would ultimately not be required to support the attack by Kiwi and Indian forces, which had commenced soon after the bombing of the Benedictine Abbey on 15th February. For the remainder of the month, 2 LIR would continue to undertake training, including intensive practice at crossing rivers.

On 3rd February, the 1st Battalion (1 LIR) had landed at Anzio and were immediately moved forward into front line positions to meet the ongoing German offensive onslaught to the north of Aprilia, a town which was known as the “Factory”.

The morning of 7th February saw renewed German assaults on the Factory, which was on the direct route south towards the sea and over the next few days 1 LIR undertook desperate defensive actions and were ordered not to give up any ground. During this period, D Company was completely overwhelmed on the morning of the 9th February, and B Company was forced to retreat, before A Company attempted a counter attack to stabilise the battalion’s positions  At this stage, due to the heavy casualties, the three surviving companies were combined and a company of London Scottish were also transferred to come under battalion command before, on the night of 10/11th February, the 168th Brigade were moved out of the line for a period of rest and a company of new men joined up with the London Irish.

A renewed German assault on the bridgehead forces commenced on the morning of 16th February and, on the following day, 168th Brigade was moved forward to become a reserve unit within 56th Division before being ordered to search for the remnants of 7th Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry who were reported to have been cut off on Buonriposa Ridge.  By this stage of the battle, 1 LIR had suffered 80% casualty rates, and the commanding officer, Lt-Colonel Good, was ordered to take a rest with Major Stopford now taking over command of the battalion. On the evening of 18th February, although holding a bulge in the middle of the bridgehead, the German forces began attacking again, this time on the eastern side of the bridgehead perimeter. The London Irish continued in their search for the survivors from the Oxford and Bucks but met a strong German Paratrooper defensive force and the attempt ended in failure with C Company suffering a number of casualties.

Soon after, the German forces again switched their line of attack towards 56th Division’s positions to the west of the main Anzio road, but several attempts to make a breakthrough were repulsed. The London Irish now continued in their attempt to find the Oxford and Bucks LI and with one rifle company being formed from the remnants of the original four, they were finally able to bring out some survivors and only suffering limited amounts of casualties in doing so. It was only now that they were able to take some further rest and Major Lofting took over command of the much depleted group of London Irishmen as the battalion reformed into two companies to continue their support to the Anzio bridgehead.


Key Dates:

3rd February: 1 LIR arrive at Anzio.

To 28th February: 1 LIR continue in the Anzio bridgehead.


Roll of Honour, February 1944:

Rifleman AGA Button 05/02/1944 Anzio Beachhead Italy 1 LIR.

Rifleman WD McEwan 06/02/1944 Anzio Italy 1 LIR.

Rifleman W Willis 06/02/1944 Anzio Italy 1 LIR.

Rifleman BE Harvey 07/02/1944 Cassino Memorial Italy 1 LIR.

Rifleman TG Baker 08/02/1944 Cassino Memorial Italy 1 LIR.

Rifleman JW Barnett 08/02/1944 Anzio Italy 1 LIR.

Rifleman G Beighton 08/02/1944 Anzio Italy 1 LIR.

2 Lt TH Boomer 08/02/1944 Cassino Memorial Italy 1 LIR.

Rifleman GE Brandon 08/02/1944 Anzio Italy 1 LIR.

Rifleman R Canavan 08/02/1944 Anzio Italy 1 LIR.

Rifleman A Casterton 08/02/1944 Cassino Memorial Italy 1 LIR.

Rifleman TC Down 08/02/1944 Cassino Memorial Italy 1 LIR.

Sgt AG Fry 08/02/1944 Anzio Italy 1 LIR.

Rifleman FJ Glover 08/02/1944 Anzio Beachhead Italy 1 LIR.

Rifleman VG Grizzell 08/02/1944 Anzio Beachhead Italy 1 LIR.

Rifleman P Howard 08/02/1944 Anzio Italy 1 LIR.

Rifleman KGA Jones 08/02/1944 Anzio Beachhead Italy 1 LIR.

Rifleman R Macklin 08/02/1944 Anzio Beachhead Italy 1 LIR.

Cpl T McGibney 08/02/1944 Cassino Memorial Italy 1 LIR.

Rifleman JE Mulcahy 08/02/1944 Cassino Memorial Italy 1 LIR.

Rifleman PO Phippen 08/02/1944 Rome Italy 1 LIR.

Rifleman L Stapler 08/02/1944 Cassino Memorial Italy 1 LIR.

Rifleman J Strand 08/02/1944 Cassino Memorial Italy 1 LIR.

CSM O Betteridge 09/02/1944 Anzio Italy 1 LIR.

Rifleman KW Betts 09/02/1944 Rome Italy 1 LIR.

Rifleman GT Busby 09/02/1944 Anzio Italy 1 LIR.

L/Cpl TF Goodenough 09/02/1944 Naples Italy 1 LIR.

L/Cpl C McDonagh 09/02/1944 Cassino Memorial Italy 1 LIR.

Rifleman JE Stewart 09/02/1944 Cassino Memorial Italy 1 LIR.

Rifleman EW Arrowsmith 10/02/1944 Anzio Italy 1 LIR.

Cpl AE Taylor 10/02/1944 Anzio Italy 1 LIR.

Rifleman F Miles 12/02/1944 Anzio Italy 1 LIR.

Rifleman CJ Owen 12/02/1944 Naples Italy 1 LIR.

Rifleman G Cavanagh 13/02/1944 Anzio Italy 1 LIR.

Rifleman TG Dagnall 13/02/1944 Anzio Italy 1 LIR.

Rifleman FC Williamson 13/02/1944 Anzio Italy 1 LIR.

Rifleman CF Haywood 17/02/1944 Anzio Italy 1 LIR.

CSM D Flavelle 18/02/1944 Cassino Memorial Italy 1 LIR.

Rifleman F Forey 18/02/1944 Cassino Memorial Italy 1 LIR.

Rifleman RAW Lavender 18/02/1944 Naples Italy 1 LIR.

Rifleman CAJ Linscer 18/02/1944 Anzio Italy 1 LIR.

Sgt EJ Mart 18/02/1944 Naples Italy 1 LIR.

Rifleman S Poole 18/02/1944 Anzio Beachhead Italy 1 LIR.

Captain JR Strick 18/02/1944 Anzio Beachhead Italy 1 LIR.

Rifleman AJ Breakspear 20/02/1944 Anzio Italy 1 LIR.

Captain ID Crozier 20/02/1944 Anzio Beachhead Italy 1 LIR.

Rifleman L Davis 20/02/1944 Anzio Beachhead Italy 1 LIR.

Rifleman J Dorrian 20/02/1944 Cassino Memorial Italy 1 LIR.

Cpl JF Short 20/02/1944 Cassino Memorial Italy 1 LIR.

Sgt EJ Boynes 21/02/1944 Anzio Italy 1 LIR.

L/Cpl G Cuddy 21/02/1944 Naples Italy 1 LIR.

Rifleman CH Keilty 21/02/1944 Anzio Beachhead Italy 1 LIR.

Rifleman B Nicholls 21/02/1944 Cassino Memorial Italy 1 LIR.

Rifleman D Forbes 22/02/1944 Anzio Beachhead Italy 1 LIR.

Cpl JA Pratt 22/02/1944 Anzio Italy 1 LIR.

Rifleman J Cartwright 23/02/1944 Naples Italy 1 LIR.

Rifleman GE Cowley 23/02/1944 Anzio Beachhead Italy 1 LIR.

Rifleman FA Hughes 24/02/1944 Anzio Beachhead Italy 1 LIR.

Rifleman H Western 24/02/1944 Anzio Beachhead Italy 1 LIR.

Rifleman F Crank 25/02/1944 Anzio Beachhead Italy 1 LIR.

Cpl TA Burke 28/02/1944 Anzio Beachhead Italy 1 LIR.

Rifleman EJ Mountford 28/02/1944 Anzio Beachhead Italy 1 LIR.

Rifleman GR Price 28/02/1944 Anzio Beachhead Italy 1 LIR.

Rifleman K Worsdale 28/02/1944 Anzio Beachhead Italy 1 LIR.


Read The London Irish At War – February 1944.

Read March 1944 here.