During January 1944, while the 2nd Battalion (2 LIR) continued their defensive duties in appalling conditions in the high Apennines of Central Italy, the 1st Battalion (1 LIR) joined a 5th Army wide attack across the Garigliano River which was largely intended as a diversionary assault in support of the impending landings at Anzio.
On 19th January, 1 LIR joined the 56th Division assault on the hill top town of Castelforte. For four days they battled determined German defences, before the division was able to securely establish the Garigliano bridgehead positions. Over this period, the battalion suffered nearly two hundred casualties, before they were withdrawn to positions south of the river. A few days later and after they had re-crossed the Garigliano, 1 LIR now received updated orders that they would now be transferred, along with the rest of 168th Brigade, to join the bridgehead forces at Anzio, who were now facing a massive German counterattack intended to throw them back into the sea.
Meanwhile, on the same day as 1 LIR’s initial advance towards Castelforte, a German raiding party had attacked 2 LIR’s defensive positions near to Castel di Sangro and captured over twenty men from E Company. As a direct result of this raid, the battalion is moved off their extremely vulnerable mountain top positions and are withdrawn for a period of rest and training.
19th January – 1 LIR join 56th Division’s assault on Castelforte.
19th January – A German raiding party attacks 2 LIR’s positions near to Montenero.
23rd January – 1 LIR move back to reserve positions south of the Garigliano River.
26th January – 2 LIR move back to reserve positions near to Campobasso.
Roll of Honour, January 1944.