July 1944 was a month of transition for both London Irish Rifles’ battalions.
After being withdrawn from the battle area near to Lake Trasimene at the end of June, the 2nd Battalion travelled south to encamp east of Rome near Tivoli and this allowed an opportunity for all the men to explore the Eternal City. On 9th July, the whole 78th Division visited the Vatican, this time in more relaxed circumstances than the visit in June and were accompanied there by the Massed Pipes and Drums of the Irish Brigade. The next day, the battalion entrained for a period of rest in Egypt.
On 17th July, as they waited to board their ship at Taranto, the men of the 2nd Battalion encountered their comrades from the 1st Battalion for the first time in Italy and nearly two years since both battalions had left home….. some observers expressed their surprise at the scene: “The officer on the gangway could not believe his eyes when he saw what appeared to be the same people reboarding his ship. He muttered something like: ‘The bloody army doesn’t know what they’re doing!’ He was quickly corrected: ‘Same regiment, different battalions!”
While the 2nd Battalion made the long journey to Qassassin near to the Suez Canal where their sister battalion had spent the previous three months, the 1st Battalion travelled north westwards to encamp at Tivoli and in turn had the opportunity to explore Rome and they also visited the Vatican. Whilst at Tivoli, the battalion was visited by King George.
2nd July: 2nd Battalion arrive at Tivoli.
9th July: The Irish Brigade visit the Vatican.
10th July: 2nd Battalion leaves Tivoli.
17th July: Both battalions meet at the docks in Taranto.
24th July: 2nd Battalion arrive at Qassassin.
25th July: 1st Battalion arrive at Tivoli..
Roll of Honour: July 1944.