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March 1945

During March 1945, the two battalions of London Irishmen had mirror experiences with the 1st Battalion (1 LIR) spending the first part of the month on the Senio Floodbank with 167 Brigade and the 2nd Battalion (2 LIR) taking over positions on the Senio, along with the rest of the Irish Brigade, for most of the second half. Both units were able to celebrate St Patrick’s Day out of the line, although 2 LIR’s convivial activities were deferred until 29th March.

Most of the periods on the banks of the Senio were spent in static defensive positions and was later described as having some similarity to trench warfare during the First World War, albeit on a much smaller scale. There was continually tunnelling activity and occasionally grenade duels and a notable successful raid on German positions was carried out on 22nd March by 17 Platoon, H Company, led by Lieut Salter.

On 29th March, the Irish Brigade held their deferred commemorations of St Patrick’s Day in St Andrew’s Square, Forli and on parade that day was the massed Pipes and Drums of the Brigade augmented by those from 1 LIR with 52 pipers on parade, and 72 in total. A most memorable day, with the various events, reserved for such occasions, continuing into the evening.

The end of March 1945 saw men from both battalions preparing for their ultimate challenge and getting the chance to finally defeat tyranny and then being able to return safely to their families….one thing was certain, they would be ready to play their part.

Key Dates:

2nd March: 1 LIR take over positions on the Senio River from units of 43 Gurkha Brigade.

10th March: 2 LIR move from Forli to the Pieve di Cesato area, to support the Senio Floodbank defensive positions.

11th March: 1 LIR are relieved and move to Bertinoro, near to Cesena, for rest and continuing training for future offensive operations.

16th March: 2 LIR take over forward positions on the Senio from the Royal Irish Fusiliers.

17th March: 1 LIR commemorate St Patrick’s Day and shamrock is distributed by 56th (London) Division Commander, Major General EV Whitfield DSO MBE.

22nd March: 2 LIR undertake a successful raid on German positions on the Senio Floodbank.

27th March: 2 LIR return to Forli with the rest of 38 (Irish) Brigade.

29th March: 38 (Irish) Brigade celebrate St Patrick’s Day in Forli.

Roll of Honour: March 1945.

Rifleman R McDonald 03/03/1945 Forli Italy 1 LIR

Rifleman LL Francis 04/03/1945 Forli Italy 1 LIR

L/Cpl JA Keene 05/03/1945 Forli Italy 1 LIR

Sgt NA Johnston 15/03/1945 Faenza Italy 2 LIR

Rifleman N Irwin 22/03/1945 Faenza Italy 2 LIR

Rifleman ETM Nixon 22/03/1945 Faenza Italy 1 LIR

Rifleman J Spence 22/03/1945 Hanover Germany 1 LIR

Rifleman WG Hewlett 26/03/1945 Faenza Italy 2 LIR

Rifleman WJ Neville 27/03/1945 Ravenna Italy 1 LIR

Read The London Irish At War – January to March 1945.

Read April 1945.