By early November 1943, the 1st Battalion (1 LIR) had moved forward to Sipicciano, a village on the northern slopes of Monte San Croce and which overlooked the valley just in front of Monte Camino and started undertaking extensive patrolling activity. The Camino massif had to be captured before any attack could be attempted on the Gustav Line which ran across the Liri Valley and through the mountain area close to Monte Cassino.
Whilst 1 LIR went into reserve, the first attack on Camino was carried out by 201 Guards Brigade and this started from the area of the battalion’s positions. Despite heroic efforts, the Guardsmen were unable to overcome the massively strong German defensive positions, and they had to withdraw.
A further attack on Camino, which would include 1 LIR, was now planned for early December.
Meanwhile, on the Adriatic coast, the 2nd Battalion (2 LIR) started to recover from the serious rebuff they had received near to San Salvo at the end of October, and went into reserve, where they received a number of reinforcements. After other units of 78th Division, including 6 Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (6 Innisks), eventually captured San Salvo, they followed up by crossing the Sangro River in the middle of the month. At this stage, the realities of an Italian winter started to emerge and heavy rain caused the river banks to burst and make a further attack northwards impossible. Several attempts were made to build bailey bridges to allow supplies to be carried to the beleaguered bridgehead troops of 78th Division, who remained in very exposed positions for over two weeks.
On 28th November, V Corps commenced their attack on the German Winter Line to the north of the Sangro river, but the first units, from 8th Indian Division, that came into Mozzagrogna were driven back by frame throwing tanks. On 29th November, 6 Innisks led a further assault and this provided a firm base for 2 LIR’s attack along the ridge, which was planned for the next day. With the close support of the County of London Yeomanry, 2 LIR entered Fossacesia, and had achieved all their objectives by the early afternoon of 30th November. Following up quickly, 1 Royal Irish Fusiliers (1 RIrF) advanced towards the sea and were able to “roll up” all the German forces in the area.
As November finished, 2 LIR and the rest of 38 (Irish) Brigade were poised to head northwards towards the Moro River
3rd November – 1 LIR enter Sipicciano, staying in reserve for the rest of the month.
28th November – 2 LIR cross the Sangro river in preparation for their part in the assault on the German Winter line.
30th November – 2 LIR attack and capture Fossacesia.
Roll of Honour, November 1943.