On the morning of 5th October 1943, the 2nd Battalion (2 LIR) sailed with 38 (Irish) Brigade from Barletta to Termoli where they were met on the quayside by heavy artillery fire. Over the previous day, there had been a strong counterattack by 16th Panzer Division against the newly established beachhead, and it was only the arrival of the Irish Brigade that stabilised the situation.
The next day, the brigade attacked northwards to secure the perimeter, before consolidating their positions over the next ten days. On the night of 19th October, 2 LIR undertook a successful single battalion attack on the Petacciato ridge which allowed a view down over the Trigno river valley. After a week of patrolling activity and then maintaining a small exposed bridgehead on the north side of the river, the night of 27th October saw the Irish Brigade attacking the hill top town of San Salvo with a two battalion front comprising 1 Royal Irish Fusiliers (1 RIrF) and 2 LIR. This assault was met by a substantial German defensive action and the brigade’s casualties over the next two days included 1 RIrF’s Commanding Office, Lt-Col Butler, and 2 LIR’s second in command, Major O’Connor. After the unsuccessful action at San Salvo, 2 LIR was withdrawn from the front line for some much needed rest and reorganisation.
The 1st Battalion (1 LIR) sailed from Messina and with the other two battalions of 168 Brigade rejoined 56th (London) Division near to Caserta. The four battalion brigade was moving north of the River Volturno as part of the 5th Army and after some preliminary skirmishing, the battalion’s first action of the Italian campaign took place at the end of the month near to Teano, a village in the shadow of Monte San Croce which overlooked the lower reaches of the River Garigliano.
November 1943 would see both battalions facing the looming reality of a first winter in ‘sunny’ Italy.
5th/6th October – 2 LIR arrive at Termoli with the rest of 38 (Irish) Brigade, and successfully secure the bridgehead.
11th October – 1 LIR start to leave their encampment in Sicily on route for mainland Italy with all the battalion arriving at Salerno by 14th October.
19th October – 2 LIR attack and take over Petacciato ridge.
24th October – 1 LIR advance to Calvi Vecchia pursuing retreating German defensive forces.
27th/28th October – 2 LIR join with 1 RIrF in an unsuccessful assault on San Salvo.
29th October – 1 LIR arrive in the Teano area.
Roll of Honour, October 1943: