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October 1944

The start of October 1944 found the 1st Battalion (1 LIR) at rest in Fermo near Ancona and it remained in this area for the rest of the month while the future of 56th Division was being discussed at a higher level.

After moving northwards from Taranto in expectation of joining up again with the 8th Army, the 2nd Battalion (2 LIR) was instead moved westwards, along with the rest of the Irish Brigade, to take up positions near Castel del Rio under the command of 5th Army, in order to support an advance towards Bologna.

Following an initial successful attack by 1st Royal Irish Fusiliers (1 RIrF) on Codranco, a major assault was undertaken on the Monte Spaduro massif during the night of 20th October but this ended disastrously for the Faughs when a German counterattack overran two of its fusilier companies. Three of 2 LIR’s companies now continued the brigade’s assault on Spaduro during the night of 21st/22nd October but again this was rebuffed by determined German defensive action and cross fire from Casa Spinello.

In order to ascertain the full extent of German strength and deployments, a daring E Company patrol, led by Lieutenant Desmond Fay, was sent out on the following night, and brought back one prisoner, who was able to provide an outline of key defensive positions. This intelligence allowed 2 LIR to devise a plan for the night of 23rd/24th October and this proved successful in taking over Casa Spinello and opened the way for other units within 78th Division to take over the whole Spaduro feature. During the course of this engagement, the battalion had suffered 70 casualties, with five officers being killed, and as the rains started in the mountain area, the battalion was now taken out of the line and was soon to be reorganised on a three company basis with F Company, the one to be disbanded.

It was soon to be clear that a long dispiriting winter lay ahead for both battalions of the London Irish Rifles.


Key Dates:

5th October: 2 LIR transfer with 38 (Irish) Brigade to 5th Army.

10th October: 1 LIR arrive at Fermo.

21st/22nd October: 2 LIR’s initial assault on Monte Spaduro.

23rd/24th October: 2 LIR successfully attack Casa Spinello.


Roll of Honour: October 1944.

Rifleman RW Evans 20/10/1944 Cassino Memorial Italy 2 LIR.

Rifleman WH Fisher 20/10/1944 Santerno Valley Italy 2 LIR.

Rifleman FM Murphy 20/10/1944 Santerno Valley Italy 2 LIR.

Rifleman J Blair 21/10/1944 Santerno Valley Italy 2 LIR.

Rifleman JV Bryning 21/10/1944 Santerno Valley Italy 2 LIR.

Lt CMC Cramb 21/10/1944 Santerno Valley Italy 2 LIR.

Rifleman AC Eaton 21/10/1944 Santerno Valley Italy 2 LIR.

Cpl BP Gage 21/10/1944 Santerno Valley Italy 2 LIR.

Rifleman T Galligan 21/10/1944 Santerno Valley Italy 2 LIR.

L/Sgt FE Janes MM 21/10/1944 Santerno Valley Italy 2 LIR.

Rifleman WJ Murphy 21/10/1944 Santerno Valley Italy 2 LIR.

Lt S Thompson 21/10/1944 Santerno Valley Italy 2 LIR.

Rifleman WH Collins 22/10/1944 Santerno Valley Italy 2 LIR.

Rifleman R Birkett 23/10/1944 Santerno Valley Italy 2 LIR.

Major RW Boyd MC 23/10/1944 Santerno Valley Italy 2 LIR.

Lt JR Bruckmann 23/10/1944 Santerno Valley Italy 2 LIR.

Cpl P Long 23/10/1944 Faenza Italy 2 LIR.

Rifleman FE Pritchard 23/10/1944 Santerno Valley Italy 2 LIR.

L/Sgt AF Ward 23/10/1944 Santerno Valley Italy 2 LIR.

Sgt WG Farthing 25/10/1944 Santerno Valley Italy 2 LIR.

Rifleman D Connelly 30/10/1944 Santerno Valley Italy 2 LIR.


Read The London Irish at War – October 1944.

Read November 1944 here.