August 1944


The battalion once again prepared for more real work. Security was the watchword, and divisional flashes and unit numbers were removed and the Black Cat was painted out on all vehicles and signs. Camouflage was once more the order of the day, and the battalion moved secretly by night to Perugia and the farmlands at Assisi.

Here they had the first hint of future plans. The Gothic Line had to be broken to enable armour to “swan” across the plains of Lombardy. At Tolentino the plan was disclosed. The 5th Corps, with overwhelming forces of armour, guns, and infantry, was to smash through on the Adriatic, while the 5th Army was to forge on to Bologna and beyond. “First Stop Venice” was the theme, and then Vienna. A formidable force was augmented by men of the Polish Army and by our redoubtable cousins from Canada.

Spirits and hopes were high and no one guessed what a trap the plains would prove to be when finally, bloody and battered but victorious, the London Irish reached them.

On August 30 the battalion moved up once again through Sassoferrato to Urbino. By that time the battle was on and was going well. The prepared defences were swept aside and it looked very much as if the Gothic Line had been broken.