WW II, a British focus




 

 

War Diaries
For

North Irish Horse
September 1939 To June 1946

M-3, Honey irish_badge.jpg - 1466 Bytes

January 1945 CO: Lt Col AWA Llewellyn Palmer DSO MC
Jan 45 North Irish Horse
1 - 7 C.M.F.
Period of intensive training continues.
8/1/45 Information received that the Regt is to concentrate in the CESNA area. A recce shows no billets available.
9/1/45 Concentration area is change to RAVENNA. The Regt is to be in Support of the Italian Cremona Div.
11/1/45 C Sqn move and go straight into the line in support 21st Regt.
14/1/45 A Sqn get into position in support of 22nd Regt having been delayed by a bridge down. Sqn HQ is SW of SAN ALBERTO about 2500 yards South of southern bank of LAKE COMMECHIO. C Sqn are to the SW of A Sqn and HQ Sqn Shermans are between the two. The total front covered is some 21,000 yards. Our role seems to be purely a defensive one. B Sqn are in reserve in RAVENNA where RHQ and the echelons are also situated.
16/1/45 Lt Maguire’s troop did some shooting on the ‘spit’, which is a narrow piece of land between the lake and the ADRIATIC.
17/1/45 Lt Reid’s troop shoot up some German occupied houses. Lt Reid received a slight cheek wound in the process. It becomes necessary to send up some echelon personnel to help guard the tanks at night against German patrols.
21/1/45 2nd Canadian Inf Bde are taking over from 21st Regt.
22/1/45 Major RJ Griffith arrives back from UK leave and takes over A Sqn from Capt Bowring. Capt CM Thomas MC rejoins from a course in the UK and takes over command of the new Recce Sqn.
24/1/45 Recce Sqn moves up and relieves 2 A Sqn troops. They take up positions facing the Spit.
26/1/45 B Sqn relieves C Sqn. Recce troop Shermans do some good shooting in support of an infantry attack on a house from which the enemy have been operating.
27/1/45 B Sqn do some remarkably accurate shooting with their 95mms in support of the Edmontons.
28/1/45 B Sqn support the Edmontons in an excellent local attack.
29/1/45 A Sqn assist the Italians to establish themselves in some houses SE of the lake.
31/1/45 Lt Reid’s troop support the Italians in an attack on C. LOLLI on the extreme West of their sector.

February 1945 CO: Lt Col AWA Llewellyn Palmer DSO MC
Feb 45 North Irish Horse
1/2/45 C.M.F.
Squadrons are dispersed as follows:-
On the right is Recce Sqn under Capt Thomas MC facing the Spit, supporting 3/XXII Cremona and composed of
  • 1 troop of 3 Honeys
  • 1 troop of 3 95mm Churchills 1
  • troop of 3 6pdr Churchills 1 tr
  • oop of 3 75mm Shermans.

In the centre in the area of SAN ALBERTO is A Sqn supporting XXII Regt Cremona.
On the left B Sqn supporting 2nd Canadian Inf Bde.
C Sqn in reserve in RAVENNA.
2/2/45 On the right there was intense German arty activity. All telephone lines were cut. On the 2nd Canadian Bde front recces were made in preparation for an attack on C BARONIO, a house which is occupied by the enemy. Heavy shelling in early evening. 1Tp and 4Tp of B Sqn were ordered to stand to in case of a break through.
3/2/45 Recce Sqn & A Sqn NTR.
B Sqn – at 0200 95mm and 75mm tanks support PPCLI in attack on C. BARONIO. 2Tp, a composite troop for this operation, of 3 6pdrs moved forward to support with direct fire. PPCLI occupied C. BARONIO and enemy blew it up with prepared remotely detonated charges – 37 casualties.
1st Canadian Inf Bde relieved 2nd Canadian Inf Bde. B Sqn remain in same position and role.
4/2/45 Quiet day everywhere. Road deteriorate, tanks to move only in emergency.
5/2/45 Recce Sqn carry out harassing fire on the right flank.
6/2/45 At about 0600 a force of about 50 Germans surrounded CASA FARRARESI on the Recce Sqn sector. They cut the phone wire, cleared two gaps in the minefield and attacked the house with flame-throwers, bazookas and SA. After considerable delay news of this was received by Capt Thomas who at once despatched his Shermans in an effort to restore the situation. On their arrival they found that the enemy had withdrawn, leaving one dead (1st Para Div). Later in the day the Honey troop relieved the Shermans and shot one German. Visibility deteriorated to 40 yards. On B Sqn sector 75mm tanks kept up HF during the day and 7.92 Besas did HF on suspected enemy HQ throughout the night.
7/2/45 Recce Sqn received several false alarms. B Sqn continued shooting HF day and night. The 75mm daylight firing was described as very successful.
8/2/45 B Sqn continued HF.
9/2/45 In B Sqn sector heavy rain made the roads impassable. Sqn area had very heavy mortar fire during the night 9/10. Six men from each troop of C Sqn who are in reserve, where detailed to take over the dug-in Shermans which had previously been manned by the Canadians. These eleven Shermans are dug-in on the front running South from SAN ALBERTO to SUN ROUTE. Capt FA Morris 92i/c C Sqn) is in comd of this A/Tk formation.
10/2/45 Visibility improved in the right sector South of the Spit. Enemy positions North of the RENO were shelled. B Sqn reported that supplying the tanks was becoming even more difficult. Major RD Morton MC, OC C Sqn, inspected the dug-in tank positions and commented that they were NOT satisfactorily sighted; their field of fire seldom exceeded 200 yards.
11/2/45 Lt Mahon observed two Germans entering a house, CASA DEROCATA, and obtained direct hits with his 95mms. B Sqn continued HF.
12/2/45 Shermans of Recce Sqn moved up to engage CASA RONCONI which the enemy had been using as a OP. After they had returned for the night to their harbour house it was hit by two 150mm shells – no casualties.
13/2/45 Recce Sqn 95mm tanks carried out HF on the Spit. B Sqn carried out HF in support 1st Canadian Inf Bde.
14/2/45 3/XXII Regt Cremona HQ was hit by two heavy calibre shells. A large counter battery programme was put into effect with good results. The Recce Sqn 95mm tanks took part in this. B Sqn received a POW report that their HF from Besa is very accurate and does not do the enemy morale any good.
15/2/45 Major Welch inspected the dug-in Shermans. On the Spit sector considerable enemy movement was reported and an HF programme was successfully laid on by arty, tanks and mortars. 17 RCR, including one officer, were captured by a German patrol during the night 15/16.
16/2/45 Germans again came to CASA FARRARESI which they had entered on the 6th. An S mine exploded and gave the game away.
17/2/45 The CO inspected the dug-in tanks and decided they were unsatisfactory. B Sqn continued HF which was reported to be very effective.
18/2/45 HF by B Sqn.
19/2/45 There was a lot of enemy activity on the Spit. The enemy made another abortive attempt on CASA FARRARESI. HF by B Sqn. Cremona Grp have given permission for C Sqn to abandon the dug-in Shermans.
20/2/45 C Sqn withdrew 7 of their 11 crews who had been manning the Shermans.
21/2/45 Recce Sqn on HF with their Shermans. B Sqn carried out HF tasks.
22/2/45 Recce Sqn on HF tasks. LCpl Tombes and Tpr Taylor wounded by enemy counter-battery fire. Major Sidebottom met CO 12th Lancers to recce a position for 1Tp B Sqn to go to. They will move a little North to support 12th Lancers. B Sqn on usual HF tasks.
23/2/45 C Sqn relieved A Sqn in SAN Alberto. A Sqn now come into reserve at RAVENNA. In B Sqn sector 17th Indian Inf Bde relieved 1st Canadian Inf Bde. B Sqn remain in present positions.
24/2/45 C Sqn surveyed and shot in the 95mm Churchills.
25/2/45 Major Morton discussed with the Cremona rep the outline of an attack to be made to clear the southern part of the Spit, up to RENO near the Adriatic coast. It is scheduled for 2nd March. B Sqn received light mortaring during their HF tasks.
27/2/45 C Sqn carried out recce for the proposed attack. 21 Bde REs cleared a minefield under direction of Lt Norris (RE).
28/2/45 Three flame throwing Churchills arrived under comd C Sqn in SAN ALBERTO.

March 1945 CO: Lt Col AWA Llewellyn Palmer DSO MC
Mar 45 North Irish Horse
1/3/45 C.M.F.
Recce Sqn now consists of:-
SHQ 1 Churchill 6pdr
1Tp 3 turreted Honey
2Tp 3 Churchill 95mm
3Tp 3 Sherman 75mm
4Tp 3 Churchill 6pdr
2/3/45 B Sqn fired 95mm at a strong (35 men) enemy patrol and broke it up. 75mms scored several direct hits on enemy occupied houses.
C Sqn started their attack in support of Cremona at 1200hrs. going very bad for tanks with sand, bogs and mines. Four tanks lost on mines but first objective reached and 24 POW taken.
3/3/45 C Sqn attack continued at 1115. Contact was soon made and excellent and accurate tank shooting brought in 200 POW and there were many dead. No. 2 troop sank a boat.
4/3/45 17 Indian Bde relieved by 2nd Commando Bde, B Sqn remained in support. C Sqn, less one troop, moved to SAN ALBERTO, they had no casualties and took 244 OR & 3 officers POW and killed 30. A Sqn moved to area West of MEZZANO in support of Jewish Bde.
5/3/45 B Sqn did HF.
6/3/45 Recce Sqn relieved B Sqn at last light. B Sqn moved to RAVENNA in reserve.
7/3/45 A Sqn 95mm carried out HF on enemy trenches, an ammo dump blew up. 75mm scored hits on an enemy OP which burned all day. C Sqn sustained 4 casualties wounded, and moved their 95mm to avoid shelling. Recce Sqn reported visibility too poor for shelling.
8/3/45 A Sqn carried out HF. C Sqn shot-in 95mms in their new positions. Recce Sqn registered targets.
9/3/45 A Sqn caused a fire in an enemy occupied house.
11/3/45 XXII Cremona Group relieved 2nd Commando Bde. Recce Sqn remained in support. C Sqn carried out HF at night. 9 POW taken by patrols. 2nd Commando Bde relieved XXI Cremona.
12/3/45 A Sqn again shelled houses. Recce Sqn carried out a 2 hour HF programme. In C Sqn area a German Sgt/Major appeared and borrowed a boat to bring over 20 of his men. He brought 2 over but a German Capt appeared and prevented further evacuation.
13/3/45 C Sqn relieved by Recce Sqn.
14 – 15 A Sqn carried out HF.
18/3/45 A Sqn are planning a limited attack in support of Jewish Bde.
20/3/45 B Sqn liasing with 2nd Commando Bde for proposed attack on the Spit.
22/3/45 Recce Sqn carried out counter-battery and C/M tasks under direction of arty. Enemy put in attack on 12th Lancers right hand Sqn with bazookas and flame throwers. No positions were lost.
25/3/45 A & C Sqns moved to Training Area and trained with 19th Indian Inf Bde.
26/3/45 Recce Sqn carried out a scheme with Commando Bde. In the night they created a diversion near SAN ALBERTO to cover up some experiments which were being made in the South of LAKE COMMACHIO.
27 – 28 Recce Sqn carried out HF tasks.
29/3/45 B Sqn relieved Recce Sqn.
30 – 31 A & C Sqns training.

April 1945 CO: Lt Col AWA Llewellyn Palmer DSO MC
Apr 45 North Irish Horse
1/4/45 ITALY
Squadrons are dispersed as follows:-
  • Recce Sqn in area SAN ALBERTO in positions to give fire in support of Cremona Gp and Garibaldi Bde.
  • B Sqn moving to West bank of RENO in readiness for an attack in support 2nd Commando Bde.
  • A & C Sqns in training area South of RAVENNA with 8th Indian Div.RHQ with HQ 8th Indian Div.
2/4/45 Just before midnight on 1st, 2 & 4 Troops B Sqn (Lts Brownfield Pope and Foott) crossed the RENO by Class 40 raft. The advance went well in spite of very bad going – one tank lost on a mine. Objective was reached with some casualties to 2nd Commando. Tanks harboured for the night on the East bank of the RENO.
3/4/45 The remainder of B Sqn crossed (less 1 troop) in support 43 RM Commando. Rapid progress was made in spite of heavy shelling in which one tank was lost. All objectives were reached.
4/4/45 B Sqn in counter-attack role.
5/4/45 B Sqn rallied in SAN ALBERTO having been relieved by 10th Royal Hussars. At 1000 tanks moved to MEZZANO in support of Cremona Group.
6/4/45 Regt less B Sqn under comd 19th Indian Inf Bde, 8th Indian Div, started to move forward to conc area NE of BAGNACAVALLO prior to SENIO crossing.
7/4/45 RHQ moved to conc area.
8/4/45 Recces and conferences held.
9/4/45 The plan for the crossing was that some hours before H hour, scheduled for 1920hrs, bombers and fighters will strafe both banks of the SENIO – arty concentrations also. Flame throwers will then flame both banks supported by tanks of A & C Sqns. At H+1 A&SH on the right and FFR on the left would cross.
10/4/45 All went according to plan and at 0400 tanks of C Sqn started to cross the Bailey bridge which had been put up by the REs. Lt DL Knight BEM, who had been controlling the crossing of the tanks, was wounded by a bomb dropped by the USAAF. Just short of the TRATTURO, C Sqn came across what was obviously a ‘killing ground’, 4Tp knocked out 2 SPs.
A Sqn made contact with A&SH and moved off to the right. A canal barred their way but arrangements were made to cross by a facine at first light next morning. Over to our right B Sqn had reached the SENIO with the Cremona Group but bridging was very slow. 21 Tank Bde commander ordered them to use the bridge that A & C Sqns had used. Two troops did use this but were unable to get back to their area owing to A/Tk obstacles.
11/4/45 C Sqn.
Sqn split in support 3/18 Punjab and 1st A&SH. A plan was made for an attack to the East to take place the next day.

B Sqn.
Italian bridge opened and 2Tp and 5Tp eventually crossed with great difficulty at 1200 and proceeded to contact infantry – occupied ALFONSINE and cut Route 16.

A Sqn.
Before first light a facine was put across the ARGINELLO. It was planned to do a right flank night march to embarrass the enemy. This was carried out successfully and nearly five miles were covered by night. Bridge layers, facines and a great deal of ingenuity went into making the operation a success.

12/4/45 C Sqn.
Advanced about 2˝ miles in an easterly direction South of the SANTERNO, meeting no opposition and finally harbouring 1 mile West of Route 16.

B Sqn.
5Tp supported Cremona Group across FUSIGNANO. Remainder of the Sqn move up Route 16.

A Sqn.
Recces were made to the banks of R. RENO – 5 POW taken.

13/4/45 C Sqn.
NTR.

A Sqn.
NTR

B Sqn
In support of Cremona for crossing of SANTERNO. Very heavy opposition and infantry not across until 1730. 2Tp Leaders tank hit by Panzerfaust but NO penetration. Tanks were unable to cross as the only possible place (made by Germans) was used by Italian engineers to build a bridge.

14/4/45 B Sqn came under Regt command.
14 – 19 Regt under comd 8th Indian Div in Army Reserve.
20/4/45 Regt ordered to support 8th Indian Div up Route 16 to capture FERRARA and reach the PO. B Sqn move to area CONSONDOLA. C Sqn move to same area.
21/4/45 B Sqn moved up Route 16 with little or no opposition. A Sqn move to harbour about 6 miles North of ARGENTA. C Sqn in reserve.
22/4/45 B Sqn continued advance up Route 16 against heavier opposition. At 1600 A Sqn passed through B Sqn and moved up to FERRARA against some opposition. The bridge across the PO DI VOLANO was blown up in sight of the leading tanks and FERRARA was denied us. C Sqn in support of 21 Inf Bde advanced to within 2 miles of the SW side of FERRARA where they were held up in the evening by enemy tanks.
23/4/45 C Sqn (3&4 Troops), under Capt Milne reached the PO in support of Royal West Kents at 1045, just to the North of FERRARA. 1&2 Troops under Capt Norris made progress against considerable opposition, up to the PO DI VOLANO in support of 1st Manarattas.
B Sqn met considerable opposition and demolitions to the North of FERRARA in support of Jaipurs but eventually succeeded in supporting them onto Route 16.
A Sqn did some shooting into FERRARA in support of 1st A&SH.
24/4/45 B Sqn moved on across the North of FERRARA and then struck down to the South.
A Sqn crossed into FERRARA and gave support to 1st A&SH into northern outskirts of the town.
C Sqn NTR.
25/4/45 All Sqns concentrated NW of FERRARA in readiness for PO crossing.
26/4/45 C Sqn crossed at 1000 and concentrated in area OCCHIOBELLO. 3 & 4 Troops of A Sqn followed but torrential rain prevented any further crossings.
27/4/45 All A Sqn including their echelon crossed the PO.
C Sqn supported 17th Indian Inf Bde to within 2000 yards of the ADIGE.
B Sqn follow across the PO as also did RHQ.
28/4/45 A Sqn concentrate in ROVIGO DI COSTA.
B Sqn move North to near ROVIGO DI COSTA.
C Sqn support FFR to line of ADIGE. A link up was made with 6th Armd Div.
29/4/45 NO bridge over ADIGE. All Sqns in conc area. Bridge expected North of ROVIGO on Route 16 tomorrow.
30/4/45 8th Indian Div ordered to ‘STAND DOWN’.

May 1945 CO: Lt Col AWA Llewellyn Palmer DSO MC
May 45 North Irish Horse
1/5/45 ITALY
The Regt was concentrated in the area ARQUA and LENDINARA near ROVIGO.
We were informed that it was unlikely that we would move North of the river ADIGE.
2 – 13 NTR
14/5/45 Regt moved to RIMINI to prepare for POW guard duties.
15 – 23 NTR
24/5/45 All tanks handed in except 3 per Sqn.
25/5/45 POW started to arrive – were searched – put into cages in area of CERVIA.
25 – 31 Searching of POW and escort duties.

June, July, August & September 1945 CO: Lt Col AWA Llewellyn Palmer DSO MC
  North Irish Horse
  RIMIN
IRegt continues on POW escort & guard duty.

October 1945 CO: Lt Col AWA Llewellyn Palmer DSO MC
Oct 45 North Irish Horse
1 - 9 RIMINI
Continued with POW duties but received orders to prepare for move to AUSTRIA.
10/10/45 Road party of 14 vehicles left for AUSTRIA – destination WOLFSBERG.
11/10/45 Main party left by rail.
22/10/45 Instructions received that Regt would convert to Armd Recce Regt and would absorb personnel from 56th Recce Regt (being disbanded).
A Sqn proceeded to VIENNA for Garrison Duties and GOC Escort.
B & HQ Sqns in WOLFSBERG.
C Sqn in ST ANDRA

November 1945 CO: Lt Col AWA Llewellyn Palmer DSO MC
Nov 45 North Irish Horse
1 - 19 WOLFSBERGNTR
20/11/45 386 ORs on strength from 56th Recce Regt.
C Sqn preparing to take over from 1st East Surrey on YUGOSLAV frontier posts.
Manpower very short.
B Sqn preparing to relieve A Sqn in VIENNA.

December 1945 CO: Lt Col AWA Llewellyn Palmer DSO MC
Dec 45 North Irish Horse
1 - 9 WOLFSBERGAll Sqns less B Sqn engaged on woodcutting duties and guard duties.
10/12/45 C Sqn moved to EISENKAPPEL on Yugoslav frontier to relieve East Surreys.
20 – 24 Ski patrols from C Sqn operating on frontier.
28/12/45 C Sqn preparing to hand over to 1st East Surreys and return to Regt.

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