Bn The XX Lancashire Fusiliers
(The left hand photos is Frank with his P.I.A.T. gun and the right hand photo see below)
FROM THE TANK MUSEUM AT BOVINGTON.
The photograph shows what appears to be an assault gun: Sturmgeschutz 40 Ausf. G (StuG III Ausf. G). Basically, the Germans used the hull of a Panzer III (the turret was removed) and fitted a 7,5cm gun into the front of the superstructure. Assault guns were widely used and were difficult to spot given their low silhouette. They were employed as assault gun (Sturmgeschutz) / tank destroyers usually in detachments both independent and attached to divisions. They were used at Monte Cassino and there are a number of photos in existence.which show them knocked out.
Henry Victor Power served
with D Company 2nd Bn.LF in France and North Africa. Landed in France
Luigi Trevisan, our erstwhile supporter in Italy, has sent me these pics of the museum in Roncofreddo (near the City of Cesena) in the area of the Gothic Line where the 2nd Bn had such a hard fight.
Luigi has added, " Mr Paolo Savini, the curator, is preserving fantastic memorabilia of your ancestors as memento for the adults and students about the sacrifice of the British Army for our freedom. I'm very happy for that effortis.Now he is restoring a Bailey bridge of the Royal Engineers used to cross the many rivers and streams of that area."
Many thanks Luigi, we are grateful for your continued support and praise for the Lancashire Fusiliers.
Termoli Italy 28th September 1943
This short piece concerns the 2nd Bn and the action at Termoli Italy at the end of September 1943.
The plan worked well; after each bound the
Battalion moved confidently forward and then rested until the next
feature had been secured.
The vanguard patrols continued their progress
and on 3 October, the Battalion arrived at the demolished road and
rail bridges over the river Biferno on the southern outskirts of Termoli.
On the north side,it was reassuring to learn
that two Commandos had landed early in the morning and completely
surprised the weak German garrison in Termoli, capturing its Commandant
and other officers in their pyjamas.
On reaching the crest, the CO beheld an
astonishing sight, one that infantry soldiers dream about but seldom
`16 Panzer Division!' The words spread like
lightning. Men forgot their fatigue from the long marches and wading
through rivers. The fog of uncertainty had cleared.
When they were all deployed, a profound
The Germans soon retaliated. Enemy artillery
fired smoke shells to help their surprised troops extricate themselves.
As our artillery retaliated in kind, the furious fire power of 16 Panzer Division was turned on to our positions.
The ground all around erupted with the bombardment.
Termoli 29th September 1943
At dawn, it was soon clear that a major assualt by the 16th Panzers was imminent.
Weapons and ammunition was checked, no one could afford a stoppage.
Our forward company ( D Coy)reported that some Buffs on their left had withdrawn, leaving the LF Company vulnerable from the flank, the Germans were quick to see this and began an attack.
The CO ordered the exposed Company to fall back a little to a more favourable defensive position.
This also allowed us to keep all our Observation Points protected, from which the road to Termoli could be kept under observation.
Suddeny, the radio crackled into life with
the news that the enemy tanks had broken through the main Buffs position
and were sculling about on top of the escarpment.
The situation was becoming critical, the 2nd Bn Lfs were exposed on a salient and being threatened from several directions.
The order went out that Companies were to hold their small arms fire until the enemy were within 3 hundred yards.
This was it! A large scale Panzer attack around both our flanks, supported by artillery, mortars and some aircraft.
We retaliated with everything we had, we had to stay put at all costs !
The attackers fought to within 150 yards of us, our defensive fire SOS fire tasks were called for repeatedly (in effect, you almost call fire down upon your own positions -Editor
Our Sherman tanks and our Anti tank guns were engaging targets all around us.
Then came the turning point, the Commanding Officer of the Lancashire Fusiliers ordered a counter attack ,and "Fix Bayonets" came the cry!
Through the beautiful olive groves the Lfs moved forwards, bayonets at the ready, firing at anything that moved ahead of them.
Then, a magic moment, the enemy began to falter, a cheer rang out as the LFs pressed home their bayonet charge.
The Germans had had enough and they streamed backwards towards the Brickworks, all the while being shattered by our artillery fire.
Victory at Termoli was assured when the Irish Brigade landed from assault craft.
The LFs had been fighting solidly for 4 days.
Suddenly everyone felt very tired.
Young men suddenly looked old, with red rimmed eyes and faces grimed with dirt and fatigue.
Time to count the cost of a heroic victory.
Following the assault landing at Termoli
harbour by the Special Raiding Brigade and 40 (RM) Commando and the
subsequent landing of the Irish Brigade, the enemy had made a determined
effort to dislodge the LFs from their strategic position atop the
It was time for a break.
The Commanding Officer of 2LF was sent for by by General Montgomery, the Army Commander, who told him this :-
"Please inform your Fusiliers that
I was very pleased with the great fighting stand at Termoli.
The 2nd Bn LFs were stood down at a place
called Portocannone until the 22nd October 1943, resting and training
and receiving replacements for the men they had lost.
The River Trigno Crossing
We last looked at the 2nd Bn as they recuperated from their great efforts at Termoli.
(I did promise to write this on the 22nd October, I have given my self 3 extra Orderly Officer Duties )
By the evening of 23rd October 1943, the 2nd Bn XX The Lancashire Fusiliers were in positions on the Calione ridge, just South of the Trigno river.
The only road bridge over the river had been blown by the enemy and it became clear that a crossing would have to be made so that Engineers could build a bridge to get our heavy arms and eqiuipment over the river.
The BN war diary records that
as 3 rifle companies of LFs moved forward to the Montebello ridge ,which
immediately overlooks the river ,D Company ran into an enemy force approximately
The Divisional plan was that 11 Infantry Brigade would ceate a diversion to draw off the enemy from the site of the planned river crossing.
A Company 2LF made a crossing of a minor river ( The Grigho) on the 24th october and established a bridgehead so that the Sappers could work unmolested.
On the 25th october it was planned that A Company would hold the bridgehead and that B and C Companies would go through them and attack San Salvo railway station.
All went well (A Company lost 2 killed and 2 wounded) and at 2230 hrs the other two companies went into the planned attack.
The forward Platoon of C Company were almost at the railway station and the other 2 platoons were a short distance behind at a farm near the Molino river.
Unfortunately, the lead Platoon came under friendly fire ( yes, it happened in those days too !) which put them out of contact with the Bn.
Fate had it that during this
time they would be attacked and the whole Platoon was captured with
the exception of 2 brave NCO's who made it back to the Coy HQ to break
the sad news.
C Coy OC, worried about the
fate of his leading Platoon, sent a patrol out to look for them.
The Commanding officer, hearing the news from his leading Companies, then varied the plan.
He decided to regroup back at their original positions at the bridgehead and to try the attack again the next night, the 26th October,
As a preliminary step, a strong fighting patrol went out at last light to cover the adjustments being made to the Bn's position.
At the furthest farm, the patrol met with strong enemy forces and a firefight ensued during which the Patrol Commander ,Lt J S Woodin, was wounded and captured.
With A Company still holding the bridgehead, C and D Companies went in at 0215 hours, and B Company reached the line of the Molino River without too much opposition, but when D Company arrived at the Station they found it to be very well defended and D Company drove off the enemy ,having fixed bayonets and engaged in some hard hand to hand fighting.
During this phase, 2 of our men were awarded Military Medals, Sgt H Rowson of the Signals Platoon and Lance Corporal R Griffiths of D Company.
Total casualties of this phase came to 29, considered to be not excessive in the difficult fighting they had come through.
San Salvo finally fell on the 2nd November and the 2nd Bn LFs moved onto the hights overlooking Cupello on the 4th November 1943.
These 7 photos sent in by the Barker family of Frank with 2LF in Cassino ->
father served in N.Africa and possibly Italy in WW2 but other than one photograph
of him in uniform I have no information about his service. I am currently tracing
my family history and would like if possible to add to the very limited information
I have. I know from his comments to me as a child that his 'job' was delivering
dispatches by motorcycle and that he was invalided out c.1944 following a serious
spinal injury due to a motorcycle accident. Family photographs, now sadly dissapeared,
show him at a hospital, possibly Cairo,but it could have been Alexandria.
Joe is now checking out this story so watch this space
Fred Hurst was born 9th November 1923 and he enlisted in April 1942.
He was wounded or injured in North Africa with the 2nd Bn and returned to recuperate to Fulwood Barracks Preston.
He then rejoined the war and was killed in action on the 9th April 1945 at the battle of the river Senio.
This was the last great WW2 battle the 2nd Bn took part in.
Fred came very close to making it home.
This is the CWGC link.
3445166 Fus Arthur Edward Cox
RSM Robert Alexander DCM
"Medals and awards known to have been won during this campaign by the 2nd Battalion
" Info from theCatalogue
of medals from Dr A W Stott's collection,sold in London 1997 at DNW Auction house."
Click here for the link to Dr Stott
I was browsing through the site recently when at the end of 2LFs North African page I noticed amoungst the Dr Stotts medal list the details of Major Kenricks death and the fact that he died of wounds and is buried in Pietermaritzburg Cemetery in South Africa.
My nephew went to University there so I asked my brother to contact his friends to see if they could find the grave in Fort Napier War Cemetery. I gather that a lot of severely wounded servicemen were sent to RSA for treatment during the war and there was a big Military Hospital at Oribi.
You can see from the pictures attached that they have found it. It looks a lovely, well kept, tranquil place but it is a long way from home. He is the only Fusilier in that cemetery.
Pity Kevin Hill has passed on he no doubt would have known this officer. Perhaps there is someone you know who can fill in the details of how he received the wounds that lead to his death? Perhaps there are relatives still around who would like copies of the pictures?
Coincidentaly my Uncle Tom spent six months in the Oribi Military Hospital. He had the uncovetted distinction of being sunk three times in 24 hours when Stukas smashed his destroyer flotilla off Crete. He was bombed in the water and went to PMB to have most of his guts removed. On discharge he became a publican sadly with only half pint capacity though he retained his 12 pint thirst .As a consequence he spent the last few years of his life mostly flat on his face - he went down with all guns blazing in the true Nelson spirit