Operation Mercerised

Location

Sarande
Albania
39° 52' 49.5588" N, 20° 0' 8.3772" E
Date commenced: 
Friday, September 22, 1944

Landings at Sarande Albania. Read more on this link to our History of No 2 Commando.


From the No 2 Commando War Diary relating to the first few days of Operation Mercerised:

 
22 Sept 44:
0830 - Commando left Monopoli and proceeded to journey in LCI's to beach North of Sarande Bay. The journey was a very rough one and as soon as the craft left the lee of the mainland a heavy sea got up and a number of men were sea-sick. 1 LCI struck its starboard ramp against a rock but otherwise the landing was uneventful.
 
23 Sept 44:
0015 - Landed Sugar beach. Recce patrol met on beach. Conference on board LCI due to information received. German patrol had proceeded down the valley on Friday morning and very nearly surrounded Recce party. Beach was pounded with light mobile gun and neighbouring woods were raked with spandau fire, but on movement back Germans were caught by Partisans at head of valley. They killed or captured more than half of the 150 men in the patrol without loss to themselves. C.O. decided to occupy feature in centre of valley with Troops on either side of it. All positions were occupied by dawn. 4 Troop were then moved up to Point 586. Spitfires attacked Sarande. Rest of day spent diggin in.

24 Sept 44: Arrival of HQ No.2 SS Brigade under Brig. T.B.L. Churchill, MC. First day and night of rain. Corfu guns fired into Bay during afternoon. Partisan report received that 5 Germans had been killed in attack on Sarande yesterday. Patrol by 3 Troop down road towards Vermero, by 2 Troop to bridge at SHIAN, by 1 and 4 Troops towards Sarande.

2300 - Demolition Party under Capt. Whitehouse, S.O.R.E., 2 SS Bde., blew crater in SHEN VASIL- SARANDE road at 315845

25 Sept 44:
0500 - Arrival of Brig.Davey, Comd L.F.A. for brief visit. Shown over positions by C.O. More firing from Corfu guns.

1150 - Venturas bombed S.E. of Delvine.

1450 - Spitfires attempted to bomb bridge SHIAN without success.

Another night of rain. Patrol by 4 Troop reported enemy extremely active in Sarande area, but no enemy positions contacted. Engagement between Partisans and Germans at M.R.323828. 5 Troop reported considerable shell fire on position. Report from 3 Troops that Germans had taken to hills around Sarande. No civilians allowed in area. This patrol reached point 400 yards North of town of Sarande. Considerable M.T. activity on road and Naval activity in Sarande.

26 Sept 44:
0830 - 5 Troop returned from GHASHTE. 4 Troop reported Germans in occupation of METOG and LEKURES. Albanian militia with Italian uniform but unarmed reported in Sarande area - estimated 60 strong. 5 Troop reached VERMERO Church, then Eastwards down track to VERMERO ridge. Bumped small patrol but uncertain whether German or Partisan. Reached GJASHTE, threw H.E. Grenades but received no reaction. Fwd troops moved to Points 586 and 469. F.O.O. set up on latter. Telephone lines laid to link up these points with Brigade and Commando HQ.

1130 - Brigadier and B.M. visited Commando HQ. Request to L.F.A. for bombing of DELVINE as soon as possible. Brigadier gave orders for a Troop (3 Troop) to be moved to area of SHIAN Bridge, to be followed by two more Troops and Commando fwd. HQ. Partisan diversion towards DELVINE arranged.

1510 - Shelling of Commando valley from DELVINE. 4 Troop reported fire came from M.R. 345844. Informed 25 pounders would arrive BORSI approximately 1500 hours on the 27th.

27 Sept 44: Attempt by 3 Troop to bow up bridge failed. Demolition party lost contact with main body and unable to locate bridge. Lieut. ROE returned with demolition party to report. 3 Troop and Med. Det. left on ridge overlooking bridge and defended localities at VANE 337861. C.O. went out to recce positions and possibilities

1125 - Report from 5 Troop of 5,000 ton ship lying off Corfu

1305 - Shelling of Commando valley from German guns at 347843

1340 - Counter battery work by R.S.R.

1500 C.O. reported by wireless on condition of 3 Troop.Shelling of bridge area good and would recce further forward with Os.C. 1 and 3 Troops

1900 Order received from B.M to send Patrols to Pt. 802 290883. Sections of 2 Troop detailed for this.

Rain during night

28 Sept 44: Sections from 2 Troop on Point 802 reported no enemy in area.

1300 - 25 pounders reported in position SHEN VASIL

1708 - 5 Troop report enemy guns at 410878 and 395880firing at top of Commando valley

1900 - Shelling of beach area

Rain during night.

29 Sept 44:
0900 - C.O. told not to advance from present position except to move from Pt. 586 to Pt. 469

1200 - Rain continuous for 16 hours stops at last - temporarily

1700 - Orders received to send out 2 Patrols of 3 Subalterns each to shoot up transport on main road.


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