2 Commando War Diary 18/19th September 1943

No 2 Commando War Diary 18th September 1943, and part of the entry for the 19th.

[Transcribed from the 2 Cdo.War Diary]

"A daylight recce patrol went out under Command of Lieut. Keep. Dug in positions on the lower slopes of the hill were found with line connections to each other. They were equipped with beds and camp furniture. They were unoccupied and must have taken some weeks to construct.
All the enemy dead seen in previous patrols had been removed, also most of our own, only badly mangled British dead being left.
From the side of the hill it was possible to observe a stretch of the road invisible from Piegolette, and a group of buildings (700335) was observed to be the scene of much enemy activity. Tanks and staff cars kept coming and going, also D.R's. Fire was suddenly brought to bear on the patrol by the enemy, who, it was found, were in force still further up the hill. Mortar bombs began to fall round the patrol and some stick grenades were thrown. Fire was returned whilst the map reference was taken, then the patrol returned. Mortared on the way from the valley, three of the patrol were hit by fragments.

Lt-Col. J.M.T.F. Churchill, MC, ordered the officer i/c Patrol down to Brigade to give direct information, it being hoped that the buildings were being used as Div. H.Q. by the enemy. He was taken to the G.I. of 48 Div. who arranged a Divisional Artillery Shoot on the target. It was later reported destroyed  together with tanks sheltering in the vicinity.
An attack was put in by one of the neighbouring Brigades on White Cross Hill and The Pimple under supporting fire of Artillery, and the Commando, but this achieved only a very limited success. The heavy concentration of 3" and 4.2" mortar fire ( American [1] ) which the Commando had never ceased to put down on the Pimple was having its effect, and by nightfall, no return fire had been experienced for several hours.
During the night the Commando was drawn into reserve in the Mercatello area, and fresh troops went forward on the 19th September to find the Pimple evacuated and strewn with enemy dead.
No 2 and 41 (RM) Commandos in 10 days had suffered severe casualties  - 13 Officers had been killed , and 15 wounded. 54 O.R.'s were killed and 225 wounded, while 1 Officer (R.M.) and 59 O.R.'s were missing. [2]
These figures amount to 48% of the strength of the two Commandos when they landed on the 9th September at Marina."

Commando Roll of Honour for Salerno 9th -20th September 1943 - [View Here.]

[1] The 2 Cdo war diary entry for the 17th states that the Commando had been reinforced by seven 4.2" mortars of the US Mortar Bn. under the command of the Special Service Brigade
[2]  As can be seen from the Roll of Honour link above, a total of 14 Officers and 70 O.R.’s from Nos.2 and 41RM were actually killed.

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