2nd Battalion The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers 1943-1944.


INNISKSOnce they had been brought up to strength and re-equipped, the 2nd Inniskillings arrived in Egypt in June 1943 having seen service in Madagascar, India and Persia. On 10 July 1943, the Battalion, now part of the 5th Division, took part in Operation HUSKY, the invasion of Sicily. They landed at Cassibile, south of Siracuse port and their final battle in Sicily was at Tremonte on the slopes of Mt Etna.

At the conclusion of the brief Sicilian campaign, 2nd Inniskillings landed on the European mainland at Reggio on the 'toe' of Italy on 3 September, where initially they met no opposition. In the next fifteen days the Battalion advanced 240 miles on foot, by road and by landing craft. The town of Isernia was a vital point that was heavily defended by the Germans and after much aggressive patrolling the town was taken. All roads now led to Rome!

The 5th Division then faced the Gustav Line where it guarded the approach to Rome in the Garigliano Valley. A silent night attack across the river was planned for the night of 17 January 1944, but in spite of impeccable planning, the assault was opposed and very heavy casualties were sustained. The Battalion did not finally achieve its objective until two days later. 'The Irish deserved special mention in the history of the Italian campaign for the part they took in the Garigliano battle and for being the first Allied unit to breach the Gustav Line'.

Then, in March 1944, 2nd Inniskillings embarked for Anzio. They survived several counter-attacks by the Germans, but by then trench warfare prevailed, which recalled memories of France in the First World War. Victory in breaching the Gustav Line meant success for the Anzio landings and the Liberation of Rome.

In July 1944, 2nd Inniskillings absorbed 6th Inniskillings in 38 (Irish) Brigade.