38 (Irish) Brigade battle Germans in San Vito, Italy.

Event
Thursday, 2 December, 1943 - Sunday, 5 December, 1943
The 78th Infantry Division's formation badge, the Battle Axe. ©

The Eighth Army's 78th Division had borne the brunt of the fight for the Sangro and having destroyed the 65th German Division, it now required relief. General Montgomery brought the 1st Canadian Division down from the mountains and relieved V Corps' 78th Division brigade by brigade, while each was fighting in contact with the enemy. On 2 December, command of the battle above the Sangro passed to the Commander 1st Canadian Division, Major General Christopher Vokes*, who took 38 (Irish) Brigade and 4th Armoured Brigade under command.

At dawn on 2 December, Lieutenant Day and a patrol from D Company 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Fusiliers entered San Vito Chietino on the coast above the Feltrino valley, taking 25 German prisoners and killing five. The townspeople gave the patrol a warm reception but celebrations were interrupted by the sudden arrival of two enemy armoured cars which shot up the patrol, mortally wounding Lieutenant Day. Although eight Faughs were captured, ten more escaped and hid themselves in the town. Fusilier Toland and two companions took their Bren Gun to the northern end of the town where, for a while, they caused havoc whenever any Germans approached. Having killed several, in face of increasing enemy fire, Toland's party returned to their hiding places to await the arrival of the Battalion.

After the Faugh's successful patrol, which disrupted the Germans in San Vito Chietino, the enemy counterattacked so vigorously against the leading Faugh Company that it was forced to withdraw. On 3 December, the 6th Battalion The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers with tank support attacked the village. In the fierce street fighting, the Skins suffered a number of casualties, but succeeded in capturing the village by that evening. They then advanced across the valley to the opposite ridge while the Faughs pushed forward to overlook the next obstacle - the River Moro. On 5 December 1943, the Irish Brigade was relieved by the 2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade.

*
Major General C Vokes CB CBE DSO CD was born in Armagh, Ireland on 13 April 1904.

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