Operation Date
1st - 25th March 1944
Ref. map Italy "Ardea" sheet 158 (iv) 1/50,000.

After barely a week in the rest area at VICO EQUENSE the Commando received, on 29th Feb, orders to proceed to ANZIO the following day. All troop less X who remained at Vico, were embarked at POZZUOLI and reached Anzio early on the morning of 2nd March after an uneventful trip. Transport was waiting ready to convey them to the concentration area 8123 where bivouacs improvised from the tarpaulins of 3 ton trucks had been erected. Rations for the day were cooked for them by a local R.A.S.C., unit and after a night spent in the area the Commando moved again by transport, to a position at 845289 to assume their allotted task of active patrols on the 56 Div. front with the 169 Lt. Inf, Bde. The area was fairly thickly covered with scrub and undergrowth but while it afforded protection from hostile eyes was marshy and practically water-logged. The Commando provided defence in depth with alarm posts and suffered a few casualties from mortar and shell fire. Two nights were spent there.

On the night of 3rd and 4th March, Y troop under Capt. Laidlaw R.M. provided a fighting patrol with the object of clearing the area Map. Ref. 842308 in front of the forward company of the Queens, working in a circular clockwise direction. They cleared a house containing a Spandau and a section of Germans with grenades and some slit trenches to the right, inflicting 8 known casualties on the enemy. They themselves had two wounded. The night was very dark and a tremendous thunder storm during the patrol rendered keeping of control extremely difficult, men falling into shell holes waist deep in water. The following night Lieut. Brockbank was ordered to patrol to 835307 moving initially up the road to his start line. A standing patrol from 2/6 Queens was to occupy the house covering this approach from dusk to dawn, unfortunately this was not achieved and the house was occupied by German troops. During the advance of the patrol fire was opened from this house and German positions from the other side of the road. The German interpreter from No.10 Commando tried to make the Germans surrender and two came out who were shot. Then much heavier fire was brought down and the patrol was forced to return as it had not even reached the start line. Casualties received were one killed and two wounded.

Sunday, March 5th saw the Commando moving in a heavy downfall into the front line to relieve the 2nd Batt. Sherwood Foresters and the 2nd Batt, Duke of Wellington's Regiment. B and Y troops were forward in the area 855296 with Q troop further back up the Wadi at 859291 and P troop in reserve near the R.A.P. at 852296. A and S troops remained in the area 845289, A moving on the 6th March to relieve a company of the Queens. The ground in this area was flat and very open but intersected by many deep Wadis. Troops could only move in and out of these Wadis by night as the intervening ground was under observation by the enemy. During their five days stay in this defensive position the Commando suffered many casualties from mortars and shelling which was methodical and accurate. There was mud and water everywhere, causing the digging of trenches to be extremely difficult.

On the night of the 8th Capt. Wakeling now attached to London Scottish 169 Bde. in 56 Div, was ordered to take a fighting patrol out to the left front of the position to find out enemy strength and to annihilate a M.G. position. Zero hour was to have been 2300 and supporting fire (smoke and H.E. 25 pdrs) was to be brought down at 2345 hrs in order to cover the withdrawal. Owing to an earlier alarm the patrol consisting of Capt. Wakeling and six marines did not leave until midnight. The support fire was brought down as originally planned in spite of the Patrol Commander asking it to be delayed.

Consequently the patrol moved forward along the edge of the Wadi in a thick smoke screen and charged on the objective to find a long row of dugouts guarded by a single sentry, remainder being asleep. The sentry was killed by a grenade and T.M.G. fire aroused the remainder. The patrol moved swiftly from dugout to dugout putting in 36 grenades and shooting any Germans who showed themselves. It was now apparent that the patrol was in a platoon position and a spandau opened up from the flank. Orders were being given by an N.C.O. and the Germans were beginning to organise themselves, the patrol withdrew.

Casualties received by the patrol was Capt. Wakeling wounded, and ten of the enemy were definitely killed and most probably more may have been killed or wounded by the grenades put into the dugouts, the results of which were not observed.

On the night of March 10th and 11th a small recce, patrol under Lieut. Hill penetrated down a small Wadi to the N. W. of our positions with the object of ascertaining whether there were any Germans in the area. Spandau fire and considerable movement indicated that the enemy were present in some strength and a mortar was observed firing.

The patrol withdrew successfully in the brilliant moonlight without casualties.

During this period in the line and owing to movement being entirely restricted to the hours of darkness communication had to be maintained entirely by wireless and owing to the very proximity of the enemy positions it was necessary to use code within the unit for all messages.

Maintenance was carried out during the hours of darkness by porters provided by 2nd Batt. Sherwood Foresters, and due to the brightness of the moon casualties were sustained from Mortar and spandau fire. Unfortunately maintenance had to be carried out by the same route each night, it being the only one and 200 yards of open ground had to be crossed. Whilst in this position the snipers of each troop had a certain amount of success during daylight hours.

The same night the unit was relieved by 14th Batt. Sherwood Foresters moving back under cover of darkness to the transport park and from thence to the rest area 8123. The Commando was now under command of 18 Inf. Bde.,1 Div.; with the exception of A troop who remained under command of 169 Bde.,56 Div. and rejoined the unit the following day. The two days spent here were hardly peaceful as the many 25 pdrs. in the area were regularly plastered by a German heavy battery.

Monday March 13th saw the Commando again on the move to the area 8528 to take up reserve positions. Mortar and artillery fire were intermittent and the unit again suffered casualties. Whilst in this area more patrols were sent out to discover the exact location of the enemy and to bring in prisoners for identification and interrogation. A patrol under Lieut. Hill on the 14th reconnoitred the area 854298-861292 forward of the Yorkshire Dragoons. Voices were heard and the patrol had one casualty. The following night a patrol under Lieut. Smith was forced to return with a prisoner owing to heavy illumination of the area by flares.

On March 16th however, a patrol under Lieut. Dutton bumped into an advance spandau post of two men in the area 859294 killing one and taking the other prisoner. A patrol under Lieut. Tarry caused a diversion but suffered two casualties and three more from mortar fire after returning to our forward positions. Again bright moonlight and flares illuminated the area, fire being brought to bear on our patrols by three spandau posts. Much shouting and cries of 'Achung' were heard.

The first battalion of the Buffs was relieved by the Commando on the 17th March who took over A and B company positions in the area 852286, A.B. and P troops were in A company position, Q. Y. and S troops in B company position. Except for the usual shelling and mortar fire things remained quiet although the C.O's command post received a near miss which blew in the side and the R.A.P. similarly damaged. The weather had now fortunately improved. The Commando was relieved by the same companies of The Buff's on the 22nd March and returned to the echelon area 8123 remaining under command 1 Div.

After two days spent here the Commando returned to Anzio where they embarked under slight shell fire in two L.C.Is POZZUOLI was reached on the morning of 26th March.

J.C. Manners, Lt. Col. R.M.
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