- Operation Date
- 17th January to 21st February 1944
Royal Marines on the GARIGLIANO.
Daring patrols on the GARIGLIANO front in ITALY have earned two M.C.s and three M.M.s for officers and men of a Royal Marine Commando.
The awards, recently announced, were
Bar to M.C. Capt. Lionel Guy Bradford Marshall M.C. R.M.
M.C. Capt. John Patrick O'Brien R.M
M.M. Troop Sgt. Major George Malcolm
Cpl. James John Thomas Gorman
Cpl. Neil Patrick.
In small parties the Marines infiltrated through the enemy lines to seize high ground and harrass the German lines of communication.
One of these parties - thirteen strong - finding itself isolated determined on a guerrilla role. Several enemy telephone lines were cut and motor-cycles combinations knocked out. A German battery was discovered, captured after a brisk battle and the guns destroyed.
The next objective encountered was an assortment of motor-cycles and staff cars, including two armoured cars, beside a road. These were attacked. One of the armoured cars put up a stiff fight but was knocked out with grenades. The other escaped.
The Marines then set about blocking the road. Before they had finished a German Mark IV tank came along. This was engaged with grenades and set on fire but managed to escape while still ablaze. Three more Mark IV tanks then appeared. They opened fire on the Marines at point blank range. A German officer allighted from one of the tanks and, in perfect English, said "Come over here. I have orders for you".
His reply was a burst of Bren gun fire.
The patrol's ammunition was running short and they were pinned down by fire from the three tanks, one of which covered a road leading into a gulley which was the only line of withdrawal. Capt. L.B.G. Marshall, the patrol commander, worked his way round to this tank alone and, armed with a pistol, jumped on it and tried to engage the crew within. His bold diversion caused the tank to withdraw and his patrol was able to escape.
They concealed themselves until nightfall and made their way back to the British lines with valuable information and having inflicted considerable damage on the enemy.
Another party, led by Capt. J.P. O'Brien R.M., went forward to establish a road block. Finding the position under enemy machine-gun fire, Capt. O'Brien positioned his men to cover his own advance with fire, then went forward himself with grenades and silenced the machine-gun post. The road block was then established without casualties.
Later the same officer led another patrol to observe an enemy forming-up place in a dry wadi. The patrol walked into a booby-trap and eight men were badly wounded, including Capt. O'Brien. After seeing the other wounded safely withdrawn, Capt. O'Brien made his own way back two miles to R.M. Commando HQ., with the required information. Having made his report, he collapsed.