- Operation Date
- 08-09 September 1943
REPORT ON VIBO VALENTIA.
No. 40, R. M. COMMANDO.
No. 40, R. M. COMMANDO.
The Commando embarked near MESSINA at 1700hrs. 7 Sept43. The craft used were 3LCI, each of which towed two LCA. The force was divided into two, Force 1 consisting of A. B.& Xtps and Force 11 of P. Q. Y. & mortars.
The six LCA WERE being used for the assault flight which consisted of A Tp. B Tp; 1 Pl.X Tp. and Force 1 H.Q. The remaining tps. were embarked on LCI and were to landed on RED BEACH at about H+ 2hrs. The assault was to go in on AMBER BEACH.
At first light, Force 11 landed on the correct beach approx. 0500hrs. (RED BEACH). The enemy opened up with 88 mm. and mortars on the quayside and beaches where the LCI were touching down. Force 11 H.Q. A.Tp. P.Tp. and mortars cleared the beaches and quayside rapidly and moved right along the coast rd. and took up a posn. on the right of Force 1 and in conjuction with No. 3 Commando protected the right flank of 231 Bde.
0540hrs. Y.Tp.landed, re-organised in village, and being out of R/T com. advanced to br. and rd.junc.849148 and 850149 where they encountered mortar fire from the high ground inland.
An enemy M.G.post opened up on the landing craft from the hills inland? but was successfully silenced by the bren gunners of A.& X.tps.
At 0830hrs. Force 1 and Y.Tp. with mortars were moved into Bde. reserve just outside the village. P. and Q.Tps. remained on the right flank forming a line with No. 3 Cdo. and the 1 Dorsets. While in this posn. enemy fire was brought down on their posns. by 88 mm. mortars and MG's. 40 casualties were sustained including Lieut.Chiverall who was killed by a mortar bomb.
At 1000hrs. the Brigadier requested that a Tp. might be detached, to silence the 88mm.bty. Two btys. being in action, B.Tp. was detached to deal with the bty. on the right in the Dorsets area, and A.Tp. to deal with the bty. in the Devons area.
B.Tp. were heavily mortared as they advanced but suffered no casualties. 1 Dorsets were contacted and patrols were sent out in order to locate bty. 9 prisoners were taken. As the gun posn. was was located, the patrols were withdrawn as an attack was being launched.
Kitty bombers which successfully neutralised the bty.
A.Tp.had a similar experience on contacting the 2 Devons, they were subjected to heavy mortar fire and sniping, and the bty. and mortars were successfully neutralised by the Kittyhawk bomber attack.
A.& B.Tps. were then held by the respective Bns. as forward to the Dorsets and Devons.
At 1115hrs. X & Y Tps. and Cde.H.Q. were ordered to move along the coast rd. towards PIZZO and assist the left Coy. of the Hampshires, who were holding the left flank of the bridgehead. On contacting the forward Coy., the tps. were held up by M.G. and mortar fire coming from the high ground to the right of PIZZO and advance was temporarily impossible. X Tp. who were on the left were ordered to send out a patrol to recce. PIZZO stn. under Lt.Morgan. Bren groups were put in posn. in order to cover the advance. A German patrol was met entering PIZZO stn. and fierce close-in fighting ensued. A German LM. gunner was hit immediately: one section moved round the right flank under cover of some bricks to attack the patrol in the the rear. Meanwhile the German main body were engaged in the stn. and cleared with grenades. The Germans withdrew and were engaged with fire from the supporting brens, but due to the close country successfully withdrew into PIZZO. One officer and six of the enemy were killed and our patrol sustained 1 killed and two wounded: both wounded. receiving pistol shots in the fingers. Heavy MG fire was brought down from the hills on the right and the patrol successfully withdrew.
Fire was much heavier now on our main posn., both with mortars and MG; and the Germans started a counter attack moving on to the axis of the upper rd. Germans advancing up the hill in the undergrowth were heavily mortared and the amount of blood-soaked field dressings and bandages that were latter found, pointed to a certain amount of success. In spite of this, four armoured cars and 130 infantry broke through on the main rd. between Baker and Dog Coys. of the 1 Hants. and the latter withdrew, due to the enemy getting in rear. A heavy Naval bombardment from an LCG came down on our posn. and X & Y Tps. were ordered to withdraw and hold a line about 200yds. further back. At this stage the left flank was again stabilised with the Cdo. covering the rd. and rly. on the left and the Hampshires on the right. A Tp. was brought up as a reserve in order to strengthen the line. Periodic mortaring and shelling continued until 2100hrs. Patrols were sent out during the night but no contact was made.
A dawn patrol entered PIZZO at 0500hrs. from X Tp. The Cdo. advanced at 0800hrs. and held a perimeter round PIZZO until 0930hrs. when 2 Devons passed through. The Cdo. then returned to a concentration area WEST of RED BEACH.
B Tp. with the Dorsets were the first tps. to 5 Div. at 1930hrs.
One sniper of X Tp. Mne.Tyman, neutralised a German mortar position with a hand grenade.