A detachment from 2 SAS, under the command of Major Symes landed with the 1st Airborne Division at dusk on 10 September 1943 at the Italian port of Taranto. This was part of Operation Slapstick and D Squadron was employed on short range jeep patrolling.
On 11 September one troop under Lt Jackson MC, patrolled north to ‘feel’ the flanks of the German positions in front of Castellaneta. Made contact with French Sqn, and discovered Castellaneta strongly held.
15 September - Lt Jackson patrolled area Pisticci as far as Ferrandina road, and reported all clear and on 16 September he left at first light for area Ginosa and obtained good observation on the road. Bumped German patrol near Ginosa, and scattered them with fire from Vickers gun.
18 September - D Sqn repaired a blown bridge with telegraph poles, and concrete railings. Lt Jackson’s troop crossed SAS bridge and bumped A/Tk gun position, near Miglionico. Shot them up and then got a good position on a flank to observe Matera. Gave reports and movement of MT all day. Pomarico reported clear. The following day the squadron was withdrawn to Taranto for refitting for further operations.
During 21 and 22 September the squadron moved up to Bari.
25 September - The squadron was ordered to patrol to west of main Foggia road. Moved through Ortanuova, which was clear to Stornarella. Bumped into German patrol, and after prolonged street fighting, drove them out. Village occupied. Moved on across country desert wise to get behind Ascoli, known to be held in force by enemy. In position 1500 yards from village, and observed excited German movements. Machine gun and mortar fire was opened on the jeeps. Sqn scattered helter skelter, but eventually re-assembled and withdrew to Foggia in good order. Loss of one jeep. Crew: Lt Jackson, L/Cpl Duifau and Pte Roache all safe after spirited attempts to salvage jeep under intense fire. Fire was returned to the enemy by Lt Jackson’s jeep. Laagered for night in area Cattanuova, after gruelling day.
28 September – D Squadron moved NW across country from Lucera. Capt Farran’s and Lt Mackie’s jeeps shelled by 88 mm guns, 3 miles east of Castelnuova, proving it to be held. Some near misses. Lt Jackson and SSM Mitchell’s jeep chased German M/C patrol for five miles, and after excited street fighting, (in which Italians were dealt with as severely as Germans) we took two German prisoners. One M/C knocked out. Sqn ordered to withdraw to Bari for rest.
2 October - Squadron slowly passed huge convoys on San Severo road towards Termoli. 2 trucks knocked out by strafing just ahead of sqn column. Convoy and all traffic held up by blown bridge across swollen stream 7 miles south of Termoli. Capt Farran and Lt Jackson crossed on a raft, and were first to link hands with [2nd] SS [Commando] Bde, including 1st SAS who had taken the town that day (15.00 hrs). B Sqn Caiques arrived Termoli 17.30 hrs and were shown billets.
5 October - Major Scratchley arrived from 8th Army, and sqn ordered into brigade reserve to assist in the defence of Termoli. Heavy shelling all day. Sqn took up position Hotel Albergo 11.00 hrs. Sqn ordered to defend line railway to coast, one mile north of Termoli. (11.00 hrs) Heavy mortar shelling and sniping, but sqn took up good position and stayed there. Lt Mackie with 10 men and three Bren guns on left of railway, and Lt Jackson with 10 men and three Bren guns on right of railway down to sea. Sqn HQ in centre of railway line. 1st SAS troop under Major Poat, and 40 RM Commando on left. Germans advanced to within 600 yards of sqn position in evening, and machine gunned in obvious attempts to draw fire. Sqn held fire owing (a) to shortage of ammunition, and (b) to conceal exact position from enemy mortars. Heavy mortaring until last light. Sqn spent uncomfortable night in its positions.
The battle continued into 6 October, when the enemy were finally beaten and driven back by the Irish Brigade, 78th Infantry Division.
7 October - Sqn moved to new and more comfortable billets.
8, 9 and 10 October - New clothes issued. Everybody cleaned up and well fed.
11 October - Sqn was inspected and talked to by General Montgomery, together with [2nd ] SS [Commando] Bde. Sqn feast, consisting of tomato soup, roast turkey, Welsh rarebit and fruit.
Compiled by Bob HiltonRead More