4, 8 AND 10 INDIAN INFANTRY DIVISIONS MOVE NORTH 18 JUNE - END OF JULY 1944
MAP REFERENCES FOR THE UPPER TIBER VALLEY
8 INDIAN INFANTRY DIVISION 18-28 JUNE During the afternoon of 18 June, 1/5 Gurkhas, supported by two troops of North Irish Horse, went into the attack on the village of Civitella. At 0400 hours on the 19th the village was reported as captured and consolidated. After daybreak on the 19th the Gurkhas attempted to work along the ridge towards Ripa. As soon as the advance began, heavy shelling and mortaring revealed the presence of substantial enemy forces. German guns knocked out three tanks which reconnoitred too rashly, resulting in the deaths of Lance Corporals Archibald JACKSON and William John HILL, who were buried in Bastia Umbra Civil Cemetery at 802885. Major MORLAND-HUGHES, M.B.E., M.C., commanding the Gurkhas, was mortally wounded. (See Pantalla in previous chapter)
On the same day 1 Royal Fusiliers advanced against the ridge position above the Chiascio river. At 1530 hours the leading company ran into concentrated machine-gun fire, one thousand yards south-east of its objective. The Company Commander, Captain David Wallace HOLLIDAY of 1 King's Royal Rifle Corps, attached to the Fusiliers, was killed, and all other officers became casualties. Captain HOLLIDAY and five men from the Fusiliers who died on the 19th were buried at Ripa at 786940. The same regiment took over Ripa village and reorganized the sector. During this action there were five more regimental casualties, all buried at Ripa, including Sergeant Richard Frederick PHILLIPS, who may have died in a casualty clearing station as his date of death is given as being the 26th. Fusilier Albert GEDMAN, 1 Royal Fusiliers, who was killed on the 21st, was buried singly to the north of Ripa at 789957.
By this stage of the advance 17 Brigade (1 Royal Fusiliers, 1/12 Frontier Force Regiment and 1/5 Royal Gurkha Rifles) had lost half as many men as in the great battle of the Gari. On 23 June 3 King's Own Hussars replaced North Irish Horse as the 17 Brigade's tank regiment and carried Piccione, five miles north of Ripa. During this advance bitter fighting occurred at Colombello, where it was necessary to withdraw 5 Royal West Kent Regiment and to beat up the area with artillery before the ground could be held. Five men from the Kents were killed and buried in the village at 762975. Two other casualties from the 5 Royal West Kents were Private Frederick Christopher HUGHES and Corporal Charlie WICKERS, who were buried at Pieve Pagliaccia (759966). The situation was still involved when the advance parties from 10 Indian Infantry Division, due to relieve 8 Division, arrived.
10 INDIAN INFANTRY DIVISION Corps orders called for Tenth Indian Division to advance along both banks of the Tiber, through the heart of the mountains. The division was deployed with 20th and 25th Brigades east of the river, and 10th Brigade on its western bank. 20th Brigade occupied the right sector of the Divisional front, with 8 Manchester Regiment on the extreme flank, 2/3 Gurkhas in the centre, and 3/5 Mahrattas on Belvedere Ridge. Northwards and eastwards beyond the right flank, 12th Lancers and Skinners' Horseroamed the tracks which extended over the crests of the Apennines, where the cavalrymen made tenuous contact with the reconnaissance groups of Second Polish Corps on the Adriatic front. On the afternoon of 28 June troop carriers which had brought up 20th Brigade pulled off the road under Ripa Ridge while waiting for outgoing loads. While the Mahrattaswere effecting the relief of Frontier Force Regiment, a direct hit on company headquarters killed and wounded a number of officers and men. (The Indian troops killed in this and other actions in the Tiber Valley lie buried in a special section in Arezzo War Cemetery.) On 29June 25th Brigade's left flank was resting on the Tiber at Bosco whilst on the other side of the river, 10 Indian Brigade augmented by 3/18 Garhwalis assumed responsibility on a wide front of nearly ten miles, and to assist in covering such an extensive sector 3rd Hussars, 12th Lancers, King's Dragoon Guards and troops of Royal Horse Artillerywere placed under Divisional command.
The advance began against light opposition, with 20th Brigade safely across the River Grande by the evening of 1 July. During the advance 8 Manchester Regimentlost three men – Privates Fred Coulthurst BARKER and James Horace GARNER were buried between Piccione and Casa del Diavolo at 793006 whereas Private Frank HADDON was interred north of Piccione at 794009. 2/Lieutenant Joseph ROBERTS, Green Howards (Yorkshire Regiment)was buried at the same place. On 1 July another casualty from 8 Manchester Regiment, Private Thomas Andrew DENWOOD, buried east of Montelebate at 793018. On that same day 1 King's Own Royal Regiment and 3/15 Punjabis made good progress, clearing a number of villages and brushing aside isolated parties of the enemy.
1 King's Own Royal Regiment , working along the eastern fringe of the Tiber Valley, was first to encounter stiffened resistance. Ten miles beyond their start line, the regiment found the little village of Pierantonio a tough nut to crack. An attack on the night of 2/3July cost the British battalion 3 officers and 33 men, of whom 12 were killed. Eight of these men were buried in Pierantonio village at 695096 and one at Perugia Capitini, whereas three died the following day, two also being buried at Capitini and the third, Private Harry WOODHEAD, at Assisi (864877), in the temporary cemetery attached to the field hospital. On 10 July Lance Corporal Thomas IRVING and Private Edward Harry RICHES of 1 King's Own Royal Regimentdied, presumably after being wounded on the 3rd, and were buried alongside their comrades-in-arms at Pierantonio.
The next day a patrol went forward to reconnoitre Umbertide, and 3/15 Punjabis moved ahead, establishing contact with the enemy at Montone, five miles to the north. The village and a ridge behind it running into the north were held by a battalion of 114 Jaeger-Division. On 6 July 3 /15 Punjabis attacked from the south. Colonel Dominick Fitzgerald DALTON was mortally wounded and was buried in 6 British Armoured Division's cemetery in Perugia (695909), presumably having died in an Advanced Dressing Station or hospital. Two other servicemen from the same regiment were buried with him, as was Driver George COOK, 345 General Transport Company Royal Army Service Corps, who had died on that same day.
In the dark hours of the previous night 8 Manchester Regiment had attacked the German garrison of Carpini, three miles to the east of Montone.During the following night 1 King's OwnRoyal Regiment arrived on the crest of Monte Cucco before first light and entered Montone village from the rear. At midnight on 7 July I3/5 Mahrattas passed through Monte Cucco and having cleared the ridge on which it stood pressed on towards Monte Falcione, a bald-headed hilltop. The machine-gunners of 1Northumberland Fusiliers raked the summit before the rush went in. Fusilier Donkin IRVING was mortally wounded h died the following day and was buried in 6 British Armoured Division's Military Cemetery in Perugia at 695909. Other men brought into Perugia from the fighting in the Umbertide-Montone area included four men from 1 Durham Light Infantry.
On the next ridge to the north, a company of the Manchesters had seized a strong-point situated in an ancient castle. Beyond the British flank Skinners' Horse scoured the open countryside as far as the village of Pietralunga. Directly across the valley from the Montone area the River Nestore emptied into the Tiber. For the last five miles the Nestore river bottom was broad, flat and open and on 10 July, 2/4 Gurkhas, with one company of 1 Durham Light Infantry under command, crossed the minefields, and against exceedingly bitter opposition fought up the opposite hillside to the key German position at Trestina. Following this action Private George LINNEY, 1 Durham Light Infantry, died on 11 July and was buried near Umbertide (651139). Four other men from the same regiment died on the 15th and were also buried there.
The remainder of the Durhams, following through in close support, consolidated and exploited the gains. On 16 July they stormed Monte Cedrone, taking 38 prisoners. This cost the lives of 9 more men from the regiment, all buried at Umbertide (651139) as was Major Derek Standish VEREKER, 2/4 Prince of Wales' Own Gurkha Rifles, who died on the 17th.
4 INDIAN INFANTRY DIVISION Buried in the same cemetery at Umbertide were eight men from the Royal Artillery – three men from 74 Medium Regiment, four from 13 Anti-Tank Regimentand one from 154 Field Regiment, all killed between 10-15 July, and Privates David George MINNS and James Richard RIDGWAY from 1 Royal Sussex Regiment, 4 Indian Division,which had taken over command from 10 Indian Division on the west bank of the Tiber. The two Sussex men died on 13 July following their battalion's attack on Santa Maria Tiberina.
There was another small cemetery near to Umbertide at 650139 where two men from 68 Field Regiment Royal Artillerywere buried – Lieutenant John Stanley LEE who died on 13 July and Gunner Tom MARSHALL, who died on the 21st. Horace TAYLOR, 30 Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery, who also died on the 13th was buried to the south of Pierantonio in a small four-burial cemetery at 702077. A single burial near to Umbertide was that of Trooper George Henry PRESSLEY, 3 King's Own Hussars, who died on the 6th of the month and was interred at 653146. On 3 July Gunner John Moore HAMILL, 97 Field Regiment Royal Artillery, was killed and buried between Casa del Diavolo and Pulci 746002, whereas Driver James Lobbain BLAIR, Royal Army Service Corps, was killed on 8 July and buried near to the village of Preggio at 567067. When the fighting continued beyond Città di Castello some casualties were brought back to the cemeteries at Umbertide. Private John William BRANNAN, 1 Durham Light Infantry, who died on the 23 July, was buried in the temporary cemetery at 650139, and two other men from the same regiment who died on 25 July were buried in the other cemetery at Umbertide, 651139. Also in this cemetery was Lieutenant Frederick Bruce BUCKLE, Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry, who died on the same day, two men from 1 Royal Horse Artillery, Lieutenant Kenneth Harper BRADE, Royal Engineers, who died on the 27th and Lieutenant George Alan SMITH, 68 Field Regiment Royal Artillery, who died on the 29th. Buried south of Pierantonio at 702077 after the front had passed were Trooper George Albert EATON and Corporal Leslie James VINCENT of 12 Royal Lancers, both killed on 1 August, and Driver Edward Arthur RUMSEY, 3 Field Squadron Royal Engineers, who died on 27 July.