56 "Black Cat" Division history or war diary (Sep 44)? And Tigers?

Discussion in 'Higher Formations' started by Chris C, Nov 29, 2020.

  1. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Hi all,

    I am hoping - based on past threads - that someone can help me out.

    I would love to get more information about the events around 27-30 September 1944: between Santarcangelo (di Romagna) and Savignano (sul Rubicone). I have the 2RTR war diary (very little detail) and some AT war diaries but they don't really help me understand the overall picture. Except I know the rains became incredibly heavy.

    On a side note, the 150 Battery WD of 93 Anti-Tank Regiment records confusion on the morning of 28 September. 0500 there is a record that an infantry brigade attack was on the objective. Then at 0745 it seems there was an error in navigation and they were NOT on the objective and also there were Tigers on the objective.

    Were the Germans actually operating Tigers in the area or was this a case of "Tiger panic"?
     
  2. Gary Tankard

    Gary Tankard Well-Known Member

    Chris,

    Yes, 2./ and 3,/ of schwere Panzer Abteilung 504 was definitely operating in this area.

    Looks like 150 Battery came under command of 67 Anti-Tank Regiment on 26th September. What objective on the 28th September are you referring to?

    Regards,
    Gary.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2020
    Chris C likes this.
  3. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Hi Gary,

    Thank you very much for the information about the Tiger groups operating in the area. Yes, as you say, 150 Battery came under command of 67 Anti-Tank Reg't on the 26th. I don't think I have the WD for the latter unit (will have to double check my other computer in case I only have it there).

    These are from the recorded pages (rather amazing to have them) of 150 Battery in the 93 Anti-Tank Regiment WD. As you can see on the 27th at 1700 there was a conference about an attack. Then, not a lot of detail about actual infantry movements, but at 0500 "Bde" (whichever brigade that was - since 2/6 Queens is mentioned, 169 Brigade?) say objective has been taken, and then assuming the top of the 3rd page is a continuation of 0745, at 0745 Mk VIs reported on objective and the brigade had been in error. But what point exactly was being attacked is not clear.

    I also have 2 RTR's war diary but all it says is that they advanced towards Castelvecchio Ridge.

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  4. Gary Tankard

    Gary Tankard Well-Known Member

    I'm pretty sure it is 169 Brigade - see reference to 2/6 Queens - and also that Brigade's units were in action on Castelvecchio Ridge on 27th/28th September (2/5 and 2/6 Queens). 2/5 Queen's WD does mention being attacked by 5 tanks at 0300 hrs but the information didn't reach HQ until 0500 as comms were lost.

    The 169 Brigade radio log at 0615 reports 2/5 identifying the five tanks as being Tigers. Whether they were or not I'm not sure we'll know for sure - but schw. Pz. Abt. 508 were definitely in this very area at this time.

    169_Inf_Bde_Sep_44_0133.jpg
     
  5. Gary Tankard

    Gary Tankard Well-Known Member

  6. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Hi Gary,

    I've looked at the 1:25000 map and found the place indicated. Thank you very much for that!

    Looked again at the 2RTR war diary which mentions that 8 RTR and 167 Brigade reached on the 28th - along the Salto M734023-M729018, which seems to be just north of the town. Do you know where 168 Brigade was? Was the division advancing with all three brigades up, with 168 in the middle?
     
  7. Gary Tankard

    Gary Tankard Well-Known Member

    Hi Chris,

    56 Infantry Division had undergone a major reorganisation on 22nd September.

    1 Welch (from 168 Brigade), 7 Ox and Bucks and 8 Royal Fusiliers (from 167 Brigade) were reduced to cadre and excess personnel sent to the remaining infantry battalions in 56 Division. 168 Brigade was also removed from the division and it took on the admin responsibility for the three battalions reduced to cadre. 1 London Scottish and 1 London Irish were transferred from 168 Brigade to 167 Brigade to replace 7 Oxs and Bucks and 8 Royal Fusiliers.

    168 Brigade was replaced in 56 Division by 43 Gurkha Lorried Infantry Brigade. However, this brigade and stayed with the division until 7th October 1944. 56 Division then operated on a two brigade basis until March 1945 when 24 Guards Brigade joined the division.

    Regards,
    Gary.
     
  8. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Hi Gary,

    Right, thank you. According to Bugle and Kukri (the pages of it that I copied, for this period), that regiment was resting during this period. Was that the case for all of 43 Gurkha Lorried Infantry Brigade or was the rest of it in the line?

    Were there any units located in between 167 and 169 Brigades?

    Cheers,
    Chris
     
  9. Gary Tankard

    Gary Tankard Well-Known Member

    Hi Chris,

    The Brigade was taken out of the line on the 27th September but would have to look at each battalion's WD to see if that date applied to them all.

    43_Lorried_Inf_BdeSupp_Gp_Dec_44_0098.jpg
     
    Chris C likes this.
  10. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Thank you Gary!

    Cheers,
    Chris
     
  11. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Gary, do you happen to know who captured Savignano and how/when the crossing of the Sangro was achieved? I see a little mention in the 93 Anti-Tank Regiment WD that on the night of the 29-30 Sept "Enemy appear to have withdrawn - patrols to Savignano found nothing" but I'm unclear on when 167 and 169 Brigade were actually able to cross over. Was this impeded by the rain flooding the Sangro?
     
  12. Gary Tankard

    Gary Tankard Well-Known Member

    Chris,

    What river are you referring to? The Fiumicino or the Rubicon? Savignano is on the south bank of the Rubicon.

    169 Brigade was definitely in Savignano in October but had crossed the Fiumicino to get there a few days before.

    Regards,
    Gary.
     
    Chris C likes this.
  13. Gary Tankard

    Gary Tankard Well-Known Member

    Positions at Savignano in early October 9144.

    1_London_Irish_Oct_44_0035.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2021
    Chris C likes this.
  14. Gary Tankard

    Gary Tankard Well-Known Member

    So looks like the River Fiumicino was also know as the Rubicon (as it the Rubicon on Google maps now). Having a quick look through the various WDs it is clear there was a plan to cross the river but heavy rain caused this to be cancelled - by the time it was due to go ahead the Germans had withdrew and 56th division was moved out of the line (11th October).

    1_London_Irish_Oct_44_0002.jpg
     
    Chris C likes this.
  15. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Hi Gary,

    As you noted, I made a mistake - sorry! In my previous post, I'm not sure if I meant the Salto or the Rubicone. From what I have read it seems like between Santarcangelo di Romagna and Savignano there were two additional small rivers, the Uso and the Salto. I guess like the Rubicon they would not have been serious water obstacles normally if it weren't for the gales that struck the area which seemed to pretty much ground vehicular traffic.

    From looking at Canadian war diaries I found that on 10 (not 11) October 56 Division effected a bridgehead across the Rubicon a little south of Savignano, but they were relieved the next day by the Canadians (1 Canadian Infantry Division) who then started to push north from the bridgehead.

    I did *not* know about the attempt at a bridgehead you mentioned early in October, thank you!
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2021
  16. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Actually these bits are from C P Stacey's official history of the Canadians in Italy:

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    ...

    Screen Shot 2021-01-05 at 5.02.07 PM.png
     
  17. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Some mentions in 1CID's war diary about the weather:

    Screen Shot 2021-01-05 at 5.06.59 PM.png

    Screen Shot 2021-01-05 at 5.07.21 PM.png
     

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