May 23 – Roll of Honour. Bob Wright – from Sandy Row to Dunkirk and Burma

The Roll of Honour for WW2 highlights two major developments. Entries for 1940 reflect the defensive fall back to Dunkirk with the fallen named on the Dunkirk Memorial or in cemeteries along the route. In 1944 nine men mainly from North Antrim and Armagh, serving in the North Irish Horse died on this day near Cassino in Italy.


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  1. The losses suffered by the North Irish Horse on this day in 1944 were the regiment’s highest single day’s losses in two world wars. Along with 51st (Leeds Rifles) Royal Tank Regiment of 25 Tank Brigade, the Horse supported I Canadian Corps’ assault on the Hitler Line (the Germans had renamed it the Senger Barrier several months before), known as Operation CHESTERFIELD. British armour was deployed because 1 Canadian Armoured Brigade was supporting 8th Indian Division and 5th Canadian Armoured Division was to lead the pursuit once the line was broken.
    The North Irish Horse supported the Canadian 2 Brigade, specifically the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada and Princess Patricia’s Canadian LI. On this day 2 Brigade suffered the highest single day’s casualties sustained by any brigade in the Italian campaign – 879 men killed, wounded or missing. Although 11 NIH Churchills breached the Hitler Line to reach the road from Pontecorvo to Highway 6 (the Phase II line for Op. CHESTERFIELD), they had no infantry support and had to be withdrawn. In all 25 Horse Churchills were destroyed that day and 36 personnel were killed; they rest today in Cassino CWGC Cemetery.
    Another record was set that day by Eighth Army’s artillery when Brigadier Ziegler, CRA of 1st Canadian Division, called for a ‘William Target’, bringing all available guns of the army’s artillery into operation. In a little over 30 minutes after the call more than 600 guns fired 3,500 rounds on enemy positions in two minutes.
    The performance of both the NIH and the Leeds Rifles led to the Canadians granting both regiments the right to wear the Maple Leaf symbol on their battledress tunics.


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