Battle Honour BOU ARADA

Friday, 26 February, 1943
Tunis Irish Brigade
The Allied Advance to Tunis.

The Battle Honour BOU ARADA is emblazoned on the Queen's Colours of The Royal Irish Regiment.

BOU ARADADuring mid-February 1943, the force holding the Bou Arada plain was reduced to a minimum when units were detached to reinforce the Allied efforts at the Battle of Kasserine Pass. The Bou Arada defenders were reorganised as 'Y Division' consisting of 38 Irish Brigade, a Para Brigade, a French battalion, and supporting artillery and armour. Brigadier Nelson Russell was placed in command and immediately formed a reserve consisting of one squadron of Churchill tanks, one squadron of Derbyshire Yeomanry and one infantry battalion - the 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Fusiliers.

The Germans attacked at Bou Arada at dawn on 26 February 1943 and their main effort was on the rear left flank in the areas known as Stuka Farm and Jebel Rihane. There, three battalions of the Hermann Goering Division supported by ten Panzers attacked the Irish Brigade where the 2nd Battalion The London Irish Rifles, holding somewhat extended positions, were virtually overrun by one of the German battalions. Although the enemy had some local success, by the end of the day the situation was restored, except for one hill still in enemy possession

During the fighting, Rifleman Frank James of 2 LIR moved forward to an exposed position to deal with an enemy Machine Gun that was inflicting casualties on his Company. He remained in what was an exposed position for some 20 minutes while directing fire. A round struck his helmet and although it did not wound him the force of it knocked him unconscious. He recovered and continued to direct fire until the German machinegunner was silenced. Rifleman James was awarded the Military Medal (MM).

At first light on the following morning, an artillery barrage struck Hadj Hill, and E Company 2 LIR followed up the attack and found that the enemy had fled leaving 80 dead.

The Battle Honour BOU ARADA was awarded to The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, The Royal Irish Fusiliers and the London Irish Rifles.