"The assault began at 2100 hours on January 18. A small red ball floated across the still, star‑spangled sky and landed gently as thistledown on a German post over the river. That was the signal.
Five hundred guns of all calibres thundered a terrific bombardment. Under cover of a smoke‑screen and with covering fire by men of the London Irish and other supporting troops, the Queen’s Brigade and 167 Brigade swept across, some of the latter in assault boats manned by men of the battalion. As the British troops neared the opposite bank, German eighty‑eight’s spat viciously overhead or in the river.
On the south bank mortars kept up a bombardment in close support; the three‑inch mortar platoon of the London Irish, under Lieutenant DA Hardy, alone fired over six hundred rounds in less than sixty minutes.
The river was fifty to one hundred yards wide, and was running strongly and fast, owing to the winter rains. It was far too swift on the right, where the banks were precipitous, so that the 46th Division was unable to land.
The crossings by the 56th (London) Division and the 5th Division, farther down the river, went according to plan. By dawn on the 19th, a bridgehead had been forced, including the small town of San Lorenzo which guarded the approaches to Castelforte and the valley beyond. On the evening of that day, German reaction developed and the London Irish were suddenly sent across to help make 167 Brigade’s landing secure, to occupy San Lorenzo, and to prepare to attack Castelforte at once."