Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Australian position in front of Derna seemed precarious

On January 27th, the order had gone out to the Australians to stand off from Derna. As they started the process, the Italians built up a force of about 1,000 very energetic troops. The battalion commander, Dougherty, decided that his battalion needed to pretend to be a larger force. He had some trucks driven back and forth on the Martuba road to raise dust. Meanwhile, a patrol from the 6th Australian Division Cavalry was ambushed and a truck damaged and a carrier knocked out by hidden anti-tank guns. Another troop drove up, into the ambush, where they ran onto mines and were hit by anti-tank and machine gun fire. Through the 27th, the Italians put up a strong fight. That night, though, Shanahan's company captured Fort Rudero, with "290 prisoners and five field guns". This is based on the account in To Benghazi.

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