Tuesday, August 09, 2005
The Italian escape from Mechili on January 27, 1941
It was early on January 27th that General O'Connor was informed that the Italian force in Mechili had escaped during the night. That happened after General O'Connor had ordered the 7th Armoured Division to prevent such an escape, so we can understand the general's anger. A search from the air found that the Italian column was moving to the northwest. There was some benefit to Mechili being empty, as that allowed free access across the desert. Gavin Long says that at this pint, the 7th Armoured Division had "50 cruiser and 95 light tanks" left. This was when the arrival of two 2nd Armoured Division tanks was expected within about 10 days. Until more fuel and supplies could be brought forward to resupply the 7th Armoured Division, the advance would depend on the 6th Australian Division. This is based on the account in To Benghazi.