Saturday, August 06, 2005
Italians could fight well
The 6th Australian Divisional Cavalry spearhead, under Onslow's command, was near an airfield on the plain that descends towards Derna. They realized that they would not be able to enter Derna without more troops than they had. It would take an infantry assault. They thought that the airfield might be easily taken. Elements of the 19th Australian Infantry Brigade were arriving on the scene. The cavalrymen offered encouragement, which was needed, as the terrain was flat, with no cover. The Italian fire pinned down the advancing 2/11th Battalion. This was on January 25th, 1941. With darkness, the Australians thought that they should be able to take the buildings from which the heaviest fire was coming. Early on January 26th, the Italians counterattacked, but withdrew after a fight. While this was happening, it bought time for the main Italian body to withdraw, to General O'Connor's disappointment. This is based on Gavin Long's account in To Benghazi.