Saturday, September 24, 2005
The warning of a counter-attack in February-March 1941
General Mackay had taken command of forces in western Cyrenaica on February 24, 1941. He had the 3rd Armoured Brigade in a reconnaissance role between Marsa Brega and El Agheila. Mackay reinforced Brigadier Savige's 17th Brigade with another battalion, although at half-strength, as two companies were garrisoning Beda Fomm and El Agheila. Air force reconnaissance reported that the 500-vehicle group was now near the area that they were guarding. On March 9, Savige was greeted by the 20th Brigade commander Brigadier Murray, who was to relieve him. The 9th Australian Division was to replace the 6th, so the 6th Australian Division could be sent to Greece. That would leave unseasoned troops to face Rommel's Germans. This is based on the account in To Benghazi.