Thursday, October 27, 2005
April 7th and 8th, 1941: the debacle continues
I did not mention the fact, but Brigadier Harding (later a famous general and then field marshall) found that Brigadier Combe had also been with Generals Neame and O'Connor and was probably a prisoner, as well. By the night of April 7th, part of the 9th Australian Division, along with the 2nd Armoured Division Support Group were holding a line at Acroma, 15 miles to the west of Tobruk. The 9th Australian Division was without the 24th Australian Infantry Brigade. Two Australian brigades were at Tobruk, building defences. These were the 18th and 24th Brigades (the missing 9th Australian Divisin brigade). With the crisis in the desert, the transport of the 7th Australian Division to Greece had stopped. The 18th Brigade was part of the 7th Australian Division. General Gambier-Parry, commander of the 2nd Armoured Division, was at Mechili, along with Brigadier Vaughn, with two regiments of the 3rd Indian Motor Brigade. There were a few artillery units as well. Rommel wanted to hit Mechili, but could not consolidate enough force to do so. The units in Mechili were apparently surrounded, and realized that they would need to fight their way out. They made the attempt at dawn (on the 8th?). The attempt failed, although some did escape. General Gambier-Parry, the 2nd Armoured Division HQ, Brigadier Vaughn, and most of the 3rd Indian Motor were taken prisoner. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Official History.