Sunday, October 02, 2005
The forces remaining to defend Cyrenaica in early 1941
The Australian commander, General Blamey, had decided that the 6th Australian Division should go to Greece, as they were the most experienced Australian formation. That left the 9th Australian Division, along with the remains of the 2nd Armoured Division (minus one armoured brigade) to defend Cyrenaica. In mid-February 1941, General Wavell determined that the available intelligence indicated that the British position in Cyrenaica would be secure until May, when "two more divisions and various non-divisonal troops, notably artillery, might be available; the 9th Australian Division would be better trained and the 2nd Armoured Division ought to be in a far better state to fight than it was at present". The 3rd Armoured Brigade had one tank regiment with light tanks, although it was under strength, one with captured Italian M13/40's, and one with very worn-out British cruiser tanks. The Support Group had been stripped to equip the 1st Armoured Brigade Group, which was being sent to Greece. What remained consisted of "one motor battalion, one 25-pdr regiment and one anti-tank battery, and one machine-gun company". This is based on the account in Chapter I of Vol.II of the Official History.