Thursday, November 03, 2005

The initial German attacks on Tobruk

Rommel had assumed that Tobruk would be evacuated. He was surprised that the Australians were putting up a stiff resistance. The timeline was that the Germans performed a reconnaissance on April 11 and 12, 1941. This was followed by an attack from the south on April 13 and 14. Another attack was attempted from the west on April 16 and 17. All these attacks failed, so the Germans dropped back into a holding operation, while gathering strength for another attack in a few weeks. The action on April 11 and 12 was the 5th Panzer Regiment probing the 20th Australian Brigade near the road to El Adem. The attack was stopped by artillery fire. The German infantry were repelled by the Australians. The next attack was by the 5th Light Division on April 13 and 14, over the intervening night. The Germans forces were attacked from the air by No.45 and No.55 Squadrons. The actual attack was made by the 8th MG Battalion, supported by engineers against the 2/17th Australian Battalion. A posthumous Victoria Cross was awarded to Corporal Edmonston for his actions in repelling the German attack. The 5th Panzer Regiment tried to follow, with the idea of splitting, with one group to take Tobruk, while the other turned and caught the garrison in the flank, as they retreated from the attack. The Germans lost 16 of 38 tanks, as they were caught by artillery and British cruiser tanks engaging from "hull down positions". The 8th MG Battalion lost 3/4's of its strength. The garrison's losses were modest, being "26 killed, 64 wounded and two tanks and one 25-pdr gun disabled". This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Official History.

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