Saturday, November 05, 2005

The ongoing situation in late April 1941 around Tobruk

The active patrolling tactics were used so successfully by the Australian defenders of Tobruk that they invoked a response. In addition to the other attacks, a company of the 2/23 Battalion made an incursion across the Derna road and took almost a 100 prisoners from the Brescia Division. The Germans responded to this success by modifying how the Axis troops were deployed and they worked to be able to transport the 15th Panzer Division to Libya sooner than had been originally planned.

The situation in the air was still difficult. Sir Arthur Longmore was in the Sudan, so Air Marshall Tedder (later to be famous) altered the dispositions to respond. He had ten Hurricanes on the ground at Tobruk during daylight. He withdrew the Lysanders. Only the minimum groundcrews were kept in Tobruk. The situation was intense enough that the squadrons were being written off quite rapidly. No.73 Squadron was down to 5 Hurricanes. By April 25th, No.73 Squadron was withdrawn for rest and rearming. No.274 Squadron operated from Gerawla while No.6 Squadron hung on at Tobruk, as its losses mounted. The squadrons in the desert were down to a total of 14 Hurricanes by late April.

This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Official History.

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