Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Another attack on Tobruk

Rommel was in a hurry to attack Tobruk. He was so anxious to attack that the Official History criticizes him for having not very carefully prepared the attack. They say that Rommel had lost confidence in General Streich, so he brought forward General Kirchheim to lead the attack, even though he was recovering from a wound. Rommel had given General Kirchheim half of the 5th Light Division, with more than 70 tanks to go with elements of the 15th Panzer Division. The Official History notes that the 104th Motor Regiment had only been in North Africa since 29 April 1941.

General Kirchheim was going to attack Tobruk defences that were stronger than they had been. Tobruk now had another 12 Inf. Mk.II tanks in addition to what they already had. Rommel had planned a night attack on Tobruk, starting at 8pm on 30 April. Troops from the Italian Ariete and Brescia divisions would aid in the assault, on the flanks. The attack hit the 26th Australian Infantry Brigade. The attack was expected, and Axis troops had been shelled prior to the actual attack. The attack made in initial intrusion, but became stalled. Fighting continued until early on 4 May. The Germans had been able to make a bulge into the Tobruk defences, but they had held. In the one tank-versus-tank battle, the British lost five tanks, but stopped the German advance. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Official History.

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