Sunday, December 10, 2006

Saturday morning at Sidi Rezegh: the 5th Day of the Crusader Battle

Robert Crisp, the 3rd RTR, and the remainder of the 4th Armoured Brigade were headed for Sidi Rezegh airfield. The airfield was occupied by the remnants of the 7th Armoured Brigade and the Support Group. The two German armoured divisions, the 15th and the 21st Panzer Divisions, were attacking from the southeast, intent on destroying British forces. Due to the rising smoke columns marking the battle, Robert Crisp altered course towards the smoke, so that he was pointed correctly. They could see burning Crusader tanks and men digging slit trenches and widely scattered motor transport. Robert was able to get his battalion CO and he was told to treat anything he saw on airfield as an enemy. Apparently, the Germans had retaken the airfield and destroyed the defenders. Bob and his companions apparently saw British prisoners being held, as well. Bob wrote "On the other side of the depression the opposite escarpment was full of men, less active than those below". As Bob and his companions decided what to do, a touring car with a tall, lean brigadier pulled up. The brigadier asked him if he was in charge and what his unit was. Bob told him "Third R.T.R., 4th Armoured Brigade". The brigadier responded that there was a German tank moving in from the west and that he was needed to fight the tank. Bob tried to tell him to wait for the whole brigade, but the brigadier, the legendary Jock Campbell, told Bob there was not time to wait, and they needed to move now. This is based on the account in Robert Crisp's book Brazen Chariots.

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