Tuesday, March 20, 2007
The 18th day of the battle
On the morning of the 18th day of the Crusader Battle, the 4th Armoured Brigade headed east, to Robert's surprise. They went back to Bir Berraneb, where they had spent a good deal of time. They were to wait for the outcome of fighting around Bir el Gubi, where the 22nd Guards and an Indian brigade were engaged. That fighting did not proceed favorably, as Rommel counterattacked with his remaining armour in the panzer divisions. The Indian brigade retreated towards the 22nd Guard Brigade. Rommel had hoped to fight the British armour, but they were inexplicably camping at Berraneb. This was on the afternoon of 5 December 1941, according to Robert Crisp. At least the British armour was preserved and the Indian brigade escaped serious casualties. Meanwhile, the Italian commander, General Bastico, informed Rommel that the supply lines had been disrupted from Italy, and there would be no major seaborne shipments, for the present. Rommel then informed the Italian general that German armoured strength had fallen to 40 runners from the original 250 tanks. This is based on the account in Robert Crisp's book Brazen Chariots.