Wednesday, March 07, 2007

What forced Rommel to withdraw from the frontier

The Official History tells the story about what happened that "forced General Rommel to withdraw from the frontier". On 24 November, the Germans were moving in a southeastern direction, towards the frontier. There was a counter-movement afoot, however, in that the 13th Corps commander had sent the New Zealand division towards Tobruk. They were accompanied by 86 Infantry tanks in the 1st Army Tank Brigade. The 8th RTR had 49 Valentines and the 44th RTR had 37 Matildas. The New Zealanders had left the 5th NZ Brigade in the frontier area, but the other two headed west. The 6th NZ Brigade moved up across Sidi Rezegh, but was stopped there, and ended up in disarray, while the 4th NZ Brigade moved up to Zaafran, just east of El Duda. If the New Zealanders succeeded in taking their objectives, 70th Division "would break out and join them". By noon on 26 November, the New Zealanders were held up, so 70th Division attacked El Duda with the 32nd Army Tank Brigade, supporeted by the 1st Essex Regiment and a company of Northumberland Fusiliers. The forces succeeded in taking El Duda, Behamed, and Sidi Rezegh. This created fresh difficulties for the German forces and specifically, the DAK. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.

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