Thursday, May 17, 2007

The situation on 1 December 1941 was getting very bad for the New Zealand Division

Early on 1 December 1941, the Germans attacked near Belhamed, with the intent to keep the New Zealanders out of Tobruk, so that they could be destroyed. The 4th NZ Brigade was there, and fought well, but had lost the 20th NZ Battalion. That divided the New Zealand Division. The next victim seemed to be the 6th NZ Brigade. They could see the 4th Armoured Brigade arriving from the south. They had the 5th RTR and the 8th RTR, since the 3rd RTR had been used elsewhere. "The remains of the 6th New Zealand Brigade" was located north of Sidi Rezegh. The commander of the 5th RTR contacted the NZ brigade commander at about the time that an order arrived from General Gott, instructing the New Zealanders to withdraw. The British had expected the New Zealanders to withdraw to the south, with them, but they made off towards the rest of the division. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.

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