Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The initial advance from 21 January 1942

Group Marcks quickly pushed up the coast road towards Agedabia, starting on 21 January 1942. The British pulled back their columns as the three Axis groups advanced. The 1st Support Group was soon bogged down and had lost 16 guns, some to damage but more to being caught in soft ground. They were new to the desert and came under dive bomb attack. Even the 15th Panzer Division had problems with soft going. They Axis forces advanced 10 t0 12 miles on the first day. The 1st Support Group and the 200th Guards Brigade withdrew in front of them. The Marcks Group, on the coast road had two motorized infantry battalions and some mixed German and Italian artillery. General Messervy, new to mobile warfare, misread Rommel's intentions, as he thought that the center was most vulnerable. General Godwin-Austen had a better idea of what to expect, and he had withdrawn his headquarters back to Msus from Antelat. The British finally realized that Rommel had flanked them on the right, and started to react. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.

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