Thursday, June 11, 2009

13 June 1942, a bad day for the British

On 13 June, Rommel planned to send the 15th Panzer Division west and the 21st Panzer Division east to "cut off Knightsbridge". He also ordered the 90th Light Division into the battle from near El Adem. In the morning, the 2nd Armoured Brigade and 22nd Armoured Brigade, with some infantry tanks from the 32nd Army Tank Brigade fought and resisted east of Knightsbridge. At 3pm in the afternoon, the attack by 21st Panzer Division on the 2nd Scots Guards, one battery of the 11th RHA, and the 6th South African Field Battery at the west end of Maabus er Rigel created a crisis. The 2nd Armoured Brigade and 4th Armoured Brigade were sent to help fight the 21st Panzer Division.

There were constant dust storms which greatly limited air action. In one case, some Kittyhawks attacked a Ju-88 formation that had a heavy escort. The result was four lost Kittyhawks.

At the end of 13 June, the British only had about fifty cruiser tanks and twenty infantry tanks remaining. They had lost possession of so much ground that there was no possibility of recovering and repairing lost tanks. As many as 417 tanks had been recovered up to this point. A full 210 had been repaired and another 122 were sent back to base workshops. Another 138 13th Corps infantry tanks were recovered during this period, as well. This left the British with little option but to withdraw from Knightsbridge, which General Gott ordered during the night of 13/14 June. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.

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