Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The 150th Infantry Brigade was lost on 1 June 1942

The 150th Infantry Brigade had fought well against heavy odds, but they were unsupported. On 1 June 1942, they were heavily attacked by divebombers and were defeated by "concentric" attacks. The 150th Brigade had been holding five miles of ground, and had been attacked from all sides. The British Army command was so inept that Rommel was able to withdraw strong forces from "the Cauldron" to throw at 150th Brigade. 30th Corps had sent the 2nd and 22nd Armoured Brigades against Rommel's anti-tank screen and they had been rebuffed on 30 May. In typical fashion, parts of the 4th Armoured Brigade and 201st Guards Brigade had been sent off on foolish errands. At this point, General Ritchie and his commanders had lost control of the battle to Rommel. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Against the 150th Brigade, starting early on 30 May 1942

The Germans had not been aware of the 150th Brigade, early on 30 May 1942, until they had tried to break through to the west, south of Sidi Muftah. They lost 11 tanks and stopped. The breakthrough force had included the 5th Panzer Regiment. The next day, the attack recommenced with greater force. The 90th Light Division and the Italian Trieste Division had been added. They were stopped and waited until 1 June, the next day, when they had strong divebombing support and elements of the 21st Panzer Division. The 150th Brigade was increasingly being pressed and was in great danger. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The 150th Infantry Brigade

Vol.III of the Official History gives the composition of the 150th Infantry Brigade on about 28 May 1942:

150th Infantry Brigade
commander: Brigadier C.W. Haydon

4th Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment
4th Battalion, The Green Howards
5th Battalion, The Green Howards
D Company, 2nd Battalion Cheshire Regiment (MG)
72nd Field Regiment RA
25th/26th Medium Battery (7th Medium Regiment) RA
259th (Norfolk Yeomanry) Anti-Tank Battery RA
81st/25th LAA Battery RA
232nd Field Company RE

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Rommel changes his plans on 29 May 1942

Rommel decided that his plan to push north needed to be dropped due to his supply situation. His new plan, as of 29 May 1942, was to screen the British armour with anti-tank guns while his infantry broke a hole in the British minefields. That would solve his supply situation and "a way of escape, if need be". The British were over-confident and thought that he time was ripe for a counter-attack to defeat the Axis armour and disrupt the supply line. The whole idea that a counter-attack was possible was based on the mistaken idea that the Axis armour was trapped and was deteriorating. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Lord Lovat

Something reminded me of Lord Lovat today. I had seen a History Channel documentary when I was working away from home and came away with a mistaken impression of Lord Lovat's role in the Normandy invasion. I had thought that he had jumped into Normandy, but he actually went ashore at Sword Beach. He did lead part of his brigade, the 1st Special Service Brigade, to Pegasus Bridge to reach the airborne troops of the 6th Airborne Division who had gone in behind the beach in darkness. I can see that he was a charismatic leader of men in combat. I had not realized that his name was Simon Fraser although I had remembered that he was a Scot. This is the Wikipedia image of Lord Lovat in 1942 at Newhaven after Dieppe. Note that Lord Lovat was a 31-year old Lieutenant-Colonel in this photograph and was a 32-year old Brigadier at Normandy. By the wawy, he was known for carrying a Winchester rifle as his personal weapon in battle. The Wikipedia page has more about his life.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

The 150th Infantry Brigade late on 28 May 1942

The 150th Infantry Brigade commander, Brigadier C.W. Haydon, knew by late on 28 May 1942 that he was in trouble. He redeployed to defend in all directions, as an attach from the East, previously his rear, seemed very likely. Early on 29 May, he was joined by the HQ of 1st Army Tank Brigade with the 44th RTR and a squadron of 42nd RTR with 30 infantry tanks. The only bright spot for the British was that General Cruewell had to make a forced landing and was captured. He had been one of the key Axis commanders and his judgment and skill would be missed. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Action in the air over the Gazala Battle by 28 May 1942

For some reason, the British only attacked Axis transport for most of the time. Only by late 28 May 1942 did Bostons from No.12 Squadron SAAF hit Commonwealth Keep. This place remained in Axis hands, despite an attempt to retake it. Other Bostons hit the harbour at Derna, where a report had placed an Italian destroyer. Axis fighters and divebombers were very active over the battlefield. They mostly operated in a hit-or-miss fashion, because they had no information about the situation on the ground, which remained very fluid. In three days, the British lost 16 aircraft, while the Germans lost 10 and the Italians lost 7 aircraft. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.

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