Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Axis forces fight back on 10 July 1942

At Panzerarmee Afrika headquarters, Rommel was absent. The officer left in charge, Lt-Col Von Mellenthin showed his usual energy and initiative. He ordered a portion of the 382nd regiment (they were a component of the newly arrived 164th Division) to form a defensive position facing he Australian advance. Lt-Col Von Mellenthin also commandeered some machine guns and anti-aircraft guns to be part of his improvised force. They were able to halt the Australian advance at the coast rail line.

Rommel had been caught in the south at Bab el Qattara. He hurried north with a battle group assembled from the 15th Panzer Division. The counter attack mounted broke through the 26th Australian Brigade front, but was thrown back. They left behind four knocked out Pzkw III tanks, one with spaced armour. All four had been knocked out by 2pdr anti-tank guns firing at their sides, where the armour was weaker. The British forces ended the day with about 1500 prisoners, most of them Italian. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.

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