Monday, February 29, 2016

On the border in March 1941

The British-Australian force near El Agheila in March 1941 was short of strength. There was the light tank regiment with Lt.Mk.VIb's (we think). There was the King's Dragoon Guards with Marmon-Herrington Mk.II armored cars. Their best weapon was the 0.55-inch anti-tank rifle. There was the Australian infantry brigade that had just arrived. There was the 6th RTR that was just getting captured Italian M13/40 tanks. The anti-tank guns they had were 9-2pdr and 6-Breda anti-tank guns. There were also 16-Bofors 40mm Light AA guns. They also had 3-Breda Light AA guns. There were no British or Australian troops west of El Agheila and none actually holding the place. The KDG went up to the fort at El Agheila in the morning and left at night. What few vehicles they had were breaking down due to overuse and lack of parts. Due to bombing at Benghazi, they were reduced to relying on road transport from Tobruk for their supplies. The length of the drive included half during the day with bombing attacks. The signals equipment was provided by stealing or taking from dumps of Italian equipment. They were short of essential items, even mortars and anti-tank guns. General Morshead worried about leaving the 20th Brigade where they were. He proposed moving them to the Benghazi-Barce area. When General Morshead had written his letter about the situation, he was called in for a meeting with General Dill, the CIGS, and General Wavell, the theater commander. They met near Beda Fomm. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Australian Official History.

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