Monday, March 21, 2016
A fight at El Agheila on 24 March 1941
The night of 23 to 24 March 1941 was when a small group of troops were sitting to the west of El Agheila. They were a troop from the King's Dragoon Guards and a platoon of motorized infantry. They also had an anti-tank gun. They were about a thousand yard west of the fort at El Agheila. The plan was for another troop from the King's Dragoon Guards to patrol to the south and report it clear. That was a spot 12 miles to the south. They also planned to have some field artillery in support west of El Agheila. When the infantry approached the fort, they realized that it was occupied and there were shots fired. Guns at the fort opened fire on the motorized infantry and they could see tanks moving from the south. They succeeded in knocking out one armored car, but the gun crew took losses. They saw some ten tanks and 20 vehicles just east of the fort. They saw the Italian flag hoisted at the El Agheila fort. In response to the German presence at El Agheila, the King's Dragoon Guards pulled back to Mersa Brega. The Australian Official History noted that Rommel was left in control of the entrance to Cyrenaica from Tripolitania. The 1st RHA diary is quoted: "This rather altered arrangements". Two German tanks had been damaged by mines at El Agheila. German ground forces stayed in the vicinity of El Agheila, but they were now using the landing ground at El Agheila for operations. The plan was for Mersa Brega to be defended by one infantry battalion and one company of motorized infantry. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Australian Official History.