Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Events from 25 March 1941 in North Africa and Europe

The situation at Mersa Brega from 25 March 1941 was much more tenuous. The position was weaker than that at El Agheila. There was a hill that overlooked the area that was beyond the front line. Mersa Brega had the salt lakes that formed the natural barrier. The area was one that could be easily outflanked. There was the minefield that was now in place with the King's Dragoon Guards behind it. The 3rd Armoured Brigade was on th4e left flank. The King's Dragoon Guards kept a squadron on watch at Maaten Gheizel. There was concern that the Germans could mount a turning movement around the position. There were the sand storms on the 26th and 27th. There was a fight on 29 March between German armored cars and the British armored cars. One of the King's Dragoon Guards cars was knocked out in the fight. The British saw German tanks at El Agheila. They were also starting to experience German air attacks. One such attack destroyed a petrol train at Soluch.

This was a time where events in Europe were moving forward. The Yugoslav government had tried to side with the Axis, but was overthrown. The German response was to plan an attack on Yugoslavia and Greece. In Africa, General Platt's troops captured Keren, an Italian port. General Cunningham's forces captured Harar, the second city in Abyssinia. They had just recaptured British Somaliland. Then, in the Mediterranean Sea, the British fleet encountered the Italians off Cape Matapan and sank "four cruisers and three destroyers".

General Wavell issued orders to General Neame to concentrate on keeping his force in being and not being concerned about holding ground. The situation got Churchill's attention. Churchill knew something about the German methods and that they might well push forward if there was nothing to stop them. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Australian Official History.

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