Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The 9th Australian Division in defense in late March 1941

With the most effective fighting force having been sent to Greece, the 9th Australian Division was left to hold the plateau east of Benghazi. To the east of Benghazi lay the port of Derna. The 26th Brigade was responsible for holding the right of the position. The 20th Brigade would hold the right side of the position. For artillery, the two brigades each had a "composite battery" of the 51st Field Regiment. Each battery had six old 18pdr guns and 6-4.5inch howitzers. They also had nine Italian 47mm anti-tank guns that would be fought on the back of trucks as "portees". For engineers, the 26th Brigade had the 2/13th Field Company (without one section). The 2/7th Field Company (also without one section) would operate with the 20th Brigade. The 20th Brigade commander was able to fly over the area that he would defend on 26 March. He then decided where his battalions would be positioned. The 2/17th Battalion would be on the right, on the north side. The 2/13th Battalion would be at Er Regima, a pass. The 2/15th Battalion would be on the left. Only by 28 March 1941, the 26th Brigade headquarters, the 2/24th Battalion, and "two companies of the 2/23rd Battalion" had arrived at the plateau from Gazala. The escarpment being held was 62 miles long and had three battalions. This was to the east of Benghazi. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Australian Official History.

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