Monday, April 11, 2016

At the front in Cyrenaica on 30 March 1941

The forward units facing the Germans were all British units. The 2nd Armoured Division was finding that the Italian M13/40 tanks were unsatisfactory. After being driven for 10 or 12 miles, the engines overheated. Once they were driven and overheated, they needed time to cool. That meant that they could be driven 48 miles in a day. They had 68 tanks of all sorts that could be used, even if with problems. Not only the tank situation was an issue. They had never trained as a unit. They also lost their communications equipment, as it was all sent to Greece.

The units of the 2nd Armoured Division were in place at the front. The right was held by the 2nd Support Group, commanded by Brigadier Latham. They had eight miles of front within the Mersa Brega salt marshes. They had part of the Tower Hamlets Rifles, a company of the French Motor Battalion, and the 104th Royal Horse Artillery. There was a group on the cemetery hill. They were a company of the Tower Hamlets Rifles and two machine-gun sections. Another company of Tower Hamlets Rifles was "preparing a position in the rear". They were approximately one mile north of Agedabia.

On the left, there were about 5 miles of ground to the south from the road that could not be traveled by tanks. Behind this was the 3rd Armoured Brigade. The 3rd Hussars were forward with 26 tanks, a mix of Lt.Mk.VI and M13/40 tanks. They had an Australian anti-tank company with them. There was also the 5th RTR. They had two field artillery batteries and two light anti-aircraft guns with each of the regiments. Most of the 6th RTR was still at Beda Fomm. Armored cars from the King's Dragoon Guards were scouting in front of the tanks. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Australian Official History.

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