Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Confusion on the afternoon of 3 April 1941

With the 2nd Armoured Division headquarters issuing new orders while not knowing where its units were located, the situation descended into chaos. There were reports of Germans either heading for Msus or already there that were totally false at this point. The Tower Hamlets Rifles and artillery were sitting at Sidi Brahim and about a mile to the south. Only by 4pm did the 3rd Armoured Brigade receive new orders. The commander warned the 5th RTR and 3rd Hussars of an impending move to Msus. By this point, the 1st RTR and other units had scattered upon seeing units on the move and not having orders themselves. The situation was so bad that the 6th RTR, which was supposed to meet the Support Group did not know their location or even their radio frequency. The continued to sit at Esc Sceleidima. The rest of the armored brigade was still there, as well. While all this played out, the 2nd Armoured Division headquarters sent a message to Cyrenaica Command that they could not hold the escarpment because there was no route to send supplies. General Wavell was still at Cyrenaica Command, along with Generals O'Connor and Neame. In response, Cyrenaica Command, presumably from General Neame, but with knowledge of the others, ordered the armored division to withdraw by way of Er Regima. All this time, while they had reports of Germans either at Msus or heading there, the Long Range Desert Group was ordered use Msus as a base. Units moving towards Msus included the armored division recovery unit and an RAF ground unit. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Australian Official History.

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