Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Cyrenaica Command in confusion late on 3 April 1941

Almost the first thing that happened after General Wavell left Cyrenaica Command, a conference was held. This was late on 3 April 1941. Colonel Lloyd, of the 9th Australian Division, was at the conference representing his division. Decisions were being made without knowing any hard information. Communications were non-existent. They had no idea what was happening with the 2nd Armoured Division. They thought that there were 100 German vehicles at Msus, but an officer from the armored division artillery told Colonel Lloyd that the vehicles at Msus were the 3rd Armoured Brigade. At the meeting, they decided to pull back to a line from Wadi Derna to Mechili. They would pull out of most of Jebel Achdar and let the Germans advance. The 3rd Indian Motor Brigade was still at El Adem, but they would be ordered to move to Mechili. They would send the 2nd Armoured Brigade to join them at Mechili, so that they would have some artillery. B Squadron of the 2nd Royal Lancers was already at Mechili. They expected the 9th Australian Division to put two battalions east of Barce on the "second escarpment". The plan was that by defending the second escarpment, that they would enable a "general withdrawal" from the forward part of Cyrenaica. A 7th Armoured Division motor battalion arrived at Barce to help the 9th Australian Division. The division would do a staged withdrawal to Derna. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Australian Official History.

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