Monday, May 16, 2016

Late on 3 April 1941 in Cyrenaica

The supply dump at Msus was destroyed on the basis of wrong information late in the afternoon on 3 April 1941. There were no Germans near by or in Msus. The only unidentified vehicles were those of the Long Range Desert Group and armored cars of the King's Dragoon Guards. The RAF gave an erroneous reconnaissance report about some fifty German vehicles at Msus. The fifty was said to probably include tanks, which were no where near Msus. At 5pm, General Wavell left Cyrenaica Command Headquarters to return to his headquarters in Cairo. He left with wrong information about the situation. Instead of replacing General Neame with O'Connor, he left Neame in command with O'Connor as an advisor. That is what we had always heard was the case, and this explains it. It seemed that O'Connor was going to actually be in command, but that did not happen.

After the air reconnaissance report, General Gambier-Parry ordered the 3rd Amoured Brigade to move to Er Regima. The division had many wheeled vehicles, and these were largely moving towards Er Regima. The division headquarters was also moving and was crossing the Wadi Gattara. Typical of how badly things were going, a British aircraft dropped a message at the division headquarters. The message was from Cyrenaica Command from 10am that day. The message was wrong and out of date. The message told them to get east of the escarpment before moving to the Wadi Gattara do avoid a British minefield. The officers in the headquarters thought it meant that Er Regima was closed, which was not the case. The message caused confusion and disruption, as vehicles further north were diverted away from Er Regima. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Australian Official History.

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