Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The initial moves on 4 April 1941

While the 9th Australian Division was involved in the moves to the second escarpment, transport was a problem. The solution was to take vehicles from units that had them to transport the battalions that lacked vehicles. One battalion, the 2/48th, from the 26th Brigade had just taken position at Baracca, which was on the lower escarpment, was to move to Maddalena. This is where the northern pass is located. The 2/15th Battalion from the 20th Brigade had been held in reserve. They were now to move east of Barce to the southern pass. The 9th Australian Division had been given the 1/Royal Fusiliers and the 24th Anti-Tank Company. They would move to El Abiar, which in the scheme of things, would allow the 2/15th Battalion move. By daylight on 4 April, the battalions were able to move. We remember that the 7th Armoured Division motor battalion, the 1/King's Royal Rifle Corps, was supplied by General Wavell to bolster the defenses. Being a motor battalion, they were able to immediate start their move and they arrived in position by 9am on 4 April 1941. A fifth 9th Australian Division company was gathering near El Abiar. They had been on the escarpment to the north of Er Regima. They had given up their transport to move other units, so they had to wait for more transport to arrive. Using first line transport from units that needed to move meant that other transport had to be found. An officer from the 9th Australian Division staff had to find the necessary transport. Another officer, Major Dodds, collected available transport at Barce. The unit movement was slowed due to this issue, so battalions that had given up their first-line transport to move other units had to sit until later in the afternoon on 4 April. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Australian Official History.

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