Monday, May 30, 2016

With Rommel on 3 April 1941

By 3 April 1941, General Wavell was realizing that he needed to change plans to meet the threat from Rommel in the Western Desert. They would keep the 7th Australian Division and possibly change the plans for the 6th Australian Division. While this was happening, Rommel was making plans as well. In the afternoon of 3 April 1941, Rommel visited the most advanced troops from the Ariete Division. They were traveling from Agedabia to the Trigh el Abd. He found that the ground was firm and could be safely traveled. When he returned to his headquarters, he ordered the Ariete Division to send a detachment to travel the Trigh el Abd to Ben Gania. He also ordered them to check the track to Msus. By 4:45pm, Rommel received word that the British had left Magrun. He ordered the 3rd Reconnaissance Unit to travel the coast road to Magrun and then scout out the way beyond Magrun. Rommel drove forward to joint the reconnaissance unit. They heard that the British had left Benghazi, so he ordered his troops forward. They reached Benghazi before morning. By the time Rommel had returned to his headquarters, he found that he had to deal with General Gariboldi, who was unhappy about the recent moves. He wanted Rommel not to make any advances without consulting him. Rommel told General Gariboldi that he needed freedom of action, as he was a German general. Fortunately for Rommel, he received a message from German High Command giving him the freedom he needed. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Australian Official History.

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