Monday, June 06, 2016

The 3rd Armoured Brigade at Msus early on 4 April 1941

The two squadrons of the King's Dragoon Guards led the advance of the 3rd Armoured Brigade on Msus. They drove into Msus by abour 8:30am on 4 April 1941. The 3rd Armoured Brigade continued to lose tanks to breakdown as they moved. The 6th RTR only arrived by early afternoon. Part of the problem was that they lacked water to add to tank radiators. The Italian tanks in the 6th RTR particularly were bothered by this issue. As we have previously mentioned, they found a ration dump that had not been destroyed so they were temporarily resupplied with food. The German aircraft found them, dropped bombs and a flare to mark their presence. They found that all the fuel had been destroyed even though there were no Germans present. The armored brigade second-in-command was sent out to find more fuel north of Msus.

We now hear from Cyrenaica Command. They sent a message saying that the main Axis column seemed to be heading for Benghazi. The task for the 2nd Armoured Division was to protect the flank of the 9th Australian Division. To do that, they should move to Mechili by the track from Ablar to Mechili. General O'Connor left the Cyrenaica Command headquarters to look for General Gambier-Parry and the 2nd Armoured Division headquarters. General Neame was also out from his headquarters, looking at the Wadi Cuff, which he thought would be a good position to occupy.

Both the 2nd Armoured Division and the 2nd Support Group were now at El Ablar and were close to the 9th Australian Division headquarters. Some of the support group was with the 3rd Armoured Brigade. The rest were spread out between Er Regima and El Ablar. Some more troops came through Er Regima and reported the flag of Italy now flew over Benghazi and that the Germans and Italians were in Benghazi. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Australian Official History.

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