Wednesday, June 01, 2016

What was the truth? Rommel's orders and his situation on 3 April 1941

We think that the truth about Rommel's orders were that Hitler had ordered Rommel to go on the defensive and to not carry out any larger operations such as taking Tobruk. The 15th Panzer Division was under orders for North Africa. The High Command still did not want Rommel to make a major move in North Africa. The High Command knew information that Rommel did not, such as the plans for invading Russia. Operations were underway in Greece and there was the island of Crete to deal with. All that required air power that could not be spared to participate in extensive operations in North Africa.He seems to have lied about the orders that he received to General Gariboldi on 3 April 1941.

In any case, the demolitions carried out by the British and Australian engineers were so extensive that they brought the German advance to a halt. The participants were the 2nd Armoured Division engineers and the engineers of the 2/3rd Australian Field Company. The 5th Light Division reported that four days would be required to bring up fuel and refuel their tanks and vehicles. Rommel's reaction was to stop any movement and to have all available vehicles used to bring up "supplies and ammunition". The result was that the German advance was halted for the moment and the British were given a reprieve.

Early on 4 April 1941, the 3rd Armoured Brigade and other forces with Brigadier Rimington started to move towards Msus. Some fraction of the total were sent to El Abiar. The King's Dragoon Guards arrived at Msus by 8:30am and found food that they desperately needed. There was no sign of any Germans. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Australian Official History.

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