Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Rommel on 4 and 5 April 1941 in Cyrenaica

Rommel had decided to retake Cyrenaica without letting the higher-level commanders know what he was doing. He was very cautious after his confrontation with General Gariboldi, where Rommel lied about receiving permission. On 4 April 1941, Rommel had dispatched multiple columns heading into the British rear. A battle group of motorcycles and artillery was on the Trigh el Abd. Rommel ordered them to push forward to Ben Gania and then to Mechili. He wanted the Italian armored division, the Ariete, to follow the motor cycle unit. He had assembled another even stronger force that would also travel to Ben Gania and then cut up to the coast at Tmimi. They were destined to attack Tobruk. This battle group was commanded by Lt-Colonel Schwerin. More of the 5th Light Division was to follow Schwerin's group. My noon on 4 April, Rommel rode to Benghazi. He wanted the 3rd Reconnaissance Unit to drive to Mechili by way of Er Regima. They were to wait until they were replaced in Benghazi by the troops from the Brescia Division. The reconnaissance unit was the force that hit the 2/13th Battalion at Er Regima. They had taken tank losses in the British minefield. The Italians had warned Rommel about the Trigh el Abd. Rommel had conducted a reconnaissance of the track and had decided it was passable. The 5th Light Division force struggled on the track. They had many vehicles break down and outrun their supply line. Schwerin's group got closer to Ben Gania, but had also run out of supplies. Rommel took to the air and flew over the scene. He though some of his men were east of Ben Gania, but they were probably men from the Long Range Desert Group. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Australian Official History.

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