Tuesday, August 09, 2016

More movements on 6 April 1941, later in the day

The southern route to the east taken by British and Australian troops was overloaded with vehicles and the road was breaking down under the load. The load grew as more vehicles crossed into the road from side roads. What had started as convoys were broken up due to the conditions. Where the roads joined and where the refueling stops, conditions were even worse. Upon reaching Giovanni Berta, the Australians left the paved road and took the desert route. The traffic on the road was reduced to about six miles an hour due to the heavy traffic and the deteriorating road surface. Traffic would be stopped as vehicles broke down or overheated.

The 2nd Armoured Division Support Group connected to the southern route from Tecasis. The 3rd Armoured Brigade and the armored cars of the King's Dragoon Guards joined from "the El Abiar-Maraua track". The brigade only had seven cruiser tanks and six light tanks. The 6th RTR with Italian tanks was out of touch and was heading up to the recently abandoned plateau. They could only travel very slowly.

The 2/24th Battalion was the last of the Australians to head east. The 9th Australian Division staff had trouble finding any transport to move the battalion. Some transport was provided by the 2/17th Battalion and from engineers. They had found 14 trucks and some of the unit's vehicles were able to move the entire 2/24th Battalion. The convoy was broken up at the intersections and only arrived at Tmimi in the morning in small groups.

Nothing was seen of the Germans that had blocked the road earlier on the 6th. They must have been Ponath's group. The group was very small and since his orders were to block the coast road at Derna, he continued onward towards that destination. They sheltered in the "Rocknest" caves and set up an ambush to protect those in the caves. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Australian Official History.

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