Thursday, September 22, 2016

Events continued to progress at Mechili on 7 April 1941

While Rommel had talked about attacking Mechili on 6 and 7 April 1941, by late on 7 April, he had not actually done anything. There were some movements, such as the Italians attacking the 2nd Lancers unsuccessfully. The two captured Italian 47mm anti-tank guns were used to fire at some enemy troops. That drew some artillery fire for a half and hour. One squadron of the 18th Cavalry Regiment arrived. They had exchanged fire with what must have been some German armored cars during their trip. Later on 7 April, Rommel made an another demand that the garrison at Mechili surrender, but they refused. After that, artillery commenced to fire at Mechili. For about an hour, they also took machine gun fire, but without any particular effect. A regular patrol from the 2nd Lancers was forced back into Mechili by German armored cars. Eventually, they withdrew, which allowed the 2nd Lancers to return to their accustomed position. Rommel was waiting all day long on 7 April for Olbrich to arrive from Msus. Rommel often used a Fiesler Storch for his personal reconnaissance missions. He did so late on 7 April, looking for Olbrich. Olbrich turned out to still be 30 miles away. More units had been straggling into the Mechili area, including some of the Italian Ariete Armored Division. By dark, a large part of the 5th Light Division arrived. Rommel now felt strong enough to attack in the morning.

The British were burdened with Michael Gambier-Parry as the commander at Mechili. He had been waiting in vain for reinforcements. Remember that he had arrived without any fighting forces, when he assumed command of the garrison. General Gambier-Parry had received orders to break out from Cyrenaica Command. He passed that news on to Brigadier Vaughan of the 3rd Indian Motor Brigade. They were to break out from Mechili in the morning. They should move at "daylight". The 3rd Indian Motor Brigade was ordered to head for El Adem. They were also to provide protection to the 2nd Armoured Division headquarters unit. The plan was for the 3rd Indian Motor Brigade to move as a box. The breakout was planned for 6:15am, while the sky was still dark. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Australian Official History.

No comments:

Amazon Ad