Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Later on 8 April 1941 after the actions at Derna

After leaving the Derna area, the 9th Australian Division occupied a position near Acroma. This was late in the afternoon of 8 April 1941. The 26th Brigade traveled from Tmimi to the Acroma area. Some of the Northumberland Fusiliers and the 51st Field Regiment acted as a rearguard for the brigade. In the process of moving, the 26th Brigade passed through the lines of the 20th Brigade near Gazala. Once they had completed their passage, the 20th Brigade was to move east from Gazala. The fact that the men of 20th Brigade had largely gone without sleep for 48 hours, if you can imagine it, that alone complicated the 20th Brigade movement. One of the 20th Brigade battalions had a diarist who noted that the drivers tended to fall asleep every time they stopped moving.

As the 9th Australian Division reached Acroma, they deployed with the 26th Brigade on the right, facing west, and with the 20th Brigade on the left. At this point, the 26th Brigade only had two battalions, the 2/13th and 2/48th. The 20th Brigade was fortunate to have the full three battalions. They had the 2/15th, 2/17th, and 2/24th Battalions. The division headquarters had moved inside the Tobruk fortress lines. A feature of the area where the 26th Brigade had occupied was a large, white house with the hand-painted name of an Australian beer. A sign of how fluid the situation was, was that Rommel used that white house as his headquarters very soon after 8 April. By late in the day, the remnants of the 2nd Armoured Division Support Group had arrived at Tobruk. The only Support Group unit that still existed but was not at Tobruk was the French Motor Battalion, which was at El Adem to add some strength at the place. The 1st/King's Royal Rifle Corps (1/KRRC) had also arrived at Tobruk. From here, we next will hop back in time to 6 April 1941 at Mechili, and see the sad end of the 2nd Armoured Division. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Australian Official History.

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