Wednesday, October 05, 2016

More about the breakout from Mechili on 8 April 1941

After the initial successful breakout from Mechili by many from the 3rd Indian Motor Brigade, the group that was left out when Brigadier Vaughan went back into Mechili eventually proceeded to El Adem. On going back in, they found the headquarters of the 2nd Royal Lancers. When the others that were to breakout from Mechili hesitated, Major-General Gambier-Parry ordered the 2nd Royal Lancers to cover the 2nd Armoured Division headquarters. Brigadier Vaughan had gotten back into Mechili and found General Gambier-Parry. He suggested that they breakout to the east according to the original plan. They turned around and started driving. They ran into heavy machine-gun fire almost immediately. General Gambier-Parry's reaction to this was to surrender. The battery of the 3rd RHA did not want to surrender and tried to proceed. The Indian cavalry were driving behind the artillerymen. The Indian cavalry commanders decided to change direction and break out to the west. They would spread out and charge the Germans on a wide front. Very few of the charging vehicles were hit and they drove through the German artillerymen. There was a wadi that lead to the west, but the smart ones stayed to the right and kept out of it. The wadi proved to be a trap from which almost no one escaped. Those that broke out this time drove out some 20 miles to the west. By early afternoon, they turned north. The group now had the 3rd RHA battery, some 90 engineers from the 4th Field Squadron, and Major Rajendrasinhji and his squadron, consisting now of about 60 men. By early on 9 April, they saw an enemy group driving along. They captured some 30 German and Italian soldiers in a supply column. They took them prisoners, but had to abandon some when their vehicles broke down. They eventually captured an German scout car. Finally, they saw armored cars and started to engage them and then stopped, as they were from the 11th Hussars. They followed them back to El Adem. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Australian Official History.

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