Thursday, November 10, 2016

10 April 1941, Rommel wants to attack Tobruk

Rommel was driving to Tobruk early on 10 April 1941. He had left Mechili to move to what he thought was the next location to try and panic ther British. He found General Prittwitz and his group still on the road. After his experience so far in Cyrenaica, he thought that if they just pressed the British hard they would collapse. Rommel wanted the 3rd Reconnaissance Unit to outflank El Adem and for the 8th Machine Gun Battalion to stage a frontal attack with the Brescia Division. The potential frontal attackers had no artillery, as it had not arrived yet. The Australian historian points out that the Germans were to attack Tobruk without taking any time for reconnaissance and understanding the defenses. The Germans were not even able to immediately get a Tobruk map from the Italians. The initial contacts included taking fire from the British armored cars, finding "anti-tank obstacles" that were defended. Tobruk was not like the other encounters that the Germans had with the British forces. Tobruk was ready and well-defended.

General Lavarack sent a message to General Wavell telling him of his arrangements, and asked for the rest of the 7th Australian Division to be sent to Tobruk. Wavell was preparing for a trip to Greece where he would meet with General Blamey and explain to him why the 7th Australian Division was not sent to Greece. Before he left for Greece to meet with General Wilson and General Blamey, he sent a message to the Chiefs of Staff in London. He stated his resolve to hold Tobruk. Churchill had written a message exhorting him to hold Tobruk, so the message was not actually sent.

Early on 10 April, General Lavarack met with Brigadier Gott to talk about plans for using the Support Group. The Support Group, early on 10 April, was sitting at El Adem. El Adem was about to be hit by the approaching Axis forces, so this was a good topic for discussion. General Lavarack decided that rather than withdrawing to Tobruk, the Support Group, if threatened, should withdraw to the Egyptian Frontier. This would give the appearance of them scattering when attacked by Rommel's forces, but what could they do? This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Australian Official History.

No comments:

Amazon Ad