Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Tuesday, June 28, 2016
The 2/13th Battalion was fortunate to only have had 98 casualties, a number that included three officers, in the battle at Er Regima on 4 April 1941. Of those, five men were killed. The other unit engaged at Er Regima, the 51st Field Regiment, had one man killed and five "injured" as the Official History says. One of their officers was missing, possibly a prisoner.
The German attack on Er Regima was the only German action on 4 April. The German armored unit, the 5th Light Division, was held back. Their British counterparts, the 2nd Armoured Division, had a bad day on 4 April. A column of vehicles carrying fuel was attacked by German aircraft and the entire column was destroyed. They had met more vehicles with fuel and joined with them, but they were all lost. By evening, the 5th RTR was reduced to nine tanks. The 6th RTR only kept their best Italian tanks and scrapped the rest. They were now down to just nine tanks, as well. The 3rd Hussars, now "14 miles northeast of Msus", were also abandoned their worst tanks. To the south, A Squadron of the LRDG drove south to the Trigh el Abd. They then drove to Bir Ben Gania. They reported back that they had not seen any sign of the enemy forces. A German reconnaissance aircraft overflew them that evening.
While all this was happening, the 3rd Indian Motor Brigade moved to Mechili. The only building at Mechili was an old fort that was very weak. The importance of Mechili was the good water supply. The place had no other value. The 3rd Indian Motor had three completely motorized cavalry units. They only had small arms, apparently, but were highly mobile. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Australian Official History.
Thursday, June 23, 2016
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
Monday, June 13, 2016
Wednesday, June 08, 2016
By the middle of 4 April 1941, the commander of the 2nd Armoured Division did not know where the 3rd Armoured Brigade was located. The Australian commmander Morshead was under the impression that the commander of the 2nd Armoured Division was not that concerned about now knowing where the 3rd Armoured Brigade was. At a meeting, General Gambier-Parry said that he figured that the Germans had achieved their goal for now by taking Benghazi. He did not know how Rommel thought or operated. General O'Connor apparently agreed and wanted the 9th Australian Division to stop withdrawing. The division had two battalions on the first escarpment. A third battalion would hold a position east of Barce. They would be on the second escarpment. The British now had no idea about where the Germans and Italians were and what they were doing. They were out of contact on the ground and had lost air reconnaissance due to the units moving to the rear.
The Australians were in a precarious position. They were not able to dig in on the escarpment. They were reduced to piling stones for cover. After the meeting, General Morshead visited the 20th Australian Brigade, only to find the commander was driving to the division headquarters. The 2/17th Battalion now had transport to move. They would move to the Barce pass. He also learned that the enemy was going to attack the 2/13th Battalion at Er Regima. This is based on the acount in Vol.III of the Australian Official History.
Monday, June 06, 2016
The two squadrons of the King's Dragoon Guards led the advance of the 3rd Armoured Brigade on Msus. They drove into Msus by abour 8:30am on 4 April 1941. The 3rd Armoured Brigade continued to lose tanks to breakdown as they moved. The 6th RTR only arrived by early afternoon. Part of the problem was that they lacked water to add to tank radiators. The Italian tanks in the 6th RTR particularly were bothered by this issue. As we have previously mentioned, they found a ration dump that had not been destroyed so they were temporarily resupplied with food. The German aircraft found them, dropped bombs and a flare to mark their presence. They found that all the fuel had been destroyed even though there were no Germans present. The armored brigade second-in-command was sent out to find more fuel north of Msus.
We now hear from Cyrenaica Command. They sent a message saying that the main Axis column seemed to be heading for Benghazi. The task for the 2nd Armoured Division was to protect the flank of the 9th Australian Division. To do that, they should move to Mechili by the track from Ablar to Mechili. General O'Connor left the Cyrenaica Command headquarters to look for General Gambier-Parry and the 2nd Armoured Division headquarters. General Neame was also out from his headquarters, looking at the Wadi Cuff, which he thought would be a good position to occupy.
Both the 2nd Armoured Division and the 2nd Support Group were now at El Ablar and were close to the 9th Australian Division headquarters. Some of the support group was with the 3rd Armoured Brigade. The rest were spread out between Er Regima and El Ablar. Some more troops came through Er Regima and reported the flag of Italy now flew over Benghazi and that the Germans and Italians were in Benghazi. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Australian Official History.
Wednesday, June 01, 2016
We think that the truth about Rommel's orders were that Hitler had ordered Rommel to go on the defensive and to not carry out any larger operations such as taking Tobruk. The 15th Panzer Division was under orders for North Africa. The High Command still did not want Rommel to make a major move in North Africa. The High Command knew information that Rommel did not, such as the plans for invading Russia. Operations were underway in Greece and there was the island of Crete to deal with. All that required air power that could not be spared to participate in extensive operations in North Africa.He seems to have lied about the orders that he received to General Gariboldi on 3 April 1941.
In any case, the demolitions carried out by the British and Australian engineers were so extensive that they brought the German advance to a halt. The participants were the 2nd Armoured Division engineers and the engineers of the 2/3rd Australian Field Company. The 5th Light Division reported that four days would be required to bring up fuel and refuel their tanks and vehicles. Rommel's reaction was to stop any movement and to have all available vehicles used to bring up "supplies and ammunition". The result was that the German advance was halted for the moment and the British were given a reprieve.
Early on 4 April 1941, the 3rd Armoured Brigade and other forces with Brigadier Rimington started to move towards Msus. Some fraction of the total were sent to El Abiar. The King's Dragoon Guards arrived at Msus by 8:30am and found food that they desperately needed. There was no sign of any Germans. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Australian Official History.