Tuesday, January 10, 2017

More action on 16 April 1941

The enemy force in the east took a defensive posture. The troops were the Knabe Group along with the Italian Montemurro Unit. They British expected an attack on Halfaya, but it did not happen. British ships fired on Bardia and caused the town to be abandoned contrary to Rommel's orders. The British on the frontier were effectively bothering the force at Salum to the extent that the force was drawn down to a patrol.

The Headquarters in Cairo sent Morshead a message early on 16 April warning him that there was intelligence of an impending attack on Tobruk. In response, General Morshead put the forces in Tobruk on alert. One of the things done were patrols sent outside the wire, looking for any sign of an attack. There seemed to be nothing happening in the south or east. Only in the west were there signs of a pending attack. One Australian group attacked Italians in a wadi. One Italian was killed and the other 97 men surrendered. There were more encounters. The 2/24th Battalion took six officers and 57 men. Another group took a Breda machine gun and eight men. Carriers that were active saw a battalion from Acroma getting close. The battalion received fire from the 51st Field Regiment and scattered. There were twelve tanks behind the battalion. They also were fired on and dispersed. When attacked, the battalion surrendered and was brought through a gap in the wire as prisoners. The tanks seemed to fire on the Italian prisoners. The tanks also engaged the Australian Bren carriers. By the time the day ended, the Australians had taken 803 men prisoner. That included one German officer and 25 Italian officers. The battalion was the 1st Battalion 62nd Regiment from the Trento Division. While the Italians had expected to be supported by German tanks, the supporting tanks seem to have been six Italian M13/40 tanks and 12 light tanks from the Ariete Division. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Australian Official History.

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