Monday, March 06, 2017

29 April1941 with some of the men in Tobruk in new positions

The 2/24th Battalion had started relieving the 2/48th Battalion men as early as the afternoon of 28 April 1941. They day saw heavy enemy air activity, including dropping 150 bombs or more. Given the air attacks, the men expected a new ground attack, but there was none. The attacks were limited to heavy shelling of the inner defense line, the "Blue Line". The men of the 2/48th Battalion were moved back to the Blue Line defenses. The 2/48th Battalion now had other troops between them and the enemy. This was the first time for them since they had retreated from the escarpment above Benghazi.

The commander of the 2/24th Battalion was a Great War veteran and he did not like the shallow defenses. The men were put to work to dig deeper trenches and to build up the defensive position walls.

The 24th Battalion was a concern because they only had two battalions. The 2/25th Battalion was late in arriving from Australia. General Blamey took action and assigned the 2/32 Battalion to the 24th Brigade. The battalion had tried to embark on the ship Chakla at Mersa Matruh on 28 April. Because of bad weather, only one company had been able to board the ship. They arrived at Tobruk early on 29 April and were to be part of an ad hoc group of engineers and to hold a position leaving the harbor area.

Air reconnaissance on 29 April saw the continued movement of vehicles to the west, across the areas held by the 20th and 26th Brigades. The increased enemy air operations continued on 29 April. The enemy aircraft strafed and bombed artillery and infantry positions. During the morning, the 20th Brigade was heavily shelled. The 2/24th Company was attacked by air and took casualties. One company commander was wounded and was replaced. There was soon another air attack on the same area. A large bomber attack hit guns of the 1st RHA near El Adem and the road to Bardia. By 4:30pm, the harbor was heavily bombed and the ship Chakla was sunk. The next attack at about 5pm hit the 2/24th Battalion, but with no effect. At about 6pm, enemy ground forces moved in the direction of Ras el Medauuar, but turned back in the face of fire. Right before dusk, a dive bombing attack hit the rear of the 20th Brigade, causing casualties. The last action involved artillery fire on the 20th Brigade rear. After that, the action stopped. During the night, three lighters brought six infantry tanks, which were unloaded. The lighters carried back some of the captured German tanks. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Australian Official History.

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