Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The battle at Tobruk on 1 May 1941 continued

Not only were German tanks towing anti-tank guns, but they also were towing flame throwers. Some thirty German tanks were driving around, engaging posts east of the hill, Ras el Medauuar. Posts were attacked as they were found. Several tanks were left at each post while the rest moved onward. The German tank group laid down smoke constantly to cover their movements. Four anti-tank guns from the 3rd RHA fired on the German tanks. One gun was overrun by tanks, but some of these tanks were later knocked out. The crews of knocked out tanks were fired on by a Bren gunner. One of the anti-tank guns got hits on six of the tanks.

Soon, three British cruiser tanks arrived at the scene and fired on the German tanks. They then quickly got behind a ridge. The Germans laid more smoke and then pulled back. The group of tanks that had run onto the minefield had managed to extricate themselves from the minefield. Some of the German tanks that headed south were fired on by a gun from the 26th Anti-Tank Company. The German tanks turned around and headed back to the rendezvous near the Ras el Medauuar hill. At another location, near the El Adem Road, the Germans were laying more smoke.

One thing that the Australians had not known was the fate of the Australians from Spouwers' battalion who had been on the perimeter when the attack started. The initial penetration was made between the posts occupied by Australians. This had happened after the barrage had stopped. The Germans had blown the perimeter wire to make a substantial opening. In the dark, the Germans lifted mines from the perimeter. Tanks were used to pull away the wire with grappling hooks. At daylight, the Australians in the posts were quickly overcome by the strong German presence. Some anti-tank guns from the 3rd RHA were also taken.

Major Fell could see the action. His company was responsible for defending the Ras el Medauuar and the area around it. German tanks carrying a few infantry attacked sangers and blew up sandbags. The sangers were being destroyed and men taken prisoner. Major Fell was one of them. They were taken to the German division headquarters, where the Germans were sure that Tobruk was about to fall. They were walked to Acroma. Rommel saw the prisoners and described them as the cream of the British empire, men who had fought bravely and fiercely. The battle was actually yet to be decided. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Australian Official History.

No comments:

Amazon Ad