Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The German situation inside the Tobruk perimeter on 1 May 1941

Early on the morning of 1 May 1941, there was fog that hampered German operations. The attack had not achieved the initial results hoped for by Rommel. The 5th Armored Regiment had new orders early on 1 May. They were to support the attack on Medauuar by the 2nd Machine Gun Battalion and the 200th Engineers Battalion. One of the tank companies divided into two groups. The group supporting the engineers "rolled up" the right side to Post R.5. The other group was operating with the 2nd Machine Gun Battalion to take the posts near Medauuar and was able to increase the width of perimeter on the left side.

One more company from the 5th Armored Regiment was sent to take the lead on pushing to Bianca. They had the misfortune to run onto B1 minefield. Twelve of the tanks were disabled from mines, but not destroyed. The tanks were also taking British artillery fire. By now, Rommel had come to Kirchheim's headquarters and started issuing orders. He told the engineers and tanks to attack to the southeast near the perimeter wire. The Italian Ariete Armored Division moved up to take over ground taken in the attack. British artillery was making the situation difficult for the German forces, so they were not making much progress.

By noon on 1 May, the 2nd Machine Gun Battalion had taken "Point 180". The small 15th Armored Division contingent reported that they were at Point 187 at Post S.4 and were going into a defensive posture. The force attacking towards Bianca had reversed course and pulled back to the line held by German troops. A sand storm at 1pm allowed trucks to come forward to resupply the tanks. This was accomplished by 3:15pm.

General von Paulus was still checking on Rommel and his operations. He told Rommel that the attack had stalled and they would not achieve anything more by continuing. Rommel agreed and decided to stop the attack for the rest of 1 May and for 2 May as well. The plan was to increase the width of the penetration in the north and the east. The ground near Post S.7 in the north was being held, but they were not able to make progress in the east. Post R.6 only was taken by late on 1 May. Post S.7 was only taken by the morning of 2 May. A tank battle took place about 3:45pm. 22 British tanks seemed to be moving against the 2nd Machine GUn Battalion. A company of German tanks engaged the British tanks and thought that they had knocked out four of the British tanks while four German tanks took hits. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Australian Official History.

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