Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The situation from 6 June 1941 at the Salient

After the fierce fight in the night against the Germans, the Germans asked for a truce so that they could retrieve wounded from the battlefield. They sent five ambulances with a Red Cross flag. They searched the neutral zone for wounded. Australians from the 2/13th Battalion went out to help in the search. They also took the opportunity to view the German positions. During the truce, the Australians were able to relax. At the end, the Germans fired a machine gun burst to mark the truce end.

The 2/9th Battalion was to the right of the 2/13th Battalion. They had been in the Salient the longest. They had been ab le to push out their front line far in front of their starting position. When the 2/13th Battalion had advanced their line recently, the 2/9th Battalion moved ahead another 150 yards. Their lines were well prepared with wire and trip-wire setups.

The Australians had taken the Salient, the scene of a German penetration, and had been able to create a stepping-off point for new adventures. Most nights, many patrols were sent out to harass the enemy troops. During the day, the RHA, 51st Field Regiment, and eventually, the 2/12th Australian Field Regiment were at work. Although the enemy gunners were able to get hits, the British and Australian gunners inflicted more hits than they took.

After the 18th Brigade left the Salient, a German battalion commander wrote a testimonial to their prowess. Major Ballersted commanded the II Battalion of the 115th Motor Infantry Regiment. He rated the Australians as superior to the German soldiers in important ways. He especially praised the Australians capabilities as snipers. In return, the Australians found the German soldiers to be tough competitors.

One disadvantage that the Australians had was that they used British 3-inch mortars, which were inferior to both the German and Italian mortars. The Italians had an 81mm mortar that performed well. The Australians had captured several and used them. There was little ammunition for the 81mm mortars, but they were the best thing that the Australians had. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Australian Official History.

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