Wednesday, June 19, 2019

27 July 1942 "we are in trouble" from the 2/28th Battalion

The 2/28th Battalion sat on Ruin Ridge, hoping that men from the 2/43rd Battalion, the 69th Brigade, and the 2nd Armoured Brigade would arrive. There was constant anti-tank gun and machine-gun fire all night. At about 3am, the battalion sent out men to destroy a German 50mm anti-tank gun that was hitting vehicles in the minefield gap. They found that the gun was too well-protected by infantry. By 4:30am, they were concerned about not hearing anything about ammunition arriving. They sent out someone at about 4:30am to investigate. The man's vehicle was mined. The men got through on foot to the 2/43rd Battalion. They were able to speak with Brigadier Godfrey, commanding the 24th Brigade and told him of the ammunition situation and the need for anti-tank guns.

Some eighteen German trucks drove up just before dawn and unloaded infantry. They were on the right side. The 2/28th Battalion could not call in artillery support and were running out of ammunition. There was a fight with small arms. The 2/28th was doing pretty well in the fight. ONe company could see tanks and armored cars approaching. They first thought that they must be British, but they proved to be German. The company commander was killed in the fight. The battalion radio was just repaired and they communicated with the brigade headquarters. As the enemy attacked, the Australians sent message about artillery support, which they got. The Australians had anti-tank guns, and they had some success, knocking out eight German tanks and armored cars. A gun on the right was fought by a battery sergeant-major until the gun was knocked out and the man was killed.

They sent a message at 9:43am talking about being surrounded by tanks and asking for artillery fire.

The 50th RTR tried to help, but was hit hard, losing 22 tanks of which only ten were later recovered. The survivors so far from the 2/28th Battalion watched as the tanks were battered. They thought that the 2nd Armoured Brigade would get involved, but typically, they were afraid of fighting and would not venture through they minefield until they had some sort of guarantee from the infantry. By the time that the 2nd Armoured Brigade was ready to get involved, it was too late to help. At 10:30am, the 2/28th Battalion sent a message that they had to "give in". A few men fought on until the afternoon. One group did not hear of the surrender and fought until they were overrun by tanks. They were marched back as prisoners for about five miles and then were loaded onto trucks. Of the 2/28th Battalion, two officers and 63 men were killed or wounded. Another twenty officers and 469 men were missing. They may have well been prisoners. At this time, the 69th Brigade had lost about six hundred men. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Australian Official History.

No comments:

Amazon Ad