Friday, July 30, 2010

The 2nd Armoured Brigade intervenes

After Brigadier Kippenberger had contacted the NZ Division commander and the 1st Armoured Division commander, the 2nd Armoured Brigade had moved forward on hte morning of 15 July 1942. Unfortunately, two of its regiments ran onto minefields near "Strong Point 2". The remaining regiment was able to support the 5th Indian Brigade in its attack. They helped capture Point 64. Now, the British task was to deal with the bypassed Axis forces in their rear. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Axis forces respond on 15 July 1942

As survivors of the Brescia and Pavia divisions moved towards the rear, they told stories about the British attack that hurt Axis morale. The one setback to the Allied cause was made by a small detachment from the 8th Panzer Regiment. They had about 8 to 10 tanks and had moved past the advancing British forces and encountered the unfortunate 22nd NZ Battalion. The New Zealanders had just four anti-tank guns on portees and these were quickly disabled. The New Zealand infantry was caught without cover or the ability to fight tanks, so about 350 men surrendered. They were rapidly sent towards the Axis rear. Brigadier Kippenberger had seen some of these events at a distance and hurried to report to his division commander, General Inglis, about what had happened. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

An assessment of the New Zealand Division on 15 July 1942

The New Zealand Division had commenced its attack at about 11pm on 14 July 1942. The night was dark, as there was no moon. FAA Albacores were out dropping flares to provide illumination for the advancing troops. They also dropped bombs on Axis transport behind the lines. Both the 4th NZ Brigade and the 5th NZ Brigade were short-handed, so they both advanced on very narrow fronts. They reached the Axis minefields and then received MG fire. The troops gradually became dispersed as they reached their objectives. In the process of moving forward, Axis troops were bypassed and were left untouched. When the 5th NZ Brigade reached its objective, they had lost track of their anti-tank guns. They were advancing more slowly and were to the rear. They were having the usual British problems with unreliable communications, which had dogged them through the great battles. At least the 4th NZ Brigade was able to keep their anti-tank guns forward and was able to place them forward in the German style. The 5th brigade had also bypassed many Axis strong points, which were now in their rear. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The New Zealand Division commences its attack: 14/15 July 1942 at El Alamein

At 11pm on 14 July 1692, the New Zealand Division moved forward towards its objective, which lay six miles away. The Division consisted of the 5th NZ Brigade on the right and the 4th NZ Brigade on the left. The 5th NZ Brigade reached the objective by dawn, but had one battalion complete dispersed in the process. The 4th NZ Brigade also reached its objective and had moved some anti-tank guns forward, German-style. One problem was that the division artillery and reserve were out of support range. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Auchinleck's plan of attack for 14 July 1942

General Auchinleck thought that his forces should be able to break the Axis center. He planned the attack for 14 July 1942. In the event, the battle lasted through 17 July. Forces from 30th and 13th Corps were chosen for the attack: 5th Indian Brigade from 30th Corps and the two-brigade New Zealand Division from 13th Corps. The 1st Armoured Division was on the left of the New Zealand Division and was ready to move forward if a breakthrough was achieved. The 1st Armoured Brigade also provided a battle group "Wall Group" to support 30th Corps. Before the attack even began, the 22nd Armoured Brigade was diverted to Alam Nayil to fight some Axis tanks. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

British armour on 15 July 1942

The two British armoured brigades engaged in the next battle were the 2nd Armoured Brigade and the 22nd Armoured Brigade. Their strength on 15 July 1942 consisted of:

2nd Armoured Brigade
6th RTR (with 1 squadron of 10th Hussars)
3/5 RTR
9th Lancers (with 1 squadron of 2nd Royal Gloucester Hussars)

equipped with 46 Grants, 11 Stuarts, and 59 Crusaders

22nd Armoured Brigade
3rd County of London Yeomanry
joined in the afternoon by the Royal Scots Greys

equipped with 31 Grants, 21 Stuarts, and 23 Crusaders

This is based on Note 1 on page 349 of Vol.III of the Official History. I find this sort of information helpful, as the usual high-level descriptions lack actual strength data.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Air action on 11 and 12 July 1942

The strong British effort in the north brought out the Axis air forces to support their beleaguered troops. Several large formations of Ju-87 and Ju-88 bombers, escorted by fighters, attempted to intervene. They all were intercepted by British fighters and were forced to turn back. The British, in turn, tried to intercept the Axis transports headed for Africa from Crete. They succeeded in attacking a formation and shot down a Ju-52 transport for the cost of one Beaufighter lost. Both sides had two aircraft damaged. Over the night of 11/12 July, the Wellingtons bombing Tobruk had a Halifax as companion. This was the first British four-engined heavy bomber used in the Middle East. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.

Monday, July 05, 2010

The Australians on 11 July 1942

The 2/24th Australian Battalion staged an attack, starting at 6:30am on 11 July 1942. They were supported by Valentine infantry tanks from the 44th RTR. The objective was the Tell el Eisa, which fell to them by midday on 11 July. They sent off a column of "tanks, infantry in carriers, and field and anti-tank guns" to Deir el Abyad. In transit, an Italian infantry battalion surrendered to the column. The column was stopped at Miteirya Ridge. They received so much attention that by evening, they withdrew to the El Alamein defences. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.

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