Monday, May 30, 2016
With Rommel on 3 April 1941
Wednesday, May 25, 2016
The initial moves on 4 April 1941
Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Cyrenaica Command in confusion late on 3 April 1941
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
The withdrawal in the midst of confusion on 3 and 4 April 1941
After the erroneous information about Er Regima was received, the 2nd Armoured Division wheeled vehicles headed for the Wadi Gattara. They would attempt to reach the plateau by crossing the escarpment. The vehicles were blocked at this point, although small groups made their way up the escarpment. Some of the 2nd Support Group did not receive the bad information and they were able to move through Er Regima. The Australian 2/13th Battalion held the pass and saw the support group vehicles passing through. More support group vehicles went to Tocra, held by the 26th Australian Brigade, and passed through there.
Brigadier Rimington, the 3rd Armoured Brigade commander, was still at Esc Sceleidima. Since the word about Er Regima being closed, he changed his orders to his brigade. He was out of communication with his division commander, so he decided to sit at Esc Sceleidima until he was back in communication. He ordered the 3rd Hussars to hold the east end of the pass. The 5th RTR and 6th RTR would hold the western end of the pass. There was a report of Germans approaching, but the vehicles were from the King's Dragoon Guards. Overnight, Brigadier Rimington decided to take his brigade to Msus in the morning. If the Germans were really there, he would fight them. During the night, the remains of the Tower Hamlets Rifles arrived at Esc Sceleidima. They were also joined by two squadrons from the King's Dragoon Guards. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Australian Official History.
Monday, May 16, 2016
Late on 3 April 1941 in Cyrenaica
The supply dump at Msus was destroyed on the basis of wrong information late in the afternoon on 3 April 1941. There were no Germans near by or in Msus. The only unidentified vehicles were those of the Long Range Desert Group and armored cars of the King's Dragoon Guards. The RAF gave an erroneous reconnaissance report about some fifty German vehicles at Msus. The fifty was said to probably include tanks, which were no where near Msus. At 5pm, General Wavell left Cyrenaica Command Headquarters to return to his headquarters in Cairo. He left with wrong information about the situation. Instead of replacing General Neame with O'Connor, he left Neame in command with O'Connor as an advisor. That is what we had always heard was the case, and this explains it. It seemed that O'Connor was going to actually be in command, but that did not happen.
After the air reconnaissance report, General Gambier-Parry ordered the 3rd Amoured Brigade to move to Er Regima. The division had many wheeled vehicles, and these were largely moving towards Er Regima. The division headquarters was also moving and was crossing the Wadi Gattara. Typical of how badly things were going, a British aircraft dropped a message at the division headquarters. The message was from Cyrenaica Command from 10am that day. The message was wrong and out of date. The message told them to get east of the escarpment before moving to the Wadi Gattara do avoid a British minefield. The officers in the headquarters thought it meant that Er Regima was closed, which was not the case. The message caused confusion and disruption, as vehicles further north were diverted away from Er Regima. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Australian Official History.
Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Confusion on the afternoon of 3 April 1941
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
The 2nd Armoured Difvision becomes confused on 3 April 1941
Thursday, May 05, 2016
The situation deteriorates for the British on 3 April 1941 in Cyrenaica
Tuesday, May 03, 2016
More about the situation on 2 April 1941
As the Germans were advancing in early April 1941, the 9th Australian Division was lacking information. They were also not ready to fight. The right was held by the 26th Brigade, which only had the 2/24th Battalion. They had only obtained enough transport to move the 2/48th Battalion forward from Gazala. They arrived at Baracca at 5pm. By 3 April, they were ten miles from Tocra, near "an Italian settlement".
General Wavell felt compelled to visit Barce and the Cyrenaica Command headquarters. He was having one of those periodic exchanges with Churchill in London. Wavell had directed General Neame to keep his armor in being, even if that involved withdrawing from Benghazi. That got a negative response from the Prime Minister. Churchill had suggested bringing General O'Connor forward. In fact, Wavell decided to replace Neame with O'Connor. The situation was such that Neame being so far from the action, that he did not have effective control. One goal was to keep the 2nd Armoured Division concentrated, rather than to scatter the division. General Gambier-Parry was going to withdraw on El Ablar. The coast road had the disadvantage that the supply dump at Magrun was destroyed by the 2/3rd Australian Field Company. Neame was still in command and ordered demolitions at Benghazi in preparation for withdrawal. Demolition charges were exploded at Er Regima. They blew the minefield, as they expected, so they laid new anti-tank mines at the pass. On the morning of 3 April, Wavell and Neame met with General Morshead, of the 9th Australian Division, and passed on the news that O'Connor would arrive to take over Cyrenaica Command. O'Connor came by plane with Brigadier Combe. He landed at El Adem and sent word to the 3rd Indian Motor Brigade that they should be ready to send two regiments to Mechili. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Australian Official History.