Monday, March 25, 2019

A dangerous business, being so far forward into enemy territory on 11 to 12 July 1942

Traveling in the dark when you were so far into enemy territory was very dangerous. 26th Brigade held a conference at their headquarters very late on 11 July 1942. They were returning to their units early on 12 July, driving in the dark. They were all in a jeep. They left the meeting but never arrived at their destinations. They found that the driver had missed the turn "just east of battalion headquarters" and had driving straight into enemy positions. They were put in the bag by the Germans. The same thing happened again "three nights later".
The XXX Corps attacks in the north had been very effective and had turned into a crisis for the enemy. The attacks started early on 11 July after heavy artillery fire falling on Italian units. Two Italian positions that were thought to be strong, as the had held on 10 July. They "fell very soon". They sent a Trieste Division battalion to "plug the gap", but it was "wiped out". The situation was so dangerous, that the enemy had to commit most of the army-level artillery to the fighting in the north. The remaining battalions from the Trieste Division had to be used at Point 21 to stop the British attack. The situation with the Italian forces was so bad that Rommel got all his German soldiers out of bed and sent them to the fighting. The Reconnaissance Unit 3 was ordered to the area southwest of point 237 to keep the British from breaking through the front and pushing to the west.
Sometime on 11 July, Rommel decided to attack the British force in the north with the 21st Armored Division. Rommel ordered the division to move north on 12 July to be ready for a battle on 13 July. Rommel wanted to capture the El Alamein Box and isolate the Australians at Tel el Eisa. Rommel put a high priority on the operation so he allocated "every gun and every aircraft". As you can imagine, what was eventually named "The First Battle of El Alamein" turned into an extended affair.
General Auchinleck was very aware of the German movements. With German armor moving north, Auchinleck put in motion a plan to attack Ruweisat Ridge from the south and middle. The 21st Armored Divsion had some thirty tanks, which amounted to  about two-thirds of the remaining German armor. Despite that, the bulk of the German armored force, included in the German Africa Corps, was still in south, now commanded by General Nehring. They were armored, but without many tanks. This is based on the account in Vol.III of hte Australian Official History.

No comments:

Amazon Ad