Monday, March 18, 2019

Trig 33 and beyond on 10 July 1942

the White Knoll was a feature on the coast. The White Knoll was home to a machine-gun nest. Lt. McNamara's platoon, supported by carriers, and reinforced by soldiers from the reserve company overran the White Knoll. Trig 33 was in Australian possession by 6:35am. From there, another platoon moved forward and captured four heavy guns and took about one hundred Italian prisoners.
One company, mounted in trucks, was supposed push forward to Point 24, but their supporting tanks and machine-gunners were "hopelessly bogged" in the salt marshes. The company commander had his  men dig in on the Point 33 "reverse slope". At about 5pm, the enemy sent 18 tanks against the Australians. The ubiquitous salt marshes created obstacles to motorized vehicles, so most of the tanks got bogged down in the marsh. Artillery and anti-tank guns knocked out 14 of the 18 tanks. One gunner rolled his anti-tank gun forward of Trig 33 and commenced firing. It was a hazardous occupation, since the gunner and three of his men were wounded. He bagged two tanks with his gun. Another nine tanks attacked Trig 33 on the southern side. The Australian anti-tank gunners knocked out five of the nine. The 2/24th Battalion was heavily engaged. They had six men killed and 22 wounded, but they did well, as they took over 800 prisoners and much equipment.
Tanks also attacked the 2/48th Battalion positions. At about 11am, five enemy tanks moved forward from the south of the train station. The supporting British tanks were driven back by the attack. The infantry was heavily shelled where they were, on rocky ground that prohibited digging very deep.
At about 11:30am, the 9th Australian Division Cavalry was sent forward. They did not get far, because of artillery fire and the tanks that were attacking the 2/48th Battalion. Some three hours later, they were bombed and lost a carrier. They eventually gave up and were pulled back.
Tanks attacked again at 2:30pm towards the 2/48th Battalion. The tanks rolled over some of the shallow trenches occupied by the Australian infantry. After the tanks passed by, they were attacked by men with sticky grenades. The tanks were stopped at the rail line by field and anti-tank gun fire. The tanks eventually had to pull back. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Australian Official History.

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