Captain Sainthill of the Coldstream Guards and 199 of his officers and men were able to break out of the south-west perimeter in their battalion transport and rejoin the Eighth Army. The Panzer IVs, armed with high-explosive 75 mm (2.95 in) guns with an effective range of ~2750 m,[54] would open fire while still well out of the roughly 460 m (500 yd) range of the 2-pounder guns found on British tanks. The 2/38th Australian Battalion raided a hillock southwest of Ras el Medauar on April 22 and took 370 POWs of the Fabris Detachment while the 2/23rd Battalion crossed the Derna road and captured 100 POWs of the Italian 27th Infantry Division. Their blitzkrieg tactics (concentrating their tanks, planes, and mechanized infantry to destroy their enemies’ lines of defense) made them poised to win. He organised the 80 tanks under his command into two columns and attacked Capuzzo from either side. In the west, XXI Corps was to make a feint attack to pin down the South African brigades, while in the east, the 90th Light Division was to prevent relief attempts on Tobruk by the Eighth Army. [82] Mussolini forwarded the letter to Hitler, who had been harbouring doubts about the Malta operation. When the British amassed on the Egyptian border on June 15, Rommel was waiting. To see what your friends thought of this book, I read this book after reading Peter Fitzsimons book on Tobruk and looking at Wilmot's roll in reporting on the Australian campaign in New Guinea during World War Two. The British public entertained thoughts of a non-aggression pact with Hitler, but Winston Churchill (their prime minister) was dead set against it. [83] At 19:00, just as dusk fell, the 5th Light Division further weakened the 7th Armoured Brigade with an attack which only ended when night fell.

[25] Beresford-Peirse chose Sidi Barrani as, even though it was more than a five-hour drive from the battlefield, it was equipped with the most advanced airfield for reconnaissance aircraft and was also the most forward position from which communications could be maintained with Maaten Baggush. Written during the war and first published in 1944 it does at times appear to lean toward propaganda. Start by marking “Tobruk 1941” as Want to Read: Error rating book. … at least till they brought some Australians in. [79], In the afternoon of 21 June, the day of the surrender, Kesselring visited Rommel's headquarters and reminded him of the agreement that the invasion of Malta would follow the capture of Tobruk and that his aircraft were already returning to Italy. The 4th Armoured Brigade, from its original strength of roughly 100 Matildas, was down to 37 (though 11 more were repaired by the following morning). Rats of Tobruk 1941. [19] Poor signals security in the 7th Armoured Division gave Rommel nine hours notice of the operation. [19], Auchinleck signalled to Ritchie that he was to hold a line from Acroma (west of Tobruk) extending south-east to El Adem, which would screen Tobruk. [77][78] Also taken in Tobruk were 7,000 t (6,900 long tons) of water and three million rations of food (5,000 t (4,921 long tons)). Without British artillery to concern them, the Panzer IV and 50 mm (1.97 in) gun armed Panzer IIIs could then safely close range with their British counterparts and pick off the thinly armed cruiser tanks while still remaining beyond the range of the British tank guns.

It includes the operations around Belhame from 25 November to 1 December 1941. 27 Cruiser and 64 infantry tanks were lost due to breakdown or enemy action and were abandoned. [66][67] Beresford-Peirse took the place of William Platt, who had been promoted to Commander-in-Chief of the newly created East Africa Command.

This battle honour was awarded to Commonwealth units that participated in Operation Crusader, the third and final attempt to relive the besieged fortress of Tobruk.

[52] The attack went poorly from the onset, as the 15th Panzer Division ran directly into heavy artillery from 25-pounders which had been brought up during the night and Matlida tanks in entrenched positions. [2] The British lost 33 fighters and three bombers against 10 German aircraft. [31] The combat squadrons of the DAF had been compelled to move to airfields at Sidi Barrani, which put Tobruk beyond the range of all their fighters except for No. [21] The attack was originally scheduled for 7 June, but was pushed back at the insistence of General O'Moore Creagh, whose squadrons did not receive their tanks until 9 June.

[85], "The Surrender of Tobruk in 1942: Press Reports and Soldiers' Memories", Hansard: Central Direction of the War. It was the first time during the war that a significant German force fought on the defensive. In many places, the trenches and the anti-tank ditch had collapsed or filled with drifting sand and part of the ditch had been filled in to allow the British armour to deploy during the December 1941 breakout. waters. If successful, Rommel was to go no further east than the Egyptian border and take up defensive positions while an invasion of Malta (Operation Herkules) was undertaken, scheduled for mid-July. Auchinleck sacked Ritchie on 25 June, taking charge of the Eighth Army and began a further withdrawal to a better defensive position at El Alamein. The number of Eighth Army prisoners taken in the battle is not known precisely because the Eighth Army records were lost. said Roosevelt. [49] By 1:30 p.m., the Afrika Korps had reached their objective, the Kings Cross road junction on the crest of the Pilastrino Ridge and overlooked the town of Tobruk, about 9 km (6 mi) to the north. The battle became one of the longest sieges in British military history and a potent symbol of British resistance. It was composed of 11,000 British soldiers, 1,000 Indian troops, and 14,000 raw volunteers from Australia who had not yet seen war. [31] On the escarpment was the Halfaya Group, composed of the 2nd Battalion Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders, the 13 tanks (twelve Matildas and one light tank) of C Squadron, 4th Royal Tank Regiment (which had captured Halfaya Pass during Operation Brevity) and an artillery battery from the 31st Field Regiment. The last outpost of the defensive line was Belhamed, a hill adjacent to Sidi Rezegh, which was held by the 20th Indian Infantry Brigade, a new formation. [53] To make matters worse for the 7th Armoured Brigade, they suffered numerous breakdowns. This placed a considerable extra burden on Klopper and his staff who were already very busy. During the running skirmish, the British tanks had a few successful attacks against unarmoured German transport vehicles, but they found themselves at a significant disadvantage when they engaged the panzers, who utilised an extremely effective tactic against them. Operation Battleaxe (15–17 June 1941) was a British Army offensive during the Second World War to raise the Siege of Tobruk and re-capture eastern Cyrenaica from German and Italian forces.

Churchill and others attributed the defeat to the loss of Tobruk four days before; Driberg denied this was a major factor, suggesting instead that it was part of a wider swing to the left and away from the established political parties. Welcome back. Packed with fact boxes, this short introduction is the perfect way to explore this important battle. We’d love your help. Auchinleck drafted orders for Lieutenant-General Neil Ritchie, the commander of the Eighth Army, that he was to make every effort to prevent Tobruk from being taken but he was not to allow his forces to be surrounded there. [67] It was commonly accepted that there was no intention of defending Tobruk against another siege, therefore Tobruk was never prepared to defend against either a siege or a determined assault.

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