Raid on Sollum Barracks 15/16th April 1941

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ClintHardware
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Raid on Sollum Barracks 15/16th April 1941

Post by ClintHardware » 05 Nov 2013 13:47

Hi

Can anyone help try to identify who was holding the area of Sollum Barracks (Salum Barracks) at the moment they were assaulted by the 3rd Coldstream Guards?

During the 15th April the Guards believed that only a single German company and a field gun were present but in the subsequent battle supported by the 4th RHA that night, they encountered what they believed to be a whole motor cycle battalion. They took six prisoners after a lot of hand to hand fighting and killed a minimum of seventy who had been holding a series of MG and larger gun positions. No Italians were encountered. The surviving Germans managed to hold on to their positions and the Guards withdrew. It was a hell of a fight. Amazingly each Rifleman was issued 15 rounds each for the raid - perhaps to encourage them to take the positions instead of just shooting at them. Those with Thompsons received 100 rounds and the Thompsons eliminated many of the positions taken. These details are from the War Diary (WO 169/1701)

They also encountered a single panzer, disabled it and took one of the crew prisoner. They did not describe setting it ablaze so it may well have been recovered and later repaired.

The Guards came under a lot of MG fire and also "flaming footballs" and "flaming onions" which I take to be a reference to 20mm cannon fire but do you know better?

I can confirm this action is in April not May 41.
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Re: Raid on Sollum Barracks 15/16th April 1941

Post by Urmel » 05 Nov 2013 20:32

Vorausabteilung Knabe of Gruppe Herff reports an attack on 15 April, which they repulsed. Gruppe Herff reports for the night 15/16 April a landing attempt from the sea (a 'cruiser'), and they reported 45 men lost in this, and that because of constant attacks the garrison of Sollum was reduced to a patrol/OP (Spaehtrupp).

VA Knabe consisted of K15, PzJg Abt 33, 1 battery 88 and one battery 20mm of Flak Rgt 18.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

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Re: Raid on Sollum Barracks 15/16th April 1941

Post by ClintHardware » 06 Nov 2013 08:48

Thanks Urmel

Can you quote the original German text or provide a translation?

The sea assault probably refers to this brassing up of the positions:


3rd Coldstream Guards
14 April. During the morning three Destroyers and the gun boat H.M.S. Gnat shell SALUM BKS. A shore Signal Station is set up at 3 Coy HQ, and communications opened with H.M.S. Gnat with the help of a NAVAL Liaison Officer. During the afternoon H.M.S. Gnat enters SALUM HARBOUR but is forced to withdraw after being hit three times by a shore gun. (WO 169/1701)
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Re: Raid on Sollum Barracks 15/16th April 1941

Post by fredleander » 06 Nov 2013 09:14

What happened to those Brits that went ashore..?

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Re: Raid on Sollum Barracks 15/16th April 1941

Post by ClintHardware » 06 Nov 2013 09:25

AFAIK no one landed - nothing about a landing in 22Gds Bde or 3rdCG or 1st DLI War Diaries. The casualties might have been from the shelling or the subsequent assault. So it would be good to know what the German text says word by word.
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Re: Raid on Sollum Barracks 15/16th April 1941

Post by Urmel » 06 Nov 2013 10:48

I'll provide a translation later.

Note the 45 losses were Germans, the Germans claimed 3 British POW taken.

Note that other elements present were reinforced AA3, Italian forces under Colonel Montemurro, and presumably other odds and sods. Overall command in the Bardia-Sollum-Capuzzo triangle under Colonel Herff, CO Rifle Rgt.115
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

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Re: Raid on Sollum Barracks 15/16th April 1941

Post by ClintHardware » 06 Nov 2013 12:32

Here is what the 3rd Coldstream Guards had to say:
RaidOnSollum15th16thApril1941.pdf
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Re: Raid on Sollum Barracks 15/16th April 1941

Post by Urmel » 06 Nov 2013 12:49

Great read, thanks! Love the last observation. Also good to see that the MIA and POW reported are congruent, i.e. 3 POW reported by the Germans, 5 MIA by 3 Coldstream Guards (of whom 2 then must be Missing Presumed Killed).
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

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Re: Raid on Sollum Barracks 15/16th April 1941

Post by Urmel » 06 Nov 2013 13:46

By the way Julian, do you have anything relating to the action on 20 April?
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

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Re: Raid on Sollum Barracks 15/16th April 1941

Post by ClintHardware » 07 Nov 2013 00:26

I have the War Diaries. I will have a look tomorrow and let you know.
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Re: Raid on Sollum Barracks 15/16th April 1941

Post by Urmel » 07 Nov 2013 14:14

The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

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Re: Raid on Sollum Barracks 15/16th April 1941

Post by fredleander » 07 Nov 2013 16:59

Thank you, that answers my previous question.

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Re: Raid on Sollum Barracks 15/16th April 1941

Post by Urmel » 07 Nov 2013 17:08

Well no, since it was a different operation.

To wit, on 15/16 April the Germans thought there was a landing attempt, but there wasn't (my guess is they mistook HMS Aphis entering the harbour as a landing attempt). Force involved were from 22 Guards Brigade.

On 19/20 there was a landing attempt, and part of the force that landed was captured. Force involved were from Layforce.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Re: Raid on Sollum Barracks 15/16th April 1941

Post by fredleander » 07 Nov 2013 17:11

Aah, I see - thank you! The more for the worse.

Fred
River Wide, Ocean Deep - a book about Operation Sealion:
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Saving MacArthur - an eight-book series on the Pacific War:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07D3 ... rw_dp_labf

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Re: Raid on Sollum Barracks 15/16th April 1941

Post by ClintHardware » 02 Mar 2014 11:18

Hi All

I revisited this action and found the patrol details that might have led to the decision to raid the barracks with the 3rd Coldstream Guards. The first diary entry is from 2nd Support Group (still code named IDEK) outside Tobruk and under Brigadier Gott's command and about to change its designation to Mobile Force.

Quote from my book begins:

The 2nd Support Group (IDEK) Intelligence Summary of information to 1800 hours 15th April, noted the action by the 1st D.L.I. attacking a position close to Sollum Barracks:

2nd Support Group
During the night 14/15 April a patrol of the DLI rushed an enemy post 700 yds NE of SALLUM barracks and inflicted casualties. An officer and two ORs were captured. There was probably not over a company at the barracks, their armaments included a high proportion of light automatics, “flaming footballs” and probably 2 pdrs. (A diary on one of the prisoners gave the following time table: Mar 20 left (?) FISCHBURG; 23rd arr NAPLES; April 2 dep NAPLES; TRIPOLI arr April 4 dep April 5; BENGASI April 7; DERNA April 10; EGYPT April 13). Prisoners stated they were of 15 Div.
(WO 169/1159)

1st Durham Light Infantry
2030 Patrol of ‘D’ Coy (Major H. E. Fox-Davies. 2 L/T. Oliver and 12 men) climbed escarpment and reached BARRACKS at SALUM HILL. Enemy brought down defensive fire on fixed lines. Patrol inflicted certain number of casualties on the enemy, captured 3 prisoners and withdrew safely. Major H. E. Fox-Davies slightly wounded by hand grenade. (WO 169/1713)

I think this patrol indicated that the barracks might be a not so difficult way to get the 3CG "blooded" at little cost.
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