Tobruk outside perimeter area april 1941

Discussions on WW2 in Africa & the Mediterranean. Hosted by Andy H
User avatar
Oasis
Member
Posts: 608
Joined: 29 Jun 2006 17:42
Location: Central Italy

Tobruk outside perimeter area april 1941

Post by Oasis » 14 May 2014 08:09

We have lots of informations and maps about Tobruk fortress defences and attacks, but no maps or informations about what happened outside the 'perimeter' (SW, S, SE) between 8 and 12 april 1941, about movements, attacks, surrenders, etc.
Does somebody have more specific notes or maps?
thanks

Toni

User avatar
Urmel
Member
Posts: 4443
Joined: 25 Aug 2008 09:34
Location: The late JBond

Re: Tobruk outside perimeter area april 1941

Post by Urmel » 14 May 2014 10:44

There's the D.A.K. war diary, and the British CAB report based on captured Axis material. Otherwise the Italian OH (which you have I guess), and my guess is that Clinthardware has relevant WDs from the Empire side.
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

User avatar
Oasis
Member
Posts: 608
Joined: 29 Jun 2006 17:42
Location: Central Italy

Re: Tobruk outside perimeter area april 1941

Post by Oasis » 15 May 2014 09:31

that's right, Urmel.
I was just looking for a map with movements/positioning around Tobruk in those days... I am trying to arrange one...
Toni

User avatar
sunbury2
Member
Posts: 203
Joined: 07 Jan 2012 08:35

Re: Tobruk outside perimeter area april 1941

Post by sunbury2 » 15 May 2014 13:44

For Australian War Diaries, you can go here http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/awm52


http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/AWM52/8/ has Infantry Diaries and may be relevant.

User avatar
Oasis
Member
Posts: 608
Joined: 29 Jun 2006 17:42
Location: Central Italy

Re: Tobruk outside perimeter area april 1941

Post by Oasis » 15 May 2014 19:19

thanks Sunbury2, but I know this site...
I tried to have more notices from outside the perimeter (for ex Support Group, 11Hussars, 1KRRC and remnants from Mechili that did not enter the perimeter), untill they were ordered by Gott (11th april PM) to move beyond the egipcian boundary.

User avatar
Urmel
Member
Posts: 4443
Joined: 25 Aug 2008 09:34
Location: The late JBond

Re: Tobruk outside perimeter area april 1941

Post by Urmel » 15 May 2014 21:49

Just going through the German reports, there doesn't seem to have been much going on.

The Axis forces really only got to Tobruk on 10 April. On the 9th, enemy was reported at Acroma out to Mn. el Grassas.

10 April
- A.A.3 was sent to carry out a right hook, and at 12.00 hours met enemy at El Adem, reported as 100-850 motor vehicles, 2cm AA, heavy tanks.
- Forward Detachment von Prittwitz went straight towards Tobruk, to be relieved by Brescia. The M.G. Btl. 8 which was in its advance met enemy at km 16 outside Tobruk. They reported two heavy enemy tanks destroyed and were preparing an attack. That's where v. Prittwitz himself died at 12.00. Schwerin took over.
- During the night Brescia relieved Forward Detachment Schwerin .
- On British side, 1 RTR tanks are out on patrol Derna Road, no combat, from dawn to 2200. 403434.

11 April
- Brescia astride Via Balbia in Uadi el Schel
- Air recce showed enemy on range of hills 20km south of Tobruk, and SE corner occupied at B el Azazi
- Air recce early afternoon shows rapid flight east of enemy group from El Adem (about 100 motor vehicles, artillery, tanks) on Trigh Enver Bei.
- German fighting reconnaissance by 5 Light on the El Adem - Pilastrino road, fails in front of AT ditch at Sghifet el Chuer (many AT guns and mines).
- an attack by 14 enemy tanks is repulsed at the road junction south of Tobruk by PzJg 605 with the loss of 6 enemy tanks. See below.
- reinforced A.A.3 to Bardia, expected to take it during the night
- KB15 forms Forward Detachment Knabe (KB15, PzJg.33, 1 heavy, 1 light battery of Flak 18), with orders to advance on Sollum via El Adem at first light 12 April.
- I./Flak 18 ordered to El Adem to be available to Corps.
- Detachments Fabris and Montemurro of Ariete pulled up from Derna and subordinated to 5 Light Division.

12 April
- CP D.A.K. about 4km west of El Adem
- 10 am A.A. 3 occupies Bardia without a fight
- Forward Detachment Knabe advances east to Gasr el Arid and at 18.15 meets three enemy tanks there. (snail's pace or started late)
- Detachment Schwerin cuts Via Balbia east at Sidi Daud.
- Attack by 5 Light Division from south-east fails at AT ditch
- Artillery Regiment Grati arrived, ordered to take up position morning 13 April
- 2 Articelere arrives
- Detachment Fabris arrived, ordered to take up position facing south and south east at El Adem

1 RTR report on attack 11 April, 1500 hours 410421
Tanks were called out. 'B' and 'C' Squadron were in action. They received casualties. Tpr. Kapton was killed, and Tprs. Ask, Jamieson, and Bryant wounded. 2 tanks were destroyed by burning after shell fire. The tank of B Sqdn Commander, Major L.G. Hyam M.C. being knocked out after receiving 5 direct shell hits, the other tank knocked out was commanded by Lieut. C. Banglam. 4 enemy tanks were destroyed. The action was at 410421 against 10 enemy tanks outside the defenses.

Note: I am guessing the names of the men in some cases.
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

User avatar
Oasis
Member
Posts: 608
Joined: 29 Jun 2006 17:42
Location: Central Italy

Re: Tobruk outside perimeter area april 1941

Post by Oasis » 16 May 2014 07:43

Urmel wrote:Just going through the German reports, there doesn't seem to have been much going on.

The Axis forces really only got to Tobruk on 10 April. On the 9th, enemy was reported at Acroma out to Mn. el Grassas.

10 April
- A.A.3 was sent to carry out a right hook, and at 12.00 hours met enemy at El Adem, reported as 100-850 motor vehicles, 2cm AA, heavy tanks.
- Forward Detachment von Prittwitz went straight towards Tobruk, to be relieved by Brescia. The M.G. Btl. 8 which was in its advance met enemy at km 16 outside Tobruk. They reported two heavy enemy tanks destroyed and were preparing an attack. That's where v. Prittwitz himself died at 12.00. Schwerin took over.
- During the night Brescia relieved Forward Detachment Schwerin .
- On British side, 1 RTR tanks are out on patrol Derna Road, no combat, from dawn to 2200. 403434.

11 April
- Brescia astride Via Balbia in Uadi el Schel
- Air recce showed enemy on range of hills 20km south of Tobruk, and SE corner occupied at B el Azazi
- Air recce early afternoon shows rapid flight east of enemy group from El Adem (about 100 motor vehicles, artillery, tanks) on Trigh Enver Bei.
- German fighting reconnaissance by 5 Light on the El Adem - Pilastrino road, fails in front of AT ditch at Sghifet el Chuer (many AT guns and mines).
- an attack by 14 enemy tanks is repulsed at the road junction south of Tobruk by PzJg 605 with the loss of 6 enemy tanks. See below.
- reinforced A.A.3 to Bardia, expected to take it during the night
- KB15 forms Forward Detachment Knabe (KB15, PzJg.33, 1 heavy, 1 light battery of Flak 18), with orders to advance on Sollum via El Adem at first light 12 April.
- I./Flak 18 ordered to El Adem to be available to Corps.
- Detachments Fabris and Montemurro of Ariete pulled up from Derna and subordinated to 5 Light Division.

12 April
- CP D.A.K. about 4km west of El Adem
- 10 am A.A. 3 occupies Bardia without a fight
- Forward Detachment Knabe advances east to Gasr el Arid and at 18.15 meets three enemy tanks there. (snail's pace or started late)
- Detachment Schwerin cuts Via Balbia east at Sidi Daud.
- Attack by 5 Light Division from south-east fails at AT ditch
- Artillery Regiment Grati arrived, ordered to take up position morning 13 April
- 2 Articelere arrives
- Detachment Fabris arrived, ordered to take up position facing south and south east at El Adem

1 RTR report on attack 11 April, 1500 hours 410421
Tanks were called out. 'B' and 'C' Squadron were in action. They received casualties. Tpr. Kapton was killed, and Tprs. Ask, Jamieson, and Bryant wounded. 2 tanks were destroyed by burning after shell fire. The tank of B Sqdn Commander, Major L.G. Hyam M.C. being knocked out after receiving 5 direct shell hits, the other tank knocked out was commanded by Lieut. C. Banglam. 4 enemy tanks were destroyed. The action was at 410421 against 10 enemy tanks outside the defenses.

Note: I am guessing the names of the men in some cases.
Hi Urmel, very good notes.
The first contact between axis and british was on the 9th where at 20.00 a tentative of 1st Articelere was rejected, I suppose north of Acroma on the main road: Rommel sent some 20mm mounted on trucks to taste the unknown Tobruk western defences, into the mouth of allied artillery, with a bad result for italians. The officer in command of this operation, who was kept as POW, was a good friend of my father, but passed away some years ago before I was able to get an interview.
But what about the other allied forces southwest, south and east of Tobruk perimeter? Clinthardware gives a very good idea by the reports, and gently furnished me with some, but we'll have to wait for his complete work to be published.

User avatar
Urmel
Member
Posts: 4443
Joined: 25 Aug 2008 09:34
Location: The late JBond

Re: Tobruk outside perimeter area april 1941

Post by Urmel » 16 May 2014 09:23

Hi Tony

I think the main Empire force outside the perimeter was the force at El Adem, which withdrew to the border. The SE corner of B. el Azazi was held until about October, when it was taken by the Axis. I suspect forward of that you would only have had patrols, but no major force bodies. There is no reference to any encounters in the D.A.K. war diary.
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

User avatar
Oasis
Member
Posts: 608
Joined: 29 Jun 2006 17:42
Location: Central Italy

Re: Tobruk outside perimeter area april 1941

Post by Oasis » 16 May 2014 13:58

Thanks Urmel.

User avatar
Urmel
Member
Posts: 4443
Joined: 25 Aug 2008 09:34
Location: The late JBond

Re: Tobruk outside perimeter area april 1941

Post by Urmel » 05 Jun 2016 21:24

In case anyone is interested in what happened to Abteilung Fabris, here is the info about how it met its end.

http://rommelsriposte.com/2016/06/05/fa ... april-1941
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

MarkN
Member
Posts: 2549
Joined: 12 Jan 2015 13:34
Location: On the continent

Re: Tobruk outside perimeter area april 1941

Post by MarkN » 08 Jan 2018 15:22

Hi Toni,
Oasis wrote:We have lots of informations and maps about Tobruk fortress defences and attacks, but no maps or informations about what happened outside the 'perimeter' (SW, S, SE) between 8 and 12 april 1941, about movements, attacks, surrenders, etc.
There were undoubtably several skirmishes between British, Australian and Indian forces fleeing back to Tobruk and encoutering German or Italian troops crossing their path. The majority of that is completely unrecorded and probably not that much of interest unless a specific individual is concerned.

I will not repeat what others have posted above, however, a couple of things to add.

This is recorded regarding 8th April...
Image

I have seen some claim that the party encountered at Acroma were from Gruppe Fabris. It is theoretically possible, but the bulk of Gruppe Fabris were being held back at Mechili.

On the 9th, the bulk of Gruppe Schraepler, Gruppe Teetz and part of Ariete were stuck near bir Tengeder out of fuel. However, the recce element of Gruppe Schraepler had pushed further forward and were on the outskirts of el Adem by the 9th.

Still on the 9th, the bulk of Gruppe Prittwitz's was at Ain el Gazala and Rommel was a bit peeved that they had not already pushed on. Urmel mentions above what they got up to next. But I will add that MG.Btl.2 was to secure the area behind AA.3's advance - most notably "der Cantoniera", also known as the "Weisses Haus", and Acroma and await the arrival of Pz.Regt.5 from Mechili.

Brigadier Latham was relieved of command of 2 Spt Gp on 8th April without his prior knowledge. Brigadier Gott took over. The next morning he took the reduced HQ element and a very diminished 1TH out into the el Adem area with elements of 7 Armd Div brought forward. The were to operate outside Tobruk as a mobile force to "observe, harrass and delay any enemy adv". They drew rations for 8 days. They first encountered the enemy with long range arty fire about 1200 on 10th April. This long range engagement lasted for about 24 hours. They were never seriously attacked. They decided to leg it back to Halfaya Pass the next day (11th) and left at 1430. The Germans then had a free run all the way to Sollum. Bardia was taken without a shot fired. Some more info and a map here: https://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic ... 4#p2117604

User avatar
ClintHardware
Financial supporter
Posts: 775
Joined: 21 Jan 2011 12:17

Re: Tobruk outside perimeter area april 1941

Post by ClintHardware » 13 Jan 2018 19:53

"leg it back"? Too hopeful.....But it does show their mobility allowed Gott to do as he chose.

What would they have held Bardia with? Bardia became a place to interdict Axis troops by air and naval forces and they were.

What followed on the frontier shows the logic of the withdrawal to produce the most effect with the very limited numbers of troops available. No one brushed past them or eliminated them. Losses were limited and to do such damage caused a lot of Axis fuel to be consumed.

XXX Corps HQ was formed including the officers from the 2nd Armoured Division H.Q. that had been reformed in Tobruk from those that got out of Mechili or had bypassed Mechili. Latham was a C.R.A. during Crusader, and the Western Desert Force was formed with elements from the 6th Infantry Division H.Q. and Cyrenaica Command H.Q. that arrived at Mersa Matruh on or about the 15th April having been evacuated from Tobruk by sea.

2nd Armoured Division disappeared only on paper and its officers were surprised that the division was not reformed.
Imperialism and Re-Armament NOW !

User avatar
Urmel
Member
Posts: 4443
Joined: 25 Aug 2008 09:34
Location: The late JBond

Re: Tobruk outside perimeter area april 1941

Post by Urmel » 14 Jan 2018 08:41

That explains XXX Corps' rather abysmal performance during CRUSADER rather nicely.
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

MarkN
Member
Posts: 2549
Joined: 12 Jan 2015 13:34
Location: On the continent

Re: Tobruk outside perimeter area april 1941

Post by MarkN » 14 Jan 2018 13:32

ClintHardware wrote: What would they have held Bardia with? Bardia became a place to interdict Axis troops by air and naval forces and they were.
Strawman!
Gott and the SptGp did NOT have orders to hold Bardia.
Gott and the SptGp did NOT have orders to give the Germans a free run to Bardia so that Empire air and naval forces could bother them after arrival.

The orders were to: "Observe, harrass and delay any adv ... "

Gott and the SptGp harrassed and delayed AA.3 for 24 hours 10-11 April without ever coming under serious attack. Then they legged it.

On the otherhand...
Gott and the SptGp did NOTHING to harrass, delay or even observe AA.3 after el Adem until they were already in Bardia (afternoon 11 April).
Gott and the SptGp did NOTHING to harrass, delay or even observe Gruppe Schwerin as it moved around the Tobruk perimeter to the east during the afternoon of 11 April.
Gott and the SptGp did NOTHING to harrass, delay or even observe Gruppe Knabbe and his motorcyclists motor all the way to Sollum during the afternoon and evening of 11 April.
Gott and the SptGp did NOTHING to harrass, delay or even observe the Pz.Regt.5 and Mg.Btl.8 assault on the Tobruk defences even though it went in about 3 hours after they were at el Adem and was within their arty range - if they had stayed to support the Australians.

Instead....
ClintHardware wrote:"leg it back"? Too hopeful.....But it does show their mobility allowed Gott to do as he chose.
... Gott chose to leg it back as far and as quick as he could. Gott chose to participate in a motocross race between el Adem and Halfaya instead of carrying out his fighting orders.

Those orders were to: observe, harrass and delay any adv not just the first brush with AA.3 at maximum arty range.
ClintHardware wrote: What followed on the frontier shows the logic of the withdrawal to produce the most effect with the very limited numbers of troops available.
What effect did Gott and the SptGp have on the German advance? Gott didn't stop the German advance. The Germans halted their advance of their own accord. Just like Wavell and O'Connor halted their advance in February 1941.
ClintHardware wrote: No one brushed past them or eliminated them.
How could anyone "brush past them or eliminated them", they had legged it at maximum speed.

It was NOT a fighting retreat with the aim of "observing, harrassing or delaying" anything or anybody.
ClintHardware wrote:Losses were limited and to do such damage caused a lot of Axis fuel to be consumed.
What damage was caused to the Axis during the harrassing arty fire of 10-11 April?

Is your information of the same quality as the part which has two pantsers (that were not there) destroyed?

MarkN
Member
Posts: 2549
Joined: 12 Jan 2015 13:34
Location: On the continent

Re: Tobruk outside perimeter area april 1941

Post by MarkN » 14 Jan 2018 15:36

Correction to the above for historical accuracy.

I wrote:
MarkN wrote:Gott and the SptGp did NOTHING to harrass, delay or even observe Gruppe Knabbe and his motorcyclists motor all the way to Sollum during the afternoon and evening of 11 April.
Vorausabteilung Knabe and his motorcyclists were approaching Capuzzo early on the morning of 13 April. They were observed and harrassed by Gott and the SptGp but whether they were 'delayed' is questionnable. They were first recorded at 1146 "coming down the road" to Capuzzo from Sidi Aziez. They were engaged but "The fort was occupied by about 1400". Interestingly, Knabbe's motorcylists also had a tank.

After Capuzzo, they continued on towards Sollum. The continued to be "observed and harrassed" by Gott and the SptGp, but again the degree of "delay" is questionnable. They started the march towards Sollum at 1600 and seemd to have occupied it instantly as the note "SALLUM barracks was occupied by the enemy" is recorded at the same time. At 1635, they were skirmishing beyond Sollum.

At 1950 on 13 April, "Six tanks and 2 lorries with BREDA guns" are noted taking pot-shots at Gott and the SptGp.

The next day, 14 April, German "tanks" get observed several times in various numbers in various locations. And on it goes.

Where did all these tanks come from? I bet Knabe would have loved to have some pantsers supporting his motorcyclists.

Or is this just the standard fare of unreliable eyewitness reporting?

Vorausabteilung Knabe (at this point in time) consisted of:-
- part of Krad.Btl.15 (stab + 1.Kp, 2.Kp and 3.Kp only)
- part of Pz.Jag.Abt.33 (stab + 1.Kp and 3.Kp only)
- 1 x schwere Batterie Flak.18
- 1 x leichte Batterie Flak.18
- less anything fallen out from the above during in the rapid march forward from Tripoli.

Return to “WW2 in Africa & the Mediterranean”