Unternehmen SKORPION

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ClintHardware
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Unternehmen SKORPION

Post by ClintHardware » 25 Mar 2015 07:40

Hi All

The war diary of the 8th Field Regiment for 1941 contains some fascinating items amongst which is a translation of the German Operation Order dated 25th May 1941 for SKORPION. It reached the regiment via the HQ of 22nd Guards Brigade apparently during June but it carries no day date.

The original translation text in my pdf is in Times New Roman and largely follows the layout of the original document.

I am starting to analyse Brevity Skorpion Battleaxe and I thought you might find the document of interest. I do not yet know how it compares with what happened - but you might.

Clint
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ClintHardware
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Re: Unternehmen SKORPION

Post by ClintHardware » 27 Mar 2015 08:37

Hi All

Eleven of you have downloaded the document. I just wanted to point out in case you missed it that the document is about four pages long with page breaks where they are in the original and one of the pages includes an OOB.
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Re: Unternehmen SKORPION

Post by nmao » 27 Mar 2015 13:02

Thank your for all the primary sources you are making available to all of us!
It's appreciated.

regards,

-Nuno

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ClintHardware
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Re: Unternehmen SKORPION

Post by ClintHardware » 27 Mar 2015 19:26

Your welcome Nuno
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Re: Unternehmen SKORPION

Post by MarkN » 29 Apr 2018 15:46

Von Herff's after battle report, dated 30 May 1941, also fell into British hands - at least 1./Art-Regt.33's copy did.

Here is a translation of the final two numbered entries.
14. The following lessons can be derived from the operations :-

a. Difficulties of orientation when there are such distances between columns as was the case here make thorough preparations necessary. It was found useful to organise R/T communications in such a way that each unit can hear the order of their commanding officer to all other units and their reports to higher authority and also reports by neighbouring units.

b. Even with no moon large detachments can move at night in the desert but the march compass must be consulted and light signals frequently employed.

c. Each column must make sure of having its petrol columns with it so that if necessary it can be replenished and be immediatly ready for further operations.

d. If petrol is likely to run short part of the column must fill up beforehand with all the petrol it can collect from anywhere so as to be available for the pursuit.

15. The operation has clearly proved that in an area as extensive as this more freedom of operations must be given, otherwise the result will be that important tactical success cannot be sufficiently exploited from the operational point of view and the enemy does not suffer as much damage, without loss to ourselves as would be theoretically possible.

Finally it has be definitely proved that out troops are not merely a match for the ENGLISH in desert warfare but actually superior to him.

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ClintHardware
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Re: Unternehmen SKORPION

Post by ClintHardware » 30 Apr 2018 09:47

Hi All

I have completed a full translation of Oberst von Herff's report including the real page 5. If anyone would like a copy you can PM me.
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Re: Unternehmen SKORPION

Post by MarkN » 30 Apr 2018 14:26

ClintHardware wrote: I have completed a full translation of Oberst von Herff's report including the real page 5. If anyone would like a copy you can PM me.
You've translated it yourself? Good for you! I am just a lazy oik and am copying the translation made by ME Command.

Some more, from section 12...
The number of prisoners came to 6 officers and 100 men. These figures could have been very much higher if the Division had freedom of action in pursuit of the tank columns had not been forced to break off the pursuit prematurely owing to lack of petrol.

For all that the enemy, by his own account, considered himself thoroughly beaten. He was taken completely by surprise by our night approach march and apparently imagined himself forced by a large offensive of the German Africa Corps on SIDI BARRANI and Eastwards. Only on this assumption can it be explained, as has been thoroughly proved since from captured documents, that when we broke into positions at HALFAYA he ordered a withdrawal of the whole front to behind SIDI BARRANI. We could in fact observe how far to the SE of the HALFAYA position, he set fire to his petrol and munition dump. 20 kms further SE we could see units being embarked on board ship. An advance on SIDI BARRANI and beyond on 27/5 would have been immediately possible and would have met no serious opposition.

It was not until afternoon that the enemy realised his mistake.

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Re: Unternehmen SKORPION

Post by ClintHardware » 02 May 2018 22:11

Two separate documents from somewhere within ME Command War Diaries show the British were very interested but not that impressed with German assumptions of superiority (these are not from my translation of von Herffs report):

5. LESSONS
Below is a translation in full of the lessons derived by the GERMAN Command from the operations:-

(a) Difficulties of navigation, when there are such distances between colns as was the case here, make thorough preparations necessary. It was found useful to organise R/T comns in such a way that each unit could hear the order of their commanding officer to all other units, and their reports to higher authority, and also reports by neighbouring units.

(b) Even with no moon large detachments can move at night in the desert, but the march-compase must be consulted and light signals frequently employed.

(c) Each coln must make sure of having its petrol colns with it, so that, if necessary it can be replenished and, be immediately ready for further operations.

(d) If petrol is likely to run short part of the coln must fill up beforehand with all the petrol it can collect from anywhere so as to be available for the pursuit.

(e) The operation has clearly proved that in an area as extensive as this, more freedom of operations must be given, otherwise the result will be that important tactical success cannot be sufficiently exploited from the operational point of view and the enemy does not suffer as much damage, without loss to ourselves, as would be theoretically possible.

6. The GERMANS attribute their success to the very high standard of behaviour by officers and men, and also to the outstanding work of the Listening Platoon which provided precise and accurate information as to BRITISH intentions and dispositions.

COMMENT. It is interesting to note the mixture of bluff plus force which here, as elsewhere, plays such a large part in GERMAN plans.

The above COMMENT is from the ME Command document. Second document:

3.. CONCLUSIONS.
It is thought that since the 7 Armd Bde adv to the SIDI AZEIZ area and the subsequent apparently defensive attitude of the enemy that we have been a constant thorn in his side and source of worry. Constant harassing by guns and AFVs have caused him losses, coupled with the apparent calling up of re-inforcements from TOBRUK may show he overestimated our strength. The whole object of the operations on our front, therefore, may well have been simply to muscle us out of the area for the subsequent successful attack on HALFAYA which again, owing to the presence of “I” tanks and guns he may have thought to be very much more strongly held than was the case.

In detail, as has been suggested by one unit, a second object of the three colns was to encircle and put in the bag our detachments in the 207 area, SIDI SULEIMAN – KHIREIGAT area, and to cut off the res[erve] coln at DEIR EL BRUG and attack any ‘B’ Ech vehicles in the HAMRA area as the object of Coln ‘C’. This might well have been successful had it not been for a wide screen of recce tps in the form of the 11 H , the speed of our guns when on wheels (enemy tanks were at one time within 2500 yds of some of IMAB’s guns) and the changing of the line of withdrawal of the Bde from the main SIDI SULEIMAN – HAMRA – SOFAFI tr[ack] to another one considerably further EAST.

4.. LESSONS LEARNED.
(i) Although the building up of a force may be slow, the speed of adv of GERMAN mechanised units is very fast. Coln ‘C’ would appear to have averaged about 10 miles in the hour, including halts, and when actually advancing Coln ‘B’ was believed to have moved at about 20 miles per hour. Whilst it is admitted that the going, for the desert, was good, this is very fast. It was further noticed that short rushes of about 6 – 8 miles and then a halt was the method of adv preferred by the Hun.

(ii) After previously and unsuccessfully trying to push us off Pt 207 frontally on the 21st (which may have been a trial of our strength) the enemy hustled us out by a combined frontal attack and n outflanking movement via the dead ground to the EAST. There was NO rehearsal of the Western flanking movement actually adopted on the 28th. Recce was, however, carried out by 3 Armd Cs on the 23rd.

(iii) Enemy Armd Cs appear to hunt in twos, three and sometimes fours, all of a kind (hy or lt) and sometimes mixed. Parties sometime meet and go into a huddle before parting again which may indicate a certain lack of wireless or at any rate a restriction in its use.

(iv) Both the Mk III and Mk IV is a faster tank than the A.9 or A.10 and at one stage it was found necessary for the A.13s to engage and delay the enemy by a system of leap-frogging to enable the A.9 and A.10 to get clear. Further, these two tanks are considerably slower than 25 prs with FWDs, as towers, and should a tank escort be necessary for the guns these should, where possible, by A.13s.

(v) On the 25th, visits of staff cars to the wire area are reported. (This is in accordance with the GERMAN practice of personal recce.

5. AERIAL ACTIVTY.
This has been limited on both sides to recce flights, with the exception of a bombing and MG attack by 4 ME 110s on DUAN on the 25th, when 2 ORs, believed caught whilst running to their slit trenches, were killed. On the same day, patrol 11 H was ineffectively Machine-gunned at SCHEFERZEN. Both M.G. attacks are reported to have taken place at very low altitudes.

Our Tac/R and Strat/R planes have been able to supply considerable valuable information unhindered. The number of ALA (All Arms) in the fwd area would appear to fluctuate between the 600 and 650 mark.
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Re: Unternehmen SKORPION

Post by ClintHardware » 21 Jun 2018 09:28

Another outcome of SKORPION:

7th Support Group
July 14th. A Special Wireless Sub Section under 2/Lt Waters [of the] Somerset Light Infantry, arrived and was installed at some distance from the H.Q. It was hoped that interesting results would come from this experiment. Wireless interception had never been tried so near the enemy. Undoubtedly the use that the Germans made of the source during SCORPION operations of May 26 was partly responsible for our trying the same thing. Nevertheless the fact that the Germans came to some wrong conclusion from this source should prevent us attaching undue importance to it. Two Polish officers (German speaking) were attached to the sub section.


We are never informed about No 2 Special Wireless Group – formed in the Middle East in 1923 as 2 Wireless Company it was enlarged in 1940, when 2 Special Wireless Company arrived from the UK. It was the parent organisation for all special wireless units in theatre. Seebohm & co were monitored with interest from all sources found although their names were not then known.
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Re: Unternehmen SKORPION

Post by Urmel » 21 Jun 2018 22:35

Don't understand your last sentence.

I have this on 101 Special Wireless Section: https://rommelsriposte.com/2010/11/01/s ... s-section/

Note the last para mention a Corporal with a Polish name being sent to hospital. Your note makes me suppose he may actually have been Polish and German speaker.
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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