Axis Forces at Er Regima, April-4-1941

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jlncstr
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Axis Forces at Er Regima, April-4-1941

Post by jlncstr » 06 Oct 2022 09:06

Hello, in researching the battle of Er Regima on April 4, 1941, I am struggling to reconcile the observations on the size of the German force by the 2/13 Australian Infantry Battalion with what units should have been there according to the Afrika Korps War Diary and what other information I have. The Australians estimated the strength of the infantry forces attacking them at 3,000, which is nowhere near the numbers available in Aufkalrungs Abteilung 3. Am I missing some part of this picture? I wonder if whether many of the armed troops from non-combat formations may have been assembled into ad-hoc tactical units? Are there smaller units attached to A.A 3 that don’t show up in the war diary perhaps?

Thank you for the help

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Urmel
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Re: Axis Forces at Er Regima, April-4-1941

Post by Urmel » 06 Oct 2022 13:23

The Italian OH notes that Wechmar was reinforced with elements of Brescia. Having said that, I think 3,000 is a considerable overestimate. This isn't unusual.
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: Axis Forces at Er Regima, April-4-1941

Post by jwsleser » 06 Oct 2022 16:08

jlncstr

All my sources state the same as what Urmel posted; that Wechmar was reinforced by elements of the «Brescia»

Given that, the likely reinforcement was a battery from the II gr/1º rgt. art. celere, the III gr/1º rgt. art. celere (all with 75/27-11 guns), a battery and two sezione of 20/65 c.a. guns, and two batteries of 47/32 c.c.

At this time, the «Brescia» had three batteries of 47/32 c.c (, 71ª, and 502ª), and three batteries of 20/65 (, , and 227ª). I can't determine which units were with Wechmar from the info I have available.

«Brescia» involvement with the advance was limited to those units that were already motorized (artillery) and any units motorized using trucks from the Intendenza or stripped from other units. «Brescia» was ordered to form two columns on 3 April. The 1ª colonna was ordered north to Bengasi and was likely the element that joined Wechmar (see above). The 2ª colonna was ordered towards Soluch – Msus - and Mechili.

Sources are Montanari vol II Tobruk pp.92–94 and La prima controffensiva italo-tedesca pp.88–92, plus various maps.

Pista! Jeff
battaglione Alpini sciatori Monte Cervino (Reenacted)
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Re: Axis Forces at Er Regima, April-4-1941

Post by jlncstr » 07 Oct 2022 18:10

Urmel and jwsleser, wow, thank you very much, I did not expect such a quick and on point answer to this. Clearly I have been missing the Italian sources. Jwsleser, do you happen to have a full list of the elements in the 1a colonna that likely reinforced Wechmar besides the artillery units?

Cheers

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Re: Axis Forces at Er Regima, April-4-1941

Post by jwsleser » 07 Oct 2022 19:25

jlncstr

Those units were the entire 1ª colonna. The infantry battalions in the divisione autotrasportabile (d. at.) tipo A.S. were not motorized. These units only had vehicles for their heavy weapons and the limited supply units authorized to the d. at.

Looking a little deeper, it is possible that the III gr./1º rgt. art. celere was detached and joined Colonna Kirchheim. Kirchheim had a battalion fanteria from the «Brescia» (likely from the 19º rgt. f.) and a gruppo of artillery. As the II gr./1º rgt. art. celere was with the 2ª colonna moving towards Msus, only the III gr. was near Bengasi and able to join Wechmar. I would suspect that a btr. da 47/32 would have been attached to that battalion, but none of my sources state that happened.

What is missing are the three batteries of 105/28 that had been attached to the «Brescia». One battery was with the 20º rgt. f. and two batteries were with the 19º rgt. f. on 3 April. As motorized units, they should be somewhere forward.

I am a little leery whether a btg. f. of «Brescia» was that far forward. On 14 April for the first attack on Tobruk, only artillery units from the division were present (Montanari p.129; Prima offensive italo-tedesca pp.119–120). Schizzo 11 (map) showing the situation on 14 April places two btg. of the 19º rgt. f. at Bengasi and two btg. of the 20º rgt. f. at el Agheila (the one missing btg. of each rgt. were defending Tripoli). If a battalion was forward with Kirchheim, why wasn't it at Tobruk?

I am sure this stirs the pot. The most Wechmar can have from the «Brescia» is one battery from the II gr/1º rgt. art. celere, the III gr/1º rgt. art. celere (all with 75/27-11 guns), a battery and two sezione of 20/65 c.a. guns, and two batteries of 47/32 c.c.

Pista! Jeff
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Re: Axis Forces at Er Regima, April-4-1941

Post by Urmel » 07 Oct 2022 22:52

My books are currently boxed pending a move next week. If you ping this thread Thursday so I don't forget it, I will have a look if elements from MG8 or MG2 were attached to Wechmar.
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: Axis Forces at Er Regima, April-4-1941

Post by nmao » 26 Oct 2022 15:22

Hello.
The text below is from a game's notes (https://testofbattle.com/files/RommelsF ... ensive.pdf) so should be taken with a grain of salt, nonetheless i've found Frank Chadwick to be usually reliable. Unfortunately it contains no sources.
Italian 27th Brescia Infantry Division
The division had suffered considerable losses during the British Compass offensive.
Although the main body of the division had remained in Tripoli, the division’s artillery regiment and antitank company, as well as the infantry gun batteries of the two infantry regiments, had been sent to Cyrenaica as reinforcements and lost, leaving the division with little more than infantry.
In January and February, the division had been reinforced with arriving units and had moved the better-equipped elements forward in March. The units under command of the division in the forward area at the end of March, and which took part in the offensive, are listed below. In addition to these troops, two infantry battalions (II/19 and III/20) were in Tripoli, grounded for lack of transport and heavy weapons.

19th Brescia Infantry Regiment (-)
19th Mortar Company
I Infantry Battalion
III Infantry Battalion
20th Brescia Infantry Regiment (-)
20th Mortar Company
I Infantry Battalion
II Infantry Battalion
1st Articelere Regiment (assigned to replace lost division artillery regiment)
II Gruppo (2 batteries, each with 4 x 75/27 field guns)
III Gruppo (2 batteries, each with 4 x 75/27 field guns)
Two light AA batteries (each with 8 x 20L65 AA guns)
Attached Units
XV Gruppo, XVI Corps Artillery Raggruppamento (3 batteries, each with 4 x 105/28 field guns)
5th, 71st, 101st, 105th Anti-tank Companies (each with 8 x 47/32 AT guns)
IV Monti (or II/32nd) Light Tank Battalion (from Ariete)

The division was employed in two combat groups, each consisting of an infantry regiment reinforced with a 75/27 field gun battalion, two companies of AT guns, a battery of light AA guns, a battery or two of 105/28 guns, and a company of light tanks.
Each infantry battalion had one antitank company attached, and was further reinforced with three German-manufactured 37L45 AT guns (a total of twelve with the division).
Each combat group had sufficient transport to move only one of its two infantry battalions at a time, so the group tended to advance in stages, leapfrogging its infantry battalions.
For reasons which are not clear, the two combat groups of Brescia were placed under the command of the German General Kirckheim for the advance across Cyrenaica. The division advanced up the coast road to Benghazi, reaching in on April 4th, then split with the two combat groups taking the two branches of the main road through the Jebel Achdar, with 9th Australian Division withdrawing ahead of them. By the 8th they were at Derna and had closed on the western face of the Tobruk perimeter by April 11th.

[...]

3rd Reconnaissance Battalion (reinforced) consisted of the entire 3rd Recon, less one recon platoon detached to Kampfgruppe Streich, and reinforced with one of the two light tnk companies of I Battalion, 5th Panzer Regiment. This group entered Benghazi on April 4th , but as elements of the Brescia came forward later that day, it began moving toward Mechili by way of Er Regima and Charruba. After reching Mechili on the 7th , it was sent north, reaching Derna on the 8th , and then raced on ahead, skirting Tobruk to the south, and was est of the fortress by the 11th.
regards,

-Nuno

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Re: Axis Forces at Er Regima, April-4-1941

Post by jlncstr » 31 Oct 2022 00:57

Urmel wrote:
07 Oct 2022 22:52
My books are currently boxed pending a move next week. If you ping this thread Thursday so I don't forget it, I will have a look if elements from MG8 or MG2 were attached to Wechmar.
Thank you very much, appreciate you taking a look. Apologies for the late reply.

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Re: Axis Forces at Er Regima, April-4-1941

Post by jlncstr » 31 Oct 2022 01:00

nmao wrote:
26 Oct 2022 15:22
Hello.
The text below is from a game's notes (https://testofbattle.com/files/RommelsF ... ensive.pdf) so should be taken with a grain of salt, nonetheless i've found Frank Chadwick to be usually reliable. Unfortunately it contains no sources.
Italian 27th Brescia Infantry Division
The division had suffered considerable losses during the British Compass offensive.
Although the main body of the division had remained in Tripoli, the division’s artillery regiment and antitank company, as well as the infantry gun batteries of the two infantry regiments, had been sent to Cyrenaica as reinforcements and lost, leaving the division with little more than infantry.
In January and February, the division had been reinforced with arriving units and had moved the better-equipped elements forward in March. The units under command of the division in the forward area at the end of March, and which took part in the offensive, are listed below. In addition to these troops, two infantry battalions (II/19 and III/20) were in Tripoli, grounded for lack of transport and heavy weapons.

19th Brescia Infantry Regiment (-)
19th Mortar Company
I Infantry Battalion
III Infantry Battalion
20th Brescia Infantry Regiment (-)
20th Mortar Company
I Infantry Battalion
II Infantry Battalion
1st Articelere Regiment (assigned to replace lost division artillery regiment)
II Gruppo (2 batteries, each with 4 x 75/27 field guns)
III Gruppo (2 batteries, each with 4 x 75/27 field guns)
Two light AA batteries (each with 8 x 20L65 AA guns)
Attached Units
XV Gruppo, XVI Corps Artillery Raggruppamento (3 batteries, each with 4 x 105/28 field guns)
5th, 71st, 101st, 105th Anti-tank Companies (each with 8 x 47/32 AT guns)
IV Monti (or II/32nd) Light Tank Battalion (from Ariete)

The division was employed in two combat groups, each consisting of an infantry regiment reinforced with a 75/27 field gun battalion, two companies of AT guns, a battery of light AA guns, a battery or two of 105/28 guns, and a company of light tanks.
Each infantry battalion had one antitank company attached, and was further reinforced with three German-manufactured 37L45 AT guns (a total of twelve with the division).
Each combat group had sufficient transport to move only one of its two infantry battalions at a time, so the group tended to advance in stages, leapfrogging its infantry battalions.
For reasons which are not clear, the two combat groups of Brescia were placed under the command of the German General Kirckheim for the advance across Cyrenaica. The division advanced up the coast road to Benghazi, reaching in on April 4th, then split with the two combat groups taking the two branches of the main road through the Jebel Achdar, with 9th Australian Division withdrawing ahead of them. By the 8th they were at Derna and had closed on the western face of the Tobruk perimeter by April 11th.

[...]

3rd Reconnaissance Battalion (reinforced) consisted of the entire 3rd Recon, less one recon platoon detached to Kampfgruppe Streich, and reinforced with one of the two light tnk companies of I Battalion, 5th Panzer Regiment. This group entered Benghazi on April 4th , but as elements of the Brescia came forward later that day, it began moving toward Mechili by way of Er Regima and Charruba. After reching Mechili on the 7th , it was sent north, reaching Derna on the 8th , and then raced on ahead, skirting Tobruk to the south, and was est of the fortress by the 11th.
regards,

-Nuno
Thanks! I believe I’ve stumbled across this before, but hadn’t put together the potential reinforcement of 3rd Reconnaissance by elements of the Brescia Division.

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Re: Axis Forces at Er Regima, April-4-1941

Post by jwsleser » 31 Oct 2022 11:29

The 1a Kriegstagebuch for DAK states on 4 April 41 that 2 Battr. 7,5 cm, 3 battr. Pak 4,7cm, 1 Battr.Flak 2cm from «Brescia» were assigned to garrison Bengasi. A.A.3 was to move to Brace. An Infantry battalion is to follow as soon as possible (Ein batl. Jnf ist baldmöglichst nachzuziehen.).

Pista! Jeff
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Re: Axis Forces at Er Regima, April-4-1941

Post by Urmel » 31 Oct 2022 12:43

English version of the D.A.K. war diary entry here: https://rommelsriposte.com/2016/04/04/d ... pril-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

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Re: Axis Forces at Er Regima, April-4-1941

Post by Urmel » 31 Oct 2022 12:59

jlncstr wrote:
31 Oct 2022 00:57
Urmel wrote:
07 Oct 2022 22:52
My books are currently boxed pending a move next week. If you ping this thread Thursday so I don't forget it, I will have a look if elements from MG8 or MG2 were attached to Wechmar.
Thank you very much, appreciate you taking a look. Apologies for the late reply.
Nothing indicates that the MG battalions were partially attached to Wechmar.
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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