ISBN 978-1-86448-039-9. 274 lost six fighters, three pilots killed and two captured. In late 1940, the Allies had defeated the Italian 10th Army during Operation Compass (9 December 1940 – 9 February 1941) and trapped the remnants at Beda Fomm. The division was short of transport and its workshops were understaffed and lacked spare parts. [67][68], The Tobruk Ferry Service, made up of Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy warships, played an important role in the defence of Tobruk providing gunfire support, supplies, fresh troops and by ferrying out the wounded. The defeat of the Afrika Korps at El Alamein initiated a … A Commando raid was carried out on Bardia and supply runs began to Tobruk. [30] He requested Tedder's advice. The road distance is 544.1 km. [33], The intensity of the battle for air superiority was mirrored by the air war over the sea as the Luftwaffe and Regia Aeronautica attempted to cut off sea traffic supplying the defenders. The supply of Axis troops on the Egyptian frontier could have been eased by sea transport to Tobruk. Like the other soldiers sappers were among these troops charged to clear a path for the armoured vehicles. Find books [35] In April, Draco, Bankura, Urania, and HMS Chakla were sunk by Axis aircraft. N.p., 2017. [31], From 1–14 May each side paused to stockpile supplies for the next battle. Hitler then responded to field Marshal Rommel to fight until the last man. From 12–25 October, the rest of the 70th Infantry Division was delivered and most of the Australians removed. The Mediterranean Fleet was busy elsewhere, the Inshore Squadron was carrying supplies into Tobruk and Operation Crusader was being prepared. [59], The navy took out 5,040 men of the 18th Australian Infantry Brigade and the Indian 18th King Edward's Own Cavalry, on three destroyers, a minelayer and one destroyer carrying supplies, with cruiser escorts as anti-aircraft ships, a cruiser and a destroyer being damaged. [9], Neame was ordered to conserve the tanks units, retire as far as Benghazi if pressed, to abandon it if necessary and hold the high ground nearby for as long as possible, with no prospect of reinforcement before May. The Axis attack was to be made in the south-west, either side of the hillock of Ras el Medauar, about two weeks after the previous attempt, using the 5th Light Division on the right and the 15th Panzer Division on the left, even though it had only recently arrived in Africa. The 7th Armoured Brigade and a battery of field artillery turned to meet this threat and without the tanks, the northward attack by the Support Group failed; by the end of the day, the 7th Armoured Brigade had only 40 of 160 tanks operational. He also lost over 450 tanks and 1,000 guns. From 19–27 September, the British 16th Infantry Brigade, 70th Infantry Division (Major-General Ronald Scobie), the HQ of the 32nd Army Tank Brigade and the 4th Royal Tank Regiment with 6,308 men and more 2,000 long tons (2,032 t) of supplies arrived, while 5,989 men of the 24th Australian Infantry Brigade left, with no loss of ships. However these tanks created so much dust there were traffic jams and tanks being bogged down. When Italian troops advanced into Egypt in September 1940, the Maletti Group got lost leaving Sidi Omar and had to be found by aircraft. The name roughly meant "across from Pyrgos", referring to a location in Crete across the Mediterranean Sea from Antipyrgos. The attack began after dark, with an attempt to get over the anti-tank ditch west of the El Adem road in the 2/17th Australian Battalion sector, which the Australians repulsed. Oil is important for all wars because at that time the majority of the axis vehicles  relied on crude oil derived fuels. Second Battle of El Alamein. At least ten Hawker Hurricane fighters were based at the port during the day and on 19 April, Hurricanes of 73 and 274 Squadrons, intercepted a Stuka raid escorted by fighters. Allied air reconnaissance had observed German troops west of El Agheila on 25 February and by 5 March, it was expected that the German commander would consolidate the defence of Tripolitania before trying to recapture Cyrenaica and then invade Egypt, using bases at Sirte and Nofilia but not before April. The fighters of 274 Squadron stayed at Gerawla and 6 Squadron remained at Tobruk to fly tactical reconnaissance sorties. The Tobruk garrison settled into a routine of patrols, air raids and minor attacks, some to regain positions in the Medauar salient and some in connexion with WDF operations. The battle started when ally bombers started dropping bombs for seven hours on Tel el Aqqaqir and Sidi And Rahman. [51] Paulus ordered that no more attacks be made, unless the Allies were evacuating the port. Operation Supercharge, The aim of the battle was for allied forces to try to destroy enemy armour and try to decrease the fuel axis forces had by occupying their supply routes. Attacks from the south were abandoned and the 5th Light Division dug in, with the Schwerin Group (renamed after Prittwitz had been killed) to the east. Both sides sustained large losses but the German and Italian losses were higher. Allied naval forces, such as the British Mediterranean Fleet (including the Inshore Squadron) ran the blockade, carrying reinforcements and supplies in and wounded and prisoners out. 30, “Battle Of El Alamein – World War II – HISTORY.Com.”. Six Merchant Navy ships and a schooner were sunk and six merchant ships were damaged; a total of 62 ships were sunk or damaged. [27], Air Commodre Raymond Collishaw, commanding 204 Group RAF (renamed the Desert Air Force), wrote to Air Marshal Arthur Tedder on 24 April. (1996). [73][74] When Harrison calculated other losses, there was no RAF casualty list but he recorded ten aircrew and six ground crew burials at the cemetery and six aircrew shot down in the harbour. A garrison, consisting mostly of the 9th Australian Division (Lieutenant-General Leslie Morshead) remained at Tobruk, to deny the port to the Axis, while the WDF reorganised and prepared a counter-offensive. [14], Axis supplies came from Europe and deliveries were moved by road; after Operation Compass (December 1940 – February 1941), only Tripoli remained, which had a maximum capacity of four troopships or five cargo ships at once, about 45,000 long tons (46,000 t) per month. 3“Battle Of El Alamein – World War II – HISTORY.Com.” HISTORY.com. [33] The Regia Aeronautica's 151 Gruppo reported two aircraft destroyed and one damaged. [5] The ground is a hard surface which drops to sea level in steps, with the coast cut by ravines. [12], Rommel had intended to attack Mechili on 7 April but the Axis forces were scattered, short of fuel and tired. The Siege of Tobruk lasted for 241 days in 1941, after Axis forces advanced through Cyrenaica from El Agheila in Operation Sonnenblume against Allied forces in Libya, during the Western Desert Campaign (1940–1943) of the Second World War. (The 18th Australian Infantry Brigade had arrived from Egypt by sea after the dispatch of the 7th Australian Division to Greece had been cancelled.) The gunners changed their tactics from a sustained barrage at a fixed altitude, to a staggered, and thickened belt, at various altitudes covering 1000 metres or more, thereby forcing the Ju 87s to fly through fire for much longer. ... positions near the coast and later under General Montgomery took a leading part in Rommel's defeat in the battle of El Alamein. The Italians had 395 casualties, of whom 347 were captured. On arrival, one LCA could not be lowered and there were difficulties releasing the others. • Beaumont, J. On 7 December, the 4th Armoured Brigade engaged 15th Panzer Division and knocked out eleven tanks. This was because due to this fighting allied forces pulled back. The Axis army of Italy and Germany suffered … The Allies lost 206 casualties, five tanks destroyed and 13 damaged. Australia's War, 1939–45. [8], Lack of transport made it impossible to supply a garrison west of El Agheila, the most favourable position for a defensive line and restricted the 2nd Armoured Division to movement between supply dumps, reducing its limited mobility further. The landing force sailed to the area in HMS Glengyle, escorted by the anti-aircraft cruiser HMS Coventry and the destroyers HMAS Stuart, Voyager and Waterhen. Groups of Axis vehicles were attacked by 45 and 55 squadrons RAF, which rearmed at the airfields inside the perimeter. [55] Brevity failed to achieve most of its objectives, only briefly holding the Halfaya Pass. 4 Your Bibliography: Memorial, T. (2017). This was the stage of the battle where axis forces were making their move against allied forces. [47], The Tobruk garrison continued work on the defences and sowed minefields, the first being planted in the south-west, between the outer and inner perimeters. [17], There were fewer Axis attacks on Malta from June and ships sunk increased from 19 percent in July, to 25 percent in September, when Benghazi was bombed and ships diverted to Tripoli; air supply in October made little difference. 2 “El Alamein Battles.” Australian war memorial. Directed by Guido Malatesta. [66], The Rats of Tobruk suffered at least 3,836 casualties, there being a small difference in Australian casualty figures quoted in the Australian and British official histories. Axis forces re-captured the port on 21 June 1942, after defeating the Eighth Army in the Battle of Gazala. The Ju 87s were facing defenders with anti-aircraft artillery numbering 88 guns—28 heavy (90 mm or above). Volume III – Tobruk and El Alamein (1st edition, 1966) Second World War Official Histories - Australia in the War of 1939–1945. [33] JG 27 suffered the loss of four fighters, three damaged and three pilots killed. The battle along with a combination of other battles also gave the momentum for the allies for the rest of the war. The Allies selected another line about 2 mi (3.2 km) back from the perimeter and worked on this while the original line was refurbished. It was held by the Italian Army, and the 18th King Edward's Own Cavalry (normally part of the 3rd Indian Motor Brigade) held the perimeter opposite. Extending inland from the coast lies a raised, flat plain of stony desert, about 500 ft (150 m) above sea level, for 120–190 mi (200–300 km) to the sand sea. Benghazi was captured in April but coastal shipping could only carry 15,000 long tons (15,241 t) and the port was within range of the DAF. It provided camouflage during the Siege of Tobruk; a dummy railhead at Misheifa, and the largest of all, Operation Bertram, the army-scale deception for the decisive battle of El Alamein in October 1942. [44], The Bardia raid was planned for the night of 19/20 April, by 'A' Battalion, Layforce to disrupt Axis lines of communication and damage installations and equipment. Siege of Tobruk | The Australian War Memorial. I do not own, nor do I or intend to profit from this content whatsoever. Two brigades of the 9th Australian Division (Major-General Leslie Morshead) were swapped with two from the 7th Australian Division (Major-General John Lavarack), which had insufficient training, equipment and transport. At 2:20 in the morning the first of the 2000 tanks started to make their way through. 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