Supplement to The London Gazette of Tuesday 25th June 1946

3268 SUPPLEMENT t o the LONDON GAZETTE, 26 JUNE, 1946 I Southern detachment block and, completely surprised, surrendered. Meanwhile to the North a further enemy column was surrounded and captured by 4th Armoured Brigade. 48. From an early hour on the 6th February7 the enemy main columns began to appear, and severe fighting occurred throughout the day as sucdessive enemy groups, including a large number of tanks, attempted unsuccessfully to breakthrough the 4th Armoured Brigade, later reinforced by 7th Armoured Brigade (ist R.T.R.) as more and more enemy tanks con­tinued to appear— 84 were putout of action during the day’s fighting. By nightfall the situation was unchanged. The enemy’s position was desperate, with a confused mass of vehicles almost 20 miles in length pinned to the roads between our Armoured Brigades in the South and the Northern detachment in the Soluch area, now beginning to turn South-West. Cer­tain enemy groups had, however, managed to evade the 4th Armoured Brigade by moving through the sand dune area between the main road and the sea. One group in particular, consisting of tanks strongly supported by in­fantry, repeatedly attacked the Southern de­tachment, now reinforced by a third'R .H.A .battery, during the night 6th / 7th February and early morning 7th February. In all nine attacks were delivered against 2nd Rifle Brigade, and although on one occasion tanks penetrated to the Reserve Company areas, all were repulsed. These enemy attacks were pressed home with considerable vigour, but lacked co-ordination, ist R .T.R. (7th Armoured Brigade) had been put under command of the Southern detach­ment early on the 7th February, but did not arrive in time to take part in this fight. Shortly after dawn on the 7th February a final attempt was made by 30 enemy tanks to breakthrough. When this, too, failed, General Berganzoli surrendered unconditionally. 49. Previously, on the 6th February, th t? Corps Commander had by wireless directed 6th Australian Division to send a detachment, made mobile from divisional resources, along the joast road to Ghemines, in order to complete the encirclement of the enemy. This detachment, comprising the equivalent of a Brigade Group, pressed on with great resolution and received the surrender of Benghazi, but did not reach Ghemines until about noon on the 7th Febru­ary, by which time all fighting had ceased. 50. The surrender completed the destruction of the Italian Tenth Army, whose commander, General Tellera, was killed during the action. Enemy losses in this final phase were approxi­mately 20,000 personnel, of whom the large majority were captured, 120 tanks and 190 guns. Part IV .—Sum mary and A c know ledge men ts. 51. During the two months from the 7th De­cember to the 7th February, the Army of the Nile had advanced 500 miles. They had beaten and destroyed an Italian army of four Corps comprising nine divisions and part of a tenth, and had captured 1301000 prisoners, 400 tanks and 1,290 guns, besides vast quantities of other war material. #In these operations we never employed a larger force than two divisions, of which one was armoured. Actually three divisions took part, since the 6th Australian Division relieved the 4th Indian Division after the Sidi Barrani battle. The 7th Armoured Division took part in the operations throughout, at the end of which it was practically reduced to a skeleton. Our casualties were extremely light and amounted to 500 killed, 1,373 wounded, 55 missing onlyl 52. The outstanding success of these opera­tions was very largely due to the most capable commanders of the formations engaged: Lieut.' General Sir Maitland Wilson, G.O.C.-in-C. Egypt Lieut.-General R.N. O’Connor, com­manding Western Desert Corps Major-General M.O .’M. Creagh, commanding 7th Armoured Division Major-General M.N. Beresford- Peirse, commanding 4th Indian Division and Major-General I. G. Mackay, commanding 6th Australian Division. 53. All combatant troops engaged displayed high fighting qualities and resolute skill in manoeuvre. The 7th Armoured Division, dur­ing three months’ continuous infighting the van of the battle, showed great tactical efficiency and powers of endurance the untiring work of the technical personnel which enabled so many vehicles to be kept inaction for so along period was admirable. Special mention must be made of one unit, the nth Hussars. As the only armoured car regiment in the force it was continually in the Western Desert for a period of about nine months, from the entry of Italy into the war till the fall of Benghazi. During this period it always supplied the most advanced elements inclose contact with the enemy. Seldom can a unit have had a more prolonged spell of work in the front line or performed it with greater skill and boldness. 7th Royal Tank Regiment, equipped with infantry tanks, assaulted five strongly defended positions (Nibeiwa, Tummar, Sidi Barrani, Bardia, Tobruk) in a little over one month, and advanced more than 200 miles during this period. The resolution shown in these assaults and the technical skill and hard work by which so many tanks were kept inaction over so along range deserve great credit. The Royal Engineer units and Royal Corps of Signals did much hard and admirable work. 54. The work of the ancillary corps, Royal Army Service Corps, Royal Army Ordnance Corps, Royal Army Medical Corps, Pioneer Corps, deserves all praise. Conditions in the desert were difficult and onerous. Drivers of lorries or ambulances had to cover long dis­tances over bad tracks, sometimes dustin storms mechanics in the field and at the Base worked long hours on repair and maintenance pioneers unloaded stores under air bombing or artillery fire. 55. The Army owes much to the Royal Navy, under Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham, for its support through the operation, both in pre­arranged bombardments of enemy positions previous to the attacks on Sidi Barrani, Bardia and Tobruk, and in answering emergency calls during the actual attacks. The effect of these accurate bombardments on enemy morale alone was very considerable, and did much to sim­plify the task of the Army. Lastly, the main­tenance problems in this quick-moving opera­tion over a distance of 500 miles would have been insurmountable without theN avy's assist­ance in keeping open the sea supply lines and
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