The multinational battle

Background

Crusader was unusual in that it brought together a vast number of nationalities in a battle where almost none of them had anything to do with the place they fought over in the first instance. A total of three nationalities on the Axis side, and another 11 on the Allied side. It is worth remembering this, as we approach another V.E. day.

CRUSADER was the first land victory over Germany that the Empire achieved, but it did not achieve it alone. Without the contribution of these other nations, Eighth Army could not have been victorious. 

Axis Forces

Ground Forces

Germans

  • D.A.K.
  • 15th Panzer
  • 21st Panzer
  • Under Italian XXI. Corps
  • Div. z.b.V. Afrika/90th Light
  • Panzergruppe
  • ArKo 104 artillery command
  • Sector West (Bardia)
  • Sector East (Sidi Omar/Halfaya)

Italians

  • Motorised Corps
  • Armoured Div. Ariete
  • Mot. Div. Trieste
  • XXI. Corps
  • Mot. Div. Trento
  • Inf. Div. Bologna
  • Inf. Div. Brescia
  • Inf. Div. Pavia
  • Inf. Div. Sabratha
  • Sector East
  • Inf. Div. Savona
  • Libyans
  • native troops
  • auxiliaries

Air Forces

German

  • Fliegerkorps X
  • Fliegerführer Afrika

Italian

  • 5a Squadra Aerea

Naval Units

Italian

  • All fleet units

German

  • submarines
  • MFP lighters

 

1940 s british empire military poster a3 reprint 10656 pEmpire and Allies

Divisions:

British

  • 1st Armoured (from January 1942)
  • 7th Armoured
  • 70th Infantry

Indian

  • 4th Infantry

South African

  • 1st Infantry
  • 2nd Infantry

New Zealand

  • 2nd Infantry Division

Brigades:

British

  • 22nd Guards
  • 1st Army Tank Brigade
  • 32nd Army Tank

Indian

  • 29 Indian Infantry Brigade (Oases Force, Siwa)

Polish

  • Carpathian Brigade

Free French

  • Groupe Larminat – official name apparently Corps Francais du Western Desert) involved in the end of the siege of Halfaya

Battalions:

South African

  • 3 South African Armoured Cars
  • 4 South African Armoured Cars

Australian

  • 2/13 Infantry

Czechoslovak

  • One battalion under command of the Polish Brigade

Screen Shot 2020 05 08 at 10 32 20 AM

Overview of Empire Infantry Battalions by Nationality and Parent Unit. From War Diaries and Reports. Rommelsriposte.com

 

Air Force Squadrons

British

  • Nos. 201, 205 Groups, Air H.Q. Western Desert, Air H.Q. Egypt, Air H.Q. Mediterranean (Malta) 

South African

  • Nos. 1, 2, 4 12, 21, 24, 40, 60, 94 Squadrons S.A.A.F. 

Rhodesian

  • No. 237 Army Co-Operation Squadron, engaged in tactical recce

Free French

  • Groupe de Bombardement ‘Lorraine’ (Blenheims)
  • Groupe de Chasse Alsace

Greek

  • No.335 (13 Hellenic)

Australian

  • No. 3 Squadron (fighters)
  • No. 450 Army Co-Operation

Yugoslav

  • No. 2 Yugoslav (Naval reconnaissance section)

If anybody has further info on No. 272 Squadron (Blenheims) which seems to have contained a good number of Belgiums, please comment below.

Naval Units

British

  • Mediterranean Fleet
  • Force H
  • Force K

Australian

  • Cruiser
  • HMAS Hobart
  • Destroyers
  • HMAS Nestor
  • HMAS Nizam
  • HMAS Napier
  • Sloops
  • HMAS Parramatta
  • HMAS Yarra

Dutch

  • Destroyer HrNLMS Isaac Sweers
  • Submarine O.21

Polish

Greek

  • Destroyers
  • Panther of 1911 vintage
  • Modern Hydra class (ironically, both built to slightly modified Dardo-class specifications in Italian shipyards in the early 1930s) Kondouriotis and maybe Spetsai
  • Torpedo-boat Niki of 1906 vintage

South African

  • 22nd and 25th A/S Groups with 7 whalers in total
  • 166th, 167th M/S groups of converted whalers

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