Panzergruppe Intelligence Assessment 1 December 1941

The report below was signed off on 2 December, and sent off at 09.55 hours of the same day.

Enemy Behaviour 1 December 1941

7 Armoured Division continued its attacks to relieve 2 New Zealand Division between B. el Chleta and S. Rezegh with 7 Rifle Division, 1 South African Brigade, and 4 Armoured Brigade.

Repulsing the attacks and the destruction of the mass of the New Zealand Division were successful. Only elements could escape southeast, where they were taken in by 1 South African Brigade. Both formations have disengaged and are probablying situated in the area B. Taieb el Esem.7 Rifle Brigade which primarily attacked with its artillery into the rear of the 21 Panzer Division retreated into the area B. bu Meliha during the evening. Around 15.00 hours the Command of 8th Army ordered the following line of resistance for 7 Armoured Division: Sherferzen – B. Taieb el Esem – 13km south B. el Gubi. 7 and 22 Armoured Brigades did not enter combat. 11 Hussars were ascertained during the afternoon, advancing west of B. el Hacheim on Ain el Gazala. The Luftwaffe attacked this battalion with good results. KDG and 4 South African Reconnaissance Battalion did not appear. The motorised elements of 7 Indian Brigade situated west of Bardia undertook harassment operations there.

According to reports gathered until now, from 18 November to 1 December 814 tanks and armoured cars were destroyed and 127 planes shot down. The large volume of booty cannot be assessed at this time. The number of POW has risen above 9,000.

Command 8 Army did not succeed in relieving 2 New Zealand Division. It has to be expected that on 2 December no sizeable attack will be carried out towards Tobruk, rather that the mass of the British formations will reorganise and reinforce in the area B. el Gubi, while at the same time attempting to undertake harassment operations around Ain el Gazala and Bardia.

Panzergruppe Intelligence Assessment 6 December 1941

Enemy Behaviour 6 December 1941

Enemy behaves in a very careful manner versus the D.A.K. which advances on B. el Gubi. The enemy elements assigned north and north-west of B. el Gubi evaded in the area south and south-east of it. There are now presumed to be 22 Guards Brigade, 11 Indian Brigade, and 4 Armoured Brigade. During the afternoon, based on radio interception, 1 South African Brigade was brought up to the area northeast B. el Gubi. Furthermore the command staff of 4 Indian Division was recognised.

The lifting of the siege of Tobruk in the south-eastern sector has apparently not been recognised by the English. During the afternoon 5 British transport vessels were noted outside Tobruk.

The picture below shows the suspected OOB of 8th Army on 6 December.

German Intelligence Diagram of 8th Army Structure on 6 December 1941

German Intelligence Diagram of 8th Army Structure on 6 December 1941 (n.s. = New Zealand, 7 S.B. = 7 Support Group; ‘ohne’ = without)

Panzergruppe Intelligence Assessment 5 December 1941

1. Enemy Behaviour 5 December 1941

Because of heavy enemy pressure from Tobruk via Ed Duda towards the south, the southeast front had to be abandoned. The D.A.K., advancing from the area west of El Adem towards B. el Gubi, encountered during the afternoon hard west of it the 11 Indian Brigade. In this area also 22 Guards Brigade and 4 Armoured Brigade have to be expected. Air reconnaissance noted numerous enemy vehicle columns from the south-east advancing towards the Trigh el Abd. Another weaker enemy movement was recognised from the area S. Omar to S. Azeiz. 1,000 vehicles at 15.00 hours driving west on the track railhead – Sherferzen.

2. Overall Impression

Apart from supplies new formations are being brought up from the Western Desert.

Panzergruppe Intelligence Assessment 4 December 1941

  1. Enemy Behaviour on 4 December 1941

22 Guards Brigade and 4 Armoured Brigade advanced from the area B. el Gubi and east of it on both sides and east of the track B. el Gubi – El Adem. During evening hours a small artillery fight took place with the Italian division Pavia, south of El Adem. East of this elements of 7 Rifle Brigade advanced up to the area B. Bu Cremeisa and from there during the afternoon harassed with fire movements on the Trigh Capuzzo. A weaker reconnaissance force pushed further west up to the area Hagfet Sciaban. In front of the push by 21 Panzerdivision weaker enemy elements evaded in the direction of S. Azeiz (probably 5 Indian Brigade).

In the area south of S. Azeiz 2 South African Division was recognised by radio interception. It has to be expected that at least elements of this division have been brought up to this area.

  1. Overall Impression

It has to be expected that the enemy on 5 December will again attempt an attack in the direction of El Adem to relieve Tobruk. For this purpose he is bringing up only 22 Guards Brigade from the area of B. el Gubi as fresh troops while 4 Armoured Brigade and 7 Rifle Brigade are heavily (replaced: have to be considered) knocked about.

Panzergruppe Intelligence Assessment 3 December 1941

  1. Enemy Behaviour on 3 December 1941

The security screen which was reported on 2 December 1941 in the line south Gasr el Arid – Bir Chelb – Bir el Gubi was reinforced by elements of 1 South African Brigade – currently tasked in the area Bir el Gubi. In the area of Sidi Azeiz and north of it, 5 Indian Brigade repulsed German reconnaissance forces which were put in from the west. Air reconnaissance did not report noticeable changes in the enemy grouping (especially in the area Trigh el Abd and south of it).

  1. Overall Impression

The opponent has not continued its retreat in easterly and south-easterly direction which was noted on 2 December. It has to be expected that under the protection of this security screen the heavily knocked enemy formations are refreshed for the continuation of the offensive in this more distant area.

Panzergruppe Intelligence Assessment 2 December 1941

This document was sent off on 2 December at 23.00 hours.

  1. Enemy Behaviour on 2 December 1941

While mopping up the cauldron in the area north of S. Rezegh the number of POW and volume of booty continued to increase. El Duda and north-east continue to be occupied by the enemy. Here apparently elements of 2/13 Australian battalion (part of the Tobruk garrison). According to POW statements numerous tanks were shipped to Tobruk since the middle of November, specifically the 32 Army Tank Battalion Brigade (4 and 7 Battalion confirmed by POW). Only 7 Rifle Brigade is between Trigh Capuzzo and Trigh el Abd today, established in a broad front south of the line Gasr el Arid – Si. Mufta, and from there onwards continuing to the southwest, the 4 South African Reconnaissance Battalion, up to B. el Gubi. 7 Rifle Brigade carried out reconnaissance pushes and attempted to harass the movement of the Italian divisions on the Trigh Capuzzo by artillery fire. 5 Indian Brigade, also today in the area of S. Azeiz, restricted itself also to reconnaissance activity in the direction of Bardia and Gambut.

Air reconnaissance noted a smaller number of vehicles in the area southeast of B. el Gubi. Its activity was constrained by bad weather. Based on radio interception, the move of specific command staffs towards the east and southeast is recognised (command staff 4 Armoured Brigade from B. el Dleua to area south B. Ben Ganeb, 22 Armoured Brigade now area Gabr el Halabar. 22 Guards Brigade moved from area B. el Gubi to the southeast, exact position not known). 7 Armoured Division is losing AA units, probably to protect supply depots further to the rear. One battalion of 2 South African Division, which is concentrating south of S. Barrani, is moved into the area 60km east of S. Barrani.

  1. Overall Impression

Some radio reconnaissance reports of today allow recognition of moves of individual command staffs from the area southeast B. el Gubi in an easterly and south-easterly direction. 7 Rifle Brigade, which is established in a broad front, might have the task to cover a retreat by the enemy. A sufficient confirmation of this measure (replaced: supposition) by air reconnaissance could not be obtained today due to the bad weather.

  1. Order of Battle New Zealand Division

4, 5, and 6 Infantry Brigades, 27 (MG) Battalion, 28 (Maori) Battalion, 7 AT Battalion, 14 LAA Battalion, 5, 6, 7, and 8 Pioneer Companies, 4, 5, and 6 Field Artillery Regiments. Each infantry brigade has a company of 8 R.T.R. assigned to it.