An Example of a Stosslinie

In a previous post (at this link) I have explained the German ‘Stosslinie’ system by which units were given locations on a standard map. The picture below shows such a line on an Italian map used by the German intelligence officer in Panzergruppe Africa’s command staff. The line starts with the value of 65 north of B. el Harmarin/south-east of Mechili, and ends with the value of 105 at Bir el Gobi.

Stosslinie

Panzerarmee Intelligence Assessment 6 February 1942

1. Enemy Behaviour 6 February 1942

Reconnaissance activity in the area southeast Mechili by a reconnaissance battalion of 1st Armoured Division based at Segnali. Further improvement of the defensive front B. Hacheim – B. el Harmat – Acroma and north under cover of the security screen formed in the line B. Hacheim by 150th Brigade and the 6th and 7th South African Reconnaissance Regiments of Force E. Recognised in the defensive line: 1st Armoured Division from B. Hacheim to B. el Harmat, following on 1st South African Division to north of Trigh Enver Bey, following on from there probably Polish Brigade. From about 2km south of Acroma to the coast 4th Indian Division with 11th Indian Brigade south of Acroma and north of it 5ht Indian Brigade. XIII Corps in Tobruk, there also 70th Division and 1st light Free French Division as well as 32nd Army Tank Brigade. Aerial reconnaissance noted today only weak traffic between Tobruk and Bardia. At the end loop of the railway 500 wagons and 300 motor vehicles. 

2. Deserters from 4th Indian Division state that of 5th Indian Division only the 29th Brigade is in North Africa. 10th and 38th Brigades of this division are supposed to be on Cyprus. Nevertheless, 38th Brigade has appeared in the radio picture in the area of Tobruk for a few weeks now.

Panzerarmee Afrika

Ic

Panzerarmee Intelligence Assessment 5 February 1942

ENEMY FORCES NORTH AFRICA

Status as of 5 February 1942

1. 8th Army Controls the following formations:

Formation

Estimated Combat Power

Infantry Battalions

Artillery Regiments

Tanks

a) XIII Corps Area Tobruk Gazala B. Hacheim with:

4th Indian Division

5th Ind. Bde (1)

6

2 light

 

7th Ind. Bde (1)

 

11th Ind. Bde

1 medium

 

8 R.T.R.  (2)

 

 

40 (I)

1st Armd. Division

2nd Armd. Bde.

 

1

30 (m)

1st Support Grp.

2

1

 

200th Guards Bde.

3

1

 

Force E

 

1

 

150th Bde.

3

1

 

Polish Bde.

3

1

 

1st Light Free French Div. (3)

5

2

40 (m)

Reinforced 70th Div. (4)
(Remains 32nd Army Tk. Bde.)

9 (garrison)

Fortress Art.

25 (I)

1st South African Div.

6

2

 

 

b) XXX Corps in area SollumBardiaTobruk and south of it with:

2nd South African Division

9 (garrison)

2 light

2 medium

 

(Remains 1st Army Tank Bde)

 

 

 

22nd Armd. Bde (rebuilding)

 

 

30 (m)

 

 

 

 

Total

31

18 garrison

10 light

1 medium

2 light and 2 medium Bardia and Tobruk art.

100 (m)

65 (I)

c) In the Delta and Western Egypt:

7th Armd. Div.

1 brigade ready middle of February

2/3rd 50th Engl. Div.

Occupation Troops

7th Engl. Division

Occupation Troops

12th Engl. Division

Occupation Troops

Elements 5th Indian Div.

Occupation Troops

2 Greek Brigades

Occupation Troops

(1) heavy losses

(2) subordinated from 1st Army Tank Brigade

(3) mechanised

(4) Tobruk garrison 

2. Analysis

In Marmarica there are currently British formations with a strength of 6 – 7 infantry divisions, of which 2 divisions are tied down as occupation troops of Tobruk, Bardia, and Halfway. Also 1st Armoured Division with 60 cruiser tanks and army tank regiments with about 90 infantry tanks.

The enemy formations in the Delta and Western Egypt are tied down there as occupation troops, apart from 7th Armoured Division, of which, according to orientation from the OKH (1), 1 armoured brigade is ready by early February.

The accordingly available British troops ready to take the field (4-5 partially motorised infantry divisions, 150 cruiser tanks and 90 infantry tanks) are only capable of defensive battle. The announced departure of 8 infantry and 2 armoured divisions from mainland Britain has not been noticed yet in the Middle East, according to orientation from OKH. The arrival of infantry divisions has to be expected in the near future, furthermore additions and replacements for the rebuilding of the heavily hit formations.

Whether the British formations sent from home will be used in the Middle or the Far East is not clear yet, but in any case a new British offensive, if any, is not expected before the beginning of April.

(1) Oberkommando des Heeres – High Command of the Army.