5th Light arrives: D.A.K. war diary entry for 21 February 1941

21 February 1941

Arrival and Departure of Subordinated Troops

Arrived in Tripoli:

Divisional Command of 5.leichte Division[1]

English plane accidentally drops message on our most forward patrol, which is 20km west of el Agheila[2]. Content unfortunately meaningless.

Commanding General explores possibilities for disembarkation on the open sea with lighters or ferries. Naval offices have concerns about this. Arrangement of this is ordered nevertheless.[3]

Around 18.00 hours General Streich[4], Commander of 5.lei.Div. arrives with his close staff members. He is informed about the current situation. Intent: Commander 5th Light Division to take over command of German troops east of Sirt, probably after the arrival of the first M.G. battalion.


Generalmajor Streich, GOC 5. leichte Division. Wikipedia.

Around evening arrival of the Commanding General of X.Fliegerkorps, General Geissler.

Content: Tasks of Air Forces in Libya, specifically:

a) airfields to be placed as close as possible to the front

b) most important task in the near term is close and long-range reconnaissance to gain a picture of the dislocation of enemy forces in Cyrenaica

c) prevent build-up of enemy supply base on the coast close to the frontline, mainly attack against sea-borne supplie

d) destruction of the enemy air force present in Cyrenaica

e) preparation of defense against the expected enemy attack on land and sea

f) close co-operation with the Italian air force, through close placement of similar units.

Furthermore the possibility of rapidly gathering 200 lorries in Tripoli is being explored to have them available for fast troop and supply transports in case that the enemy should attack in the nearest future.

During the evening Führer decision arrives that the troop formation in Libya should as of now carry the name Deutsches Afrikakorps.[5]

I./Flak 33 has reached Sirt at 17.30 hours.

Steamer Menes with the convoy that left for Italy in the morning was damaged by a torpedo hit from an enemy submarine, and towed back into the harbour of Tripoli.

Major Schraepler (Corps Aide-de-Camp) arrived by plane.


[1]Originally Sperrverband Libyen (Blocking Formation Libya), then 5th Light Division. This was later to become the 21st Panzer Division.

[2]The first of many identification errors to come.

[3]Another first in Africa, Rommel ignoring the opinion of the experts.

[4]General Streich succeeded General Funck, who had been in command of the Sperrverband for a few weeks only, but was very negative about its prospects. His rank was Generalmajor, a One Star general rank, equivalent to the US Brigadier-General. Streich was sacked by Rommel in mid-May, being blamed for the failure of the initial attack on Tobruk in April 1941 (see this link). Even though his report on returning from Africa led to a sharp reprimand for Rommel, Streich’s career as a field commander was pretty much over.

[5]Actually “Deutsches Afrika-Korps”

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