D.A.K. war diary 13 March 1941

D.A.K. war diary 13 March 1941

13 March 1941

Marada is taken under control by a German-Italian detachment under German command.

The command staff of the Afrikakorps (Commander, Chief of Staff, IaIc, and IIa[1] with aide de camps, support officers and office personel moves to Sirt. The Commander flies with the Chief of Staff and 2nd Lt. v.Goerne at 14.00 hours with an Italian Ghibli[2] from Melaha. Because of a sand storm the flight turns around and force lands in Melaha. From there continuation of the journey in a car put at his disposition. Arrival in Sirt only at midnight due to sand storm.

Major Ehlert (Ia)[3] and Lt. von Hoesslin (O1)[4] with the office personnel cannot take off and remain in Tripoli during the night, to fly to Sirt the next morning.

[1] Ia = Senior staff officer. This was a critical and powerful position. The Ia had the right to contradict the commanding officer, and to go past him directly to the command staff of the army in Berlin. Failure to agree on a course of action between the commanding officer and the Ia had to be documented in the war diary. During CRUSADER, Lt. Col. Westphal used this power to the extreme, at some point directing operations by most of Panzergruppe Afrika.  The Ia also was the officer in charge of the staff and the line manager for all other staff officers. Ic = Intelligence Officer IIa = Personnel officer

 [2] Caproni Ca.309, a multi-role twin-engined plane built specifically for and used heavily by the Italian air force in North Africa, for armed reconnaissance and liaison duties.

[3] Major Ehlert had taken up his post in North Africa on 7 March. On 1 March he had been to OKH in Berlin, where he was briefed by Halder on the plans for offensive operations in Africa. He was quickly replaced by Lt. Col. Westphal, in the middle of June. He rose to Colonel and Chief of Staff of LII. Corps in early 1944. When the Romanian front collapsed in August 1944 his Corps was swallowed in the disaster and he went missing.

[4] Senior Aide-de-Camp of the Ia

caproni_ca-309

Ca.309 Ghibli pre-war. Image from Wikipedia.