D.A.K. War Diary 19 March 1941

19 March 1941

Arrival and Departure of Subordinated Troops:

Arrived in the zone of operations:

Regimental Staff Pz.Regiment 5, II. Pz.Regiment 5, I./Flak 18, until now subordinated to X.Fliegerkorps is subordinated to Afrikakorps

The impression strengthens that the enemy is withdrawing forces from the area Sollum[1] – Gemines – Agedabia, and only has a strong rearguard standing at Marsa Brega – Bilal – Gtafia.

Relief of 5.lei.Div. by Div. Brescia in the defensive position executed as planned in Operation Order of 15 March. By evening 18 March elements of heavy weapons and artillery of Brescia had arrived at Pz.Jaeg.39. On the evening of 19 March the Italian Commander of Italian Infantry Regiment 19 took over command in the sector northern edge Sebcha el Chebira – Coast. Pz.Jaeg.39  could be pulled back to the Via Balbia in the area 34.5 – 37[2].

Lt.Col. Count Schwerin[3] reported intent to continue to march to Sebcha on 20 March, while sending a flank detachment to Brach. The flank detachment sent to Zella returned to Hun during the evening 19 March. It rests on 20 March to reunite with Detachment Schwerin in Sebcha on 21 March.

19 March, 03.00 hours Sirt is being bombed.  Targets apparently airfield and AA on the roof of the HQ. Three tents of the air force field hospital were hit. Losses: 1 severely, 1 lightly wounded.

5.lei.Div. reports one Vickers Wellington[4] shot down by I./Flak 33, crew of six sergeants captured, plane was set on fire beforehand.

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Vickers Wellington Mk. I, IWM

German and Italian air forced bombed motor vehicle and tank concentrations in the area Gtafia – Bilal. Stukas achieved direct hits in Fort Zuetina.

Result of the conference of the Commander in Chief and the Chief of Staff about the planned execution of the attack operation see activity report. The Italian High Command agreed in principle. His Excellency Gariboldi emphasised at the end that he could not attack one day earlier, but also not one day later than the preparations had finished. He pointed out that he could unfortunately not control the speed of arrival of the required reinforcements, but that this was a matter for Rome.


[1]Should be Solluch.

[2]Probably kilometre markers on Via Balbia.

[3]Officer Commanding Aufklärungsabteilung 3, now on a special mission to the deep south.

[4]This was a rather curious inciden, in which a No. 3 Squadron Training Flight Wellington Ic W5630 lost its way on a direct delivery flight from Adishall in England to Benina. The crew, ex No. 9 Squadron, could not get directions because of the radio being unserviceable and ended up over Axis territory, where it was hit by AA fire. The crew consisted of: Sgt. A.D. Mackay Sgt. A.L. Millington Sgt. A.R. Butler Sgt. J.W.T. House Sgt. W. Ainsbury Sgt. S.H.R. Bevan R.N.Z.A.F.

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