D.A.K. War Diary Entry 18 March 1941

18 March 1941

Arrival and Departure of Subordinated Troops

Arrived in Tripoli with the 11th and 12th Naval Transport Squadrons:

Elements Courier Squadron, I./Jg. 27, elements Pz.Jaeg.605[1]

The report by the commander of a Destroyer Group, which partially confirmed Arabic agent reports, raises the suspicion that the enemy is withdrawing substantial forces from the area Solluch – Agedabia – Marsa el Brega. The fact that the English are pulling French troops forward could, based on the experience of the campaign in France, point towards a lack of intent to hold the position at Marsa el Brega. Complete overview of agent reports see note by Ia.

The German Afrikakorps requested from Fliegerfuehrer Afrika reinforced reconnaissance efforts in the area Sollum – Derna – Benghazi – South.

5.lei.Div. was pre-alerted as instructed by telephone order from the Commander in Chief: “Preparation of a violent reconnaissance push towards Marsa el Brega in co-operation with Fliegerfuehrer Afrika with the task to ascertain whether the enemy wants to continue to hold. If possible cut off remaining elements and take possession of the narrows of Marsa Brega with strong security elements or a forward detachment. Execution only on order from the Afrikakorps.”

Lt.Co. Count Schwerin remained for the moment in Hun, on 18 and 19 March, while a flank detachment advanced on Zella.

I./Flak 33 reported a Hurricane shot down. Pilot burned his plane and was then captured.

The transport out of Naples of the troops required fro the offensive: remainder 5.lei.Div. and 15.Pz.Div. experienced further blockages. The arrival of the point of the transport move of 15.Panz.Division in Naples, which had been requested for 20 March, was delayed. Reason allegedly failure to be ready for tropical use. An urgent request was made to O.K.H. to accelerate the transports, since otherwise the operational intent would not be possible to be executed.

Because the Italians did not accept five shops in the convoy, the ship Samos of the 13th Shipping Squadron (elements I./A.R.75Kol.Abt.533[2]) had to be unloaded.  In future convoys will only depart with four vessels.

[1]This was an independent battalion with self-propelled, armoured AT guns of 47mm calibre on the Panzer I chassis.
[2]First battalion of artillery regiment 75 and a supply truck battalion.

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