D.A.K. War Diary Entry 25 March 1941

25 March 1941

Enemy garrison at Maaten Bescer (until now 30-40 motor vehicles) has apparently withdrawn to the Marsa Brega narrows after Agheila was taken. On 25 March only one enemy patrol was noted on the track Marsa Brega – B.es Suera.

A supply transport for Marada had to be delayed since the road Agheila – Marada was covered by sand drifts in several places.

Operation order to 5.lei.Div. and Div. Brescia see copy.

D.A.K. War Diary Entry 24 March 1941

24 March 1941

At 07.30 hours el Agheila was taken by elements of 5.lei.Div. without noteworthy enemy contact (see report 5.lei.Div.). Thus the connection to Marada to the east was secured and important water holes fell into the hand of the Afrikakorps. One Me 110 was shot down by heavy AA from Marsa Brega in a height of 2,200m.

Sirt was bombed by the enemy air force during the night 23/24 March. Losses 15 killed, 32 wounded, of which 2 Germans.

Command squadron of the D.A.K. was moved forward to the Cantoniera east of en Nofilia.

D.A.K. War Diary Entry 23 March 1941

23 March 1941

Arrival and Departure of Subordinated Troops:

Arrived in Tripoli:

1./A.R.75 Fernspr.Kp. N.A.Libyen[1]

Arrived in the operational zone:

I./Pz.Regt.5

Lessons learnt: Experience with motor vehicles in the desert, see report Lt.Col. Rothardt.

08.15 hours 5.lei.Div. reports:

“Our column supplying and reinforcing Marada met enemy with artillery 8km north of Giofer.

5.lei.Div. requests rapid support by the Luftwaffe.”

A section (Kette[2]) of destroyers machine-gunned enemy armoured car patrol (without effect, according to English radio reports), and noted two burnt-out trucks of ours.

At Solluch the Luftwaffe shot up a petrol trailer and truck, setting it on fire, one Me110 was lost because it had to force land.

At 09.00 hours Div. Brescia took over command of the defensive position in the Sebcha narrows west of Agheila and on the southern edge of Dor Lanuf.

Detachment Schwerin reached today Zuila. Three combat airplanes were moved there. The supply of Detachment Schwerin with all requested spares and additional rations was carried out by two Junkers up to Hun. From there transport to Sebha by Ghibli.

[1]Telephone Company, Signals Battalion Libya
[2]A Kette (lit. ‘chain’) was the smallest tactical grouping of Luftwaffe squadrons other than fighters. It consisted of three planes.

D.A.K. War Diary Entry for 22 March 1941

22 March 1941

Arrival and Departure of Subordinated Troops:

One battalion of 10.5cm guns of 16th Artillery Regiment is subordinated to Div.Brescia.

Aerial reconnaissance reported in the area Sollum[1] – Ghemines – Magrum and 20km south of it groups of 20 motor vehicles each, with tents, some dug in, including single tanks and armoured cars. 70 motor vehicles, including single armoured cars, driving north from Agedabia were successfully attacked by the Luftwaffe.

Radio London reported the fall of Giarabub.

Lt. Col. Count Schwerin reported regimental stavv z.b.V.200 in Murzuch since 14.00 hours. Italian Detachment Matioli has been subordinated to it since early 22 March. Further intent is defensive disposition by Detachment on 23 March around Niel Araneb for further advance on el Gatrun.

During the night 21/22 March the last elements of Div. Brescia arrived at 5.lei.Div. for its relief.

Most pressing tasks for the Luftwaffe were listed in a request to Fliegerfuehrer Afrika.

At 14.00 hours Marada was attacked by three Hurricanes in a low-level attack. On flying off one aircraft showed strong smoke trail.

[1]Should be Solluch.

D.A.K. War Diary 21 March 1941

21 March 1941

Arrival and Departure of Subordinated Troops:

One battalion of Div. Bologna is subordinated to Div. Ariete, task to protect the airfield at B. el Merduma.

Arrived in Tripolis:

I./AR75 less one battery.

Staff and Radio Company, Corps Signals Battalion, remainder Pz.Jg.605

Evening report to O.K.H. transmitted following assessment of enemy situation:

“Absence of 10 to 14 radio stations from enemy radio map can be seen to confirm move back of forces. Overall reconnaissance result shows approximate strength of one armoured reconnaissance regiment, one tank battalion, one motorised rifle battalion or more, French Brigade, one artillery regiment, in the area around and southwest of Agedabia.”

Armed reconnaissance successfully bombed motor vehicle concentrations east of Marsa Brega on 21 March. Two Ju 88 supported the defense of Giarabub against intense English attacks by bombing a battery position north of Giarabub and by strafing[1] attacking columns with machine gun fire. One Ju shot down, probably by Italian machine gun.[2]

Detachment Schwerin was located, since 20 March, 18.00 hours with its staff in Sebha on 22 March, continued march to Murzuk on 23 March[3]. A Ghibli will bring spares, rations, and mail there on 23 March.

As preparation, and also to go alongside the offensive planned for May, the following operations were prepared these days:

1.) Fighting reconnaissance push to Marsa Brega in cooperation with Fliegerfuehrer Afrika. See also 18 March.
2.) Occupation of Gialo as jumping off point to relieve Giarabub and following that reoccupy Cufra[4]. Purpose: protection of the right flank of the envelopment movement towards Tobruk.

[1]Low level machine gunning of ground targets. The term comes from the German verb ‘strafen/bestrafen’, to punish. It is a joke based on a WW1 exclamation attributed to German Emperor Wilhelm II, ‘Gott strafe England’ – may God punish England, and it is also the origin of British General Gott’s nickname ‘Strafer’.
[2]The crew was rescued by Australian soldiers on 25 March. They were apparently unimpressed with the value of Giarabub. There is no mention in the Australian account of any impact these two planes had on the battle.
[3]Dates are confusing in the original.
[4]An oasis in the deep desert which had been occupied a few weeks before by Free French forces and the L.R.D.G. See:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capture_of_Kufra