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 [1]

A Kleiner Befehlswagen being unloaded in Tripoli, March 1941. These also equipped the command section of Panzerjägerabteilung 605. Rommelsriposte.com Collection.

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 considered as confirmation of 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[2], 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 [3] supported the defense of Giarabub against intense English attacks by bombing a battery position north of Giarabub and by strafing[4] attacking columns with machine gun fire. One Ju shot down, probably by Italian machine gun.[5]

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[6]. A Ghibli [7]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 Fliegerführer Afrika. See also 18 March.

2.) Occupation of Gialo as jumping off point to relieve Giarabub and following that reoccupy Cufra[8]. Purpose: protection of the right flank of the envelopment movement towards Tobruk.


[1]A self-propelled anti-tank battalion equipped with Panzerjäger I armoured AT guns.

[2]This was either an error or a deliberate misinformation through wireless spoofing.

[3]Probably from Lehrgeschwader 1

[4]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’.

[5]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.

[6]Dates are confusing in the original.

[7]An Italian multi-role twin-engined aircraft manufactured by Caproni.

[8]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

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