D.A.K. 27 March 1941

27 March 1941

Aerial reconnaissance ascertained 50-60 motor vehicles, including armoured cars, well dispersed across the countryside in the track area north of B. el Ginn. These can only be forces that have been newly brought up. 18km east of Maaten Belcleibat a stationary patrol was noted.

Forward forces at Agheila were reinforced by bringing up M.G.Batl.8. A.A.3 was pulled out to be fully available for reconnaissance tasks.

09.00 hours Agheila was attacked by one Hurricane at low-level. No losses caused.

I./A.R.75 reached area around Nofilia. By 28 March arrival of 5.lei.Div. is expected.

The return march of Count Schwerin was ordered since the Afrikakorps does not consider the reported movements of the De Gaulle troops to have any meaning. Two motor vehicles that went missing at Ummel Araneb have not been found yet. Since Fliegerfuehrer Afrika  did not have resources available a request for help was made to the Italian air force in Hun.

O.K.H. turned the attention of the Deutsches Afrikakorps again on the taking possession of Gialo Oasis, to prevent a flanking move from there in the context of the planned operation.[1] The Deutsches Afrikakorps is fundamentally in line with this view, but considers the move on and the supply of the forces tasked with this to be only possible by air, due to sand drifts affecting vehicles. The Commander in Chief intends for the time being, due to a lack of forces and to prevent dispersion of forces, only to use weak forces (reinforced MG platoons). In this context the quick arrival of the first companies of Foreign Legionnaires was requested from O.K.H. (possibly by air). Fliegerfuehrer Afrika considers the the plan to occupy Gialo from the air as executable. He does not believe however that air transport capacity will be available prior to 30 March. A corresponding request is made to the O.K.H., to make available to the X.Fliegerkorps the requested air transport units.

[1]A piece of micro-management from Berlin that was no doubt appreciated in the D.A.K. HQ. It is interesting to note however the weakness in infantry at this stage, as well as the very thin situation of air cover across the theatre.

D.A.K. War Diary Entry 26 March 1941

26 March 1941

Arrival and Departure of Subordinated Troops:

Div.Brescia reinforced by 12 3.7cm AT guns

The evening report to the O.K.H. gave the following assessment of the enemy situation:

“It has to be presumed that the concentrations reported in the area Ghemines – Solluch  – Magrum are a mobile reserve for use in a southerly or southeasterly direction.

The construction of a new road on the coast from Magrum to Zuetina, and repair work on the road Magrum – Agedabia may point to the ability to more quickly move reserves, and may serve to relieve pressure on the main road for supply traffic.

The occupation of Agheila led to reinforcement in the area of Agedabia, probably only close to Agedabia. The radio intercept picture shows a strength of these new forces of up to 3 battalions, 1 armoured car regiment, and 2 artillery battalions. It is presumed that Agedabia is to be definitively held.”

Detachment Schweing reached Gatrun on 25 March, 17.00 hours. Area between border and Gatrun apparently free of enemy. Inquiry from Detachment Schwerin whether a push in direction Giado and Zuar should be made, since only by doing this a precise picture about the enemy situation of the De Gaulle troops could be ascertained.

The recall to Sicily of the Stuka Wing with one Group made the planned aerial reconnaissance with Schwerin against the De Gaulle forces impossible.

H.E. Gariboldi was named Commander in Chief of the Italian forces in North Africa, and Governor General of Libya. Marshall Graziani resigned from all his offices[1].

Tripolis, Ankunft DAK, Rommel

Gariboldi (left behind Rommel), Rommel and Streich in Tripoli during one of the arrival parades.

[1]Graziani was not given another position for two years. Gariboldi was to be replaced by Bastico in July 1941, after continuing disagreements with Rommel.