15 April 1941
Weather: max. temp. 18 degrees C, at 07.00 hours light rain.
Arrival and Departure of Subordinated Troops
Arrived in Tripoli:
- Staff 15.Panz.Div. 1st Squadron, Ia, Ic, IIa
- Staff I./S.R.115
Arrived in the zone of operations:
During an attack on Tobruk under command of Div.Brescia the following elements of Div.Trento were lost:
- Heavy mortar company of Infantry Regiment 61
- 2 rifle platoons 2nd Battalion Infantry Regiment 61
Assessment of the situation after the failed attack on 14 April, see yesterday’s evening report to O.K.H. Forward Detachment Knabe reports: “Enemy surprise attack on 15 April 05.30 hours in company strength with heavy artillery support, climbing up rocky ledges at Sollum unseen. Attack was repulsed.” A.A.3 noted strong mobile security screens of the enemy (tanks, armoured cars, and motorised batteries) in the line Sidi Omar – Point 194 south of Sollum. 4 Ju 52 of Fliegerfuehrer Afrika were shot up and set on fire by Hurricanes after landing at Bardia. The intent of Fliegerführer to move operating grounds to Bardia and el Adem was given up.
In and off the harbour of Tobruk one battleship, one cruiser, and four destroyers were observed, suspected embarkations. The D.A.K. requests ruthless operations by the Luftwaffe against all ships leaving Tobruk.
Div. Ariete repulsed an attack by 6 enemy tanks coming from Ras Mdaauar. On the eastern front of Tobruk six Australians, who claimed they arrived in Tobruk by sea just a short time ago, were captured during a night operation by the English.
A Cruiser tank Mk IV A of a unit of the 1st Royal Tank Regiment which is operating in the Tobruk area in support operations for the defence of the Tobruk Garrison. Note the unit identification number (24) and the nick-name “Amy” given to the tank by it’s crew on the front of the tank. AWM.
During the day several enemy bombing attacks on Tobruk siege troops and forward detachments on Sollum front.
Detachment Santa Maria and Fabris were subordinated to 5.lei.Div., the 2nd Fast Artillery Regiment under Colonel Grati was subordinated to Div.Ariete (see written orders).
Rifle Regiment 115. The listed companies would comprise 5 rifle companies (Nos. 1-3, 5-6) and one heavy weapons company with HMGs and 81mm mortars (No.4)
Motorcycle Rifle Battalion 15. The two companies would comprise the heavy company with 3×3.7cm AT guns, 2x 7.5cm infantry guns, and an engineer platoon, and the machine gun company with HMGs and 81mm mortars. See organisation at this link.
Equipped with 81mm mortars
This was a raid by 2 Coldstream Guards, undertaken at the insistence of Middle East Command to take pressure off Tobruk by generating action elsewhere. It did not have any meaningful impact.
Arguably this shows a continued failure to appreciate the situation. In fact the Axis forces should have rejoiced at any troops leaving Tobruk and made this as easy as possible, since it would have made it much easier to take the fortress.
There is no evidence for this attack in the war diary of 1 R.T.R., the cruiser force of the Tobruk Fortress. Rather there is an explicit statement that the force was at rest during the day. This would make me think this attack did not happen. The only possibility in my view is that a move of ‘C’ Squadron to a new area was mistaken for an attack.
2a Articelere – see previous day.