D.A.K. War Diary 5 April 1941

5 April 1941

Weather: max. temperature 33 degrees Celsius

Arrival and Departure of Subordinated Troops:

Arrived in Tripoli:

Stb./K.B.15, 1./K.B.15, 2.K.B.15, 3.K.B.15[1]

During the morning 5 April the enemy retreated with strong columns on Via Balbia between Cirene – Lamluda and Tmimi – Gazala. The use of destroyers[2] against enemy columns around Derna and eastward up to the Gulf of Bomba had extraordinary success. Stukas in repeated operations attacked tank and motor vehicle columns at and north of Msus during the morning and afternoon. An attempt of this enemy to break through via Ben Gania – Tengeder or Caranis – Mechili had to be expected during the course of 5 April. 13 English transports and one cruiser were reported in the port of Tobruk. Probably embarkations.[3]

At 09.30 hours Lt.General Rommel ordered the commander Div.Ariete to establish two more forward detachments apart from Forward Detachment Fabris, and to march on Ben Gania and Mechili with these. The divisional commander should take over the leadership of the forward detachments himself.

At 12.00 hours order to Lt.Col. Olbricht[4] (Troops: Pz.Rgt.5, M.G.Bat.2, one battery A.R.75, one company Pz.Jg.): “Advance with tanks from Zuetina via Antelat to Msus, open this from the south. M.G.Batl.2 to be sent ahead via Solluch on good road to Msus, blocking from the west until tanks arrive. From Msus to advance further northeast. Order whether to advance on Mechili or Tmimi will be given in due time by General via radio or courier plane. The Italian 7th Medium Tank Battalion of Div.Ariete is to be subordinated to Regt. Olbricht and is to be pulled up by this regiment.”

Bundesarchiv Bild 101I 783 0109 11 Nordafrika Panzer III in Fahrt

Panzerregiment 5 Panzer III advancing in the desert, 1941. Bundesarchiv Bildarchiv

5.lei.Div. and Fliegerfuehrer Afrika received the task to prepare an air landing operation at Tmimi for the evening hours 5 April. Strength one platoon AT guns and as many MGs and mines as possible. Task: blocking of the coastal road.

During the night 5/6 April the van of Forward Detachments Graf Schwerin, advancing in northeasterly direction, reached Tengeder at 21.00 hours. The Detachment Santa Maria and troops of General Streich had closed up to 30km. Detachment Fabris was still advancing on Ben Gania at 18.00 hours. Graf Schwerin, as well as General Streich, requested urgent supply with rations and fuel for 6 April, via air to Gadd el Amahr and Mechili. The reinforced Regiment Olbricht at 22.30 hours stood with its southern group near Antelat and with its northern group at Raherbet bel Gardan. He intended to reunite both elements in Msus on 6 April, 08.00 hours. Msus was reported free of enemy at midnight.

At 18.00 hours A.A.3 reported 40 enemy tanks marching towards A.A. from northeast at track junction 25km east of el Abiar. An attack did however not take place, probably because of setting darkness. Since the Battalion reported only one fuel load[5], accelerated supply was instructed by Ib 5.lei.Div.[6]

Of the two forward detachments of Div.Brescia the right one reached Regima at 20.00 hours, the left one Driana.

At 14.00 hours 5 April the commander of the Afrikakorps flew to the forward detachments operating on Mechili and personnally took command of these troops. The command post Agedabia remained occupied by the Ia, who issued the guidelines of the commander to the marching groups of the corps from here. The combat landing ground of 2./(H)14 Pz. was moved from Agedabia to Ben Gania on 5 April.

[1]Staff and companies 1-3 of motorcycle rifle battalion 15, the first units of 15.Panzer to arrive in North Africa.

[2]Me 110 heavy fighters

[3]The cruiser could well have been the disabled Italian San Giorgio (see this link), and the suspicion that the transports were embarking, rather than disembarking, troops was probably one of the first documented instances of wishful thinking by the German command in regards to Tobruk.

[4]Actually Dr. Ing. Herbert Olbrich, Commander of Panzerregiment 5. He was sacked after the failure of the attack on Tobruk, and was killed in action as commander of Panzerregiment 4 in Russia in September 1942. See this link.

[5]one fuel load was sufficient for 100km under normal driving conditions, i.e. considerably less in the desert.

[6]Ib = supply officer on the staff

2 thoughts on “D.A.K. War Diary 5 April 1941

  1. They say that you learn something new every day. And I have learnt that there was a landing strip at Ben Gania.
    Thank you Andreas.


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