Disaster at Sea: D.A.K. War Diary Entry 16 April 1941

16 April 1941

Weather Situation: max. temp. 25 degrees Celsius

Arrival and Departure of Subordinated Troops:

Complete 20th Naval Transport Squadron sunk by enemy naval forces.[1]

21 Officers and Civil Servants
363 NCOs and Other Ranks

Material losses:[2]

  • Elements H.Q. Staff 15.Panz.Div.
    Staff and Staff battery Artl. Regt. 33
  • Signals Battalion 33
  • Staff Rifle Regiment 155
  • Gun company S.R. 155

Div. Trento lost the following during attack on Ras el Mdaauar:

  • 1st Battalion Infantry Regiment 62
  • 1 platoon 2cm AA guns
  • Staff and heavy mortar company Infantry Regiment 62

During the afternoon the Commander personally, from the most forward lines, led an attack to take Point 209 Ras Mdaauar. The following were planned to attack: armoured battalion Div. Ariete from the south-east Point 182, Regiment 62 of Div.Trento from er Rus (202), towards the east. Objective 209. The IIa of the Corps, Major Schraepler, with a translator and a radio set was used as liaison officer at this regiment. The attack failed because of the hesitant advance of the armoured battalion of Div. Ariete. During a counterattack by some enemy armoured cars 2 companies of Infantry Regiment 62 led themselves be marched off in captivity.[3]


Map of Tobruk Defenses, from the Australian War Memorial’s Official History, Chapter 4.

A landing attempt in Sollum made by a cruiser during the night 14/15 April remained unsuccessful. Also during the night 15/16 April an enemy raid on Sollum with heavy artillery, naval, and air support was repulsed. Own losses 45 men. Only a permanent patrol was left in Sollum due to continuous enemy fire. Continuous air attacks and fire from naval units caused losses to Gruppe Herff.[4]

Written directive to Gruppe Herff regarding offensively organised defense of Sollum see the same.

Early morning reconnaissance by Fliegerfuehrer Afrika noted that 2 transports had left the port of Tobruk. An attack on the large enemy naval unit reported off Bardia and Sollum was not possible due to dust storm.

Directives from the O.K.W. regarding their appreciation of the situation, see the same.

[1]This was the so-called battle of the Tarigo convoy, named after the command vessel of the escort, Navigatori-class destroyer Luca Tarigo. The whole convoy was lost, including all the escorts. The destroyer’s commander, Commander Pietro de Cristofaro, and its Chief Engineer, Luca Balsofiore, received posthumous Gold Medals for Valor for the action, during which Tarigo sank the Tribal-class destroyer HMS Mohawk. More detail on the battle, and the shifting historical views, can be found at this linkthis link, and this link. The Italian Wikipedia (at this link) has good maps.


Luca Tarigo pre-war, after the first set of structural modifications, showing quite well the forward and centre twin-turrets with their 120mm guns.

[2]Some of the material was recovered later, since all the vessels sank in shallow waters. Signals battalion 33 also had two command tanks on strength.

[3]The whole desaster is quite well described on p.164 onwards of the Official History of the Australian Army, at this link (opens PDF)

[4]See this link for more detail about these actions.

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