1. Enemy Behaviour 31 January 1942
The British retreat from Cyrenaica continued under the protection of strong rearguards. While enemy forces (of 1st Armoured Division) at and north of El Charruba were pushed back relatively quickly, the rearguard at Maraua (elements 5th Indian Brigade) stood its ground determinedly until the evening. According to radio reconnaissance 11th Indian Brigade area Beda Littoria, 1st Armoured Division intends retreat to er Crima (40km south-east Mechili).
2. Impression based on prisoner interrogations
- 7th Indian Brigade held defense belt south of Benghazi
- 1st Welch of 5th Brigade was pulled forward to Sceleidima on 23 January, the other battalions of 5th Indian Brigade remained near Barce, since they were immobile.
- 8 R.T.R. only elements arrived in Benghazi, armed with I-Tank Mk. III
- Many prisoners from 4/11 Sikhs, 4/16 Punjab. Subordination 7th South African Field Regiment to 2nd Armoured Brigade confirmed.
Enemy Behaviour 30 January 1942
Rearward movement of the opponent in Cyrenaica was noted through air reconnaissance also today. During the noon hours El Abiar was occupied
without enemy resistance. Only 11th Indian Brigade remains in the area Maraua and south of it, and maybe remnants of the damaged 5th and 7th Indian Brigades, while 1st Armoured Division retreated further east via Mechili. The airfields west of a line Mechili – Derna were reported unoccpied by air reconnaissance.
Overall impression: Opponent apparently
at least evacuates the central Cyrenaica.
Panzerarmee Afrika Ic
Enemy Activity on 29 January 1942
The advance of Kampfgruppe Marcks towards Bengazi and of the Italian motorised Corps via Sceleidima, Solluch and Ghemines caused strong elements of the 4th Indian Division (5th, 7th Indian Brigades) to be beaten and dispersed. Numerous prisoners were made. Thus far inestimable booty, especially of ammunition, weapons and motor vehicles was secured.
Single enemy groupings managed to evade towards north-east and east.
Based on air and radio reconnaissance the impression has been gained that the remnants of 1st Armoured Division, thus far suspected in the area east of Charruba, are retreating towards Mechili. The reconnaissance battalion recognised in the area north-east of Bir el Melezz (11th Hussars) also has given the order to retire to its patrols. 11th Indian Brigade is still in the area east of Barce.
Panzerarmee Afrika Ic
The enemy forces engaged at and south of Benghazi – 7th Indian Brigade – were reinforced during the night 27/28 January and during the day 28 January. According to radio reconnaissance, 5th Indian Brigade – until now in the area south of Barce – is now placed in positions south of Benghazi. 8th Army Tank Battalion was brought up via Tocra in the early morning hours, to secure the defense position. Around 3 pm the enemy group at Sceleidima was beaten back, while Solluch and Ghemines remained occupied by the enemy. A German battle group advanced from the area Msus via Benina to 15 km east of Benghazi. 11th Indian Brigade – until now in the area west of Derna – took over security tasks of 5th Indian Brigade in the area Maraua. An advance by reconnaissance forces of 1st Armoured Division, from the northeast in the direction of B. el Melezz, was parried by the forces of the D.A.K. in that area.
Apart from some patrol activity in the area north and northwest of Msus today no contact with the enemy. According to radio reconnaissance, 11th Indian Brigade, which was until now in the area Derna and west of it, from the evening of 26 January stands in the area Maraua – d’Annuzio and south of there.
Otherwise enemy grouping as the previous day. According to radio reconnaissance two reconnaissance battalions (11th Hussars and Royals) were subordinated by 13 Corps to the heavily hit 1st Armoured Division.
Enemy Behaviour on 26 Jan 1942
Remnants of 1st Armoured Division, which had been defeated on 25 January at and south of Msus have apparently retreated via the line el Gharruba – el Abiar. In this line cover from 5th Indian Brigade, lying south of Barce. 7th Indian Infantry Brigade, placed south of Benghazi, has pushed mobile combat groups forward into the line Sceleidima – Solluch – Ghemines. According to aerial reconnaissance, reinforcements are being brought into Cyrenaica. Radio interception reports on 25 January for the first time appearance of 1st Light French Division in the area west of Derna. In the area of Mechili only a weak enemy group has been detected. According to an intercepted radio communication, an enemy advance from the area of Benghazi in south-easterly direction is intended in case of further German advance into the direction of Mechili. On the other hand there is noticeable strong disagreement amongst British commands due to the recent defeat. Due this it is not possible to exclude an evacuation of Benghazi in the coming days.
Also today the German motorised forces advancing on Msus inflicted extremely heavy losses on 1st Armoured Division. The following were captured or destroyed:
- 96 tanks and armoured cars, including some American models built in 1941
- 38 guns
- a large number of motor vehicles,
- ammunition dumps and equipment
- 10 planes were shot down or destroyed on the ground
According to aerial reconnaissance the remains of 1st Armoured Division retreated north and north-east in flight, apparently on Mechili. There according to radio reconnaissance the command of 13 Corps. The reconnaissance forces planed in the line Sceleidima – Solluch – Ghemines (Central India Horse and 1st Welch Regt.) have pulled back their forward elements in the area of Beda Fomm, except for patrols. According to aerial reconnaissance around noon north of Tobruk with westerly course 5 freighters with 8 destroyers. At the same time motor vehicle concentrations near Tobruk. From there heavy traffic to the west. Radio reconnaissance establishes a command of 1st Light Free French Division west of Derna.