Fuel Allocation Request – Artillery Regiment 33

There is a lot of talk about how the desert required higher fuel allocations than foreseen for the German forces, but very little evidence of how this worked out in detail. I have just now come across some information in my files, which I will post below.

First a bit of background. Fuel was by far the most urgent and heaviest (by weight) of items in the German supply requirements. In the context of the desert war, fuel was crucial – no fuel, no movement of anything. The armies in the desert were dependent on trucks for moving supplies, and no attempt to ameliorate the situation by using coastal shipping, railways, or pipelines (all of which were used), could do more than lessen the requirement. 

Fuel was needed to carry everything, including fuel. The further away from supply entry points an army got, the worse the ratio of useful load/fuel use got. In the German case, the Panzergruppe  Command estimated that 1kg delivered to the port of Bardia was equivalent to 6kg delivered to Tripoli harbour, which should be read that to deliver 1kg of goods from Tripoli to Bardia, 5kg of fuel were needed – in other words it was hugely inefficient. 

Furthermore, for any movement off the main coastal road (which was in quality comparable to European roads), fuel consumption went through the roof. Moving vehicles of any type in desert terrain was not easy on the fuel use.

Finally, German fuel logistics were based on the concept of Verbrauchssaetze (loosely: ‘consumption units’), which used a set unit of output to determine a supply requirement. For fuel, this was the amount of fuel needed to move the vehicle 100km of distance. For weapons, it was called Ausstattung, and was the ammunition quota needed to carry out about 3-4 days of combat. For those wanting to know more, you can have a look at this link.

Now, after this explanation, here is the short but informative request, translated from a captured document, and found in WO208/3173 in the UK National Archives in Kew:

REPORT OF PARTIAL FUEL REQUIREMENTS (10 DAYS)

26 September 41: Artillery Regiment 33 reports to the 15. Panzerdivision

The 3,100 liter allowed to the Rgt. for every ten days is insufficient. The Rgt. asks for a raise of the allotment according to  the following key:

Water supply: 1,850 liter
Ration collections: 650 liter
Post collection: 350 liter
Fuel, ammunition, and spares collection: 360 liter
Evacuation of the sick: 650 liter
Inspection drives: 320 liter
Battery chargers: 700 liter

Total: 4,880 liter

Some items of note here. AR33 was stationary during the period in question. It’s supply point was Bardia, while it was stationed east/south of Bardia. The high number of fuel requirement for evacuation of the sick may reflect the high incidence of sickness in Panzergruppe during this period.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7a/Bundesarchiv_Bild_101I-782-0006-22%2C_Nordafrika%2C_Nachschub%2C_Soldaten_mit_Feldflaschen.jpg

Delivery of supplies in North Africa, March/April 1941, courtesy of the Bundesarchiv via Wikimedia.

A little analysis shows that the requirement was about 57% higher than the allocation. Water supply was by far the highest requirement, at 38% of the new requirement, and almost 60% of the original allocation. What is interesting is the high requirement for battery charging – not something one reads a lot about in the context of military logistics in WW2. It’s over 14% of the new requirement, and almost 23% of the original allocation.

Sidi Rezegh After Action Report – 3./Flak 33

I have previously posted the some AARs on the pivotal battle of the campaign, the destruction of the Allied forces on the Sidi Rezegh landing ground on Sunday of the Dead, 23 November 1941. The report by Ariete Division’s di Nisio column can be found at this link, and that of 6 NZ Brigade at this link.

The report below is from one of the less glamorous German units, an anti-aircraft battery that was subordinated to 15. Panzerdivision’s armoured regiment, Panzerregiment 8. It provided the link between the advancing Panzerregiment on the right (east) and Ariete’s column on the left, during the final attack on Sidi Rezegh.

The battery was equipped with four 8.8cm dual-purpose guns and supported by 2cm light AA guns. More information from a period document can be found at this link.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fd/Bundesarchiv_Bild_101I-443-1574-26,_Nordafrika,_Flakgesch%C3%BCtz.jpg

German 88mm AA gun in firing position in North Africa, June 1942 (courtesy Bundesarchiv via Wikimedia Commons) 

 

COMBAT REPORT

Concerning combat actions of 3./Flakregt.33

from 19 November to 15 December 1941

From 19 November, at the time the code word “Hochwasser” (High Water) was transmitted, 3./Flakregiment 33 was subordinated to Panzerregiment 8 for mobile use. After moving into the concentration area and following that into the alarm area, the following combat actions took place from 20 November:

[…]

23 November Afternoon

1.) Subordination: I./Pz.8[1]

2.) Task: as on 20 November 1941[2]

3.) Operation and combat activity: During the afternoon of this day strong enemy forces were attacked in the same area[3]. The battery was tasked on the left wing of the armoured battalion, and on its own left was connecting to the Italian division Ariete[4] which also attacked. Because of the fast advance of our tanks, as well as dispersedly positioned enemy infantry the battery could, due to the intense MG and rifle fire, not keep up the connection to our tanks. On the other hand the advance of Ariete proceeded only slowly, so that the gap between the two armoured units continued to increase. The enemy recognized this situation and attempted to enter into the gap with a group of tanks supported by infantry, to disturb the attack from the flank. The battery therefore drew all the enemy fire in this space onto itself. Despite strongest opposition it held its position to the beginning of dusk, and thereby prevented the realization of the enemy’s intentions.

4.) Successes:

Destruction of:
5 Cruiser Mk. IV
2 Armoured Cars
1 artillery battery in firing position
20 trucks
1 MG position.

Enemy infantry was engaged with airbursts and fire from 2cm guns.

5.) Ammunition used:

66 AT Shells
33 HE shells contact fuse
36 HE shells timed fuse

6.) Losses

a) Personnel:
1 NCO and 1 OR KIA
1 Off. wounded
7 OR wounded

b) Materiel
1 prime mover with special trailer Type 201 destroyed by direct artillery hit 

Notes

[1]1st Battalion Panzerregiment 8
[2]Task: Support armoured attack and defense against enemy armour acting as tank accompanying battery.
[3]Given as 20km south-east of El Adem. 
[4]Di Nisio column 


 

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3b/Burnt-out_88_mm_Flak_36_near_El_Alamein_1942.jpg

Destroyed 88mm AA gun with prime mover (Sdkfz.7) and Sonderanhaenger 201, El Alamein 1942. Courtesy of Australian War Memorial via Wikimedia.

Bender & Law Correction to their “Uniforms Organization and History of the Afrikakorps”

This is coming from a discussion at the AHF at this link. Basically DavidW was wondering why Bender & Law have a company of Fla-Btl 617 in North Africa in 1941 that he has only present after March. DavidR helpfully provided the exact text from p. 114., which I have copied below, although I have reformatted it for easier reading, and added some explanations in the ‘Branch’ and ‘Strength’ columns:

KAMPFGRUPPE MENNY
“Kampfgruppe Menny” was formed prior to, or shortly after the opening phases of the assault on the Gazala Line (December 13-16, 1941). A second “Kampfgruppe Menny” was formed around April 2, 1943 (47)

Unit Notes Bender & Law Branch Strength
2./Panzer-Regiment 8 (one platoon of Pzkw IVs) Tanks 1 company (22 tanks)
3./Panzerjager-Abteilung 33 AT 1 company (12 guns)
Panzer-Aufklaerungs-Abteilung 33 Recce 1 battalion
Teile Panzer-Nachrichten-Abteilung 78 Signals Elements
II./Schutzen-Regiment 115 Infantry 1 battalion (3 rifle coys)
I./Artillerie-Regiment 33 artillery 1 battalion (12 how)
III./Artillerie-Regiment 33 artillery 1 battalion (8 how/4 guns)
1./Flak-Abteilung 18 (Luftwaffe) Anti Aircraft Artillery 1 battery (4 guns)
3./Flak-Abteilung 617 Anti Aircraft Artillery 1 company (12 guns)
one Panzer-Abteilung of Division Ariete tanks 1 battalion (52 tanks)
one Batterie Sfl. from Division Ariete Artillery 1 battery (4 SP guns)
one Kr. K.W.-Zug Ambulance 1 platoon
one Horch-Zug Signals (radio intercept) 1 platoon

  
The footnote (47) above states:
“Microfilm Publication T315, roll 666, frame 001272, and The Relief of Tobruk, pp. 499-500”.

David adds:

The reference in the New Zealand OH above does not mention any of the German units of Kampfgruppe Menny other than “the composite battalion of 115 Infantry Regiment”. It is merely a two page account of the destruction of 1st Bn, The Buffs at Point 204 on December 15th.

Now for the errata:

1) The document on which this OOB is based is indeed numbered correctly, but explicitly states that it refers to the organisation of KG Menny on 22 April, when it was established to backstop a forward push of Italian infantry division Brescia with the aim to prevent continued deep recce advances by Empire forces into the southern flank of the Axis position.  Bender and Law made some errors transcribing the OOB, which are corrected below.

Unit Notes (note in bold differs from Bender & Law) Branch Strength
2./Panzer-Regiment 8 reinforced by one platoon of Pzkw IVs Tanks 1 company (22 Panzer III, 4 Panzer IV)
3./Panzerjager-Abteilung 33 AT 1 company (12 guns)
Panzer-Aufklaerungs-Abteilung 33 Without armoured platoon, reinforced by one platoon 3./Panzerjaeger 33 Recce 1 battalion
Teile Panzer-Nachrichten-Abteilung 78 Signals Elements
II./Schutzen-Regiment 115 without II./SR115   Infantry 1 battalion (3 rifle coys)
I./Artillerie-Regiment 33 artillery 1 battalion (12 light field how)
III./Artillerie-Regiment 33 artillery 1 battalion
(4 light how/4 heavy how/4 guns)
1./Flak-Abteilung 18 (Luftwaffe) Anti Aircraft Artillery 1 battery (4 guns)
3./Flak-Abteilung 617 Anti Aircraft Artillery 1 company (12 guns)
one Panzer-Abteilung of Division Ariete tanks 1 battalion (52 tanks)
one Batterie Sfl. from Division Ariete Artillery 1 battery (4 SP guns)
one Kr. K.W.-Zug Ambulance 1 platoon
one Horch-Zug Signals 1 platoon

2) The major error in Bender & Law is to not be clear on what their OOB refers to, i.e. the first or second formation of KG Menny. KG Menny was first formed before the first battle in the Gazala line opened, the order for its establishment was given by D.A.K. on the evening of 11 December 1941.

3) The OOB in December 1941 was rather different altogether from that of April 1942, and is set out below. This is based on the war diaries, D.A.K. and 15. Pz.Div., as well as various reports in T315 roll 666. The table below does not reflect the initial strength, but rather the best available information on its strength during the attack on 5 Indian Brigade on 15 December 1941, which led to the destruction of The Buffs.

Unit Branch Strength
Panzer-Regiment 8 Tanks 5x Panzer II
16x Panzer III
2x Panzer IV
2x Large Command Tank
Panzer-Regiment 5 (Company Rocholl) Tanks 2x Panzer II
6x Panzer III
1x Large Command Tank
3./Panzerjager-Abteilung 33 AT 7-12 Pak 38 5cm, 1 Pak 35 3.7cm
MG Battalion 2 with one light battery AR33 subordinated Infantry (motorised) 4 coys, including one support coy, but probably very weakened due to losses outside Tobruk.
4x light howitzer
I./Artillerie-Regiment 33 (2. and 3. Battery, subordinated 9./AR33 and 6./AR155) artillery 1 reinforced battalion (12 light field how, 4 heavy field how)
Elements I./Flak-Abteilung 33 (Luftwaffe) Anti Aircraft Artillery 3 batteries:
4x 88mm (3. Battery)
12-20x 20mm (4./5. Battery, some subordinated to MG2 and II./SR115)
In support:
II./AR33 Artillery 12x light howitzer
II./Schuetzen Regiment 115 Infantry (motorised) 1 reinforced battalion

German Tank Arrivals in North Africa

Many thanks to user nmao on the AHF for putting all this information together in this thread. I have turned this into a more readable Excel table, and done some calculations and added some notes to the information. Hope people find this of interest. Sorry if the table is a bit difficult to read, but you can easily copy it out into Word or Excel and work with it.

German Tanks Sent to North Africa 1941 – 1943

Date

Type

Notes

Pz I

Pz II

Pz III

Pz IV

Tiger

Command Tanks

Small

large

10-11 March 41

25

45

61

17

0

3

4

PR 5
8-10 March 41

0

0

10

3

0

0

0

PR 5 – all burned in Naples
18 – 21 March 41

4

0

0

0

0

0

0

PzJg Abt. 605

10-May-41

25

0

0

0

0

0

0

PR 8
25 Apr – 6 May 41

0

45

71

20

0

4

6

PR 8
10 – 14 Apr 41

0

0

10

3

0

0

0

PR 5 – replacement for burned tanks.
July – August 41

0

0

15

5

0

0

0

PR 5 – assigned 4 June by Heereszeugamt, for initial losses
July – August 41

0

4

6

0

0

0

0

PR5 & PR 8 – assigned 30 June by Heereszeugamt for initial losses
July – August 41

0

0

4

0

0

0

0

PR5 & PR 8 – assigned 30 June by Heereszeugamt for initial losses

13-Dec-41

0

5

17

0

0

0

0

3./PR5 sunk on Carlo del Greco/Fabio Filzi

13-Dec-41

0

6

17

0

0

0

0

7./PR5 sunk on Carlo del Greco/Fabio Filzi

19-Dec-41

0

5

17

0

0

0

0

3./PR8 delivered on Ankara at Benghazi

19-Dec-41

0

6

17

0

0

0

0

7./PR8 delivered on Napoli at Tripoli
4 Mar 42Jan – May 42

0

0

3

20

2

211

0

49

0

0

0

0

0

4

Sunk on Marin Sanudo (not assigned)
PR 5 & 8 (incl. first Pz III w/long 50mm)
Jan – May 42

0

10

34

0

0

0

0

3. & 7./PR5 replacement for tanks lost 13 Dec 41

May-42

0

0

0

9

0

0

0

PR 5 – Pz IV equipped with the long 75mm gun

Jun-42

0

0

0

1

0

0

1

PR 5 & 8
Jul – Aug 42

0

0

76

0

0

0

0

PR 5 & 8
Jul – Aug 42

0

0

0

20

0

0

0

PR 5 & 8 Pz IV G with long 75mm gun

08-Nov-42

0

0

6

0

0

0

0

PzAbt 190 at Benghazi
12-22 nov 42

0

7

46

10

0

0

2

Pz Abt 190
23 Nov 42 – 24 Jan 43

0

0

25

0

20

0

0

sPzAbt 501 at Bizerte and Tunis (a few)- Pz III are M version with short 75mm
27 Nov 5 – Dec 42

0

19

89

8

0

0

6

PR7 at Tunis

03-Dec-42

0

2

16

12

0

0

3

PR7 – sunk

15-Jan-43

0

0

21

17

0

0

0

PzAbt Gruen (later I./PR5)
12 Mar – 16 Apr 43

0

0

19

0

11

0

0

sPzAbt 504 at Tunis and Bizerte – Pz III are M version with short 75mm
early Apr 43

0

0

2

8

0

0

0

3./PR Hermann Goering
Nov 42 – May 43

0

0

31

97

0

0

0

Unclear
Nov 42 – May 43

0

0

16

28

0

0

0

Unclear – Sunk
Total sent

54

177

839

307

31

7

26

Total Pz III & IV sent    1,146
Total Lost in Transit

0

16

78

43

0

0

3

Total Received

54

161

761

264

31

7

23

Total Pz III & IV Received    1,025

Sources:

User nmao on Axis History Forum
Will Phelbs Panzer IV Universe

The Battle for 1 Army Tank Brigade’s Repair Shop

The ‘Dash to the Wire’, with which Rommel aimed to win the battle, produced many curious incidents. One of the stranger ones was a tank battle for a repair shop, between 16 Matildas in various stages of repair, and the full strength of German Panzerregiment 8 of 15. Panzerdivision, with a strength of 16/34/6 Panzer II/III/IV, and supported by 88mm AA guns.

The first few days of Operation CRUSADER had been hard on the Brigade, and it had lost almost half of the 132 infantry tanks in the initial assault on the frontier strongpoints and in support of 2 New Zealand Division. On 22 November, the assault by 42 RTR (minus C Squadron, with B Squadron 44 RTR under command) on ‘The Omars’ (see this contemporary analysis) had cost the Brigade 46 out of 51 tanks participating, and caused severe personnel losses of 5 officers and 22 men killed, and 1 offier and 21 men wounded, with 3 more men missing. The proportion of almost 1.3:1 killed to wounded might indicate the ferocity of the fighting, and that many of the tanks which were shot up were being hit by the very powerful German 88mm AA gun. Many of the tanks were recoverable though, and had been brought to the L.R.S. (local repair shop – thanks to Wills on WW2 Talk for this). On 23 November, 8 RTR lost 2 tanks in B Squadron when this supported the attack by 5 NZ Brigade on Sollum, and 16 in C Squadron in support of 6 NZ Brigade when Point 175 was taken – this was equivalent to the strength of the whole squadron (see also this older post). On 24 November, another Matilda of 42 RTR was lost, and Squadron Commander Major R.M. Rawlins killed, when the remaining 5 Matildas of the regiment engaged (and seriously delayed) the advancing Panzerregiment 5 of 21. Panzerdivision at the Bir Sherferzen gap in the wire. Total losses therefore amounted to at least 65 of 132 tanks by 23 November.

Located in a convenient and supposedly safe location west of Sidi Omar, was the repair shop of 1 Army Tank Brigade. The fitters were busy, with 16 of the recoverable Matilda II tanks standing around in various stages of repair/unfitness for service. Of these, 6 had been brought to runner status, and another was expected to be ready by the evening.

Before this was achieved however, Panzerregiment 8 hit the L.R.S. and destroyed it. The entry in its war diary reads as follows:

West of Sidi Omar Panzer Regiment 8 reports strong enemy grouping with Mk.II [Matilda].

In an energetic attack, Lt.Col. Cramer leads the regiment against it. The 1st Battalion attacks frontally, while the 2nd Battalion hits the left flank of the opponent.

The Flak is tasked on the right wing. After a tough fire fight, carried out on shortest distance, all 16 attacking Mk. II are shot up, and a number of prisoners are brought in, which belong to the 6th English Army Tank Regiment.[1]

What really happened was slightly different. It is reported in an account by the R.A.O.C. commander of 1 Army Tank Brigade, written on 10 December 1941:

On afternoon of 25th, a mobile enemy column with tanks made a concentrated attack on the L.R.S. The tanks were manned by R.T.R. personnel, and a battle for 1 ½ hours ensued, during which 2 German Mk. III tanks had been knocked out and also a large ammunition lorry. Seven R.T.R. personnel were killed, and the remainder of the personnel of the L.R.S. and O.F.P. managed to disperse with their vehicles. The L.R.S. anti-tank rifle was in use for most of the battle. Very few of the L.R.S. and O.F.P. have been located beyond the O.C. L.R.S. and 42 men, and the O.C. O.F.P. and 10 men; it is therefore assumed that on dispersal with their vehicles, these men must have met other portions of the enemy column and were captured.

The German column apparently made camp in the L.R.S. area (6 miles west of Sidi Omar) and created further destruction to the tanks and equipment of the L.R.S.

Attempts were made to contact the L.R.S. site but A.F.V’s of the enemy were met; on 30th November the Bde O.M.E. made contact and with a small party surveyed the damage and buried one R.T.R. driver who had been locked inside a tank.

The war diary of 15. Panzerdivision confirms the loss of 2 Panzer III and 1 Panzer II during the day. Since it did not engage in other tank combat, it is probable that the claim by the L.R.S. is correct. It is also interesting to note that the German regiment made a text-book attack, which of course came off very successfully, since the opponent was fighting with both arms tied behind his back.

The incident was quickly recounted, already during the war in the book ‘With Pennants Flying’, which deals with combat by army tank units. Bryan Perrett in his book ‘Through the Mud and the Blood’ also recounts this episode. This contains an eyewitness account by Trooper Leslie Bowie of 7 R.T.R. (a veteran of Dunkirk, COMPASS, and the summer battles around Sollum), who was engaged in tank delivery, and on wireless watch at the site.

It was very hot and all I wore was boots, shorts, beret, and my revolver around my waist. Suddenly I heard a series of shells exploding. I whipped off the headphones and ran to the back of the lorry I was in. There were black puffs of shell-bursts everywhere, men were frantically throwing equipment into lorries and trucks, and in the distance, hull down, were German Mark III’s and IV’s who’d really caught us napping. The tank crews of the 42nd‘s non-runners were jumping aboard their tanks to fight it out, even though much of their ammunition and equipment was stacked outside to facilitate the repair work. Our truck was first off, closely followed by every vehicle that could be got out, and the first 2-pounders started firing back. These crews fought a very gallant action with no hope at all, but they saved us.

Bowie came back shortly after and found no survivors, and the dead in a position that made him believe they had been shot in cold blood, maybe because of the unnecessary casualties their resistance had caused to the Germans. As in his account, in ‘With Pennants Flying’ it is also claimed that it looked as if the Germans had shot R.T.R. personnel who had surrendered. But the primary sources I am looking at do not confirm this, and I am inclined to discard this view of events.

Apart from the loss of the tanks, 42 RTR also suffered heavily in personnel. Lt. M.C.Ebutt was wounded, while Lt. J.B.Wrangham, 2/Lt. L.J.Hotson and 40 other ranks were missing. Also captured were 2/Lt. D.J.Slingsby of Bde. Coy RASC, and 2/Lt.R.L.Bertram of the O.F.P. Capt. R.Nixon of Bde. HQ was captured while travelling from HQ to the RASC.

In total, the regiment had managed to lose, in just three days in action, almost 90% of the tanks it started with (the arrival of ‘C’ Squadron on 25 November made up for about half the losses), and about 10-15% of its total personnel, and 20% of those it went into battle with. A brutal welcome to the realities of war for the regiment.

 

[1] It is notable that the Germans thought they were being attacked by these tanks, and more so given the fact that they must have noticed afterwards that they had been in combat with semi-hulks. It is also interesting that they believed the POWs to be from 6 RTR – while it is possible that members of that regiment were at the L.R.S., if they had been dispersed and joined in the general rush east on 23 November – the 6 RTR war diary nevertheless states that the regimental remains moved along the divisional axis (i.e. south, not east) on 23 November.

Losses of 15. Panzerdivision during CRUSADER

I am in the fortunate position to have a copy of the whole of 15. Panzerdivision’s war diary for the period thanks to a fellow researcher. At the end of it, there is an overview of the losses suffered by the division during CRUSADER and the counter-offensive. It is quite instructive, especially in terms of officer losses, which seem very heavy to me.

Overview of Losses of the Whole Division
Time Period Killed Wounded Missing Comment
18 Nov to 31 Dec 435 (43) 1,361 (52) 1,820 (35) Main battle, loss of Tobruk, retreat to Agheila
1 Jan to 12 Jan 2 5 1 Establishment in Mersa el Brega Position
13 Jan to 20 Jan 1 4 (2) 9 (1) Static Defense in Mersa el Brega Position
21 Jan to 26 Jan 11 (2) 41 (4) 1 Counter-Offensive towards Msus
27 Jan to 2 Feb 8 (1) 23 (2) 7 Battle for Benghazi & the Jebel
3 Feb to 10 Feb 4 4 Move up to the Gazala line
Halfaya Pass 280 (3) 1./SR104
11 Feb to 20 Feb 23 (1) 48 (1) 15 (1) Static Defense in Gazala Line
Total 480 (47) 1,486 (63) 2,137 (40) Total for division 4,103 (150)

Number in brackets officer casualties, contained in total number.

Of particular note is the very small number of officers in the battalion lost at Halfaya when the position surrendered on 17 January 1942. In total the division lost six battalion commanders, one regimental or battalion commander (Lt.Col. Zinke – maybe someone can confirm his command?), and its General Officer commanding, killed, wounded or missing.

Of further note is the very high share of officers killed, compared to those wounded, or missing (10%/4%/2%). Probably something about officers leading from the front.

On 10 February the unfilled positions compared to war establishment in the division amounted to 6,201 (159 officers). The discrepancy could be due to sick/evacuated, and maybe the division was a bit understrength before the start of the battle. On 11 February the division reported a ration strength (this includes sick and those on holidays, as well a subordinated units drawing supplies from the division I believe) of 5,354. If this number is combined with the understrength figure, we arrive at a war establishment of 11,555, which is probably not unrealistic, and of which 54% were not present. Indeed, on 11 November the division reported a ration strength of 12,160.

Five Knights Crosses seem to have been awarded for the battle, to Colonels Menny and and Crassmann on 26 December 41, Captain Wani on 6 January 42, First Lieutenant Struckmann on 21 January 1941, and posthumously to Major Fenski on 2 January 42 (he fell on Totensonntag).

Rommel on his way to losing CRUSADER?

This is from NARA, but their caption reads it is from 24 January or November 1941 “General Rommel bei der 15. Panzer-Division zwischen Tobruk und Sidi Omar. General Rommel with the 15th Panzer Division between Tobruk and Sidi Omar. Libya, January or November 24,1941.: ca. 1946 – ca. 1946”.

Let’s assume they would mean 24 January 1942, not 41 (since 1941 is clearly not possible), and that they were not sure about the location, the context of the picture would change dramatically.  In the first case it would be Rommel off to one of the biggest mistakes he made in the war, the “dash to the wire” after winning the battle of Totensonntag on Sidi Rezegh airfield, while in the second it would be him off to pull victory from the teeth of defeat in the second conquest of Cyrenaica.

Of course, if the location is correct, it can only be 24 November 41.

It certainly looks like a winter picture, but which month is it? Does anyone know?

From US NARA Digital Archive Site

From US NARA Digital Archive Site