D.A.K. War Diary 26 April 1941

D.A.K. War Diary 26 April 1941

26 April 1941

Weather Situation: max. temp. 30 degrees C, from 11.00 hours to 14.00 hours dust storm[1]

Arrival and Departure of Subordinated Troops:

Of Div. Trento arrived in Acroma:

Regimental staff plus 2nd and 3rd battalions Artillery Regiment 46

On Tobruk front on both sides active reconnaissance and patrol activity. On the left wing of M.G.Batl.8[2] the enemy had cut an about 60m wide gap into the wire during the night 25/26 April. 5.lei.Div. took care to keep it under vigilant observation, also during the dust storm. One company of Pz.Regt.5 was placed behind it. An English reconnaissance patrol coming through this breach around mid-day was completely shot up by the tanks. During the evening hours 5.lei.Div. reported that the gap had now been closed again.

Nordafrika, Panzer III in Fahrt

German Panzer III tanks advancing in North Africa, 1941. Most likely Panzerregiment 5. Courtesy Wikimedia/Bundesarchiv Bildarchiv

14.30 hours a reconnaissance push by four enemy tanks from the area north of 209 to the west was repulsed by our artillery fire.[3]

Around 12.00 hours 5.lei.Div. reported that a patrol of Gruppe Schwerin had noted an English landing attempt about 15km east of Marsa Zeitum[4]. The division already doubted the report. A combat-capable reconnaissance in company strength was sent there and could only note a small vessel that moved west away from the coast.

Concerning the attack of Gruppe Herff[5] to take Halfaya Pass the following reports were received:

15.00 hours: “Moves to attack enemy south of Sollum commenced at 13.00 hours. Enveloping move is intended, advancing east of Point 206.”

19.00 hours: “17.45 hours enemy position east Uadi el Halfaya south-east Point 194 occupied by AT, tanks and artillery.
Gruppe Herff attacking in enveloping move south, takes position and holds it.”

24.00 hours: “Our attack pushed close to coast. Strong artillery reinforcement.New opponent from southwest evades encirclement by moving off north towards Capuzzo.”[6]


Halfaya Pass. Courtesy of Wikimedia.

[1]The war diary of 1 R.T.R. states this blew ‘all day’. The Australian Official History says it reduced visibility to 300 yards.

[2]On the eastern front of Tobruk.

[3]There is nothing about this in the Allied war diaries.

[4]Between Tobruk and Bardia.

[5]Operation Wendepunkt (Turning Point).

[6]The AWM Official History describes it thus:

The pass was bombed and machine-gunned on the evening of the 25th and on the 26th Herff’s force launched an attack against it. The ensconced infantry held to their positions, but their front was narrow and lacked flank protection. Enemy infiltrating along the escarpment threatened to outflank them. The anti-tank gunners of the 12th Battery[7] took part in the battle in an infantry-gun role, using high-explosive shell. Sergeant Templeman’s gun registered a direct hit on an enemy field gun as it was coming into action .


A captured Boehler 47mm AT gun being inspected by Australian soldiers at Tocra, Libya, in early 1941. Courtesy Australian War Memorial, Collection number 020088

After dark the withdrawal plan was put into effect and the code words issued. The 2/Scots Guards established a delaying line from Buq Buq to Alam el Dab, two miles west of Sidi Barrani, through which the forward battalions withdrew. The 12th Battery guns covered the withdrawals of the battalions they were supporting. The two companies of the 1/Durham Light Infantry, covered by Lieutenant Scanlon’s troop, left the Halfaya position at 10.30 p.m., and the rearguard at Salum, with which was Lieutenant Cheetham ‘s troop (less one section), departed at 40 minutes past midnight.

[7]The Battery belonged to 2/3 Australian AT Regiment. Equipped with captured Italian 47mm AT guns. Thanks to user ‘Sheldrake’ on the AHF for pointing this out.