1. Enemy Behaviour on 3 February 1942
Today 4th Indian Division retreated via Derna to Tmimi, covered by rear guards of 5th Indian Brigade at Gasr el Carmysa, Martha, and Si. Umm er Rzem. During the evening hours still combat south of Si. Umm er Rzem. 1st Armoured Division also, at least with elements, retreated from Mechili 40km east.
2. A Polish POW taken near Martuba states: strength French Brigade 5,000 Polish, 900 Czech. In Tobruk there are 3 battalions of French.
3. Assessment of the currently available enemy formations in North Africa
British defensive line in the triangle Tobruk – Ain el Gazala – B. Hacheim is being established. Available for this: heavily hit 1st Armoured Division and 4th Indian Division, Polish Brigade, 1st South African Division (one brigade), 150th Brigade, 1st French Light Brigade, 22nd Armoured Brigade (in replenishment), 70th Division with remains 32nd Army Tank Brigade tied down as Tobruk garrison, 2nd South African Division tied down as garrison Bardia and Sollum front. Therefore available for mobile defense line west of Tobruk at present: about 150 tanks, 18 battalions, 9 light and 3 medium artillery regiments.
In Item 1 the original sentence stated that there was still combat at Si. Umm er Rzem, but then ‘at’ and ‘still’ were struck out and replaced by an unreadable insert, reproduced below. Thanks to Matti for solving this!
Item 2. was added by hand to the typed report. It should refer to the Polish Brigade, but that is not what is written there. Many thanks to Horst Weber and his mother who helped decipher the handwriting on this thread.
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.
Enemy Behaviour 19 January 1942
Enemy armed reconnaissance with focus south B. es Suera and east of B. el Ginn. Established presence of 20 tanks there. Along the whole front weak artillery fire. On both sides Via Balbia noticed 5 batteries.
Also today 1st Armoured Division brought up further in south-westerly direction. 1st Support Group inserted itself by this move between 7th Support Group and 200th Guards Brigade.
Aerial reconnaissance noticed no enemy movements south of the Uadi al Faregh, other than the enemy reconnaissance battalion east of Burruei.
On 18 January 12 prisoners from 2 K.R.R.C. were brought in from opposite the sector of the Trento division.
Enemy Behaviour on 18 January 1942
Along the whole front normal reconnaissance activity and weak artillery fire on the northern sector. The opponent pushed closer towards the Italian positions at and north of B.es Suera and on both sides of the Via Balbia. Thus far two enemy batteries were recognised northwest B.el Ginn and 2-3 batteries on both sides of the Via Balbia (6km east Marsa el Brega). South of B.es Suera only reconnaissance forces in the area forward of our lines. According to aerial photo reconnaissance 800 vehicles (amongst them 80 tanks) are in the area north M.el Mensci and at R.el Gtafia 600 vehicles, while in the until now more heavily occupied area south and south-east of Agedabia only occasional vehicle groups were recognised. Based on this the mass of 1st Armoured Division has pushed further south-west. According to radio reconnaissance the 7th South African Field Artillery Regiment – until now at the Bardia front – is now appearing under 2nd Armoured Brigade.
Overall impression: The enemy appears to concentrate for a planned attack with focus between B. es Suera and B. el Ginn.