Enemy Behaviour on 24 January 1942
The 1st Armoured Division which is encircled by German – Italian formations in the area east of Agedabia suffered extremely heavy losses during the reduction of the cauldron and in its attempts to break out, especially in the area south of Saunnu. During this operation were destroyed or captured (during the time 21 – 24 January 1942):
- 143 tanks and armoured cars
- 80 guns
- Ground troops shot down 14 planes
- 1,000 prisoners brought in
2 Armoured Brigade 10 Hussars refueling a M3 Stuart tank during operations in January 1942. Rommelsriposte.com collection.
According to aerial and radio reconnaissance the command of 1st Armoured Division is in the area of Msus in the evening hours of today – there are about 700 vehicles in the area – and the heavily hit formations of 1st Armoured Division are in the area north-east of Saunnu – Antelat. No movement noted for the mass of 4th Indian Division. Reinforced reconnaissance forces in the line Sceleidima – Solluch – Ghemines. Weaker forward forces in the line north-west of Antelat – Beda Fomm – Si. Abd el Asti. Aerial reconnaissance reports no specific movements area Bardia – Tobruk – Mechili.
1. Enemy Behaviour 23 January 1942
Elements 2nd Armoured Brigade, 1st Support Group and 200th Guards Brigade encircled in the area Saunnu – 23km south-west Antelat – east of Agedabia – Mn. el Grara. Breakout attempts in north-easterly direction were repulsed. In area Beda Fomm reconnaissance units 4th Indian Division. According to radio reconnaissance in the area 20km north-east Antelat a new formation.
2. Report about number of prisoners and booty to follow.
Enemy Behaviour 21 Jan 1942
The opponent pulled averted the German – Italian attack in flight and retreated up to the line Mn. Mensci – el Gtafia and north of it. By evening 1st Support Group stood in the sector Mn. Mensci up to about 10 km south of Gtafia. Mass 200th Guards Brigade area Gtafia and north of it. Staff near B. el Tombia. According to radio reconnaissance the northern wing of this brigade completely confused.
Luftwaffe attacked during dawn commands of 13th Corps and 1st Armoured Division, as well as successfully enemy concentrations at Ain en Naga and north of it. In this area presumed 2nd Armoured Brigade, which according to radio reconnaissance was not ready for action during the morning due to supply difficulties. Rear services of 1st Armoured Division have received task to be ready for march. Even though according to aerial reconnaissance no rearward moves were noted of the enemy forces in the area el Haselat – Agedabia – Mensci, it has to be expected that during the night the opponent will further retreat in north-easterly direciton.
No details thus far on number of prisoners and booty.
1. Enemy Behaviour 17 January 1942
The enemy reconnaissance battalion in the area Mn. Burruei and south of it was reinforced through tanks (about 1 company). During the course of the afternoon it was repeatedly attacked by the Luftwaffe. Along the whole front apart from reconnaissance activity by both sides no fighting contact. Enemy grouping largely unchanged.
2. Halfaya Front
Commander Sector Halfaya (Lieutenant-General De Giorgis) reported morning 17 January: since during last night no rations arrived, I have had to send a negotiator to discuss surrender. The fighting activity has ceased with the start of the negotiations. All heavy weapons were made unuseable by our own troops. Since 13.00 hours there is no more radio contact with Sector Halfaya.
English wire service reports: Sector Halfaya has surrendered.
Much ink has been spilled over the famous 3./N56 (3rd company, Corps Signals Battalion 56), under the command of Captain Seebohm, Rommel’s radio interception company. I have below appended an actual intercept note, and translated it. Every day there would have been a number of these, which were submitted to the Ic (Staff Officer Intelligence) of Panzergruppe Afrika, and which he used to build the intelligence picture of the enemy’s position, situation, and intent. While relevant information seems to have been passed on immediately, it was also neatly typed up and comments were added (in brackets) based on previous intel results.The example below is of this variety. I am guessing these were handed into the Ic once or twice a day.
The ability to break Empire troop codes and the relative lack of discipline of Empire troop signallers, made it relatively easy to assemble orders of battle, and be well informed about the other side of the hill. You can find a short overview of the history of this unit at this link (note where it refers to FAK621, this would have been 3./N56 in 1941).
|17 Jan 42
||Received 15.00 hours
|Intercepted Radio Message from 3.N.56
|RASC Company of 2nd Armoured Brigade to Supply Officer
||8th Field Regiment (formerly 1st Army Tank Brigade) and 2n S.A. AT Rgt. (formerly Gialo Group) are now with the Brigade. I have ammunition for 8th Field Regiment but not yet for 2nd S.A. AT Rgt.
1. Enemy Behaviour on 15 January 1942
Along the whole front lively reconnaissance activity and weak artillery fire on most forward strongpoints in the sector Mn. Belcleibat – Mersa el Brega. The reconnaissance battalion east of Burruei (12th Lancers) received reinforcements from the area Mn. Bettafal during the day. According to air reconnaissance at and west of Gr. es Sahabi 120 vehicles established. This could be a reconnaissance battalion from E-Force (before Gialo Group). DIvisional command 1st Armoured Division according to radio reconnaissance area Agedabia. According to aerial reconnaissance 2nd Armoured Brigade also confirmed in that area. Overall enemy grouping as yesterday.
2. Halfaya Front
Continued heavy artillery fire by land and naval forces and continuation of air attacks.
Enemy Behaviour 13 January 1942
The British 13 Corps brought up the rear elements of its formations via Giof el Matar – Agedabia in a southwesterly direction. It’s situation is as follows in the evening: 7th Rifle Brigade astride track Mn. Bettafal – B. es Suera. 22nd Guards Brigade with mass in area Rta. el Gtafia – Mn. Tabilba – B. en Ginn, a weaker group southwest B. en Ginn facing southwest. Along the whole front no combat contact thus far apart from reconnaissance activity and weak artillery fire. Mass 2nd Armoured Brigade and 1st Rifle Brigade apparently in area Giof el Matar – Agedabia – el Haselat. In area Mn. Burruei enemy reconnaissance unit, otherwise south Uadi Faregh no enemy movement.
Overall impression: An enemy attack has to be expected shortly with focus at and south B. es Suera, while simultaneously advancing on both sides of the Via Balbia.
On 12 January Lower Sollum was lost after a tough fight, few strongpoints still holding out. On the remainder of the Halfaya Front artillery activity.