Panzerarmee Intelligence Assessment 6 February 1942

1. Enemy Behaviour 6 February 1942

Reconnaissance activity in the area southeast Mechili by a reconnaissance battalion of 1st Armoured Division based at Segnali. Further improvement of the defensive front B. Hacheim – B. el Harmat – Acroma and north under cover of the security screen formed in the line B. Hacheim by 150th Brigade and the 6th and 7th South African Reconnaissance Regiments of Force E. Recognised in the defensive line: 1st Armoured Division from B. Hacheim to B. el Harmat, following on 1st South African Division to north of Trigh Enver Bey, following on from there probably Polish Brigade. From about 2km south of Acroma to the coast 4th Indian Division with 11th Indian Brigade south of Acroma and north of it 5ht Indian Brigade. XIII Corps in Tobruk, there also 70th Division and 1st light Free French Division as well as 32nd Army Tank Brigade. Aerial reconnaissance noted today only weak traffic between Tobruk and Bardia. At the end loop of the railway 500 wagons and 300 motor vehicles. 

2. Deserters from 4th Indian Division state that of 5th Indian Division only the 29th Brigade is in North Africa. 10th and 38th Brigades of this division are supposed to be on Cyprus. Nevertheless, 38th Brigade has appeared in the radio picture in the area of Tobruk for a few weeks now.

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Panzerarmee Intelligence Assessment 5 February 1942

ENEMY FORCES NORTH AFRICA

Status as of 5 February 1942

1. 8th Army Controls the following formations:

Formation

Estimated Combat Power

Infantry Battalions

Artillery Regiments

Tanks

a) XIII Corps Area Tobruk Gazala B. Hacheim with:

4th Indian Division

5th Ind. Bde (1)

6

2 light

 

7th Ind. Bde (1)

 

11th Ind. Bde

1 medium

 

8 R.T.R.  (2)

 

 

40 (I)

1st Armd. Division

2nd Armd. Bde.

 

1

30 (m)

1st Support Grp.

2

1

 

200th Guards Bde.

3

1

 

Force E

 

1

 

150th Bde.

3

1

 

Polish Bde.

3

1

 

1st Light Free French Div. (3)

5

2

40 (m)

Reinforced 70th Div. (4)
(Remains 32nd Army Tk. Bde.)

9 (garrison)

Fortress Art.

25 (I)

1st South African Div.

6

2

 

 

b) XXX Corps in area SollumBardiaTobruk and south of it with:

2nd South African Division

9 (garrison)

2 light

2 medium

 

(Remains 1st Army Tank Bde)

 

 

 

22nd Armd. Bde (rebuilding)

 

 

30 (m)

 

 

 

 

Total

31

18 garrison

10 light

1 medium

2 light and 2 medium Bardia and Tobruk art.

100 (m)

65 (I)

c) In the Delta and Western Egypt:

7th Armd. Div.

1 brigade ready middle of February

2/3rd 50th Engl. Div.

Occupation Troops

7th Engl. Division

Occupation Troops

12th Engl. Division

Occupation Troops

Elements 5th Indian Div.

Occupation Troops

2 Greek Brigades

Occupation Troops

(1) heavy losses

(2) subordinated from 1st Army Tank Brigade

(3) mechanised

(4) Tobruk garrison 

2. Analysis

In Marmarica there are currently British formations with a strength of 6 – 7 infantry divisions, of which 2 divisions are tied down as occupation troops of Tobruk, Bardia, and Halfway. Also 1st Armoured Division with 60 cruiser tanks and army tank regiments with about 90 infantry tanks.

The enemy formations in the Delta and Western Egypt are tied down there as occupation troops, apart from 7th Armoured Division, of which, according to orientation from the OKH (1), 1 armoured brigade is ready by early February.

The accordingly available British troops ready to take the field (4-5 partially motorised infantry divisions, 150 cruiser tanks and 90 infantry tanks) are only capable of defensive battle. The announced departure of 8 infantry and 2 armoured divisions from mainland Britain has not been noticed yet in the Middle East, according to orientation from OKH. The arrival of infantry divisions has to be expected in the near future, furthermore additions and replacements for the rebuilding of the heavily hit formations.

Whether the British formations sent from home will be used in the Middle or the Far East is not clear yet, but in any case a new British offensive, if any, is not expected before the beginning of April.

(1) Oberkommando des Heeres – High Command of the Army.

 

Panzerarmee Intelligence Assessment 4 February 1942

1. Enemy Behaviour on 4 February 1942

4th Indian Division retreated via Tmimi, Gazala, into the area of Acroma, protected by reconnaissance forces of Force E standing at and south of Gazala. 1st Armoured Division retreated on both sides of the Trigh el Abd, up to the area of B. el Harmat.

The following are to be presumed in the area B. Hacheim – Acroma and north of it during the evening of today: 1st Armoured Division, 150th Brigade, 1st South African Division, Polish Brigade, 1st Light French Brigade and 4th Indian Division.

Overall Impression: It appears that, protected by a security screen in the line Mteifel el Chebir – Ain el Gazala, an enemy defensive line is forming west of Tobruk between B. Hacheim – Acroma and north of it.

2. During January 1942 the below were destroyed or captured:

377 tanks and armoured cars (as well as armoured vehicles)

192 guns

1,220 motor vehicles (most of them destroyed)

50 planes (shot down or destroyed by army units)

3,300 prisoners of war were brought in

3. Tank situation of 2nd Armoured Brigade based on captured papers

a) 16 December 194 arrived at Matruh

Staff 9 M3 and 1 Mk. VI

Bays 17 M3 and 35 Mk. VI

9th Lancers 17 M3 and 35 Mk. VI

10th Hussars 17 M3 and 35 Mk. VI

b) 18 January 1942 at Antelat

Bays – 44

9th Lancers – 46

10th Hussars – 48

in total 138 medium tanks

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Notes:

M3 = US-built M£ Stuart light tank

Mk. VI = British-built Cruiser Mk. VI Crusader

The 16 December total arrives at 163 tanks, the ordinary total expected in a 1941 armoured brigade would have been 166. 

The 18 January total is pre-combat, but after a long approach march, much of it on tracks. This number was also mixed, although the M3 and Mk. VI have not been broken out.

Panzerarmee Intelligence Assessment 3 February 1942

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.

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Notes:

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!

NewImage

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.

Panzergruppe Intelligence Assessment 28 January 1942

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.

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Panzerarmee Intelligence Assessment 27 January 1942

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.

Panzerarmee Intelligence Assessment, 26 January 1942

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.