The 11th Hussars, (Prince Albert’s Own)
September 1939 To March 1946
||11th Hussars (Prince Albert’s Own)
|| Capt AG Miller and Capt RFHP Stuart-French were promoted Major. Lt C de B de Lisle was promoted Captain.
2Lt CA Halliday and 2Lt PR Jensen were gazetted to the Regt.
|| 2Lt JW Poston RTR was attached to the Regt.
GOC 7th Armd Div issued a Special Order of which the following is an extract.“The Divisional Commander congratulates the 11th Hussars on their high standard on continuous reconnaissance by day and night”.
|| Major Start-French proceeded to New Zealand as Assistant Military Secretary.
[Transcriber’s Note: The following are not on the standard War Diary forms and there is a manuscript note at the top stating – Replacements, (Originals lost on SS Empress of Britain.)]
|| 11th Hussars (Prince Albert’s Own)
SSMs Writer, Ward and Bousfield and Sgt Petch DCM proceeded to UK to be granted Emergency Commissions.
|| SQMS Brown and Sgts Dyson and McMahon were promoted honorary SSM. Sgt Kitchen was promoted Honorary SQMS.
2Lts Jensen and Halliday joined the Regt. A draft of 74 ORs (Northampton and Gloucestershire Yeomanry) were posted to this Regt.
|| Authority was received from War Office for the Regt to be organised on the Establishment of a Light Armoured Regiment (Wheeled) wef 16/2/40.
|| A Mobilisation Parade was held and GOC 7th Armd Div inspected the Regt.
|| A draft of Rhodesians comprising Lt Pitman, one WO and 54 ORs joined the Regt.
|Sqn training was carried out during this month. The Yeomanry draft carried out intensive Bren gun and Boyes A/Tk rifle training.
On 12th April the Regt proceeded to Black Hill, 15 miles West of MENA for field firing and Sqn training. Immediately on arrival orders were received for the Regt to return to MAADI at dawn the following day, and were placed at 36 hours notice. The reason being tension with Italy and the anticipation of the Regt having to move with the 2nd Rifle Brigade and 1st Btn KRRC to SIDI BARRANI and MERSA MATRUH to cover the concentration of the 7th Armd Div.
|| 11th Hussars (Prince Albert’s Own)
Orders received to mobilise and proceed to MERSA MATRUH at 0500 hrs on 2nd May under command of SUPPORT GROUP composed of:-
- M & C Bty RHA
- 11th Hussars1st KRRC
- 2nd RB
- Section RASC and RAOC
- Support Group under command Brigadier Gott. Role – To act as covering force to concentration of remainder of 7th Armd Div.
|| The Regt less Major Leetham, Lt TI Pitman MC, 2Lt PDS Lauder (hospital) RQMS Gunnill and a reap party of 125 ORs, left MAADI and proceeded by road to EL DABA, a distance of 200 miles where it arrived at 1600 hrs and bivouacked for the night. – Appendix G.
|| The march was continued with A Sqn under Capt AVC Robarts acting as advance guard to the Force, and a point 20 miles West of MERSA MATRUH was reached at 0900 hrs.
A Sqn less one troop proceeded to a point 4 miles West of WADI HALAZIN, to cover constructions of positions taken up by 2nd RB. One troop under 2Lt CJ Spickernell proceeded to BIR KENAYIS to form a standing patrol.
A Sqn returned from WADI HALAZIN and rejoined the Regt in the bivouac area leaving 1 Tp under 2Lt JW Poston as a standing patrol 4 miles West of WADI HALAZIN with orders to avoid any provocative action.
|| C Sqn under Capt P Payne Gallwey proceeded to SIDI BARRANI. Role – protection of supply dump which was in the process of construction.
Orders received for the remainder of the Regt to proceed to SIDI BARRANI at 0500 hrs on 5th May 1940. Role – prevent interference with the dump at SIDI BARRANI.
|| Regt proceeded to SIDI BARRANI arriving at 0730.
|| C Sqn carried out protective recce holding the track line – BUQ-BUQ – BIR SOFARI – QUR EL BEID. Length of line 40 miles. One Tp B Sqn carried out patrol towards SOLLUM.
RHQ, A & B Sqns bivouacked widely dispersed North and South of the village.
|| C Sqn concentrated at SIDI BARRANI. B Sqn under Major Miller formed a protective screen about 10 miles from SIDI BARRANI.
|| Regt less B Sqn moved back to a point 6 miles SW of MERSA MATRUH. Some tentage was drawn and a camp erected.
|| B Sqn concentrated at SIDI BARRANI. Appendix H
|| A Sqn relieved B Sqn at SIDI BARRANI.
|| 2Lt Lord P Crichton Stuart proceeded on leave to the UK.
|| Major JM Blakiston Houston returned from leave in the UK.
|| Information was received that SSMs Ward, Writer, Bousfield and Sgt Petch DCM had been granted Emergency Commissions wef 13/4/40.
The Regt returned to MAADI at 1530 hrs 1st May after 2 days long exercises. The remainder of the day and the whole night was spent in preparing to move.
On 2nd May the Regt moved out at 0500 hrs leaving behind untrained Yeomanry and some Rhodesians, with officers and NCOs as instructors, all of whom went to RAC Base Depot for training.
21 Rhodesians proceeded with the Regt as DRs and drivers of Ford Pick-ups.
On 3rd May the Regt arrived at its destination, having completely mobilised and marched 330 miles in 41 hours. Breakdowns on the whole were light, especially on the second day. Complete wireless silence was enforced during the march which rendered road control difficult especially as there were so few DRs available.
May 14th 1940. The role of the Sqn at SIDI BARRANI was:-
- Protection of the dump (rations and petrol) at SIDI BARRANI.
- Escorting of RASC supply columns in the construction of a dump (rations, water and petrol) at BIR DIGNAISH.
|| CO: Lt Col JFB Combe
|| 11th Hussars (Prince Albert’s Own)
|| MERSA MATRUHC Sqn relieved A Sqn at SIDI BARRANI.
|| One Tp C Sqn proceeded to SOLLUM. Role – to observe frontier and report any enemy movement Eastward.
|| One Tp C Sqn to BIR DIGNAISH. Role – local protection of the dump there.
|| 1515 – Regt received orders to proceed to SIDI BARRANI. Arrived there at 2330 hrs and bivouacked for the night.
|| Information had been received that considerable numbers of Italian troops were concentrating at BARDIA. It was considered possible that the Italians might:-
- Advance towards SIDI BARRANI.
- Endeavour to capture the dumps at BIR DIGNAISH and SIDI BARRANI.
The role of the 11th Hussars was:-
- To prevent Coy 1st Btn KRRC at BIR DIGNAISH from being surprised and cover their withdrawal if necessary.
- To delay any Italian advance on BIR DIGNAISH from FORT MADDALENA.
- To delay any Italian advance on BUQ-BUQ from SOLLUM.
Tasks a) and b) were allotted to B Sqn, task c) to C Sqn.
C Sqn (less troop at SOLLUM) went to a point 10 miles West of BUQ-BUQ on the SOLLUM – SIDI BARRANI road, placing Troops on the Summer and Winter tracks. B Sqn went to BIR DIGNAISH and formed a protective screen 25 miles long to the West of the dump.
|| 0001 – Italy declared war on the Allies.
0900 – A Sqn and RHQ proceeded to DAR EL HAMRA, and the Regt (less C Sqn) came under orders of 4th Armd Bde (Brigadier Caunter). C Sqn came under orders of Support Group (Brigadier Gott).
1800 – RHQ moved NW to DAR EL BRUG. A & B Sqns carried out patrols on the Frontier and West of the Frontier during the night.
At 1630 hrs at DAR EL HAMRA, the situation was explained and the following orders were given to the two Sqn Leaders, Major JM Blakiston Houston A Sqn and Major AG Miller B Sqn.
The object was to dominate the frontier between CAPUZZO and MADDALENA. It was considered inadvisable to cut the wire North of the track junction about 3 miles South of BIR WAIR as it was not the intention to attract the AMSHAT Garrison’s attention. B Sqn, less two Troops which were left in close observation at BIR DIGNAISH, were given inclusive SIDI OMAR northwards, A Sqn exclusive SIDI OMAR to inclusive MADDALENA. The places suggested for penetration were as follows:-
The patrols were to cut telephone wires, put ambushes on the roads and obtain all possible information of FORT MADDALENA and SIDI OMAR. The troops could remain till after first light to obtain better information. All Troops were to operate entirely independently.
- one to the North of SIDI OMAR,
- one between SIDI OMAR and SHEFERZEN,
- one further South,
- one just North of MADDALENA.
The Troops arrived at the frontier as the light was failing. Wireless was restricted to a minimum and no reports were received until morning. A Sqn penetrated in all three places without opposition. The Southern Troop under TSM Clarke fired at a lorry going North, bullets from the Bren gun were seen to strike and flash, but it was obviously armoured. Two machine guns from MADDALENA fired on this Troop during the night without effect. The Troops withdrew to observation during the morning, this side of the frontier.
The Troop under 2Lt JW Poston further North, had an enemy aeroplane repeatedly circle over it, it came lower, was fired on, and immediately flew away.
The wire presented no obstacle and was easily cut and dragged away with a tow rope, the posts were either knocked down or towed away, in which case the concrete base was removed. The B Sqn northern Troop penetrated and saw vehicle lights but had no opportunity for action. The southern Troop under TSM Howarth penetrated just North of SIDI OMAR and remained in observation until about 0600 hrs when he recced the 2 SIDI OMAR posts. He was fired on by desultory rifle fire, from trenches on the northern flank of SIDI OMAR and later retired through the wire.
B Sqn HQ under Major AG Miller with two cars only, had remained to guard the gap for the southern Troop’s retirement. At about 0200 hrs, a truck with lights containing 4 men, passed Sqn HQ moving South but got by. At 0800 hrs Sqn HQ moved North a mile to recce a derelict Post. While doing so, two trucks and two lorries were seen proceeding South about a mile to the West, Sqn HQ advanced immediately. The enemy then halted and dismounted. Some lay down and fired. The two trucks were empty except for the drivers. One of the lorries with 3 or 4 men in it made off and got away. The remainder after having fired a few shots and having been persuaded by their officers, lay down their arms. It is estimated that 3 of the enemy were killed. Two officers and 68 ORs, 5 of whom were wounded, were taken prisoner, together with 9 Breda automatics, 60 or 70 rifles (1918 Briesca), carbines and much ammunition also 3 haversacks full of very modern light hand grenades loaded with HE and thin outer cases. The Sqn then retired East of the wire to rest.
Later a Troop under Sgt Bowyer, returned to the northern gap where it found recently removed earth and immediately realised that the ground had been mined. He fired at the mines (10) with no result, he then extended the gap in the wire, to allow a troop which was following, to penetrate. He then removed the 10 mines, laid them in a pile, poured petrol on them, laid a trail of petrol which he set alight with a verey light and then withdrew immediately. The crater caused by the explosion was very large and believed large enough to contain an Armd car. During this operation,, which had spread over a long period, an enemy plane made two dive bombing and machine gunning attacks with no effect. During the second attack, a Bren gun was brought to bear on the plane by the Troop Ldr whilst his other car was being attacked. The plane flew away after a slight wobbling in the air and appeared to make a forced landing at CAPUZZO, about 4 miles away, no further attacks were made.
Upon receiving instructions to operate North of CAPUZZO, one Troop under 2Lt Halliday, were given orders to pass through the northern gap, skirt West of CAPUZZO and endeavour to observe the CAPUZZO – BARDIA road. As he arrived on the SIDI AZEIZ road, his steering tube broke. A lorry had been approaching from SIDI AZEIZ. It halted 200 yards away and was fired on and captured. It was decided to return, and whilst fixing the steering of the MARC, towing arrangements were made. An AC was sent forward for East flank protection. This car saw 2 field guns clearly, about 1,500 yds range due North of CAPUZZO. He was surprised they did not fire and to ensure the Troop getting away, he took no action. The captured lorry was a 10 ton Lancia, diesel engine. The Troop, with the Lancia being driven by one of the AC personnel and the MARC (broken steering) on tow, returned without further incident and was replaced by another Troop which got astride the CAPUZZO – BARDIA road. Nothing came along this road so the troop withdrew, having been given orders to be back in camp before dark. All possible telephone wires were cut throughout.
|| C Sqn (JATA) had orders to get on to the BARDIA – TOBRUK road probably via SIDI AZEIZ, then West for 10 miles and North by track. They crossed the frontier at Pt. 204 at 1930 hrs, proceeded on a bearing 357°. After 4 miles crossed a good track running NE to SW. After 8 miles the going became hummocky. After 16 miles, at 2200 hrs, verey lights went up in front and behind, and at the same time what appeared to be SIDI AZEIZ was seen to the NW. enemy verey light signal was red followed by white, white light broke into 3 stars. Enemy blew alarm on the trumpet which might denote Italian troops and not native.One troop was sent forward to investigate, they opened fire and the enemy replied with strong light automatic fire. The Sqn then went into action. Enemy appeared to be dug-in and impression was given that the position consisted of a strongly entrenched Infantry post. Enemy then opened heavy artillery fire from north and West. Guns were behind infantry about ½ mile away. Appeared to be 15 guns sited in groups of three, fired HE high to start with but soon got the range. Sqn retired zigzagging all cars getting away safely. Action took about one hour and enemy gunfire very heavy. Sqn reached frontier at about 0300 hrs.
|| Operations Against SIDI OMAR by A Sqn.
On the evening of the 12th the Sqn concentrated near SIDI OMAR and Troop Ldrs carried out personal recce with the Sqn Commander.
At 0800 hrs 13th June, 1Tp (2Lt JW Poston), 2Tp (2Lt CJ Spickernell) and 3Tp (Lt Friend) formed up to approach the Fort. 2 & 3Tp went through the gap in the wire which had previously been cut. 1Tp remained on the South side. The Western fort was attacked first and found to be unoccupied. Fort showed signs of recent occupation. They were then set on fire and destroyed. Lt Friend was in command the Troop carrying out the operation. The Sqn then withdrew 2 ½ miles East leaving 5Tp (TSM Woodward) in observation.
|| C, B & RHQ took part in an attack on SIDI AZEIZ. Appendix MA Sqn attacked and captures FORT MADDALENA. Appendix N
|| C Sqn proceeded to a point of observation 40 miles West of MADDALENA One Troop B Sqn (2Lt Halliday) escorted Brigadier Gott on a recce of SIDI AZEIZ. Remainder of B sqn patrolled the frontier.
|| A Sqn in same position of observation. NTR. C Sqn on the TOBRUK – BARDIA road had a highly successful day capturing some 90 prisoners including a General and his staff.
One troop of B Sqn (2Lt Gape), while on patrol on the frontier, located a mixed Italian force SW of GIRBA. Remainder of B Sqn surrounded the force and pinned it to the ground.
1100 – A force consisting of 11th Hussars (less 2 Sqns), one Sqn 7th Hussars (Lt DG Seymour Evans) consisting of Cruiser and light tanks and one troop A/Tk guns RHA, all under Lt Col Combe, attacked and destroyed enemy force. Appendix O
|| A Sqn still in same position of observation. NTR. C Sqn returned and rejoined RHQ and B Sqn who were resting in area QUARET ABU FAYRES.
|| A Sqn operating in area West of MADDALENA discovered enemy force holding position at GABR SALAH. These forces were kept under observation and attacked when possible. The Sqn was continually attacked by both fighter and bomber aircraft throughout the day. These aircraft appeared to co-operate very closely with the ground troops.
One troop B Sqn (TSM Howarth) escorted a detachment of RE’s to the wire and to FORT CAPUZZO to carry out further demolitions.
RHQ, C & B Sqns moved their positions about 2 miles to the NW. One troop of B Sqn (TSM Howath) escorted a detachment of RE’s to the wire and FORT CAPUZZO to complete demolitions.
|| A Sqn still operating in area West of MADDALENA. There was a very bad sandstorm all day. A Sqn was still in observation of the enemy force. Owing to the heat the cars boiled and they became very short of water.
C, B and RHQ resting in same position.
Patrol by B Sqn (2Lt Dier) to SIDI AZEIZ.
At 1800 hrs patrol reached SIDI AZEIZ from the SW. A bomber was seen stationary on the aerodrome and thinking that the place must still be held, the patrol worked further West. Four concrete gun emplacements with corrugated roofs covered with earth were seen. These showed signs of rapid evacuation, since a number of SA rounds were left lying about. Patrol then moved North until it arrived on the edge of the aerodrome. Another aeroplane, a fighter, which had previously been hidden by the bomber, was seen. The fighter took off but took no hostile action.
The patrol moved back to a position SE of the fort and then moved towards the fort. Traces of A/Tk mines having been removed were seen. The patrol got within 100 yards of the fort without being fired upon, so then dashed into the walls and discovered that the fort was empty. 2Lt Dier and a NCO went inside. The walls were 7 to 8 feet high and about 18 inches thick. There was nothing there except about a dozen empty water bottles. The fort showed no signs of being hit by bombs but there were two burnt out lorries close by. The patrol turned its attention to the aeroplane and after shooting at it from 700 yards, they went right up to it and set it on fire. The plane was completely burnt. There was also a fake aeroplane on the landing ground.
|| B Sqn moved to BIR SHEFERZEN. Role – to operate West towards GABR SALAH and EL GUBI.|
A Sqn moved back to FORT MADDALENA to rest, leaving one troop in area SE of EL GUBI.
C Sqn moved to a position 40 miles SW of MADDALENA. Role – to operate towards GIARRABUB and TARFANI.
RHQ moved to a position 17 miles SW of FORT MADDALENA. Appendix R
|| The CO received a personal letter from the Divisional Commander congratulating the Regt on its excellent work during the last few days. Appendix S
2Tp B Sqn (TSM Howarth) was ordered to carry out a recce of EL GUBI. They first reported 7 lorries but were afterwards forced to retire owing to enemy arty fire. Enemy forces then reported to consist of 100 lorries. Arty fire was coming from East, South and West of EL GUBI and the troop had to retire SE. The enemy were bombed and machine gunned by our planes and one ammo lorry was set on fire.
At 0945 hrs, the troop was in observation South of EL GUBI.
At 1110 hrs, a message was received that the MARC was wrecked. The crew were safe and the other cars had dispersed.
At 1120 hrs, 3Tp (2Lt Halliday) was sent to EL GUBI to help.
At 1145 hrs, a message was received from 2Tp saying that they were being attacked by land forces, that they could not move and required help. This was the last message received from the Troop.
At 1340 hrs, 3Tp arrived at EL GUBI but could find no trace of 2Tp.
C Sqn on recce towards GIARRABUB found a small fort on the wire 20 miles North of GIARRABUB occupied by the enemy.
A sqn still resting at FORT MADDALENA. RHQ in same position.
|| TSM Howarth’s Troop still missing. B Sqn sent a patrol to SIDI AZEIZ.During the night 1Tp C Sqn (Sgt Lamb) and the section of KRR were attacked by the enemy from the fort. One enemy native soldier who carried spare parts for an automatic gun was killed. The enemy retired in direction of GIARRABUB.
During the morning 2 scout cars and 2Lt Trayner’s Troop were despatched to cut-off enemy movements South and help capture of the fort. However, when the attack was made the fort was found to be empty.
During the afternoon 2Lt Trayner’s Troop went to the Fork Tracks South of the fort. They were sniped at from the low sand-hills and 8 enemy native soldiers were killed. During the day TSM Mattison’s Troop went 40 miles SW of his old position to locate south-western track into GIARRABUB. No success.
Remainder C Sqn watching Northern and Western approaches to GIARRABUB. Sqn HQ bombed.
A Sqn left FORT MADDALENA. Role – observe enemy movement South and East from EL GUBI. Two Troops (2Lt Poston and TSM Clarke) sent forward. Reported enemy movement North and West.
|| One Troop B Sqn in observation SIDI AZEIZ. No news of TSM Howarth’s Troop.
C Sqn moved their HQ 3 miles South of GARET EL GELEB. Sgt Whitehouse’s Troop and a section of KRR patrolled South down the wire track. After going 10 miles, they met an MG post held by the enemy. An attack was made but the enemy got away under cover of dead ground. They left a lot of ammo and clothing behind. From this post, the fort at GIARRABUB could be clearly seen 4 or 5 miles to the South. To the East of it there appeared to be a landing ground. The tomb of the ??? was also clearly visible. There also appeared to be one other MG post round the outside of the oasis. They remained in observation all night and patrolled down to the landing ground. No enemy movement seen.
A Sqn (2Lt Poston’s Tp) reported EL GUBI to be a three sided camp. The Tp was fired on the previous night by SA and also came under the rays of searchlights. The RAF reported enemy movement from EL GUBI in the direction of FORT MADDALENA. A Sqn were given the subsidiary task of watching the enemy. TSM Woodward’s Troop was sent to BIR GIBUT. Sqn HQ moved 20 miles NE. TSM Clarke’s reported the located enemy position South of EL GUBI was quiet except for enemy air activity. RAF information appeared false.
RHQ moved back to a position 3 miles West of FORT MADDALENA.
A detachment of A/Tk gunners arrived to assist. The Sqn Ldr (Major P Payne Gallway) and Capt Mackey of the A/Tk gunners went forward towards GIARRABUB to make a recce. When they were halfway there, the guns were ordered to return to MADDALENA. This order came from Bde.
The Sqn Ldr went on to GIARRABUB and met 2Lt Trayner’s troop which was in observation there. On the way Sqn HQ was machine gunned from the air. 2Lt Trayner’s Tp was also bombed and machine gunned. Sgt Lamb’s Tp relieved the Tp in observation. Sqn HQ moved their position 10 miles South. 2Tp (Sgt Mines) was ordered to withdraw to Sqn HQ but owing to breakdown did not get back until 2 days later.
Owing to the intense heat the Sqn HQ was moved back to their original position. At about 1430 hrs they were heavily bombed, about 50 being dropped. One AC was slightly damaged.
3Tp (Lt Friend) in observation East of EL GUBI, found Cpl Emery, Cpl Price, LCpl Blackmore and Tpr Spencer & Tpr Driver of B Sqn and one RRAC in area TAIEB EL ESSEM. These men belonged to TSM Howarth’s Tp which had been missing since June 21st. Cpl Emery and LCpl Blackmore were wounded.
EL GUBI area reported quiet.
RHQ – 5 aircraft dive bombed FORT MADDALENA at 0830 hrs, many of the bombs did not explode.
|| Very hot wind. Hottest day yet experienced.
Colonel Gairdener (2i/c 4th Armd Bde) and the Sqn Ldr made a recce of GIARRABUB in order to make plans for a later attack. Sqn HQ were bombed at 1820 hrs.
Owing to intense heat and shortage of water, the Sqn withdrew to near FORT MADDALENA leaving TSM Woodward in observation of EL GUBI. The Sqn moved in the evening to BIR SHEFERZEN. TSM Clarke’s Tp went forward to a position on the EL GUBI – GIARRABUB road.
Two troops in observation GIARRABUB. NTR.
Sqn left at 0530 hrs for TAIEB EL ESSEM. TSM Clarke reported 280 lorries stationary at EL GUBI. There was a very bad sandstorm blowing and during an air attack on Sqn HQ an enemy bomber flying very low was heavily engaged with SA and was believed to have been hit. EL GUBI area reported quiet.
TSM Clarke found a MARC which had belonged to TSM Howarth’s Tp, completely burnt out 10 miles SSE of EL GUBI.
Sqn HQ bombed twice during the day. Same two troops in observation of GIARRABUB. Lights were seen on the track in front of the fort during the previous night. It was thought that either the enemy were mining the track or they were drawing water from the nearby well. They were too far away to be engaged.
Sqn HQ bombed. Lts Poston and Spickernell’s troops in observation of EL GUBI. NTR.Information received from a captured Italian pilot revealed that TSM Howarth and 3 crew members were prisoners and had been flown directly to Marshal BALBO. They were safe and unhurt. The only man now missing from that troop is Tpr Jones ’70.
The two troop in observation were relieved by Sgt Lamb and Sgt Sander’s troops. Sgt Lamb in forward observation was sniped from the East. Sgt Sander was sent through the wire to investigate. The sniping ceased but no-one was seen. Probably a few men with rifles from the fort who escaped down the escarpment. One troop (Sgt Mines) was sent MELFA. Touch was gained with the FDA and certain information received about an Italian MG post near AIH MELFA. Sqn HQ were bombed 5 times during the day. The final attack about 1800 hrs made by 4 planes and about 50 heavy bombs were dropped. No damage caused.
Two troops in observation EL GUBI, 2Lt Poston and 2Lt Spickernell. The former was bombed otherwise NTR. Sqn HQ moved 16 miles SW. Sqn B Echelon bombed, no casualties.
Sgt Lamb’s Tp was sniped at during the night and had to withdraw slightly. In the morning they patrolled down the track towards the fort and discovered a large landmine. This was removed and rendered harmless. The Tp was sniped during this operation. Sgt Mines Tp was sent to MELFA to gain further information and to recce the SE approach to GIARRABUB.
2Lt Trayner’s Tp and 2 scout cars were sent to locate the GIARRABUB – TARFAWU track. However, owing to enemy activity in the North, the Sqn were ordered to withdraw to FORT MADDALENA. This was carried out at 1730 hrs.
Patrols in observation at EL GUBI. B Echelon again bombed. Tpr Muscatelli whom was 2nd driver of a lorry which was towing a broken down RRAC, was wounded.
FORT MADDALENA was bombed by four aircraft at 1800 hrs, no damage.
|| C Sqn FORT MADDALENA one Tp patrolled the wire to SIDI OMAR.
A Sqn South of EL GUBI reported enemy movement to the South and SW. Tpr Muscatelli wounded the previous day by a bomb died at 0400 hrs.
B Sqn under orders of 4th Armd Bde in contact with enemy force in the North.
RHQ in same position. Hot wind all day.
From June 20th to 29th, the Regt was operating on a front 120 miles long, ie. From SIDI AZEIZ in the North to GIARRABUB in the South.
This made supplies and communications very difficult. RHQ were near FORT MADDALENA. The B2 and B2/A Echelons had to go back to BIR HABATA to replenish. This entailed a journey of 50 miles each way. Added to this. C Sqn HQ were 60 miles away from RHQ. Their forward troops were a further 20 miles in front of their HQ.
This meant they were 130 miles away from the replenishing point. The other Sqns were in the same situation, A Sqn being near TIEB EL ESSEM 60 miles away from RHQ with Troops near EL GUBI and B sqn being at SHEFERZEN 30 miles away from RHQ with Troops at SIDI AZEIZ.
In order to maintain these Sqns, the echelons were often travelling throughout the night. Supplies were not the only difficulty. Owing to the great distance speech on the wireless was impossible and even Key was very bad at times. The weather during this period was very hot and there were frequent sandstorms.
It was usually impossible to operate between 1000 and 1600 hrs. If RRAC [Rolls Royce Armd Car] were used during the heat of the day they boiled and used large quantities of water. Water was very short and it was only by supplementing the ration by sending to SIWA, SOLLUM and SOFAFI for extra water that enough was obtained.
||11th Hussars (Prince Albert’s Own) Appendix M
|| REPORT ON OPERATIONS AT SIDI AZEIZ.
Combe force crossed the frontier at 0700 hrs and proceeded NW to SIDI AZEIZ. At 0800 hrs C Sqn acting as advance guard came under heavy shellfire on reaching a point 3 to 4 miles South of SIDI AZEIZ. Estimated number of enemy guns; 9 to 15, appeared to be situated in the proximity of SIDI AZEIZ. C Sqn proceeded round to the West and B Sqn proceeded to the East. One Sqn 7th Hussars and Force HQ followed eastern Sqn. Both Sqns TIVI were drawing arty fire during this flank movement. Enemy Infantry position was located on the ridge astride road running SE from SIDI AZEIZ. 1 Sqn 7th Hussars put in an attack on this position. The enemy (native troops approx 50) fled. The 7th Hussars Sqn pursued but on reaching summit of ridge encountered a minefield. Three light tanks were blown up. Casualties were one OR killed, two ORs wounded. The tanks were subsequently stripped and burnt.
The Sqn TIVI proceeding round to the West was fired on by automatic MGs from B. BU TABEL. Owing to the flat nature of the ground and mirage, it was impossible to locate gun position. An attempt was made by 1 troop 4th RHA to shell SIDI AZEIZ from a point about 12,000 yards to the South but owing to lack of observation this was not successful. The spotting was carried out by TIVI.
The two Sqns TIVI proceeded to the NE and NW of SIDI AZEIZ and one troop took up a position B. EL HAQHEIFA. Although still drawing arty fire it was still impossible to locate the gun position. At approx 1500 hrs a large enemy bomber was seen to land at SIDI AZEIZ. At approx 1630 hrs, Combe Force withdrew, less one Sqn and one troop TIVI. Sqn TIVI proceeded to Pt. 41 and sent patrol to Pt. 132 on BARDIA – TOBRUK road. No enemy movement was seen.
Sqn withdrew and on passing SIDI AZEIZ, the Fort was seen to be in flames and a white flag was hoisted from the area of the Fort. The Sqn advanced and when within about ¼ mile, it encountered very heavy arty fire and then withdrew. Previous to this, 1 Tp TIVI at B. EL HAQHEIFA had observed a lorry enter SIDI AZEIZ by the BARDIA road, and return a short time after. This troop then withdrew SW on observing 24 enemy light tanks approaching him. Six of these tanks pursued him which he engaged capturing one of them. The Tp Ldr burnt the tank and took the crew of two, prisoners.
Meanwhile the Sqn withdrawing East encountered 9 enemy light tanks which pursued them. These were beaten off on reaching the frontier. Previous to the above, 1 troop TIVI proceeded to Pt. 177 East of SIDI AZEIZ. They approached BARDIA defences and saw Infantry dug in positions. Considerable enemy movement at B. SALEH EL GASSUM. The going NW and North of SIDI AZEIZ is hummocky and very slow.
||11th Hussars (Prince Albert’s Own) Appendix N
||OPERATIONS AGAINST FORT MADDALENA BY A Sqn.
4Tp (TSM Clarke) supported by 5Tp (TSM Woodward) cut the wire in several places to the East of FORT MADDALENA.
|| 4Tp remained in observation and when carrying out a recce within 500 yards of the Fort, was fired on by 12 MGs. Shortly afterwards the Tp was attacked by six enemy bombers and nine fighters. They chased the Tp for some way but caused no casualties. The planes attacked the Egyptian frontier post at SHEGGA. One lorry was destroyed and two occupants wounded. 4Tp was withdrawn and relieved by 3Tp (Lt Friend). During the night 3Tp circled the fort and threw grenades – captured Italian ones – into the out buildings. Enemy replied with MG fire.
|| The remainder of the Sqn marched 50 miles to an assembly position 6 miles East of the fort, arriving just before 0900 hrs. an RAF bombardment had been ordered from 0900 to 0920 hrs. at 0905 hrs a bombing attack was heard in the direction of the fort, but turned out to be 6 enemy planes bombing SHEGGA. The RAF arrived at 0917 hrs, dropped a few bombs (which all missed) and left at 0927 hrs.
At about 1020 hrs 2Tp (2Lt Spickernell) and 5Tp (TSM Woodward) under command 2Lt Spickernell, assembled at SHEGGA opposite to the cut in the wire. 1Tp (2Lt Poston) and 3Tp (Lt Friend) concentrated in area North of Pt. 177. Both parties advanced simultaneously and the white flag was hoisted in the fort. 18 POWs were taken (5 Italians). The wireless was destroyed. Some MGs were taken away. The Sqn withdrew 4 miles.
5Tp (TSM Woodward) returned at 1400 hrs to collect a wounded native and the rest of the MGs. While they and the transport were in the fort collecting water, 3 of our own bombers appeared and bombed the fort. This time they hit it but the Tp scattered and luckily no damage or casualties were caused to out own troops.
||11th Hussars (Prince Albert’s Own) Appendix O
|| REPORT ON OPERATIONS OF 16th JUNE 1940
Situation on the morning of 16th:-
A Sqn 80 miles to SW and 40 miles West of the frontier watching the GIARRABUB road.
C Sqn (less one troop at SOLLUM under Divisional orders) were operating on the TOBRUK road and other roads East to BARDIA.
B Sqn resting in bivouac area QUARET ABU FAYRES, less two troops under 2Lt WVH Gape and 2Lt Dier, on wire patrol SOLLUM – SIDI OMAR. 1 troop ordered to CAPUZZO to collect Mussolini statue between 0800 and 1000 hrs.
Owing to the late arrival of the rations on the evening of 14/15th, it had not been possible to deliver them to C Sqn and consequently they would have to be sent under escort this morning to Sqn HQ, which was a few miles South of TOBRUK road. I considered that B sqn could rest as well 5 miles North of the frontier as 10 miles South, and orders were given to this effect.
At 0730 hrs B Sqn were within a mile or two of the frontier when 2Lt Gape saw a force estimated at 12 light tanks and 30 MET, moving North at 502367, and received orders from Major AG Miller to try and cut them off.
Information was then received that 300 Infantry had been seen at 503366 protected by 17 light tanks and 40 MET moving West from that point, and that a second Troop under 2Lt Dier was also in action. This information was passed to Bde with a request for some A/Tk guns, but owing to wireless silence it was not acknowledged and orders were sent to Major Miller to call in all his patrols from the wire and FORT CAPUZZO.
2Lt Gape, although he only had 2 cars, advanced from SE on the column which had 6 light tanks in front and rear, and travelling much faster past the rear guard more or less unobserved, immediately attacked the lorries which halted and dismounted the men. Heavy casualties were inflicted and the tanks attacked. Two were knocked out but he had to retire as they were too numerous for him. Although one car had a slow puncture, he got away and halted. All the tanks came after him and he was not in a good position, as they were trying to surround him, when 1Tp under 2Lt Dier arrived and knocked out one light tank and 2Lt Gape got 2 light tanks. The tanks then withdrew.
A LO from Bde arrived saying that our wireless message had not been received, that also no action had been taken. He was sent back to explain the situation. Information had been received that 7th Hussars Cruiser Sqn and one troop of RHA were on their way up. Owing to B Sqns shortage of cars, 2 from HQ had already been sent, and at 0900 hrs, I decided to go up and see Major Miller. At this moment Colonel Gardener arrived with a message that he would take up protection of the bivouac area and that the remainder of the Bde would be made available if necessary. C sqn were ordered to send their patrol at Pt. 211, South to help piquet enemy from the North.
On meeting Major Miller at GIRBA, we went forward to make a recce together with the comd of the RHA, who had also arrived.
B Sqn had entirely piquetted the enemy and were to keep their patrols well wide and not attack the enemy. The enemy lorries could be clearly seen in the mirage at 503368. Upon returning to conc point at GIRBA, the cruiser Sqn had arrived, strength 4 light tanks and 8 Cruisers, 2 other Cruisers having broken down.
The following plan was explained to all commanders:-
In the absence of cover, the 7th Hussars would attack direct. One troop RHA would move forward, to the right of 7th Hussars, and halt short of the position to engage if possible enemy tanks or lorries breaking to the East towards BARDIA which I considered the most likely direction. The 11th Hussars, as the tanks drew level with them, were to draw wide to the right and left and cut off any retirement. The 7th Hussars advanced about 2 miles, were halted in a dip and all tank commanders shown the objective.
At about 1100 hrs the attack commenced, all Commanders having approved of the plan. One enemy gun soon opened fire at an accurate range, shortly followed by another gun firing at the approaching troop of the RHA, which moved wider to their right and were never under accurate fire again. The 11th Hussars were ordered to press forward on both flanks but not to close in across the Cruisers line of fire. The 7th Hussars were opposed by 7 light tanks which were immediately put out of action and upon approaching the position, went line ahead to the left and encircled the position to the right. By this time 4 guns, one at each corner, were in action. The guns were not silenced until the 7th Hussars had encircled the position 2 or 3 times and ammo lorries were on fire and the crews which had fought very bravely were killed or wounded. The 11th Hussars pursued and destroyed 7 lorries, some ammo and captured about 100 prisoners and 6 lorries. The 4 guns and 1 light tank were towed back to the rendezvous and despatched home together with 7 officers and 94 ORs. The Colonel commanding the force was killed in retirement by the 11th Hussars. It is estimated that 50 had been killed in the action. There were no casualties to our own troops.
This action owed its success to :-
- The excellent information and prompt action by 2Lt Gape’s Troop.
- The successful piquetting by B Sqn 11th Hussars.
- The prompt assembly of suitable reinforcements.
- Helped by the fact that all tank commanders had seen the objective. The 7th Hussars attack was excellently carried out and most ably led by Lt Seymour Evans.
The successful pursuit by B Sqn 11th Hussars.
NOTES. The following points were noted in operations.
- The great asset of the “signal of the day” which must of a necessity be strictly adhered to.
- The value of personal recces by commanders and tank commanders, especially when there is a bad mirage.
- The tendency, probably due to mirage, of opening at too long a range.
- The value of mobile troops on the flanks.
- Immobility of the Italian guns to traverse.
- Owing to the fact that the No. 11 sets of the 7th Hussars could not link to our No. 9 sets, and that the RHA had no wireless at all, the spare sets in this HQ had to be loaned for the second time (SIDI AZEIZ 14th June), a MRAC has had to go in with a tank attack against artillery. The W/T communication in a mixed force is essential.
By dawn 16th June, C Sqn had one Tp (TSM Scrivener) on the TOBRUK road, at the road junction 15 miles NW of SIDI AZEIZ. This troop destroyed telegraph poles, which made a block at this point, and remained in position there. 2Lt Lauder’s troop moved to a position covering the road about 1 ½ miles East of the track.
Sqn HQ remained in position of observation at the top of the escarpment. One troop for protection was left at the top of this first escarpment, 3 miles South to give warning of any movement from SIDI AZEIZ. The other troop still further South at Pt. 211 on the SIDI AZEIZ – EL ADEM road. One troop detailed at SOLLUM under Divisional orders.
At 0210 hrs a column of 30 MET approached from BARDIA and some men carrying rifles could be seen in them. This convoy was signalled by 2Lt Lauder’s troop, which allowed it to pass and then both troops attacked it. Several casualties were inflicted, about 35 surrendered, but 12 to 15 ran away to the North and covered from fire by the lorries, could not be pursued owing to the nature of the ground. The lorries were made immobile. The leading one was an open one with very heavy machine gun of about .5” calibre which was unfortunately damaged. Later 2 staff cars, one containing a General of Engineers (Gen LASTRUCCI) and a captain, approached from TOBRUK and managed to turn around and try to get away. One AC of TSM Scrivener’s Tp chased him down the road, killed the Captain and the two cars halted.
The lorry containing 17 native troops from BARDIA was captured 15 minutes later. About 15 minutes after this, some signallers from BARDIA, in vehicles, came to repair the telephone wire and were killed or captured. At 1410 hrs a staff car containing 3 officers was captured. At 1510 hrs an army truck from BARDIA with 5 Italian women in it was also captured. Empty army lorries from BARDIA and TOBRUK were also captured.
At 1715 hrs a single plane made a very accurate on Sqn HQ Armd cars, diving steeply out of the sun at right angles to the car. He hit the car in 7 places, 4 shots made no impression, 1 punctured a tyre, 1 went through the bedding and sand mats on the back of the car and one split the armoured plate of the turret making a crack about 1 ½ inches long and 1/16 inches wide in the centre.
A total of 3 staff cars, 34 MET and 5 civilian cars were captured and all except 2 lorries, 1 staff car and 1 truck were destroyed. The casualties were 1 officer and 20 ORs killed, 1 General, 9 officers, 78 ORs (incl 17 natives) taken prisoner. Own casualties nil.
No other traffic except 1 MET at 2100 hrs, which was allowed to go as crew were busy repairing a broken down RRAC in close proximity of the road. One Tp was left in observation on North escarpment.
One small fort or blockhouse is reported at Pt. 132 South of main road 3 miles East of track junction; small party of Infantry were seen there at 1600 hrs. There is also a small OP about 200 yds West of the fort. Prisoners were evacuated under escort in Italian lorries captured at the battle of GIRBA in the morning and were despatched with C Sqn rations.
C Sqn, having repaired the broken down car, spare parts being sent during the night from RHQ, returned at dawn leaving one Tp in observation at SIDI AZEIZ. The main TOBRUK road is a first class tarmac road. The other road as marked is non existent. The track running North and South is well defined and good; passes through a defile on the escarpment. The EL ADEM – SIDI AZEIZ road (TRIGH ENVER BRI) is a well defined metalled, but not tarmac, desert road.
After a successful engagement as above, the Sqn was severely handicapped by so many prisoners and it is difficult to know what they would have done had it been necessary for them to disperse or carry on with a task unfinished which necessitated a forward movement.
||11th Hussars (Prince Albert’s Own) Appendix S
|| Copy of letter received by the CO from Major General Creagh Commanding 7th Armd Div.
Well done, I came to tell you and the Regiment that, the other day, but you were engaged to a better purpose. I came up again today but do not know exactly where you are as you are en route to the vicinity of MADDALENA. You and your chaps have put up a cracking good show. Just what I expected of the old Eleventh. Tommy Pitman and the old files will be jolly pleased with you. I will try and let them know by cable. Good luck to you all and many thanks.
||11th Hussars (Prince Albert’s Own) Appendix R
|| C sqn moved to FORT MADDALENA at 0500 hrs. Sqn HQ then moved to SALT PAN. Three Troops were sent out to observe. 1Tp in the GARA area (Sgt Lamb) reported enemy occupying fort at GARET EL GELEB. All troops remained in observation. RHQ moved 17 miles SW of FORT MADDALENA leaving the majority of transport and LAD in the area of the fort.
|| 2Tp C Sqn (TSM Mattison MM) patrolled 20 miles to South of his position. No enemy seen and going found to be very bad. 1Tp (Sgt Lamb) remained in observation of enemy in fort at GARET EL GELEB. In the early hors of the following morning, 3Tp patrolled SE as far as the GIARRABUB escarpment, no enemy seen and going found to be very bad. Wireless communication was very difficult owing to atmospherics. In the evening 3Tp (2Lt Trayner) joined 2Tp.
|| Activities of B Sqn from June 22 to June 30.
|| 11th Hussars (Prince Albert’s Own) Activities of B Sqn from June 22 to June 30.
|| Patrols sent out along the frontier towards fort CAPUZZO and to SIDI AZEIZ.
3Tp (2Lt Halliday) caught one enemy trying to repair a light tank which had been put out of action on June 16th at GIRBA. He was shot when attempting to escape.
|| Same patrols carried out. 4Tp (2Lt Gape) was bombed near SIDI OMAR. No casualties.
|| Same patrols. 5Tp captured an enemy motor cyclist.
|| 5Tp (2Lt Dier) in observation at FORT CAPUZZO saw 2 enemy fighters land. One took off, but the other was attacked and destroyed and the pilot captured. He gave information about TSM Howarth and his crew.
|| 1Tp (Sgt Bowyer) destroyed some enemy stores.
|| 3Tp on recce on the CAPUZZO – BARDIA road reported 10 lorries and 30 men working on the landing ground at CAPUZZO. 4Tp reported 20 lorries and 300 men at FORT CAPUZZO. The men were working on gun emplacements.
|| Three patrols were sent out in the SIDI AZEIZ – CAPUZZO area. 4Tp (2Lt Gape) reported 14 lorries and parties of men working on gun emplacements on the CAPUZZO – GUSTO HOUSE road. 5Tp (2Lt Halliday) reported considerable activity at SIDI AZEIZ and parties of men working on the landing ground. Sqn HQ moved to beacon 38 by the wire force. Sqn of 7th Hussars were sent up to assist. Sqn HQ and the 7th Hussars were heavily bombed and machine gunned by fighter planes. No casualties. The whole of 7th Hussars were then ordered to attack FORT CAPUZZO, the enemy had 4 batteries of field guns and some A/Tk guns and the 7th Hussars were forced to withdraw. One Sqn of the 6th RTR were sent up and a fresh attack was ordered for 2100 hrs. this also failed. The CO of the 7th Hussars was wounded.
|| Patrols were again sent out and the enemy was found to be still in occupation of SIDI AZEIZ and FORT CAPUZZO. The situation is unchanged.
BATTLE OF GIRBA – 18th JUNE 1940
A few days ago I made a thorough search of the ground on which this battle took place. Many lorries etc have been evacuated but amongst the burnt out ones was a large diesel containing arms. I estimated that there were 50 rifles, 8 or 9 light Breda automatics and 1 heavy MG. These I actually counted, but there might easily have been more amongst the debris.
One small Fiat 4 seater car was destroyed by MG and Bren fire. In this car was a full colonel’s coat and operation orders in the pocket, since handed to 4th Armd Bde.
Most of the light tanks had two men in them or lying beside them, the lorries had two and in some cases many more men in them. There was a large number of dead, about 50 including 2 officers, round the position where the guns and lorries were. The Infantry were attacked in the morning by Lt Gape’s Troop at close range, where they had just dismounted from the lorries and were standing in close formation.
Those killed by B Sqn 11th Hussars in pursuit, both brought back and left out, together with those enumerated above, must, in my opinion, have amounted to at least 80 to 100. The number of wounded and captured are of course unaltered.
I then counted all the light tanks and am now able to state that there were definitely 17 destroyed and the number in my original report was wrong. After the action I had no time to check numbers and details of reports but Major Miller was himself uncertain and I did not wish the report to be exaggerated. The numbers are made up as follows:-
The correct facts are:-
5 were destroyed in the morning by 2Lt Gape and 2Lt Dier’s Troops before the main action took place. 4 of these tanks I personally saw on the ground before and after the main action and one other I know was towed from there. These tanks were about 3 miles from the main action and no other unit except B Sqn 11th Hussars were in that area.
At the main gun position there are 2 tanks that never left the close proximity of the 4 guns and ammunition lorries and were undoubtedly destroyed by the 7th Hussar tank action as were 7 others that I personally saw advance from the gun position to meet the 7th Hussars advance. Thus 9 in all were duly accounted for by the 7th Hussars Sqn.
There are also 3 more light tanks that I found about 2 – 2½ miles further off in the line of the enemy’s retirement. None of these show any marks from 2 pounder fire but do bear many light automatic and Boyes rifle fire marks and were undoubtedly destroyed by B Sqn 11th Hussars in pursuit, which accounts for them not being reported, as the Sqn did not halt but pursued lorries for a considerable distance. These 3 were reported to me by Major Miller, but as I have stated, he was a little uncertain so I discounted his report. The 7th Hussars never went into this area at all so could not possibly have destroyed them.
||2 light tanks destroyed by Lt Gape’s Troop
(see report recommending Lt Gape for MC)
||2 light tanks destroyed by Lt Gape’s Troop
||1 light tank destroyed by Lt Dier’s Troop
|| 3 Destroyed by B Sqn 11 Hussars in pursuit
|| 7 destroyed by 7 H during their advance and attack main position.
||2 destroyed by 7 H and never left main position.
|| 17 All these were in 3 distinct and separate lots about 3 miles apart.
In addition the 7th Hussars silenced and destroyed 4 field guns (14 pounders) and about 6 lorries of ammunition.
The number of lorries destroyed and captured also the number of prisoners are the same as originally reported and I am extremely doubtful, from all accounts, if more that 2 or 3 lorries got away and that the number of lorries in Lt Gape’s original wireless report when on patrol, was exaggerated.
About a week ago it was stated in the Egyptian Mail and Gazette that Lt Seymour Evans, 7th Hussars had been awarded the MC, for, though outnumbered, he had destroyed 12 light tanks and 4 guns. I was in sole charge of the battle of GIRBA and saw every detail, especially of the 7th Hussars tank action which I followed at a very short distance and therefore knew they destroyed the 9 tanks and 4 field guns enumerated above; but could not possibly have accounted for the other 3 as they were never in that area throughout the entire engagement.
I did see B Sqn 11th Hussars go, upon my orders, into the area where these 3 tanks were destroyed and were still lying derelict last week (they have since been evacuated).
I personally recommended Lt Seymour Evans for the MC and as Commander wrote the report of the action for Brigadier JAL Caunter Commander 4th Armd Bde. Thus it surprised me to see the above statement in the papers. No doubt the newspapers have made a mistake and I am not writing about Lt Seymour Evans very excellent award but for the sake of future records I am requesting that the above facts, especially the increased number of light tanks destroyed in the battle, should be officially recorded.
|| CO: Lt Col JFB Combe
|[All individual Squadron reports have been incorporated into the main body to aid readability]
|| 11th Hussars (Prince Albert’s Own)
||A Sqn were in observation of an enemy force which had moved out of El Gubi the previous day. During the relief of the troop in observation, contact was somehow lost. This caused some consternation at RHQ and Bde and orders were given to gain contact as soon as possible. A Sqn sent out Troops South and East of El Gubi with this object but no contact was gained.
C Sqn were ordered to send out a patrol to the Salt Pans in case the enemy were moving South. Sgt Mines and his Tp were sent out but could see no sign and returned to Maddalena the following day. It is thought that the enemy turned round and went back to El Gubi and this was borne out by later events.
B Sqn patrols in the Capuzzo – Sidi AZEIZ area had nothing of interest to report.
RHQ were machine gunned by one large bomber at 0800 hrs. the gun was poking out of the bottom of the plane and fired straight down. Major Leetham came up from Cairo to see the CO and stayed to lunch. Returning to Rear Div and later back to Cairo.
The troop at the SALT PANS returned (Sgt Mines). Lt TI Pitman MC arrived.
In observation of EL GUBI. No trace of the lost enemy column. It is presumed to have returned to EL GUBI. 2Lt JW Poston evacuated sick.
Patrols observing the enemy in SIDI AZEIZ and CAPUZZO. NTR.Lt Hon GHC Loch went back to Cairo in charge of the leave party.
|| In the evening C Sqn went up to relieve B Sqn in the North. A Sqn in observation EL GUBI.
RHQ in same position. The CO went to visit B Sqn and Bde HQ.
Took over B Sqn’s role. 3Tp (2Lt Reid Scott) was sent to BIR BEDR area. 5Tp (Sgt Galpin) was sent to Pt. 208 West of CAPUZZO. 2Tp (Sgt Mines) in observation SIDI OMAR area.
In observation at EL GUBI. 2Tp (2Lt Spickernell) went to FORT MADDALENA assisted by a troop of A/Tk guns.
Moved back to BUQ-BUQ to rest and reorganise.
Moved up to BIR SHEFERZEN. Some War Correspondents arrived and were taken to see FORT CAPUZZO. They were sent up to visit A Sqn in the evening.
2Lt Reid Scott’s Tp carried out a patrol at dawn and was shelled from GARMUSET EL HUADEG. Remained in observation of SIDI AZEIZ to 1100 hrs.
Sgt Galpin’s Tp carried out patrol to SIDI AZEIZ – CAPUZZO road at dawn. No incidents and gained touch with 7th Hussars.
Sgt Sander’s Tp carried out patrol West from SIDI OMAR at 0600 hrs. no incidents.
Sgt Galpin’s Tp withdrawn to BIR HAQFIT at 1100 hrs as 7th Hussars appeared to be in that area.
At 1700 hrs Sgt Mines Tp sent to relieve 2Lt Reid Scott Tp. The latter went to HAQFET EL CHARRUBA and later further North to BIR BEDR and GARMUSET EL HUADEG. Sgt Whitehouse’s car was hit and rendered immobile. Crew evacuated and picked up by 2Lt Reid Scott who was under heavy shell fire at the time. Enemy lorries containing A/Tk guns and Infantry appeared from SIDI AZEIZ Engaged by our patrol the retaliated with A/Tk fire and arty fire. Patrol tried to get round to the NE and East but fire was too heavy. 20 enemy Infantry approached the damaged RRAC using dead ground, examined it and left after 5 minutes. Lorries went back to SIDI AZEIZ but A/Tk guns remained.It was not possible to recover the RRAC owing to the risk of losing more valuable cars. Sgt Mines remained in observation all night. 2Lt Reid Scott returned with remaining 2 cars, one of which had A/Tk fire through the radiator door at 2010 hrs.Sgt Lamb carried out a patrol to MADDALENA at 1700 hrs and Sgt Sanders West of SIDI OMAR at 1800 hrs. NTR.A Sqn.In observation at EL GUBI. 2Lt HO Henderson arrived.B Sqn. At BUQ-BUQ.RHQ. At BIR SHEFERZEN.
|| C SqnSgt Mines Tp took up position of observation of SIDI AZEIZ, very little movement seen. Sgt Galpin patrolled North from HAQFET EL CHARRUBA and took up position of observation at BIR BEDR. Enemy movement in that area all day at gun emplacements at BIR ABU TABEL and 1 mile East of SIDI AZEIZ.1800 hrs Sgt Galpin relieved by Sgt Lamb who saw 4 enemy medium tanks which opened fire with 2pdr guns.1700 hrs Sgt Sanders relived Sgt Mines.A Sqn reported no movement at EL GUBI.Very hot day and the CO reported sick.
|| C Sqn. Sgt Sanders patrolled at dawn North and NW of SIDI AZEIZ. Lorries seen on SIDI AZEIZ – BARDIA road. Sgt Lamb patrolled North and NE of SIDI AZEIZ. Useful information gained.2Lt Reid Scott’s Tp was shelled by our own troops West of CAPUZZO.Sgt Mines relieved Sgt Sanders at 1900 hrs and remained in observation during the night in area GARMUSET EL HUADEG. Sgt Lamb recalled at duskA Sqn reported no movement at EL GUBI.CO Still sick.
|| C SqnAt dawn in a thick mist, Sgt mines managed to get close to the RRAC knocked out on the 6th and salvaged some of the kit off it. When the mist lifted it was seen that the gun position 300 yards to the East of the car was occupied. Later Sgt Mines carried out a patrol to the North and kept the TRIGH CAPUZZO and SIDI AZEIZ – GABR SALAH roads under observation.Sgt Galpin patrolled to BIR BEDR area at dawn, and remained in observation. Joined by a patrol of the 7th Hussars who approached to within 1700 yards of BIR BEDR. No fire drawn.At about 1700 hrs, Sgt Mines reported 6 lorries and 2 other vehicles turn towards him and he withdrew West followed by the enemy. He turned SW and his MARC steering broke. He tried to fix the steering as best he could at the same time taking everything of value off the car in case he had to leave it. The steering was temp fixed but by that time the enemy were 1 mile behind him. Sgt Mines moved off but the enemy tried to cut him off by moving South of him. After going 1 mile, Sgt Mines moved East and his steering broke again near BIR EL MARAA. The enemy were then ¾ of a mile away. Meanwhile Sgt Galpin who was at Pt 206 NE of HAQFET EL CHARRUBA had been ordered to move to BIR EL MARAA to help.
Sgt Sanders was ordered to take up Sgt Galpin’s old position. Sgt Galpin arrived at BIR EL MARAA and saw 2 enemy lorries and 2 tanks and moved towards them, getting between Sgt Mines and the enemy. The enemy halted, turned away and went back quickly. Sgt Galpin escorted Sgt Mines and broken down car to HAQFET EL CHARRUBA and then Sgt Mines returned to Sqn HQ. Sgt Sanders was relieved by Sgt Galpin who withdrew at dusk to Sqn HQ. Sgt Sanders went to BIR EL MARAA area to observe SIDI AZEIZ. 2Lt Reid Scott patrolled to a position SW of SIDI OMAR at 1900 hrs.
In observation EL GUBI with a troop at FORT MADDALENA.
Returned from BUQ-BUQ and spent the night at DAR EL HAMRA with Rear HQ.
Still at BIR SHEFERZEN. CO still sick. Capt Justice the MO went on leave and Capt Livingstone took his place. Major Miller arrived in the evening and stayed at RHQ.
Same position with patrols in SIDI AZEIZ and SIDI OMAR areas. 5Tp (Sgt Galpin) was sent down to FORT MADDALENA to take over the patrol there from A Sqn.
Handed over the patrol to B Sqn at EL GUBI and returned to RHQ on the way to BUQ-BUQ.
Took over at EL GUBI. Capt C de B de Lisle was in command.
At BIR SHEFERZEN. CO evacuated sick and Major AG Miller took command.
2Lt Reid Scott carried out patrol at dawn. NTR
Sgt Lamb relieved Sgt Sanders in the BIR EL MARAA area.
2Lt Reid Scott took up position at Pt. 198, 7 miles SW of SIDI OMAR. At 1100 hrs Sgt Lamb patrolled to the NW of SIDI AZEIZ and reported it as held. Withdrew South to NIZWET HEDARIA area and later investigated BIR BUTABEL. At about 1600 hrs Cpl Prossor’s car hit a land mine and was then shelled. The car, a RRAC was abandoned and the crew taken off by Sgt Lamb. The Tp withdrew and kept the car under observation. 6 enemy lorries and a breakdown arrived. Sgt Lamb tried to stop their advance with fire, but failed, as they opened up A/Tk fire on him. Sgt Sanders was sent up with an 8cwt Bug to collect the crew, one of whom was wounded. A patrol of the 7th Hussars appeared and by this time the enemy had towed the RRAC away. Sgt Lamb remained in observation of BIR EL MARAA during the night. 2Lt Reid Scott was relieved by Sgt Mines at 1900 hrs.
Continued journey to BUQ-BUQ to rest.
In observation at EL GUBI. No movements. Lt Hon GHC Loch returned from leave.
Same position. War Correspondents arrived and went down to FORT MADDALENA.
Sgt Mines carried out a patrol to the West on the report of the EL GUBI force moving out. Sgt Lamb remained in observation and saw the RRAC, put out of action the day before, being towed away by the enemy along the SIDI AZEIZ – BARDIA road. A little movement was seen in SIDI AZEIZ during the day. Sgt Lamb’s Tp was shelled at 1900 hrs and forced to withdraw.
Resting at BUQ-BUQ. 2Lt Spickernell went on leave.
At 0825 hrs 1Tp (Sgt Lucy) reported 20 vehicles moving towards him along the TRIGH EL ABD track. He was 5 miles West of TAIEB EL ESSEM at the time. His wireless would not work and as he only had 2 cars he decided to go to Sqn HQ with this news. Sqn HQ was 4 miles SE of TAIEB EL ESSEM. 4Tp (Sgt Hoyland) was immediately ordered to gain contact. Sqn HQ moved to 1 mile South of HAQFET EL BEDR. 5Tp was ordered to BIR DUADER to gain contact should the enemy go South.
3Tp (2Lt Halliday) was ordered to the “H” of TRIGH EL ABD as there was a possibility of the enemy having got past the Sqn along the track, during the period Sgt Lucy was reporting and out of contact with the enemy. The Tp at BIR SHEFERZEN, which had escorted B Echelon back to RHQ, was ordered to proceed West along the track.
At 1135 hrs 5Tp reported 6 lorries stationary at what he thought was BIR DLEUA. 4Tp was sent to join him and reported when he got there that he was 11 miles West of TAIEB EL ESSEM. This proved to be their correct position. 3Tp relieved 4Tp at 1245 hrs and 4Tp went to the South of EL GUBI to take up normal position of observation.
At 1250 hrs 5Tp, in observation of enemy lorries, reported intermittent rifle fire, not directed at them.
At 1651 hrs the two troops in observation of the enemy had an engagement with the enemy and reported they were fire on from moving lorries by arty. The guns were of 1.5 calibre and had a range of about 2,500 yards. The Troops had to withdraw but later the enemy withdrew towards EL GUBI. The Troops were then ordered to break contact and take up their normal positions. It is thought that the enemy force consisted of about 10 to 15 lorries and that it never actually reached TAIEB EL ESSEM, but turned around in their tracks before they got there.The Commanders reports of the day’s events showed that Sgt Hoyland and his Troop did very well during the day. It was unfortunate that Sgt Lucy could not get in touch by wireless and had to break contact in order to report. The column was then lost for some time and this carried a certain amount of uncertainty as to their position at RHQ.
Same position. Major WI Leetham arrived to take over command. Major Miller went back to B Sqn. 2Lt Gape was evacuated sick. 2Lt Dier went on leave.
|| C Sqn.2Lt Reid Scott relieved Sgt Lamb at 0500 hrs. slight movement seen in SIDI AZEIZ at 0530 hrs. Sgt Mines patrolled West at 0600 hrs. nothing seen. No further movement seen all day except mechanical digger seen at Pt. 211 on GABR SALAH road.B SqnReported no movement at EL GUBI.RHQ.Major Leetham accompanied by Lt Grant Thorold visited B Sqn in the afternoon. The following awards were announced:-
In the evening Air reported large numbers of lorries leaving SIDI AZEIZ during the afternoon. At 1810 hrs 2Lt Reid Scott was able to see SIDI AZEIZ clearly and only saw 4 men in the vicinity of the Fort, and 12 men on the CAPUZZO road. SIDI AZEIZ itself appeared to be practically deserted.
Reported no movement at EL GUBI.
in same position of observation. Sqn HQ moved to BIR SORTURI.
B Sqn in observation of EL GUBI
RHQ no change.
||C Sqn handed over to A Sqn and left for BUQ-BUQ.
1Tp (Sgt Hutchinson) was at FORT MADDALENA. 5Tp (Sgt Smith) in observation of SIDI AZEIZ from the West. 4Tp (TSM Clarke) SW o f SIDI OMAR remained in reserve with Sqn HQ.
At 0800 hrs Sgt Smith was shelled from SIDI AZEIZ, again at 2015hrs. certain amount of enemy movement in that area during the day.
B Sqn in observation of EL GUBI.
RHQ at BIR SHEFERZEN.
||C Sqn resting at BUQ-BUQ.
Two Troops (2Lt Henderson and Sgt Smith) watching SIDI AZEIZ. TSM Woodward’s Tp went out at night to try and find the AZEIZ – BARDIA pipeline. Could not find it.
1Tp (Sgt Bowyer) in observation South of EL GUBI. 5Tp (Sgt Hoyland) patrolled 3 miles NW and SW of TAIEB EL ESSEM. No incidents. Sqn HQ was at a point 5 miles South of Kilo 27 which is 4 miles East of TAIEB EL ESSEM.
RHQ. No change.
||C Sqn resting at BUQ-BUQ.
TSM Woodward returned at 0430 hrs, nil report. TSM Clarke and 2Lt Spickernell’s Troops in observation of SIDI AZEIZ. Sgt Smith and RE party left on road mining mission at 1930 hrs. owing to heavy A/Tk and MG fire the objective was not reached. Fire appeared to come from SIDI AZEIZ and also SIDI AZEIZ – BARDIA road. The Tp was recalled at 2224 hrs.
5Tp (Sgt Hoyland) in observation of GUBI – GIARRABUB road. 2Tp (2Lt Halliday MC) patrolled 3 miles NW and SW of TAIED EL ESSEM. 1Tp (Sgt Bowyer MM) carried out recce to EL GUBI and drew fire.
RHQ. No change.
HQ moved to a position just West of Beacon 43. Two patrols observing SIDI AZEIZ. TSM Woodward reported suspected minelaying 3 miles West of Pt 212, it turned out to be a camel.
4Tp (Lt Loch) and 3Tp (2Lt Halliday MC) watching GUBI, South and West, NTR.
An air fight between a Lysander and an enemy bomber was witnessed by some of the Sqn, at 1830 hrs in the vicinity of SIDI OMAR.
4Tp (Lt Loch) and 1Tp (Sgt Bowyer MM) in observation South and East of EL GUBI. Capt de Lisle carried out recce to BIR SCIUFSUIF and CHLETA, NTR.
||C Sqn left BUQ-BUQ and spent the night near DAR EL HAMRA.
Patrol watching SIDI AZEIZ. Enemy lorries reported in SIDI AZEIZ area. 1Tp (Sgt Hutchinson) left on recce of area North of EL GUBI over which C Sqn were to carry out a raid in the future. Increased enemy air activity.
1Tp (Sgt Bowyer MM) and 5Tp (Sgt Hoyland) watching EL GUBI from South and East, NTR. Sqn HQ moved to a point 5 miles due North of Kilo 27 on the TRIGH EL ABD.
||C Sqn arrived in reserve with RHQ.
NTR from SIDI AZEIZ patrols. One enemy bomber engaged at 1045 hrs by SA fire from Sqn HQ.
2Lt Spickernell in observation West of SIDI OMAR. He reported in the evening 1 MARC and 1 RRAC going across his front at high speed. As none of our own troops were known to be in the area, this caused a certain amount of consternation as it was thought they might be some of our own vehicles which had been captured being used by the enemy. However they turned out to be some War Correspondents who had been visiting the scene of the GIRBA battle.
5Tp (Sgt Hoyland) and 3Tp (2Lt Halliday) in observation EL GUBI from South and East. No incidents.
Left RHQ position at 1200 hrs and moved to NIZWET TALEB area where the Sqn refilled and had a meal. At 1830 hrs Lt Pitman MC with Sgt Mines, Sgt Lamb, Sgt Kynes and Cpl Nash, left to carry out a raid on the BARDIA – TOBRUK road. They got to the TRIGH CAPUZZO where the BARDIA track joins it, but it took 4 hours to reach the road from there owing to the terrible going. They reached a point 42 Kilos from Tobruk at midnight.
Sgt Galpin’s Tp blocked and mined the GAMBUT track.
Sgt Whitehouse’s Tp patrolled the TRIGH CAPUZZO.
Sqn HQ and Sgt Sander’s Tp moved to a point 3½ miles MW of track junction GAMBUT – TRIGH CAPUZZO.
Lt Pitman and party encountered no enemy on their position but destroyed a mile of telegraph poles. They were on the road from midnight to 0400 hrs.
Whole Sqn were withdrawn South of the TRIGH CAPUZZO by 0810 hrs 23rd July and arrived back at BIR SHEFERZEN by 1200 hrs. considerable damage to cars owing to the bad state of the going North of the TRIGH CAPUZZO.
Sqn role was taken over by 7th Hussars. Sqn moved out at 1530 to take over B Sqn role. Arrived 1 mile NW of TAIEB EL ESSEM at 2020 hrs and camped for the night.B SqnOrders were given to lay ambushes on the EL GUBI – EL ADEM and EL GUBI – BIR HACHEIM roads. 3Tp and 4Tp (2Lt Halliday and Lt Loch) went to a point 10 miles North of EL GUBI on the EL ADEM track. No enemy were seen all night and they retired at 0700 hrs.
1Tp and 5Tp (Sgt Bowyer and 2Lt Dier) went to a point 12 miles West of EL GUBI on the BIR HACHEIM track. No enemy seen and at about 0800 hrs they retired to the WADI ES GERABIU about 10 miles SSW of EL GUBI where tracks of vehicles had previously been seen.
The Sqn concentrated at BIR SHEFERZEN at 1330. It then went on to BUQ-BUQ staying the night at BIR HABATA.
Left at 1730 hrs to a position on the Sidi Azeiz – Gabr Salah track. Rear HQ at Dar el Hamra were heavily bombed and machine gunned by 9 planes at 1730 hrs, very lucky to have no casualties.
||C Sqn arrived at Bir Sheferzen at 1200 hrs.A Sqn3Tp (2Lt Henderson) and 1Tp (Sgt Henderson) in observation of EL GUBI from South and East. Two enemy bombers seen by Sqn HQ at 0850 and 0900 hrs. they were engaged by SA fire and hits being claimed by Major Blakiston Houston by his own gun. 15 enemy fighters passed over at 1745 hrs. this was reported to RHQ and Bde. Our own fighters went up but failed to gain contact.B Sqn came back to Bir Sheferzen at 1330 hrs and left for BUQ-BUQ staying the night at Bir Habata.RHQ returned to Bir Sheferzen.
Sqn moved out at 0630 hrs to take over the SIDI AZEIZ patrol duties from 7th Hussars. Sgt Whitehouse’s Tp proceeded to watch SW exits from SIDI AZEIZ. Took up position of observation in the area NIZWET EL GEDARIA. Sgt Galpin’s Tp went to Pt. 206 4 from SIDI AZEIZ to watch the TRIGH CAPUZZO.
Sqn HQ and two Troops 2 miles West of Beacon 40 on a bearing of 331°. Troops remained in the area for remainder of the day. Withdrew to BIR EL MARAA for the night.
2Lt Spickernell and TSM Clarke’s Troops in observation of EL GUBI. Major Blakiston Houston and Lt Turnbull made a recce towards EL GUBI and got within 3½ miles of objective, visibility poor, NTR. Sqn HQ moved to a position 5 miles East of TAIEB EL ESSEM. 18 fighters passed over 2Lt Spickernell at 1735 hrs. reported to RHQ and Bde. Our own fighters went up and gained contact over SOLLUM and shot down 4 enemy machines with the loss of one to themselves.
B Sqn continued their journey to BUQ-BUQ.Capt Wainman went on leave.
||C Sqn two troops in observation of Sidi Azeiz. One in observation West of Sidi Omar. Remainder of Sqn moved out to gain info of movement on the Bardia – Tobruk road.A Sqn patrols watching El Gubi.B Sqn at BUQ-BUQ.
RHQ at Bir Sheferzen.
Sgt Galpin and Cpl Peacock reported that they heard tanks moving East and NE of their positions during the night, but nothing seen. At 0900 hrs, Sgt Galpin was fired on by a patrol of the 8th Hussars. He made contact with the patrol Commander who apologised and said he thought Galpin’s AC was an enemy staff car. Cpl Prosser carried out a patrol to the West and SW of SIDI AZEIZ at
0600 - Lt Pitman, LCpl Dayman and Sgt Mines proceeded to a point South of TRIGH CAPUZZO at HAQFET ESC SCIOMAR. Lt Pitman MC and LCpl Dayman were taken on Sgt Mines’s MARC to HAQFET ESC SCIOMAR on the TRIGH CAPUZZO where they dismounted and proceeded on foot North for 3 miles to remain in observation of the TOBRUK – BARDIA road. The time was between 0430 and 0500 hrs. Sgt Mines then returned to his Tp and his orders were to recce further West along the escarpment in the middle of the day when it was thought that enemy aircraft would not be up.
1245 - Mines reported he was in difficulties as he was being attacked by 9 fighters. His position was just South of the WADI ESC SCIOMAR. He was ordered to move South but replied that his MARC was out of action. At 1314 hrs he reported that the aircraft had gone but he could see vehicles approaching from the West. (1317 hrs Cpl Peacock’s Tp withdrawn from SIDI AZEIZ to Sqn HQ).
1323 - Sgt Mines reported that the aircraft had returned but the vehicles had disappeared to the West. He could not see what they were. 3Tp, Sgt Whitehouse, was ordered at 1250 hrs to reinforce Sgt Mines. He left Sqn HQ at 1304 and Mines was informed. At 1327 hrs Sgt Mines’s Tp reported that Sgt Mines was over at the other car attending to the wounded and that Tpr Nightingale was hit in the back, Tpr Gay in the leg and Cpl Grayston in the arm.
1346 - Sgt Mines himself reported that 2 and possibly 3 of his cars were out of action and that he was trying to get the MAC going and at 1347 hrs it was reported that 2 RRAC were on fire caused by incendiary bombs. At 1348 hrs Mines was told to evacuate his car and make off South and Sgt Whitehouse would pick him up and his car if and when he arrived.
1417 - Sgt Whitehouse arrived in the area BIR HALEISIN and reported 1 enemy fighter overhead which circled twice and flew away.
1453 – Sgt Mines MAC reported as still immobile.
1503 – Sgts Mines and Whitehouse informed that air assistance had been asked for.
1515 – Sgt Mines reported he was going to try and move his car.
1516 – Sgt Whitehouse’s MAC broke a King pin.
1522 – Sgt Whitehouse reported 2 enemy tanks advancing from the North.
1523 – Mines reported his MAC moving.
1527 – 2 enemy aircraft over Whitehouse and Mines reported enemy aircraft dropping incendiary bombs.
1532 – Mines reported bombs falling all round and asked if he could evacuate the car and destroyed the wireless set.
1533 – Sgt Whitehouse reported he was heavily attacked by fighters and LCpl Parker (the fitter in the 3-ton fitters lorry) was hit in the head.
1534 – Whitehouse reported being attacked by heavy tanks.
1535 – Mines was asked about his rendezvous with Lt Pitman and replied that he had one that night at the place where he dropped him but if he was not there, then at the same time (between 2300 and 0200) and place the next night.
1545 – Whitehouse reported LCpl Brown wounded in the shoulder.
1604 – Whitehouse reported one MAC and one RRAC out of action and one RRAC (2Lt Jenson) missing.
1606 – Fitters lorry reported abandoned and Lcpl Parker and Tpr Staples (driver) on RRAC of Sgt Whitehouse.
1607 – No reply from Sgt Mines.
1611 – Whitehouse said that he had seen Mines MAC coming towards them but aircraft had then attacked and they could only see smoke now.
1612 – Operator on Mines MAC said they were being attacked by aircraft again and asked Sqn HQ to call as little as possible as he thought the aircraft would hear them.
1620 – Sqn HQ moved to BIR HALEISIN with Cpl Peacock’s Tp.
1627 – Whitehouse was asked if he could see tanks. He replied he could see two vehicles one of which might be the fitters lorry.
1628 – Whitehouse reported one RRAC mobile but push rod on the MAC badly bent.
1629 – LCpl Martin the operator on Sgt Whitehouse’s car had got on to the RRAC and gone to try and investigate the two vehicles on the horizon.
1649 – LCpl Martin reported position where Mines had been heavily bombed.
1722 – LCpl Martin reported MAC moving slowly along and being heavily bombed. The push rod broke soon afterwards.
1730 – Bombers reported gone but no movement seen from RRAC.
1745 – Tpr Buckett came over from the RRAC and reported Sgt Whitehouse was killed. At this point enemy aircraft appeared to have ceased operations.
The two Troops in action had been almost continually bombed and machine gunned for 5 hours. 9 fighter were in the air at one time. When Sgt Whitehouse went in the RRAC to investigate some vehicles on the horizon, the car was heavily bombed and rendered immobile. Whitehouse and Buckett got underneath the car. Whitehouse was hit in the stomach and died at once. Buckett tried to get back to the other car but was machine gunned as was forced to crawl ¼ of a mile on his stomach. He got back and reported Sgt Whitehouse’s death.
The other car of the Tp (2Lt Jenson) was last seen at about 1645 hrs when it went up to Sgt Mines’s MAC, take some men off it and disappear moving West with about 10 men on the car. Some other vehicles, presumably enemy, were seen with him. The fitters lorry which had been sent up with Sgt Whitehouse was also thought to have been taken away by the enemy, at 1805 hrs 4Tp (Cpl Peacock) was sent up to collect survivors from Sgt Whitehouse’s Tp, the RRAC and kit off the MAC. Sgt Whitehouse’s body was also brought back.
Cpl Peacock’s Tp was sent out later to keep the rendezvous with Lt Pitman. They reached the objective at 0100 hrs and remained until 0400 hrs. no sign of Lt Pitman or any of Sgt Mines Tp.
Sqn in the same position with 2 patrols watching EL GUBI. The MO was on a visit to the Sqn but he was required by C Sqn and he left with TSM Clarke’s Tp as escort at 1830 hrs. they went to Pt. 197 on the SIDI AZEIZ - GABR SALAH track and the wounded were evacuated back to the MO there.B Sqn at BUQ-BUQ.
moved to a position on the Sidi Azeiz – Gabr Salah track.
3Tp MAC was recovered at dawn by the LAD and 4Tp. At 0910 hrs 1Tp and 4Tp (Cpls Prosser and Peacock) were sent on a recce for possible survivors from 2Tp. Air protection had been arranged and was to be sent up immediately enemy planes appeared. At 1020 hrs enemy aircraft appeared and assistance was asked for from Bde. Apparently it took them an hour to get the message through to Div. In the meantime, both Troops were being heavily attacked from the air. At about 1230 hrs our own fighters passed over RHQ and C Sqn were told to try and withdraw. 1Tp had two punctures due to bomb splinters at the time, but it succeeded in getting away. 4Tp found the two burnt out RRAC but could see no sign of anything else. They were first attacked by one fighter and halted. They were not attacked again although at one time Cpl Peacock could see 17 planes circling over the other Troop. They withdrew successfully.
The whole Sqn withdrew to RHQ at Pt. 197. RHQ then withdrew to BIR SHEFERZEN arriving there at about 1600 hrs. 1 MAC and 1 RRAC of Cpl Peacock’s Tp and a 8cwt Bug from RHQ were sent out at 2130 hrs to attempt to pick up Lt Pitman and LCpl Dayman. They reached the rendezvous at about 0100 with the RRAC and the Bug, the MAC having been left further back. No sign of Lt Pitman, although Cpl Peacock patrolled 2 miles East and 1 mile West of the rendezvous. They remained until 0320 hrs and then started back. Just after they left the TRIGH CAPUZZO going South, they were fired at by A/Tk guns. The Bug disappeared and although Cpl Peacock waited it did not reappear and he went back without it, picking up the MARC on the way.
Usual patrol watching EL GUBI. 2Lt Spickernell Tp left at 1845 hrs to try and intercept traffic on the EL GUBI – EL ADEM road. Returned at 0730, NTR.
HQ moved back to SIDI OMAR area. 5Tp (Sgt Galpin) took ver patrol at SIDI AZEIZ. Fired on by 8th Hussars. This is the second time. Two patrols, Cpl Prosser’s Tp and Cpl Barnes from RHQ with 2 B vehicles, left at about 2000 hrs to the SIDI AZEIZ – GABR SALAH track with a view to carrying out a recce to the NW at first light. Sqn HQ moved at 2030 hrs to BIR EL HAMARIN. Sgt Galpin’s Tp remained in observation of SIDI AZEIZ.
TSM Clarke’s Tp carried out a close recce of EL GUBI the previous night and in the early morning he reported at least 50 vehicles and some gun emplacements clearly visible. 3Tp (2Lt Henderson) carried out a close recce of EL GUBI during the night and early morning. Got within 1½ miles of EL GUBI and reported camp fires on the ridge around the camp.
Two patrols moved of at 0500 hrs and went NW for 10 miles. At 0805 Cpl Barnes reported he had found the three men off the missing W/T Bug. LCpl Chambers, Tpr Preston and Tpr Keen. Patrols found nothing else and returned to SIDI OMAR by 1030 hrs. LCpl Chambers stated that on the night they were lost they became separated from the RRAC when they were shot at by the A/Tk guns. They were attempting to make their own way home when they drove into a large hole and could not get the car out again. They smashed the wireless, removed the maps, arms and ammunition and started walking. They walked until 1000 hrs the following day, then rested and carried on at intervals during the day. They walked again during the night and had just laid down when they saw some ACs. These proved to be Cpl Prosser’s Tp and they were unable to attract their attention. LCpl Chambers ran after the car for some time but the Tp did not see him. The other two men sat down and waited, and a short time later, Cpl Barnes appeared and picked them up. LCpl Chambers had steered by means of an oil compass which had a bubble in it and it was impossible to take a bearing with it but only got the general direction.
At 1900 hrs the Sqn moved out again to carry out a recce for Lt Pitman. It was carried out be 3 patrols of 1 AC and 1 B vehicle each parallel and to the West of SIDI AZEIZ – GABR SALAH track and NW to GABBANET EL MGAIER. Nothing was seen except two white verey lights.
A Sqn patrols in observation of El Gubi. Capt Lloyd arrived as 2i/c.
B Sqn resting at BUQ-BUQ.
Patrols carried out between Sidi Azeiz – Gabr Salah track and the wire. No signs of Lt Pitman, LCpl Dayman or Sgt Mines’s Tp. Withdrew by 1600 hrs.
Two patrols in observation of El Gubi. Capt Wainman returned from leave.
In observation of Sidi Azeiz with Sqn HQ at Sidi Omar.
At about 2100 hrs 30 enemy lorries reported moving East from EL GUBI. 2Lt Spickernell’s Tp in contact. They came about 9 miles East along TRIGH EL ABD with their lights on, halted, then returned to the GUBI area. W/T communication was very bad during the night.
AIR ATTACK OF JULY 27th 1940
Herewith please find information and general report on the air attack imposed on Troops of C Squadron 11th Hussars .
It is regretted that very little information is at present available, as personnel involved (except for one Troop who are at present on a 72 hour patrol) are either dead or missing.
The following information is available however, and is submitted to you for perusal and information.
- A reconnaissance biplane always appears to locate the Armoured Cars first, and after machine gunning and bombing the Troop, flies away. Approximately 10 to 15 minutes later, the fighters appear and engage the target.
- Tactics of the fighters in nearly all cases, were dive bombing and machine gunning from out of the sun in single file. Then the planes would fly around and break up and repeat the attack from all angles on all cars. The planes fly at low altitude.
- Both 2 seater, single engined biplanes and single seater, single engined monoplanes were in action. (17 monoplanes and 8 biplanes)
- Great use of incendiary bombs and possibly bullets were used with good results, also armour piercing bullets. Two RRAC and one MRAC tyre were set on fire. In another instance a ring of incendiary bombs were dropped around a RRAC, making visibility practically nil.
|| CO: Lt Col JFB Combe
|| 11th Hussars (Prince Albert’s Own)
One Tp in observation of SIDI AZEIZ from the West. Sqn HQ was just West of SIDI OMAR.
The Tp in contact with the enemy reported that the enemy force which had come out the previous night was now 9 miles West of TAIEB EL ESSEM facing towards EL GUBI. The Tp were ordered to break contact. Sqn HQ returned to BIR GIBWI leaving one Tp in observation of TAIEB EL ESSEM. The Sqn handed over to B Sqn during the evening and returned to BIR SHEFERZEN.
Sqn left BUQ-BUQ and arrived at BIR SHEFERZEN at 1600 hrs and moved up to take over from A Sqn in the evening. 1Tp (Sgt Bowyer) went on to take up a position near TAIEB EL ESSEM. Sqn HQ were at BIR GIBWI. 3Tp (Sgt Rich) took over from TSM Woodward at FORT MADDALENA.
HQ in same place with one patrol watching SIDI AZEIZ. Sqn HQ moved at 1900 hrs to BIR EL RAFA. Cpl Peacock’s Tp carried out patrol to SIDI AZEIZ – GABR SALAH track and futher West during the evening, NTR.
Went on to BUQ-BUQ.
HQ in BIR GIBWI area with a patrol forward at TAIEB EL ESSEM. Sgt Rich Tp at FORT MADDALENA.RHQ at BIR SHEFERZEN.
25th August, 1940
My Dear John,
I have just returned from visiting you’re a Sqn and David Lloyd, and I would like to tell you how well served we were by them yesterday.
As you know the Gabr Saleh force came out in 2 columns and with about 20 fighters – eventually withdrawing again and leaving a smaller force at Gabr Saleh and the rest going to Gobi.
Your chaps had a stiff time from the enemy fighters and arty but kept me well posted with information throughout and maintained contact with both forces most of the day and with me all the day.
David was very level headed throughout and TSM Clarke did especially good work in maintaining contact with the Southern Column.
I am very grateful to the Sqn for this good work.
|| CO: Lt Col JFB Combe
|[All individual Squadron reports have been incorporated into the main body to aid readability]
|| 11th Hussars (Prince Albert’s Own)
|| RHQ, A & B Sqns at MAATEN MOHAMMED.
spasmodic shelling in a SE direction from the Southern force during the night was reported. A mobile searchlight also moved out a short distance from the Southern force and lit up an area to its East but our patrol avoided it. At 0615 hrs Sgt Peacock’s Tp took over from Sgt Lamb. Sgt McAllister’s Tp remained on the Southern patrol. No other movement seen.
|| RHQ, A & B Sqns at MAATEN MOHAMMED.
At 0615 hrs Sgt Lamb’s Tp took over the Southern patrol and 2Lt Trayner’s Tp the northern patrol. Sgt Gore who had returned from England took over command from Sgt McAllister.
During the day Sgt Lamb carried out a recce of Pt. 179 as Air had reported a party of men digging and forming a camp there. Sgt Lamb went forward on foot over an escarpment and watched the area for an hour and 50 mins but saw no movement.
Sgt Peacock’s Tp went out at 1730 hrs to try and locate a Gladiator which had crashed at a point believed to be 4 miles South of the TRIGH EL ABD and 2 miles West of the wire.
Earlier during the day (0815 hrs) a column of 16 vehicles moved out from the Northern force 2 miles to the NE. They then started firing in a SE direction with every conceivable type of gun, A/A. LA, A/Tk, pom-pom and field guns. The firing continued for an hour and the column returned to the Northern force.
|| RHQ, A & B Sqns at MAATEN MOHAMMED.
At 0615 hrs Sgt Gore’s Tp relieved 2Lt Trayner on the Northern patrol, Sgt Lamb’s Tp remained on the Southern patrol. The usual breakfast fires were seen in the northern force. No MT movements seen in the Southern force but only parties of men walking about. Spasmodic shelling from the Southern force took place from 0845 to 0905 hrs. The direction of fire was to the SW, South and SE and the shells appeared to fall in the area of Pt. 179.
Major Payne-Gallway visited the Southern patrol and 2Lt Reid Scott the Northern patrol during the morning.
At 1028 hrs Sgt Peacock found a crashed Gladiator 2½ miles West of the wire and 1 mile South of the TRIGH EL ABD. The plane was a total wreck.
During the morning an enemy bomber appeared to land West of the Northern force.
At 0900 hrs a column of 12 vehicles moved out from the Northern force and carried out firing with HE and light automatics. After each shell was fired a burst of LA fire followed. This continued for an hour and the column then went home.
During the afternoon Brigadier Gott visited the Sqn and discussed tactical matters with Major Payne-Gallway.
|| RHQ, A & B Sqns at MAATEN MOHAMMED.
Sgt Smedley (2Lt Trayner sick) relieved Sgt Gore’s Tp on the Northern patrol and Sgt Peacock relieved Sgt Lamb on the southern patrol.
At 0845 hrs a column of about 30 lorries left the Northern force, proceeded to area 45503653 and began firing HE, LA, A/A and pom-pom in an easterly direction.
At 1142 hrs 12 vehicles left the Northern force and disappeared NW.
At 1225 hrs 26 enemy fighters flying high passed over GABS SALAH going East.
At 1315 hrs one enemy bomber flying South to North at a great height passed over BIR SHEFERZEN.
At 1702 hrs 5 enemy bombers flew over the Northern and Southern patrols, turned East, passed over Sqn HQ and continued flying East.
At 1740 hrs some bombs were dropped 3 miles South of BIR SHEFERZEN.
|| RHQ, A & B Sqns at MAATEN MOHAMMED.
At 0615 hrs Sgt Gore relieved Sgt Smedley. Sgt Peacock remained on the Southern patrol.
At 0645 hrs Lt Col Campbell (4th RHA) proceeded on a recce of GABR SALAH force, he returned at 1115 hrs.
At 0945 one enemy bomber circled very low over both forces and disappeared West. The usual ‘Battle Practice’ party from the Northern force did not go out this morning. This may have been due to the thick ground mist which restricted visibility to only 50 yards and did not lift until 0900 hrs. very little movement was seen in either force during the day but the mirage was very bad.
At 1915 hrs two tanks which appeared to be mediums were seen from the Northern force. From 1930 – 1950 hrs there was considerable movement by Infantry within the Southern force. Major Payne-Gallway and Lt Col Campbell observed the enemy force from 1820 – 2005 hrs.
|| RHQ, A & B Sqns at MAATEN MOHAMMED.
At 0615 hrs Sgt Lamb relieved Sgt Gore on the Northern patrol and 2Lt Trayner relieved Sgt Peacock on the Southern. Visibility was very bad owing to dust storm over enemy force.
At 0910 hrs a party of men with a lorry began to dig what appeared to be a trench on the rising ground at the NE corner of the Southern force. The digging continued for an hour till the visibility prevented further observation. Lt Col Campbell carried out a further recce.
|| RHQ, A & B Sqns at MAATEN MOHAMMED.
At 0615 hrs Sgt Peacock relieved Sgt Lamb on the Northern patrol.
At 1555 hrs one enemy bomber was seen flying SE over GABR SALAH at about 3000 feet.
|| RHQ, A & B Sqns at MAATEN MOHAMMED.
At 0615 hrs Sgt Gore relieved 2Lt Trayner on the Southern patrol and Sgt Lamb relieved Sgt Peacock on the Northern. There was a great deal of air activity during the day.
At 1742 hrs the Echelon and LAD at BIR SHEFERZEN were bombed and machine gunned. Four HE and 60 anti-personnel and incendiary bombs were dropped of which 1 HE and 30 of the others were dud. The attack was accurate but there were no casualties.
At 1759 hrs 2 enemy aircraft machine gunned Sqn HQ. Two attacks were made and Major Payne-Gallway’s car was hit by 3 bullets. The aircraft were single engined monoplanes, camouflaged brown with a big white patch on the tail. They were single seaters with either 4 or 8 guns. They were the same type as used against the Sqn on July 26th.
At 2045 hrs movement of tanks and other vehicles from the Northern force was heard. They were believed to be going North.
A considerable amount of shelling was also heard but neither the flashes of guns or of the shells landing could be seen. At 2215 hrs all noise of movement ceased.
|| RHQ, A & B Sqns at MAATEN MOHAMMED.
The CO and Adjt went up to visit C Sqn and stayed the night.
Visibility was very bad during the early morning. At about 0900 hrs a column of 200 vehicles were reported stationary 1½ miles NE of the Northern camp. The camp appeared to be deserted and there were only 6 lorries in the Southern camp. Our patrols were driven off by A/Tk and shellfire.
At 0941 hrs, the Echelon and LAD were bombed and machine gunned at BIR SHEFERZEN. 100 anti-personnel and incendiary bombs were dropped but no casualties.
At 1030 hrs 34 vehicles were reported stationary 2 miles West of GABR SREDI. By 1130 hrs these had increased to 113 vehicles and were drawn up in a long column facing East. Later more vehicles joined the column from the West and at 1218 hrs the whole column moved NE.
By 1250 hrs the head of the column was at point 189 (462369) moving NE. at 1500 hrs, the head halted at Pt. 197 (47053755). They moved on slowly during the afternoon and spent the night in the vicinity of Pt. 207.
At 1745 hrs the patrol watching the head was attacked by aircraft.
At 1755 hrs a column of 250 vehicles containing 1000 Infantry with tanks was reported near BIR UAAR.
|| RHQ, A & B Sqns at MAATEN MOHAMMED.
Still in touch with enemy forces who were advancing towards the wire and NE.
|| RHQ, A & B Sqns at MAATEN MOHAMMED.
In touch with and observation of enemy forces in SHEFERZEN and SIDI OMAR AREA.
|| RHQ, A & B Sqns at MAATEN MOHAMMED.
The Italians had been carrying out a certain amount of night bombing during the past few nights. On the night of Sept 12/13th they dropped a large number of bombs between Kilo 88 and 103 on the BARRANI – MATRUH road. These bombs did not go off on landing but only when they were touched afterwards. Unfortunately the leave party going down to MATRUH station in the early hours of the morning ran into them and Tprs Baker and Walsh were killed and LCpl Gingell wounded.
In observation of enemy forces in same area.
|| RHQ, A & B Sqns at MAATEN MOHAMMED.
100 enemy vehicles in area Beacon 46 and 300 in area Beacons 42 – 39. Sgt Peacock in observation at SHEFERZEN area, Sgt Lamb observing any movements East from Beacons 49 – 42 and also along the wire. 2Lt Trayner in observation GARET ABU SAYID (513349) and in touch with 1st RTR on his right. He later moved to EL KINIBISH (512355).
At 1200 hrs enemy columns reported halted on general line 534358 to 514364.
At 1245 hrs Sgt Lamb’s Tp was heavily attacked by 8 fighters for 15 mins. The radiator on one car was punctured but there were no casualties.
At 1530 hrs 2 lorries crossed the wire at SIDI OMAR followed by 10 more who halted at SIDI OMAR. An hour later the original 2 lorries went back.
At 1630 hrs 50 lorries at SIDI OMAR.
At 1825 hrs there were 100 vehicles stationary facing East at Beacon 42.
|| At 0200 hrs B Sqn were ordered out to support the Coldstream Guards who were delaying the enemy advance along the coast. The enemy had almost reached BUQ-BUQ.
A Sqn and RHQ moved out at about 1800 hrs. The Regt now had to take up a line from ZANWET EL TARFAYA (just East of SIDI BARRANI) due South to the 300 grid line. The Support Group were in front but after they pushed back behind the SIDI BARRANI – BIR KHAMSA line the Regt was going to take up the line.
B Sqn were to be in the North, A Sqn in the middle and C Sqn in the South. The enemy column along the coast had reached BUQ-BUQ by nightfall. There was no enemy advance South of the escarpment.
|| Support Group were still in position. Their right flank was just West of SIDI BARRANI and the line ran South to BIR ENBA with their left flank at BIR SOFAFI (which was later withdrawn to BIR TALATA).
B Sqn were operating, under orders of the Coldstream Guards, against the enemy column along the coast. The enemy were using a large number of medium tanks.
A Sqn HQ was at the Xroads just NW NIZWET METAMIR with patrols out to the NW. they were heavily bombed at about 1000 hrs and LCpl Panchen killed.
C Sqn were still on their way back from SHEFERZEN area.
RHQ was at ALAM SHITEWAN.
The enemy continued his advance along the coast, the Coldstreams with B Sqn and some guns delaying as far as possible. By 1500 hrs the Coldstreams had to withdraw from SIDI BARRANI and the whole Support Group were ordered back to the line MAATEN MOHAMMED due South. The enemy were in SIDI BARRANI by nightfall.
The position of the Regt was as follows:-
B Sqn in North watching eastern exits from BARRANI.
A Sqn in the middle observing to the West.
C Sqn on the South as far as the 300 grid line.
The Support Group were withdrawing through the Regt to their new line during most of the night. They were not all clear by the following morning and some of the 60th and Rifle Brigade were still out on the southern flank. There had been much air activity during the day and many bombing attacks carried out by the enemy.
|| RHQ moved back to about 1 mile NE of the cross tracks at NIZWET ALAM SHITEWAN. The Sqns were still on the same lines of observation. Various small parties of enemy lorries and tanks moved out East from SIDI BARRANI and were kept under observation. They did not go very far along the road, 15/20 miles, and retired back to BARRANI by the evening.
2 enemy tanks, watched by a patrol of A Sqn, were at NIZWET HABS most of the day. Enemy planes were seen but air activity decreased. There was a good deal of bombing or shelling in the BARRANI area during the evening and a Warship was observed by B Sqn off MAATEN MOHAMMED steaming in an easterly direction.
At 1930 hrs the Support Group withdrew right back to the GELLAZ and KHALDA areas. The Coldstreams went back to MATRUH. The Regt was the only unit left in contact with the enemy.
The RASC failed to bring any water or rations for the Regt. No water had been received the day before and nothing at all the day before that. The weather was pretty hot but not as hot as the previous day. The 4th and 7th Armd Bdes were moved to the escarpment area between BIR KENAYIS and Charring Cross. No movement was seen during the night.
|| RHQ at NIZWET SHITEWANC Sqn.
At ALAM SHITEWAN with patrols out as on previous day. Several Bren Carriers, 8cwt trucks and M/Cs abandoned by the 60th. Rifles were found and as many as possible were salvaged, the remainder were burnt. An Air Force 3-ton lorry was located at BIR KHAMSA and an attempt was made to salvage it.
HQ at the East of ALAM EL QATRANI with patrols out to the West.
HQ at 637352 with patrols watching the eastern exits of BARRANI. Very little happened as on the previous day, but small parties of enemy lorries with tanks proceeded about as far as the 626 Grid line on the main road, also to the South and SE of BARRANI. One patrol was fired on by A/Tk guns from the backs of lorries.
Enemy air activity was again slight. The RASC produced some rations and water for the Regt. The weather was noticeably cooler and much more pleasant. Major Miller from B Sqn visited RHQ in the evening.
|| The Regt still on the same Line. Again some enemy in small parties came out from BARRANI along the road to the East and also to the South. They were watched and reported on by A & B Sqns.
A patrol of A Sqn saw some lorries carrying mules. The mules were taken off the lorries and allowed to graze for a time. During the afternoon a report came in from Div to say that two columns of 10 and 15 ACs had crossed the frontier at FORT MADDALENA. C Sqn were ordered to keep a look out for them.
During the day C Sqn salvaged the RAF lorry which had been abandoned at BIR KHAMSA. News was received that the men of C Sqn who had been missing since July 26th were prisoners and were safe and well. About 3 had been wounded but were getting on well. The one exception was Sgt Mines who had died of wounds in TOBRUK hospital on August 3rd. Lt TI Pitman MC was said to be safe and well treated. Air activity again was slight.
|| The Regt still on the same Line. Enemy activity in the morning was slight. A number of lorries and tanks were reported by A Sqn to the South of BARRANI and some lorries by B Sqn to the SE. 38 enemy bombers were seen flying East by A Sqn at 0945 hrs. A force, of which B Sqn was part, was formed to operate in the North.
There was no enemy activity in the afternoon but an Air report said that there was an enemy force at BIR SOFAFI and another one approaching BIR SOFAFI from the HALFAYA Pass.
|| The northern sector of the Line was taken over by C Column. A Sqn took over the line from BIR IMMA to ALAM DABASH and C Sqn came into reserve at ALAN SHITEWAN. B Sqn were directly under the command of C Column Comdr.
12 enemy vehicles came down the main road during the morning, proceeded as far as the 617 Grid, then returned to BARRANI. Major Miller and Lt Col Campbell (C Column Comdr), made a recce during the evening in order to study the possibility of a raid on an enemy camp situated South of BARRANI.
C Sqn sent a patrol to locate an enemy force reported by Air to be in the area Xtracks South of the White Pillars. 50 enemy vehicles were reported by the patrol to be in that area. They saw the patrol and released what appeared to be carrier pigeons. Some of the lorries moved towards the patrol (Sgt Peacock) and he withdrew. Two lorries were also seen in a Wadi close by unloading crates. They were chased by the patrol but made off West and escaped. One patrol reported 35 enemy vehicles moving NW towards NIZWET HABS at 1025 hrs. they later halted in area 603360.
|| Regt still on the same Line.
Remained concentrated in the BIR SALEH – ALAM SHITEWAN area.
In observation in the same line. NTR.
Seven enemy vehicles came down the main road as far as the 608 Grid and then returned to BARRANI. At 1500 hrs the whole of C Column advanced to the gun positions chosen at 607365 arriving there at 1800 hours. Two Troops of B Sqn were placed on either flank of the gun position to give early warning of any outflanking movement by the enemy. Our guns opened fire on the camp at 1900 hours and continued for 30 minutes. The enemy also replied with shellfire. The patrol on the North flank reported enemy lorries and guns at 607369. These guns were firing at our own gun position. At 2000 hours C column withdrew in the dark. Some damage was done to vehicles on the return journey owing to the bad going. It was estimated that 3 enemy lorries had been set on fire by our shelling.
In reserve during the day. At 1800 hours Sqn set out to raid the enemy force at BIR SOFAFI. Owing to the bad going and breakdowns so much time was lost that it was considered not possible to reach the objective and get back during the hours of darkness. The raid was abandoned and the Sqn returned to BIR SALEH arriving back at 0340 hours.
On the same line of observation.
The day was spent reorganising and maintaining the vehicles after the previous evening operation. The enemy shelled various places to his East and South during the day, otherwise there was no movement. C Column was relieved by G Column commanded by Major Grenville Grey KRRC.
BIR SALEH area.
On same line of observation with Sqn HQ near ALAM SHITEWAN.
A certain amount of enemy movement between ALAM TUMMAR and BARRANI was observed and in the afternoon enemy patrols were seen in areas 606372 and 606379. The former appeared to be establishing a dump and the latter consisted of 8 lorries and 4 guns. Sqn HQ moved to 628361. At 1500 hours Major Miller and Major Grenville Grey made a recce to the BIR MATROD area.
|| In the evening RHQ moved to new position at 645345.
Moved to BIR HASHIM 637350.
Same position under command of G Column Comdr.
Same line of observation with Sqn HQ at same place. No enemy movement.
The CO had received a letter from Lt TI Pitman MC which gave news of the C Sqn men captured on the 26th July.
|| Regt still on the same line.
At BIR HASHIM 637350.
HQ at ALAM SHITEWAN with patrols out on the line from the Xtracks at 612355 to ALAM DABASH.
HQ at 627362 with patrols from the coast to A Sqn’s northern boundary.
RHQ at ALAM EL GIBARAT 643345.
The enemy’s biggest concentrations were in the ALAM EL TUMMAR area where there were between 250 and 300 vehicles and in the BIR SOFAFI area where there were about 400 vehicles. There was a little enemy movement of lorries and guns in the NIZWET HABS area but otherwise no forward movement.
|| During the afternoon a certain amount of enemy movement was reported by both A & B Sqns. 30 lorries, some tanks and guns were reported in the NIZWET HABS area. A Sqn reported another column of about 25 vehicles to the South of NIZWET HABS. These columns remained in position all night. During the afternoon an Air report was received that there were approx 400 vehicles in the 600300 square. This was sent on to Div HQ and orders were received to send a patrol to gain contact. This was done but no sign of the enemy was seen. Later a message was received cancelling the patrol and also the Air information. It is thought that the pilot gave the wrong map ref.
|| C Sqn sent a patrol to BIR SOFAFI which gained certain information. Nothing else to report.
|| A Sqn reported a large number of lorries in the NIZWET HABS area. A patrol was sent to BIR ENBA and reported no sign of the enemy.
C Sqn in reserve at BIR HASHIM.
B Sqn in same position under orders of G Column.
RHQ in same position.
|| The Regt still on the same line. Little enemy movement seen, except at NIZWET HABS which was visited by enemy patrols. 50 lorries were reported at BIR ENBA by A Sqn. 25 were stationary and the other 25 moved along the track towards SIDI BARRANI.
Reconnaissance of Enemy Camps.
2Lt JAN Crankshaw with a scout car and two ACs proceeded, on 28.9.40 to reconnoitre enemy camp at SOFAFI.
He proceeded from X Tracks 610339 in a SW direction, crossed the BARRANI THALATA track at about 587330 and the SOFAFI – KHAMSA track at about 575326, proceeding to Pt. 213 565324, which was reached at about 1845 hours.
Here the two ACs were left and Lt Crankshaw went on alone to Pt. 213 56353285 where he saw, at 564330, 40 lorries which were parked anyhow in the SW of the assembly; and were not dispersed. Four AA guns in lorries, which were sunk into the ground, were in the NE corner of the assembly. Two guns were, between these two parties, dug in emplacements or earthworks.
Fresh and well made cairns, about 3 feet high, were to be seen in several places always about ½ mile to 1 mile in front of the guns. Marks of hob nailed boots were clearly visible. One cairn was at Pt. 213 56533285.
About 1 mile NE of the above, at 56603320, three rows of mules tied up on lines were clearly seen and estimated at 200 mules, also 8 lorries.
Lt Crankshaw then withdrew for the night to 57203303 and heard one M/C moving and a few lorries at about 57353325.
At 2200 hours, he saw flashes or flares roughly due North in the direction of the two White Pillars, at the X tracks 569335. After the flashes there were loud explosions in threes then “crumps” which were not loud. This went on for 20 minutes.
Lorries were heard starting up before first light.
At 0635 hours, he moved forward and left the ACs at 57403315 and went on in the scout car to 57153335 and heard talking (Italian) and saw Infantry in groups (estimated numbers 100) walking about. Men were in green overcoats and had rifles with bayonets.
Small, low bivouacs on poles were seen at 56953342 also 2 dug-outs with corrugated iron roofs, also more cairns. 3 field guns on SE corner of camp at 37013349. 2 lorries in the centre, on the skyline, with earth works around them.
A fresh cairn with a wooden “T” and hob nailed boot marks at 67623340.
No movement was seen at all on eastward track to ALAM EL RABIA. One man in brown or canvas was seen in the camp also one in leggings, breeches and peaked cap. No tarbrushes ot black men were seen. Considerable digging in both camps. The main camp is along the ridge at 369335 and probably extends North, which accounts for so little being seen from the South. The other camp in area 364335 could not be seen.
29.9.40 JFB Combe. Lt Col.
Activities of B Sqn from 0400 hours 15-9-40 to M.N. 17/18-9-40
Sept 15, 1940
The Sqn left MAATEN MOHAMMED at 0400 hours. Proceeded to BUQ-BUQ and came under orders of the Coldstream Guards. At 1000 hours 4Tp (SQMS King) proceeded down the winter track and gained contact with an enemy column advancing from the West. 2Tp (Sgt Hoyland) observed a column at 539360 moving NE towards the winter track. The RHA were shelling both columns. However, at 1600 hours they ran short of ammunition and together with the Coldstream Guards were withdrawn. SQMS King retired in front of the enemy column till it reached 572367 where it halted for the night. Sgt Hoyland was observing the tail of the column which was at 550362 at 1930 hours.
Sept 16th, 1940
The Coldstream Guards were holding a position along the 584 Grid line supported by a French Motor Coy and 12 guns of 3rd RHA. At 0740 hours, 5Tp (2Lt Dier) reported head of column at 570371. They later reported 25 light tanks at 570369 moving SE. They were then shelled and had to move from ALAM EL RIMF. At 0930 hours 2Tp (Sgt Hoyland) reported 70 vehicles at 570370 and 3 medium tanks at 577362. At about 1100 hours the Guards withdrew to a position at ALAM EL DABDE. At about this time 2Lt Dier captured two enemy motor cyclists, one of whom was wounded. At 1130 hours a column of 60 tanks and lorries began to move East from WESHKER. 2Lt Dier kept in touch. At 1300 hours enemy columns reached SIDI BARRANI – BIR KHAMSA track at 596371. They then turned North. The column was shelled by our guns. Information had been received from Support Group that a Sqn of out tanks was advancing North along the BIR KHAMSA – SIDI BARRANI track and were only 7½ miles from SIDI BARRANI.
Consequently the Coldstream guards did not withdraw at once but as the tanks never turned up they eventually had to, and only just got away in time. Just before dust 3Tp (2Lt Halliday) captured a motor cyclist who fell off his M/C and whistled for the patrol to come and pick him up. The Coldstream Guards had retired to a position South of MAATEN MOHAMMED and the Sqn were watching the eastern exits from SIDI BARRANI.
Sept 17th, 1940
At 0740 hours 3Tp (2Lt Halliday) reported 24 vehicles just out of BARRANI and at 0940 hours 3 lorries at 606372. At 0945 hours 1Tp (Sgt Taber MM) reported 6 vehicles going along the main SIDI BARRANI – MATRUH road. This column was later reported to consist of 10 lorries and some M/Cs. They reached the 621 Grid line at 1230 hours and halted. At 1300 hours 3 of the lorries and some M/Cs continued on to the 626 Grid line where they were fired on. One M/C blew up and the whole patrol retired to SIDI BARRANI at 1600 hours. Touch was regained with the enemy at SIDI BARRANI at 1600 hours and the eastern exits from the latter place kept under observation. During the night the Guards retired from the position at MAATEN MOHAMMED and went back to MATRUH. During the last few days the Sqn had often been under shellfire and had been fortunate in escaping any damage or casualties.
SUBJECT:- Enemy Aircraft.
7th Armoured Division.
With reference to my Signal 2/109 of 19.9.40 regarding the enemy ‘plane shot down by C Squadron, 11th Hussars PAO; herewith further details.
The machine was identified as a BREDA 67. Armament consisted of one .5” and one .303” enclosed in each wing (a total of 4 guns) there was also a bomb rack under each wing and in addition there were four holes under the pilot’s seat also presumed to be a bomb rack.
Landing lights were fitted on each wing. On the tip of each wing a black circle with yellow background with the LICTOR enclosed in the black circle. Red St. Andrew’s crosses under each wing. Tail fin painted black with white cross in the centre. The words “BREDA 67” were painted on the fuselage between propeller and cockpit. On the side of the fuselage was painted a Wolf’s Head and the figures “11” (obviously a Squadron mark or crest).
The fuel tank was located in the fuselage immediately behind the cockpit.
The machine appeared to be in perfect condition with the exception of broken oil pipe which had been shot away. The machine was thoroughly searched but no papers or documents of any kind were found. The machine was set on fire and burnt by the patrol who found it.
Commanding, 11th Hussars PAO.
From:- No. 319529
11th Hussars PAO.
English Prisoner of War,
11th Hussars PAO
The officer in charge of British Prisoners here has asked me to write to you on behalf of the family of one GAGGIO MONTANO.
This Italian soldier has been reported missing and is believed to be a Prisoner of War in Egypt. He was among the men captured with General LASTRUCCI.
At present the family of this man have received no word concerning him and would be obliged if you would place this letter in the proper quarter in order that he may write to his people.
At present I am the only prisoner here who can write, the other two still being wounded. Tomorrow I shall be going to the rest of my Troop at a concentration camp.
You will be pleased to hear that we are very well treated. The doctors are very good and done everything possible for our wounded, especially for Sgt Mines who eventually died. Sgt Mines was given a Military Funeral with full honours.
I am, sir,
(Sgd) PH Garner, L/Cpl.
T. I. Pitman.
I am afraid I made a bit of a box up over this show. We tried to walk home, but we were really half cocked before we started. Then we ran out of water. I would like to tell you that Cpl Dayman put up a grand show and walked in his socks for several miles with his feet red raw, until he could go no further. I put him in a well to keep cool – then I thought I saw our troops but the mirage was very bad and I walked straight into the enemy. They went and got Dayman and did everything they could for us, water above all! Dayman is still covered in bandages but he it quite ok again.
Do tell Peter not to worry, as I am sure he is. He did everything he could, but it was just the luck of the draw. I have no one to blame but myself. God, I wish I could have the last week over again.
A plane flew over us the morning of the first day’s walking but we could not attract its attention. We often shot at it, but it still went on. It nearly broke my heart (one of Van’s boys too). But perhaps Allah was good to us as we were in a pretty bad state when we were picked up.
I am hoping to see Mines and Gay whom I am afraid are pretty bad. Mines has lost a leg and he also has one above the heart. Gay has lost a leg and Tpr Garner an arm. The others are ok but I have seen none of them as yet. They are all getting the best of attention with a good doctor. I will let you know if I see them.
I hope this reaches you ok and do tell Peter how sorry I am about all this. Everyone is most kind here but the outlook is depressing as I miss you all very much.
Best of luck to all PAO’s always,
PS I have just seen Mines. I am afraid he is bad. The doctor says he has a 50/50 chance. The other two, Garner looks bad but they say he is ok, Gay looks as good as ever.
Note:- Sgt Mines died afterwards on August 3rd and was buried with full Military Honours.
SPECIAL ORDER OF THE DAY
MAJOR GENERAL M. O’MOORE CREAGH MC
COMMANDER 7th ARMOURED DIVISION.
The Divisional Commander would like it impressed on all ranks that the operations likely to occur in the next few weeks may well have a decisive influence on the War in the Mediterranean.
The spirit and work of the Division during the past 4 months has been splendid.
Experience has shown that we are undoubtedly superior to the enemy in every way except perhaps temporarily as regards quantity of equipment. It is therefore imperative that the strictest attention is paid to the care and maintenance of the machine. This must be the individual concern of all ranks.
For the rest we are all of us, whether we know it or not, fighting for the principles of liberty, justice and honour and last but by no means least to kill Italians.
Let us go forward with confidence and good courage to that task.
In the Field
21 September 1940.
SUPPORT GROUP – 7th ARMOURED DIVISION
Special Order of the Day
Brigadier WHE Gott MC
The Commander in Chief Middle East in a visit to the forward area yesterday, asked the Commander Support Group to convey to all ranks his congratulations on the good work carried out by the Support Group during the operations of the past week.
During his visit he also stated that the impending battle in which we shall be engaged, was regarded as likely to be decisive in the present campaign for the mastery of the Mediterranean.
The Commander Support Group conveys to all ranks who served under his command during the recent operations his thanks and appreciation for their determined efforts and for the cheerful spirit in which they met difficult and arduous conditions.
Our own losses in men and material were small, whist by our action the enemy cannot have lost less than 150 vehicles and large numbers of personnel. This is a substantial success. Our immediate task now is to ensure that we are fit and ready to play our part in the final overthrow of the invader.
In the Field
7th Armoured Division Intelligence summary No. 49
(based on information up to 2000 hours 11 Sep 40)
(sgd) CNF Fuller, Captain
for Colonel, General Staff
On the night 9/10 Sep the enemy started a move to re-establish himself on the frontier from the sea to SHEFERZEN. Great activity had been seen throughout the area. The Italians have established themselves on Egyptian territory from BP 26 to the sea. A thrust has been made from the North and West, and after two days of slow systematic progress they command the frontier between CAPUZZO and SIDI OMAR where they are in position against the wire. A force is lying 9 miles West of SHEFERZEN. This move has been accompanied by an air offensive of great intensity.
- ENEMY MOVEMENT.
Movement at G. SALEH was first seen during the evening 9 Sep. tanks were heard North of North CAMP at 1910 hours and at 1955 hours 10 lorries and 2 tanks moved West from South CAMP and halted after 1 mile. During the night there were sounds of engines running and of vehicles moving. Shelling or bombing was also heard though no aircraft were in the area.
10 Sep. At 0?05 hours patrols of 11th Hussars reported a column of about 200 MET stationary 1½ miles NE of North CAMP and a little later 18 lorries moved forward from it, from which Infantry debussed. At 1045 hours a body of 113 vehicles was counted about 2 miles NW GABR SREDI. More vehicles had already come up from the West and the number was further increased at 1135 hours after which the whole force formed up in close formation with advance guard of 10 vehicles, a flank guard of 12 and a rear guard of 10. It then moved off and at 1245 hours halted on the AZEIZ track at 462370 where it remained for lunch. At 1430 hours it moved on slowly along the track. It is not known to what extent this column had been reinforced but it may have amounted to some 450 vehicles.
Meanwhile G. SALEH had been evacuated, only 6 vehicles remaining in SOUTH CAMP. All tents were struck and removed. Photographs show North CAMP deserted and SOUTH CAMP to have an increased number of dumps. A column of 90 MT with tanks was reported by Air at 0950 hours, North of the road BARDIA – AZEIZ. Between 1430 and 1600 hours there were 200 MET in the area 4 miles North of B. HAFID. The occupants wore white breeches and tarbrushes with tassels and were probably Libyan. At the same time there was a column of 100 at Pt.207 83377 and another 240 with 1,000 Infantry 3 miles SE of B. UAAR 471366. These latter may have come from the force which lunched at Pt. 207. Strat/R also reported 100 MT half way between CAPUZZO and AZEIZ, each column reported had an element of tanks.
11 Sep. At first light the B. UAAR column was still there, “huddled up”. At 0830 hours the Air saw 100 MT going into AZEIZ from the North West. This showed that the movement came as much from the North and right flank as from the G. SALEH area.
At 1000 hours a column moved East along the TRIGH EL ABD, halted at Pt. 179, 3 miles East of G. SALEH, and moved to NEZUET MABRUCA 480356 where it halted at 1535 hours and remained until dusk. While this force was advancing another of 250, probably from B. UAAR was in the area NW of S. OMAR and halted at 1300 hours at B. EL TGMEIT with two elements of 40 vehicles approaching S. OMAR. By 1535 hours 100 MT were stationary 2 miles North of S. OMAR. At dusk the 250 from TGMEIT were halted a mile from the wire opposite BP 45 and the 100 were against the wire by BP 46.
During the day a large column, said to be 300 strong, moved NE, passed G. LACHEM to B. HAFID where it left 20 vehicles to command the ridge and halted for the night 3 miles further East.
Strat/R reported 40 lorries in South Camp in the evening and these may have been part of a column of 80 seen earlier South of the Camps.
200 lorries remained throughout the day 4½ miles NE of CAPUZZO and a camp had been started there. A large concentration was seen 2 miles North of AZEIZ in the evening.
- BARDIA – CAPUZZO Area.
Much movement was seen around CAPUZZO during Sep 8th. Early on Sep 9th a large number of vehicles was seen near BP 26. After moving in the area for some time they went South with a great column of dust. During the night 9/10th Sep 150 – 200 men were working with feverish haste on gun emplacements in the WADI NASRANI. From early morning there was considerable movement of MT about 522381 and activity continued throughout the morning. At 1900 hours 100 men crossed the wire North of BP 26 and there was much activity all day in the RAMLA area.
On 11th Sep 6 vehicles and 100 men were in the area BP 24 – 25. At 0830 hours and at 1130 hours 6 MLcs were in observation on the aerodrome. The enemy is in virtual occupation of a line running East from BP 26 to the sea.
- OWN TROOPS
A patrol of 3rd Coldstream Guards to 421382 encountered the enemy digging in WADI NASRANI and withdrew, abandoning one truck which failed to start. An officer remained in observation however.
A patrol 1st KRRC went 40 miles West of MADDALENA on 9th Sep and reached MARAB EL CARN and the track running South from GOBI. They found no sign of the track being recently used. Six Libyans were found wrapped in their blankets as if they had died in their sleep. A patrol of the 2nd Rifle Brigade on 9th Sep crossed the track running South from G. SALEH to SIWA and found an unoccupied aerodrome, the location of which is not yet established. After 2 days of action patrolling in touch with the enemy’s movements, patrols of 1st RTR have now been withdrawn East of the wire. 11th Hussars are keeping contact with the force in area B. UAAR – TRIGH EL ABD.
Attention has continued to be centred on SALUM barracks and any patrol in the MUSAID area. On 9th Sep and 10th Sep their tactics were varied from a slow rate of fire over a long period to short and heavy concentrations. On 11th Sep however, the barracks was shelled by 5.9 guns from 1030 – 1210 hours at the rate of one shell every 3 minutes, 50% of these were dud. Four guns have been located in WADI NASRANI.
Our arty has continued to harass the enemy. The HAFID column was shelled 11th Sep and two fires were started. In the evening the forces at SIDI OMAR were heavily shelled but the result is not yet known.
The Italians covered their move with intense dive bombing and machine gunning of troops in the forward area. Throughout 10 and 11th Sep 11th Hussars patrols were attacked. Full details of Air Operations are not yet available. 26 fighters remained in the air throughout 10th Sep landing periodically for ¾ hour to the West of G. SALEH for refuelling. 11th Sep SALUM area and HQ Sp Grp and 1st RTR were bombed between 0900 – 1000 hours though no casualties were suffered. SIDI BARRANI aerodrome has been bombed three times and upwards of 100 bombs have been dropped. It was not yet occupied, our aircraft having moved to SATELLITE.
In spite of superiority in numbers our aircraft have continued to carry out recces whenever required. Some of these have been done by bombers and their information has not been as accurate or as useful as AC planes. Enemy concentrations were bombed in the BIR RAFAA area in failing light 10th Sep and the S. OMAR force was bombed evening 11th Sep.
A Cpl/Maj of the BIRSAGLIERI Regt of 62 Div was captured 11th Sep and is under interrogation. He came from AZEIZ and as 62 Div were known to be in the area BARDIA – CAPUZZO before the G. SALEH force arrived, it seems likely that the latter is not connected with troops in the northern area but is a third Div, probably a combination of 1 and 2 Lib Div.
between 900 – 1,000 vehicles are in the frontier area South of CAPUZZO and come from the G. SALEH direction. This represents a full Division. The fact that they have virtually vacated the G. SALEH camps indicated that they intend to remain on the frontier. The further concentration near AZEIZ and West of CAPUZZO would strengthen an offensive on SALUM and the fact that a corner formed by the old frontier and the sea has already been bitten off makes this probable.
Honours and Awards.
HQ Western Desert Force
24th Sep 40
The GOC Western Desert Force wishes to congratulate L/Cpl Chambers MM on the award of the Military Medal.
TRANSLATION OF DOCUMENT DROPPED BY ITALIAN AIRCRAFT 16/9/40
List of English Prisoners of War captured on 26 and 29 July and 4 August 1940.
||Surname and Christian name
|| Good health
||11th Hussars C Sqn
|| JENSEN Peter Robert
|| Good health
||11th Hussars C Sqn
|| KYNES Henry
|| Good health
|| Good health
||11th Hussars C Sqn
|| GARNER Rowland
|| slight splinter wound right elbow
||11th Hussars Egypt
|| DAYMAN Walter
|| Good health
||11th Hussars C Sqn
|| GARNER Frederick William
|| Amputation of right arm at shoulder
||11th Hussars C Sqn
|| STONE Fred James
|| Good health
|| Good health
||11th Hussars C Sqn
|| MADDOX Ernest Edward
|| Good health
||11th Hussars C Sqn
|| ROGERS Edward William
|| Good health
||KENNY James Henry
|| Good health
||11th Hussars C Sqn
|| GAY Derrik
|| Amputation of left leg
||11th Hussars C Sqn
|| NIGHTINGALE Joseph
|| Chest wound but not pierced
with the military honours due to his rank.
||11th Hussars C Sqn
|| MINES Gordon
|| Died in hospital of wounds on 26.7.40. Buried
|| CO: Lt Col JFB Combe
|[All individual Squadron reports have been incorporated into the main body to aid readability]
|| 11th Hussars (Prince Albert’s Own)
||Position unchanged. B Sqn patrols were shelled. A Sqn on a recce to BIR ENBA reported no enemy.
|| C Sqn.
2Lt Crankshaw proceeded on patrol to BIR SOFAFI to observe and report on the enemy force in that area. A Sqn Ldrs conference was held at RHQ. Owing to the fact that the area to the South of A Sqn line had now to be watched, C Sqn were ordered to take over A Sqns northern patrol and A Sqn were to move further South. Some enemy movement was reported by B Sqn.
|| C Sqn.
Sgt Lamb’s Tp proceeded to BIR MAGASID to take over from A Sqn’s patrol at that place. At 1300 hours 2Lt Crankshaw returned, the patrol was not able to gain any information other than that approx 10 lorries and some M/Cs had used the track from the White Pillar Xtracks to BIR ENBA quite recently. A Sqn sent a patrol to the BIR KHAMSA – WESHKET EL KHAMSA – EL GUSLEIN area, no enemy seen.B Sqn under orders of T Column. 1Tp was at ALAM EL FAKRI. 2Tp relieved 5Tp at Pt. 58. 3Tp relieved 4Tp at ALAM EL HATSHI.
At 0800 hours 4Tp reported 8 enemy vehicles at 608362 and they were later joined by 10 more vehicles, 5 of which were towing guns. 4 vehicles retired West at 1045 hours, the remainder following at 1225 hours. No further movements.
||C Sqn HQ at BIR HASHIM. Sgt Lamb’s patrol at BIR MAGASID had nothing to report. They liase with the French Motor Coy in that area.
HQ moved to BIR EL KILAB. Two patrols in observation and one patrol on recce in the BIR KHAMSA area. The latter consisted of one MRAC and one scout car. No enemy reported.
B Sqn under orders of T Column. 3Tp (2Lt Halliday) took over ALAM EL HATSHI patrol and 5Tp the Pt. 58 patrol.
At 0900 hours 5Tp reported 9 vehicles moving down the main SIDI BARRANI – MATRUH road at 605375. At the same time 3Tp reported 4 vehicles moving SE at 612357 and at approx 1130 hours retired West towards SIDI BARRANI. The column consisted of some open lorries containing Infantry and some closed diesel lorries. No further movement.
The patrol at BIR MAGASID was taken over by Lt Burden’s Tp. Sgt Peacock’s Tp proceeded on a patrol to the BIR SOFAFI area.
The patrol in the BIR KHAMSA area returned with NTR. At 1625 hours 5Tp reported 20 enemy vehicles stationary at 574337.
Under orders T Column. 1Tp (Sgt Taber) went to ALAM EL FAKRI. 2Tp took over from 5Tp at Pt. 58 and 4Tp relieved 3Tp at ALAM EL HATSHI. The enemy sent their usual patrols to NIZWET HABS, the patrol was accompanied by 3 medium tanks.
At ALAM GIBARAT 643345. At about 1330 hours between 45 and 50 enemy planes were seen flying East. The information was passed back by the RAF observation detachment attached to RHQ. The planes bomber MERSA MATRUH from a height of 18,000 feet.
Sgt Peacock withdrew from the BIR SOFAFI area at 0845 hours he arrived back at 1230 hours.
1Tp (Sgt Taber) relieved 4Tp at ALAM EL HATSHI. 5Tp was at Pt. 58. 3 shells were fired at this Tp about 1030 hours.
The Support Group had moved up the previous day and the Regt had come under their orders from 1900 hours on the 5th. Support Group HQ was 4 miles East of BIR GIBRIN. The Group itself was divided into two columns consisting of one troop of D Bty RHA and the 2nd Rifle Brigade (less 2 Coys) were in the area EL HAMURA 637358. The left column, consisting of one troop D Bty RHA, F Bty RHA (less one troop) and one Coy of the Rifle Brigade were at NIZWET SHITEWAN 630337. The role of these two columns was to harass the enemy where possible and to impose maximum delay should he advance. The 11th Hussars were still on a line of observation from just East of SIDI BARRANI in the North to BIR KHAMSA in the South.
There was no enemy movement during the day but at 1040 hours B Sqn reported Pt. 58 (615370) was being shelled.
At 1150 hours 5Tp reported 20 enemy vehicles stationary at 599337. At 1525 hours they reported 14 vehicles at 588334 with 30 more coming up from the West. 10 minutes later they reported that the 30 vehicles had stopped and made a good air target.
At 1545 hours they reported that there were 7 armoured vehicles and 12 large lorries at BIR ENBA. These lorries were later reported to be unloading stores.
At 1730 hours the patrol at BIR KHAMSA reported that there were 8 vehicles moving South between EL GUSLEIN and BIR KHAMSA.
At 1745 hours 5Tp reported there was no movement at BIR ENBA. It seems likely that the enemy were dumping stores for the advance which was to take place the next day.
B Sqn 2Tp took over from C Sqn patrol at BIR MAGASID. 4Tp was at ALAM EL HATSHI and 5Tp at Pt 58.
At approx 1700 hours, 2 shells were fired at the patrol at Pt. 58. LCpl Petrie and Tpr Horton were cooking their supper at the time, beside the AC. LCpl Petrie received a nasty wound in the arm and Tpr Horton less serious wounds in the arm, chest and legs. They were attended to by the Rifle Brigade Doctor and evacuated early next morning.
The patrol at BIR MAGASID was taken over by B Sqn at 0720 hours. The Sqn Ldr (Major P Payne Gallway) attended a conference at Support Group HQ.
At 1415 hours the Sqn moved to BIR KHAMSA where it arrived at 1745 hours less one Tp which arrived at 1900 hours.
One platoon KRRC which was to be attached to the Sqn arrived at 2130 hours. Information had been received that the Italians had opened the frontier road (running along the West side of the wire) to MT traffic on Sep 27th for the first time since the outbreak of the war.
The fort at GARN EL GREIN (30 miles North of GIARRABUB) was being used as a staging camp for vehicles and it had been observed from the air that there was usually some MT in groups round the fort. This fort is almost certainly to be the same one which was captured by C Sqn on June 22nd. It was known as GARET EL GELEB. The defences were said to have been considerably strengthened. C Sqn were to carryout a raid on the fort with the object of destroying as many vehicles as possible and capturing some prisoners. They were to make a wide detour to the South and come in from the East.
A squadron of RAF Armoured Cars who were attached to the Regt arrived in the vicinity of RHQ in the evening. It consisted of 10 ACs and some transport. This sqn will in future be known as D Sqn.
||Large forces of enemy vehicles moved East from the BIR ENBA and BIR SOFAFI areas. They moved both North and South of the escarpment. The other two columns reached approx the areas 610339 and 611327. The southern column was shelled by our guns. Both columns were observed by A Sqn patrols who reported their position throughout the advance. The column consisted of light and heavy tanks, guns and lorries. Both columns later withdrew. There was no movement in B Sqn’s area during the day.
At 0635 hours 5Tp reported that there were 4 guns at BIR ENBA. At approx 0800 hours they reported 30 vehicles moving East and 16 moving NE.
At 0950 hours 1Tp reported 20 vehicles moving SE with their head at 603326 and more vehicles at 600332. Half an hour later they reported 12 vehicles at 601328 and 3 lorries and a gun at 606330, all stationary facing East.
At 1035 hours the advance began. 20 vehicles were reported by 2Tp advancing East with the head at 602336. A quarter of an hour later they reported that the number of vehicles had increased to 100.
At 1100 hours 200 vehicles were moving towards ALAM EL RIM from the West.
At 1110 hours 1Tp reported 50 vehicles in WADI EL MELLA moving East. Their position was given as 60803250.
At 1124 hours they reported that enemy vehicles were advancing SE from ALAM EL MELLA and some were moving South of ALAM EL RIM. There was a good deal of shellfire at the time.
At 1210 hours 2Tp reported that the main enemy column was in 3 groups stretching for 3 miles East from ALAM MELLA. There was ½ mile between each group.At 1225 hours the head of the column was moving SE and 20 more large lorries were approaching ALAM MELLA from the West.
At 1230 hours 1Tp reported 6 vehicles retiring SW at 610322.
At 1235 hours 3Tp made contact with our gunners who had been shelling the enemy column. Half an hour later 2Tp reported the rear of the enemy column at 615330 heading NW.
At 1415 hours they reported that they had last seen the enemy at 605335. Some enemy, including light tanks, were later reported halted at 598335. No further enemy movement was seen.
When the enemy column was shelled some lorries were seen to have been hit and were quickly towed away.
3Tp relieved 5Tp at Pt. 58. 2Tp remained at BIR MAGASID and 4Tp at ALAM EL HATSHI. No enemy movement seen.
At 0630 hours the Sqn moved to Overhanging Rock and then on to C.204 where it arrived at 0705 hours.
At 0725 hours a Lysander dropped a message giving position of FDA patrols.
At 0825 hours Sgt Lamb’s Tp which was just passing C.204 was attacked by 12 to 15 dive bombers who bombed and machine gunned his cars. One plane was shot down by Sgt Lamb himself. The attack lasted for about 15 minutes and Sgt Lamb’s car was damaged by a bomb. A large hole was blown in the sump, no one was hurt. The car was kept at C.204. the remainder of the Sqn (less Lt Burdon’s car, which had broken down and was being mended North of C.204) arrived at Mileage Mark at 1000 hours. They halted 3 miles SW to rest and wait for Lt Burdon’s Tp. In the meantime orders had been received to withdraw and abandon the attack.
The Sqn began to withdraw at 1145 hours and went back to C.204 to pick up the AC. This point was reached at 1400 hours.
Lt Burdon’s Tp with the fitters did not arrive till later and the Sqn did not leave C.204 till 1530 hours. The original order was to go to BIR ABU THMEIL but this was later changed to BIR ABU KILAB. The Sqn halted for the night 11 miles SW of BIR ABU KILAB. The raid had been abandoned because the Sqn had been seen from the air and also because enemy column had advanced East from BIR ENBA and BIR SOFAFI and at one time nearly reached the 610 grid line. The advance was not maintained and the enemy later withdrew.
||B Sqn reported a certain amount of enemy movement in the NIZWET HABS and Pt. 58 areas. The enemy force which had advanced the previous day appeared have withdrawn completely. Three ACs of D Sqn were attached to B Sqn in order to see the ground over which we worked and the methods we use.
3Tp proceeded on a recce to BIR ENBA area and a patrol was sent to the BIR KHAMSA area. Lorry and tank tracks were seen East of BIR ENBA and entrenchments at BIR ENBA itself. Tracks were seen to run NW from BIR ENBA and this must have been the direction in which the column had retired. No movement was reported in the BIR KHAMSA area.
1Tp relieved 4Tp at ALAM EL HATSHI. 5Tp went to Pt. 58 and 2Tp remained at BIR MAGASID.
At 0930 hours 5Tp (2Lt Dier) reported 5 enemy vehs moving East down the main BARRANI – MATRUH road. They came as far East as the 621 Grid. A plan was made to surround them and cut them off. The Rifle Bde sent two platoons and the RHA 2 Bofors guns while two 25pdrs were held ready. However the enemy lorries managed to slip away up one of the deep wadis to the North of the road and escape.
The Sqn moved at 0700 hours and arrived at BIR ABU KILAB at 0800 hours. They then moved to C.90 (634332) arriving there at 0915 hours. The Sqn remained at that place for the rest of the day. There was nothing further to report.
At 1520 hours Sgt Peacock left to carry out a patrol to ALAM EL RABIA area. Unfortunately he broke a stub axle and it was not mended till 2115 hours. He stopped for the night in area 587333.
||The usual enemy movement in the North was reported by B Sqn.
C Sqn took over A Sqn’s northern patrol at 611339.
C Sqn HQ moved to 624338.
A patrol was again sent out to BIR KHAMSA area. 5Tp with Capt Ames and the breakdown lorry returned form BIR THALATA where they had been salvaging a Bren carrier and a 8cwt truck. Those were taken on to RHQ. No enemy movement seen.
4Tp (Sgt Rich) took over the ALAM HATSHI patrol, 2Tp went to Pt. 58 and 3Tp were on a roving patrol North of the main road. Ten enemy vehicles came out of SIDI BARRANI and halted at ALAM EL HATSHI. They later retired West. An enemy 3 engined bomber landed at SIDI BARRANI aerodrome. D (RAF) Sqn arrived with C Sqn. They were under command of Flt/Lt Casano and had come from Palestine, which was their HQ. They had been working in Trans-Jordan, on pipeline protection, and in Iraq on Saudi Arabian border recce.
Sgt Peacock reached his objective and carried out his recce. He arrived back at Sqn HQ at 1100 hours. He left again at 1620 hours in a scout car with two French officers to recce ALAM EL RABIA.
||Usual enemy patrols in the North. A Sqn had nothing to report.
1Tp took over the ALAM EL HATSHI patrol. 5Tp the Pt. 58 patrol and 4Tp went to Kilo 113 (613373). 1Tp (Sgt Hoyland) reported two separate enemy columns moving in the HATSHI area. A party of 13 enemy vehicles came as far East as the spot height 100 (617360), the furthest they had been in this area.
After the column of 13 vehicles had retired from 617360, 1Tp picked up a set of tracks of the type that fastens on to the rear set of wheels on a six wheeled lorry. At 1630 hours 1Tp was shelled from the 616362 area. The fire came from the NIZWET EL HABS direction.
A fighting patrol of the RHA and Rifle Bde took place in the TUMMAR area during the night. The intention was to open fire on some mule lines and during the confusion the Rifle Bde men were to go in and capture a prisoner. Unfortunately the mule lines were not where they were expected to be and the Italians replied with lorry arty fire. The patrol retired and the rifle Bde left behind a Bofors A/Tk gun.
Capt Lawson rejoined the Regt from the Trans-Jordan Frontier Force and went as 2i/c B Sqn.
Lt Burdon took over from a patrol of A Sqn. Sgt Peacock returned with the two French officers at 0800 hours. At 1505 hours Cpl Chambers with one RRAC and 2 French officers in a 8cwt truck left for ALAM EL RABIA.
2Tp (2Lt Henderson) took over the patrol at ALAM MELLA and carried out a recce in that area. He found an Italian Sgt Major’s jacket with some papers in it at 60903272.B SqnDispositions as follows:-
2Tp (Cpl Matheson) at Kilo 113 on the main road,
3Tp (Sgt Taber) Pt. 58 615370,
4Tp (Sgt Rich) ALAM EL HATSHI 612362 area.
1Tp and 5Tp were in reserve and Sqn HQ was at 628363.
1Tp (Sgt Hoyland) found the Bofors gun left behind by the Rifle Bde the previous night. 2 columns of vehicles were on the move during the day. The first comprising 9 vehicles, moved down the main road and halted at 614373. They then shelled 2Tp. The other column of 12 vehicles moved about backwards and forwards in the 608362 area.
Pt. 58 was shelled during the evening and later Pt. 88 (616361). The Sqn Ldr and Capt Lawson were at the latter place at the time, visiting 4Tp.
2Lt Dier proceeded on leave to Cairo.
Cpl chambers and the French officers not having returned, Lt Burdon and his Tp was sent forward to the MOHAMMED EL GERRARI area to look for them.
He saw them in the distance but could not get up to them as he broke a shackle pin. When this was repaired he was ordered to proceed to BIR ENBA to try and locate 15 enemy vehicles reported by Air on the previous evening.
At 0905 hours 2Lt Crankshaw, who was at BIR MAGASID reported vehicles to his North. They were too far away to give accurate information.
At 1000 hours Cpl Chambers and the French officers returned.
At 1900 hours Lt Burdon returned, having seen no enemy movement in the ENBA area.
4Tp took over the ALAM EL MELLA patrol.
At 1025 hours 5Tp at BIR KHAMSA reported 5 enemy vehicles at BIR THALATA.
At 1500 hours there were 15 vehicles at BIR THALATA.
At 1700 hours they were reported moving North.
At 1835 hours 5Tp reported 50 vehicles at ALAM RABIA.
Capt AVC Robarts arrived to take command of the Sqn.
A Tp of the RAF took over the patrol at Kilo 113. 5Tp (Lt Loch) was at Pt. 58, 1Tp (Sgt Hoyland) at ALAM EL HATSHI and 3Tp (Sgt Holland) at Pt. 88.
The usual enemy patrols took place in the morning. In the early afternoon it appeared that the enemy were erecting a high wooden observation post in the TUMMAR area.
5Tp were shelled at Pt. 58 at 1700 hours, 3 shells falling within 50 yards of the Tp Ldrs car. Soon afterwards he sent one car (Sgt McCarthy) to gain touch with the RAF Tp on his North. The car ran into a minefield laid across the road at Kilo 119 and was blown up. No one was hurt and the crew evacuated the car and walked back to Sqn HQ.
There was intermittent shelling between Pt 58 and Pt. 88 during the night. One enemy recce plane flew over the road as far as ALAM EL ABD 638363 and returned. The RAF bombed BARRANI during the night.
0600 hours Sgt Peacock relieved Lt Burdon’s Tp at 611339. At 1620 hours Sgt Peacock recced forward to BIR ENBA to locate any enemy as a platoon of the Rifle Bde were going to spend the night there.
1Tp (2Lt JW Poston) took over the ALAM MELLA patrol.
At 1300 hours 5Tp (Lt Friend) reported no enemy at BIR THALATA. He could not see ALAM RABIA owing to the haze.
Capt Robarts carried out a recce to the forward areas.
A 15cwt truck was sent out early in the morning to try and drag the RRAC off the minefield, it also struck a mine and was blown up. No one was hurt and both vehicles were abandoned. Dispositions:-
2Tp (Cpl Matheson) in the WADI EL MAKTILA 620372 area,
3Tp (Sgt Holland) ALAM EL SAM?? 629368 area,
4Tp (Sgt Rich) Pt. 88 area,
5Tp (Lt Loch) 630360 area.
There was a good deal of enemy activity during the day. A forecast had been made by Intelligence that the Italians were going to resume the advance on this day. Two columns of 15 vehicles each advanced, one each side of the road, as far as the WADI ABU NAFLA 624370. Another column came down the road behind them. 2Tp (Cpl Matheson) was shelled. Sqn HQ moved 1 mile to the East of their usual position but moved back in the afternoon. There was a certain amount of enemy activity in the HABSA area. Lt Ramsey RE was sent up with TSM Bowyer in the afternoon to examine the cars on the minefield and to advise on the best method of getting them away. He reported that there was an Italian 10-ton diesel lorry and an Italian truck blown up on the minefield.
At 1700 hours Sgt Rich reported that shells had scored two direct hits on ALAM EL HATSHI where he had 2 men watching the enemy, neither was hurt. The breakdown lorry arrived at Sqn HQ to assist if possible in towing the RRAC and 15cwt truck off the minefield.
Heavy bombing or shelling was heard during the night in the TUMMAR area. The patrol of the Rifle Bde returned through 2Lt Crankshaw’s Tp at BIR MAGASID. They had seen no enemy.
At 0730 hours Sgt Nash relieved the MAGASID patrol.
At 0825 hours Sgt Nash reported 15 vehicles moving SE towards NIZWET HABS. They halted there and later disappeared North.
3Tp took over the ALAM MELLA patrol and 2Tp the BIR KHAMSA patrol. 3Tp carried out a recce of the 612322 area acting on information from an RA patrol that there were 20 vehicles in that area. 4Tp also carried out a recce of the 619322 area. Both troops reported no enemy.
TSM Bowyer went up with an RRAC and the breakdown lorry to the minefield. The RRAC on the minefield was safely towed away. TSM Bowyer then attempted to tow away the 15cwt with his own RRAC. While being guided into position by TSM Bowyer the RRAC struck another mine which went off seriously wounding TSM Bowyer. He was taken back to Sqn HQ and attended to by the Rifle Bde Doctor. He was considered too ill to be removed. He died at 1345 hours and was buried in the presence of the Sqn at 1630 hours. The exact site of the grave is 62833635, SIDI BARRANI 1/100,000.
There was some enemy movement during the day. A column of 24 enemy vehicles moved via HATSHI to ALAN EL IMMA, halted there and moved back in the afternoon. The area 618373 was shelled in the afternoon. Lt Ramsey RE and Cpl Savigar proceeded once more to the minefield and removed the remaining RRAC, the Italian vehicles were burnt. The French Motor Coy carried out a fighting patrol into SIDI BARRANI during the night.
Lt Burdon’s Tp relieved Sgt Peacock at 611339. At 1135 hours Lt Burdon proceeded West on a patrol to cover some RA officers who were making a recce. He went as far as BIR ENBA and saw no sign of the enemy and returned to his original position at 1700 hours.
2Lt Reid Scott’s Tp proceeded on a recce to the ALAM HELEIQAT 601350 area. He returned at 1725 hours and reported what he had seen and the nature of the going. Two enemy bombers were seen flying West to east over ALAM EL FAKRI during the morning. 5 enemy bombers were later seen flying East to West.
4Tp took over the ALAM MELLA patrol.
At 0800 hours 2Tp (2Lt Henderson) reported an enemy force in the ALAM EL RABIA area. The main force was in the area 56503350 and the other from Trig point 248 to 57703370. At the same time 10 vehicles were reported stationary at BIR THALATA area. 4Tp (TSM Clarke) was sent to recce the BIR THALATA area. He reported that there was no enemy at BIR THALATA and no sign of any vehicle tracks in the area.
2Tp at ALAM EL MAQRUN 617373. 3Tp at Pt. 58 and 4Tp at Pt. 88.
20 enemy vehicles moved via AQQAQIR ABU MOREIRA 613366 to 622370 where they were shelled by our guns from ALAM EL SAMN. They retired to 613368. A strong column of 40 vehicles moved East between the main road and the coast as far as Grid 619. They stopped there and were joined by other vehicles. The other column retired. 21 enemy fighters flew round at a height of 20,000 feet from 1000 hours. The column on the 619 Grid remained in position during the night. Capt Fuller, Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry, a staff officer from Div visited the Sqn. He and Major Miller visited the guns at ALAM EL SAMN.
2Lt Crankshaw relieved 2Lt Reid Scott at BIR ABU MAGASID 614348. He carried out a patrol 4 miles West and 5 miles North from that place. The going was bad.
1Tp (2Lt Poston) took over the ALAM MELLA patrol. 2Tp (2Lt Henderson) was in the BIR KHAMSA area. 1Tp carried out a recce with the RHA (Major Withers) in the BIR THALATA and Trig points 208 596334 areas. They were looking for suitable gun positions.
At 1600 hours Capt Justice the MO visited the Sqn.
At 1730 hours Capt Lloyd arrived to take over command of the Sqn. Capt AVC Robarts left to take over command of C Sqn.
RAF Tp in WADI ABU NAFLA, 5Tp (Lt Loch) Pt. 55 area, 1Tp (Sgt Hoyland) Pt. 88 area.. 2, 3 & 4Tp in reserve.
Sqn HQ and the reserve Troops spent the night 16/17 at BIR ABU SULEIMAKA 631361 and moved at dawn to 630358. The move took place as it was thought that the old position had been spotted by the enemy from the air.
There was considerable enemy movement in the area North of the road on the 619 Grid line. The enemy appeared to be consolidating their new position at 619374. About 20 vehicles moved from NIZWET EL MABSA to ALAM EL HATSHI.
At 1030 hours 20 enemy aircraft flew over the area for half an hour. The CO visited the Sqn in the morning. Several AA guns fires at the Lysander which flew over the enemy camp at 619374 in the afternoon.
Major P Payne Gallway was evacuated sick and Capt AVC Robarts took over command.
5Tp took over ALAM MELLA patrol. 1Tp brought in an Italian M/C found in the ALAM MELLA area. It was in good running condition. 2Tp (2Lt Henderson) was in the BIR KHAMSA area.
At 0900 hours 5Tp left its position to carry out a recce of BIR THALATA. No enemy movement seen.
2Tp (Sgt Mathison) was in the WADI ABU NAFLA, 3Tp (Sgt Holland) at Pt. 55 and 4Tp (Sgt Rich) at Pt. 88.
9 enemy vehicles moved from HABSA South of ALAM EL IMMA. On the way they were joined by 10 more. 12 large lorries joined the enemy force at 619374 at 0935 hours.
3 parties of 5 vehicles each left the TUMMAR area during the morning, one moving to HABSA and the other two SE.
the columns at ALAM EL IMMA retired West in the afternoon.
Capt Lawson visited RHQ and stayed to lunch. Major Collins 16/5th Lancers, a staff officer from Div, stayed the night with the Sqn.
1Tp (2Lt Reid Scott) took over the BIR ABU MAGASID patrol. 4Tp (Sgt Peacock) was at the Xtracks 611339.
At 0935 hours 1Tp reported and enemy column of 20 vehicles leaving NIZWET EL HABSA and 10 vehicles leaving ALAM EL HATSHI. These columns joined at the Xtracks 611354 and moved South down the western track to BIR EL KHIREIGAT 610350. They stayed there for a quarter of an hour and then turned back North and returned to NIZWET EL HABSA. On their way South they travelled in good air formation with four guns in front and four behind. When they turned round and went North they travelled in single file.
3Tp took over the ALAM MELLA patrol and 1Tp relieved 2Tp at BIR KHAMSA. Two natives appeared at Sqn HQ and asked to be taken to Major Baird the Western Desert Liaison Officer. They were sent back to RHQ with the Echelon.
5Tp (Sgt Cameron) in the Pt. 32 (631369) area, the RAP Tp in the 623365 area and 1Tp (Sgt Hoyland) in the Pt. 88 area.
From 0630 to 0730 hours the RHA from ALAM EL SAMN shelled the enemy position in the WADI MAKTILA 619374. One big column of black smoke was seen. The enemy returned the fire but could not find the gun position. They fired down the coast road, then across the main road and finally between ALAN EL SAMN and the main road.
5Tp (Sgt Cameron) came under fire, one salvo landing within 50 yards of a car. It did not appear that the Tp was shot at, but merely happened to be in the line of fire. After the shelling had ceased all activity closed down owing to a bad sandstorm which severely limited visibility.
1Tp reported an enemy column in the HABSA area, which appeared to be recceing for wells.
The Comdr of the Support Group, the colonel of the Cameron Highlanders and General Dorman Smith visited the Sqn in the evening to make arrangements for a recce at dawn. Lt Loch went sick and returned to Cairo.
There was a bad sandstorm all day, 1Tp (2Lt Reid Scott) was at BIR ABU MAGASID and 3Tp (Lt WV Burdon) at 611339. NTR.
4Tp (TSM Clarke) took over the ALAM MELLA patrol. NTR all day.
A patrol of the Rifle Bde were in the area North of the main road. 3Tp (Sgt Holland) was at Pt. 55 and 4Tp (Sgt Rich) were firstly at ALAN EL IMMA and then in the area 612360.
For the first time for many weeks no enemy patrols were seen. Major Miller, Brigadier Gott and the Colonel of the Camerons went on a recce at dawn to look at the enemy positions in the WADI MAKTILA. While doing this they came upon a party of Libyans who were picking melons on a melon patch. There were 5 men and they were about 400 yards from the Brigadier’s party who were observing the enemy camp. They did not appear to have heard the cars approach and only some of them carried arms. There was a certain amount of movement in the Pt. 90 area. Major Miller carried out a recce in the afternoon.
The CO and Capt Robarts visited the Sqn in the evening. 3Tp (Sgt Holland) reported that the enemy had an observation post in the melon patch.
5Tp (Sgt Smedley) relived 1Tp and 3Tp remained at 611339.
The CO and Capt Robarts carried out a recce in the area ALAM EL IMMA. NTR.
5Tp (Lt Friend) took rations to BIR THALATA for the KHAMSA patrol. On his way back to take over the patrol at ALAM MELLA one of his RRAC broke a rear spring. 2Tp (2Lt Henderson) were then ordered to take over the ALAM MELLA patrol and 5Tp to return to Sqn HQ. Owing to an Air report of 80 vehicles at 576308 1Tp carried out a recce of the area West of BIR KHAMSA. No enemy were seen.
The Rifle Bde was in the area North of the road. RAF Tp were in the Pt. 55 area and 1Tp (Sgt Hoyland) in the area between Pt. 88 and ALAN EL IMMA.
Again there was very little enemy activity. Some vehicles were stationary in the Pt. 90 area and some shells were fired from there into area 611367 at 1715 hours.
Four Troops of the Sqn were in reserve which was unusual and they took advantage of the situation by carrying out maintenance on the cars and gun cleaning and also having themselves a good wash.
Two patrols out in the usual positions. NTR.
3Tp (TSM Woodward) took over ALAM MELLA patrol.
At 1700 hours 3Tp started a recce of the THALATA area.
At 2000 hours 1Tp at BIR KHAMSA reported sounds of vehicles moving to their North. Noise stopped after half an hour.
Sqn HQ moved about 2 miles SE to 626324.
One column of enemy vehicles moved out from Pt. 90, went as far East as 607370 and then retired to Pt. 90.
An explosion was heard from the minefield at Kilo 119. The White House at MATRUD was blown up as it was considered to be too prominent a landmark.
An attack was to be made on the enemy camp in the WADI MAKTILA during the night. 8th Hussars and the Cameron Highlanders came under command of Support Group. Major Miller wet to a conference at Support Group HQ in the morning and also took the Colonel and Sqn Ldr of the 8th Hussars over the ground on which they were likely to have to operate. The RHA were to shell the camp from 1900 hours to 2300 hours and the Camerons attack from the South at midnight. The French were to make a diversion along the coast road from the East. The 8th Hussars were just SW of BIR HASHIM and their role was to deal with and counter attack from the West during the withdrawal on the following morning. They had a Tp of RHA supporting them. The RAF were to bomb HABSA and TUMMAR camps during the night and also to provide fighter protection during the evening and on the following morning.
2Lt Spickernell arrived with the Sqn in the evening.
3Tp (TSM Woodward) carried out a patrol 3 miles West of BIR THALATA. No enemy was seen.
At 1030 hours 4Tp (TSM Clarke) relieved 1Tp at BIR KHAMSA and 5Tp (Lt Friend) took over the ALAM MELLA patrol. Lt Turnbull went on leave.
The plan was carried out as arranged. The Camerons were unable to penetrate the enemy camp to any great extent owing to the heavy small arms fire they encountered. They captured one prisoner and destroyed some lorries. They lost 2 killed and 4 wounded. No counter attack was made so the 8th Hussars did not come into action. They did however fire at the RAF Tp (P/O Douglas) who was going up to Pt. 58. The Camerons withdrew successfully.
A column of 20 vehicles moved from HABSA to 612373 at 0945 hours and then retired West. 30 vehicles were reported in the ALAM EL SHAMIKH area during the afternoon and there appeared to be taking up a position there. While trying to get a close view of these vehicles the RAF Tp were twice shelled. It was seen that one enemy vehicle had been blown up on the minefield at Kilo 119 as a result of the explosion heard on the previous day. The troops who were out during the night and early morning did a lot of good work collecting stray Camerons who had lost their way returning from the battle.
1Tp at BIR ABU MAGASID and 4Tp at the southern patrol position at the Xtracks 611339. 21 enemy vehicles were seen stationary on the ridge at ALAM ABU HILEIQAT 602350 and they remained there all day.
At 1600 hours 4Tp carried out a recce to the BIR ENBA area. No enemy movement seen.
2Tp (2Lt Henderson) took over the ALAM MELLA patrol. Lt Friend took over as 2i/c of the Sqn during the absence of Lt Turnbull on leave. The MO (Capt Justice) visited the Sqn during the afternoon.
25 vehicles were still in the ALAM EL SHAMIKH area. Two other columns were reported, one at 627371 and the other on the coast track at 629372. Both of these columns eventually retired as did the vehicles in the ALAM EL SHAMIKH area. C Sqn reported that large numbers had left HABSA and gone first of all West and then South. A patrol was sent to see if HABSA was unoccupied but some enemy were found to be still there.
5Tp (Sgt Cameron) reported two men in a block-house at 628370.
At 1630 hours 20 vehicles were seen moving from Pt. 58 to the enemy camp in the WADI MAKTILA. 7 or 8 men were also seen on the 617 grid line just North of the main road. An enemy recce plane flew over the Troops in reserve and was engaged with fire.
3Tp (Lt Burdon) relieved 1Tp at BIR ABU MAGASID and 5Tp (Sgt Smedley) took over the 611339 patrol.
At 0700 hours 3Tp reported no enemy in the ALAM HILEIQAT area but visibility was bad owing to the ground mist.
At 0745 hours they reported that the 21 vehicles seen on the previous day were still in the same position and their earlier report was incorrect.
At 1100 hours the CO, Major Withers RHA and Capt Robarts went on to ALAM HILEIQAT to look for suitable gun positions. Considerable dust could be seen from the ALAM TUMMAR – NIZWET HABSA area and noises of moving vehicles could be heard. The force at HABSA seemed smaller and it was thought some of it was moving SW. 40 vehicles could be seen at HABSA, 20 near TUMMAR and 20 at ALAM KHUNFIS. From ALAM HILEIQAT 50 vehicles could be seen in the ALAN NIBEIWAT area and it appeared that ground defences were being constructed. There may have been many more vehicles beyond the ridge.
At 1800 hours 4Tp (Sgt Peacock) joined 5Tp at the latter’s position preparatory to escorting the guns of the Left Column to a position chosen by Major Withers during his recce with Capt Robarts.
There was a certain amount of air activity during the day, six fighters and two recce planes being seen by the northern patrol.
In the middle of the night the guard at Sqn HQ reported they could hear vehicles moving. The patrol at ALAM MELLA said they could hear nothing. It was later discovered that they were our own gunners moving up to a position from which they could shell the new enemy positions at ALAM NIBEIWAT.
3Tp (TSM Woodward) took over the ALAM MELLA patrol and also took rations to the Tp at BIR KHAMSA. They later carried out a recce of the BIR THALATA area but visibility was very bad owing to a sandstorm.
The Navy shelled BARRANI from 0300 to 0400 hours. Planes first dropped parachute flares over the target area. Some fires and explosions were seen and heard
Some vehicles were reported in the ALAM SHAMIKH area in the morning. The camp at the WADI EL MAKTILA appeared to be more spread out and there were parties of men digging.
In the evening shells were fired at HATSHI and Pt. 88. Major Paley of the “I” Branch visited the Sqn and looked at the enemy from Pt. ?6.
3Tp (Lt Burdon) was at BIR ABU MAGASID, 5Tp at 611339 and 4Tp were left flank guard to the guns who were 1 mile South of ALAM HILEIQAT. No enemy movement was seen.
At 1730 hours the guns shelled the enemy position at ALAM NIBEIWAT for 20 minutes. The enemy vehicles retired out of sight.
||There was a very bad sandstorm blowing throughout the day. It started in the middle of the night. Visibility was nil all day. The storm died down in the evening.|
C & A Sqns had nothing to report.
B Sqn area during the evening when the dust had died down somewhat, 2Lt Spickernell’s Tp reported that 8 enemy vehicles had come out from NIZWET HABS towards ALAM EL HATSHI. The vehicles halted one mile NE of the latter place and spent the night there.
Coys of the 60th Rifles relieved the Coys of the Rifle Brigade in the right and left columns.
Major Leetham arrived to take over command of the Regt, the Colonel having gone the previous day to command the Support Group in the absence of the Brigadier.
||C Sqn had nothing to report.
No enemy movement reported. 3Tp (TSM Woodward) took over the BIR KHAMSA patrol and 1Tp (2Lt Poston) the ALAM MELLA patrol. The latter Tp carried out a recce of the BIR THALATA area during the day and then returned to a position just West of ALAM RIM.
B Sqn dispositions were as follows:-
2Tp (Sgt Mathison) North of the main road,
RAF Tp (P/O Douglas) at Pt. 58,
1Tp (Sgt Hoyland) at Pt. 88.
It was reported that the enemy vehicles in the HATSHI area had retired. No enemy movement was reported during the day but sounds of blasting were heard from the direction of TUMMAR and MAKTILA camps between 1530 and 1700 hours.
RHQ position was still ALAM EL GIBARAT.
||A message was received during the night which read as follows:-
“Information denotes caution”.
Later in the day it was learnt that Italy had invaded Greece. It had been expected that they might make a simultaneous advance in this area. However none came. No Sqn reported any enemy movement. B Sqn saw one enemy bomber escorted by 9 fighters flying East to West towards SIDI BARRANI at 1535 hours.
||C Sqn had nothing to report. 3Tp (Lt Burdon) was at BIR ABU MAGASID and 4Tp (Sgt Peacock) at 611339.
2Tp A Sqn (2Lt Henderson) carried out a recce of the BIR THALATA area., no enemy seen. Capt Lloyd visited RHQ.
B Sqn dispositions:-
5Tp (Sgt Cameron) North of the main road,
RAF Tp (P/O Douglas) at Pt. 58,
1Tp (Sgt Hoyland) in the Pt. 88 area.
The patrols reported that the numbers of enemy vehicles in the Pt. 90 and MAKTILA area appeared to have decreased.
One enemy bomber flew East at 1230 hours at approx 5,000 feet. This machine was fired at by the Italian AA guns in the TUMMAR area.
||4Tp C Sqn ( Sgt Peacock) took over the BIR ABU MAGASID patrol and 1Tp (Lt Reid Scott) the patrol at 611339. At 1100 hours 4Tp was machine gunned by a Lysander. Sgt Peacock waved his arms and the plane flew away. At 1630 hours 3Tp (Lt Burdon) left to carry out a recce of the NIBEIWA area.
A Sqn had NTR.
B Sqn area 3Tp (Sgt Hoyland) took over the Pt. 58 patrol and 4Tp (2Lt Spickernell) the Pt. 88 patrol. Major Miller visited RHQ as did the other Sqn Ldrs. No enemy movement.
1Tp (Lt Reid Scott) at BIR ABU MAGASID reported 12 vehicles moving SE from HABSA at 0950 hours. At 1000 hours they disappeared in the area 609360. 5Tp (Sgt Smedley) was in observation at 611339. SSM Chapple returned to the Sqn after being in hospital.
2Tp (2Lt Henderson) took over the patrol at BIR KHAMSA and 4Tp (TSM Clarke) the patrol at ALAM MELLA.
Some unidentified aircraft were reported flying East.
2Tp (Sgt Mathison) in the Pt. 32 area, RAF Tp (P/O Douglas) at Pt. 58 and 1Tp (Sgt Hoyland) in the Pt. 88 area.
A patrol of the 60th Rifles who were lying up for enemy North of the road shot at a Libyan patrol and are believed to have inflicted 3 casualties. 18 enemy planes were reported flying East at 1250 hours. 12 planes returned at 1340 flying in a very ragged formation. One bomber and one fighter flew over 2Tp at 300 and 50 feet respectively, both appeared to be in a bad way. They were fired at and the fighter swerved. The bomber’s engines were covered in oil, the rear door was open and something was hanging out. It was later learnt that there had been a battle over MATRUH and ? enemy machines had been brought down. We lost 4 planes.
During the day two enemy columns were reported moving East astride the main road. They were reported by the arty OP at ALAM EL SAMN which was later shelled and had to withdraw. Some shells also fell in the ALAM GALUD area. One of the columns reached the 625 Grid line but eventually both columns retired West.
At ALAM GIBARAT. Major Leetham, who was commanding the Regt, visited A Sqn HQ.
Air Attack on C Sqn 11th Hussars on 8-10-40
10-10-40 (sgd) Lt C
- Place. Cistern 204 (575287).
- Date. 8th October 1940.
- Time. 0825 hours.
- Low dive machine gunning and bombing.
- 12 to 15 BREDA 65’s.
- no previous reconnaissance.
- Troop was stationary and dispersed over 500 yards.
- Direction of Attack. From East.
- Direction of Withdrawal. West.
- Damage Inflicted by Enemy. One MARC disabled by bomb causing sump to have a large hole blown into it and damage to under part of engine.
- Enemy Casualties. One enemy BREDA 65 brought down by Bren gun fire. The machine burst into flames on hitting the ground and the pilot was killed.
- General Notes. The leading Troop of C Sqn was halted in area Cistern 204, when the Troop Leader, Sgt Lamb, saw two enemy planes overhead. These planes dropped two bombs, one of which landed just in front of the car causing considerable damage, but at the time the extent of this damage was not known. The Troop commenced to move, but at the same time Sgt Lamb saw 12 enemy planes to the East of him which commenced to turn and dive at him and his other two cars. He fired at the first plane diving straight at him and this plane crashed to the ground within 30 yards of his car and burst into flames. The legs of the pilot and his body was mutilated. The pilot had been hit twice in the head by bullets and the visor was shattered. The remainder of the planes carried on bombing and machine gunning; and after Sgt Lamb had moved for ¼ mile his car stopped owing to the damage caused by the bomb previously mentioned. The bomb, it was ascertained later on, fell at a distance of 30 yards from the vehicle. A splinter struck the front axle and tore off the base of the sump. Sgt Lamb ordered his crew to run to a nearby Bir while he carried on firing. The enemy aircraft paid no attention to the dismounted men and as soon as they saw that Sgt Lamb’s car had stopped, they left it and turned their attention to the other two cars, which they bombed and machine gunned for several minutes and then flew off in a Westerly direction. Sgt Lamb’s car was hit in several places by bullets.
This is by no means the first time that immediately a car stops, and therefore presumably in their opinion “out of action”, that they have either flown off or paid no attention to it.
A nominal roll of personnel in the Enemy Sqn was found on the Pilot and has been handed to Wing Commander Brown.
Commanding, 11th Hussars PAO.
Report on a Patrol Carried out By Troop C Sqn 11th Hussars on 5/6 October 1940
Ref Map SIDI BARRANI 1/100,000
In the Field, (sgd) JFB Combe. Lt Col
6-10-40 Commanding, 11th Hussars PAO.
- Composition of Patrol.
Sgt Peacock (Commander)
1 Ford Scout Car
- Patrol left BIR HASHIM 637350 at 1245 hours on 5th Oct and proceeded to area Pt. 217 583331, arriving there at approx 1700 hours. From this position approx 50 lorries were seen stationary in area Pt. 239 673336. Patrol proceed to area Pt. 219 581335 and nothing was seen from this position. Patrol withdrew and bivouacked area Pt. 217 583331.
At 0830 hours on 6th Oct patrol proceeded to Pt. 218 384354. The ACs were left here and the patrol leader went North in the scout car to Q of QUTHUTH, 583336 thence West crossing East and West track at 57573356, thence NW to cistern 626 574336. At the point where he crossed the track fresh diesel marks of approx 5 lorries were seen on the track. The visibility up to this time was approx 100 yards owing to the heavy mist.
On reaching Cistern 626 the mist cleared slightly and the patrol leader was able to distinguish extensive diggings 900 yards to his North (area 57463371). The diggings looked like a trench and parapet approx 3 feet in height and 100 yards long, running NE and SW. the top of the digging was irregular and not levelled.
Immediately North of the digging were rectangular objects resembling heaps of stones approx 5 feet high and 20 feet long. One of these had what appeared to be a doorway. No gun was observed in these objects and the patrol leader moved up closer to get a better view.
At least 50 men were seen working in the digging area. The men did not look like soldiers and were dressed in various forms of apparel such as white civilian caps, black or dark blue skull caps, blue shirts, white shirts, light and dark coloured slack. One man dressed in light coloured suit and trilby hat, accompanied by a soldier in green uniform and stiff cap appeared and walked to the edge of the digging.
The gentleman in the trilby hat had a bundle of papers in his hand with which he gesticulated and pointed as if explaining the digging to his colleague. They were all Europeans. The patrol leader formed the opinion that they were civilian labour.
Only 5 lorries were seen stationary in area Pt. 238 573336 but it is possible that the remaining 45 of the 50 seen the previous evening may have been out of sight down a dip.
Report on a Patrol Carried out By Troop C Sqn 11th Hussars on 9/10 October 1940 Headquarters,
Sgt Peacock, 1 scout car, 1 MAC and 1 RRAC left at 1520 hours on patrol to ALAM RABIA area to ascertain if enemy was still there. He was ordered NOT to get close and not to be seen at any cost. Owing to mechanical breakdowns patrol did not reach 587333 until 2147 hours, where he remained for the night. At dawn he moved forward to 58413332 from where he could see that the diggings at ALAM RABIA had increased. He could also see men walking about and marking. One lorry was visible in area Pt. 238 573336.
Peacock moved to 58283342 from where he confirmed what he had already seen. No movement was seen on track running East and West from Xtracks 569335 – BIR ENBA, also No movement seen in area West of 584333. Numerous tracks of diesels and some light tanks seen in area SIDI MUHAMMAD EL GERNARI 59533336. Patrol returned at 1100 hours.
In the Field, (sgd) JFB Combe. Lt Col
11-10-40 Commanding, 11th Hussars PAO.
Reconnaissance carried out by 1Tp A Sqn 11th Hussars 30/31 October.
Area SOFAFI and RABIA.
- Route Taken.
From the HQ to ALAM EL MELLA – Pt. 215 598323 – Pt. 226 577324 – just North of Pt. 227 57433280. The enemy was observed from this last position.
- Information – Enemy.
RABIA. Observation good. 30 – 40 vehicles (mostly lorries) seen parked close together. These were located slightly on the East side of the top of RABIA. Diggings observed South of RABIA roughly along the Grid Line. No movement.
SOFAFI EAST CAMP. 100 vehicles fairly close together. There were what looked like a breastwork on the South and SE of these vehicles roughly on the 220 contour line. No movement.
SOFAFI NORTH CAMP. Nothing could be seen of this camp.
SOFAFI SW CAMP. From bearings taken, the location of this camp appeared to be Pt. 215 56553322. 4 or 5 vehicles could be seen moving about inside the camp. Six vehicles were seen approaching the camp from HABATA. Diggings were seen around the South and SE side. Observation difficult. No movement of any personnel seen in any of the camps.
Pt. 226 57703240 is the nearest point to the enemy that one can get without being seen. There is a small East and West ridge on this Pt. And some scrub just South of the ridge. This point would serve as an OP. There is no other nearer the enemy than this for an OP. The point from which the patrol observed the camps would not be any good, as it could be seen by the enemy. There is a low level stretch of country all the way along the 330 Grid Line which prevents one getting nearer to the camps without being seen.
MELLA to Pt. 215, 15 mph.
Pt. 215 to Pt. 226, 12 mph except for the last 2 miles which gets worse, 8 mph.
HAQFET UMM EL GHUZLAM to Pt. 227 574327, 13 mph.
All this country is rocky going with patches of camel scrub and camel humps.
The country between our patrol and the enemy was the same.
1.11.40 (sgd) Captain & Adjutant.
Reconnaissance carried out by 3Tp C Sqn (Lt Burdon) 11th Hussars 30/31 October.
From ALAM EL QREISH (588352) it is possible to obtain a good view of the enemy camp near ALAN NIBEIWA (595355). The enemy camp covers the following area:-
59283576 – 59653576 – 59553564 – 59253565
At the SW and NE corners there appear to be three medium tanks each. At 59203570 there are 3 MET. Between these 3 MET and the main road there are 3 stone Sangars in a line running North and South.
A line of stone Sangars running North and South cover the East side of the camp.
Between 100 and 200 MET were counted in the camp, but there may well be more as there is a ridge at the North of the camp which cuts off the view of the North of the camp.
Single lorries moved in and out of the camp apparently haphazardly. There are no tents visible.
At dawn 31.10.40 numerous wood fires were lighted, also what may have been petrol cookers or even acetylene lamps of some description as they gave off a very bright light.
TRACKS. To the West and parallel to the BIR ENBA track there are numerous tracks made by tracked vehicles. Measurements of these tracks are as follows:-
| | | |
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No movements or signs of enemy were seen to the NW or West of ALAM EL QREISH, and the patrol leader believes that he was not observed by the enemy.
31.10.40 (sgd) AVC Robarts Captain,
commanding C Sqn 11th Hussars.
||D Squadron, 11th Hussars. Their concern over air attack inspired their use of an extra pair of light machine-guns mounted on the turret.
|| CO: Lt Col JFB Combe
|| 11th Hussars (Prince Albert’s Own)
||C Sqn reported no enemy movement all day. 5Tp (Sgt Smedley) was at BIR ABU MAGASID and 3Tp (Lt Burdon) at 611339.
A Sqn also had NTR. Capt Hartnell, the MO, (in place of Capt Justice on leave) visited the Sqn.
B Sqn reported no enemy movements outside their established camps. 5Tp (Sgt Rich) moved forward from Pt. 32 to SIDI ABU HAMAR 626370 and got a good view of MAKTILA camp. They reported about 120 vehicles situated in groups. One OP appeared to be in process of construction at 619373. Men were seen walking as far East as the 623 Grid line.
3rd Hussars arrived at NIZWET SEINAB.
|| C Sqn.
3Tp (Lt Burdon) was at BIR ABU MAGASID and 4Tp (Sgt Peacock) at 611339. No enemy movement was reported. Capt Robarts carried out a recce of the area BIR ENBA – ALAM HILEIQAT with officers of the 3rd Hussars. The enemy camp at NIBEIWA was clearly seen and over 100 vehicles counted. A large enemy bomb found 2 miles West of the Xtracks at 611339 was exploded by the RE’s. a piece of shrapnel hit an AC which was 400 yards away from the scene of the explosion.
NTR. 1Tp (2Lt Poston) took over the ALAM MELLA patrol.
B Sqn again reported no enemy movement outside their camps. Pt. 88 was shelled from ALAM EL SHAMIKH at 1800 hours. The 60th Rifles carried out two patrols during the night, one to Pt. 97 in the NIZWET EL HABSA area and the other in the ALAM EL SHAMIKH area.
The six cars of the RAF Sqn which had been back to Cairo for the fitting of No. 9 Sets returned to RHQ.
|| C Sqn.
4Tp (Sgt Peacock) was at BIR ABU MAGASID and 1Tp (2Lt Reid Scott) at 611339. 1Tp looked for a position to the West from which the ground to the West of BIR ENBA could be seen. A suitable position was found at 59704572. Capt Cayzer and a party of officers and NCOs of the 3rd Hussars left for a recce of the BIR ENBA – HILEIQAT area. At 1030 hours 4Tp reported 25 enemy vehicles moving SW at 604353. 10 minutes later they halted.
Orders were sent to Capt Cayzer to cancel his recce and return to Sqn HQ.
At 1045 hours 20 more vehicles joined the others.
At 1054 hours 25 of the vehicles moved South to 604350. They opened up with arty fire to their South.
The shells fell in the area 603345. 1Tp were ordered to withdraw East of this point.
At 1243 hours they moved West into NIBEIWA camp. 1Tp were then ordered back to their original position.
At 1400 hours 4Tp were ordered to recce the area where the enemy had been in order to discover information of enemy vehicles from their tracks.
At 1530 hours they were shelled from NIBEIWA camp.
A Sqn had nothing to report. 3Tp (TSM Woodward) took over the ALAM MELLA patrol. 4Tp B Sqn (2Lt Spickernell) reported at 1015 hours 13 vehicles moving SE from HABSA. They were probably part of the 20 vehicles which joined the column reported by C Sqn.
B Sqn HQ moved to BIR OMAR 627356.
D (RAF) Sqn which was now at full strength (10 ACs) took over B Sqn’s two northern patrols. Their HQ was at B Sqn’s old position.
This left B Sqn with only one patrol, at Pt. 88 (616361). The remainder of their Troops were in reserve.
|| C Sqn.
1Tp (Lt Reid Scott) at BIR ABU MAGASID and 5Tp (Sgt Smedley) at 611339. NTR.
A Sqn had nothing to report. 4Tp took over the ALAM MELLA – ALAM DABASH patrol and 5Tp (Lt Friend) went to BIR KHAMSA and took over from 2Tp. Lt Friend later sent out a patrol to observe South of the 300 Grid line.
2Tp B Sqn (Sgt Mathison) at Pt. 88 reported no enemy movement all day.
D Sqn had nothing to report.
The CO who had returned to the Regt from the temp command of Support Group the previous day, went on leave.
|| At 0820 hours 4Tp B Sqn (Sgt Rich) reported 12 enemy vehicles moving East from HABSA. Their number was later reported to be 21. One enemy plane was flying over these vehicles which halted at 610359.
At 0930 hours 5Tp C Sqn (Sgt Smedley) reported 10 vehicles moving East at 612358. These were almost certainly part of the column reported by B Sqn. These 10 vehicles went out of sight over a ridge. In the meantime Sgt Rich was retiring in touch with the enemy who had stated to advance again. They moved fairly quickly South of ALAM EL IMMA to the 620 Grid line.
At 1155 hours they halted with their head at 621355. There were about 40 vehicles all together including some tanks and guns. 3Tp B sqn (Sgt Holland) was sent to GHOT AREIDA to report any enemy movement to the South. In the meantime another column was on the move.
At 1030 hours 3Tp C Sqn (Lt Burdon) reported 10 vehicles at 592348 moving SE. they were later reported to be 19 and to be halted at the same point.
At 1105 hours they were reported to be at 593349 moving slowly SE. they were in two columns of 10 vehicles each.
At 1226 hours they reached BIR ENBA. Two large tanks were seen in the column.
At 1240 hours 5Tp at BIR ABU MAGASID was ordered to retire owing to the enemy columns advancing to its North and South. They retired 3 miles East. Meanwhile the enemy at 621355 were still halted. The 3rd Hussars and a Tp of guns had been ordered to BIR ABU MAGASID with a view to engaging the enemy column. 5Tp C Sqn were later sent to the HQ of the 3rd Hussars so that information could be passed to them as quickly as possible.
At 1300 hours the enemy at BIR ENBA were reported to be moving North of the track and no more was heard of them. The other column remained halted at 621355.
At 1415 hours our guns opened fire from the South and the enemy began to retire West. The 3rd Hussars eventually appeared on the scene and attacked the enemy at about 1500 hours. However the enemy got away without appearing to suffer any casualties, at any rate in vehicles as none were left behind. After the 3rd Hussars abandoned pursuit 3Tp B Sqn (Sgt Holland) was ordered to recce the area where the enemy had been. Both this Tp and Sgt Rich’s Tp came under heavy shellfire from Pt. 90 and ALAM EL SHAMIKH. They then retired to their normal position.
3Tp D Sqn reported 21 vehicles moving West from this point at 1705 hours. By 1730 hours the area was clear of enemy. Owing to the enemy advance D Sqn patrols had been forced to retire but took up positions before dark. 17 enemy fighters circled over the enemy column between 1200 and 1300 hours.
|| C Sqn.
Major Payne Gallway arrived back and took over command of the Sqn. Capt Robarts left for Cairo. No enemy movement reported.
No enemy movement reported. 3Tp (TSM Woodward) took over ALAM MELLA patrol.
B Sqn had 2Tp (Lt Spickernell) in the Pt. 88 area. 10 enemy vehicles were reported moving West from ALAM EL SHAMIKH at 0740 hours and there was some arty fire in the evening.
Capt Lawson recced the ground over which the enemy had advanced the previous day. Tracks of tanks and guns were seen.
2Tp (P/O Spearing) at ABAR EL SARAHNA (627370) and 3Tp (F/Sgt Ault) in the 620366 area. 1Tp (P/O Douglas) was in reserve.
At 1100 hours 1Tp reported an enemy OP at 62783710. This OP retired West at 1235 hours.
At 1720 hours while 2Tp was returning to their night position they were heavily shelled. No damage was caused.
|| C Sqn.
Sgt Peacock’s Tp was at BIR ABU MAGASID and Lt Reid Scott on the northern patrol. No enemy movement reported.A Sqn. 2Lt Spickernell returned to the Sqn from B Sqn. NTR.
3Tp Sgt Holland was in the Pt 88 area. No enemy movement.
1Tp (P/O Douglas) was at Hill 60 (620336) and 2Tp (P/O Shearing) at ALAM EL SAMN 629368. The position at ABAR EL SARAHNA was found to be unsuitable. No enemy movement reported.
|| C Sqn.
2Lt Crankshaw Tp relieved 2Lt Reid Scott in area 610339. 2Lt Reid Scott took over the BIR ABU MAGASID patrol.
At 1030 hours 2Lt Crankshaw moved South to investigate some enemy vehicles moving East from MOHAMMED EL GARRARI 595333 reported by A Sqn. He broke a spring near BIR YASIM and did not gain contact.
Major Payne Gallway carried out a recce of the area BIR ENBA – Pt 192 – BIR BINT. No enemy seen in the area. From BIR BINT he went up to Pt 161 594351 from where a good view of NIBEIWA camp could be obtained.
At 1615 hours the northern patrol reported 10 vehicles moving East at 613357, 15 minutes later they halted at 605360 where they remained until dark.
2Tp (2Lt Henderson) took up a position at Pt 196 611337
At 1020 hours they reported they could see 4 enemy columns advancing on them 10 miles to their West. 4Tp (TSM Clarke) which was in the ALAM MELLA area reported that they could see nothing. 2Tp were ordered to recce forward to gain further information but at 1050 hours reported they had lost contact. They went 9 miles but saw nothing except for some clumps of bushes which probably accounted for the columns. 2Tp then returned to their original position at Pt 196.
B Sqn 2Tp (Sgt Cameron) was at Pt 88. There was a little air activity.
1Tp (P/O Douglas) at Hill 60 and 3Tp (F/Sgt Ault) at ALAM EL SAMN. NTR.
|| C Sqn.
At 0855 hours Lt Burdon’s Tp, which was on patrol in the area of Xtracks at 610339 reported 7 lorries and a light tank stationary at ALAM ABU HILEIQAT. Men were walking about in the area.
At 0930 hours 22 vehicles moved South from the same place and by 1000 hours they had reached 600347. The total number of vehicles was now reckoned to be between 30 and 35 and they were halted facing West. The original 7 lorries at ALAM ABU HILEIQAT had been joined by another two and were still in the same place. Soon afterwards the column at 600347 moved off in a westerly direction and disappeared over a ridge at Pt 156. Contact was broken as 4 lorries were seen to have turned round and were now moving East as well as 9 lorries moving South from ALAM HILEIQAT. The patrol was now at Pt 170 598347 and they could see another 22 vehicles halted at 592349 facing West.
At 1125 hours this column moved off North and disappeared over the ALAM HAMAM ridge. The 9 lorries moving South and the 4 moving West had disappeared and it was thought that they had joined one of the other columns. The patrol then moved West again and got within 200 yards of the BARRANI – KHAMSA track. Large clouds of dust were seen moving South from SIDI KABISH 594358 but no vehicles.
At 1215 hours 7 vehicles were seen moving South over the ALAM EL HAMAM ridge. They stopped on the ridge for a moment and then turned back into the NIBEIWA camp.
At 1225 hours 12 vehicles were seen moving North from NIBEIWA up the track towards BARRANI. No enemy were reported South of NIBEIWA camp. The patrol observed for a time from Pt 185 and then went on to BIR ENBA where they found some fresh tracks and Sangars NE of the BIR. The sangars were destroyed.
Major Payne Gallway with Lt Col Wilson RHA and Lt Col Petherick 3rd Hussars carried out a recce of the BIR ABU MAGASID area.
A Sqn 4Tp (TSM Clarke) was at Pt 196 611336 and 3Tp (2Lt Spickernell) at Pt 215 598323. 1Tp (2Lt Poston) was at BIR KHAMSA. This Tp carried out a recce 4 miles West of KHAMSA, no enemy movement reported.
B Sqn 4Tp (Sgt Rich) was at Pt 88. There was nothing to report during the day but the evening before our guns had fired into the MAKTILA area and the enemy had replied at ALAM EL SAMN.
D Sqn 3Tp (F/Sgt Ault) at ALAM EL SAMN and 2Tp (P/O Spearing) at Hill 60. No enemy movement was reported. 3Tp were shelled during the evening. During the night the Navy bombarded SIDI BARRANI.
|| C Sqn.
4Tp (Sgt Peacock) relieved 3Tp (Lt Burdon) at Pt 70 598347. 3Tp took over the patrol at BIR ABU MAGASID. 1Tp (2Lt Reid Scott) went to 610339. A patrol to BIR ENBA reported no enemy movement.
At 1600 hours 3Tp reported 3 unidentified aircraft circled over them and flew off West.
2Tp (2Lt Henderson) carried out a recce of the BIR THALATA area.
At 1150 hours they reported a large column of vehicles moving from SOFAFI to ALAM RABIA.
At 1220 hours they were heavily shelled and had to retire.
During the morning 1Tp (2Lt Poston) at BIR KHAMSA reported 5 vehicles moving to their North. These were later reported to be camels.
1Tp (Sgt Hoyland) at Pt. 88. 2Lts Halliday and Cunningham returned from Cairo.
2Tp (P/O Spearing) at Hill 60 and 1Tp (P/O Douglas) at ALAM EL SAMN. NTR.
|| C Sqn.
1Tp (2Lt Reid Scott) took over the patrol at Pt. 170 4Tp (Sgt Peacock) went to BIR ABU MAGASID. Major Payne Gallway visited Lt Col Wilson RHA and Lt Col Petherick 3rd Hussars.
At 1120 hours 1Tp carried out a patrol to Pt. 192 and BIR ENBA. No enemy were seen but during the patrol aircraft were heard overhead but were above the clouds and could not be seen.
At 1205 hours one enemy fighter flew low over the patrol travelling in a westerly direction. The patrol returned to Pt. 170 at 1325 hours.
At 1320 hours 4Tp reported 20 vehicles moving North in the HATSHI area. They soon went out of sight of the patrol.
A Sqn 5Tp (Lt Friend) took over the patrol at Pt. 215 598323 and 2Tp (2Lt Henderson) took over at Pt. 196 611336. No enemy movement reported.
B Sqn 3Tp (Sgt Holland) in the Pt. 88 area. The enemy made 2 journeys from HABSA to HATSHI during the day, on both occasions with 15 vehicles. The first was at 1030 hours and the second at 1330 hours. On arrival at HATSHI they shelled the Pt. 88 area. 8 enemy fighters circled overhead in the morning and some planes were heard in the afternoon but not seen.
Brigadier Gott visited the Sqn in the afternoon.
3Tp (F/Sgt Ault) at Hill 60 and 1Tp (P/O Douglas) at ALAM EL SAMN. No enemy movement reported. Sqn Leader Page left to return to RAMLEH.
|| C Sqn.
5Tp (2Lt Crankshaw) took over the patrol at Pt. 170 and 1Tp (2Lt Reid Scott) went to BIR ABU MAGASID. Two enemy columns moved out and both patrols were in contact with them most of the day.
At 0825 hours 1Tp reported 22 enemy vehicles halted at SIDI ALI 6103356.
At 0915 hours the column began to move SW. the column consisted of 2 light trucks in front and 20 lorries, 4 of which were towing guns. They reached SIDI NAIM 606353 at 0940 hours. Two of the vehicles of the column resembled Bren carriers. They kicked up a lot of dust. The lorries towing the guns did not keep to any one position but moved about within the column.
At 1015 hours they were at Pt. 143 605349. It disappeared from view at 1056 hours one mile North of Pt. 159. Contact was temp lost owing to the fact that the other column (which will be dealt with later) had arrived in the area and acted as rearguard to the original column. The enemy had turned North again and at 1155 hours were at 596358.
At 1225 hours they halted at Pt. 113 603358 where they remained for an hour. At about 1400 hours they moved North and appeared to enter the HABSA camp. The other column was first seen by 5Tp at 0910 hours. 7 vehicles were reported moving South down the BARRANI – KHAMSA track with their head at ALAM EL HAMAM. Later there were said to be 15 vehicles and by 0930 hours they had reached Pt. 185 591346. 5Tp who were moving South temp lost sight of the enemy but later almost ran into it just East of Pt. 185 and was heavily shelled. The column was halted facing East at 593346. The Morris AC broke a king pin and the Tp had to withdraw. It was chased by 9 vehicles and had to move quickly SE. the front axle was damaged and contact with the enemy was lost.
In the meantime 3Tp (Lt Burdon) had been ordered to move out and gain contact. One enemy fighter flew low over 5Tp who at 1035 hours again saw the enemy column at SIDI ABBAS 600345. It was halted facing East. It consisted of 17 lorries, 6 guns and 4 vehicles resembling Bren carriers.
At 1047 hours they moved off ENE and at 1104 hours halted in the area Pt. 159 603345 where they apparently made contact with the other column.
At 1115 hours they moved of fast in a NNW direction with Lt Burdon Tp in contact. They reached Pt. 153 601350 at 1132 hours where they halted for a few minutes and appeared very bunched. They moved off again in a NW direction and were thought to enter NIBEIWA camp. They were not seen again.
At 1230 hours Lt Burdon’s Tp carried out a recce of the area Pt. 192 – BIR ENBA. He remained in the Pt. 204 593340 area while 2Lt Crankshaw was still trying to mend the king pin on his Morris. Eventually the fitter had to be sent.
At 1400 hours considerable dust was seen between SIDI KABISH and NIBEIWA camp.
At 1500 hours Lt Burdon was withdrawn to Sqn HQ.
2Tp (Sgt Cameron) in the Pt. 88 area. At 0815 hours he reported 20 vehicles moving East from HABSA. They halted just West of ALAM EL IMMA. 2Tp retired to Pt. 96 and lost touch. It seems that the enemy then proceeded SW and joined the column first reported by C Sqn’s northern patrol.
At 0915 hours 5Tp (Lt Friend) in the 590334 area reported 2 light armoured vehicles to his North. They were later reported to be moving towards ALAM EL RABIA.
At 1020 hours 5Tp reported the ENBA area clear of enemy but at 1100 hours they were in contact with the enemy forces at SIDI ABBASS 600345 which C Sqn were watching. The enemy soon moved out of sight of A Sqn’s patrol.
3Tp (F/Sgt Ault) at Hill 60 and 2Tp at ALAM EL SAMN. NTR.
|| C Sqn.
3Tp (Lt Burdon) relieved 5Tp at Pt. 170 and 5Tp went to BIR ABU MAGASID in place of 1Tp. 4Tp (2Lt Winlove) went to Pt. 204 590334.
At 0750 hours 3Tp reported a M/C and some other vehicles moving to his North but further investigation produced no other information.
At 1200 hours Major Payne Gallway carried out a recce of the forward areas. At about 1400 hours shells started landing in the area C.446 (598351). 27 shells altogether were fired but it was impossible to see where they came from.
2Tp (2Lt Henderson) took over the southern patrol at 599323 NTR.
4Tp (2Lt Halliday) in the Pt. 88 area. NTR.
3Tp at ALAM EL SAMN and 1Tp at Hill 60. No enemy movement reported during the day. Just before midnight the previous night an unidentified plane dropped two flares over the night position taken up by the two Troops. 4 HE and a number of incendiaries were dropped 300 yards away from the position.
|| C Sqn.
4Tp 2Lt Winlove took over the patrol at Pt. 170 and 3Tp Lt Burdon went to BIR ABU MAGASID.
At 1210 hours 4Tp carried out a patrol to Pt. 192 and at 1302 hours reported 50 enemy vehicles moving NE from 586335.
At 1320 hours 10 vehicles were reported halted at 592350. Half an hour later the patrol moved East and reported 15 vehicles one mile South of ENBA and 32 vehicles two miles South of ENBA. Touch was lost with these columns but at 1530 hours the patrol was shelled from the enemy a mile South of ENBA. They then mysteriously disappeared and were not seen again.
1Tp 2Lt Poston took over patrol at 599323 and 2Tp 2Lt Henderson the patrol at 593355.
At 1300 hours two vehicles moving South along the ENBA track were reported by 2Tp. Soon afterwards 42 vehicles were seen advancing East from RABIA. More vehicles were also reported moving South from ENBA.
At 1350 hours they had reached 586339 and the other column was halted at 585334. Later 15 vehicles were seen moving North towards ENBA. They later increased to 20 and were halted on the track facing North. These were the same as one of the columns reported by C Sqn. The other column of 32 vehicles seen by C Sqn were also seen by 2Tp and at 1425 hours were halted facing East at 588341. The patrol tried to get better observation by moving round to the South and like C Sqn did not see the column again.
1Tp Sgt Hoyland at Pt. 88. Various enemy patrols were seen. One of 15 vehicles was reported at HATASHI and another small column was halted at 608360. By 1600 hours they had all returned to the ridge SW of Pt. 90.
A column of 10 vehicles was reported at 614368. They later moved NW out of sight.
|| C Sqn.
1Tp 2Lt Reid Scott carried out a patrol to ENBA. 4Tp 2Lt Winlove went to MAGASID. Major Payne Gallway, the CO, the Adjt and Brigadier Gott went to BIR SHALLUDI where the left column was situated. NTR.
5Tp Lt Friend took over patrol at 597329.
3Tp Sgt Holland in the Pt. 88 area. The patrol went to the HATSHI area where he spent most of the day. Fewer vehicles than usual were reported in the Pt. 90 area but there was more activity at ALAM EL SHAMIKH where there were between 30 and 40 vehicles. No other movement reported.
A few enemy vehicles were reported in the evening in the 625369 area. They came from MAKTILA and after firing a few shells returned to the camp.
|| C Sqn.
1Tp 2Lt Reid Scott carried out a patrol to ENBA and 5Tp 2Lt Crankshaw went to MAGASID.There was a certain amount of air activity during the day. During the afternoon a Lysander was chased by 3 enemy aircraft. The Lysander shot one down but then had to make a forced landing, but the crew were safe.
3Tp and 1Tp carried out the usual patrols but no enemy was reported.
2Tp 2Lt Cunningham in the Pt. 88 area. There was a little local movement in the ALAM EL SHAMIKH area. Air activity was greater than usual.
Local movement was reported.
|| C Sqn.
The MAGASID patrol reported work going on at the NE corner of NIBEIWA camp. Enemy fighters were also reported circling round the area. In the afternoon 6 or 8 shells landed in the 600357 area.
Only enemy air activity was reported.
4Tp 2Lt Halliday in the Pt. 88 area. At 1015 some shells landed in the Pt. 58 area. Some enemy fighters circled the area.
|| C Sqn.
3Tp Lt Burdon patrolled to ENBA.
A searchlight was seen at RABIA during the evening.
B & D Sqns
||A successful engagement took place during the day with an enemy column. Soon after 0730 hours 4Tp C Sqn 2Lt Winlove reported he was being attacked by 6 enemy dive bombers. The attack lasted for 20 minutes. A further 20 fighters were circling overhead at the time. The Tp suffered no casualties or damage but Major Phillips 3rd Hussars, who was with the Tp at the time, was badly wounded.
At 0835 hours 1Tp C Sqn 2Lt Reid Scott reported movement of small parties round BIR HABSA.
At 1000 hours there was considerable movement in NIBEIWA camp and on the track running North from there to BARRANI.
At 1135 hours a column of 30 vehicles was seen at 606356. They moved towards NIBEIWA camp and entered the camp an hour later. Meanwhile another column of about 20 vehicles had been seen at 694348. This column moved SE and at midday were halted at 595345. A few minutes later another column of 16 vehicles were reported near the graves SE of ALAM ABU HILEIQAT.
At 1230 hours 10 vehicles were seen to move South from NIBEIWA. Ten minutes later they were followed by a further 15. They soon disappeared from the sight of the patrol at MAGASID. At this moment RHQ moved out. They went to BIR ABU MAGASID where they arrived about 1430 hours.
In the meantime an engagement had taken place between the left column (3rd Hussars, 1 Coy KRRC and some guns) and the enemy column.
RHQ went on to ALAM ABU HILEIQAT and arrived just in time to see the tail of the enemy column withdrawing into NIBEIWA. The CO, Major Leetham, the Adjt, Lt Grant Thorold and Lt Burdon were all sitting on the hill watching the enemy. Suddenly the enemy opened fire on the hill with 4 guns. The first salvo exploded about 30 yards from where they were sitting. The party hurriedly left and escaped unhurt. About 3 more salvos were fired before they reached the safety of the ACs but the only damage the officers received were cuts and bruises caused by hurling themselves on the ground when they heard the shell coming over. Major Leetham came off worst in this respect, severely bruising his knee and breaking his watch. Several fires were seen in the area South of NIBEIWA and Lt Burdon and his Tp were sent off to investigate. He found 5 Italian medium tanks and 1 lorry burnt out. There was also one Italian officer and 6 native troops dead. An enemy gun and some ammunition found in the same area were brought away. Further casualties sustained by the Italians were 2 lorries and another gun captured, also several prisoners, including one officer. Our casualties were one man killed and two wounded. An air battle had also taken place. We lost one Gladiator but 3 enemy planes were shot down and 3 badly damaged. The Italians in their broadcast news claimed they had destroyed 12 ACs, 5 tanks, some guns and 7 Gladiators. The total number of ACs claimed by the Italians to date was now 118, actually we had lost 8.
3Tp Sgt Holland in the Pt. 88 area also saw and reported the 30 vehicles which were seen by C Sqn at 606356 and which later entered NIBEIWA camp. In the afternoon he also saw 16 vehicles move out from Pt. 90. They moved very fast and it is believed they halted just NE of NIBEIWA camp as they were seen by the RHA party from HILEIQAT just before they were shelled.
In the morning reported a few vehicles moving in the HATSHI area.
During the afternoon while the battle was in progress a column was reported advancing NE from ALAM RABIA. A Sqn were ordered to investigate but they could not locate the column. It is believed that it returned to RABIA.
RHQ got back to ALAM GIBART about 1900 hours.
|| C Sqn.
3Tp Lt Burdon carried out a further recce of the battlefield area and found some papers and other items. 1Tp 2Lt Reid Scott said that there were less vehicles than usual in NIBEIWA camp. There was a certain amount of air activity and an enemy recce plane was fired at by 5Tp 2Lt Crankshaw at BIR ENBA, and was believed to have been hit. During the afternoon there was an air battle over ENBA and 2 Italian planes were shot down. Both pilots were killed.
2Tp 2Lt Halliday was in the Pt. 88 area. A few vehicles were seen at ALAM EL SHAMIKH but no other enemy movement.
Moved position to NIZWET SHIHAIBA 618342. During the night Capt Ames RAOC took out a Scammel Tractor and Lt Burdon’s Tp went as escort in an attempt to bring back one of the Italian tanks put out of action the previous day. The attempt was unsuccessful as the tanks had been burnt and were totally seized up and could not be moved.
|| C Sqn.|
ENBA patrol reported 10 MET, 4 with trailers at a position approx ½ mile SE of RABIA at 0926 hours.
At 0940 hours 12 MET were seen stationary and facing East at Pt. 229 576336. By 0947 hours these had increased to 27 and moved at 1009 hours 500 yards in a SE direction and then halted. 12 of these then moved on again in an easterly direction and disappeared from sight of the patrol.
At 1025 hours 4 lorries and 1 small vehicle appeared at 584339 moving North, later turning NW and halting at HAQFET KALINA. They then moved off again to the NW and disappeared into the mirage.
At 1100 hours this party re-appeared and returned to 554339 and were lost to sight at 1110 hours moving SW.
At 1134 hours the MET previously reported at Pt. 229 reappeared and moved off SW into the mirage.
At 1300 hours 2Lt Crankshaw 5Tp went to Pt. 192 and buried the pilot of the CR42 which crashed there on 20.11.40 and then returned to his normal position in order to watch a column which was reported moving East from RABIA by A Sqn.
This column was not seen by this patrol.
From 1351 to 1420 hours there was considerable enemy air activity at high altitude. Planes flew over the ENBA patrol (incl 1 recce plane which flew low and was fired on) and Sqn HQ. All the planes flew off in a NW or North direction.
4Tp reported at 0830 hours that approx 80 MET were moving due East from RABIA and reported them as having halted at 0930 hours. This was probably the MET seen by C Sqn and taken over by them at 576336.
At 1045 hours 4Tp reported 7 MET at 583338 which appeared to be patrolling up and down the track between 580336 and 585338. These MET disappeared to the West at 1347 hours.
Between 1400 and 1425 hours 4Tp reported 14 enemy fighters circling over them. These aircraft later flew off in and easterly direction.
At 2230 hours 3Tp 2Lt Spickernell left to carry out a recce of the wadis East of RABIA.
4Tp 2Lt Halliday took over from 2Tp 2Lt Cunningham at 0645 hours. Lt Cunningham reported that the searchlight seen about 1930 the previous night as being in the HABSA area and that the HATSHI area was clear of the enemy.
At 0820 hours 4Tp reported 3 MET and 15 men walking about on HATSHI but he may have been at fault and they may have been on the Pt. 90 ridge. Considerable air activity between 1415 and 1445 hours.
|| C Sqn.
At 1002 hours 2 lorries reported, probably a working party, on the edge of NIBEIWA camp. An explosion was heard and dust seen at 1125 hours at 60853624.
2Lt Spickernell returned from recce of wadis at 0600 hours to Sqn HQ, otherwise NTR.
B & D Sqns NTR.
|| C Sqn.
2Lt Reid Scott 1Tp left for recce of Pt. 199 581342 at 0430 hours and returned at 0735 hours.
During the day 6 enemy fighters and two single S79’s were reported over ENBA and sqn HQ at high altitudes. Two native agents (ours) were handed over to 8th (KRI) Hussars to be dropped in ENBA area.
A Sqn. NTR
Some air activity in the morning. At 0845 hours 11 fighters flew around at about 15,000 ft and at 0850 hours a recce plane flew over Sqn HQ at about 1,500 ft and was fired on without result.
D Sqn. NTR
Capt Ames RAOC accompanied by Major Walsh RAOC, some fitters and a platoon of KRRC for protection took out a Scammel tractor in another attempt to bring back one of the enemy tanks knocked out on the 19th. They reached their objective at about 0230 hours on the 24th and after two hours hard work in the dark succeeded in towing one away.
|| C Sqn.
Black smoke was seen in area TUMMAR CENTRAL lasting for about 20 minutes at 0740 hours. At 0940 hours the MAGASID patrol reported a large column of black smoke in NIBEIWA camp which was visible for about 15 minutes. 2Lt Reid Scott returned from ENBA at 0831 hours after an early morning patrol to the West.
At 0945 hours 10 fighters flew over SHQ at high altitude and later flew over ENBA in a westerly direction.
At 1016 hours 9 fighters flew over SHQ flying East, very high.
At 1300 hours 1 recce bomber flew high over the ENBA and MAGASID patrol.
SHQ moved to 604333. At 0945 10 enemy planes flew East over SHQ at about 8,000 ft.At 1000 hours these planes flew over again in a southerly direction and then turned NW and disappeared.
At 1150 hours 2Tp 2Lt Cunningham reported shelling in the MAKTILA area, 6 MET moving West at 618369 and 6 MET stationary at 620369.
At 1220 hours the enemy shelled Pt. 54 and the MET withdrew to the North. 3 MET were reported at Pt. 90, 15 MET and 50 men on OP at ???
D Sqn. NTR
|| C Sqn.
At 0921 hours 17 enemy fighters flew over ENBA at a medium height flying East. Just prior to this 6 enemy fighters flew East over ENBA and a few minutes later appeared over SHQ and circled round in pairs in the area of C Sqn 8th Hussars and RHQ 8th Hussars. At one time these pairs split into singles as though they were going to attack, but at 0934 hours joined into pairs and flew away North.
At 0937 hours a recce plane flew over ENBA and disappeared North.
At 0941 hours the 17 fighters flew over the MAGASID patrol flying north at high altitude.
At 1510 hours Col Combe and Capt Lloyd in the Colonel’s Ford left to carry out a recce of ALAM EL IGAB – Pt. 211 593336, Trig Pt. 218 587336 and Trig Pt. 223 585337. Within 24 minutes of their arrival at Pt. 223 they were shelled from the direction of RABIA. The shells fell short and no damage was done.
No ground movement was seen throughout the day. 4Tp 2Lt Halliday reported a few enemy planes at about 0940 hours.
D Sqn. NTR.
|| C Sqn.
A patrol 3 miles West of ENBA reported No movement seen. 8 enemy fighters circled ENBA at 1000 hours and flew off SW. one enemy recce plane flew over SHQ at a fairly low height at 1020 hours flying NE.
At 1046 hours 8 enemy fighters again circled ENBA.
At 0700 hours 4Tp reported a large column of smoke approx 7 miles away from their position. They had previously heard heavy AA fire. The Tp proceeded to the area to investigate and found a burnt out Blenheim at 58838333 (Pt. 214) with the charred bodies of the crew, totalling 3. All possible particulars and salvage were taken.
B & D Sqns NTR.
|| C Sqn.
MAGASID patrol reported 12 HE shells landing at ILWET FALLAF 603353. Nothing further to report.
NTR except that 3 crosses were sent out to be erected over the graves of our dead airmen.
B & D Sqns NTR.
|| C Sqn.
At 0935 hours the ENBA patrol reported 3 columns of MET with approx ¼ mile between them. The position of the head of the centre column was 582337. The northern column consisted of 12 MET, centre column 10 MET and the southern column 3 MET. All columns halted facing East. Two guns from the centre column shelled ENBA at 0955 hours and 4 HE shells fell within 200 yards of the OP. The guns were believed to be 105mm.
At 1015 hours all the MET with the exception of 2 moved off SW. the 2 MET were from the northern column and appeared to be functioning as an OP as the patrol thought they had a ladder.
At 1115 hours these 2 MET also retired to the SW.
At 1055 hours 40 MET including 6 large lorries were seen moving East in area ALAM QREISH and at 1100 hours they halted in area Pt. 163 590350. 8th Hussars reported 35 tanks and 15 lorries in the same area.
At 1129 hours 25 MET of this column moved away to the West, while the remaining 15 remained halted, with the crews dismounted and moving about.
At 1134 hours these remaining MET moved West also. The ENBA patrol moved NW to endeavour to see where they had moved to, but could see no sign of them after they went over ALAM QREISH.
At 1137 hours patrol reported No movement seen between Pt. 192 and QREISH 589351.
3Tp 2Lt Spickernell took over the northern patrol from 1Tp at ALAM EL IGAB. 1Tp had moved forward to bury the remains of the crew of the crashed Blenheim. The burial service was read by Sgt Hutchinson. The graves are located at 588334.
3Tp moved forward at 0947 hours to investigated the area Pt. 213 in which C sqn had reported enemy movement. They reported at 1045 hours that this area was clear of the enemy.
Enemy movement during the day was slight. Intermittent MET moved from MAKTILA to BARRANI and vice versa during the morning but visibility was bad owing to dust caused by high winds from the NW.
Air activity during the day consisted of an air circus of 9 fighters over ALAM EL SAMN flying NW also 3 unidentified biplanes.
SHQ moved to 627351
|| C Sqn.
At 1000 MAGASID patrol reported shelling to the North of them. Nothing was seen.
At 1615 hours 3Tp Sgt Nash relieved 4Tp at MAGASID.
At 1635 hours the enemy recce plane popularly known as “BARDIA BILL” flew over ENBA at medium height flying West.
At 1700 hours 4Tp relieved 5Tp at ENBA.
A Sqn. NTR
B Sqn. NTR.
D Sqn NTR.
|| Visibility very bad owing to sandstorm. B Sqn reported a certain amount of air activity in the morning. Otherwise all Sqns had normal patrols with NTR.
- A Reconnaissance of area ALAM ABU HILEIQAT was carried out by Lt Col JFB Combe at approx 1400 hours 3rd November after withdrawing of enemy columns to NIBEIWA from Pt. 153 601356 the following enemy positions were observed.
In all the above camps internal movement was slight, but any vehicles moving appeared to cause heavy dust. The light was fair to good but even with the aid of powerful glasses and a telescope it was not possible to ascertain if any tanks were there or to locate gun positions.
- NIBEIWA Camp.
Bearing of Northern edge of Camp 313°.
Bearing of Southern edge of Camp 304°.
30 – 40 vehicles (lorries) seen in camp on Eastern edge but centre of camp and Western edge not visible. What appeared to be a tent was observed in centre of Eastern edge.
Slight internal movement of vehicles and personnel observed. Vehicles were lorries. Distance too great to ascertain if any tanks, or guns there.
- On bearing of 344° 4 vehicles were observed stationary on high ground. Presumably TUMMAR West Camp. Impossible owing to great distance to ascertain types of vehicles.
- On bearing 3° 18 vehicles were seen. Presumably HABS ROAD Camp. Vehicles were lorries.
- On bearing 20° approx 20 vehicles were seen, presumably Pt. 90 Camp.
Bearing of Eastern edge of camp 22°.
Bearing on Western edge of camp 18°.
- On ALAM ABU HILEIQAT the footprints of 3 men were seen:-
- a) 1 barefoot
- b) 1 Sandal – large with heel,
- 1 Hobnailed – the nails were placed round the edge of the sole. By its shape it is considered this was also a sandal and not a boot.
- A patrol was subsequently dispatched to investigate WELLS to the North of HILEIQAT but was shelled from NIBEIWA and forced to return.
In the Field
An account of Action at IMMA 5th Nov.
At 0830 hours 5th November 1 Troop 11th Hussars reported 20 MET moving East at HABSA. These MET were followed by others and the column appeared to consist of 25 MET moving in the following formation:-
The column halted 615357 at 100 hours and then moved ESE with the head halting at 620355 by 1145 hours. The column then appeared to form 2 parts, the forward one consisting of 12 MET, 13 tanks and 4 guns at the Wells in area 620355. The forward party was further divided into two groups of 12 MET and 2 guns in each group.
- 2 vehicles 200 yards in front,
- 2 guns in lorries,
- 8 lorries with hoods,
- 8 lorries without hoods,
- 2 guns in lorries,
- single vehicle bringing up the rear.
The main column halted area 619357 – 619356 – 617356 – 617357. This main column consisted of 30 – 40 MET.
At about 1415 hors our guns opened fire on the main column, the shells falling 1,000 yards to the East.
The light tank sqn 3rd Hussars under cover of barrage moved forward from about grid line 350 to the ridge at 615355. The Cruiser sqn moved round to the East from 617350 via 620351 to 620355.
Almost before the tanks had commenced their advance, the Italian commander had made up his mind to return because at 1420 hours the blue smoke of diesel engines starting up could be seen in the enemy main column.
At 1427 hours the column was moving West with tanks at the flanks. The column appeared to have tanks on the outside, then un-hooded lorries, and lorries with hoods in the centre. the enemy left behind a rear guard consisting of 15 MET and 4 guns.
These stayed in a position about 617356 and the cruisers appeared to come up to within 700 yards of them. Two enemy guns ceased to fire and then the rear guard made off at 1500 hours in a NW direction. The Cruisers moved parallel to the East of the column and arriving at BP 88 were met with fire from a portion of the enemy column which halted 615362.
9 enemy medium tanks were also encountered at this position and they fired a good deal before retiring. The main column returned NW 613365 thence West to 606365.
In the Field
||CO: Lt Col JFB Combe
|| 11th Hussars (Prince Albert’s Own)
|| C Sqn.
At 0615 hours Brigadier Savoury and the Bde Major proceeded on a recce to Pt. 160 594350 BIR ENBA and ALAM HILEIQAT accompanied and guided by 2Lt Crankshaw. The party returned to SHQ at 1030 hours.
2Lt Crankshaw remained at HILEIQAT to guide a party consisting of Brigadier Lloyd and Brigadier Lomax and their IOs and Lt Col Combe. This party recced HILEIQAT, BIR MAGASID and BIR QITAN. Prior to 2Lt Crankshaw taking over the party had been guided by Sgt Smedley. The party returned to SHQ at 1300 hours.
4Tp 2Lt Winlove relieved 1Tp 2Lt Reid Scott at MAGASID. 2Lt Reid Scott proceeded to contour 100 (617360) to take over from a patrol of D Sqn.
At 1400 hours SHQ moved to area C.269 620350.
At 1453 hours 6 enemy fighters flew over ENBA at high altitude flying East.
At 1720 hours Northern patrol reports 3 enemy shells fell in area 614358, 4 guns fired but only 3 shells exploded.
At 1845 hours ENBA patrol returned to SHQ.
2Tp took over Northern patrol from 1Tp at ALAM EL IGAB.
At 1300 hours D Sqn arrived in SHQ area.
2Tp 2Lt Cunningham at ALAM EL SAMN. 3Tp Sgt Cameron at ring contour 70.
No enemy movement was seen all day except at 0815 hours 9 MET left MAKTILA camp for BARRANI.
From 0850 – 0900 hours an enemy recce plane was seen over the patrol areas and at 0915 hours enemy shelled area to the North of Trig Pt. 88.
SHQ moved to a position approx 1 Kilo SE of A Sqn HQ.
|| C Sqn.
At 0935 hours Northern patrol reported 8 enemy fighters flying over them at high altitude in a NW direction.
At 1000 hours 1 enemy recce plane flew over Northern patrol at medium altitude NW.
At 0600 hours 4Tp left for KHAMSA to take over from 5Tp and at the same time 5Tp left for the Northern patrol at 591343 to take over from C Sqn.
At 0615 hours D Sqn took over from 2Tp at ALAM EL IGAB. 3Tp reported enemy shelling at 590350 (Pt. 163) the first shell landing at 0920 hours – about 3 or 4 guns were in action.
At 0945 hours 3Tp who had a light tank of 1st RTR attached to them reported 100 MET moving West from NIBEIWA. This information came from the 1st RTR and was relayed to 3Tp through the attached light tank.
At 0945 hours 8 CR42’s flew East over this Tp at about 7000 ft, they then flew over SHQ and turned NE.
At 1103 hours 1st RTR again relayed information to the effect that a large coln of MET were moving SW in area 615353.
At 1118 hours 3Tp reported No movement seen RABIA area.
At 1145 hours more relayed information from 1st RTR reported 1 MET at 59723543 stationary, also considerable movement of MET at the southern end of NIBEIWA camp.
4Tp 2Lt Halliday at ALAM EL SAMN. 1Tp Sgt Mathison ring contour 70. All other tps in reserve.
2Tp reported an enemy plane flying low over ALAN EL SAMN from East to West at 0330 hours. This may have been dropping Thermos bombs as some were found in the morning of the 3rd by the CIH between Kilos 82 and 95 on the main road.
D Sqn NTR.
|| C Sqn.
Northern patrol reported that during the night they saw a green light on the ground for approx 10 seconds at Pt. 90 606364.
At 0900 hours BARDIA BILL and escort of 9 CR42’s circled around ALAM FAHKRI and ALAM EL IMMA area until 0928 hours when they flew off West.
At 0911 hours 3 enemy shells fell in area Pt. 100, this is the same area that was shelled at 1720 hours on the 1st Dec. this area is sometimes used as an OP by our arty.
At 0915 hours TSM Scrivener 2Tp relieved 2Lt Winlove at MAGASID (southern patrol) and 2Lt Crankshaw 5Tp relieved Reid Scott 1Tp at contour 100 (Northern patrol).
At 1320 hours 12 MET moved to 605350 from NE and halted facing SW.
At 1321 hours 8 shells landed at 614361 which is 2 miles due West of Northern patrol. It was impossible to tell whether the shelling came from the stationary 12 MET or from the HABS road camp. It may have been that the enemy were shelling camels which had been seen in that area, indeed at 1336 1 shell landed at 1 mile West of the patrol and actually hit a camel.
At 1400 hours the 12 MET which were reported at 605360 were at 60453614 and the total had increased to 14, 6 of which moved off South West while the remainder stayed halted and shelled area 617360. 7 shells landed 1 mile South East of their position, 2 further shells landed 2 miles North of southern patrol at 1442 hours.
At 1450 hours visibility improved and the 8 MET were pin pricked at Pt. 97 608361 and NOT at 60453614. The remaining 6 MET still in same position.At 1510 hours the Northern patrol reported that two large lorries with trailers and 1 M/C moved off NW from Pt. 97.
At 1522 hours all the remaining MET moved off NW and out of sight.
At 1645 hours the Northern patrol was shelled while moving West to HATASHI, 3 shells fell 400 – 500 yards in front of them.
At 0600 hours 1Tp took over from 3Tp at 591343.
At 1100 hours 3Tp returned to SHQ having carried out a recce of the wadis North of RABIA.
At 1705 hours 2 officers (1 RAF and 1 ALO) arrived at SHQ to inspect the wreckage of the crashed Blenheim at 589334.
2Tp 2Lt Cunningham ALAM EL SAMN and 3Tp Sgt Cameron at contour 70.
No enemy movements seen during the day except that 16 MET moved out of MAKTILA and went to BARRANI at about 0830 hours. From 0910 – 0935 hours 9 enemy fighters were circling the area at about 18,000 feet.
D Sqn. NTR.
|| C Sqn.
At 0615 hours the Sqn Ldr did a recce of HATSHI and OPs East of this point. The enemy shelled ALAM HILEIQAT area, BIR EL IMMA area and C.275 from 1020 to 1031 hours. All the shelling except on HILEIQAT appeared to come from Pt. 90.At 1218 hours BIR EL IMMA and C.278 areas were again shelled. 20 rds were fired.
At 1445 hours 3 CR42 flew high over Northern patrol and then circled to the South.
At 1610 hours 1 lorry appeared on the ridge at Pt. 90 and 12 men dismounted. The lorry remained for 3 mins and then moved off SW and disappeared. The men remained for a short time and then disappeared over the ridge.
At 1705 hours the enemy shelled area 612358, 4 rounds. During the night considerable bombing and shelling was heard also flares and verey lights seen. This shelling was also heared by RHQ.
2Tp took over Northern patrol at BIR ENBA from 1Tp.
At 0800 hours Capt Lloyd met 1Tp who escorted him together with the RAF and ALO officers to the burnt out Blenheim.
4Tp 2Lt Halliday at contour 70. No enemy movement during the day except 17 MET left MAKTILA for BARRANI in small groups between 0745 and 0845 hours.
At 1010 hours Pt. 58 was shelled and at 1230 hours Pt. 88 was shelled.
D Sqn. NTR.
|| C Sqn.
2Lt Winlove 4Tp relieved Sgt Nash 3Tp at Northern patrol. 2Lt Reid Scott 1Tp remained at Southern patrol.
At 0905 hours Southern patrol reported 3 enemy guns West of Pt. 90.
At 1005 hours 8 CR42’s flew West of Sqn HQ. Visibility became very bad during remainder of the day owing to dust.
Diaries from A & B Sqns for this date have unfortunately been lost but very little of interest occurred.
|| C Sqn.
At 0814 hours 5 CR42’s flew West over MAGASID at high altitude and at 0815 hours 10 CR42’s flew North over Pt. 88 at medium altitude. No movement seen for rest of day.
At 0600 hours 5Tp took over patrol at ALAM IGAB from D Sqn. No movement seen during the day.
B Sqn. NTR
|| C Sqn.
D Sqn relieved MAGASID patrol at 0630 hours and at 0730 hours D Sqn relieved Northern patrol.
At 0830 hours the Sqn concentrated at C.241 and at 1100 hours Sqn moved to Echelon area to replenish.
At 1315 hours Sqn moved to ENBA area. By 1700 hours Sgt Nash 3Tp was in position at Pt. 199 and 2Lt Reid Scott at Pt. 177, SHQ at Pt. 194. 3Tp was shelled at his position and was forced to withdraw slightly.
At 1830 hours he returned to SHQ having been relieved by patrol from Support Group. No movement seen remainder of day.
1Tp Sgt Hutchinson took over from 3Tp 2Lt Spickernell at KHAMSA.
At 0615 hours Sqn moved to a position 3 miles North of BIR THALATA.At 0630 hours 2Lt Clarke’s Tp went on recce to look for some Free French who were last seen in the THALATA area.
At 0800 hours Sqn Ldr went to BIR THALATA to pick up Capt Ruthven of the RB and 2 Frenchmen.At 0830 hours Lt Turnbull also left for THALATA to pick up two more French.
At 0930 hours Cpl Bailey brought in 5 more French.
At 1230 hours the Sqn Ldr took them all to Support Group HQ.
At 1500 hours 2Tp returned from ENBA patrol.
Sqn moved from BIR OMAR at 1030 hours, replenished at 268345 and then moved to BIR ENBA where they arrived at 1530 hours.
At 1615 hours 1Tp Sgt Taber left for ALAM GREISH 589351 and 2Tp 2Lt Cunningham was ordered to 585349 but missing his way and getting shelled from RABIA he spent the night with SHQ. 3Tp Sgt Cameron and 4Tp 2Lt Halliday spent the night at C.416 585348. 5Tp Sgt Matheson after replenishing, went to RHQ to pick up two new cars; he spent the night at 600340.
|| C Sqn.
No movement seen during the night.
At 0810 hours the Sqn advanced on a one Troop frontage to WADI EL KABSH – WADI KHARRUBA and on to SAWANI KHOR. 1Tp 2Lt Reid Scott doing advance guard to the Sqn. On reaching BIR MITKHATRI 582350 2Tp TSM Scrivener was sent out to the left flank to SAWANI KHOR via ILWET ZATAR 580353, ILWET KHAZA 578358. However he broke down at ILWET ZATAR and 4Tp 2Lt Winlove was sent to replace him.
At 0715 hours WADI KABSH was reported clear of enemy. 2Lt Reid Scott located a camp at 0745 hours at 579???. At least 6 field guns and about 50 men were seen walking about. MET were seen at ALAM EL RIMTH and SAWANI EL KHOR but no tanks.
At 0751 2Lt Crankshaw 5Tp was sent to WADI KHARRUBA and reported it clear of enemy.
At 0758 he was ordered to push North to Pt. 60 580369 which he reached at 0933 hours. From this position he could see MET moving down the BARRANI road from East to West and came under shell fire at 0936 hours. He then turned West and went to C.671 578368 from where he could see a line of lorries stretching NE and SW between Pt. 38 and C.670.
At 1000 hours he reported he was being shelled from RIMTH camp and that he could see a camp at ILWET EL AUSASA and at 1008 hours another camp at ALAM BARAK 575370.
At 1012 hours he was withdrawn to SHQ at ILWET KHAZALI 570358.
In the meantime 2Lt Reid Scott was keeping observation on 579363 and ALAM RIMTH.
At 0808 hours he reported enemy positions at ABAR EL ABDAR 572365 containing 10 MET and 4 guns.
At 0829 hours he reported 50 MET moving West in the area ALAM BARRAKI and at 0915 hours 40 MET moving NNW in a long line between ABAR ABDAR and ALAM RIMTH. He could see no tanks, but 4 guns.
At 0936 hours he was fired at by A/Tk guns from SAMALUS where he could see some enemy MET, 4 field guns and some A/Tk guns.
At about 1000 hours SHQ were heavily shelled from 579363. The 4th RHA replied to this fire and then were engaged themselves. The shelling lasted for 15 minutes.
At 1127 SHQ moved to 57733551. Patrols were in observation from 1100 until 1730 hours at the following places:-
2Tp at 57293507, 4Tp at 56534408, 1Tp at 57083541, 5Tp at 57613601.
No movement seen from RABIA or from West. A camp was seen at ALUM SAMALUS and ILWET QATAR 564358.
5Tp could see shelling from SAMALUS and ALAM RIMTH and movement between SAMALUS – ABAR EILET TAHIR – SAWANI EL KHOR – ALAM EL RIMTH. This patrol was heavily shelled from RIMTH and had to withdraw slightly.
1Tp could see SAMALUS camp and ILWET KATAR camp sangars, and 2 field guns firing from KATAR SE at patrol. 12 shells were fired. No movement seen South and West from these camps.
4Tp No movement seen to West, South and North.
2Tp No movement seen except for large bunch of vehicles, 25 frontage, the leading 5 of which were facing North. These vehicles were seen at 1700 hours. There was also considerable shelling from RABIA in a SE direction at approx 1600 hours.
At 1800 hours patrols were withdrawn. No movement seen during the night except for 2 searchlights in North.
At 1600 hours Sqn came under command Support Group, when 4Tp TSM Clarke went to Pt. 222 581334 to watch RABIA from the East and 5Tp Lt Friend went to HAQFET EL RAMADEN to watch SOFAFI and RABIA camp. 1Tp proceeded from KHAMSA to GUSELIN to watch to the West.
At 0715 hours 5Tp reported 5 MET moving West from RABIA to SOFAFI East camp.
At 0720 hours 5Tp reported heavy shelling from SOFAFI South West camp.
At 0800 hours SHQ moved to 586337.
At 0830 hours a Blenheim was shot down by a CR42 at approx 585331 and the pilot who was injured was picked up by SHQ. The remainder of the crew were killed. The pilot was taken to the ADS at GARRARI.
At 1045 hours 5Tp reported 15 MET moving NE towards SOFAFI Xtracks and at 1330 hours the same Tp reported that a lot of men were lined up at RABIA and looked as though they were preparing to evacuate the camp.
At 1400 hours SHQ moved back to its previous position.
At 1530 hours SHQ escorted Major Turnbull RHA to recce gun positions 2 miles South of HAQFET RAMADEN.
At 1700 hours SHQ was shelled from SOFAFI camp.
At 1705 5Tp reported there were approx 20 MET in SOFAFI East camp, stationary.
At 1930 hours SHQ moved back to old position accompanied by 4Tp.
The Sqn moved at 0615 hours. 1Tp Sgt Taber moved to the north from ALAM EL GREISH and 2Tp also moved North ALAM EL AGRAD, moving along the 586 Grid lime. 4Tp 2Lt Halliday moved to the East end of WADI AL KHARUBA. SHQ and 3Tp followed 4Tp. 2Tp and SHQ arrived at ALAM EL AGRAD at 0820 hours about the same time as RHQ. 1Tp had been delayed by shellfire from NIBEIWA and was then at 588358. 4Tp had also got a bit behind and were at 583360 at this time.
2Tp then proceeded to move NE towards 590370. SHQ with 3Tp leading proceeded due North to the 370 Grid line. 4Tp captured 10 lorries and 300 men at SANYET EL TIFLI which delayed the advance of 4Tp. No resistance was put up by the enemy.
At 0640 hours 3Tp captured a lorry at 585372 and then proceeded to the BARRANI road.
At 0855 hours at 587375 3Tp captured 8 more lorries and 50 men coming from BARRANI, again without resistance.
1Tp and 2Tp who had joined up, saw some men walking about on the high ground at 588375 at about 0910 hours and decided to make an attack. However, on arriving at the hills they were met by A/Tk fire. Sgt Taber and Tpr Ralstein (in different cars) were killed and a RRAC containing Cpl Horton, LCpl Holdsworth and Tpr Hamilton was set on fire and the above men reported missing. Only one man however was seen to jump out of the car.Meanwhile SHQ had reached the BARRANI road 1000 yards to the West of the high ground at 588375 where they found 3Tp Sgt Cameron and the 8 lorries and 50 men he had captured. SHQ retired South from the road followed by 3Tp and the captured lorries and prisoners as the enemy position to the East appeared to be firmly held. 2Lt Cunningham’s and Sgt Taber’s Troops then retired to SHQ where they were reorganised. The prisoners were sent South under escort.
SHQ position was 586368 with two Troops out observing in the line BARRANI – ALAM EL KHOR from the West, while ALAM EL RIMTH had also to be observed as the enemy position there appeared to be fairly strong.
At dusk the Sqn concentrated and leaguered at 584363. The position during the day had been that enemy positions which were supposed to be held were passed through without opposition and on reaching the main road it was fully apparent that the enemy had no conception of the attack. The Sqn slightly overshot the mark as it was not supposed to go further North than the 370 Grid line.
[Transcriber’s note: Cpl Horton is listed by Commonwealth War Graves Commission as being killed on Dec 10. He has no known grave and is listed on the Alamein Memorial]
|| C Sqn.
No movement seen during the night.
At 0610 hours 4Tp moved to ILWET ABU MAZHUD and took up position of observation. At the same time 2Tp moved to Pt. 73 568354 from where he could see ILWET KATAR and SAMULUS quite clearly.
At 0645 hours 5Tp moved to 57613601. There was No movement seen on SAMALUS – SOFAFI track.
At 0743 hours a RRAC of 4Tp was shelled from QATAR. Patrol reported 30 MET at 564356 but later this was corrected to 564359. Patrol returned to ILWET MAZHUD.
At 0810 hours 4Tp moved to SANYET EL SABIL to recce a leaguer – No movement seen.
At 1007 hours 2Tp who had patrolled West from 568354 reported that they had captured one Italian diesel lorry and one SPA truck containing an Italian Padre, two Italian Air force officers (ground staff), one Air Force OR and 20 ORs from the 62nd Div, who had been to collect the dead bodies of a Flt Sgt and gunner who had crashed on the previous day in a Breda 67. Patrol also reported No movement seen ILWET EL HALFA 560358. Patrol returned at 1130 hours with the prisoners and lorries.
The Padre stated that he had seen some English prisoners of War at DERNA wearing 11th Hussars berets. He said they did nothing except play games and that they seemed very happy. He did not seem to know if there were any officers there or what the total number of 11th Hussars prisoners were. The Padre spoke quite good English and knew about the Greek advance. The others however spoke little English and did not know about the Greek advance. The Padre also stated that there were 200 aeroplanes at SOLLUM.
At 1225 hours 2Tp moved West to observe on BUQ-BUQ – SOLLUM road and SAMALUS – BUQ-BUQ road and also BUQ-BUQ area.
From 0745 hours to 1030 hours 5Tp at 57613601 reported enemy movement in area Pt. 52 367369 and gun positions in ALAM RIMTH area. Patrol was shelled several times during the morning and was forced to move ½ mile SE.
At 1300 hours visibility got bad owing to a dust storm.
At 1505 hours 2Tp reached Pt. 24 ALAM IDRI 553320 and Sgt Scrivener went forward on foot to observe. He reported he could see MET moving East and West along the Winter Track; 6 MET towards BUQ-BUQ and 5 towards SOLLUM (all lorries). 10 MET were seen stationary at BIR EL NAAS 553363 with an OP at Pt. 32 553363. No MET could be seen at BUQ-BUQ but a lot of dust could be seen there. No movement seen as far West as 545 North and South Grid line and between the 352 and 362 East and West Grid lines. Patrol arrived back at SHQ at 1815 hours.
At 1530 hours 5Tp at 57613601 saw three guns fire from ABAR EILET TAHIR 571362.
At 1715 hours 2Lt Winlove 4Tp withdrew to Pt. 82 575354 and remained in observation for the night.
2Lt Reid Scott 1Tp relieved 2Lt Crankshaw 5Tp in North at 57613601. 5Tp then relieved 4Tp Sgt Scrivener and 3Tp Sgt Nash came into SHQ.
At 1830 hours it was decided to send back 2Tp’s MRAC, as the bearings were going, and 1 RRAC of 2Tp had broken its steering column. This left the Sqn with four Troops. Sgt Scrivener took over command of Sgt Nash’s Tp.
At 0615 hours 4Tp took up position at Pt. 222 and at 0800 hours reported that RABIA was still occupied and that MET was moving about inside the camp.
At 0900 hours they reported movement of MET had stopped and that enemy arty was shelling accurately.
At 1000 hours SHQ and 1Tp liased with 8th Hussars and moved to Pt. 226 577324.
At 1100 hours there was a bad sand storm and visibility was nil.
At 1510 hours 3Tp reported a column of men and a few MET moving about in RABIA camp.
At 1700 hours 3Tp returned to SHQ followed by 2Tp and 4Tp at 1830 hours.
Troops moved out at dawn to the following positions:-
4Tp 2Lt Halliday to watch ALAM EL RIMTH 577365. 3Tp Sgt Cameron to Pt. 74 582368 and 5Tp Sgt Matheson to Pt. 74 588369.
At 0730 hours orders were received for the Sqn to recce and block the western exits from SIDI BARRANI. 2Lt Halliday’ Tp and those of Sgt Cameron and Sgt McCarthy 2Tp were responsible for the area North of the main road to the coast on the line about the 593 grid.
2Lt Cunningham 1Tp stood astride the BARRANI – ALAM EL RIMTH track at about 593374. SHQ moved to the ALAM EL HARASH area and found the position where Sgt Taber was killed, deserted, but A/Tk guns etc were intact.
Sgt Matheson was sent into 2Lt Cunningham’s area. A very bad sandstorm came up and Troops had to maintain visual touch. SHQ and 3Tp were attacked by 8 enemy fighters at approx 1200 hours. They scored many hits but no casualties. During this action LCpl Lowe from Sgt Cameron’s Tp went spare and was later found by the 7th Hussars with one man wounded (Tpr Leach) and Tpr Potgeiter was also slightly wounded.
At 1300 hours visibility was down to 200 yards. 2Lt Halliday took 10 prisoners who appeared to come out of the ground!
By 1930 hours our Infantry had closed in around BARRANI and the attack was ready. Troops were therefore rallied at 1530 hours South of the main road and moved to Pt. 74 588369.
At 1630 hours the Sqn moved to a position 1 mile South of ALAM EL AGRAD where the night was spent. During the air attack LCpl Barry ditched a car in a man hole and Sgt Cameron’s MRAC had to be evacuated. This left the Sqn with only four Troops of 2 cars each.
|| C Sqn.
No movement seen during the night.
At 0615 hours 2Lt Reid Scott 1Tp moved to QABR EL ABAG 570354 and 2Lt Winlove 4Tp to MAZHUD 565350. No movement seen on BUQ-BUQ – SOFAFI track at 0700 hours.
At 0725 hours 2Lt Reid Scott reported that he thought SAMALUS and QATAR were clear of enemy and confirmed this report at 0731 hours. He was then ordered to move to SANYET SHINDIRRA 566356 and then to move North and up to BUQ-BUQ SOFAFI track as far as BUQ-BUQ to see if it was clear of the enemy.
at 0937 hours he reported that BUQ-BUQ appeared to have been evacuated except for a small amount of MET moving about. He captured 4 field guns which had been abandoned at Pt. 32 560365.
At 0950 hours he captured 2 lorries containing one officer and 16 ORs and a Breda gun in each lorry, which were moving East along the metalled road made by the Italians and called (by the Italians) “the road to Victory”. One of the guns in a lorry opened up at a range of 65 yards and missed. The lorry was heavily fired on by the ACs and was disabled.
At 0955 hours a further 2 lorries appeared at the same place, coming from the East and they were also captured. They contained 32 ORs.
At 1000 hours 2 Breda A/Tk guns were captured at Pt. 44 605368. These guns were manned by one civilian! As the patrol was hampered by these prisoners, 2Lt Reid Scott made them take off their boots and socks which he removed and left the prisoners on the road.
He then moved West and at 1035 captured one Major, one Lt and 24 ORs including 10 Blackshirts who were moving West along the road at 557380. The Major was riding pillion on a M/C and stated that he had come from SAMALUS.
At 1040 hours a Libyan civilian employed on the water works at BIR NAGGASH 562368 was caught.
At 1100 hours 2 Blackshirts appeared brandishing rifles and promptly proceeded to fight one another. They were both drunk on wine looted from the Italian hospital in the BUQ-BUQ area. They were added to the bag. The patrol remained in the area 55753682.
At 1231 hours the patrol was fired on by SA automatic fire and one 9 pdr gun from ring contour 15 556367, and at 1300 hours two 9 pdr fired at them from 556367. Shells fell very close to the patrol who were forced to withdraw slightly. The Boyes Rifle on Sgt Lamb’s RRAC was damaged by shell fire.
At 1448 hours the patrol was fired on by MGs of the 3rd Hussars, luckily with no ill results.
At 1530 a further officer and 2 ORs were captured. Patrol cut the phone wires running from QATAR – SAMALUS, QATAR – BUQ-BUQ. Patrol withdrew and rejoined SHQ at 2030 hours having helped 3rd Hussars escort prisoners as far as the BUQ-BUQ area.
At 0725 hours the same day 2Lt Winlove moved forward from MAZHUD to SANYER ORIGIB 548354 which he reached at 0817 hours and reported No movement seen. He was then ordered to to move NW to area of the high ground at 545363.
At 1018 hours he reported 1 lorry and a lot of men in area track junc 543363. He was ordered to push on so as to be able to look over the ridge to the West of the track junction.
At 1125 he reported that he had captured one enemy ammunition lorry and 3 men at the junction.
At 1141 hours he captured 10 lorries which were moving West at 543363 and 44 men and 2 officers. Patrol remained in observation in the area of the track junction and was bombed and machine gunned twice. They returned to SHQ at ILWET NAAS at 1715 hours.
At 0635 hours 2Lt Crankshaw 5Tp moved with SHQ from 577355 and at 1012 hours was ordered to go into ILWET NAAS which was reached at 1108 hours and observed a camp on the southern slope. He moved over a ridge and saw a lot of enemy on the northern slope. He captured 2 officers and 119 ORs and 2 Breda machine guns. The patrol remained in observation.
At 1239 hours he was moved to the high ground at 548363 to watch the track junction North of there. Patrol remained in observation and later when moving West to help B Sqn on Northern Track (summer track) reported 3 guns firing from 529366. Patrol withdrew to SHQ at ILWET NAAS at 1720 hours.
SHQ moved forward from 577355 at 0635 hours and at 1130 hours reached BIR SALHA 552361 where 44 prisoners were captured hiding in the BIR. SHQ later moved to track junction at 560363 and observed to the North. The Southern Track (winter track) was blocked in area 54103643 with 3Tp, 4Tp and 5Tp but nothing came along. The sqn concentrated at ILWET NAAS at 1810 less 2Lt Reid Scott who came in at 2030 hours.
Personnel and equipment captured by C Sqn was:-
|1Tp 2Lt Reid Scott
||– 4 field guns at Pt. 32, 4 lorries with A/Tk gun in each in BUQ-BUQ area,
2 diesel lorries and 1 M/C, 4 officers 76 ORs in BUQ-BUQ area.
|5Tp 2Lt Crankshaw
||- 2 officers and 121 ORs, 2 Breda automatic guns with AA sights, 1 Fiat in ALAM NAAS area.
|4Tp 2Lt Winlove
||-10 diesel lorries with 3 Breda A/Tk guns, 2 officers and 58 ORs. Lorries and prisoners were attacked by enemy aircraft and prisoners ran away. Most recaptured by 1Tp B Sqn.
||- 47 ORs at BIR SALHA.
|3Tp Sgt Scrivener
||-515 prisoners, 2 light tanks
At 0710 hours the Sqn moved to recce a column of enemy retreating NW along the escarpment by SOFAFI and at 1130 hours were heavily attacked by 9 fighters. They were first sighted flying over in an easterly direction at low altitude and were obviously protecting a column of MET which were reported at half-way house camp. The aircraft turned back West in about 5 minutes and flew over us again. This time they spotted the Sqn and attacked. All the cars dispersed and returned fire. In the first dive they hit and set on fire the petrol tank of RRAC 236 of 5Tp. This car carried on moving for about 5 minutes when it stopped and the crew, who were alright, jumped out. Lt Friend circled around in his car until he was able to pick up the crew. In the meantime the remainder of the Sqn were still being heavily attacked. After 15 minutes the fighters flew off West. Apart from the burning RRAC the only other damage inflicted was one wireless mast shot away on the Rear Link car, and the only casualty was the Sqn Ldr who received a slight cut on his head.
The Sqn then collected and withdrew 4 miles South to get out of the area to change a punctured tyre on the Sqn Ldr’s car and get a new mast. While the Sqn was still in the area, 12 more fighters appeared and spotted us at once. They then dived to attack, and again the Sqn dispersed. This time the aircraft had .7 ammunition and they did much more damage. This attack also lasted about 15 minutes. After it was over the Sqn took some time to collect and then proceeded further South and then East to get right out of the area.
The casualties in this second attack were Capt Lloyd who was shot in the wrist and leg, Sgt Hay who sustained wounds to his hand and leg, and Tpr Hunt who was shot in the groin and subsequently died. The latter two were in 5Tp and their RRAC No 341 was damaged and abandoned, but later recovered. TSM Clarke, LCpl Loxley and Lcpl Winterbottom sustained slight wounds. SSM McMahon had a lucky escape as a bullet grazed his stomach and took away the buckle of his belt.
Nearly every run-flat tyre on the MRACs were punctured but they lasted alright for the Sqn to get out of the area.
The Sqn then withdrew back to reorganise and try and get more tyres up and be fit for the next day. The casualties went straight to the ADS at BIR ENBA in 3 MACs one of which returned to Sqn the following day.
The Sqn Ldr’s car was evacuated and the 3rd MARC rejoined the Sqn at KHEIGAT 2 days later with TSM Woodward from the Echelon.
At 1630 hours the Sqn arrived at HAQFET RAMADAM and the casualties arrived at the ADS at BIR ENBA at 2200 hours. Tpr Hunt died an hour later.
The Sqn moved from ALAM EL AGRAD to ILWET MAZHUD its task being to watch the coast road from the South and especially the track running North and South through SAWANI OGIRIN. Three Troops moved in front of SHQ, 1Tp North, 4Tp centre and 5Tp South. On the forward Tp reaching the line of the above track, the orders were changed and the Sqn was ordered to co-operate with C Sqn in closing the exits on the coast to SOLLUM in the area of the 540 Grid line. B Sqn responsibility was the Northern or Summer Track and C Sqn who were already in position, the southern or Winter Track. Unfortunately 1Tp and 4Tp had mechanical problems so 3Tp was ordered to push on closely followed by SHQ, with 2Tp in reserve at ILWET EL HAMRA 550358. SHQ moved to BIR SALHA 552361 where they passed through C Sqn.
The Sqn attempted to cross the mudflats between the Summer and Winter tracks close to the 500 Grid line but came under fire from the enemy position at 552366 at a range of about 600 yards. The Sqn was forced to retire.
By this time 1Tp and 4Tp had come up and were sent to cross the Summer Track further to the West and to join 5Tp who were supposed to be in position. 3Tp at this time had a petrol stoppage. SHQ remained at 545363. 1Tp and 4Tp had got across the mudflats with two cars only between them and immediately went into action to hold up the retreat of the enemy which was beginning. They put a field gun and an A/Tk gun out of action and firing at odd groups of men soon had the enemy apparently in a state where they thought there was a far larger force opposing them.
During the afternoon they were joined by LCpl Ramsell. Prisoners by then began to literally pour in and 2Lt Halliday, 2Lt Cunningham and LCpl Ramsell accounted for approx 1800 prisoners and left dead and wounded on the area. These prisoners were all brought into RHQ at about 2359 hours. Amongst them were 4 Colonels and 22 other officers.
While 1Tp and 4Tp had been doing this work, SHQ had been bombed and machine gunned and attempted to cross the mudflats at 1500 hours but got one MARC so badly stuck that it remained there until 0300 hours the next day when it was evacuated. 3Tp joined SHQ at 1430 hours. 5Tp also had a car stuck in the mud and never reached either track. Cpl Lester’s car from 1Tp was also stuck in the mud but managed to get out.
At 2359 hours all Troops were concentrated with RHQ at ILWET EL NAAS except the two cars stuck in the mud.
So many prisoners had come in that the CO decided that they would considerably hinder us the next day, so at about 0200 hours 12th December, they were started marching back towards BUQ-BUQ escorted by a Tp of 8th Hussars light tanks. Several of the Italian officers had small staff cars and had dossed down in the back seats with plenty of blankets (their men had none). The officers were ordered to get out and march with their men which they did reluctantly and in some cases a certain amount of pressure had to be used.
|| C Sqn.
At 0620 hours 2Lt Winlove 4Tp moved to SAWANI OGIRIN to observe HALFWAY HOUSE area and to the West. 2Lt Crankshaw 5Tp moved to 543363 and observed to the West. Sgt Scrivener 3Tp moved to BIR YASHIDA 546366 and observed to the West along the Summer Track.
At 0845 hours 5Tp reported that 3 guns had fired 1 round each in a northerly direction at 529366.
At 0900 hours 5Tp reported he had captured 300 prisoners and had destroyed 2 light tanks and 1 field gun. Later he collected more prisoners making a total of about 500. These were marched to BUQ-BUQ by Sgt Galpin, Cpl Williams and LCpl Ward. It was a difficult job as the prisoners were tired and thirsty and got very strung out. One of them even drank some petrol.
Visibility got very bad at about 1200 hours and in some places not more than 25 yards. At 1500 hours patrols were withdrawn and by 1800 hours the Sqn was concentrated at the foot of SOFAFI pass, less the three RRAC escorting prisoners. These eventually returned at 2030 hours having had a difficult task with the prisoners who by the time they had been handed over were just about “all in”.
At 0600 hours the Sqn came under the orders of the 4th Armd Bde. Lt Turnbull took over as temp Sqn Ldr as Capt Lloyd was a casualty. Troops were reorganised as follows:-
At 1000 hours SSM McMahon and 1 MARC left the MDS for SHQ, arriving at 1230 hours.
|1Tp Sgt Hutchinson
|3Tp 2Lt Spickernell
|4Tp 2Lt Clarke
|SHQ Lt Turnbull
||3 cars (with Lt Friend)
At 1030 hours 1Tp and 3 Tp left for 4th Armd Bde at BIR KHREIGAT.
At 1340 hours SHQ and 4Tp left for BIR KHREIGAT arriving at 1700 hours.
In the mean time 1Tp and 3Tp had arrived with Bde and at 1410 hours 3Tp left on a recce of SIDI OMAR and found it strongly held. 1Tp was sent to recce HALFWAY HOUSE and at 1830 hours moved into position near HALFAYA pass to observe the camp. They returned at 1900 hours.
At first light the Sqn moved to 556358 and Troops were expecting to have a day of rest. The morning was spent in maintenance and rest despite a bad dust storm. SSM Kitchen went with the crew of the HQ MARC to the mud flats at 544365 to collect the car which a cruiser tank was to pull out. However, SSM Kitchen got stuck in the mud himself and when at 1300 hours the Sqn received orders to move to the BIR SOFAFI area 563335 Major Miller despatched 3Tp and remained behind with SHQ to wait for the SSM.
All Troops had arrived in the leaguer position at 1900 hours and SHQ left for this position at 1630 hours but were held up by mechanical troubles at the Italian advanced landing ground at 557355, however they arrived and joined with the Troops at 2359 hours. SSM Kitchen arrived with the LAD the following morning at 0500 hours.
Went into leaguer at the foot of SOFAFI pass where they were joined by Major Leetham who had come up from Cairo.
|| C Sqn.
Sqn moved at 0615 hours to QARET ABU SAYID 513349 arriving at 1010 hours and remained there all day.
At 0600 hours 3Tp went out to the North to recce an enemy camp in area 519634.
At 0615 hours the Sqn, less 3Tp, were given the task of watching and locating any enemy columns endeavouring to escape on top of the escarpment between HALFAYA pass and HALFWAY HOUSE camp. 1Tp moved SE from HALFAYA towards BATTUMA 531358. 4Tp moved out to BATTUMA to give 1Tp some petrol and help in the recce. SHQ moved to Pt. 97 531348.
At 1005 hours 1Tp reported 12 burnt out lorries and a deserted camp site SE of BATTUMA 536357 and captured two men who were walking along the escarpment.
At 1026 hours 4Tp reported 15 MET moving NW very fast at 526361 and at 1047 3Tp reported a camp at 52013590 and approx 60 MET at 52533677 with 6 large guns.
At 1121 hours 4Tp reported BATTUMA area clear of enemy and that they had captured a further 3 prisoners.
At 1230 hours 1Tp had completed recce to HALFWAY HOUSE and reported area clear and returned to SHQ at 1240 hours. 4Tp was ordered to proceed NW to watch for movement up HALFAYA pass or along the escarpment in that area, and took up a position around BIR NUH 528361.
At 1250 hours Sqn again came under orders of the Regt and at 1255 hours SHQ and 1Tp in reserve moved to 513348, the Regtl area.
At 1300 hours TSM Woodward reported that he was at RHQ with the MARC of 2Tp which he had brought up from BIR ENBA after it had evacuated the casualties from the air battle and got the MARC repaired. He remained with RHQ until 1600 hours when he rejoined the Sqn.
At 1510 hours 4Tp reported that he could see the camp at 52013590 which had been reported by 3Tp.
At 1600 hours 4Tp saw three M11 tanks and was chased by them and was also shelled. The MARC broke one leaf in each front spring and also got stuck but just managed to get away. At the same time a Hurricane was shot down and crashed 200 yards from the Tp, the pilot was killed.
At 1730 hours 4Tp returned to SHQ. Enemy air activity was continuous over the area the whole day.
At 2000 hours the Sqn came under orders of “BIRKS FORCE” (RITA) and were informed that we were going to act as advance guard to the column which was going to make a raid into Libya that night.
Sqn moved to QARET ABU SAYID arriving at 1300 hours. The afternoon was spent in resting and maintenance of vehicles. In the evening , Major Miller, who had been ill for some days, was ordered by the CO to return to Cairo and Capt Lawson took over the Sqn with 2Lt Halliday as his 2i/c.
Orders were received for a force consisting of the 11th Hussars, less A Sqn, the RAF AC Sqn (D Sqn), 2nd RTR and some guns under command of the CO (Combe Force) to cross the frontier and block the BARDIA – TOBRUK road.
RHQ moved to go to QARET ABU SAYID at first light. The CO was required for a conference and shortly after starting he left in his Ford and Major Leetham took over command. We did not go on a compass bearing as there was a good track which Major Leetham and Lt Grant Thorold knew of. Unfortunately the turning was missed and when the Sqn halted to check up we discovered we were in sight of the enemy position at HALFAYA and they started to shell. This gave us our position and we reached the leaguer area was then reached without mishap or delay.
The rest of the day was spent on maintenance. There was considerable air activity and Troops in the immediate vicinity were bombed but no hits scored on 11th Hussars. This was our first taste of large scale bombing and it was here that the MO, Capt JJ Justice, who was watching the enemy bombers with interest, remarked “Oh look! They’ve got there bomb hatches open”. This remark was followed immediately by an appalling ‘crump’ not so very far away!
|| C Sqn.
At 0200 hours the Sqn moved as advance guard to Combe Force to Pt. 211 486392 arriving at approx 0700 hours. Three patrols were pushed forward to BIR IUNES 480403 (5Tp), GABR BZUE 484402 (SHQ, 1Tp & 4Tp), and BIR EL BAHEIRA 488403 (3Tp).
All Troops and SHQ were heavily machine gunned by enemy aircraft from 0809 to 0930 hours. The Sqn suffered several casualties:-
SSM Chapple was killed by an explosive bullet which came through the bottom of the turret.
2Lt Reid Scott and LCpl Archer of 1Tp were badly wounded.
Tpr Pearson driver of Sqn Ldr Ford Utility car was wounded.
Sgt Lamb, Cpl Tappern and Tpr Walker were slightly wounded but able to carry on.
Three RRAC and one MARC were temp out of action with punctured tyres and radiators. The fitters lorry and Ford Utility car were set on fire and destroyed.
At 0945 hours 4Tp 2Lt Winlove moved to BIR BUHANIA 480407 and observed on the BARDIA – TOBRUK road. 3Tp moved forward to Pt. 171 486407 and 5Tp remained at BIR IUNES.
At 1037 4Tp reported 3 medium tanks and a lorry at 480410, and then reported that they had moved on to the main road due North of 480410 and remained there. These tanks were later attacked and destroyed by 2nd RTR. A few MET were seen moving mostly to the West along the main road. The largest party being six which were seen at 1133 hours.
At 1154 hours Sgt Galpin with an RRAC from 3Tp at Pt. 171 left to cut the telephone wires on the main road. On reaching the road, a stone broke his timing gear and the car was immobile. At the same time he saw an enemy tank about 1000 yards away to his NE, halted on the road with the crew dismounted. The tank then moved slowly down the road but did not fire at the AC. Shortly afterwards an ambulance came along the road from BARDIA which Sgt Galpin held up. He locked the driver and other occupants inside and started to tow the AC away with the ambulance. Unfortunately one of the men locked in the ambulance opened a small door beside Sgt Galpin and tried to strangle him. After a desperate struggle Galpin managed to free his revolver and fired at his opponent and also two others who were troublesome. He fired 5 shots in all. More enemy vehicles were then seen coming down the road so Galpin decided to leave the RRAC and walk back to the MARC at Pt. 171. This he did with the remainder of his crew. The enemy meanwhile took the RRAC in tow with a lorry and moved off fast down the main road towards TOBRUK. The 2nd RTR tried to stop them but were unable to do so. It is amazing that the enemy tank did nothing except move with the lorry towing the RRAC.
At 1220 hours 5Tp 2Lt Crankshaw, at BIR IUNES and SHQ at 484402 were again heavily machine gunned for 20 minutes. Cpl Tappers and LCpl Ward were badly wounded and one RRAC shot through the petrol tank and all the tyres punctured on the other RRAC of 5Tp.
The back of Lt Crankshaw’s MARC was set on fire and all the bedding destroyed, but they managed to put out the fire. Cpl Tappers put up a remarkably brave performance when, after this attack although wounded in the arm and head, bandaged up LCpl Ward who was very badly wounded. The MO Capt Justice said the bandaging had been very well done and might easily mean the saving of his life.
At 1340 hours 4Tp 2Lt Winlove at 480407 was machine gunned and dive bombed, there were no casualties.
At 1530 hours 3 and 4Tp were withdrawn to SHQ which had moved ½ mile West of RHQ.
At 0130 hours the Sqn followed by D Sqn (RAF) left to join RITA at BIR KHREIGAT 520347. The Sqn missed the rendezvous in the dark and went straight up to the frontier at KILO 42 where it eventually joined RITA.
At 0605 hours the Sqn crossed the wire as advance guard to RITA and made for UMM MAALIF 486385 and then turned North to the T roads at Pt. 211 486393.
At 0645 hours 1Tp was sent out to the high ground in area 502377 and 3Tp was sent to the high ground in area 497381 to report any movement. These two Troops moved along the high ground parallel with the Column.
At 0745 hours 3Tp reported movement on the TRIGH CAPPUZO, West of SIDI AZEIZ which turned out to be our own troops.
At 0750 hours just before reaching Pt. 211 the column was heavily attacked by enemy bombers and fighters.
At 0808 hours the Sqn arrived at Pt. 211 and SHQ, 2Tp and 4Tp took up positions 2 miles NE of the T roads.
At 0830 hours 3Tp took up as position at 495395 to watch for any movement from SIDI AZEIZ to the West. 1Tp was sent to 495380 to watch for any southern movement from SIDI AZEIZ also any movement from the East. Patrols reported No movement seen during the day but the whole Sqn was bombed continuously throughout the day without casualties.
At 1730 hours the Sqn moved to BIR MICKAIL where the night was spent. At 2000 hours 1Tp returned to SHQ and 3Tp was ordered back but failed to get in to SHQ until early next morning. The Sqn spent a peaceful night.
The Sqn moved at 0030 hours and after marching all night, crossed the frontier wire and reached TRIGH CAPPUZO by daylight. The force was spotted in the early morning by an enemy recce plane and by 0900 hours C Sqn were heavily engaged by 12 fighters, some B Sqn cars were also attacked. After crossing the CAPPUZO road, 1Tp 2Lt Cunningham had been sent 2 miles West down the road while 4Tp Sgt Matheson went 2 miles to the East. 1Tp was bombed.
At 1000 hours these two Troops were recalled.
At about 0945 hours 2 further patrols were sent out. 3Tp Sgt Cameron was sent West down the escarpment which he crossed at 473403 and proceeded northwards to the second escarpment. 2Tp Sgt McCarthy went to Pt. 220 at 492403. Both these patrols returned at dusk, Sgt Cameron having been pestered by air all day.
These patrols did not see anything of note all day. SHQ was troubled by rear machine gunning from enemy bombers throughout the day.
RHQ.During the fighter attack on C Sqn at approx 0930 hours the Sqn was halted as the CO’s AC had broken a front spring which was being changed by the driver LCpl Lee and QMS White. The CO accompanied by Lt Col Wilson (commanding the guns attached to Combe Force) had gone forward in his Ford utility and had just reached C Sqn when the fighter attack started. The CO, Colonel Wilson and the driver Tpr Field just managed to get clear of the car and they all lay on the ground which was singularly free of cover. The Ford was machine gunned and many hits were registered. The Colonels suitcase was riddled with bullets and a brand new pair of silk pyjamas looked more like a sieve than anything else when the Colonel went to put them on that night.
RHQ could see the attack on C Sqn quite plainly and the handling of the CR 42’s despite the very heavy SA fire, was very impressive. RHQ itself was not neglected by the enemy air, although only 2 fighters attacked once. The bombers were very persistent and one or two of their ‘sticks’ were dropped in amongst the Sqn. LCpl Lee and QMS White carried on with their work during continuous bombing attacks. The Sqn was also machine gunned by the rear gunners of the bombers.
It is doubtful whether RHQ has ever expended so much ammunition before. The Bren guns had a real ‘workout’. Lt Grant Thorold (who was doing Adjt as Capt Wainman was away ill) manned the gun on the CO’s car and Lt Robarts (OC RHQ) manned the gun on the Rear Link car. There was a certain amount of ‘jealous shooting’, (the cars were quite near each other), and Lt Grant Thorold in claiming a hit on one plane stated that he saw his tracer bullets go in the nose of the plane and come out of the tail. There were no casualties although the raids were continuous during the day.
|| C Sqn.
At 0600 hours Sqn concentrated at 48323991 and remained there all day – NTR.
At 0610 3Tp arrived back at SHQ.
At 0800 hours a column of enemy MET was reported at 483388 moving NW. the Sqn was ordered to proceed West along the TRIGH CAPPUZO and to intercept and delay it so that tanks could be brought into action. 2Tp and 4Tp proceeded to do this task at 0805 hours.
At 0810 hours 1Tp also set out on the same route and at 0815 hours SHQ started for the same job.
At 0820 hours the column turned out to be camels so the orders were cancelled. 4Tp was then ordered to take up a position of observation where the TRIGH crosses the 475 Grid line. 2Tp was ordered to proceed to the T roads at Pt. 167 to see if the position was occupied and then proceed North to investigate GAMBUT and 2 miles South of the BARDIA – TOBRUK road. A report on the road was also required.
At 1004 hours this Tp was heavily bombed but suffered no casualties.
At 1045 hours 2Tp reported No movement seen area Pt. 167 but that GAMBUT appeared to be strongly held. This Tp then proceeded due South to get better observation of Pt. 167.
At 1204 hours 4Tp reported that what appeared to be canvas hangars and planes appeared to fly low over the ridge and land on this ground. The location of this landing ground was given as Pt. 199 469399. On receipt of this information two Troops of 7th Hussars were sent to attack it.
At 1230 hours 2Tp reported 8 MET on ridge 176 2 miles to the NE of Pt. 167 but at 1235 hours reported now clear of enemy.
At 1440 hours 2Tp reported a landing ground 2 miles due South of GAMBUT with 11 planes on the ground, one of which was in flames. They also reported a camp to the East behind a ridge with some MET moving between it and the landing ground.
At 1444 hours the two 7th Hussars Troops arrived at 4Tp and attacked the landing ground reported by 4Tp at Pt. 199 but found it unoccupied.
At 1500 hours 3Tp was attacked by 3 fighters who drove the Tp to the South. The attack lasted for about 15 minutes and punctured 3 tyres on the RRAC and bent the steering. The Tp Ldr was ordered to take off the crew and return to the East which he did. During this attack 4Tp saw 30 enemy fighters circling the area, some of which attacked the 7th Hussars after they had left the landing ground.
At 1600 hours 2Tp fetched up with 4Tp where they borrowed a run-flat tyre as theirs was punctured and left LCpl Seaman to go up with 4Tp to recover the RRAC.
At 1700 hours 4Tp set out on this task but failed to find the car and after searching the area for some time they returned to SHQ.
2Tp returned at 1830 hours and 4Tp at 1930 hours. As another RRAC had to be evacuated, the Sqn was left with SHQ and 3 Troops.
Only two patrols were sent out today, 2Tp Sgt McCarthy to his original position at Pt. 212 and 4Tp Sgt Matheson to Pt. 217. These went out at first light and remained out during the day. Between them they reported and pin-pricked a camp and aerodrome at 506401. The aerodrome had six machines on it and the adjacent camp appeared to be occupied by a few men.
Sgt Matheson also reported lines of deserted vehicles totalling 30 between the road and the escarpment at 407399. Patrols returned at dusk.
Moved forward slightly to 48504000 and established by an old dry cistern with a large tree growing from it which gave quite good cover and the cistern itself was useful as a shelter from air attacks. We were again bombed and machine gunned from the air at intervals during the day but the attacks were not on such a large scale as the previous day. No casualties.
The wounded Italians shot up by the 2nd RTR was brought in and attended to by Capt Justice one was dead on arrival and was buried that evening.
|| C Sqn.
At 0620 hours Sqn received a warning order to move and at 0820 hours moved back towards the frontier and arrived in the area BIR KHREIGAT at 1330 hours and remained there for the day.
At 0600 hours 1Tp was sent out to recce the landing ground South of GAMBUT but at 0700 hours the patrol was cancelled and the Tp returned to SHQ.
At 0715 hours 3Tp was sent as a standing patrol to the position 4Tp was at on the 15th.
At 0800 hours orders were received for the whole Sqn to proceed to Kilo 42 and the Sqn arrived at 1330 hours at concentration area 517346 where it remained for the rest of the day.
It was decided that one troop could do the observation of the main road and therefore 4Tp Sgt Matheson proceeded at first light to Pt. 217 and remained in observation but saw nothing.
At 0800 hours a warning order was received for the Regt to return across the frontier and at 1000 hours the Sqn moved and crossed the wire at Kilo 41. At this time orders were received for B Sqn to come under the orders of 7th Armd Bde and to return to the position they had vacated. Capt Lawson proceeded to see Brigadier Russell at Bde HQ and was informed that the Corps commander had stated that observation on the BARDIA – TOBRUK road was essential. It was therefore arranged that the 3rd Hussars should carryout this role until the following day, to allow the Sqn to reorganise. Major Miller visited the Sqn having returned unexpectedly from down the line and he also visited Bde HQ. It was thought that the men and vehs needed a day or two for rest and maintenance and to re-cross the frontier and retrace their steps would test the men and vehicles a good deal. The Sqn rested during the afternoon and replenished. The night was spent at QARET ABU FARIS. Sgt rich took over Sgt McCarthy’s Tp and as 2Lt Cunningham had to have a tooth out at the MDS Cpl Whitaker took over Cunningham’s Tp during his absence.
The Sqn moved back to the Regtl concentration area without incident except two large formations of enemy bombers and fighters twice flew directly overhead but fortunately they had deposited their loads elsewhere and were not interested.
|| C Sqn.
Sqn remained in same area. NTR.
Spent the day reorganising the Sqn and now had four Troops of 2 cars each with 3 cars in SHQ.
According to the orders received on the 16th the Sqn now came under command 7th Armd Bde and proceeded to carry out the task allotted
At 0930 hours SHQ and one Tp crossed the frontier and proceeded to Bde HQ who had moved the previous night. From there they proceeded to BIR UAZEN from which place 4Tp Sgt Matheson was sent on to relieve patrol of 6th RTR and gain observation on the BARDIA – TOBRUK road. He reported that the Royal Navy was shelling the road and that MENASTIR aerodrome was being bombed.
At 1630 the other three Troops under Sgt Rich joined SHQ at BIR UALEN a representative of the Sqn was ordered to meet a representative of 7th Armd Bde at 1845 hours at the SIDI AZEIZ cross track. 2Lt Halliday proceeded there and received fresh orders. The 6th RTR were to sit astride the BARDIA – TOBRUK road in the area cross tracks 481411 with the 8th Hussars in close proximity, also a Bty of RHA. B Sqn task was to maintain a patrol at Pt. 217 497402 during the day and to be responsible for protection from the West.The Sqn leaguered at BIR UAZEN 491389 and during the night the 8th Hussars and a Bty of guns passed through.
|| C & A Sqns same positions NTR.
4Tp Sgt Matheson remained at Pt. 217 throughout the night and at 0700 hours the Sqn moved to 491387 where they were joined by the Echelon. From there the Sqn moved to Pt. 215 483388. The task of the Sqn was then changed by 7th Armd Bde and the Sqn merely became responsible for protection from the West. 4Tp was ordered to rejoin the Sqn and two patrols were sent out to the West. 1Tp was sent to area Pt. 204 and 4Tp to area BIR EL SUFAM 475391. No movement seen during the day and at dusk the patrols returned to Sqn leaguer at 483388.
|| C Sqn.
At 1330 hours the Sqn moved to area Pt. 211 on the TRIGH CAPPUZO and then North to top of southern escarpment where the Sqn arrived at 1800 hours and remained until 0330 hours on the 20th.
Sqn replenished at 1100 hours and moved at 1400 hours back across the wire to area Pt. 211 arriving at 1700 hours. The Sqn was then ordered to proceed due North up the track until meeting RHQ and C Sqn.
The Sqn joined RHQ and C Sqn at 1830 hours. At about the same time as joining RHQ the fitters lorry caught fire but it was soon put out and the LAD got it on the road again in an hour. Sqn remained in this position for the night.
At first light 1Tp and 4Tp returned to their respective areas of yesterday and again reported No movement seen during the day.
At 1100 hours it was learned that the Sqn was to be relieved by D Sqn (RAF) at approx 1500 hours. At that time however we heard that we were not to return across the frontier as the Regt was moving up again.
D Sqn arrived at 1930 hours and took over our patrols which had already been called in for the night.
At 2030 hours we received orders to move the next morning to rejoin the Regt. Sgt Rich went back with the Echelon with a broken down MRAC.
After replenishing the Sqn moved off with C Sqn to a position approx 7 miles due North of Pt. 211, passing the cistern known as the ‘Bomb Hole’ which had stood us in good stead on Dec 15th. SSM Hudson’s MRAC broke a spring which was changed in the dark. It was a bitterly cold night.
|| C Sqn.
At 0330 hours Sqn moved to Xtracks area 481411 and then moved to area MARSA LUCCH less Sgt Scrivener 3Tp who moved East to Pt. 96 490410. This patrol broke down when it reached Pt. 126 and was relieved by 1Tp Sgt Lamb who in turn also broke down. The remainder of the Sqn arrived MARSA LUCCH area at 0610 hours and surrounded some buildings and captured 3 Italians and 3 Libyans. There was a wireless set and a telescope in the building, also some sailors caps. The building consisted of a large white main building with some out-buildings to the West. There were 8 horses in the outbuildings and the 3 Libyans were left to look after them. A large sack of sugar and some tins of tomatoes were also found (and taken) with a good deal of pleasure. Three machine guns and 12 sabres were destroyed. (See below).
SHQ took up a position at 0700 hours in a wadi at 48784241. 2Lt Crankshaw 5Tp searched the outbuildings while 2Lt Winlove 4Tp moved East along the coast road and at 1059 hours captured a light car and 4 Italians with a W/T set at 49404200. 2Lt Crankshaw was sent to recce the WADI EL DIN 488420 and at 1127 hours reported 1 enemy light tank abandoned at 49004227. He also found an old camp in that area and also in the WADI LUCCH 488423. He continued his recce of WADI EL DIN which he considered was a tank obstacle from the sea at 49154243 to 48854180 which is as far as he went before returning to the MARSA LUCCH area.
At 1115 hours 2Lt Winlove proceeded East along the coast road to track junc 504417 where one of his RRAC seized up. Patrol continued South but the track petered out after 1½ miles and the patrol returned to the junc and took the seized RRAC on tow and started back for SHQ. After getting g as far as 494421, a wadi was found impossible to get the car out and the LAD was asked for assistance. At 1730 hours however the Tp managed to get the car out of the wadi and arrived back at SHQ at 2100 hours.
At 1019 hours Sgt Lamb 1Tp who had taken over from Sgt Scrivener on eastern patrol reported he was at track junc 502401 and could see some MET South of the road at 505400. He was then ordered to move NE from 495404 and endeavour to get across to the track running North/South between 503 and 504 Grid lines. This patrol moved a short way and then had a bad petrol stoppage so Sgt Scrivener, who by this time had been repaired, set out to do it but broke a dowel pin at Pt. 118 491407. He mended this and withdrew to SHQ at 1600 hours.
At 1345 hours Sgt Lamb who had fixed his petrol stoppage, proceeded on recce East and NE. one so called ‘deserter’ from ASMUT camp was sent back to SHQ by Sgt Scrivener.
At 1550 hours Sgt Lamb reached Pt. 122 and reported that the track running North/South was good and well worn. He could see MENASTIR camp and also vehicles on the escarpment to the South of it.
At 1615 hours Sgt Lamb withdrew to Pt. 118 and remained for the night at track junc Pt. 96 490410.
2Lt Crankshaw 5Tp blocked the coast road during the night from Pt. 20. No movement seen.
Rain had fallen heavily in the evening and the going was very soft in places.
At 0345 hours 1Tp was ordered to remain behind C Sqn to do a recce to the West along the BARDIA – TOBRUK road as far as GAMBUT to find out if it was held by the enemy. The remainder of the Sqn with 3Tp leading, left at 0400 hours and proceeded North up the track to the main road and then carried on North up the track leading to 478425. The task of this Tp was to report on the track going North and to the ground on the East also. On reaching the coast it was to recce the track running to the West to see if it was suitable for MT traffic.
SHQ proceeded to 476417. During the march the Sqn Ldr’s car broke a back axle and had to be left so he changed into a car belonging to 2Tp thus losing a Tp.
At 0630 hours the MRAC of 1Tp ran into the back of his RRAC while going West on the main road and ruined the front axle. 4Tp was sent out to take over from 1Tp and the LAD recovered the MRAC with the damaged axle. This left the SSM with only two Troops.
At 0800 hours 3Tp reported he had reached the coast and was proceeding West along the coastal track, also that he had collected about 10 Libyan soldiers, some armed, who were obviously deserters.
Bt this time SHQ had established themselves in a big wadi and had bought a lot of eggs from Bedouin and enjoyed a fine breakfast.
At 0830 hours 4Tp reported that they were in possession of the Colonels house at GAMBUT which showed signs of recent occupation and was fully furnished, with all his wife’s (?) clothes left behind. The Tp remained there in observation to the West.
At 1100 hours 3Tp reported they had been 10 miles West along the coast track and had returned to 478425 where they had met the CO. the Tp remained in this position for the rest of the day.
At 1430 hours 4Tp were ordered to go into GAMBUT which they did and found it deserted. It showed signs of having been hastily evacuated as there was a lot of clothing etc left behind. The landing ground was a large one and there were 5 large bombers burnt out on it. The Tp remained in observation.
At 1730 hours SHQ moved to 480415 for the night and 3Tp was recalled. 1Tp had by this time had his MRAC repaired and had rejoined SHQ.
4Tp was ordered to block the main road just to the East of GAMBUT and to move into position after dark.
When 3Tp returned to SHQ they brought back with them a Fiat pick up in perfect working order which was found abandoned.
The Sqn moved at 0615 hours and proceeded to HAQFET EL CARMUS 484399 and then received orders to join LAD and B1 Echelon at ???408. on arrival it was found that the SHQ MARC forward link would have to be evacuated which left the Sqn with SHQ and two Troops. The day was spent in maintenance and rest and all ranks shaved for the first time in 10 days. RHQ were situated North of the BARDIA – TOBRUK road and C & A Sqns were operating in that area.
At 1600 hours 3Tp Sgt Cameron was sent to block the main road at 486410 for the night.
A MRAC arrived with the Echelon which gave the Sqn 3 troops again. 2Lt Cunningham also arrived with the Echelon. Sqn concentrated for the night with the LAD at 482408.
The Garrison of MARSA LUCCH was taken at 0615 hours on 20.12.40 by 4 & 5Tp and SHQ of C Sqn. No resistance was put up by the enemy, the majority of whom managed to escape by the sand dunes NW of the building. Three Italians and three Libyans were captured, also 3 machine guns and some rifles, and a quantity of stores etc, including a powerful pair of binoculars. It is estimated that the garrison was approx 25 strong consisting of Italian soldiers, Libyans and Marines. The building is a large 3 storied white square building with a square tower. There are some outbuildings which contained 8 horses and some hay and grain. The garrison was surmised to be a Coast Guard station, as a quantity of navigation and signalling equipment was found in the tower along with flags and a flagpole for hoisting same on. A quantity of stores – tea, sugar and flour was found and sent back to RHQ.
1 light tank (abandoned) at 49004227.
3 machine guns, 1 wireless set (small), 1 telescope, - in buildings
3 Libyans, 3 Italians, 1 wireless set and light car (Fiat) at 49404200 and 4 Italian soldiers.
|| C Sqn.
2Lt Crankshaw 5Tp remained in area Pt. 20 488424 all day. No movement seen
Sgt Lamb 1Tp was withdrawn from Pt. 96.
At 0800 hours Sgt Scrivener 3Tp took up a position of observation at Pt. 82 485417 and remained there all day – No movement seen.
At 1100 hours Major Payne Gallway the Sqn Ldr did a recce along the coast track to 49084235. The going was very wet and soft and the track was under water at this point.
At 1715 hours 2Lt Wenlove 4Tp relieved Crankshaw at MARSA LUCCH.
At 1800 hours 3Tp withdrew and 4Tp remained at MARSA LUCCH. No movement seen all day.
At 0130 hours Capt Robarts arrived with the Echelon to take over the Sqn.
At 0615 hours SHQ moved to day position at 476417 and 3Tp left to take over from 4Tp at GAMBUT.
At 0815 hours 3Tp commenced recce of track at 465414 to see if it was possible for enemy MET to advance from coast track.
At 1135 hours 3Tp reported wadi impassable around track and at 1307 hours 3Tp moved to Pt. 96 at 46704181 and took up a position of observation to the West. They moved to GAMBUT aerodrome at 1500 hours.
At 1745 hours 3Tp moved to the Colonels house on the main BARDIA – TOBRUK road for the night. No movement seen all day.
3Tp Sgt Cameron moved from his night position at 486410 to the 500 Grid line and took up observation on the escarpment overlooking the main road and MENASTIR camp. He remained there until the evening and saw only slight movement in the area.
At 1530 hours 1Tp 2Lt Cunningham left to do a recce of the track running North from the main road at 502402 and went along it as far as 503409. He reported No movement seen and that the track was bad and that the wadi to the West was passable in places to MT. This Tp spent the night at at 486410 and 3Tp returned to SHQ.
Sgt Cameron placed the camp and MENASTIR aerodrome at 510401 and reported another vehicle park at 409399 but no movement was seen in the latter and very little in the aerodrome camp.
Sqn leaguered (less 1Tp) at 481408, LAD and B1 Echelon (RHQ) with them.
|| C Sqn.
At 0615 Sgt Lamb 1Tp proceeded to Pt. 82 and remained there all day. 2Lt Wenlove 4Tp remained at MARSA LUCCH all day and reported the coast road impassable owing to deep water at 49154238.
At 0800 hours the Sqn Ldr recced the coast track as far as 49154238 accompanied by the CO of the 60th Rifles- no movement seen all day.
At 0615 hours 1Tp relieved 3Tp at GAMBUT.
At 1200 hours Sqn Ldr accompanied the CO on a visit to GAMBUT aerodrome and returned at 1500 hours. No movement seen all day.
At first light 1Tp moved to point of observation on escarpment at 500401. His impression of the camp areas were as follows.
The aerodrome camp at 509402 with observation ladder in centre and landing ground running SW to road. Vehicle park South of the road at 510398 (18 vehicles), no sign of any man or movement. 2 planes on the landing ground.
At 513399 approx 500 or 600 men in lines standing in groups of 5 or 6 apparently doing nothing. Little movement seen all day but large clouds of dust moving North to South behind the aerodrome camp.
At 1400 hours Sgt Holland 4Tp left to proceed further East down the main road (with 1Tp still in observation) in order to give more details of enemy position.
At 1430 hours however the orders were changed as large MET concentration was reported from the air at 510409 and Holland was sent to verify this. While proceeding on this task he saw 2 enemy DRs at 504400 observing the road. On being fired at they disappeared. This Tp then proceeded North to 505407 and was held up by a wadi and had to return. They saw no sign of movement in the aerodrome camp but were not fired at.
1Tp and 3Tp met on the main road and returned to SHQ as the Rifle Bde were astride the main road at 494405 and a night patrol was no longer required.
The Sqn leaguered in the same position as the previous night. The Echelon arrived at 2130 hours which was the earliest arrival since the ‘push’ started. Sgt Rich with 1 MRAC and 1 RRAC rejoined the Sqn.
|| C Sqn.
At 0715 hours 2Lt Crankshaw 5Tp proceeded on a recce along the coast road with a platoon of the 60th Rifles attached. He reached track junction at 509419 and got his MRAC badly stuck and did not get out until 0130 hours on the 24th. He made a recce on foot to BIR AGHILA and found the BIR empty. There were two stone Bedouin buildings there – no movement seen.
At 0615 hours 4Tp took over GAMBUT patrol from 1Tp – no movement seen.
4Tp observing from the escarpment reported no movement seen all day.
3Tp Sgt Cameron did a recce from Pt. 127 on the main road to Pt. 185 reporting on the going and the wadis to the East and West. One of his cars had clutch trouble and later, returning along the main road, ran off it (the road at this point was on a high embankment). 4Tp therefore returned to the leaguer area while 3Tp spent the night on the road as Sgt Cameron reported that the LAD would be required to get his RRAC back on the road.
Another Tp arrived with the Echelon with Sgt Matheson.
|| C Sqn.
At 0800 hours 2Lt Crankshaw returned from his recce, all his men very wet and tired.
At 1030 hours Sqn moved to area Pt. 114 481415.
At 1310 hours Sgt Scrivener 3Tp proceeded to 500402 to take over B Sqn patrol, arriving at 1415 hours.
At 1600 hours Scrivener reported a Watch Tower and camp with 19 stationary MET facing NW at 511397. There was little movement in this camp and single lorries moved in and out from the NE.
Scrivener thought they came from a camp at 511402.
At 1645 hours Scrivener was withdrawn to SHQ.
At 0615 hours 2Tp Lt Friend moved out to recce tracks at 459416. 4Tp remained in GAMBUT position.
At 1205 hours 2Tp reported having captured 8 Italian Naval ORs and a signal station 1 mile to the South of the track he was investigating. He reported that the tracks were good but the ground on either side was bad.
At 1220 hours the prisoners were taken to the colonel’s house at GAMBUT where they were collected by 4Tp. 2Tp then went back to destroy the equipment at the signal Station also to investigate a lighthouse which they had seen approx 4 miles to the NW of the station.
At 1240 hours they reported an unidentified destroyer manoeuvring out to sea near the lighthouse.
At 1500 hours 4Tp left GAMBUT with the prisoners and on the way back picked up 9 men of the RHA who had lost their vehicle through enemy air action.
At 1630 hours 2Tp reported that the lighthouse was the same sort of place as the signal station that they had captured. The lighthouse was deserted the personnel having got away in a small rowing boat. There was also a good harbour and landing ground.
At 1700 hours 4Tp arrived at RHQ and left the prisoners and documents and then returned to SHQ.
At 1715 hours 2Tp returned to GAMBUT for the night.
2Tp proceeded as usual to 500401. 3Tp returned from LAD to the Sqn at about 0830 hours.
2Tp reported the following movements during the day:at 0929 hours 10 MET on aerodrome and shells falling to the SE of the aerodrome.
1110 hours a ship moving West from BARDIA.
At 1100 hours Capt Lawson went to see the CO and received orders to the effect that the Sqn was again to be under command of 7th Armd Bde and was to relieve D Sqn (RAF). Therefore at 1430 hours the Sqn began to move by Troops, at 15 min intervals, Tp area 481391. 2Tp was relieved by C Sqn and before leaving reported 19 MET halted and facing North at 509401 and another 10 moving North on track on 510 Grid.
All troops were in the new area by 1800 hours and the Sqn took over from D Sqn.
|| C Sqn.
At 0600 hours Christmas Greetings were sent to RHQ and other Sqns over the wireless.
At 0630 hours Sgt Scrivener 3Tp proceeded on patrol to 500402 where he remained all day and withdrew at 1645 hours. No movement seen all day.
The rest of the Sqn remained at Pt. 114. The officers dined with the CO and Officers of RHQ who provided a most excellent dinner with plenty of good cheer.
3Tp 2Lt Spickernell left to carryout recce of road 20 miles to the West of GAMBUT 4??423.
at 0750 hours they reported they were 2 miles short of their objective and had discovered a road-block with a large column of 20 M11 tanks and 50 large lorries well spread out in air dispersion. He also captured 3 prisoners who were apparently on guard 30 yards in front of the barrier. The Tp then retired towards GAMBUT and in doing so the MARC broke a shackle pin.
At 1045 hours 2Tp sent out one car to meet some staff officers who were inspecting the aerodrome at GAMBUT.
At 1145 hours the staff officers arrived and at 1150 hours 3Tp arrived at GAMBUT having repaired the MARC.
At 1200 hours 3Tp reported that they were being attacked by two enemy fighters and that Cpl Bailey was slightly wounded in the head.
At 1212 hours 2Tp reported that Tpr Firth had been badly wounded in the foot and that their MRAC had been put out of action. Tpr Firth was sent to the ADS in a staff car.
At 1225 hours 2 Tp left GAMBUT with Cpl Bailey the MRAC being towed by a RRAC.
At 1240 hours 4Tp left for GAMBUT to relieve 3Tp and at 1340 hours reported that they had run a big-end on their MRAC therefore 3Tp were ordered to remain at GAMBUT and 4Tp transferred both their RRACs to 3Tp.
At 1500 hours 4Tp MRAC was collected by LAD and at 1505 hours 3Tp RRAC brought the three prisoners in to SHQ.
The Echelon arrived at 1930 hours and left again with the prisoners at 2100 hours.
Sqn was concentrated in area 480389. On the evening of 24th orders were received from 7th Armd Bde for a special recce to EL ADEM 409410 to verify an air report that this place was NOT occupied by the enemy. 1Tp 2Lt Cunningham left at 0400 hours to carry out this recce but 0545 hours he was stopped owing to a broken sump plate after covering 16 miles.
4Tp Sgt Holland left at 0615 hours to take over the task of 1Tp and reached EL ADEM aerodrome at 1015 hours without meeting any opposition. Eight M/C were seen in the aerodrome area but retired after being fired at. 1Tp remained at 456403 as a link between 4Tp and SHQ. 4Tp having completed their recce returned to wadis in SIDI RESEGH area 429406 where they hid until the evening. Enemy planes flew over them twice but failed to find them.
1Tp did a recce of the escarpment North of TRIGH CAPPUZO during the afternoon.
At 2000 hours 1Tp returned to SHQ having visited 4Tp. 4Tp left SIDI RESEGH at 1700 hours. Sgt Holland reported enemy sangars in area 439404, 420408 and 417408 as well as those around EL ADEM itself. Five burnt out planes were on the aerodrome and two recce planes were undamaged except for punctured tyres. One store room in the wireless building had been burnt out but five other buildings appeared to be intact.
All Troops leaguered with SHQ and Capt Arkwright arrived from Cairo bringing with him some more than welcome Christmas Fare. He took over 2i/c from 2Lt Halliday.
Christmas day was identical with any other day for RHQ except that the officers from C Sqn dined with RHQ. LCpl Sarnsum the Mess Cook produced a really excellent dinner including chicken (it had undoubtedly led a very energetic life but nevertheless was very good) which was followed by Xmas pudding of his own making, Brandy Crème de Menthe and cigars. Songs were sung and the Colonel made a short speech which was much appreciated by the officers present. The evening was a great success.
|| C Sqn.
At 0630 hours Sgt Lamb 1Tp proceeded to eastern patrol at 500402. No movement seen all day and he withdrew at 1645 hours.
The Sqn now only had two Troops.
At 0530 hours 1Tp left for GAMBUT to relieve 3Tp, which returned to SHQ at 0800 hours.
The CO visited the Sqn at 1500 hours.
At 1745 hours the Sqn Ldr Capt Robarts and the SSM left to visit 1Tp at GAMBUT, in the Ford, and to give orders with regards to a recce of the road for gun positions to enable the gunners to carry out a harassing shoot on the force previously reported by 3Tp on the 25th.
At 1900 hours the Echelon arrived with extra food for Xmas. The Sqn Ldr returned at 1945 hours.
3Tp Sgt Cameron proceeded to a position North of the road on the 460 Grid line. While on the way he found a RRAC belonging to A Sqn at 465398. As the car was considered moveable the LAD was asked for and on arrival, with 5Tp as escort proceeded to bring it in.during the afternoon 3Tp patrolled as far the 450 Grid line and reported no movement seen. Sqn concentrated at 2030 hours.
|| C Sqn.
At 0630 hours 2Lt Wenlove 4Tp proceeded on eastern patrol 500402.
At 0730 hours 2Lt Crankshaw 5Tp proceeded on a recce to track running North/South along 504 Grid line. Patrol went as far North as SYABD EL GADER Fort 503416 and returned at 1440 hours.
2Lt Wenlove on eastern patrol saw approx 100 men in area 512399 otherwise no movement seen. Patrol withdrew at 1645 hours.
At 0445 hours 1Tp left GAMBUT with a party of RHA to carry out recce.At 0600 hours 3Tp left for GAMBUT to take over from 1Tp.
At 0830 hours 1Tp returned to SHQ and Sgt Hutchinson reported that the recce had not been very successful and that they had seen 15 vehicles spread out in a wadi to the North of the road.
At 1245 hours the CO visited the Sqn and left at 1320 hours.
At 1730 hours 3Tp left GAMBUT to destroy an enemy fighter which had forced landed approx 4 miles West of the Colonel’s House. This plane was destroyed by fire. It was a CR42 mounting two .7 machine guns and the belts were loaded with incendiary, explosive and AP bullets.
At 1800 hours D Sqn (RAF) took over the patrol at GAMBUT. The Echelon arrived at 2000 hours and left at 2100 hours.
As patrols in the North were being sent as far West as 424 Grid line a dawn patrol was sent as far West as the 430 Grid line. 5Tp and 2Tp carried out this patrol, 2Tp acting as a link in the area of the 445 Grid line. After proceeding for 21 miles West the RRAC of 5Tp punctured its sump and petrol tank and then 2Tp took over the task. The patrol went to area 428406 and were in position there at 0750 hours.
At 1000 hours they reported that the situation was normal and that they were about to retire. Meanwhile 5Tp reported that his MRAC was having bad petrol stoppages and 4Tp was sent out to bring him in. 4Tp brought 5Tp to the 470 Grid and then proceeded West to maintain the normal patrol on the 460 Grid.
At 1030 hours he reported that the Tp was being attacked from the air and at 1055 hours reported that one man was wounded and the RRAC out of action. 3Tp was therefore ordered to take over from 4Tp and 1Tp was sent with Sqn fitter to 5Tp and to assist 4Tp. Tpr Webster who was seriously wounded was evacuated by the 3rd Hussars at 1115 hours. All this time there had been complete wireless silence from 2Tp.
By 1440 hours 3Tp and 5Tp had returned to SHQ while 1Tp was in position in the area to the North of the road near the 460 Grid line. As nothing had been heard from 2Tp throughout the day 1Tp and 5Tp were ordered to proceed to a position on the TRIGH CAPPUZO near the 440 Grid line for the night in order to carry out a recce at first light in the hope of finding Sgt Rich and 2Tp. They were in the area of 441 Grid by 2335 hours where they spent the night. 3Tp and 4Tp were with RHQ.
|| C Sqn.
At 0630 hours Sgt Scrivener 3Tp proceeded on eastern patrol no movement seen all day. Patrol withdrew at 1645 hours.
Sqn now had three Troops as Lt Friend returned from LAD.
At 0800 hours 3Tp returned from destroying the CR42 that had crash landed. The reported that this plane had been shot down and the pilot evidently wounded. The plane had been visited before as all valuable salvage had been removed. The Sqn were relieved for a short period by D Sqn (RAF).
At 1000 hours 2Tp Lt Friend left to carry out a recce of the WADI SAHAT and the track bearing SW from it, 469418 – 468420 as 20 MET had been reported in that area.
At 1130 hours Friend reported no movement seen and was ordered to return to SHQ which he did at 1730 hours.
1Tp moved to area 432407 arriving there at 0730 hours and at 0755 hours reported that they were being attacked by 2 enemy fighters.
5Tp was at Pt. 175 438404 the MRAC having broken a spring, the RRAC was on the TRIGH CAPPUZO at 439405.
A Hurricane chased the enemy fighters away from 1Tp who seeing no sign of 2Tp started to retire. 1Tp passed 5Tp’s car at Pt. 175.
At 0900 hours 5Tp reported 3 enemy planes circling RESEGH and that his front spring was still being changed. After this message there was complete silence from 5Tp.
Meanwhile 1Tp had reached the 470 Grid line and reported that a large column of enemy ground troops were moving towards EL ADEM from the North. This information had been dropped on him from the air.
At 1130 hours 3Tp were sent to maintain the normal patrol on the 460 Grid.
At 1330 hours they were attacked by 2 enemy fighters. In this action Tpr Sutton was killed, Sgt Cameron and Cpl Grayston wounded and a RRAC put out of action. One enemy fighter was shot down. The 3rd Hussars MO went to the aid of 3Tp and gave valuable assistance.
3Tp and 1Tp were called in at 1700 hours and SSM Kitchen and a MRAC from 4Tp went out to find and evacuate the 3Tp RRAC which they did and returned at 2030 hours. There was still no news from 2Tp or 5Tp.
During the night the 3rd Hussars moved through the Sqn positions to the West, taking over the Sqn patrols and with orders to proceed as far as Pt. 175 at first light to see if our patrols were still there.
At 2130 hours they reported they had found 2Lt Halliday, LCpl Stump, LCpl Riami and Tpr Frogg. 2Lt Halliday reported that he and his Tp had been attacked by 3 enemy fighters at 0915 hours and that he had considered it advisable that both crews should take cover in a blockhouse at Pt. 175 438404. During the attack his RRAC was set on fire and burnt out. His MRAC was still jacked up for changing the spring. After the air attack had ceased he saw 10 enemy M/Cs approaching from the West and decided to retire on foot and gave orders accordingly. He and his men left the blockhouse and started running towards the wadis to the East. The fighters were still circling overhead and it is thought that three men, after having run 2/3000 yards took cover on the ground, as after half an hour 2Lt Halliday had only LCpl Stump and Tpr Froggatt with him. They hid up during the day and walked East at night until they were picked up by the 3rd Hussars. LCpl Riami had walked East by himself and was also picked up. He reported having seen one man captured by the M/Cs. The names of the other three men missing from this patrol were LCpl Ramsell and Tprs Smith and Brown.
|| C Sqn.
At 0630 hours Sgt Lamb 1Tp proceeded on the eastern patrol.
At 1302 hours the patrol noticed that one of the 19 derelict MET had disappeared.
At 1504 hours his patrol saw considerable dust between North and South camps and 3 M/Cs, 4 medium tanks and 3 lorries were seen moving West along the main road.
At 1515 hours this party had reached the track junction at 502401 and at 1530 hours there were 8 medium tanks and 2 lorries North of the main road and 4 medium tanks and 11 light tanks South of the main road with 8 lorries.
At 1535 hours this party retired East and at 1539 hours were on the 507 Grid line astride the road.
At 1600 hours this party less 8 light tanks had disappeared from view. The 8 light tanks were 30 yards North of the road at 507400 and were trying to get into cover. No further movement was seen and the patrol withdrew at 1700 hours.
Sqn in reserve, NTR.
The Sqn now had only 7 cars including SHQ, and two of these were off the road.
At 0645 hours 1Tp 2Lt Cunningham and the Ford Utility proceeded to 467398 to collect 2Lt Halliday and the three men from the 3rd Hussars. While they were with the 3rd Hussars they were attacked by enemy fighters but there were no casualties.
The Sqn moved to 485388 and the day was spent in maintenance and rest.
Tpr Sutton was buried on the night 28/29th Dec at 47703925.
The 3rd Hussars patrolled as far West as Pt. 175 and only found the burnt out RRAC; there was no sign of the MRAC. Tac R reported that there were no signs of ACs in SIDI RESEGH area and therefore 2Tp was definitely “missing”. The car crews of 2Tp were:-MRAC - Sgt Rich, Tpr Charman, LCpl Lowe and Tpr Wathen.
RRAC - LCpl Evans, Tpr Crack and Tpr Fenn.
It is presumed that this patrol was attacked by air and after being rendered immobile was captured by ground troops.
Sgt Matheson came up with the Echelon to take over 3Tp. Brigadier Russell visited the Sqn at 1100 hours.
[Transcriber’s Note: Commonwealth War Graves Commission site was searched and it only lists Tpr Charman as being killed on 27th December and buried in Knightsbridge War Cemetery.]
|| C Sqn.
At 0630 hours 2Lt Crankshaw proceeded on the eastern patrol. During the morning there was a certain amount of movement from both sides of the main road.
At 0930 hours 3 lorries came into sight from WADI RAGHEB and disappeared behind the ridge on the 507 Grid. There were also 3 M/Cs and 1 staff car from the camp on the South side of the main road which made their way West to within 1 mile of the track junction at 502401, had a look around, then returned to South camp.
At 1200 hours considerable movement was seen between the two camps North of the road. Approx 100 men were seen at one time and appeared to be walking in a northerly direction towards WADI RAGHEB.
The patrol withdrew at 1700 hours.
In reserve, NTR.
Lt Turnbull went on leave, Lt Friend took over 2i/c. 2Lt Poston took over Lt Friend’s Tp.
2Lt Halliday, LCpls Stump and Riami and Tpr Froggatt left to join B3 Echelon and 2Lt Halliday went on to Cairo.
Orders were received from 7th Armd Bde to recce the area South of TRIGH CAPPUZO as far West as the 450 Grid line but owing to lack of Troops this task was given to another unit.Orders were received to rejoin the Regt on 31st Dec. a RRAC arrived with the Echelon and was allocated to 3Tp.
|| C Sqn.
At 0650 hours 2Lt Wenlove 4Tp proceeded on the eastern patrol.
At 1030 hours Sgt Scrivener 3Tp relieved 4Tp whose RRAC was required to replace the Sqn Ldr car.
At 1700 hours the patrol withdrew. No movement seen during the day.
In reserve NTR.2Lt Poston evacuated sick. 2Lt Clarke took over 2Tp.
B Sqn.NTR. At 1630 hours Sqn moved to 485483 1 mile East of GABR BZEU and came under command of the Regt again and was in reserve.
Activities of A Sqn from Dec 9th – 16th 1940.
On Monday December 9th A Sqn came under command of HQ Support Group. Three patrols were sent out to watch the Rabia and Sofafi camps, out task being to observe either an early evacuation of these camps or an attempt by them to reinforce the Nibeiwa or Tummar camps.
SHQ and reserve Troops moved to 586337. At 0830 hours a Blenheim bomber was shot down by a CR42 near SHQ, one of the crew being saved although wounded. During the morning a column of 15 MET left the Gabr Mahdi camp and lined up facing West from Sofafi East.
There was a certain amount of internal activity between the camps but not until dusk did any major movement become apparent, when lorries started leaving East, in pairs, for the West.
Our patrols were constantly under shellfire that day, and, after a recce by the Sqn Ldr and Major Turnbull of the RHA, our guns came up during the night and engaged the enemy batteries, leaving in the early hours of the 10th of December.
December 10th was a quiet day, the enemy camps still occupied, but the shelling had died down to one gun in Sofafi East and our own battery work was very accurate. SHQ moved up to Pt. 226 577324. In the afternoon visibility was very poor owing to a sandstorm.
December 11th at 0710 hours A Sqn moved to harass the enemy on their line of withdrawal from the Sofafi camps to Halfway House. The Hamra – Sofafi track was crossed at 0900 hours 3 miles SW of Habata.
At 1130 hours we were attacked by 9 enemy fighters at 549331. These planes did not have armour piercing bullets and only one RRAC was unluckily hit in the petrol tank. The Sqn Ldr was slightly wounded in the head.
The Sqn moved but was attacked by 12 fighters equipped with .45 explosive bullets. This was a much more damaging attack. Four ACs were put out of action and several casualties to personnel were incurred, including the Sqn Ldr, Capt DPJ Lloyd, TSM Clarke and 3 other NCOs. The Sqn withdrew to Haqfet Ramadan to reorganise and get more tyres, many of which had been punctured.
December 12th A Sqn came under orders of HQ 4th Armd Bde but it was not until 1200 hours, owing to lack of tyres, that two Troops were able to get away to KHREIGAT area to take up our role, which we shared with the RAF Sqn as advance guard to 4th Armd Bde.
At 1700 hours SHQ and reserve Troop arrived at Khreigat area where we were joined at dusk by 3Tp, who, during the afternoon had recced and reported Sidi Omar strongly held.
One Troop which had been observing Halfway House (still occupied) was sent to observe Halfaya. The RAF Sqn who were operating in the Sheferzen area, had one patrol out that night, the remainder leaguering at Khreigat.
Our task for 13th December was to watch and locate an enemy column trying to escape along the escarpment, between Halfway House and Halfaya camp. At 1047 hours 3Tp reported a camp at 52013500 and 60 MET at 52533677, with 6 large guns. By 1230 hours the area was reported clear and 7 prisoners captured.
4Tp remained in observation of Halfaya and reported at 1605 hours, the crashing of a Hurricane and the death of its pilot. At 2000 hours the Sqn with the RAF Sqn were ordered to act as advance guard to Birks Force.
Saturday December 14th at 0130 hours we met Birks Force at post 42 on the frontier. On the march, via Umm Maalif, to Pt. 211 486393, the Sqn did advance and right flank guard, with RAF Sqn on left flank. At about 0900 hours the column was heavily attacked, but without effect, just South of Pt. 211 by enemy bomber and fighter aircraft.
Our task for the day was to watch Sidi Azeiz for any enemy movement South or West. No movement seen but the Sqn was considerably hampered by hostile air activity. During the afternoon the Sqn came under command of the Regt. At 1730 hours Sqn leaguered at Bir Mikail.
On December 15th the Sqn supplied 2 patrols, one watched the Trigh Cappuzo from 475 Grid line, and the other was ordered to report on the T road at Pt. 127 leading North to Gambut and the landing ground in the vicinity.
At 1145 hours no movement seen was reported in area Pt. 167 bur Gambut appeared to be well held. The patrol worked round to the South to get closer observation on Pt. 167. At 1204 hours another patrol reported a landing ground and hangars at Pt. 199 469399, to which two Troops of the 7th Hussars light tanks were dispatched.
1t 1440 hours a landing ground was reported 2 miles South of Gambut, with 11 planes on the ground and one burning. Further East, a camp with a few MET moving between it and the landing ground. The 7th Hussars at 1444 hours, found the landing ground unoccupied, and it was obvious that the information had been incorrect.
At about 1500 hours the Gambut patrol was attacked by 3 fighters, 1 RRAC was put out of action and the crew had to abandon it. The remaining vehicle retired East on orders from SHQ. At the same time 35 enemy fighters were seen over the area. The abandoned car could not be found that night.
On December 16th A Sqn patrols for the day consisted of the watch on Gambut only. All other patrols were cancelled and the Sqn withdrew to post 42 and thence to the Regimental Rest area.
In the field (sgd) JFB Combe DSO Lt Col
9.1.41 Commanding 11th Hussars PAO
Report on the Activities of 11th Hussars PAO 9th – 19th December 1940.
On December 9th the 11th Hussars less A Sqn and the RAF Sqn, having bivouacked the previous night in BIR ENBA area, started at first light to recce the area behind the line of enemy camps from a point almost 5 miles SW of SIDI BARRANI on the ALAM EL RIMTH track – ALAM QREISH – EL SENAB – EL KHOR. Places in particular were:-
- DARAQ where an enemy tank group of 2 or 3 Bns were believed to be.
- Wadis KAGSH and KARRABA where dumps were reported.
- EL KHOR a reported enemy camp area.
The 4th Armd Bde travelled 2 or 3 miles in rear of 11th Hussars and were to follow, their task being:-
The Regt having accomplished their above task were:-
- To protect the flank of 4th Indian Div who were attacking NIBEIWA and TUMMAR camps.
- To destroy enemy tank formations
It was believed that there were large numbers of enemy in the AZZAZIYA area and that it was possible that the tanks might be there or at EL KHOR if not at DARAQ. AZZAZIYA was not included in our area but being only a mile or two out of it and in a direct line of out advance and also on the BARRANI – SOLLUM road I asked if I should go into it if the opportunity arose, but I got no satisfactory answer to this either from Brigadier Caunter, Commanding the Div, but who had made up the 4th Armd Bde orders, nor from Colonel Birks who was now commanding the 4th Armd Bde and endeavouring to put into operation these orders.
- To put out a long screen of observation to the West.
- Recce the BUQ-BUQ area and inflict as much damage to material, water, tanks, etc as possible.
In order to accomplish our task the Regt advanced from BIR ENBA at 0610 hours on a two Sqn frontage, B Sqn on the right whose main task was DARAQ and C Sqn on the left to recce the wadis and then go on to EL KHOR and finally to swing left and proceed West.
4th Armd Bde also moved, on a 2 Regt front, 7th Hussars on the left to mop up enemy and material in the wadis in C Sqn’s area and 6th RTR backing up B Sqn and to engage enemy tanks believed to be at DARAQ.
The rough stony ground and camel humps were very bad for the ACs and reduced their speed considerably and the tank regts behind, especially the 7th Hussars, passed us at the beginning. Time and speed is essential for recce.
C Sqn reported the wadis clear and afterwards B Sqn reported that EL KABSH was clear and later it was reported that DARAQ was clear. The 4th Armd Bde followed on with its guns.
C Sqn then reported an enemy camp just South of EL KHOR and by working wide that SAMALUS, SW of EL KHOR, was held, also ALAM EL RIMTH, to the NE was strongly held.
B Sqn continuing past DARAQ, reported its whole area clear but seeing enemy along the BARRANI – SOLLUM road pressed on. Two Troops, 2Lt Cunningham and Sgt Taber, attacked some enemy standing about but an A/Tk trench, which being small was hidden from view, delayed their advance and enabled the enemy to man A/Tk guns and 1 car and crew were destroyed and lost, Sgt Taber and Tpr Ralstein were killed. The Troops rallied and got away without further damage.
The remainder of B Sqn came opposite the AZZAZIYA position, where no tanks were found, and many prisoners were taken, 2Lt Halliday’s Tp captured 400.
During the last 10 miles the going had got much worse, sand dunes and hummocks, which further reduced the pace and rendered recce more difficult.
C Sqn’s patrols did excellent work and accurately located the enemy positions from ALAM EL RIMTH, EL KHOR and SAMALUS, also the position of his guns. 2Lt Reid Scott did the West flank and worked wide and in behind; 2Lt Crankshaw, in area ALAM EL RIMTH, did extremely well too, placing East flank position of guns and another camp behind and also working behind the enemy lines towards BUQ-BUQ.
7th Hussars then came up and relieved C Sqn of NE task opposite ALAM EL RIMTH and C Sqn were withdrawn to face West but remaining in contact to their North opposite SAMALUS and EL KHOR. During the day a sand storm had blown rendering visibility very poor indeed. This together with the very bad going rendered the tasks of C and B Sqns very difficult.
The night of 9/10th December was spent in that area, with C Sqn facing West and stopping the ALAM EL RIMTH and SOFAFI track, B Sqn withdrawn slightly from North were resting. RHQ had been very close up all day and remained for the night.
There had been no action by the 4th Armd Bde, though 7th Hussars and some guns had been in contact around ALAM EL RIMTH. The 6th RTR were NE of Bde on the BARRANI – ALAM EL RIMTH track for the night.
December 10th a sandstorm blew all day again. B Sqn recced the area towards BUQ-BUQ and return. 6th rtr were in area EL HAMID and 7th Hussars ALAN EL RIMTH. C Sqn recced the enemy in the SW and along the ALAM EL RIMTH – SOFAFI track.
C Sqn 2Lt Reid Scott found the enemy western flank at EL KATTAR and then proceeded about 11 miles due West and finding no enemy moved North and was able to report no movement in the BUQ-BUQ area, either towards SOLLUM or from SOFAFI. Later, patrols of C Sqn were in observation and obtained detailed information of the enemy between SAMALUS and EL KHOR.
B Sqn penetrated beyond the enemy position at ALAM EL RIMTH and also reported no movement in the BUQ-BUQ area.
The CO who was also doing 2i/c of 4th Armd Bde, wen tin the morning to liase with Major General Beresford Piersse, GOC 4th Indian Div, who were attacking SIDI BARRANI. The CO found the GOC eventually, forward and not at the appointed place, which he stated he had never heard of, nor was the GOC 7th Armd Div there. Major General Beresford Piersse explained his plan for the attack on SIDI BARRANI and asked if 2nd RTR and 6th RTR could help, or at least extricate, his left Bde, Brigadier Lomax, if they had to retire.
In the afternoon the CO took Colonel Birks, commanding 4th Armd Bde, and two wireless ACs up to 4th Indian Div, as the attack had been postponed. General Beresford Piersse, Brigadier Lomax and Colonel Gairdner, GSO1 7th Armd Div, were all interviewed. For 7th Armd Div Colonel Gairdner gave the possible plan for the 11th December and explained that the 7th and 4th Bdes would exchange, the former going towards the BUQ-BUQ area to cut off the enemy. The CO said he hoped the 7th Bde would be onto BUQ-BUQ – SOFAFI track during the night 10/11th December, if possible, as he was sure the enemy would try and slip away. Brigadier Lomax stated that he did not require the help of 2nd RTR on his left and North of BARRANI – SOLLUM road. Afterwards this was changed and 2nd RTR were used successfully.
The 11th Hussars and 4th Armd Bde bivouacked night in the same area. C Sqn again blocking the BUQ-BUQ – SOFAFI track.
During the night 10/11th December orders were received that the 4th Armd Bde would withdraw, on December 11th, to the ENBA area and that 11th Hussars, less A Sqn and RAF Sqn, would come under orders 7th Armd Bde.
7th Armd Bde were ordered to ‘clear up’ the area ALAM EL RIMTH – SAMALUS – BUQ-BUQ. 11th Hussars were to report on enemy in that area and any enemy movement eastwards from SOLLUM towards BUQ-BUQ.
B Sqn was ordered to watch the South flank of 7th Armd Bde in SOFAFI area, presumably for the enemy tanks that had been reported on 8th December, as likely to be there if not at EL DARAQ. During the whole period no movement had been reported from this direction and it seemed to me to be unnecessarily cautious to send a whole Sqn to observe there for the third day, further GOC 7th Armd Bde detailed one RTR Sqn to that area also to watch this South flank.
To me there were only two courses open to the enemy:-
- To fight on his present area BUQ-BUQ, or,
- To retire towards SOLLUM.
The former gave me plenty of time to find him also to cut off his retreat along the SOLLUM road but I was far more apprehensive of the latter and that he would get away. Therefore to make sure of finding his western flank and to cut him off, if possible, C Sqn were ordered to send out three patrols, one to area EL SAMALUS and report the situation there, one NW towards the Winter track area EL NAAS and another further West still in the direction of the junction of the Winter and Summer tracks.
Very early on the 11th C Sqn, 2Lt Rid Scott, reported that the enemy appeared to have retired and he was soon able to state this of SAMALUS and then EL KATTAR and pushing on reported that fire was coming from EL HALFA. Two other patrols of C Sqn were moving northwards towards the Winter track. In fact none of our Troops had been in contact with the enemy during the night 10/11th and so he had retired unnoticed.
Immediately I heard the enemy had retired I asked 7th Armd Bde to relieve B Sqn from watching SOFAFI because I knew how far behind the Bde was and felt that the enemy might slip us. 7th Armd Bde replied that they could not be freed.
The enemy retired from the KATTAR area and 2Lt Reid Scott pushed on to BUQ-BUQ Xroads, here he attacked some enemy and took 4 A/Tk guns and about 40 prisoners and reported the area clear. This confirmed that the enemy had retired and had changed direction towards SOLLUM.
C Sqn’s other two patrols were now approaching the Winter track and each had about 40 or 50 prisoners and I felt that the enemy were going or had gone.
The Bde was still heading for the original area, ALAM EL RIMTH – SAMALUS – BUQ-BUQ. Again I asked for B Sqn and this time I was told they would be made available when 1st RTR got into position.
Up to date I had no message or fresh plan of the 7th Armd Bde, and this message was sent – “I have no idea what your plan is but I presume you are heading NW as fast as possible to cut off the enemy”.
Soon all C Sqn patrols had so many prisoners, about 70 each, that they were seriously impeded and could not move further. In one case 2Lt Reid Scott was ordered to take of their shoes and socks and let them go. This same Tp then located enemy, with arty and A/Tk guns, in the sand dunes West of BUQ-BUQ, and this gave me their East flank.
Very large numbers of enemy Infantry and arty were seen stretching East and West over a 2 mile front just South of the Summer track, and 2 or 3 guns shelled some vehicles moving up to RHQ on the Winter track. A severe sandstorm had been blowing all day which made the work of the patrols extremely difficult.
About this time B Sqn were released from SOFAFI and were ordered up on the left of C Sqn but they had a long way to go and some assistance was asked for to allow C Sqn to be freed of their prisoners, and carry on their role. The 8th Hussars and one Tp of guns were sent forward and 3rd Hussars pressed on towards BUQ-BUQ.
By this time the enemy position could be accurately located and about 1-2000 men and a row of field guns clearly visible.
The 3rd Hussars reached the BUQ-BUQ area and then moved westwards and in spite of a full warning, their leading troop attacked 2Lt Reid Scott’s Troop, luckily without result.
The leading Sqn 8th Hussars, also Colonel Watson and an Artillery officer arrived about 1400 hours and were given and shown all the information by myself.
By 1430 hours Commander 4th Armd Bde had still not arrived and ordered myself to make out a plan, with Colonel Watson, to attack the enemy, such a plan to include blocking the enemy’s West flank to prevent his retirement to SOLLUM. This however had been anticipated long before and was the reason why B Sqn were so urgently required, and this task had been allotted to them.
Comdr 7th Armd Bde also suggested 3rd Hussars should attack from the South or SE, but the ground there was too bare and it was decided they should advance more or less astride the Summer track. The 8th Hussars Cruiser Sqn was to attack from the SW whereby some cover could be obtained.
The guns were brought up South of the Winter track and at first had some difficulty in registering satisfactorily. This delayed the guns and the attack was also put off. 8th Hussars were able to show all their Tank Comdrs the objective and route to be taken.
At about 1530 hours Commander 7th Armd Bde arrived, his tank having performed badly, and took charge.
The 3rd Hussars had been in contact with the East flank, but I could not see their arty supporting, and were ordered by Commander 7th Armd Bde to await arty support of Troops under command of 8th Hussars on the main position.
The attack went in at about 1600 hours with excellent arty support. The 8th Hussars fired a few rounds, almost without reply, the enemy Infantry were seen to break and retire in hundreds northwards across the sand dunes.
The 3rd Hussars on East flank also attacked and were halted by enemy arty fire and were then seen to be collecting large numbers of prisoners.
B Sqn 11th Hussars who had been ordered to block West lines of retirement had extreme difficulty in getting across the intervening country, which was SABAKH. Of 2Lt Cunningham’s Tp, two cars got stuck but he got his own over and into position just in time, as the enemy had begun to retire westwards. By determination and boldness he held them up but could not cover all the ground and many were passing North of him.
2Lt Halliday then arrived with his Tp and the situation improved, though Infantry were still working behind by going northwards and then southwards. There was no panic and no surrender, 2Lt Halliday’s Tp only just saved them selves by killing the crews of two A/Tk guns that had been brought into action in lorries and stern measures had to be adopted. To make the block more complete 2Lt Halliday’s Tp were ordered more westwards and in spite of extremely bad going he accomplished this after 5 – 7 miles and when nearing the enemy positions close to HALFAYA he succeeded in getting to the head of the retiring enemy. Here he halted, dismounted, disarmed probably 2000, including 3 light tanks, MGs and lorries and drove them towards 2Lt Cunningham’s Tp, who had already about 1000 prisoners with him. They continued to carry out their tasks and by darkness had 7000 prisoners between them, which were disarmed, collected and organised and marched back 5 or 6 miles in two parties, each with only one AC in front and 1 AC behind.
The immense amount of material was left behind except for 3 or 4 little Ballila Fiat cars that the Italian officers drove in having shown extreme reluctance to walk.
These prisoners had broken northwards over the sand dunes before the 8th Hussars attacked and would all have escaped had it not been for the above two Troops of B Sqn.
The prisoners finally arrived in a very tired and waterless condition at about 1 a.m. and knowing the situation would be out of hand the next morning if there were any air attacks, the whole lot were marched further eastwards that night.
The Regiment slept the night in their positions. The LAD, which had been forward the whole time with RHQ, spent the evening and night trying to extricate 3 ACs from the Sabakh but the breakdown, with 30 yards of rope, failed and finally got itself stuck too. Cruisers had been asked for from Bde and arrived very late in the early morning, one of these also got itself hopelessly stuck trying to extricate 2 light tanks. It was not until late afternoon on the 12th that 2 of the ACs and breakdown lorry were recovered. One AC and Cruiser had to be left.
On December 12th the regiment put in a wide screen of observation to the West from the Winter track, watching HALFAYA, thence along the escarpment to Halfway House and towards SOFAFI.
A further 500 prisoners were captured. A maximum amount of rest and minimum amour of movement was the order. B Sqn found only one patrol.
Late that afternoon orders were received for the Regt to go to the South and come under orders 4th Armd Bde. Accordingly a move was made and the Regt, less A Sqn and the RAF Sqn, concentrated and slept the night at SOFAFI. Visibility had again been bad all day.
The Regiment sustained no casualties December 10th and 11th and had captured in the 3 days – 8,000 prisoners and very large numbers of guns, A/Tk, light tanks, lorries etc.
In the first 3 days the outstanding points were:-
- That on Reconnaissance Regiment for the Division was insufficient.
- That ACs were severely handicapped, both at the time by reason of the reduction in speed and manoeuvrability and mechanically by having to work over extreme bad going.
- That ACs get opportunities, by reason of surprise, to attack successfully parties of enemy and enemy positions; if that opportunity is taken at once, but if not taken very considerable more strength is required to overcome that opposition. Against this ACs must be sure of their own ground information. See Sgt Taber’s Troop on December 9th.
- That it is entirely due to the accurate reports, chiefly of C Sqn on December 10th and 11th, that made the action possible.
- That only one Sqn was available to carry out this large recce task, and that the other had been sent on a seemingly futile task and was not released until veritably too late.
- The apparent slowness of the 7th Bde to realise the situation, i.e. that the enemy had retired and changed direction and were obviously making for SOLLUM and that 3rd Hussars were still sent to BUQ-BUQ, in spite of our reports that this area was all clear, and 1st RTR and Sqn of 11th Hussars to SOFAFI.
- That it was not until 1530 hours and 1600 hours that the Comdr 7th Armd Bde, and his HQ respectively arrived on the Winter track to take control.
On the morning of the 13th December the Regt concentrated in the KHREIGAT area under orders 4th Armd Bde. This Bde was later divided into two forces, namely BIRKSFORCE, commanded by Colonel Birks, and COMBEFORCE, commanded by colonel Combe, who came under orders of the 4th Armd Bde.
COMBEFORCE consisted of the 11th Hussars, less A Sqn and RAF Sqn, two batteries, less one Tp, of 4th RHA and 2nd RTR. A Sqn and the RAF Sqn came under orders of BIRKSFORCE.
The object of COMBEFORCE was to get astride the TOBRUK – BARDIA road, break communications and capture anything moving on the road.
Owing to the delay in replenishing the 2nd RTR, COMBEFORCE did not leave the concentration area till 0130 hours on the 14th December, although 11th Hussars had been ready to move by 1900 hours 13th December.
C Sqn led the advance, followed by B Sqn, two Batteries of 4th RHA and the 2nd RTR followed by Birksforce.
The frontier was crossed at Stone 42, but soon afterwards a halt was ordered by BIRKSFORCE, as they had lost their way and were badly organised. A very valuable 1½ hours was lost with ill results. The advance continued without incident till about 0730 hours when an enemy recce machine was seen to spot our force and quickly returned.
At about 0930 hours when the leading Sqn, C Sqn, reached 48434012 it was heavily attacked by enemy bombers and fighters. The attack by fighters was particularly heavy and lasted about 25 minutes.. The Sqn Sgt Major was killed, one officer and four ORs wounded, the fitters lorry and Ford Utility were burnt out beside 5 ACs temporarily put out of action. It is interesting to note here that the Sqn were together and were thus able to bring the whole of their firepower against the fighters, of which there were 12, this fire failed in anyway to deter the fighters from their activities. After this action C Sqn moved North and I Troop was sent forward to cut the telephone wires and observe the main road.
Meanwhile RHQ had moved forward to 48504000 with B Sqn at Pt. 214 491398. One Tp 4th RHA was covering the road West of Pt. 132 481411 and 1 Battery 4th RHA was covering the road East of the same point. 2nd RTR moved to GABR BZEU 483402 and took over C Sqn role with the further object of capturing anything that came along the road and pushing patrols northwards from Pt. 132 up the tracks running NNE and NNW from Pt. 129.
During the day 2nd RTR inadvertently shot, killing some of the occupants, a lorry converted into an ambulance conveying wounded. It was only when the lorry was captured that it was discovered to be an ambulance, the Red Cross being very indistinguishable. They also captured a few more prisoners and lorries.
C Sqn had now come into reserve and A Sqn and the RAF Sqn had now come under command. A Sqn was now watching the Trigh CAPPUZO to the West of Pt. 211 486392 and the RAF Sqn was watching the SIDI AZEIZ – GABR SALEM road.
B Sqn were watching the TOBRUK – BARDIA road from BIR IUNES and actually patrolled as far West as the 475 Grid line and were also watching the road from Pt. 220 491403. Whilst B Sqn was at Pt. 214 they were attacked by enemy fighters but received no casualties.
Lessons brought on this day were:-
The dispositions on the 15th of December were the same except that B Sqn patrol was withdrawn from BIR IUNES and they had a patrol as far East as Pt. 217 497302.
- That the force should have left the concentration area earlier and been in position by daylight.
- That if a force of this description moves by daylight it must have air protection.
- The total incapacity of ACs to protect themselves against low flying attacks.
The air attacks diminished and one section 4/106 RHA came under command. The 2nd RTR continued their role and captured a few more prisoners and lorries.
During the night 15/16th December orders were received for the Regt, less the RAF Sqn, to return to KHREIGAT area. The remainder of COMBEFORCE to revert to its normal command. The Regt, less RAF Sqn came under command 7th Armd Div, the RAF Sqn coming under command 7th Armd Bde.
On the morning 16th December the Regt, less the RAF Sqn, concentrated in the KHREIGAT area.
On 17th December B Sqn came under command 7th Armd Bde and the RAF Sqn rejoined the Regt in the KHREIGAT area. The situation was the same on the 18th of December.
On December 19th the RAF Sqn relieved B Sqn and that evening the Regt moved to the area 484403, with a view to moving North of the TOBRUK – BARDIA road, blocking that road and the coast road, which was done by first light on December 29th.
In the field (sgd) JFB Combe DSO Lt Col
8.1.41 Commanding 11th Hussars PAO
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