50 (Northumbrian) Division “G Branch” GAZALA

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  1. After Action Report by Intelligence on ‘Operation Freeborn’ 14/15 June 1942

    1. GENERAL
    (a) Situation prior to ‘Freeborn’
    (i) Disposition – Enemy and Own Tps-as known a.m. 14 June 1942. See map at Appx “A”

    (b) Orders
    (i) Received: Preliminary orders (copies not available), issued some months before the operation took place envisaged in certain circumstances withdrawal from the GAZALA posns to the frontier. Orders for the operation were sent out by 13 Corps in a message dated 14 June, T.O.O. 1020, attached at App”B”.
    (ii) Issued: At a conference held at Div HQ at 1100 hrs 14 June 42 the G.O.C. issued orders for withdrawal to the FRONTIER. The Div would break out through the Italian defensive ring on the West, in 2 gps under command 69 Bde and 151 Bde, Div H.Q. and Div Tps being divided between the two. After breaking through the Italian defences they would proceed South beyond BIR HACHEIM, then East to the frontier wire. Copy of 50 Div O.O. not available.

    (c) Demolition Plan
    Shortage of time, personnel and igniting devices prevented the formulation and execution of any elaborate demolition or booby trap schemes. The following demolitions were however prepared:

    (i) In 69 Bde area all R.E. stores and G1098 equipment were concentrated in 6 large dumps. Dieseline was poured over the dumps and 12 hr delay fuses placed in position, with additional alternative methods of ignition allowing delay of up to 3 days.
    (ii) In 151 Bde area all mines and explosives were concentrated in 3 large dumps, one of which was set to explode in 15 hours and two in 24 hrs. Alternative delays were used.
    (iii) A German Mk III tk in 69 Bde area was prepared for demolition. Two alternative time pencils were used.
    (iv) Of 7,000 gallons of diesoline in 69 Bde area some was used for destruction of dumps; the remainder was allowed to drain away after the drums had been punctured. In addition to the above R.E. demolitions, stores etc which had to be abandoned by units were destroyed or buried wherever possible – although large fires were necessarily prohibited.
    (d) Casualties For summary of casualties see App C {Handwritten addition} A/Q War Diary
    (a) Orders Brig 69 Bde issued his orders at conference of all commanding officers held at 1300 hrs 14 June 42. The enemy has had a success at KNIGHTSBRIDGE against our armoured forces and were rapidly approaching and isolating TOBRUK. The Italian ‘Brescia’ Div were still to the West of the Bde box on the line TRIGH CAPUZZO B171, B166 GABR EL FACHRI and were reinforced by German gunners. This force was unlikely to attack in the immediate future. Our own troops were withdrawing to TOBRUK and the 151 Bde were breaking out West and then withdrawing East in conformity with the 69 Bde. The Brigadier’s intention was for the Bde to break through the Italian defences and withdraw to the frontier wire. The method was as follows:- The 5th Bn East Yorks, with 12 tks in support attack the area west of B166, thus forming a bridgehead which they would hold until the remainder of the Bde had passed through or not later than 0500 hrs. The remainder of the Bde would split into small colns consisting of a third of a bn together with supporting arms. Each coln to have a commander, navigator and assistant navigator, and a proportion of carriers who had MMG’s mounted , anti-tank guns, 25 prs and Bofors guns. The colns would go out of the same gap in the minefield on a timed programme, would form up near B167 and from then on every coln would fend for itself. The 7 Bn Green Howards, who were in a separate box of their own at BIR HELEISI, together with their supporting arms were to make their way through the Bde box and act in the same way as the remainder of the Bde. The zero hour for the 5 East Yorks attack was 2000 hrs. The route of the Bde was anywhere east of GABR EL FACHRI, east of ROTUNDA MTEIFEL, south as far as B831, then east towards BIR EL GUBI and thence either to LYBIAN SHEFERZEN, EL RABTA or RIDOTTA MADDELENA. Demolitions and destruction of abandoned stores were to be carried out as far as possible, though burning was prohibited. Stores that could not be destroyed were to be buried. The destruction policy was of course conditioned by the consideration of concealing our intentions from the enemy. The administrative side of the problem was comparatively simple; three days rations, water and POL for 250 miles were to be carried. The available tp carrying tpt was allotted to units. There was no inter-communication as wireless silence was ordered after 2200 hrs and there would be co-ordination once the operation had started. Two of the main points of the orders were that if the enemy attacked before the operation started the bde would fight it out in the box and secondly that if the 5 East Yorks failed to penetrate the enemy line, the 6 Green Howards would have to push forward through them.
  2. (a) The Operation Throughout the afternoon of the 14th there was a sandstorm. This proved to be of great assistance as the enemy were unable to discover any irregular movement of transport either the ground or air. Transport was moving up, stores loaded, other stores destroyed, all through the afternoon. Recces were carried out and orders given for the 5 East Yorks attack. At 1830 hrs the 5 EY moved out to the F.U.P. At 1930 hrs the box was shelled for a short time. At 2000 hrs the 5 EY attack started and the supporting arty fire brought back many replies into the box. This fire soon turned on to the attackers when the enemy saw that it was more than the usual “evening hate”. The 5 EY sent in two coys followed by a third when the first two were held up. The second wave stopped the Italian resistance and suffered few losses. One pl advanced at the slope singing ‘Rule Britannia’ and marching in step, to adopt the ‘on guard’ position only when within 10 yds of the astonished Italians. Altogether the close fighting of the 5 EY was too much for the Italians. Bayonet, Tommy gun, pistol and grenade all put paid to any dugout that showed any sign of life. The 5 EY had formed the bridgehead. In the growing dusk lit by the flames of burning vehs and by the streaks of tracer amn, the 6 GH, followed by the Bde H.Q. gp and the Bde Ord Coy slowly moved forward through the gap. Shells were falling in the vicinity of the packed vehicles but there was no heavy concentration. The Various colns made their way successfully through the enemy defences. The enemy fire was ill-judged and usually high and its intensity was exaggerated by the fact that most of it was tracer. In few cases did the Italians directly attack the colns as they passed through, though in certain cases they surrounded isolated vehs. It was obvious the Italians had no idea what was happening. The slit trenches and dugouts took a far greater toll of vehs than the Italians. Once behind the enemy front lines the colns met little enemy resistance though they passed through considerable veh laagers in the GIOF BAHUT and on the TRIGH CAPUZZO. By this time several of the colns had split up and some vhes lost direction and ran on to the ROTUNDA MTEIFEL minefield. Thereafter, in spite of the frequent verey lights at night and in spite of several imagined skirmishes with armoured cars, which turned out in most cases to be K.D.G’s in the colns succeeded in going sufficiently South to avoid BIR HACHEIM and thence to one of the gaps in the frontier wire. The main body of the 7 Green Howards were able to make their way through the bde box and complete their withdrawal according to plan. The support coy, however, together with 2 tps of S.A. Fd. Arty attached to 7 Green Howards, found on arrival at PATROL GAP that enemy shellfire was now so heavy as to make any attempt to pass through appear suicidal. It was therefore decided to wait until dawn and then to withdraw towards TOBRUK along the coast road. This plan was successfully put into effect the 7 Green Howards joining the 9 D.L.I. en route and co-operating with them in the action at MRASSAS.


    (a) Orders; At 1345 hrs 14 June a conference of commanding officers was held by the Bde Comd at which the following orders were issued or confirmed:-
    (i) At 2030 hrs 8 DLI with one bty 25 pdr, one Pl MGs, one tp LAA., and 1 Sqn S.A. Armd Cars to leave STRICKLAND POST U9465 and force a passage through the enemy lines to B168 U9357 and to maintain the passage open until the last troops were through or until 0500 hrs on 15 June whichever was the earlier. Thence proceed via B833 to the Egyptian frontier.
    (ii) 6 DLI and attached troops to follow 8 DLI, less one coln to act as rearguard to Bde Gp HQ.
    (iii) Bde Gp HQ to follow 6 DLI in two gps “A” and “B” under command of Lt. Col. M N DEWING, MC, 74 Fd. Regt RA and Major BLACK DAA & QMG respectively.
    (iv) 9 DLI and attached tps to move up from the bn box it had occupied at B160 359424 (Egyptian Grid) to the Bde box 2115 hrs and after Div HQ had passed through STRICKLAND POST to follow if possible; if not, to make good its way out by TOBRUK.
    (b) Main Bde Coln: At 2030 hrs the main coln and two subsidiary colns of 8DLI formed up in the area of STRICKLAND POST, the vehicles having assembled in an unobtrusive manner from 1830 hrs onwards. The two leading colns of 8 DLI passed the illuminated start line at 2050 hrs on bearing 1850 and 2000 respectively, the main coln preparing to follow between these two avenues. At 1 mile the WESTERN coln met opposition including heavy MG, A/Tk, Mortar and S.A. fire, but succeeded in seizing and consolidating the posn which was held for four hours, until the coln comd MAJOR SELL, whose vehicle had been blown up under him, heard that the Bde Gp had passed through, when he proceeded to mop up a German posn 7 Km to the South whose existence had been revealed to him by an Italian prisoner.
    The Eastern coln at the same time passed under the enemy defensive fire practically unharmed and through two enemy coy posns unoccupied and full of A/Tk and light automatic weapons. The coln took up a defensive posn while a fighting patrol investigated and found an ITALIAN Officers Mess and Signal Exchange. An ITALIAN Officer observed using glasses was effectively and quietly dealt with. For two hours a mortar and some A/Tk guns to the S.S.W. kept up sporadic fire and a S.A. Armd car was set on fire thereby.
    Meanwhile the main coln reached the objective at B.168 without opposition except for some indiscriminate arty shelling. Unfortunately Capt. P BOWERS and Lt. CARRUTHERS were among the missing; approx 50 in number.
    At 2100 hrs 6 DLI formed up at AUCKLAND WEST GAP U9769. 6 DLI less rearguard coln left AMBULANCE POST U9467 at 2145 hrs and at approx 2230 hrs left STRICKLAND POST U9465.
    6 D.L.I. crossed start line at 2235 hrs on a bearing of 2030 on which it proceeded for 2 ½ miles when an enemy minefield was encountered and the Navigator, the Bn I.O. Capt TOMLINSON, was wounded and his driver killed when his truck was blown up. A det engineers cleared a gap through which the coln passed. The minefield was subjected to M.G. and A/Tk fire as well as occasional S.A. fire, but the coln passed through with only light losses. Two carriers had to be destroyed and another belonging to 74 Fd Regt struck a mine. Lieut CATHCART had been killed previously in the afternoon while holding the outpost under shellfire. 35 O.Rs are still unaccounted for.
    At 2300 hrs, on receipt of the success signal from O.C. 8 DLI, the Bde Gp HQ. “A” and “B” Gps moved forward from STRICKLAND POST past the start line on a bearing of 2010.
    At 0005 hrs on Monday 15 Jun an enemy posn comprising an A/Tk gun and one or two M.Gs opened fire on “A” Gp 151 Inf Bde Coln and set on fire a Signals truck and the Officers Mess of 74 Fd Regt., and 2 armd cars of 6 S.A.A.C. This caused the second half of “A” Gp 151 Bde Gp HQ to stop, thereby halting “B” Gp which was following immediately behind. Major BLACK DAA & QMG, Comd “B” Coln then decided after recce to continue the move forward on the same bearing. By then the A/Tk gun fire had temporarily ceased and the whole of Coln “B” successfully passed the posn. Though 8 or 9 vehicles were lost in slit trenches or on the minefield the coln was able to proceed, but the Bde TransportOfficer was missing. The remainder of the journey to the wire was completed without noticeable incident and with no enemy interference. 4 Italian P.W. from BRESCIA Div were brought back.
  3. (a) 9 D.L.I. and rearguard coln of 6 D.L.I.
    At 0015 hrs the rearguard coln of 6 D.L.I. withdrew the outpost at HEINKEL POST U 9469 and joined up with the rest of the rearguard at WEST AMBULANCE GAP U9468, and then moved to STRICKLAND POST.
    9 D.L.I. passed through STRICKLAND POST U9465 at 0145 hrs and the head of the coln advanced about a mile where it was met by small arms, A/Tk and mortar fire and was suffering losses in men and vehicles as it was lit up by the blazing derelicts of previous colns. O.C. 9 D.L.I.therefore decided to move back via TOBRUK – as there was little chance of continuing South without loss of many vehicles.
    The rearguard coln of 6 D.L.I. moved off from STRICKLAND POST U9465 at 0200 hrs and joined up with 9 D.L.I. coln which had been ordered to return through the Bde Box and seek a way out to TOBRUK.
    By 0545 hrs the leading Gp of 9 D.L.I. reached the EL AGHEILA Pass 365438, just in time before S.A. Troops cratered the road. As the Coln passed through the defile it was heavily bombed by low flying aircraft which hit two 25 pdrs, while the remainder of the coln passed down BILL PASS, a new road between the GAZALA and EL AGHEILA 365438 PASSES.
    Once on the low ground, as the road was under heavy shellfire, all the 9 DLI colns moved N.E. towards covered tracks along the beach. Although protected from shellfire there was considerable confusion across the very bad going with somewhat erratic S.A. colns and constant ground strafing by low flying enemy aircraft. At Zt EL MRASSAS 386441 the head of the coln came under fire from 2 A/Tk guns and some S.A. vehicles were set on fire. As the situation had to be cleared up quickly, it was decided to attack the enemy posn which seemed to be a pl and 2 A/Tk guns on the escarpment probably supported by some tks.
    One 25 pr firing at 700 yds range Charge I, 9 D.L.I. A/Tk guns in hull down posn on portees on the ridge together with 3 pls 9 D.L.I. and 1 S.A. Pl, supported by S.A. Armd Cars and carriers of 9 D.L.I., 6 D.L.I. and 7 Green Howards soon captured the posns making 2 German Officers and 28 O.Rs prisoners. Casualties were not heavy but 2L/t. BRAITHWAITE, 9 D.L.I. was wounded.
    Before however the coln could move forward again 7 enemy tks were seen to the S.E.in hull down posn. They opened heavy M.G. and A/Tk fire on the valley and beaches and three advanced between the coln and forward infantry subsequently followed by others. The tanks were immediately engaged by six A/Tk guns, 25 pdr, 1 Bofors gun on the right flank and 1tp R.A. on the left. Almost immediately five of the tanks were knocked out, four of them catching fire. They were abandoned by the survivors of their crews. The two remaining tks withdrew. During this action the fwd infantry who had taken part in the initial attack were ordered EASTWARDS along the beach and sand dunes to prevent them being involved in the tank attack.
    Arrangements were made for a tp of S.A. 25 prs which included one gun 293 Fd Bty located 2,000 yds EAST of the valley to support by H.E. and smoke the movement of the coln across the valley and on to the EAST. With this tp one pl and one carrier 9 D.L.I. were left to provide local protection. This detachment remained in position until just before dusk when it appeared that all tps WEST of the valley had passed through. The whole action had lasted about six hours.
    At 1430 hrs, after the tk attack had been dealt with, a message was conveyed to Lt. Col. PERCY via the S.A. Armd Cars that the area EAST of the valley had been cleared and orders were immediately given for the advance to continue; it was carried through to TOBRUK without further incident.
    (a) R.A.
    R.A. units travelled with inf units of which they were in support and in general their experiences were similar. In addition to units of 50 Div. 2 Tps of 25 pr from 2 S.A. Div were attached to 50 Div in the time of the operation, being located in the 7 Green Howard box at BIR HELEISI. These were D Tp 14 Bty 5Fd Regt and D Tp 11 Bty 4 Fd Regt.
    Except for Major VARNFIELD of 14 Bty, with 1 other officer and 4 O.Rs who travelled with Bn gp. These tps formed part, together with the Support Coy of 7 Green Howards, of the gp which fought its way to TOBRUK. In the course of the successful action against enemy tks and guns at MRASSASS it is known that many of the quads were set on fire and some of the guns knocked out, but the great majority of the personnel certainly reached TOBRUK. The commander of D Tp 14 Bty, Capt BRETT was seen with many of his men at TOBRUK Transit Camp. They had orders to go to the frontier but did not do so, presumably owing to lack of tpt. Fewer details were known of D Tp 11 Bty as this tp had only been a short time at BIR HELEISI and they were not as well known to the 7 Green Howards. It was definitely reported, however, that the C.P.O., Lt MILLER, was seen at the top of GAZALA PASS
    (b) R.E.
    Three minefields were encountered during the course of the operation. A convoy of 5 EAST YORKS ran onto a minefield at MTEIFEL, 3 vehicles being destroyed. This was probably the minefield originally laid in the area by 1 Armd Div. It was approx. 80 yds wide and consisted of E.P. Mk II mines. A gap was cleared by No. 2 Sec. 233 Fd. Coy in 45 minutes.
    2 minefields were encountered by 6 D.L.I. in the area U9358. One field consisted of E.P. Mk II mines, probably laid by the enemy and the other of French pattern mines certainly laid by the enemy. Although under heavy fire No. 2 Sec. 505 Fd. Coy made gaps through both of these minefields, neither of which had any great width, within 15-30 minutes.
    (c) R. Sigs.
    H.Q. and No. 1 Coy 50 Div. Sigs travelled complete with 69 Bde Gp, less 3 wireless dets with the GOC's party in 151 Bde. Gp. Wireless stations were brought away complete together with charging engines and all line equipment. Other equipment including cable and cable laying equipment was disposed of before the move.
    Early in the evening the leading vehicles of the main coln became involved in a mass of slit trenches and five Italians gave themselves up. As there was no room to carry them their rifles and equipment were taken from them. Several Italian positions were run through and the leading vehicles challenged, but no further action taken by either side.
    At about 0200 hrs heavy shell fire was encountered by the coln. The driver of O.C. Div Sigs car was hit in the jaw by a splinter and knocked out, numbers of verey lights went up all round and a hail of inaccurate fire, particularly incendiary bullets, appeared to come from all directions. After a short delay the car was restarted and driven on at a high speed still followed by an amazing firework display and later again by heavier shells. Judging from the height at which the incendiary bullets appeared to be fired, the impression was given that the car had stopped in the middle of a tank leaguer.
    By this time the coln had been to a large extent broken into smaller parties. A number of vehicles had to be abandoned, but owing to the system of pairing vehicles all personnel were picked up, except for two drivers in one truck.
    The following incident concerning a No.9 set detachment attached to 69 Bde deserves recording. The vehicle broke down so near to an Italian leaguer that voices could be heard talking. The crew decided that rather than abandon their vehicle they would repair it. It took them some time to discover that the fault was a burnt out brush in the dynamo. There was no spare brush but they remembered that there were similar brushes in the generator of the No. 9 set, and they accordingly removed one of these brushes and spent an hour shaping it to fit into the engine. Although this had taken them nearly two hours, and as soon as they moved off M.G. fire was opened on them. They had no further trouble however and succeeded through their ingenuity and perseverance in bringing to safety a crew of four, plus a vehicle and a No. 9 set.
  5. (d) 6 S.A. Armd Car Regt.
    Sqns or tps of 6 S.A. Armd Car Regt accompanied each of the main gps taking part in the operations. Losses of this unit were
    Personnel 1 Offr 36 O.Rs (out of 380)
    Armd Cars 12 (out of 40)
    M.T. 30 (out of 68)

    The following are two extracts from reports by commanders of the gps.
    (i) R.H.Q. Gp
    When about 1 mile West of STRICKLAND POST the leading vehicles came under A/Tk fire and a number of vehicles were set alight. We at the rear of the coln then came under small arms fire from a posn that appeared to be 200 yds long to our South. Fire was mostly high and ineffective. Salvos of shellfire then fell short of us to the North about 100 yds away, also ineffective. The front of our coln led by Div Comd appeared to be under fire from A/Tk guns; as we were in low ground it passed over us. To the S.E. there appeared to be a brisk action in progress, A/Tk guns, 8 wheeler German armd cars, automatic and small arms fire. This appeared to come from coln on my left, 151 Bde with my “A” Sqn. I saw a number of vehicles set alight and a quad on fire and blow up.
    I then told vehicles behind me to follow and swing away half left keeping in comparative dead ground away from burning vehicles and rejoined rest of the coln.
    I then noticed that the coln was going S.E., but presumed that the navigator was skirting obstacles. We again came under automatic fire at this point. Everything had been as orderly as could be expected under the circumstances. No panic or return of fire. I then noticed that the head of the coln had swung due East. I pushed ahead in my car to a point where the coln started to bend East and from there I got out and went to the head of the coln on foot to find the two leading vehicles blown up on mines, and no officers in those vehicles (never had been).
    These vehicles had become separated from the vehicles in front of them. I looked ahead of blown up vehicles and found ground was darker in circular patches and putting my arm down into one of these holes found a mine. I went back down the coln and called for an officer, a Capt. KIRKBY or KIRBY answered, and we both went to the front of the coln with two ptes and located mines by feeling with our hands. I left Capt. KIRBY to carry on whilst I got the coln moving again. Two vehicles blew up whilst I was guiding them but I succeeded in getting the rest going and rejoined my own car.
    We passed HACHEIM at about 0700 hrs and reached MADDELENA about 1800 hrs 15 June. I sent out all available armd cars next day to search for stragglers, returning all thin skinned and personnel to 50 Div. H.Q. TALATA.
    Throughout the breakout the B.O.Rs showed magnificent spirit, their morale was 100% and their only regret that they did not have the chance to give the enemy a crack before leaving. My “A” Sqn men report that 6 D.L.I. men said “If we can’t get out, let’s get in” and saw them clearing up enemy posns with bayonets.

    (ii) “C” Sqn.
    We passed through PATROL GAP at approx 0030 hrs and the coln proceeded to Barrel 168. On reaching this area, we found that the cross fire of enemy machine guns and shells so intense that it would have been plain suicide to attempt the breakthrough in a Southerly direction. Our coln wheeled and we then proceeded toward our mine field again. This was at about 0300 hrs. We eventually passed through our mine fields on the N.E. side by 0600 hrs. We made straight for the GAZALA pass. It was during this trip that the patrols which I had distributed in front and on the southern flank of the D.L.I. coln reported that the Green Howards coln were running ahead of us on the top of the escarpment making for the pass, five miles East of the GAZALA pass. They also reported the presence of an enemy coln five miles South of the GAZALA pass moving in a north easterly direction. We succeeded in getting down the pass with an odd shell being fired at us from the rear, all of these falling well on our flank in the low ground North of the pass. Three of my patrols were with the 7 Green Howards and by this time 0900 hrs, they also had got to the bottom of the escarpment, in spite of bombing and ground strafing, which caused some loss of vehicles. The colns moved on at the bottom of the escarpment in an easterly direction halting fairly frequently and dispersing when enemy aircraft were seen.
    The 7 Green Howards were at this stage about two miles ahead of the 9 D.L.I. coln. My patrols reported the presence of 6 enemy Mk III tks and approx a coy of inf astride our line in area (DAUD) 347445, their inf. being 100 yds from the sea. The armd cars together with Bren carriers and walking infantry formed up and attacked the enemy infantry, practically wiping out the lot with little or no loss to ourselves. A 25 pr with quad was being used by the enemy on us, almost over open sights, when a 2 pdr gunner brought his gun up and did splendid work by hitting the quad and setting it ablaze. The enemy crew of this gun gave themselves up.
    During the action many of our Infantry were forced into the sea and walked in the water to avoid enemy fire. One of my patrols, on seeing the Arab women outside their huts, put a burst of Bren fire through the huts and out came 30 German infantry which were all killed except 3. We moved along the coast and eventually reached a point about 4 miles west of TOBRUK where we reassembled and continued our journey.
    We left this place app 419424 at 0400 hrs 16 June continued our journey to reach “D” Gap, South of Capuzzo at about midday on 16 June and saw a copy of orders from the Provost.

    (iii) Group “C” Sqn att 7 Green Howards
    In some broken country in the Mrassas Area where the track runs very close to the sea a coln in front of me which I later found to be 9 D.L.I. under Col Percy was held up by shell fire and German infantry. An officer from the coln ahead of me approached me and informed me of the position and said there was about a Company of Infantry in a Wadi preventing the column getting though. Shells were falling on the road. There were also shells falling on the right flank. One of the guns firing on us appeared to be a 25 pounder at close range. The officer mentioned above asked me if I could assist. I thereupon moved forward with my armd cars, line abreast and joined by Bren carriers and infantry from the column. We engaged the German Infantry.
    In the meantime, one of our 2 pounders had moved up under cover of a knoll and put a 25 pr gun, used by the enemy, out of action. We inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy and about 40 prisoners were taken. I then took my armd cars through the Wadi, which had been occupied by the enemy, and up onto the high ground on the other side. I sent one troop out on to the right flank to carry out a reconnaissance and sent another troop forward for the same purpose. Portion of the column had passed through the Wadi behind us when several enemy tanks attacked from the South cutting off the remainder of the column. Our 2pdrs and 25 pdrs engaged the tanks destroying five. Just prior to the tank attack I discovered that Lt. Mandy had joined me with three armd cars when we engaged the Infantry. He had come forward from the posn of the Sqn under Major Ferguson.
    When the tanks had been driven off I continued forward with my armd cars and reported back to Major Ferguson by wireless that the way was now clear ahead of them. The column commander appeared to be doubtful so I sent back Lt. Hudson with his troop to contact the column which he did. By this time the column was on its way. I then joined Major Ferguson who took over command of the troops I had with me.
    1. Vital. Marking of route as far as possible. Cannot be too carefully done. By the time marks cease, columns, which MUST go along in closest possible order, must be split into component columns.
    NOT more than 50 vehicles.
    At least two navigators.
    Proportion of guns to each column.
    Thereafter on initiative of column commander.

    2. Columns move at steady pace. Regular short halts. All ranks to know the proper stars to march on.
    3. Long columns get their tails shot up.
    4. The biggest trouble is in selection of suitable F.U.P.’s.
    If too near – whole show given away by concentrated transport.
    If too far – columns are too late or get lost.
    5. Essential success of simplicity. Due SOUTH. Keep going for 35 miles. Due EAST for 80 miles.
    6. Estimate double distance for Petrol.
    7. Units WILL take unnecessary kit and then run short of petrol and water.
    8. Vital. Vehicles MUST pair off and stick to one another. If a vehicle is seen alone then a pair of vehicles should drop out to help it.
    9. Reforming – slow and laborious process

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