Tobruk defences 1941

Discussion in 'North Africa & the Med' started by Some Chicken, Oct 1, 2010.

  1. Kuno

    Kuno Very Senior Member

    ...and then the AT-ditch surrounding the post.
     

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  2. Kuno

    Kuno Very Senior Member

    Here the view from the connection-trench up the stairs to the gun-position. The trenches were about 2,5m deep so that they could not be used for defense. Right hand side the entrance to a shelter which can be seen on the second foto.
     

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  3. Kuno

    Kuno Very Senior Member

    If I recall correctly, above is Post S.7 or Post S.10.
     
  4. Some Chicken

    Some Chicken Member

    Kuno - excellent photos and thanks for posting them. I agree that the trenches were too deep to be used for defence as they were. I assume that you have not seen any evidence to suggest firing steps were added to the trenches (which was my original question)?

    The Australian official history implies the Afrikakorps expected that resistance would collapse as soon as Tobruk's outer defences were breached, given their rapid advance following the breakout from El Agheila. Rommel was probably guilty of complacency and over-confidence. So far as I know, no proper reconnaissance was undertaken before the first attack was made on Tobruk, although I agree the anti tank ditch should have shown up in photos taken from the air. If being surprised by the ditch is a myth, it is certainly a well -reported one and raises the question of how the panzers expected to get across if they knew it was there.
     
  5. Kuno

    Kuno Very Senior Member

    I cannot remeber to have seen 'firin steps' in the trenches. I guess they were covered as well.
     
  6. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    Andreas - thanks for the link to the map, which is very interesting. It seems to suggest (in that sector at least) that the temporary positions and slit trenches were set further back and were not part of the permanent posts on the red line itself. Do you happen to know what the "4" symbol (eg between R74 and R76) and the shape behind R68 represent?

    No idea. You probably need someone with a knowledge of German engineer terms and map signs to help you figure that one out.

    By the way, the map is dated August 1941.

    All the best

    Andreas
     
  7. Kuno

    Kuno Very Senior Member

    The "4" symbol should be listed in the legend of that particular map. I presume it is just a list saying which type of weapon was placed in this or that position.

    I have taken reference now to a British map showing the Italian installations. These positions with the "4" are 'new'.
     
  8. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    The "4" symbol should be listed in the legend of that particular map. I presume it is just a list saying which type of weapon was placed in this or that position.

    I have taken reference now to a British map showing the Italian installations. These positions with the "4" are 'new'.

    Good point. I checked. They are battery (Commonwealth 'troop') artillery positions. I guess the '4' indicates the number of guns.

    All the best

    Andreas
     
  9. Some Chicken

    Some Chicken Member

    Andreas - thanks for checking the map legend.
    Kuno - do you have any photos of the main anti tank ditch you could post please?

    Best wishes
    Steve
     
  10. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

  11. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

  12. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER Patron

  13. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

  14. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER Patron

  15. lostinspace

    lostinspace Junior Member

    I think this is the perfect thread for the 2/17th's description of their sector (from the war diary, 10 April, '41) -
    "For the better understanding of the position, it should be realised that odd number posts are placed close to the wiring, with the even number posts 400-500x back from the wire, covering the gaps between forward posts. On the enemy's side of the wire, is the anti-tank ditch, which is not continuous along the Battalion's front. No ditch exists between posts R.11 and post R.21. Between these posts is a fair sized valley, over which observation is good up to the escarpment, some 2500x away. From post R.21 to post R.35 the ditch is continuous, and generally is deep - up to 12 ft. Weaknesses, however, exist between posts R.27 and R.29, and at post R. 33, where the ditch is only 2' 6" deep, and is incapable of improvement, except by mechanical means. All the posts are strong, the majority being surrounded by a concrete a/tank ditch, lightly covered with boards, which in turn are covered with soil. Little wiring exists around the posts. Within the a/tank ditch of each post lies the main centre, comprising underground passages with trenches, pits for automatic weapons and small OPs. D Coy on the left occupies the highest ground, and its HQ at R. 32 gives a good view over the greater part of the Bn's front." (from: AWM52, 2nd Australian Imperial Force and Commonwealth Military Forces unit war diaries, 1939-45 War, Item Number: 8/3/17, 2/17 Infantry Battalion, April-June, 1941)
    I don't have a very good map of the perimeter (Osprey Campaign, Tobruk, 1941) and I'm sure the scale is probably not very accurate, but it shows the odd number posts about a half mile apart with the even numbered posts around a quarter of a mile behind them which I guess would agree with the description above "even number posts 400-500x back from the wire". The Germans/Italians must have done a fairly decent job of reconnaissance pretty quickly because the attack of 13/14 April ,according to the Osprey map anyway, came through the perimeter at R. 33.

    Dave
     
  16. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    The Italians built the defenses, so not sure how much recce they needed to figure out that R.33 was a weak point?

    I'll post a perimeter map later.

    All the best

    Andreas
     
  17. lostinspace

    lostinspace Junior Member

    Andreas,

    I have followed your work on "The Crusader Project" for years, and look forward to reading the finished product(s).
    In regards to reconnaissance, you're correct, when I read the following pages of the war diary I found that a day or two before the heavy attack on the 13/14th April, German or Italian forces had penetrated the anti-tank ditch (in front of D Coy), so they would already have known about the shallow depth in front of R.33. I see your point about the Italians building the fortress and that it should have been assumed that they would have shared this information with their allies, but I don't think that assumption is necessarily correct, since German-Italian co-operation can never be taken for granted.
    I do have a fair map of the entire perimeter from an issue of "After the Battle", but of course can't find it now (we recently moved). I think it might have been surveyed by an oil company post war, can't remember for sure. I've been looking through the AWM site for a topographical map because (if I've read the war diary correctly) there were certain portions of the line where the Italians didn't consider a continuous anti-tank trench necessary.

    Dave
     
  18. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    Hi Dave

    Thanks for the compliment. The first one is getting nearer, or so I hope.

    Here's an overview map I have. This one is German, based obviously on the Italian, with fortification detail as known in August 41 entered into the map in red.

    All the best

    Andreas
     

    Attached Files:

  19. lostinspace

    lostinspace Junior Member

    Thanks so much for the map, and your book(s) on "Crusader" can't come soon enough. The battle has intrigued me for years and an in-depth treatment has been long overdue; "Crusader" by Richard Humble (1987) seemed (to me) like a rehash of Tobruk by Michael Carver, plus it took almost half the book to explain the previous campaigns.

    Thanks again,
    Dave
     
  20. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    Thanks again Dave. The first book will be on "E" Force, Brigadier Reid's raid on Gialo at the start of CRUSADER. Maybe end of year, self-published, unfortunately. We are not prepared to work with the extortionate practices of book publishers.

    That one's practice, in parallel I am working on 'Rommel's Riposte', which will become Vol. III, covering 6 January to 6 February 1942. For that I have a contract with Helion dating back to 2008, so no idea if Duncan is still interested. If not it'll go self-published as well.

    All the best

    Andreas
     

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