The Sidi Rezeg Battles, 1941
xiv, 505 pp. Includes fold-out maps. "Overnight Rommel once again split his forces with 21st Panzer taking up a defensive position alongside the Afrika Division between Sidi Rezegh and Tobruk and 15th Panzer moving 15 miles (24 km) west to Gasr el Arid to prepare for a battle of manoeuvre which General Ludwig Crüwell believed would favour the Afrika Korps. This presented a clear opportunity for a breakthrough to Tobruk with the whole of 7th Armoured Division concentrated and facing only the weakened 21st Panzer. However, XXX Corps commander Norrie, aware that 7th Armoured division was down to 200 tanks decided on caution.Instead, in the early afternoon Rommel attacked Sidi Rezegh with 21st Panzer and captured the airfield. Fighting was desperate and gallant: for his actions during these two days of fighting Brigadier Jock Campbell, commanding 7th Support Group, was awarded the Victoria Cross. However, 21st Panzer, despite being considerably weaker in armour, proved superior in its combined arms tactics, pushing 7th Armoured Division back with a further 50 tanks lost (mainly from 22nd Brigade). The fighting at Sidi Rezegh continued through 22 November, with South African Division's 5th Brigade by that time engaged to the south of the airfield. An attempt to recapture it failed and the Axis counter-offensive began to gain momentum. 7th Armoured Brigade withdrew with all but four of their 150 tanks out of commission or destroyed. In four days the Eighth Army had lost 530 tanks against Axis losses of about 100.The most memorable action during the North African campaign of the 3rd Field Regiment, (Transvaal Horse Artillery) was during the battle of Sidi Rezegh on 23 November 1941. The South Africans were surrounded on all sides by German armour and artillery, subjected to a continuous barrage. They tried to take cover in shallow slit trenches. In many places the South African soldiers could only dig down to around 9 inches ...
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