Major G. P. B. Roberts' assessment of BATTLEAXE

Discussions on WW2 in Africa & the Mediterranean. Hosted by Andy H
User avatar
Urmel
Member
Posts: 4442
Joined: 25 Aug 2008 09:34
Location: The late JBond

Re: Major G. P. B. Roberts' assessment of BATTLEAXE

Post by Urmel » 08 Dec 2020 13:53

ClintHardware wrote:
15 Jul 2020 15:50
But the document does not exist.
It sounds as if it is a German document. How do you know it doesn't exist?
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

User avatar
Urmel
Member
Posts: 4442
Joined: 25 Aug 2008 09:34
Location: The late JBond

Re: Major G. P. B. Roberts' assessment of BATTLEAXE

Post by Urmel » 08 Dec 2020 15:25

Sheldrake wrote:
06 Dec 2020 13:59
Don Juan wrote:
06 Dec 2020 12:41
One of the most bizarre aspects of Battleaxe is how, according to the 7th Armoured Brigade's post-action report, it was apparently a surprise that Hafid Ridge consisted of three separate ridges:


Battleaxe1.jpg


Why was this a surprise? It certainly shouldn't have been if the brigade and its units had been properly briefed on their objectives. There was supposedly comprehensive aerial photograpy of the enemy lines prior to Battleaxe commencing, but I have seen no evidence that the results of this were presented to 7th Armoured Brigade.
................
Was the preparation really this poor? Or is there evidence of more thorough briefings elsewhere?
Topography has a way of throwing nasty surprises. Aerial photography won't reveal contours of what Richard Holmes used to call the micro-terrain.
Hafid Ridge is straight west of Capuzzo. They may not have had the maps, and patrols probably didn't reach there. So then you're stuck with aerial recce photos. Not ideal.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

Ружичасти Слон
Member
Posts: 488
Joined: 24 Jan 2020 16:31
Location: Изгубљени

Re: Major G. P. B. Roberts' assessment of BATTLEAXE

Post by Ружичасти Слон » 09 Dec 2020 04:03

ClintHardware wrote:
15 Jul 2020 15:50
But the document does not exist.
Mostest strange comment.

Markn was give you evidence and images on document on 17.oktober 2017.year.

viewtopic.php?p=2103021#p2103021

Not can for to see images now but i know what is document.

Ружичасти Слон
Member
Posts: 488
Joined: 24 Jan 2020 16:31
Location: Изгубљени

Re: Major G. P. B. Roberts' assessment of BATTLEAXE

Post by Ружичасти Слон » 09 Dec 2020 04:13

Urmel wrote:
08 Dec 2020 15:25
Sheldrake wrote:
06 Dec 2020 13:59
Don Juan wrote:
06 Dec 2020 12:41
One of the most bizarre aspects of Battleaxe is how, according to the 7th Armoured Brigade's post-action report, it was apparently a surprise that Hafid Ridge consisted of three separate ridges:


Battleaxe1.jpg


Why was this a surprise? It certainly shouldn't have been if the brigade and its units had been properly briefed on their objectives. There was supposedly comprehensive aerial photograpy of the enemy lines prior to Battleaxe commencing, but I have seen no evidence that the results of this were presented to 7th Armoured Brigade.
................
Was the preparation really this poor? Or is there evidence of more thorough briefings elsewhere?
Topography has a way of throwing nasty surprises. Aerial photography won't reveal contours of what Richard Holmes used to call the micro-terrain.
Hafid Ridge is straight west of Capuzzo. They may not have had the maps, and patrols probably didn't reach there. So then you're stuck with aerial recce photos. Not ideal.
It seems to me problem was be bad navigation and bad using on words.

When you can to read documents was write
. sometimes Hafid ridge and map reference
. sometimes Hafid ridge and different map reference
. sometimes Hafid ridge and no map reference
. sometimes Hafid feature
. sometimes Hafid area

One unit was report they was on Hafid area and was report was be enemy on Hafid ridge. Second unit was report on Hafid ridge and no enemy for to see. Commander was not know what unit was correct and what was wrong. Not know what unit was on wrong place. Both was say on same place.

After battle you can to read different storys as peoples was try for to hide mistakes.

User avatar
Don Juan
Member
Posts: 600
Joined: 23 Sep 2013 10:12

Re: Major G. P. B. Roberts' assessment of BATTLEAXE

Post by Don Juan » 10 Dec 2020 12:45

It's interesting that the commander of 6 RTR, Leonard Harland, was quietly relieved of his position after the Hafid Ridge incident, during which he had failed to link up with 2 RTR and refused artillery assistance for his own attack. I'm wondering what overlap there actually was between the 2 RTR and 6 RTR attacks. Below is a map that 6 RTR produced after the battle:

Baxe1.jpg

The blue arrows are the attack of their 'B' Squadron against an apparent dummy camp, from which they received severe losses. The green arrow is the route taken by their 'A' Squadron, during which they engaged the position marked as "AFV's, MT & GUNS". They claimed to have destroyed 14 enemy tanks during this manoeuvre, which does not sound plausible since they were firing on the move.

2 RTR previously reported their 'B' Squadron engaging an enemy camp by heading north and turning directly east and running through the camp causing a great deal of destruction within the camp before they retreated south. They did not report seeing any dummy camps, and so I am wondering if the "dummy camp" identified by 6 RTR was in fact the previously occupied camp encountered by 2 RTR. If this was so, then the 2 RTR attack would, crudely, have looked like this:

Baxe2.jpg

An argument against this is that five tanks of 2 RTR's 'B' Squadron went out of radio contact and continuted heading east to their own destruction, while 6 RTR's map does not indicate any further German encampments to the east of the dummy camp. The 2 RTR attack may then have looked more like this:

Baxe3.jpg

An argument against this scenario would be that the camp that 6 RTR's 'A' Squadron attacked were reported to be surprised by their arrival, which would have been unlikely if this position had previously been attacked by 2 RTR.

Obviously it could be the case that there was no overlap between the 2 RTR and 6 RTR attacks, and they were attacking totally different areas, which is why there is such a mismatch in their accounts. However, I wonder if there is any further info that can tie the two attacks together.
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
"The demonstration, as a demonstration, was a failure. The sunshield would not fit the tank. Altogether it was rather typically Middle Easty."
- 7th Armoured Brigade War Diary, 30th August 1941

User avatar
ClintHardware
Financial supporter
Posts: 775
Joined: 21 Jan 2011 12:17

Re: Major G. P. B. Roberts' assessment of BATTLEAXE

Post by ClintHardware » 10 Dec 2020 22:09

Hafid Ridge: From what was recorded by the 11th Hussars - it appears that their previous patrols had never discovered the three (IIRC) subtle areas of higher ground behind which the various German positions were developed or units took cover.

In respect of "The document does not exist": Urmel can you please explain why it seems to be a German document.

Don Juan: I have pieced the 15th June attack together from the various unit and brigade war diaries but don't recall coming across your interesting points. I will look again at those events and see what I can find out.
Imperialism and Re-Armament NOW !

User avatar
ClintHardware
Financial supporter
Posts: 775
Joined: 21 Jan 2011 12:17

Re: Major G. P. B. Roberts' assessment of BATTLEAXE

Post by ClintHardware » 16 Dec 2020 18:17

This is not a definitive answer so shoot it down as much as you want.

I have looked at the 4th RHA War Diary and also the accounts of PAUL and JAXO Columns and they do not state that 6th RTR refused artillery support during the 15th June. Also the 25-Pdrs would know the ranges they were given to provide support and there is no conjecture mentioned about where the shells were intended to land. They were firing as directed by O.P.s. PAUL Column noted that it had an O.P. as far forward as possible

The 6th RTR War Diary doesn't mention anything about Major Leonard Stuart Harland who was acting up as Lieutenant-Colonel. There was a relative of his trying to find details via WW2 Talk here http://ww2talk.com/index.php?threads/lt ... s-o.72445/ and MarkN provided what seems to be the most information available via the internet on page 2 of that topic.
Imperialism and Re-Armament NOW !

User avatar
ClintHardware
Financial supporter
Posts: 775
Joined: 21 Jan 2011 12:17

Re: Major G. P. B. Roberts' assessment of BATTLEAXE

Post by ClintHardware » 16 Dec 2020 21:01

Sorry I had to correct a few words on my above submission to make it read the right way round - too much whisky
Imperialism and Re-Armament NOW !

User avatar
ClintHardware
Financial supporter
Posts: 775
Joined: 21 Jan 2011 12:17

Re: Major G. P. B. Roberts' assessment of BATTLEAXE

Post by ClintHardware » 21 Dec 2020 08:18

Also, in the The Development Of German Defensive Tactics In Cyrenaica 1941-1942 Military Intelligence Service U.S. War Department (Army) report, the development of the stuztpunkt or perhaps stutzpunkte at Point 208 were begun from the 27th May. I am not sure to what extent they were developed by the 15th June. Does anyone know?
Imperialism and Re-Armament NOW !

User avatar
ClintHardware
Financial supporter
Posts: 775
Joined: 21 Jan 2011 12:17

Re: Major G. P. B. Roberts' assessment of BATTLEAXE

Post by ClintHardware » 26 Jan 2021 14:04

Brigadier Campbell's assessment of Hafid Ridge written 21st June 1941 as Section 5 within his report ACCOUNT OF ACTION BY SUPPORT GROUP DURING PERIOD 14 – 17 June 1941 to be found within the 7th Support Group War Diary.

Brigadier ‘Jock’ Campbell 7th Support Group
(v) Holding of Ground. I think we have a very definite lesson to learn from the German as to holding of ground. As more A/Tk guns become available I believe that even in the desert when there are few features available it is still possible to take up defensive posns with weapons on the ground and to force or draw enemy tanks onto them.

“HAFID” is an instance of this. “HAFID” is no great feature but has become like “HELFAYA”. The Boche held a strong position here with very nearly “all-round” A/Tk defence and he seems very cleverly to have persuaded us to attack it. HAFID RIDGE is not supported by any other feature within 4 or 5 miles. I think we can learn a lot from the HAFID RIDGE attack.
Imperialism and Re-Armament NOW !

User avatar
ClintHardware
Financial supporter
Posts: 775
Joined: 21 Jan 2011 12:17

Re: Major G. P. B. Roberts' assessment of BATTLEAXE

Post by ClintHardware » 27 Jan 2021 07:52

Something that I re-read today is the following quote from 2nd RTR's War Diary

2nd Royal Tank Regiment
0940. Bn. ordered to move onto HAFID RIDGE 506375. ‘B’ Sqn. arrived there and reported it clear. Subsequently they advanced a little further and were heavily shelled, and discovered that the position they had reported clear was merely an intermediate ridge.

If the siting of Point 208 took a first low ridge into account and chose not to defend it but chose to defend a similar ridge further on then it would underline how very well chosen Point 208 was for its deceptive values. On the 15th June it must have been satisfying for the defenders to see the ridges selected causing the mayhem intended .. whilst and so long as they lived long enough to see it.
Imperialism and Re-Armament NOW !

Return to “WW2 in Africa & the Mediterranean”