Skip to comments.RUSSIA AND JAPAN SIGN A NEUTRALITY TREATY; GERMANS CAPTURE BARDIA, PUSH INTO EGYPT (4/14/41)
Posted on 04/14/2011 5:10:16 AM PDT by Homer_J_Simpson
Germans pressure Allied positions
Monday, April 14, 1941 www.onwar.com
In the Balkans... In Greece, the Allied forces on the Olympus positions are attacked by the advancing Germans. In the Monastir Gap the Allied rearguards are also under pressure as they try to retire through Kozani.
In North Africa... German-Italian attacks on Tobruk are held.
In Yugoslavia... King Peter leaves Yugoslavia and flies to Athens.
In New York... There are secret talks between Americans and the Icelandic consul. The Icelandic officials agree to do nothing to resist an American occupation to replace the present British force.
April 14th, 1941
UNITED KINGDOM: London: Convinced that his troops have borne an unfair share of the fighting, the Australian Prime Minister, Robert Menzies, moves to end Churchill’s “dictatorship” of the war.
London: Churchill tells the MOI to stop publishing the demoralizing weekly figures for shipping losses.
YUGOSLAVIA: King Peter leaves Yugoslavia for Athens, Greece.
The Germans smash the southern army and pour through the Monastir Gap, cutting off the Greek army in Albania.
GREECE: German forces enter Katerini, Greece. (Steve Stattharos)
The formation of ‘Savige Force’ under the command of Brigadier S. G. Savige is completed. Savige Force is to protect the British left flank by blocking the routes leading from Grevena and Metsovon via Kalabaka into the Larissa plain. 1st Armoured Brigade is combined with 17th Australian Brigade to form the force.
LIBYA: Tobruk: Cpl John Hurst Edmondson (b. 1914), Australian Military Forces, despite being severely wounded, saved the life of his officer, who was being attacked by two enemy soldiers. He died shortly afterwards. (VC)
In the fiercest battle he has faced so far in this campaign, Rommel saw his tanks withdraw from Tobruk’s hastily prepared defences under a withering hail of fire from British ant-tank guns and heavy artillery; and then watched them literally chased back into the desert in confusion by tank attacks on his flanks. Although his Afrika Korps had managed deep penetration into what eariler reconnaissance had selected as a “weak spot”, their light tanks were no match for British gunnery. 17 were knocked out before General Olbrich, the Panzer commander, ordered the withdrawal
The indications are that Rommel is coming to the limit of his supply lines. His men are tired and his tanks are badly in need of servicing. The prospect here is of a long siege so long as Tobruk can be supplied from the sea.
EGYPT: King Farouk sends a secret message to Hitler expressing the hope that Egypt will soon be liberated from the “British yoke.”
ICELAND: Secret talks between Iceland and the US. Iceland agrees not to resist US forces replacing the British forces on Iceland.
On PALMYRA ISLAND, a US Marine garrison designated Marine Detachment, 1st defence Battalion, is established for the defence of the island. (Richard Gaines)
U.S.A.: The USAAC places an order for 2,000 Vultee Model 74s. (Jack McKillop)
Day 592 April 14, 1941 (Easter Monday)
At Tobruk, German infantry finally fill the anti-tank ditch & cut the wire at 2.30 AM but they are held by artillery & machinegun fire. Corporal John Edmondson (2/17th Battalion, Australian 9th Division) wins the Victoria Cross for a bayonet charge, despite being shot in the stomach and neck (he later dies of his wounds). At 5.20 AM, 38 tanks move through the gap. Australian troops are trained to let the tanks pass and trap the following infantry in crossfire. 2 miles ahead, German tanks are hit by a screen of British anti-tank guns and 25-pounder howitzers firing high explosive shells over open sights. In the air, British Hurricanes dogfight German and Italian fighters while 40 Stukas dive bomb the harbour. Germans withdraw in disarray at 7.30 AM (losing 17 tanks, 150 killed and 250 prisoners). General Streich will later be removed from command of 5th Light Division by Rommel for failing to secure and expand the penetration.
British gunboat HMS Aphis bombards Bardia, Libya. Gunboat HMS Gnat shells German troops at Sollum, Egypt, but is badly damaged by German bombers and steams back to Mersa Matruh (1 sailor killed).
As the Yugoslavian surrender is imminent, young King Peter flees the country and flies to Athens, Greece. In the evening, the Yugoslav Government asks General van Kleist (1st Panzer Group) for a ceasefire.
In Greece, there is heavy fighting when German 73rd Infantry Division blocks the Greek withdrawal from Albania at Kastoria Pass. Overnight, on the East coast of Greece, German troops are held by Allied positions at the narrow pass at Platamon between Mount Olympus and the Aegean Sea.
At 1.17 AM 400 miles Southwest of Iceland, U-52 sinks Belgian passenger ship Ville de Liège (40 killed, 10 crew members and 2 passengers survive).
Overnight, Swordfish torpedo bombers of 815 Squadron from Paramythia, Greece, sink Italian steamers Luciano and Stampalia at the port of Vlorë, Albania. 1 Swordfish is shot down (1 killed and 2 POWs).
Interesting. The British communique has Rommel at Tobruk and west of Tobruk at Gazala. Everybody else, including reality, has the DAK at Tobruk, and at the Egyptian border-at least 70 miles east of Tobruk. Still no mention of Rommel by name. By anyone.
Interesting Headline considering that Yugoslavia will capitulate in three days.
I've noticed that the stories filed by Daniel T. Brigham, from Berne, Switzerland, read like wishful Yugoslav thinking rather than objective truth. In this case distance does not generate objectivity.
In view of this, Streich thought that yet another attack on the perimeter at present strength would be ineffective and wasteful. Ponath commanding 8th Machine Gun Battalion, was of the same opinion. His men had already suffered many casualties, and in their present position in front of the wire were still exposed to heavy artillery and small-arms fire from the Australians.
Rommel was enraged at what he called the pessimism of his senior commanders, and decided to take personal charge of the attack planned for Monday, 14 April.
He promised a concentrated artillery strike to back this attack which was to start 18.00 hrs in the dusk. However, the artillery support turned out to be just a few 88mm flak guns, certainly powerful and useful, but being emplaced on the flat rocky ground behind 8th Machine Gun Battalion they were fully exposed, with no cover for the crews; consequently, casualties from enemy fire were so heavy that the guns were largely ineffective. As darkness fell, 8th Machine Gun Battalion under Ponath advanced cautiously and found a gap in the wire which they cleared of mines. Advancing further they saw nobody, but the bridgehead was tenuous and there were a number of sudden attacks in the dark by small Australian raiding parties which caused 40 casualties. Nonetheless Rommel thought the penetration of the perimeter now made a tank attack viable, so he handed operational control back to Streich, but detailed his ADC, Lt Schmidt, to stay as a liaison officer with Streich and keep a watching brief on operations.
The tank attack went gravely wrong however. Streich decided to lead the assault from the top of a PzKpfw II, but as he approached the start line in the dark, the tank and Streichs accompanying Kubelwagen came under artillery and small arms fire from a British patrol. The Kubelwagen and its driver escaped, but the tank was disabled and Streich and Lt Schmidt had to escape on foot and rejoin the action later. The tank attack itself was a rout in a trap cleverly set up by General Morshead.
The bridgehead corridor was under half a mile wide, and the 25 pdrs were placed well back at the end of the corridor, with Portee anti-tank guns (guns on the back of lorries to provide mobility) on each flank, and I RTR on the eastern flank as well. As the German tanks advanced the defenders held fire. Once the Germans were well into the corridor, the British opened up with a withering barrage of 25 pdr fire, followed by fire from the flanks. Under this battering the German 5th Panzer Regiment commander, Oberst Olrich, had no real option but to turn and withdraw, leaving behind 17 of the 36 tanks that had started. This withdrawal in turn left 8th Machine gun battalion exposed. Ponath,his men running out of ammunition---ordered a fighting withdrawal through the gap. As he led his men back he was killed; later he was awarded a posthumous Knights Cross for his brave leadership. The battalion by now had only 5 officers and 92 men left having lost over 700 in the previous two weeks of action. With Ponath dead the survivors surrendered to the Australians and the unit was no more.
Rommel blamed both Streich and Olrich for this debacle, and critized them for not securing the flanks, but in truth they had insufficient infantry to have done this-only the much depleted 8th Machine Gun Battalion-and there was virtually no supporting artillery and too few tanks to sustain the assault. Rommel himself certainly lost some credibility over this unsuccessful attack (though seemingly not with Hitler), for the wounded Gelleralmajor Kirchheim and other senior officers privately communicated to OKH that continued attacks with DAK at its present low strength would merely deplete and demoralize it further.
21st Panzer Division-Rommels Afrika Korps Spearhead-Chris Ellis
Still no mention of Rommel by name. By anyone.
As Cougar pointed out yesterday, on April 10 the German High Command issued a bulletin that mentioned Erwin Rommel commanded a division in Libya.
I've noticed that this is systemic of all the German successes. The report on the withdrawal from Libya states, "The strength of the British garrison at Tobruk has not been revealed, but if it is large it would appear that the Germans are in considerable danger of having their communications cut."
This sounds more like wishful thinking than real analysis.
Aside from that single sentence from the 10th of April, Rommel is completely non-existent. I’m trying to remember now, was he mentioned in the reports on the capture of the 51st Highlander Division last June? I might have to go look into that.
I’ve been ill and just getting back to things.
I really missed this thread — helps the heart heal faster.
Great work folks
No naked, but some of the ‘no’ pictures on page 32 leave little to the imagination.
There’s the nekkid picture - in the ‘art’ section between 70 and 75. Didn’t see a page number.
I do hope it was a minor heart ailment. I’m two years out from my heart attack next month. It really weakens you for quite a while.
Honestly the dead rabbit on the next page is better looking that the painting of the ugly nekkid woman.