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Bardia to Enfidaville

2 NZ Division Orders

2 NZ Division Orders

The operation instruction for 2 NZ Division (No. 14) was not issued until 5 April, and was as usual the culmination of many conferences, discussions and general activities in the period from 31 March.

page 257

The order, after recapitulating the details of Army and Corps instructions, then prescribes the order of march through the gap as:

The 8th Armoured Brigade was to form up on the night before ‘D’ day with its head some five miles short of the anti-tank ditch. For the advance through the gap both Divisional Cavalry and King's Dragoon Guards were to be under the orders of the brigade, and were to form up and move behind it. The gun group would not be able to form up until it had finished firing in support of 30 Corps' attack. It consisted of 4 Field Regiment (less a troop with KDG), 64 Medium Regiment, RA, 7 NZ Anti-Tank and 14 NZ Anti-Aircraft Regiments (less detached batteries with groups), 36 Survey Battery and Mac Troop. No moves were initially laid down for the remainder of the Division, although 5 Infantry Brigade Group stood prepared to form up on 6 April ready to move forward.

A special ‘task force’ was to move in rear of 50 Division's attack, and make and mark three gaps in the minefield ready for the passage of 2 NZ Division. It was to consist of:

One platoon of engineers from 8 Field Company
One company of infantry from 6 Infantry Brigade1
Detachment from Divisional Provost Company

and was to be supported by one squadron of Crusader tanks from 8 Armoured Brigade—all under the command of the CRE, Lieutenant-Colonel F. M. H. Hanson.

This special force was given its duties after discussions with 50 Division by the GSO I and the CRE. Both officers came away somewhat perturbed by the method of getting through a minefield adopted by that division. New Zealand infantry had always gone through in extended line closely following the barrage, but 50 Division's plan was for each infantry company to be led through the minefield in single file by a sapper, using a mine detector, a procedure which occasioned later delays, but which, nevertheless, was based on much experience.

page 258

The divisional instruction laid down the axis of advance, and the action to be taken by the leading troops when through the gap, which amounted to reconnaissance to the north and west while the main body of the Division awaited developments. The only new unit was the Greek Squadron of armoured cars, which had been with ‘L’ Force since February. It came under 2 NZ Division on 3 April and was placed with Divisional Cavalry.

The order of march given on page 257 shows, quite unobtrusively, what was claimed as a minor victory for the infantry brigadiers, in that 8 Armoured Brigade was to lead off without its B2 Echelon of transport. It had long been a source of complaint that armoured brigades took their excessively long ‘tail’ with them in close support. It has already been recorded that on occasion the next-following formation was either delayed in moving off, or forced into tactical remoteness.

The only special point in the administrative instructions was that all units would hold rations and water for seven days and petrol for a minimum of 300 miles in first-line vehicles, and rations and water for four days and petrol for 100 miles in second line. There were still two RASC companies with the Division to augment the New Zealand companies. As usual, these simple words cover a great deal of planning by the AA & QMG (Lieutenant-Colonel Barrington), and of hard work by the ASC, ordnance and EME units, to ensure that the Division moved off fully stocked.

1 D Company, 26 Battalion.