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Bardia to Enfidaville

The Enemy

The Enemy

The 15th Panzer and 90th Light Divisions had done their best to patch up the front. About midday General von Arnim arrived from the north to visit 1 Italian Army; he thought at first that the situation could be retrieved, and even ordered an additional infantry regiment page 266 to be sent down from 5 Panzer Army. Bayerlein was not optimistic. The counter-attack by 15 Panzer against Roumana followed in the afternoon, but despite some measure of success it was the last effort of which the German divisions were capable. All the divisional commanders were then of the one opinion—that the position would be untenable on the following day.

So at 10 p.m. Army Group Headquarters gave the order to withdraw: 90 Light Division was directed to go back astride the main road to the La Skhirra area, 15 Panzer Division to Sidi Mehedeb, and 164 Light Division—still in a bad way with no transport—to the Kat es Satour area. The remnants of Pistoia Division and other Italians were to fall back on the west of 164 Division.

Headquarters 1 Italian Army gave its orders with reference to XX and XXI Corps, which shared the front between them. Bayerlein had been authorised by von Arnim during his visit to give orders direct to all German formations in 1 Italian Army, and for the next week while the withdrawal to Enfidaville was taking place, Bayerlein controlled the German formations as rearguards to the army as a whole.