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Bardia to Enfidaville

Other Activities

Other Activities

The forward area was now becoming very congested, and strict orders had to be enforced about the class of vehicle to be allowed into brigade areas, which for the occasion had definite rear page 297 boundaries. The opportunity was taken to move 8 Armoured Brigade and Divisional Cavalry back into rear areas, as for the moment there was no task for them.

The artillery's main problem was one of concealment, as any positions within required ranges were visible to the enemy. Forward gun positions and command posts had to be dug at night and carefully camouflaged, while ammunition also was dumped at night. Guns not immediately required went back to laager areas. The Survey Battery was active in all its roles, including the issue of meteorological information.

On 17 April an air observation post appeared for the first time.1 This consisted of a light aircraft and a staff of one officer and four other ranks, all gunners. It was attached to 6 Field Regiment, and units were warned that it would be operating on the divisional sector. There had been a long struggle with the RAF to persuade it to supply such a machine, and it now arrived at a time when its services might prove of real value, as it was difficult to observe targets from posts in the plain. It proved very useful, but like all new developments took some time to show what it could do. It was not until the Division was in Italy that it reached its full usefulness.

The engineers' main tasks were to prepare crossings over Wadi el Boul on the front of both brigades, and over Wadi Moussa on 6 Brigade front.2 One task, with an undertone of cynical humour, was to erect signs on all roads leading into enemy territory. This arose after a premature announcement by the BBC that Enfidaville had been captured, followed by the loss of several senior British officers and others from Army Headquarters and below who had gone forward to look at it. The only loss in this way from 2 NZ Division was the quartermaster's vehicle from Divisional Cavalry.

1 The Air OP originally went overseas with the British Expeditionary Force to France in 1940. Much increased in strength and reorganised, it landed with the First Army in Tunisia and had already proved its usefulness when this detachment joined Eighth Army.

2 See map on p. 313.