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Bardia to Enfidaville

A Halt on 14 April

A Halt on 14 April

The GOC indicated in the evening of 13 April that he would bring forward the artillery, shell the enemy out of his rearguard positions, and pass 6 Brigade Group through to take over the advanced guard role. As at Akarit, it was hoped that the enemy might be ‘bounced’ from his positions if pressure was maintained.

On 14 April King's Dragoon Guards under Lieutenant-Colonel M. J. Lindsay was withdrawn from the forward area and passed to the direct command of Eighth Army. So ended a pleasant association with a gallant regiment.

Divisional Cavalry patrols were active all along the front. The 23rd Battalion carriers reported that enemy infantry was holding a line on the road immediately north of Point 70, having apparently occupied it at first light, as patrols during the night had found nothing there. During the morning the carriers, acting on the brigade commander's instructions, occupied Point 105 two miles to the west of Point 70.

At midday 21 Battalion returned, having been relieved from its task round Enfidaville. Brigadier Kippenberger then ordered it to advance about 1500 yards from the positions held by 23 Battalion, cross Wadi el Boul, and cut the road at an elbow north of Point 70, while the Maori Battalion was to advance the right flank of the line now held by 23 Battalion and so straighten it east of Point 70. The 28th Battalion was also to relieve 23 Battalion on Point 105. This was all to be done after dark without artillery support, at times arranged by the battalion commanders concerned.

The 21st Battalion advance was uneventful. Companies debussed short of Point 70 and marched forward 2000 yards on foot, digging in just south of the road. All companies were in position by 10.30 p.m., supported by two platoons of machine guns. The engineers of 7 Field Company built crossings over the wadi, and vehicles of all supporting arms were over by midnight. The 28th Battalion's moves were completed without incident by 11.30 p.m. Perhaps the enemy had changed his dispositions since being reported at the road by the 23 Battalion patrols, or perhaps the troops reported there had themselves been patrolling.

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After its move 28 Battalion continued to be split to either side of the 23rd, but the two battalion headquarters were close together, and the 28 Battalion companies on the east served as a base from which to send out patrols. The 21st Battalion was completely detached from the other two, forming in effect an advanced strongpoint.

After some discussion between General Freyberg and Brigadier Gentry, 25 Battalion was called forward about 9 a.m. and moved to within about six miles of Enfidaville, where it pulled off the road and dispersed. The carriers and one company were sent forward, the former attempting vainly to enter the town. Later the carriers and some tanks from 8 Armoured Brigade tried to outflank Enfidaville from the east, and progressed until they were about 2000 yards north-east of it. Here they encountered enemy positions and could get no farther. The forward infantry company settled down astride the road two miles short of Enfidaville, and was strengthened by mortars and anti-tank guns.

This advance of 25 Battalion had relieved 21 Battalion from its duties of covering 8 Armoured Brigade, and allowed it to rejoin its brigade.

Sixth Infantry Brigade Group gradually concentrated forward into an area south of Enfidaville. In the late evening and during the night the remainder of 25 Battalion moved up to within 3000 yards of the town, and kept it under close reconnaissance. The 8th Field Company was also called forward to mark and clear minefield gaps.

At midday on 14 April, 2 NZ Divisional Artillery opened its counter-battery office for the first time since Akarit, and during the day the Divisional Artillery and attached regiments gradually came into action under the CRA. By evening 4, 5, and 6 Field Regiments, NZA, 111 Field Regiment, RA, and 69 Medium Regiment, RA, were all surveyed into position. The survey troop had a busy day, and the flash-spotting troop was deployed also. The great trouble was the lack of cover, for the high features to the north, particularly Takrouna, dominated the area, and made good gun positions hard to find.

There was no enemy air activity during the day, but 14 Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment was deployed throughout the divisional area.

Thus disposed, 2 NZ Division, temporarily halted after the advance from Akarit, awaited the moment for operations to be resumed.