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Bardia to Enfidaville

23 and 28 (Maori) Battalions

23 and 28 (Maori) Battalions

We left D Company, 28 Battalion, at the point where Captain Ornberg had decided to push on towards the Zaghouan road, as he felt that some decisive action by the reserve company was essential. The company moved up through the gap between Djebel Bir and Takrouna in silence, and despite the enemy fire crossed the road and entered the wadi south of Cherachir, where it halted to take stock of the situation. Various shouts in English led the men to believe that some of the rest of 28 Battalion had got through, and Captain Ornberg—who had been lightly wounded—sent an officer forward to find out what had happened. This officer made contact with Captain Slee of C Company, 23 Battalion. After consultation with Slee and later with Thomas, Ornberg agreed to assist C Company on the eastern flank. His company then dug in on the south-east end of Cherachir, facing back towards Djebel Bir and Takrouna. By now it was almost daylight, and a counter-attack could be expected.

So in the end 23 Battalion, with D Company of 28 Battalion, was established, not very firmly, between the Zaghouan road and the crest of Djebel ech Cherachir. The companies were sited for all-round defence, for the battalion was virtually surrounded, and so far no support arms or carriers were available. The carriers had started forward with the battalion, but had gradually been brought to a halt by a combination of bad going and enemy fire, and with the approval of the adjutant were used during the night for the evacuation of wounded. Just before dawn, on the instructions of Brigade Headquarters, the carriers were placed on the brigade right flank to the east of Djebel Bir. Other support arms remained in the old battalion area ready to move up when conditions permitted.

Determination by all ranks despite heavy losses and much disorganisation had enabled 23 Battalion to effect a definite penetration into the enemy's line, but the outlook was not very bright.