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Bardia to Enfidaville

2 NZ Division from 27 April to 3 May

2 NZ Division from 27 April to 3 May

It has already been recorded that 2 NZ Divisional Artillery and Engineers remained in the forward area when the infantry was withdrawn on 26 April, for it was intended that they should support the attack on 29–30 April and subsequently. Relief was given to one-third of a regiment at a time, the guns remaining in position but the men going back for a rest. On the night 27–28 April, after due reconnaissance and survey work, all three New Zealand regiments and 111 Field Regiment, RA, moved through Enfidaville and, despite the brief time before daylight and what the CRA called the ‘tightness’ of the deployment, were in position north of the town by first light on the 28th.

There was little activity on 28 and 29 April, and as the attack set down for the night 29–30 April did not eventuate, they were mostly left to their own devices for a few days. In fact the CRA has since said, ‘I was always puzzled whose orders we were under during this stage. I don't remember getting any orders from anybody, so mostly made up our own.’1

The CRA conducted one or two exercises on barrages on 1 May. Unfortunately the second exercise created some ‘alarm and despondency’ in 56 (London) Division, as the enemy reacted very quickly with defensive fire, which covered an advanced observation post occupied at the time by the GOC 56 Division and some of his staff, who were spectators of Weir's target.

After dark on 1 May, 4 and 5 NZ Regiments and 111 Regiment, RA, were withdrawn for rest, but 6 Field Regiment remained in position under command of 56 (L) Division, this role lasting until 10 May.

Between 25 and 29 April the Divisional Engineers worked steadily on the construction of tracks from the south of Wadi el Boul to the Zaghouan road west of Enfidaville, to make easier the approach marches of the troops destined for ACCOMPLISH, Like so much work at this time, it was in the end to no purpose.

Meanwhile the infantry brigades were having a well-earned rest, including visits to the beach. On 3 May Brigadier Harding moved 5 Brigade farther back to a new area south-west of Sidi bou Ali. page 357 Units had only just arrived there when orders came that 5 Brigade was to prepare for an operational role in the Djebibina area, where the Division would be moving on 4 May.

1 Comments made to War History Branch.