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Bardia to Enfidaville

The Enemy on 15 January

The Enemy on 15 January

The action of 4 Light Armoured Brigade had been vigorous enough to force 33 Reconnaissance Unit's southern outposts back towards El Faschia, where there was an Italian garrison. On Dor Umm er Raml 15 Panzer Division, with 3 Reconnaissance Unit on its right, resisted attacks all day and claimed to have inflicted heavy losses on British tanks. The reconnaissance unit reported during the morning that it was in action against a strong enemy force (2 NZ Division) and later that it had fended off an attempt to get round its flank. The German army narrative notes that about midday the Commander-in-Chief (Rommel) ordered a concentration of artillery against the British assembly areas, which no doubt explains the severity of the shelling experienced by 2 NZ Division.

While Rommel thought that the German defence had done well during the day, he was vividly aware of some unpleasant facts. He expected Eighth Army's attack to be intensified next day; he was outnumbered in men and his own supplies were most inadequate; and he could not offer prolonged resistance. By midday, therefore, he had already issued the codeword MOVEMENT RED, which meant that a retirement was to commence to a line running from Sedada to Bir el Churgia (20 miles north of Gheddahia), starting at 8 p.m. But the remaining Italian troops, except Centauro Battle Group, began withdrawing in the afternoon to the HomsTarhuna line.