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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

Withdrawal from Kaponga Box

Withdrawal from Kaponga Box

As the positions in the Kaponga Box constituted a salient vulnerable to flank attack, it was decided in the face of steady enemy pressure to withdraw from the fortress and establish the line of the central sector farther east. This was done on 8 July, and 21 Panzer Division captured the empty fortress on 9 July. The front became almost static at this stage and the New Zealanders began to consolidate their positions between Deir el Munassib and Alam Nayil in the north. Sixth Brigade was ordered back to Amiriya, near Alexandria. The immediate crisis had passed—a crisis sufficiently alarming for measures to be taken at Maadi Camp in the event of the need for withdrawal even from there.

Facing a line which he had failed to pierce, the enemy was now confronted with difficulties of supplying an army with land lines of communication stretching 600 miles to the west; an army, moreover, which was in immediate need of reinforcement in men and equipment. Mersa Matruh and Tobruk became important bases for coastal shipping and barges, and therefore, at the same time, the object of ever-increasing bombing raids. From many quickly prepared aerodromes behind the Alamein line more and more planes were coming into action to give us air superiority. While the enemy line was stretched, Eighth Army enjoyed the shortest lines of communication in its history; dangerously close to its base it is true, but as a result it was able to build up and reorganise more quickly.