German troops make their way into the burning port of Tobruk. Britain had established control of Tobruk after routing the Italians in 1940. [15] This was the first offensive to be assigned to 1 SA Division. Sir Winston Churchill, who rather embarrassingly on his trip to Washington had to hear the news from President… [55] The advance came on a route that took the Afrikakorps in succession through the headquarters of XXX Corps, 7th Armoured Division, 1st SA Division, 7th Support Group and 7th Armoured Brigade. His passport had already been denied ...read more, Swarms of admirers mob the Hollywood film actors Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, who arrive in London on their honeymoon on June 21, 1920. Thirty minutes past midnight, with most people sleeping in their homes, ...read more, Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney are killed by a Ku Klux Klan mob near Meridian, Mississippi. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! During the Siege of Tobruk, which lasted from February to November 1941, during World War II, German and Italian troops, led by General Erwin Rommel, gained control of the city of Tobruk in Libya. [81] The Axis attack had been stopped all along the Allied line of defence. Mega fell with 1,000 Italian and African soldiers being captured on 22 February, and later that day one of the irregular companies attached to 2nd Brigade entered Moyale unopposed. [54], The same day, Rommel committed himself to a "dash for the wire"  – with the intention of exploiting the disorganisation and confusion in the enemy's bases and cutting their supply lines. For an account of the 1st South African Infantry Brigade in East Africa, see 1st Infantry Brigade (South Africa). They were amongst the hardest years of my life, but they were also full of the richest experiences that life can give. The Afrika Korps diary speaks of a bright moonlit night where they advanced without having any contact with the enemy. Maseko became a prisoner of war on 21 June 1942 when Major-General Hendrik Klopper, commander of the South African 2nd Infantry Division surrendered the Tobruk Garrison with 32,000 men to Field Marshal Erwin Rommel. "use strict";(function(){var insertion=document.getElementById("citation-access-date");var date=new Date().toLocaleDateString(undefined,{month:"long",day:"numeric",year:"numeric"});insertion.parentElement.replaceChild(document.createTextNode(date),insertion)})(); FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. From December 1940 to February 1941 patrols had never been able to engage Italian patrols or elements  – as they withdrew deeper into Abyssinia on sighting the South African patrols entering the Dida Galgalla, only to return the next day. Royal African Society Journals Vol. [87] Auchinleck deployed the 9th Australian Division to re-enforce the northern sector of the line held by the South Africans three days later. They were also allocated a mobile element of the 8th Royal Tanks. [53] On the 24th, 1st SA Brigade was attacked by the Ariete Armoured Division at Taib el Esem and were able to extricate themselves only after assistance from Gatehouse and the 4th Armoured Brigade. At 0100 on 24 November, Brink reported to XXX Corps that 5th SA Brigade had "ceased to exist as a fighting formation". Klopper, Officer Commanding South African 2nd Infantry Division, June 1942 The Germans separated their prisoners by race. The 2nd Brigade arrived in Suez on 8 June from Berbera and was forthwith assigned to 2 SA Infantry Division. [80] The division had been deploying two brigades of infantry, each accompanied by a battery of artillery to protect the areas west and south of the defensive box. Chased by Axis tanks, driving east on the Via Balbia, the first elements reached Tobruk during the night of 13/14 June. Auchenlik had issued an order instructing all surplus personnel to be sent back to the Delta, which greatly displeased Pienaar. [107], The Union Defence Force had finalised a decision to convert the 1st SA Infantry Division into an Armoured Division and the Axis withdrawal from El Alamein marked the end of fighting for the division in the Middle East. "The 5th SA Brigade had been caught by an overwhelming force in the open desert, quite unprepared and without inflicting any negligible damage on its opponents. [64], On 26 May 1942, in his Order of the Day, Gen Pienaar warned the division (now, for the first time deployed with all three brigades under Division command) of an impending attack – directly aimed at their front. During heavy fighting at Sidi Rezegh in Libya, North Africa, in which South African soldiers were killed, among them a number of African stretcher-bearers, the soldiers were buried in a common grave. During World War II the division served in East Africa from 1940 to 1941 and in the Western Desert Campaign from 1941 to 1942. At Vitoria, Spain, a massive allied British, Portuguese, and Spanish force under British General Arthur Wellesley routs the French, effectively ending the Peninsular War. For any queries regarding military history, contact the Department of Defence Archives at the South African Military Records Centre via email at sandfdoc@mweb.co.za. - The number of South African prisoners taken at Tobruk has been recorded as 10.772. (4) Despite incoming artillery fire, the Irish and Scottish regiments advances progressed well – but there was no sign of the 2nd Brigade who had not yet crossed the start-line, threatening to undermine the planned attack. In November 1941 the British launched an offensive, known as Operation Crusader, along the Egyptian-Libyan border to relieve Tobruk where a mostly Australian garrison had … Adolf Hitler awarded Rommel the field marshal’s baton as reward for his victory. On June 21, 1942, General Erwin Rommel turns his assault on the British-Allied garrison at Tobruk, Libya, into victory, as his panzer division occupies the North African port. 2nd Permanent Force Artillery Battery S.A.M.R. Any advance west of the lake would first require wide area operations to subdue these irregular forces. On this day in 1810, 26-year-old Zachary Taylor married Margaret Smith, age 31, in her sister’s log house in Louisville, ...read more, Embittered and impoverished, the once mighty Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna dies in Mexico City. On 21 June 1942, the port of Tobruk, garrisoned by South African, British and Indian troops surrendered to an encircling German force led by General Erwin Rommel. Of these ships HMAS Waterhen was sunk on 30 June following being hit by dive bombers and HMAS Parramatta was torpedoed by a U‐boat off Tobruk on 27 November. For one imperial power to encourage another imperial power’s colonies in revolt was ...read more. [88] Pienaar had also been falsely accused of supporting the retreat to the Delta and engaging the Axis from behind the Suez Canal – he remained resolved to fight, stating to an American war correspondent at Alam Halfa in July 1942 "....Here I stop, I've retreated far enough, whether we hold the damn thing or not! But through it all, you will gather that experience of life and enrichment of character which are more valuable than gold or precious stones.Gen. Opposition from Merille tribesman in the area was so fierce, that the Brigade was compelled to cease its advance and to go over to the defensive. Having two salients extending into Ethiopia, Cunningham and Brink decided to consolidate and to secure their lines of supply in face of the oncoming rainy season which would make the Chalbi desert impassable. The next day, 3rd Transvaal Scottish and the armoured cars attacked Fort Hobok, sited on a ridge 30 km west of El Gumu supported by artillery. R. Palmer) on the left. Division Commander: Lieutenant-General George Brink CB CBE DSO, Division Commander: Major General Daniel Hermanus ("Dan") Pienaar CB DSO & two bars. "[89], For what was to become the final South African assault on the Axis forces (Operation Lightfoot), the division was tasked attack on a two-brigade front to secure the southern end of Mieiriya Ridge. Among the units taken prisoner were the Second South African Division that comprised of more than 25 000 men and made up a third of the South African Armed forces. Miller’s defiance of McCarthyism won him a conviction for contempt of court, which was later reversed by the Supreme Court. The regiment awoke on 4 November to silence and the absence of gunfire, save for the sound of Allied vehicles advancing west in pursuit of the retreating enemy. 1st SA Infantry Brigade was deployed further south and was responsible for creating an anti-tank screen to protect the left flank of the South African attack[92] (See Map 4). [103], On the night of 2/3 November, the Australians noticed signs of withdrawal by Axis units in the coastal salient and by 1000 Montgomery had received similar reports from the south. 1st Permanent Force Artillery Battery S.A.M.R. Klopper.1 A month later, after all the survivors had been found in Mersa Matruh, total strength was 2,306. By 1 December, advance parties were already returning to South Africa to assist with the establishment of the intended armoured division and later in the month, General Dan Pienaar was recalled to South Africa to lead the formation of the new division. The Italians were demoralised and had lost approximately three thousand men against British losses of little more than one hundred. The “phoney war” luckily granted more time and by 22 September a policy paper had been submitted calling for the formation of two "Forces" and was approved in mid October, laying the foundations for the formation of 1 and 2 SA Divisions. I have sorted out the whole Poland, Stalag VIIIB/344 thing, including the march west. [78] On the same day, 1st SA Division were ordered to withdraw a further 220 miles east, to El Alamein. 13 of 1912", EDITORIAL NOTES: AFRICA AND THE WAR -- XXXIX (157): 289 -- African Affairs, "Axis History Factbook: Panzerarmee Afrika", "List of units that served in the 7th Armoured Brigade – The Green Jerboa", School of Air Defence Artillery (South Africa), West Transvaal Command/North West Command, South African Overseas Expeditionary Force. [42] After destroying significant logistical elements  – the 15th Panzer withdrew so as to by-pass the 7 Armoured Division / 5th SA Brigade positions and to engineer a link-up with the Ariette Division. [86] 1st SA Brigade had been deployed on the flank, on Ruweisat Ridge and by this time they had become somewhat isolated during the previous days fighting and the Allied bombing missions of the previous night. He declared the division "ready" and 1 SA Division was deployed for Operation Crusader.[31]. 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