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The division was also briefly active after the war from 1 July 1948 to 1 November 1949.[1]. [86] Pienaar's demands of the evening of 2 July shook the 8th Army command's confidence in the morale of the division and Auchinleck stated that the division could no longer be exposed to "undue operational strain," fearing that material losses to the division, especially after the surrender of the 2nd SA Division at Tobruk, would lead to political disaster. The 7.7-magnitude tremor wrecked havoc on the simply constructed houses in the area. The 1st South African Infantry Division was an infantry division of the army of the Union of South Africa. [56] However, fighting continued at El Duda north west of Sidi Regez, with the South Africans being involved in fierce battles in Die Kessel[nb 10] of Sidi Regez on 29 and 30 November. [26] Severe administrative problems, as well as organizational issues related to integration of the division into the Western Desert Force, caused discontent and eventually lead Gen. The 2nd Brigade now held Gorai and the 5th Brigade, Hobok (Map 1: Point 1). But the Germans attempted to win it back by reinforcing Italian troops with the Afrika Korps of Erwin Rommel, who continually charged the British Eighth Army in battles around Tobruk, finally forcing the Brits to retreat into Egypt. [77] At the same time, Ritchie had ordered the balance of Eighth Army to withdraw to the defensive positions at Mersa Matruh, some 100 miles east of the frontier, leaving Tobruk to hold out and threaten the Axis lines of communication in much the same way as in 1941  – This became known as the Gazala Gallop. By the time the panzers had broken into the rear of the brigade, the artillery had been subdued and all anti-tank capabilities had been destroyed. So, in daring night operations carried out under the noses of the enemy, most of the Tobruk garrison was replaced by fresh British, Indian, South African, and Polish troops. 2 Mobile General Workshops, SA Technical Services Corps, 3 Brigade Signals Company, SA Corps of Signals, No. The division was disbanded on 1 January 1943, for conversion into what would become the 6th South African Armoured Division. Fall of Tobruk 1942 and South African Major-General Klopper’s role. Chased by Axis tanks, driving east on the Via Balbia, the first elements reached Tobruk during the night of 13/14 June. The divisional artillery, reinforced by three troops from X Corps was to fire a fire-plan of timed concentrations – using smoke on the intermediate and final objectives to cover re-organisation and to help with direction finding. Tank after tank split open in a hail of shells. [20], The Division HQ, Division troops and 5 SA Infantry Brigade arrived in Suez, after an eleven-day voyage from Mombassa on 3 May 1941. What followed was one of the most spectacular bar fights in the Middle East, even taking into account the destruction of Shepherds Hotel Bar in the First World War. The Italians had fled, leaving large quantities of logistical stores. The possibility of forming a South African armoured division was discussed as early as April 1941 between Major-General George Brink, Commander of the South African 1st Infantry Division and Prime Minister (Field Marshal) Smuts. Freyberg, in a move to "spike his guns" asked Pienaar again, if the only limiting factor was transport? A third of the Tobruk garrison was the 2nd South African Infantry Division under the command of Major General Hendrik Klopper. They were also allocated a mobile element of the 8th Royal Tanks. Commenting on the defence of the 5th SA Brigade[50], Having failed to link up with 5 SA Brigade, 1st Brigade withdrew south to Bir Taieb el Esem and commenced to establish a strong-point to effect its own defence. The division consisted of only two brigades, 3rd South African Infantry Brigade and 6th South African Infantry Brigade together with a number of other attached units. 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. [73] With the road being unable to accommodate two divisions, elements of the 50th Division broke out in a south westerly direction in a wide sweep eventually turning back east towards the Allied lines. The division then consisted of the 2nd and 5th SA Brigades (located at Marsabit), the 25th East African Brigade (at Lokitaung) as well as six companies of the 2nd Abyssinian Irregulars. They were sent to work on the extension of the railway to Tobruk. By September the Italians had attacked and taken, In December 1940, the Western Desert Force launched, In early 1941, after the British and Commonwealth victory in, Rommel quickly defeated the Allied forces at, On 18 December 2 company of the 3rd Recce Bn of the armoured car regiment in cooperation with the, 12th Field Company, SA Corps of Engineers, No. On the day before, Axis forces had pushed towards El Adem and had forced the 201st Guards Brigade to withdraw from the Knightsbridge Box on the Gazala Line back to the Tobruk perimeter. Pienaar confirmed – and when Freyberg offered him transport from the New Zealand Division, no more was heard of the matter and the re-deployment was executed. [76], By 1400 on 15 June, 1st SA Division and elements of the 50th Northumbian Division were close to Gambut, headed towards the Egypt frontier. During the time the division had spent in East Africa, the Desert War had progressed and by the time of their arrival in Egypt: Deployed at Matruh and responsible for constructing defensive positions, the division was still not considered ready for operations by the end of June  – having 90% of its allotted transport (many vehicles being those which had been used in the East Africa campaign) and 90% of its arms and equipment. By noon on 1 September, 15th Panzer were immobilised by lack of fuel south of Alam Halfa. [51] Between 24 and 26 November, elements of the 1st SA Brigade were deployed north east in attempts to support the New Zealand Division in their assault on Tobruk. By afternoon, the fort had been captured. Rommel took … On taking over responsibility for the Frontier area on 2 December 1941 the divisional order of battle, as part of the 8th Army was: The division had been dissolved and many of its former units were to be absorbed into the 6th South African Armoured Division. [15] This was the first offensive to be assigned to 1 SA Division. [12] The convoy cast off on 17 July 1940. Klopper.1 Very little ration and water were given to them while at work. [20] The division had attained its objective and had secured the access roads into southern Abyssinia before the onset of the seasonal rains. An Australian stood up and offered the leading South African a chair – "Sit down cobber and take a drink. 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). On the 14th, Auchinlek authorised Ritchie to withdraw from the Gazala line and the 1st SA and the 50th Northumbrian Divisions were ordered to withdraw along the coastal road back towards Tobruk. 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. 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