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Old 01-30-2009, 09:50 PM   #11
Dowly
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The 23rd of November was a Sunday Totensonntag (Rememberance Sunday)in the German calender. Rommel ordered the destruction of the remaining 7th Armoured by encircling them. 15th panzer plus 21st panzers 5th Panzer Regiment came down ffrom the North, sweeping west and joining up with the Italian Ariete division coming up from the south west.
The British were decimated, but at a severe cost due to poor management of the northern attackers, the Germans losing 72 out of the 162 tanks that attacked. Lindemann said he remembered the day as incredibly hectic, they fired as fast as they could pick targets, the tommies were running everywhere.
Rommel decided to capitalize on the destruction and dissarray of the British by making a spectacular dash towards the Egyptian border in his command car leading the 15th and 21st panzer in a diversionary sweep along the coast. At one point his column was 40 miles long.
Back in the border area, things were quiet Cunningham and his corps commanders were having a conference near the border and staff cars and trucks were parked everywhere.
Suddenly, out of the blue came Rommel and his tanks bearing down on them. In a mad dash (later jokingly called the Matruh Stakes), everyone including the Generals, scattered and ran east for the border.
Unfortunatley for the Germans the DAK was too depleted for Rommels sweep to do much more than psychological damage, although they did finally figure out how to tackle the 25lbers that had been troubling them. By giving the batteries a plastering from the 75mm guns of the PzIV firing HE they could kill or drive off gun crews then the tanks would roll over the guntrails crushing them.

'Operation Crusader' had been badly handled by Cunningham and Auchinleck used it as an excuse to relieve him. Both sides were badly battered afterwards and Rommel decided to cut his losses and withdraw to El Agheila where he had started back in February. So in spite of the loss of most of the battles, Operation Crusader actually achieved it's goals of liberating Tobruk and kicking th DAK out of Cyrenaica.
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