[Lone Sentry: The Development of German Defensive Tactics in Cyrenaica, WW2 War Department Publication]
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The Development of German Defensive Tactics in Cyrenaica—1941
Military Intelligence Service, Special Series No. 5, October 16, 1942
[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the wartime U.S. War Department publication. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]



The 20-mm guns of the infantry reserve were ineffective against British tanks, even at close range. One battery engaged tanks at 110 yards in the area south of Capuzzo, but retired rapidly when its shells bounced harmlessly off the armor plates. Another 20-mm gun drove away an infantry tank without damaging it by firing 180 rounds in rapid succession at 110 yards. An 88-mm gun, detached from Halfaya and emplaced alone east of Capuzzo, opened fire at 2,200 yards and knocked out four infantry tanks.

The difficulties of the mobile reserve during this day have been recounted in the reports of its unit commanders. The commander of a company of the 15th Motorcycle Battalion described the fear among his troops when infantry tanks approached, and told how they unsuccessfully attempted to recapture Capuzzo. On one occasion, a platoon ran a mile while the German antitank guns were taking refuge under cover of a solitary 88-mm gun.

British tanks occupied Capuzzo after the mobile reserve advanced through it to relieve Point 206. After two ill-organized attempts to recapture Capuzzo, which had previously been held by Italian troops, the reserve found that their most powerful antitank guns could do nothing against the infantry tanks at 550 yards. In a fierce counterattack, these infantry tanks rolled over that part of the road where Colonel Knabe was hidden, and the mobile infantry reserve retreated.

This situation was admitted by the Germans to have been the most serious in the whole battle. There was danger of a break-through to Bardia where their base installations were located, but they were saved by one 88-mm gun which had been lying derelict with a broken tractor north of Capuzzo. It was coupled to a truck and a pick-up crew was recruited from the transport column. The tanks of the German 8th Tank Regiment were being slowly driven back. For the moment the 88-mm gun stopped firing and withdrew to avoid encirclement. In a new position it knocked out two infantry tanks. The British tanks retired and formed for a new attack on the other flank. The 88-mm gun hurriedly took up a new position and knocked out two tanks. The rest retired, believing that they were opposed by a number of 88-mm guns. The gun then followed up to counterattack on the right flank of a German tank advance, and knocked out five more infantry tanks in front of Capuzzo. The situation was saved and Knabe was released from his hiding place.

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