#411125_02: The Blockhouse - North Africa 1941
#411125_02: The BlockhouseBy Rick Bancroft
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|First Side:||Allied (NA41)|
|Second Side:||Axis (NA41)|
Sidi Rezegh area, Southeast of Tobruk: November 25th, 1941. (Scenario Size: Division. Head to Head or Allied Human vs. Axis AI). While Rommel was off trying to relieve pressure on the frontier defenses and destroy the various Commonwealth forces deployed there, the New Zealanders have been marching west to retake Sidi Rezegh and link up with the Tobruk forces that have been attacking to the southeast. The already worn defenders of Division z.b.V Afrika have been deployed to block them. These actions around the Tobruk-Sidi Rezegh area ultimately proved to be the most critical of the battle, pitting man against man, with little interplay with tanks. General Freyberg, commanding the New Zealand division, had warned against splitting up his division even before the start of the campaign. However, after the disastrous tank battles to open Crusader reduced the XXXth Corp tank brigades to shells, Freyberg did his best to follow his new orders, which was to continue to screen Bardia and hold Capuzzo and Sollum areas to the east (where Rommel was now attacking) while marching to join the Tobruk forces with everything he could spare. So, 7 battalions were marching on Sidi Rezegh on this day, with orders to take the Blockhouse, actually a solidly build small building for travellers along the coastal road, along with the airfield at Sidi Rezegh, Zafraan and Belhamed. The Germans holding this area knew 8th Army forces were marching on them and deployed to try and stop them. These men, part of the ad hoc z.b.V Afrika division, soon to be reformed as the permanent 90. leichte Afrika-Division on November 26th, had been worn down by the previous week of fighting in the area, which although successful had led to heavy losses. Calls went out to Rommel to return but he was focused on the east and there were numerous communication issues on top of his impulsive nature that led him to not understand the serious situation forming at Sidi Rezegh. Italian forces had also been ordered up to take over part of the defensive line but were slow to arrive. The Germans were essentially on their own against some of the hardest fighting infantry in the Commonwealth forces (along with the 70th Division attacking out of Tobruk).