Monday, January 3, 2011

Day 492 January 4, 1941

Operation Compass. Battle of Bardia Day 2. Amid heavy fighting all day in the Italian defensive perimeter posts to the North and South, a mixed force of Allied infantry plus Bren gun carriers and a few tanks pushes forward the final mile to the town of Bardia at 4 PM. Reaching the sea, they split the Italian defenses in two and resistance begins to collapse. 8 Australian infantry take 500 prisoners. A single company of Aussies captures 2,000 Italians from rearguard units, including 60 officers. A squadron of Bren gun carriers takes 3000 POWs, while 1 Bren gun carrier attacks an artillery battery from the rear and 1,000 surrender. The number of POWs exceeds 10,000. Italian commander at Bardia, General Bergonzoli and his staff escape towards Tobruk on foot. British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden quips "Never has so much been surrendered by so many, to so few."

Off Cape Bon, Tunisia, British torpedo bombers unsuccessfully attack Italian supply convoy returning from Tripoli (freighters Ezilda Croce and Pallade, escorted by torpedo boat Pegaso).

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