Sunday, February 6, 2011

Day 526 February 7, 1941

Battle of Beda Fomm, Libya, North Africa. At dawn, 20 Italian medium tanks break the British cordon but are stopped by artillery fire. Out of tanks and options, the Italians surrender. British take 25,000 Italian POWs, including the elusive General “Electric Whiskers” Bergonzoli, plus 200 guns and 120 tanks. Since the start of the ‘5 day raid’ two months ago, Operation Compass has destroyed 10 Italian divisions, 400 tanks and 1290 artillery pieces with a mixed force of British, Indian and Australian troops never more than 2 divisions strong. Allied losses for the whole campaign are 555 dead and missing, plus 1,373 wounded, while taking 130,000 POWs (including 22 Italian Generals). General O’Connor signals his victory to British Commander-in-Chief Middle East General Wavell in Cairo using a hunting metaphor (both are fox hunters) “Fox killed in the open”.

Battle of Keren, Eritrea, East Africa. British and Indian troops continue to hold Cameron Ridge. On the other side of the Gorge, 4th Indian Division tries to flank the Italian stronghold at Dologorodoc Fort, by moving through the Scescilembi Valley (known as “Happy Valley” by the Indian troops).

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