Welcome to AGSH. A solo-wargaming blog dedicated to my father and the world's most noble hobby; collecting toy soldiers. Here toy soldiers clash in great battles from scales of 3mm to 54mm.

"Truly it can be said of him, without count are his soldiers & beyond measure his might." - Prince Edward in reference to Lord Butler & his invasion force departing London for Mars.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Second World War Diary: South Africa, October 1, 1940

Fighting continued sporadically throughout the night and early morning of Sept30/Oct1.  That morning began with the commanders of the 133rd & 442nd ARBN realizing the mistake they made advancing so far without their infantry support.  Both units suffered heavy casualties that morning and by midday both had been effectively destroyed as fighting forces.  Their infantry support battalions were caught up in vicious fighting in the foothills south of Rustenburg; losing the 3/83 Infantry BN. Fighting in that area only ended when the 90th conducted a general retreat that night.

The right flank of the 75th continued to be hammered. LtCol J.A. Frost whom had only taken over command the previous evening was severely wounded and had to be moved to the rear along with the remnants of his bloodied 3rd Battalion.  His last orders before transferring command to Major Butler was for the 1/75 and the 4/75 to dig in and await reserve companies moving up from the rear. Only 2 were to make it to the field in time to aid the fight.

No word had come yet from General Clarks HQ on the rest of the operation.  Major Butler reviewed the battleground map along with his acting XO, Major Clifton Bowlin the CO of the 272nd ARBN. The situation was becoming dire.  "For the American Army to perform so poorly the first time we fight the Germans..." His voice trailed off as he studied the map.  "The Germans are close to victory and they can smell it."  Indeed the 90th was tasting blood and probably would have had it; had it not been for 2 critical miscommunication errors.  An ordered counterattack in Section 3 never occurred as the German forces in that area had either all pulled back or been destroyed.  Another communication failure came when the German forces in Section 2 failed to report their current situation thereby giving the American forces time to rally around their new commander.

Major Butler ordered the 272nd ARBN to find the Germany artillery battalion that had pulled back to Section 2 and destroy them. He then ordered all infantry in Section 3 to advance on the German forces operating in the hills and woods of Section 2.  He then led his 271st ARBN in what appeared to be a trap, getting them potentially caught between 2 German infantry battalions. But one of the German battalions was a good ways off and by attacking the other he could destroy them before they could receive help. This action also pinned another German infantry battalion in the forest SE of Mafeking between his tanks and 3 American infantry battalions.  This proved fatal for the 90th Light Infantry Division in the Mafeking/Rustenburg sector.

Major Bowlin found the German field artillery battalion and routed them from the field. The 271st ARBN destroyed their target and the Germans in the Mafeking Forest surrendered. Meanwhile what was left of the 83rd U.S. Regiment had surrounded a German battalion in the foothills south of Rustenburg.  This left the 90th with only 3 battalions in the sector and one of those had already suffered 50% casualties. Now facing 3:1 odds the remaining elements of the 90th pulled back.

The actions in this sector directly contributed to the success of General Clarks operation.  Major General Summermann was forced to order his entire division to retreat thereby exposing the flank of the Axis advance. This of course halted the advance while they pulled back up well north of the Transvaal.

As a result of this action Brigadier General Clark was promoted to Major General.  Major Butler to Lieutenant Colonel.  LtCol Butler showing good operational understanding of combined arms was then given command of the newly formed 188th Regimental Combat Team a mix of infantry, artillery and armor.

LtCol Frosts last written order prior to evacuation.

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