Appendix 2: Minutes of Conference between General Freyberg and his Senior Officers at Baggush, 17 October 1941
BRIGS CONFERENCE 17th OCT
Not possible to conceal that an attack is pending. Must prevent leakage of Date, and direction or method of attack.
Certain officers must be told full details.
2. Brigadier Miles.
3. Brigadier Hargest.
4. Brigadier Barrowclough.
5. Brigadier Inglis.
6. Colonel Gentry.
7. Colonel Maxwell.
a. Nobody else knows any of the main plan.
b. No service is to be told.
c. Although IO here has been told to prepare maps he does not know the general scope of plan or the role of Division. List to be kept and no mention outside this list. Study of maps and air photographs can be carried out here and IO will get any special material you want. he does not know the plan. No orders or instructions issued – just minutes of conference.
2. OBJECT OF OPERATIONS.
CAPTURE OF CYRENAICA.
Object Divided into Phases.
First Phase is to destroy enemy’s armed1 forces.
This will in its turn be accomplished by threatening the forces investing TOBRUK in order to make enemy deploy his Armed Forces. Capture of TOBRUK is incidental.
(a) Tank Strength. Reported in our favour 5 to 4. However German Mk III and M 13 (Iti) better than our Cruiser (132) (?)
Our Armed Div slightly stronger than both German Armd Divs.
One Armd Bde slightly stronger than one enemy Armoured Div.
(b) Air Strength. They have decided superiority 3 to 2.
a. Interfere with enemy recce.
b. Attack supply system.
a. Maximum protection of our columns.
b. Maximum interference with enemy supply system.
3. OUTLINE PLAN.
Must be elastic since enemy dispositions may alter before we attack.
(a) Northern Force. 13th Corps.
1 NZ Div.2
4 Ind Div.
1 Army Tk Bde + few Arty units.
1. To adv on N & S axis to isolate Enemy’s fwd def area & pin enemy to ground E & S.
2. To drive westward join with S Force clear enemy out of intervening area.
3. Subsequently to reduce S.O. [Sidi Omar] and Solum area.
(b) Southern Force.
7 Armd Div.
22 Gds Brigade.
1 SA Div.
This force will be directed on TOBRUK with role of destroying enemy’s armd forces. Secondary object relief of TOBRUK in conjunction with sorties from Tobruk.
(c) Centre Force.
22 Armd Bde Gp (Incl KDG less one sqn). [Later changed to 4 Armd Bde Gp.]
(1) Role. To protect left flank of 13 Corps from an attack by enemy armd forces.
(2) To draw off Armd forces in fwd area towards the Armd Div. If enemy is met in inferior strength to attack him.
(d) Oasis Gp. In order to deceive the enemy as to the direction of main attack, a composite column of ACs Lorried Inf and Arty will move from G [Giarabub (Jarabub)] prob D–1 object capturing JALO.
13 Corps will not be committed until Armd Corps get level on E & W axis. NZ Div position of forming up will decide place Armd Corps cross wire. Approach march will be a surprise so that it will have to be carried out without moon.
Admn. Three Fd Bases
1. Sidi Barrani
2. S of Sofafi
RCHO [ ?]
Water Tk Coy
Res MT Coys until TOBRUK.
Plans must be flexible so must training.
(a) Protection on move first importance. Command of Arty Units not to be decentralised unless necessary.
Fd Arty (not forgetting C.B.).
Mines carried and put out and covered with fire.
In Bde Battle AA problem.
(a) Gun Area.
(b) Wagon lines, and B Echelon area.
(c) Bn during attack.
(d) Bde HQ.
(e) Stella attack [i.e. one like the training exercises at ‘Bir Stella’]. Div Cav?
(b) Night marching long distances followed by
1. Attack by bayonet in dark.
2. Attack under arty.
We have your views on movement. What is now wanted is a proper appreciation and plan for
(a) Grouping and protection of Col on move from an attack if no flank protection.
(b) Protection of Col moving along an escarpment.
NOTE: importance of knowing every enemy minefield is obvious from a defensive point of view.
Recce of Forward Area.
Routes leading forward from
Assembly area S.E. of Charing Cross up to the line SIDI OMAR - MADDALENA.