DEFENCE OF FORT CAPUZZO
FUNZIONAMENTO ‘SIAMO AVVITATI’
OPERATIONAL REPORT BY COLONELLO QUARTERUS MAGNIFICO
DATED: 4 DEC 1940
The defence of the line across the desert is as strong as ever despite reports by subordinates to the contrary. I have no doubt in my able and capable mind that we will be victorious in the end. The stout and resolute defence at Ft Capuzzo, commanded by myself, is a shining example of the fierce determination of the Officer Corps to commit and hold the line at all costs whatever it takes!!
I have returned from my rehabilitation in the rear and under doctors orders have reduced my drinking to only four bottles of Chianti a day, and four at night. Rumours and such have been spread about myself about such antics as flaunting drunken and crazed on my last long leave with women (and men)…….(ok…. and animals) of ill repute. I refute this damning allegation from such an irresponsible source such as Ben Dover. As our discussions in Roma recently, you will have no doubt in your mind that such allegations are false and blindingly misleading. The proof is our own night on the town in Roma, followed by the next day……and night…. Were you able to get your 5000 Lire back for the donkey? I am so sorry, I was unaware that it had a bad heart……ahem.
Despite all attempts to contact this mad man and secure the release of my brother in law Giuseppe, all has failed. I have heard rumours that he and his ‘friend’ Phil McKrakin are in Cairo playing trains and camels once again, bah ha ha. Alas I fear for poor Giuseppe. But I digress.
Movement has seen us out manoeuvre the Allies in the south and penetrate further along the whole front. The fort is the one sticking point in this movement as we do not have the means to further our advance at this stage.
I deployed what forces were available around the perimeter of the fort. With only one remaining A/TK gun at my disposal I positioned it off to the flank where it could achieve its better fire onto the flanks of any tanks. I then positioned my last 105mm gun directly to the front facing the centre wadi. I intended to use the blunt force of the 105mm as a battering ram to halt any armour advances.
The remainder of the force included four 81mm mortars which I split into two groups one on either flank of the fort.
As dawn broke all was silent. The men had been out on patrol all night and nothing was heard until the early hours of the morning. The forward listening posts reported hearing heavy engines in the distance. Intelligence had not suggested any reinforcing by the Allies at any stage. As the sun rose higher in the sky all was quiet and the men started to doze in the heat and flies. Off to the east artillery fire was falling on the small outpost. It wasn’t our artillery and could only mean one thing, it was preparatory fire from the Tommies before an attack.
I stood the men to and radioed the A/TK guns to standby for action. All was quiet still however I had anticipated the Tommies FUP previously and had registered the target with our own batteries. I commenced the fire into the wadi and the blind area behind it. Both batteries were firing at the same time at different targets.
Suddenly and aircraft flew low over the fort and strafed my forward MG pit. They signalled that they were ok. However they started taking accurate fire from a hidden location to their front. From their left flank another burst of fire erupted. The Tommies crawled forward and could be seen by our mortars and they started to take accurate fire from them immediately.
To the front in the wadi there appeared a light tank. I had nothing to attack this with at this stage and it started to attack my mortar crews with a withering fire. Suddenly behind it appeared what the listening posts had heard during the morning. A Matilda Infantry Tank. The Vickers by now had slipped into the fire lane of my 105mm. Despite an excellent LOS the crews missed repeatedly and when they did score a hit, it did nothing to the light tank.
The crew reloaded feverishly and a resighted on the Matilda. They didn’t have a chance as the 105mm was not going to harm the beast at all…??? They started to exchange fire but the Matilda supported by the Vickers were outgunning my 105mm for rate and accuracy. No chance at all.
The inevitable occurred.
The mortar crews to the south were the next to feel the wrath of the Matilda and despite putting up sound resilience by attempting to fire at the Tommies who were now being sighted on the edge of the cliffs to our front, they, like anything that attempted to fire was taken out by the tanks and the artillery combined.
The Tommies were sending troops in from the north to attack the fort. The valiant attempts by the men on the ramparts and the mortar crews to the north were wrecking havoc with their plan. They bought forward another Matilda and silenced any and all of our resistance. There was no hope at all. We had nothing to reply to the armoured assault. My sole A/TK gun to the south still had no LOS to any targets and was being picked off piecemeal by both artillery and very very accurate rifle fire from the other end of the map.
The Tommies had grown bolder by now and had sent a Matilda to the north to begin securing the VLs and ground. The Vickers had also been sent forward to secure the VL just to the south of the fort. My 2IC and his men were there with what was left of the HMG crew. The Vickers slowly came level with the VL and to everyone’s surprise exploded after the 2IC threw a hand grenade into the tank.
The jubilation was short lived and the 2IC was killed immediately by fire from the original Matilda.
The Matilda to the north managed to get into position and take out the A/TK gun to the south. It was futile to even attempt to attack the tank. The AP rounds were just bouncing off the frontal armour. I was down to just a handful of men now. We were all in the fort and there we stayed. No where to go at this stage.
I have ordered the men to remain for the present as I fly back to seek reinforcements form the rear. I have snuck out to the north and met the waiting aircraft.
I will be back, and with reinforcements!