Battle of Kufra

6 Jan 1941 - 1 Mar 1941

Contributor:

ww2dbaseThe oasis town of Kufra in southeastern Libya had been under Italian control since 1931. The Italian base there consisted of the Buma airfield, a radio station, and a fort at El Tag. The Free French Forces had 5,000 men, most of whom colonial troops of the Senegalese Light Infantry Regiment of Chad under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Jean Colonna d'Ornano stationed in Chad. In early 1941, General Charles de Gaulle ordered an incursion into southern Libya, and Kufra was an obvious target. D'Ornano personally led several hundred men on the incursion, while the British Long Range Desert Group dispatched a small force under Major Pat Clayton for support; the Clayton force was consisted of the G (Guards) and T (New Zealand) Patrols, totaling 76 men and 26 vehicles.

ww2dbaseThe first action took place at the Italian airfield at Murzuk in southwestern Libya on 6 Jan 1941, where d'Ornano attacked in daylight alongside of elements of Clayton's force. The Italian defense, surprised, quickly crumbled. However, D'Ornano was killed in this raid, thus Colonel Philippe Leclerc took over command of the French troops.

ww2dbaseOn 31 Jan, the French force, 400 men in 60 trucks supported by 2 armored cars and 2 mountain guns, moved toward the fortress at El Tag near Kufra. Meanwhile, as the British force moved independently at Kufra, they were detected by their Italian counterpart, the Auto-Saharan Company, which moved to intercept. The T Patrol was overwhelmed by an Italian attack supported aircraft, losing four trucks and Clayton was captured. The remaining British troops fled into Egypt and ceased to participate in the battle. The capture of the Clayton meant a copy of the invasion plan had fallen into Italian hands, but Leclerc decided to continue. On 16 Feb, he abandoned several broken-down armored cars and trucks. On 17 Feb, an Italian Auto-Saharan Company detachment attacked them unsuccessfully. Shortly after, the French troops reached Kufra and laid siege to El Tag, bombarding the fort daily with a 75-millimeter mountain gun and several 81-millimeter mortars. On 28 Feb, the inexperienced Italian reserve officer (with the rank of captain) lost his will to fight and began surrender negotiations. On 1 Mar, all units in the Kufra area surrendered to the French forces.

ww2dbaseDuring the Battle of Kufra, the Italians suffered 3 killed and 4 wounded, all of whom were Libyan colonial soldiers. The French had 4 killed and 21 wounded. The French allowed the Italians to withdraw to the northwest, but kept most of their equipment, including 8 armored cars, 6 trucks, 4 20-millimeter cannons, and 54 machine guns.

ww2dbaseSource: Wikipedia

Battle of Kufra Timeline

6 Jan 1941 A Free French force under Lieutenant Colonel Jean Colonna d'Ornano attacked Murzuk airfield in southwestern Libya from Chad, capturing the airfield, but d'Ornano was killed in action.
31 Jan 1941 Free French forces from Chad, French Equatorial Africa attacked the Italian forces at Kufra, Libya, supported by T Patrol of the British Long Range Desert Group.
17 Feb 1941 An Italian Auto-Saharan Company detachment counterattacked Free French and British forces near Kufra, Libya in failure.
18 Feb 1941 Free French forces besieged El Tag fort at Kufra, Libya, bombarding the fort with 75-millimeter field guns (whose range was longer than their Italian counterparts) and 81-millimeter mortars.
28 Feb 1941 Italian forces at Kufra, Libya began surrender negotiations with Free French and British forces.
1 Mar 1941 Free French forces from Chad captured Kufra in southeastern Libya. The Italians suffered 3 killed (all 3 were Libyan colonial troops), 4 wounded, and 282 captured (29 Italians, 273 Libyan colonial troops); the French suffered 4 killed and 21 wounded.




Did you enjoy this article? Please consider supporting us on Patreon. Even $1 per month will go a long way! Thank you.

Share this article with your friends:

 Facebook  Reddit
 Twitter  Digg
 Google+  Delicious
 StumbleUpon  


Stay updated with WW2DB:

 RSS Feeds



Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Commenter identity confirmed Alan Chanter says:
20 Sep 2010 11:33:47 AM

British Guards NEVER flee - They advance, in an orderly manner, to the rear.
2. abdalla salh zeed says:
11 Dec 2014 02:42:12 AM

روي لي والدى عن قصف الفرنسيين للايطاليين بالمداف من اعلى تبة جنوب المدينة ، حيث كان الايطاليون يتحصنون بالتاج وهو حصن باعلى جبل شمال المدينة ، ومما قاله انهم كانو يقيمون وسط المدينة وكانو يشاهدون القذائف من فوق رووسهم

All visitor submitted comments are opinions of those making the submissions and do not reflect views of WW2DB.

Posting Your Comments on this Topic

Your Name
Your Email
 Your email will not be published
Comment Type
Your Comments
Security Code
 

 

Note: We hope that visitor conversations at WW2DB will be constructive and thought-provoking. Please refrain from using strong language. HTML tags are not allowed. Your IP address will be tracked even if you remain anonymous. WW2DB site administrators reserve the right to moderate, censor, and/or remove any comment. All comment submissions will become the property of WW2DB.

Search WW2DB & Partner Sites
More on Battle of Kufra
Location:
» Libya



Famous WW2 Quote
"You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word. It is victory. Victory at all costs. Victory in spite of all terrors. Victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory there is no survival."

Winston Churchill