Operation Compass: The First Campaign of the Desert War December 1940 - February 1941 (Part 3): Orders of Battle

The British
The Italians
Suggested Reading

The British

General Sir Archibald Wavell

Western Desert Force (XIII Corps from 1 January 1941)

Lt General Richard O'Connor

Corps Troops

7th Btn, Royal Tank Regiment (Matilda Mk II Infantry (I) Tanks)
1st and 104th (Essex Yeomanry) Regiments, Royal Horse Artillery (25-pdrs)
51st Field Regiment (Westmoreland and Cumberland Yeomanry), RA (25-pdrs)
7th Medium Regiment, RA (6in Howitzers and 6in guns)
64th Mediterranean Regiment, RA (4.5in guns)
37th Light AA Regiment, RA (40mm Bofors AA guns)
6th Survey Regiment, RA
5th Field Park Company, New Zealand Engineers (from January 1941)
2 x Coys, Cyprus Regiment; Detachment, Palastine Regiment (Pioneers) (from December 1940)
Free French Motor Marine Coy
61 & 231 Coys, Royal Army Service Corps; 4th Reserve Mechanical Transport Coy, New Zealand Army Service Corps

7th Armoured Division

Maj Gen M. O'Moore Creagh

11th Hussars (Prince Albert's Own) (Rolls Royce and Morris armoured cars) with No. 2nd Armoured Car Squadron, RAF (Fordham armoured cars)
B Squadron, 1st King's Dragoon Guards (from February 1941) (Marmon-Herrington armoured cars)
3rd Royal Horse Artillery (2-pdr AT guns)
106th (Lancashire Hussars) RHA (37mm Bofors AT guns, 20mm Breda AA guns)
2nd (Cheshire) Field Squadron and 141st Fd Pk Sqn, Royal Engineers
7th Arm'd Div Signals, Royal Corps of Signals
270th Field Security Section, Intelligence Corps
7th Arm'd Div Provost Coy, Corps of Military Police

Divisional Services

4th Armoured Brigade
Brig J. R. L. Caunter

7th Queen's Own Hussars (Light Tanks)
2nd Btn, RTR (Cruiser Tanks)
6th Btn, RTR (Cruiser Tanks)

7th Armoured Brigade
Brig H. E. Russell

3rd The King's Own Hussars (Light Tanks)
8th King's Royal Irish Hussars (Light Tanks)
1st Btn, RTR (Cruiser Tanks)

Support Group
Brig W. H. E. Gott

1st Btn, King's Royal Rifle Corps
2nd Btn, Rifle Brigade (Prince Consort's Own)
4th RHA (25-pdrs)

4th Indian Division (until 12 December 1940)

Maj Gen N. M. de la P. Beresford-Peirse

The Central India Horse (21st King George V's Own Horse) (Carriers and Light Tanks)
J Bty, 3rd RHA (attached)
1st, 25th & 31st Field Regiments, RA (25-pdrs)
1st Btn, Royal Northumberland Fusiliers (Machine Gun) (attached)
4th Field Company (King George's Own Bengal)
12th Field Coy (Queen Victoria's Own Madras)
18th Field Coy (Royal Bombay)

Divisional Services

5th Indian Infantry Brigade
Brig W. L. Lloyd

1st Btn, Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment)
3rd Btn, 1st Punjab Regiment
4th Btn (Outram's), 6th Rajputana Rifles

11th Indian Infantry Brigade
Brig R. A. Savory

2nd Btn, Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders
1st Btn (Wellesley's), 6th Rajputana Rifles
4th Btn, 7th Rajput Regiment

16th (British) Infantry Brigade
Brig C. E. N. Lomax

1st Btn, Queen's Royal Regiment (West Surrey)
2nd Btn, Leicestershire Regiment
1st Btn, Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders (Princess Louise's)

Selby Force (from Mersa Matruh Garrison)
Brig A. R. Selby

14th Inf Bde HQ
3rd Btn, Coldstream Guards
W Coy, 1 NF
A Coy, 1st Btn, South Staffordshire Regiment
A Coy, 1st Btn, 22nd (Chesire) Regiment (Machine Gun)
Detachment, 1st Btn, Durham Light Infantry; Troop, 7th Hussars; Lt AA Bty, RA

6th Australian Division (from 12 December 1940)

Maj Gen I. G. Mackay

1st NF (from 4th Ind Div)
1st Cheshire (from January 1941)
6th Cavalry Regiment (Carriers and Light Tanks)
2/1st, 2/3rd (25-pdrs) and 2/2nd (18-pdrs and 4.5in howitzers) Field Regiments

Divisional Services, including 2/1st, 2/2nd & 2/8th Field Coys, Royal Australian Engineers

16th Australian Infantry Brigade
Brig A. S. Allen

16th AT Coy
2/1st, 2/2nd & 2/3rd Battalions

17th Australian Infantry Brigade
Brig S. G. Savige

17th AT Coyy
2/5th, 2/6th & 2/7th Battalions

19th Australian Infantry Brigade
Brig H. C. H. Robinson

19th AT Coy
2/4th, 2/8th & 2/11th Battalions

202 Group, RAF

Air Commodore Raymond Collishaw 45, 55 & 113 (Bomber) Squadrons (Blenheims)
33 & 274 (Fighter) Squadrons (Hurricanes)
3 (Fighter) Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force (Gladiators / Gauntlets)
6 (Army Co-operation) Squadron (Lysanders)
208 (Army Co-operation) Squadron (Hurricanes / Lysanders)

(There were also several squadrons available to Collishaw in Egypt at ACM Longmore's discretion such as 37, 38 & 70 (Bomber) Squadrons (Wellingtons), 216 (Bomber Transport) Squadron (Bombays) and 230 (Coastal) Squadron (Sunderlands))

A number of other squadrons, such as No.211 Squadron, were moved to Greece before the start of Operation Compass and did not return until the fighting had ended.

The Italians

Maresciallo (Marshal) Rodolfo Graziani

Tenth Army

(HQ Bardia)
Generale d'Armata Italo Gariboldi (Generale d'Armata Giuseppe Tellera from 23 December 1940)

10th and 12th Bersaglieri Regiments
12th, 26th and 55th Artillery Regiments
Various Machinegun battalions (from 55th Savona, 17th Pavia, 27th Brescia and 27th Bologna Divisions)
Babini Armoured Bde (57 M13s, 3 x Bersaglieri Btns, Motorcycle Btn, Artillery Regt, 2 x Antitank Coys, Eng Coy and logistics units)

XX Corps

(HQ Giovanni Berta)
Generale di Corpo d'Armata Ferdinando Cona

60th Sabratha Division (Derna)

Gruppo divisioni libiche (Libyan Group)

(HQ Sidi Barrani)
Generale di Corpo d'Armata Sebastiano Gallina

2nd Ragrupamento Carristi (Tank Group) (M11/39s & L3s)
Colonello Trivioli

1st Libica Sibelle Division (Maktila)
2nd Libica Pescatori Division (Tummar)
3rd Libica - Gruppo Malletti (Nibeiwa)
4th 3 Gennaio CCNN Division (Sidi Barrani)

XXI Corps

(HQ Sofafi)
Generale di Corpo d'Armata Lorenzo Dalmazzo

V Btn (M13/40s), IV & LX Btns (L3s)

63rd Cirene Division (Rabia / Sofafi)
64th Cantanzaro Division (Buq Buq)

XXII Corps

(HQ Tobruk)
Generale di Corpo d'Armata Petassi Manella

Fortress troops and artillery in Tobruk.

1st Ragrupamento Carristi (Tank Group) (M11/39s, M13/40s & L3s)
Colonello Aresca

61st Sirte Division (Tobruk)


(HQ Bardia)
Generale di Corpo d'Armata Annibale Bergonzoli

Frontier Guards and Fortress troops in Bardia.

1st 23 Marzo CCNN Division (along the coast between Buq Buq and Sidi Barrani)
2nd 28 Octobre CCNN Division (Sollum)
62nd Marmarica Division (covering the escarpment between Sofafi and Halfaya)

Regia Aeronautica

(as of 10 June 1940)

5th Squadra
Generale Felip Porro

10 Stormo 31 x SM79
14 Stormo 43 x SM81, 12 x SM79, 1 x BR20
15 Stormo 21 x SM81, 37 x SM79, 3 x BR20
33 Stormo 31 x SM79

2 Stormo 60 x CR32, 25 x CR42
10 Gruppo 27 x CR42
50 Stormo 68 x BA65, 17 x RO17, 23 x CA31

Colonial Garrison

1 Gruppo APC su Ghibli e av sahariana 32 x Ghibli
2 Gruppo APC vari tipi battagli sahariana 27 x various

Air Observation

64 Gruppo 5 x RO 1 Bis, 9 x RO 37 Bis
73 Gruppo 1 x RO 1 Bis, 8 x RO 37 Bis
143 Squadron (Mare) 6 x Cant Z 501 (flying boats)

Books with Amazon

Latimer, Jon. Operation Compass 1940: Wavell's Whirlwind Offensive, Latimer, Jon, Osprey Publishing, Oxford, 2000, Campaign Series No. 73. cover cover cover

Alamein: War Without Hate, Bierman, John & Smith, Colin, Viking, London, 2002. cover cover cover

The Imperial Museum Book of the Desert War 1940 - 1942, Bramall, Field Marshal Lord and Gilbert, Adrian. (Eds), Sidgwick & Jackson, London, 1992. cover cover cover

The British Army 1939 45 (2) Middle East & Mediterranean, Brayley, Martin J., Osprey Publishing, Oxford, 2002, Men-At-Arms Series No. 368. Part two of a three part look at the British Army during the Second World War, this book provides a good summary of the fighting around the Mediterranean, including North Africa and Italy, looks at the special uniforms needed in these theatres and includes an overview of the British Artillery. [see more]
cover cover cover

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How to cite this article:Antill, P. (2 November 2005) Operation Compass: The First Campaign of the Desert War, 1940-1941 (Part Three), articles/battles_compass3.html

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