By Kevin E Wirth; National Defense Intelligence College (U.S.)

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If they were lucky then the tea was sufficiently strong and sweet to overpower the taste of the heavily chlorinated poor-quality water. 40 The consumption of'exotic' captured German and Italian food, alcohol and tobacco was one of the great perks of the North African campaign, with Italian wine amongst the most prized items liberated from the enemy. (E6509) 42 The danger of heavily laden vehicles becoming caught in quicksand, soft sand or salt marsh was ever-present. It was a predicament by dint of training and experience for which all Desert Rats were well prepared.

As the advancing troops shook out into a widely dispersed formation the Italian artillery immediately opened fire. To quote one observer: 'As far as the eye could reach the plain was filled with fighting machines speeding to the attack. I had just said "Trafalgar must have been like this" when a whizz and a crash showed the enemy was ranging 47 on us. ' A newly laid Italian minefield quickly claimed four Matildas and three Bren Gun Carriers, but this did not deter the leading vehicles and the infantry advancing on foot closely behind with bayonets fixed .

Panzer-Division and the Italian Ariete Division, the 7th Motor Brigade by the whole of the 90. leichte Afrika-Division, the 4th Armoured Brigade by the 15. Panzer-Division and lastly the 22nd Armoured Brigade by the 15. and 21. Panzer-Divisions. Initially, the British reaction was slow and uncoordinated. A series of unsuccessful piecemeal attacks were launched on 27 May by widely dispersed British armoured brigades as a result, effectively squandering British superiority in tank numbers. By the end of the day the Axis spearheads were deep behind the British front line, despite meeting stronger resistance than anticipated and suffering significant tank losses.

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