• As some of you know, the old forum database was deleted by the previous administrator. I am attempting to paste any retrievable discussions back into this forum using the internet archive. It won't look pretty - but at least we can preserve some valuable information. Feel free to add to the discussions as these old posts are restored.

Old Tank Article

An old article about M13/40, Semovente 75/18, & 90/53:

Feel free to add or correct the content. I have some other pages from the sources located elsewhere but can't get to them at the moment. I wouldn't consider the battles "confirmed" since most of the sources are from the internet war diaries/websites and such. I also have some stuff from the M11/39 if I can get to it.


Operation Compass – 9/12/1940 – 7/2/1941
Derna – Mechili tract – 24/1/1941
Beda Fomm – 5/1/1941 – 7/1/1941
Operation Brevity – 15/5/1941 – 16/5/41
Operation Scorpion – 26/5/1941 – 27/5/1941
Operation BattleAxe – 15/6/1941 – 17/6/1941
Siege of Tobruk – 10/4/1941 – 5/12/1941
Operation Crusader – 18/11/1941-1/6/1942
First battle of Bir El Gubi – 19/11/1941
Battle of Totensonntag (Sunday of the Dead) – 23/11/1941
Rommel’s dash to the wire and Sidi Rezegh – 24/11/1941
Sidi Rezegh retaken – 29/11/1941
2nd Battle of Bir el Gubi – 1/12/1941-4/12/1941
The Axis withdraw, from Gazala and beyond – 8/12/1941 – 21/1/1942
Rommel’s advance to Gazala – 21/1/1942 – 11/2/1942
The Gazala Battles – 26/05/1942 – 7/7/1942
Southern flanking attack – 27/5/1942 -29/5/1942
The Cauldron battles – 30/5/1942 – 6/6/1942
Fall of Bir Hachiem – 10/6/1942 – 11/6/1942
Battles South of Knightsbridge – 10/6/1942 – 12/6/1942
Fall of Tobruk – 20/6/1942 – 21/6/1942
Mersa Matruh – 25/6/1942 – 28/6/1942
1st El Alamein – 1/7/1942 – 10/7/1942
El Alamein, British counterattack – 10/7/1942 – 12/6/1942
Alam Halfa – 31/8/1942 – 4/9/1942
El Alamein, Montgomery’s attack – 23/10/1942 – 4/11/1942
Supercharge begins – 2/11/1942
Rommel begins withdraw – 4/11/1942
German and Italian reinforcements land in Tunisia – 9/11/1942
Coxen’s Farm – 25/11/1942
Rommel’s withdraw reaches Tunisia – 12/2/1942
Djebel el Hamra – 21/2/1943 – 22/2/1943
El Guettar valley/ Djebel el Mcheltat – 29/3/1943 – 8/4/1943
Axis surrender in Tunisia – 13/5/1943
Favarotta, Sicily – 11/7/1943
Canicatti, Sicily – 11/7/1943 – 12/7/1943

24/1/1941, Derna-Mechili tract
Although small numbers of M13/40s were present at both Bardia and Tobruk, no tank battles were reported. The first tank battle of the M13/40 occurred along the Derna-Mechili tract. A squadron of Mk.VI light tanks stumbled into a group of M13/40s and retreated under-fire. Six Mk VIs were knocked out and the pursuing M13/40s fell into an awaiting ambush. In the ensuing battle, a single A9 cruiser tank was knocked out, while nine M13/40s were destroyed.[1]
Outcome/Losses: 9 x M13/40s / 7 x British tanks (6 lights and 1 cruiser)

5/1/1941-7/1/1941, Disaster at Beda Fomm
O’Conner cuts off the Italian retreat from Cyrenaica and wipes out the remaining Italian armor force. Only four Italian Medium tanks and about thirty lorries manage to break through the southern roadblock. Sent in piecemeal, often attempting to fire on the move, the M13/40s were destroyed one group at a time. Sources vary over the number of Italian medium tanks (M13/40 and M11/39s) knocked out from tank vs tank fights. Osprey’s ‘Operation Compass’ claims between twenty to forty[2] and ‘Australia in the War of 1939-1945’ places the number at around sixty.[3] The rest were knocked out, captured, or abandoned from engagements with antitank guns, portees (truck mounted AT guns), and artillery.
Outcome/Losses: 112 x M13/40s and M11/39s [4] / 8 x Cruisers from breakdowns and artillery

Map of Operation Compass:


10/4/1941, Siege of Tobruk, multiple dates / multiple battles
10/4/1941 to 11/4/1941, During a long range tank battle along the Tobruk perimeter, one M13/40, a German medium tank, and three light tanks (L3s) are knocked out for the loss of two British medium tanks. [5]
Outcome/Losses: 1 x M13/40 / 1 x British Med.

Antitank rifles and AT guns, later joined by cruiser tanks, capture one M13/40 and four light tanks. That evening, it appears the cruisers knock out three more tanks, until the Rommel papers reveal a friendly fire incident in the same location at the same time.[6]
Outcome/Losses: 1 x Italian Medium tank captured / 0 British tank losses recorded

13/12/1941, The Relief of Tobruk, Point 204, Late Operation Crusader
Nine “I” tanks, three cruisers of 1RTR, and a troop from the 31st Field Regiment, RA help repulse an attack, at midday, by ten to twelve tanks (wrongly reported as German) and claimed to put three of them out of action. Fifteen Italian tanks renew the attack and overrun a troop of six 25-pounders.[7] This is one of the only tank engagements I have been able to find between the British ” I” tanks (Matildas/Valentines) and the M13/40.
Outcome/Losses: 3 x Italian tanks (claimed only) / 0 British tank losses recorded

Map of Operation Crusader:


19/11/1941, Bir el Gobi(Gubi)
The opening move of Operation Crusader found the 22 Armoured Brigade launching an attack against the Ariete’s fixed positions at Bir el Gobi. Before long, truck mounted artillery claimed about fifteen cruiser tanks. Meanwhile, Ariete’s M13/40s launched a counterattack into the tanks of the 22 Armoured Brigade. The tank losses for the Italians are widely known and accepted. Thirty-four M13s are knocked out and fifteen more suffered repairable damage and mechanical breakdowns. Eight M13/40s were reported in base workshops at the start of the battle. The British losses are still debated to this day. While British war diaries reveal accurate losses for the 6RTR and 4CLY, the losses suffered by the 3CLY are not completely revealed in their war diary. One squadron reports four tanks lost, but other squadrons seem to vanish from the pages for several days. Correlli Barnett’s, ‘The Desert Generals’ places the British losses at fifty-two[8]. The British retrieved some of their knocked out tanks during the night, further complicating any accurate counts. Although the battles importance should not be exaggerated, it was the first time the British faced a fully fledged Italian tank division.
Outcome/Losses: 29 x M13/40, 5 x Light tanks / 52 x British cruiser tanks

Map of Bir el Govi:


21/11/1941, Area around the aerodrome at Sidi Rezegh
During the morning, 6RTR launches an attack from the southwest corner of the Sidi Rezegh aerodrome.
The 6RTR war diaries claim five Mk.II German tanks, one M13, and several guns destroyed. However, Agar- Hamilton, and Turners, ‘The South African Official History’ claim these were actually L3 tankettes/light tanks.[9]
Outcome/Losses: ? / ?

23/11/1941, Battle of Totensonntag (Sunday of the Dead), Sidi Rezegh [10][11]
After spending the next several days in the area of Bir el Gubi, Ariete finally comes under German command (the first time during Operation Crusader). Meeting the 15th PZ. Division coming from the northeast, Ariete falls behind (the 3CLY war diaries reveal they were refueling). While the tanks of the 15th PZ. Division plunge into the guns of the 5th South African Brigade, Ariete clashes with a composite regiment of “some thirty” British tanks (remnants of previous battles)[12], including eight from 3CLY. The tank battle erupts at 800 yards when, for some unknown reason, Lt. Col. WG Carr orders his tanks to assault from left to right across the path of Ariete’s sixty M13/40s. The composite regiment is left with only four battle worthy tanks, down to one towing another the next day. Later, they were joined by two more tanks from a separate leaguer.
Outcome/Losses: 0 Italian Tank Losses recorded / 24 x British tanks knocked out

Following the Battle of Totensonntag, over the next several days, the British began receiving replacements from a reserve of about two-hundred tanks. By November 27th the 22nd Armd. Bde. had been rebuilt to a strength of forty-two Crusaders and 4th Armd. Bde. rebuilt to seventy-seven tanks[13].

30/11/1941, The area of Pt.175 (North of Bir Reghem)
Keeping a corridor open for the New Zealanders and the 1st S. African Brigade, tanks of the 4th Armoured Brigade then advance north. Twenty-six Stuart tanks fell on an Italian tank group, knocking out thirteen M13/40s and five light tanks, for no loss to themselves.[14]
Outcome/Losses: 13 x M13/40s / 0 British tank losses recorded

1/12/1941, Pt.175
The next day, the 11th Hussars war diary states that the 4th Armd. Bde. was having “a very rough time”, while engaged by approximately ten M13/40s. No British losses are given and the RHA (Royal Horse Artillery) eventually engaged the M13/40s with “marked success”.
Outcome/Losses: ? / ?

12/12/1941, Area NW of Mtgataat el Adam
2RGH war diaries report one M13/40 knocked out by H squadron when it returns from “Currie” Column, somewhere NW of the unit leaguer.
Outcome/losses: 1 x M13/40 / 0 British tank losses recorded

The Gazala battles and the Cauldron
Unfortunately, for the beginning and middle of the Gazala Battles, including the Cauldron, the British war diaries cease. The war diaries of Individual British units are unavailable online, or missing altogether. A useful tool for determining the whereabouts of the M13/40 can be found here: General Major Alfred Toppe, ‘German Experiences in Desert Warfare During World War II’: link
Although useful for both the Crusader and Gazala Battles, be warned, the mentioned tank losses on a specific date are only for the British. Italian armor engaged in several tank battles on various dates and served in “The Cauldron”.

10/6/1942, South of Knightsbridge, Semovente 75/18 vs the Grant [15][16]
In his Book, ‘Italian Armored Vehicles of World War Two’, Nicola Pignato briefly describes a battle at Bir Hakeim (Hacheim) between Semovente 75/18s and about forty Grants, leaving twenty British tanks destroyed. Actually, the battle in question occurred between Bir Hacheim and Knightsbridge, on the 10th of June 1942.

Lined up abreast thirty Grants and ten Stuarts, from both the 6th and 1st RTR, launched an attack on a position held by the Ariete. On the British right, 6RTR came under fire from some tanks and truck mounted guns, while on the left (1RTR), a tank attack was reported at 10:30. When it is over three Grants and two Stuarts from 6RTR are knocked out and twelve Grants and three Stuarts from 1RTR are lost. Later that night, tanks from the 15 and 21 PZ. Div. arrive and shoot up several trucks and five or six more tanks. Author Liddell-Hart claims the British only lost sixteen, but appears to only be counting the losses from 1RTR.
Outcome/Losses: 2 x M13/40s / 15 x Grants and 5 x Stuarts (20 total)

12/6/1942, South of Knightsbridge, Trieste’s M13/40s and the Grants
Capt. Buxton and his Crusader from 3CLY are sent out to meet a squadron of ten Grants from the 4th Hussars. Together they attempted to engage a group of eight armored cars and nine M13/40s of the Trieste Mot. Division. Ten tanks were overwhelmed by a large number of Italian tanks and destroyed, minus a single Grant which managed to escape. Capt. Buxton and his crew were captured and remained prisoner until they managed to escape the following day. The war diaries of the 3CLY report Capt. Buxtons version, while the 4th Hussars war diary claims it was twelve Mark IIIs and eight Mark IVs supported by eight 88 millimeters and 50mm guns. It is possible the single frantic Grant believed German tanks must have done the damage, but Capt. Buxton was captured and remained in the area, making him a far more reliable witness.
Outcome/Losses: 0 Italian Tank Losses recorded / 9 x Grants and a single Crusader (10 total)

Map of Gazala battles:


30/6/1942, Alam el Tamr, The Grant strikes back
Following the the Gazala Battles and the fall of Tobruk, Grants from both the 6RTR and 3rd County of 4th County of London Yeomanry engage in two separate battles with a surprised Italian column that wandered too far east. The 6RTR claimed two M13/40s knocked out while the 4CLY destroyed ten.
Outcome/Losses: 12 x M13/40 / 0 British tank losses recorded

15/7/1942-16/7/1942, Area of El Ruweisat
Although the 9th Lancer’s war diaries are unavailable, their actions are included in the 2RGH and 6RTR war diaries for July 15th.
Two tanks from the 9th Lancer were destroyed (according to the 2RGH war diaries from AT guns, but according to 6RTR diaries it was a tank attack) and one Crusader from the 6RTR was knocked out. One M13/40 was knocked out on the 15th and either a M13/40 or a captured Grant was knocked out on the 16th. July 15th was the day the New Zealand Div. grabbed around two-hundred prisoners and several guns from the Ariete.
Outcome/Losses: 1 x M13/40 + 1 x M13/40 or captured Grant / 3 x Crusaders

El Alamein and the long retreat

2/11/1942, Tel el Aqaqir
From the war diaries of the 11th Hussar and 4CLY, fifty enemy tank losses are reported as a result of battle with the 22nd and 8th Armd Bde.
The 15th Pz.Div. and Littorio participated in a counter attack on this day.
Outcome/Losses: 50 x German and Italian tanks / ? British tank losses

3/11/1942, El Alamein
By November 3rd the 15th PZ. Div had ten tanks left, the 21st Pz .Div only fourteen and The Littorio Armour Div. had seventeen tanks.[17]

4/11/1942, Ariete’s last signal[18]
On the day Ariete was overwhelmed, only twenty-nine tanks fell during its last broadcast.* Another forty tanks were captured in their repair workshops. The rest of Ariete was destroyed the next day after clashing with the 7th Armour Division.[19]

[*At 15:15 hours that day 4th November surrounded by the British the Ariete Division sent it's last message:
“Enemy tanks broke us through the south. The Ariete, surrounded; we are now 5 km North-East of Bir el-Abd.
We are going to fight until the final destruction of our last tank.Viva Italia!"

Map of El Alamein:


4/11/1942, West of Dier Murra
Again reported from the 11th Hussars and 4CLY, the 1RTR, 5RTR, and 4CLY engage and knock out ten M13/40s for no loss to themselves.
Outcome/Losses: 10 x M13/40s / 0 British tank losses recorded

5/11/1942, Escape from El Alamein
“A” Sqn, 11th Hussars captured five M13/40s and knocked out two more. “B” Sqn. witnesses twenty German and Italian tanks attack Calal from the east and are all destroyed.
Outcome/Losses: 25 x German and Italian tanks / 0 British tank losses recorded

14/12/1942, El Aghelia
“A” Sqn. 11th Hussars witnessed a battle between M13/40s and the Sherwood rangers, the 3RTR and the Staff Yeomanry. Seven M13/40s are seen brewed up. Regimental HQ claims twelve M13/40s destroyed.
Outcome/losses: 7-12 x M13/40s / ? British tank losses

11/11/1942 , Fort Capuzzo and the road to Bardia
Several M13/40, Semovente 75/18, and L6s totaling eight tanks are found abandoned by elements of the 4CLY. Two Cruisers are reported lost from artillery and anti tank fire.
Outcome/Losses: Not all of the Italian tanks were lost at El Alamein.

25/11/1942, Coxen’s Farm
The Chieftain’s Hatch already covered the following battle:


At Coxen’s farm two Semovente 47/32s are knocked out by Stuarts. One Stuart is lost by AT fire.
Outcome/Losses: 2 x Semovente 47/32 / 1 x Stuart

21/2/1943, Djebel el Harma
The American 9th Infantry and 13th Armored Regiment halt the Centauro and 15th Panzer Division. This battle is widely known, but finding losses for the Centauro’s M14/41s has proven difficult.
The Italian tank losses were most likely twenty-three M14/41s incorporated into a DAK assault group.
Outcome/Losses: Most likely 23 x M14/41s / 0 British tank losses recorded

30/3/1943 – 10/4/1943 – Djebel Berda , Djebel el Mcheltat (El Quettar Valley), Centauro and Benson Force
For over eight days the Centauro and Bersaglieri held back Benson Force and the 9th Infantry Division. During the first assault, Benson Force loses five M3 Lees to mines and enemy fire. During the next attempt on the 31st, nine M3 Lees and two half-track tank destroyers are knocked out from AT-fire, mines, and a flanking attack from Centauro’s sixteen remaining tanks, including two Semovente. Six M14/41s are lost during the counter-attack.
Outcome/Losses: 6 x M14/41s / 9 x M3 Lees

Map of El Guettar Valley


10/7/1943, Position 9147, Invasion of Sicily
Still investigating (unconfirmed)
Between midnight on July 10th and midnight on July 11th, the 15th Infantry Division advances north along Highway 123. Running into position *9147, two Semovente da 90/53s and a light tank are discovered abandoned after an artillery strike.
*Position 9147 doesn’t match any elevation in the area. Most likely, it’s the fire designation numbers used while calling for fire. This area possibly matches Monte Morotta.
Outcome/Losses: 2 / —

11/7/1943, Favarotta, Sicily
Still investigating (unconfirmed)
After landing at Licata, The Americans begin to advance north as part of the plan to provide a guard for Monty’s flank. They reach Favarotta and a four hour battle ensues.
Outcome/losses: Several armored vehicles and tanks (claimed) / 2 x Semovente da 90/53 (claimed by half-tracks)

11/7/1943-12/7/1943, Canicatti, Sicily, Captain Perkins and the Semovente da 90/53
On the 11th of July, three M4 Shermans are lost while attempting to advance down the forward slope of ridge “A”. Before nightfall, a combined artillery/tank fire-for-effect on a village forces the loss/abandonment of four Semovente 90/53s. On the 12th, two more Shermans are lost outside Canicatti.
Outcome/Losses: 4 x Semovente da 90/53 / 5 x Shermans

Although there are plenty of other tank battles, especially during the Gazala period, these are the tank battles that are available and accessible online. The compilation will always be incomplete. For those interested, Ian Walker’s ‘Iron Hulls, Iron Hearts’ provides a thorough account of Italian tank battles.

Map of Favarotta and Canicatti


The Bir el Gubi map was from the old Comando Supremo forum.
El Alamein was from the Axis History Forum and the rest should be from Hyperwar.
[1] Jon Latimer, Operation Compass 1940: Wavell’s Whirlwind Offensive, Osprey, 2000, pg.65
[2] ibid, pg 80, Gavin Merrick, Australia in the War of 1939-1945,Series I – Army, Vol.1 To Benghazi, pg.270: http://static.awm.gov.au/images/collection/pdf/RCDIG1070233–1-.PDF
[3] ibid, pg. 270-271
[4] ibid, pg 272
[5] Barton Maughan, Australia in the War of 1939-1945,Series I-Army, Vol.III, Tobruk and El Alamein, (1st edition ,1966) Chapter 4, At Bay – the Easter Battle, pg 134
[6] ibid, pg. 168, http://www.awm.gov.au/histories/second_world_war/AWMOHWW2/Army/Vol3/
[7] From W.E. Murphy, The Official History of New Zealand in the second World War 1939-1945, Chap. 26 – Gazala and Beyond pg.499
[8] Correlli Barnett, The Desert Generals, pg. 97
[9] Agar-Hamilton and Turner, South African Official History, no page number
[10] Andreas,The Crusader Project, Ariete’s Contribution to the Battle of Totensonntag(Sunday of the Dead) Sidi Rezegh:
[11] War diaries of the 3CLY
[12] Agar-Hamilton and Turner, South African Official History, pg 231
[13] Ibid,” ”
[14] 7th Armoured Division, Engagements 1941 http://www.desertrats.org.uk/battles1941.htm#Crusader
[15} 1RTR site (war diaries unavailable online):http://www.1rtr.net/frontpage.html
[16] War Diaries of the 6RTR
[17] David Irving, The Trail of the Fox, pg.277
[18] 7th Armoured Division, Engagements 1942: http://www.desertrats.org.uk/battles1942.htm
[19] Playfair I.S.O: and Molony, Brigadier C.J.C.; with Flynn R.N., Captain F.C. & Gleave, Group Captain T.P. (2004) [1st. pub. HMSO 1966]. Butler, J.R.M, ed. The Mediterranean and Middle East, Volume IV: The Destruction of the Axis Forces in Africa. History of the Second World War United Kingdom Military Series. Uckfield, UK: Naval & Military Press. pg.78-79

Other Sources:

• 2RGH War Diaries: http://www.warlinks.com/armour/2nd_rgh/index.php
• 3CLY War Diaries: http://www.warlinks.com/armour/4_cly/index.php
• 4th Hussars War Diaries: http://www.desertrats.org.uk/WarDiaries/4th_Hussars/index.htm
• 6RTR War Diaries: http://www.warlinks.com/armour/6th_royal_tank/index.php
• 11th Hussars War Diaries: http://www.warlinks.com/armour/11_hussars/index.php
• Montecuccoli’s war reports of the Italian High Command “Ballettini di guerra”
• The Italian Army in WW2 pg.9: http://forum.panzer-archiv.de/viewtopic.php?t=3653&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=120
• CGH-5th Bersaglieri Regiment, Unit History in North Africa: http://home.earthlink.net/~frenchgreg/id2.html / http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Kasserine_Pass
• George F. Howe, Hyperwar: U.S.Army In WWII: Northwest Africa: Seizing the Initiative in the West, Chapter XXIX, II Corps Operations Beyond El Guettar, Pg 571: http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA-MTO-NWA/USA-MTO-NWA-29.html
• II corps AAR,10 APR 43,1st Armd. Regt. AAR, 10 JUL 43, Patton Diary,31 Mar.43
• CGH- 5th Bersaglieri Regiment, Unit History in North Africa: http://home.earthlink.net/~frenchgreg/id2.html
• Combined Arms Research Library Digital Library, After Action Report 81st Armored Recon Battalion pg.60: http://cgsc.contentdm.oclc.org/utils/getfile/collection/p4013coll8/id/3642/filename/3652.pdf
• Report on Operations Conducted by the 9th Infantry Division, 26 Mar 1943-1 July 1944:pg.6 http://cgsc.contentdm.oclc.org/utils/getfile/collection/p4013coll8/id/30/filename/19.pdf
• Appendix C, Report on Artillery Operations, Section #29 of El Guettar report, pg.2 http://cgsc.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/p4013coll8/id/5/rec/3
• Operations report, 3rd Infantry Division, Sicilian Operations ,pg.11 http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA-MTO-Sicily/USA-MTO-Sicily-6.html
• Hyperwar: US Army in WWII: Garland & Smith, Sicily and the Surrender of Italy, Part II, Operations and Negotiations, Chapt VI: The Assault, pg. 128
• Diary of the 10th Grouping Self-propelled antitank
• Garland and Smith, Hyperwar: U.S Army in WWII Sicily and the Surrender of Italy, Chapter X ,The Beachhead Secure. Pg 191, pg 195-196 http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA-MTO-Sicily/USA-MTO-Sicily-10.html
• Combined Arms research Library Digital Library, Lessons of the Sicilian Campaign: pg 50 http://cgsc.contentdm.oclc.org/utils/getfile/collection/p4013coll8/id/2441/filename/2424.PDF
• Cpt. Perkins, Armor Magazine May-June 1987
• Lessons learned in the attack on Canicatti. pg 32, pg. 36 http://www.benning.army.mil/armor/eARMOR/content/issues/1987/MAY_JUN/ArmorMayJune1987web.pdf
• Lessons from the Sicilian Campaign. pg50 http://cgsc.contentdm.oclc.org/utils/getfile/collection/p4013coll8/id/2441/filename/2424.PDF

The CGH website is no longer operational and I left Point 175 with a question mark since I never found out the where abouts of about 7-12 Stuart that were out of ammo. They were mentioned in one of the official histories IIRC.


[1] War diaries of the 11th Hussars, (Prince Albert's Own) :


26/07/1940 C Sqn.

1522- Sgt Whitehouse reported 2 enemy tanks advancing from the north.

1534- Whitehouse reported being attacked by heavy tanks.

1604- Whitehouse reported one MAC and one RRAC out of action and one RRAC (2LT Jenson) missing.


MAC - Morris armoured car

RRAC - Rolls Royce armoured car

[2] Vollketten, Italian tanks, pg.30


by Howard R. Christie, Maj,USA

Beda Fomm: The Classic Victory by Kenneth Macksey(1971) Pg.19

"The first engagement in which the Italians employed their M.11 tanks against
British armor occurred on the 5 August 1940."

"There is only one English history account of this action. None of the British or
Commonwealth official histories mention this engagement, which did occur and was
considered an Italian tactical victory. Kenneth Macksey takes the following account from
The Italians were getting stronger and stronger and toward the end of July,
and felt able to start the ball rolling themselves, sending up two infantry divisions
supported by a few tanks - Medium Mll/39s.
This force presented the British Tanks for the first time with something
they could not easily overcome, particularly since the Italian artillery was handled
with both aggression and skill. Keeping the British at long range they posed a
tactical problem which was clearly stated in the history of the 7th Hussars, who
had two tank squadrons engaged on the 29th of June: "if the tanks halt so as to
engage the guns accurately, they in turn become targets for the guns. If they do
not halt, they are still quite good targets and at the same time nothing but a fluke
shot from the moving tank would hit an enemy gun.
So the 7th Hussars were persuaded to pull back while the tanks of the 6th
Royal tank regiment, 7th Armored Division, sent forward to support them, were
ordered to refrain from rushing the three Italian batteries which were putting up a
truly formidable display, Never less, as dusk began to fall, it was decided to
attempt a night attack.
... and rush at speed against the enemy batteries using Vickers machine
guns continuously during such an advance," to quote orders from the 7th Hussars.
At once the there came a dazzling blaze of fire from the Italian guns, tracer flying
all over the place and, out of the gloom, three Italian M11s advancing, one of
which rammed a British Tank. Again the British backed off after one of their
cruisers had deflected a 37mm shot at point blank range, and still the Italian
gunners stuck it out, through now being fired at by British 25 pounder artillery
from long rang. (Macksey 1971,19)"

[3] Hakan's Aviation Page, 'Italian Biplane fighter ace- Giuseppe Botta'


[4] Gavin Merrick, Australia In The War from 1939-1945 , Chapter 6, Victory at Sidi Barrani, pg.131

[5] War Diaries of the 11th Hussars

[6]Jon Latimer, Operation Compass 1940: Wavell's Whirlwind Offensive, pg.33

[7] ibid, pg.48,54

[8] ibid, pg.62,63

"A troop of 6 Cavalry with carriers and one tank led the 2/8th Battalion forward when they came under fierce fire. It soon became apparent that this came from ten stationary tanks that had been dug in."

An excellent layout of the Tobruk's dug in tank defenses can be found in Operation Compass 1940: Wavell's Whirlwind Offensive. The L- shaped layout shows the L3s covering the top leg and a row of M11s extending the other leg with mobile tanks(believed to be M13s) at the western tip. - Rivit

[9]Gavin Merrick, Australian In The War of 1939-1945: To Benghazi, Chapter 9: The Capture of Tobruk, pgs.226-228

"The troop of cavalry with carriers and one tank which was leading the 2/8th on the left came under this fierce fire and answered it. Campbell's "C" Company following behind swung left towards the fire while the other three rifle companies kept moving to the objective. At first Campbell thought that he was tackling a small group of machine-gun posts, but soon could see that he faced ten or more stationary tanks which had been dug into the ground and were firing with the twin machine-guns they carried in their turrets.The company lay waiting for an artillery concentration to be brought down on the tanks, but seeing a platoon from "D" Company (Smith's), which had become split during the left wheel, going straight into the attack on the right so that artillery fire was impossible

without endangering them, Campbell attacked too. There followed a series of fierce fights between the infantrymen with their small arms, anti-tank rifles and grenades and the Italian tank-blockhouses. Lieutenant Gately's platoon took three of them, then lay and fired while Lieutenant Anderson's platoon leap-frogged forward and overran another group. Lieutenant Russell's platoon on their left fired two anti-tank rifles with


good effect. Thence Gately and Anderson attacked in turns along the line of tanks, each fifty to 100 yards from the other, the line extending west for about 1,500 yards and evidently intended to meet attack from the south not the east. In each fight the crews fought with determination, and did not give in until the attackers were at close quarters. Sergeant Burgess ran forward to one of the tanks and was trying to heave up the lid to drop in a grenade when he was hit by several bullets. "His last effort before he died," wrote one diarist, "was to struggle to put the pin back and throw the grenade clear of his comrades." Fourteen tanks were stormed, few prisoners being taken, and the remaining eight surrendered. Captain Robertson. and Lieutenants Anderson and Russell were wounded, Anderson mortally; only one sergeant in the company remained unwounded when the fight was over." --227--

"The advance was being resumed when the line ran into a well-organised counter-attack by * nine medium tanks followed by some hundreds of Italians on foot. The infantry fought back with anti-tank rifles and stopped several of them. Private Neall, in Campbell's company on the left, knocked out the three leading tanks with an anti-tank rifle, causing the remaining six to circle defensively, but not before they had overrun a section of the company and forced it to surrender. The remainder of the company took shelter in such shallow trenches and dips as the country offered. Under sharp fire Private Passmore also engaged enemy tanks with an anti-tank rifle and disabled some of them. Colonel Mitchell who was close to the forward troops and had some British anti-tank guns near by, sent them forward and they hit two more tanks, but the situation was still dangerous when two infantry tanks arrived. The Italians, seeing these formidable machines advancing, turned about and fled, and the entire front line of the battalion charged forward in pursuit. In the affray Captain Campbell, the very gallant leader of the company, was fatally wounded, and Lieutenant Van Citters, a fine young Englishman who had brought his pioneers into the thick of the battle, was killed. Only Lieutenant Gately, one sergeant, one corporal and nineteen men then remained. With this handful Gately reported to Coombes and they became part of that company for the remainder of the battle ."
* M13/40s --228--

[10] Bill Stone, StoneBooks.com


[10.5] Vollketten's post:

South African Force, World War II, Volume I : East Africa and Abyssinian Campaigns by Neil Orpen


[11] Lupo Solitario, Comando Supremo: OOB for the Italian invasion of British Somaliland (July 4, 1940) ,


[12] D. Litt. Bisheshwar Prasad, The Official History of the Indian Armed Forces in the Second World War [1939-1945], East Africa Campaign, 1940-41(Chapter 4) pg.46

[13] Old Military >> Italian Medium Tank - M11/39


"From storage tanks Raggruppamento Corazzato Africa also took part in the fighting in January 1941 with the British group Gazelle , which, together with the squadron of tanks Matilda “B” 4 Royal Tank Regiment moved to Keren and was soon at the entrance to the city Agordat , which has recently been acquired by Italian forces . Italians dug in the hills surrounding the city. Kept in reserve a certain number of tanks M11 and tankettes L3 . British strike began at night on January 2 . Indian infantry offensive , however, failed to cross the Italian line . Attacks reiterates to January 30 , still with the same result – the attacker was in default under the fire of machine guns and artillery. January 31 started to attack British tanks , which under the cover of infantry quickly broke through the defenses. In this situation, the Italian command decided to quit the counterattack own armored forces – nine tanks M11 and two tankette L3 . They failed to even damage the attackers Matild , not to mention their destruction . All Italian tanks were destroyed. Soon it was occupied city."
Bibliography :
Cazzani F. P., I corazzati Italiani Della Seconda Guerra Mondiale, Roma 1976
Cloutier P., Regio Esercito: The Italian Royal Army in Mussolini’s wars 1935–1943, Lexington 2010
Dyer P., Carro Armato M11/39 – 1937/40, [w:] “Bellona MVR”, nr 24
Greene J., Mare Nostrum. The War In the Mediterranean, Watsonville 1990
Ness L., Jane’s world war II tanks and fighting vehicles. The Complete Guide, New York 2002
Pignato N., Italian Medium Tanks in action, Carrollton brw
Pignato N., Italian Armored Vehicles of World War Two, Carrollton brw
Pignato N., Cappellano F., Autoveicoli da combattimento dell’Esercito Italiano Vol I: dalle origini al 1939, Roma 1998
Pejčoch I., Obrnĕná Technika, Itálie Spanĕlsko 1919–1945, t.9, Praga 2009
Pejčoch I., M 11/39, [w:] „HPM”, nr 82/ 1998
Skotnicki M., Czołg średni Carro Armato M11/39, [w:] „Nowa Technika Wojskowa” nr 35/1995
Solarz J., Czołgi włoski 1939-1945, Warszawa 1995
Sweet J.J.T., Iron Arm, The Mechanization of Mussolini’s Army, 1922–1940, Westport 2007
Walter I. W., Iron Hulls, Mussolini’s Elite Armored Divisions in North Africa, Ramsbury 2006

[14] D. Litt. Bisheshwar Prasad, The Official History of the Indian Armed Forces in the Second World War [1939-1945], East Africa Campaign, 1940-41(Chapter 4) pg.47

[15] ibid, Photo of M11/39s at Agordat


[15.5] Vollketten's post: Italian Tanks and Military Vehicles , pg 260


[16] Vollketten, The M11/39-'Not the Worst Tank of the War'


[16.5] Royal Army- List of military equipment - M11/39 medium tank


"- Italy CSR: the last M11/39 was used in Piedmont during the war of liberation as a unit of the Republican army"
SMRE - " Fundamentals of weapons, shooting and various materials ", published by The" Armed Forces ", Rome, 1942.
C. Falessi-B. Pafi, " fighting vehicles of the Italian army from 1939 to 1945 , "Intyrama Books, 1976​

26/7/1940- The M11/39s and the armored cars.

Two troops of armored cars from "C" Sqn. come under attack by Italian aircraft and heavy tanks (M11/39). Strafing and dropping incendiary bombs, the aircraft neutralized several armored cars. The armored cars then come under further attack from two "heavy tanks" (M11/39). [1]

05/08/1940- Sidi Azez: The first tank vs tank battle of the M11/39.

As part of an all arms column, the M11/39 engaged in its first tank versus tank battle on August 5th somewhere around Sidi Azez. After Italian artillery batteries and machine guns open up on elements of the 7th Hussars and the 6th RTR , three M11/39s emerged from a lingering dust cloud and collide with a group of British cruisers. One M11 rammed a cruiser tank, and a shot of 37mm bounced from another. The cruisers slightly withdrew while 25 pounders add their fire to the gunfight. Two British tanks were destroyed and another two captured. All three M11s were disabled/destroyed and sent to Bardia for repair. [2]

British armor strength eventually receives a welcomed boost in the form of the "Apology Convoy". With their armoured division now brought up to full strength and the addition of Matilda IIs, the British begin plans for a five day raid which evolves into Operation Compass.

19/11/1940- The Battle of the Enba Gap.

Using aerial reconnaissance, the Italians discover the presence of British units in the area of Bir Enba, not far from Camp Nibeiwa.

During the morning of the 19th, the "Maletti" group, with about twenty seven M11/39s and thirty seven trucks, departs from Camp Nibeiwa. By 12:40 they stumble into an unknown number of British units and are attacked. The British initially retreat after the arrival of reinforcements from the the 2nd Libyan Division. While returning to Camp Nimbiewa, the British mount a second attack on the retreating Italian column. [3] As a result of the fighting, five M11/39s are lost.[4] The British used the Bir Enba area as a staging point for Operation Compass.

Outcome/losses..............5 / 0 [5]

9/12/1940- Camp Nibeiwa: The Matilda's surprise assault.

The first night of Operation Compass, twenty three M11/39s were knocked out by Matildas while huddled outside the north-west corner of Camp Nibeiwa. With their tank crews inside the camp, only a few M11 tank drivers were present to absorb the initial blow. All twenty-three M11/39s were knocked out. [6]

Outcome/losses.....................23 / 0

3-5/01/1941- Bardia and the birth of the kangaroo tanks:

Six Italian tanks of an unknown type counterattacked the 2/3rd Bn and freed a group of five-hundred prisoners. All six tanks were knocked out by antitank guns and 2 pdr portees (truck mounted guns). Twelve serviceable medium tanks were captured along with the Italian tanks that were under repair. Several Italian medium tanks were incorporated into the Australian 6th Cavalry 2/6 Bn [7]

21/01/1941- Tobruk: The M11/39 bunker complex and Australia's first tank versus tank battle.

After piercing the outer defenses, the Australian 2/8th Bn, assisted by a captured M13/40 in kangaroo markings, came under fire from several M11/39 and CV bunkers.[8] Leapfrogging from one M11 bunker to the next, the M11s were eliminated one at a time. With their main guns offering limited traverse, the task of providing defensive fire fell on the twin turreted machine guns of the M11 bunkers . Fourteen tank bunkers were stormed, while another eight eventually surrendered. Following the elimination of the tank bunkers, hundreds of Italians counterattacked with nine M13/40s. Anti-tank rifles and guns knocked out several, and the late appearance of Matildas drove off the remaining M13s.[9] The M13/40 kangaroo tank likely provided fire support while the Australians leapfrogged forward.

3/08/1940 to 19/08/1940- The Fall of British Somaliland.

As part of the central column under General De Simone, six[10] to twelve[11] M11/39s participated in the invasion of British Somaliland. The column advanced along the route of Hargeisa, Tug Argan, and Berbera. At Tug Argan, they fought in a four day battle for control of the key hilltop strongpoints. Taking Tug Argan, the column then halted and regrouped for a final advance to Berbera. During the push on Berbera, the forward elements were temporarily halted by a British counterattack.

The column eventually continued the advance, taking Berbera on the 19th of August. [10]

The British retake Somalia and Abyssinia:

Several L3s and a M11/39 were captured by British and South African infantry during the bush-fighting in Somalia. Several M11s and L3s are scuttled in the middle of a nearby bay. Six M11/39s were captured at Soddu. [10.5]

The British retake Italian East Africa: (vehicle identification remains unconfirmed)

30/01/1941 - A column of three Matildas and some carriers surprised a group of Italian tanks while they assembled for a counterattack. Eleven of the Italian tanks were disabled or destroyed.[12] Of the eleven tanks, nine were M11/39s and two were CVs.[13]

31/01/1941 - The M11/39s were possibly used during a counterattack on a ridge west of Barentu [14]

Among the seized booty, captured M11/39s at Agordat [15]

Several M11s and L3s are scuttled in the middle of the bay. [15.5]

The Liberation of Piedmont and the Pinerlo Region

07/1944- "
The final known action of the M.11.39 was in July 1944 in the Pinerlo region in mainland Italy, where a single tank from the Cavalry School, which had been used for training saw an unknown amount of combat action, during which it was abandoned." [16]

The M11/39s were used for the last time during the liberation of the Piedmont area.[16.5]
A few more diary entries for the M11s dated Sep. 1940 leading up to the capture of Sidi Barrani
6/9/40 11th Hussars War Diary

- At 1915 hrs two tanks which appeared to be mediums were seen from the Northern force. From 1930 1950 hrs there was considerable movement by Infantry within the Southern force. Major Payne-Gallway and Lt Col Campbell observed the enemy force from 1820 2005 hrs.


-At 2045 hrs movement of tanks and other vehicles from the Northern force was heard. They were believed to be going North.
A considerable amount of shelling was also heard but neither the flashes of guns or of the shells landing could be seen. At 2215 hrs all noise of movement ceased.

- At 1755 hrs a column of 250 vehicles containing 1000 Infantry with tanks was reported near BIR UAAR.

- Support Group were still in position. Their right flank was just West of SIDI BARRANI and the line ran South to BIR ENBA with their left flank at BIR SOFAFI (which was later withdrawn to BIR TALATA).
B Sqn were operating, under orders of the Coldstream Guards, against the enemy column along the coast. The enemy were using a large number of medium tanks.

Activities of B Sqn from 0400 hours 15-9-40 to M.N. 17/18-9-40
Sept 16th, 1940

The Coldstream Guards were holding a position along the 584 Grid line supported by a French Motor Coy and 12 guns of 3rd RHA. At 0740 hours, 5Tp (2Lt Dier) reported head of column at 570371. They later reported 25 light tanks at 570369 moving SE. They were then shelled and had to move from ALAM EL RIMF. At 0930 hours 2Tp (Sgt Hoyland) reported 70 vehicles at 570370 and 3 medium tanks at 577362. At about 1100 hours the Guards withdrew to a position at ALAM EL DABDE. At about this time 2Lt Dier captured two enemy motor cyclists, one of whom was wounded. At 1130 hours a column of 60 tanks and lorries began to move East from WESHKER. 2Lt Dier kept in touch. At 1300 hours enemy columns reached SIDI BARRANI BIR KHAMSA track at 596371. They then turned North. The column was shelled by our guns. Information had been received from Support Group that a Sqn of out tanks was advancing North along the BIR KHAMSA, SIDI BARRANI track and were only 7 miles from SIDI BARRANI.
Consequently the Coldstream guards did not withdraw at once but as the tanks never turned up they eventually had to, and only just got away in time. Just before dust 3Tp (2Lt Halliday) captured a motor cyclist who fell off his M/C and whistled for the patrol to come and pick him up. The Coldstream Guards had retired to a position South of MAATEN MOHAMMED and the Sqn were watching the eastern exits from SIDI BARRANI.

The rest of the entries around this time period mention tanks with no weight described.
A brief mention of Semoventi fighting in Italy. The type is unknown:

N.C.Phillips, Official History of New Zealand in the Second World War 1939-45

Italy Volume I: The Sangro to Cassino,

Chapter VI , Operation Florence


"At that hour two battalions of paratroops, one on each side of the road, advanced with an escort of four Mark IV or Mark IV Special tanks, five or possibly more Mark III flame-throwers and three Italian assault guns, and under an umbrella of heavy artillery fire. For a while they went unchallenged, though the New Zealanders had notice of their approach in the noise of troop movement and simultaneous shelling and machine-gunning. The right-hand battalion, crossing 21 Battalion's front, closed to within a few hundred yards of the cemetery before encountering 23 Battalion's right. In the ensuing fighting the attackers, unaided by tanks, could make no headway against the fire of infantry weapons, the machine guns of 20 Regiment's tanks and the artillery concentrations. By 5 a.m. 23 Battalion, with three killed and three wounded, had cleared its front."
"The two leading Mark IV tanks were hit and left blocking the road."
"Among the four German tanks destroyed, two were flame-throwers."

"Once again a plan to exploit success had gone amiss. The New Zealanders' attack broke on the same rock as that which had destroyed the Germans' – the failure of the men on tracks and the men on foot to think as one, to act in close mutual support and to strike with united force. Liaison was made difficult by the breakdown of the wireless link and perhaps by the absence of an artillery barrage to protect the follow-up of the infantry: the tank commander had not wanted one and 25-pounder ammunition was scarce. The tanks were unable to manoeuvre freely; the anti-tank defences had been thickened up at the urgent behest of the higher German command and they were sturdily manned. Between them the two units had lost ten killed, over thirty wounded, and four prisoners. With ten casualties that morning, 20 Regiment left behind fifteen tanks destroyed or damaged to give practice to the German gunners, who systematically shelled them until they were beyond repair."

Map from the Official History of New Zealand in the Second World War 1939-45
I don't know much about these engagements.



The main action is that of April 25 (S. Easter) at the foot of Gebel Bou Kurnine, the forted momte in the Megerda Valley, a few days before the surrender, the 17 M14/41 wagons and the 10 self-propelled 75//18 of the pool show an amazing victory over the British , this fight is defined by the Germans "Der Fabelhatte Gegenangriffe", the legendary attack, our losses are 4 tanks destroyed and numerous damaged.

He narrated his war events in the book: Diary of a fighter in North Africa."


Jebel Bourkomine:

"Jebel Boukornine (Arabic: جبل بوقرنين‎ also spelled Djebel Bou Kornine or Mount Bou Kornine, is a 576-meter mountain in northern Tunisia,"

Tank kills around Cassino (claimed) :

Armored Thunderbolt: The U.S. Army Sherman in World War :

Afaik the M-13 was used also in the Greek and Jugoslavian campaign
Yep. I try to stick to tank clashes where both sides had armor and not just tank vs gun. I still have some unconfirmed battles from Alamien on the 25th IIR. Then I was going to finish with some additional pages/sources I have for the M13 battles.

For the Greeks I have a clash with their 19th Motorized Division equipped with CV.3s and some Bren Carriers attacked by panzers at Doiran.
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From Greece in World War II: to April 1941 by John G. Bitzes

pg. 141

"The 19th was the first motorized division ever organized to be a part of the Greek army. It was equipped with a hodgepodge of Italian equipment and vehicles, including only 25 tanks, captured in Libya and Albania."

pg. 144,145

"The Metaxas Line on the Bulgarian frontier was the first to meet the full fury of the Blitzkrieg. By nightfall the 2d and 7th German Panzer divisions had swept through the southeastern corner of Yugoslavia, turned south and seized the Greek town of Doiran. After over-running the Greek 19th Motorized division on 8 April, the 2d Panzer was in position to outflank the Metaxas Line and threaten the vital supply port of Salonika. Papagos had second - guessed the Germans, but the 19th lacked the firepower and the armor plate to stop the panzer..."

pg. 183 ( Under Chapter 10 notes)

"See Greek Army General Staff, The End of an Epic, Wilson, Eight Years Overseas: Blau, The German Campaigns. Long, Greece, Crete and Syria. The first allied tanks to engage the German enemy were those of the Greek 19th Motorized Division, equipped with outdated Italian tanks captured in Libya. It engaged the 2d Panzer Division on 8 April 1941 at Doiran, Macedonia, and was quickly overrun.

This was separate from the Battle of Ptolemais, which occurred on the 13th of April, and is considered "the first full-scale tank battle ever to be fought on Greek soil".

Dec 13th (actually Dec 14) battle from Ian Walker's book:


Wiki says the Rommel papers were a day off from his forward most commander's diary, hence the mixed up date.

There's 20 more claimed in that Semovente 75/18 article

posted above. That's from Oct 42 (Alamein).

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