Home » Battle of Gazala Order of Battle – 24 May 1942

Battle of Gazala Order of Battle – 24 May 1942

by Jim H

The following is a detailed listing of the Battle of Gazala Order of Battle on 24 May 1942. This is a corrected order of battle from Le Operazioni in Africa Settentrionale Volume III. Playfair’s The Mediterranean and Middle East, The South African History and Joslen’s Orders of Battle. We have not included the service units. The 8th Army Order of Battle we suspect has some missing units. Special thanks to Dr. Leo Niehorster, Vance von Borries, Gary Helmer, and Ulrich Blennermann.

order of battle Gazala map.

Battle of Gazala map. Image Credit: World History.

Battle of Gazala Order of Battle

Comando Superiore Forze Armate Africa Settentrionale

General Ettore Bastico
Chief of Staff: General Curio Barbasetti de Prun

Units Directly Under Superior Command

133rd Littorio Armor Division (General Gervasio Bitossi)
133rd medium armor regiment (two battalions of M tanks).
12th motorized Bersaglieri regiment (three battalions).
133rd motorized artillery regiment (two battalions of 75/27mm).
XXXIII mixed engineer battalion.

25th Bologna Infantry Division
39th infantry regiment (three battalions).
40th infantry regiment (three battalions).
205th artillery regiment with two battalions of 100/17mm howitzers and two 75/27mm guns.
XXV mixed engineer battalion.

Various Attached Units

Raggruppamento Giovani Fascisti of two battalions and the IV Granatieri AT battalion. The Granatieri was detached from the “Granatieri (Grenadier) di Sardegna”, or Guards which was also the only three regiment infantry division in the army. Later assigned to the Trento.
raggruppamento North African celere.
IX infantry battalion.
291st battalion of g.a.f. artillery (g.a.f. – similiar to border/fortress troops) (77/27mm guns).
332nd battalion of g.a.f artillery (100/17mm howitzers).
battalion of San Marco marines (part employed in the Hecker Group).

Panzerarmee Afrika

General Erwin Rommel.

“Kampfstaffel” group. Known as Kampf Gruppe Kiehl, it had one AT company, one AA company, a few tanks, and two companies of 88mm guns. General Cruewell acted as commander along the Axis Gazala line and was captured within the first few days of the operation when his plane was forced down behind enemy lines. General Kesselring filled in for him after that loss.

Italian Artillery Command

General Salvatore Nicolini
8th raggruppamento of army artillery.
Possibly also CXLVIII Gruppo (149/28 ).
XXXIIIth battalion (three batteries of 149/40 guns with a range of 17,500 yards).
CXXXI battalion (two batteries of 149/28 Krupp guns).
CXLII battalion (two batteries of 149/28 Krupp guns).
LII/8th 152mm/37 artillery (four guns – WWI piece with a range of 21,800 meters with a r.o.f. of one round every two minutes).
556th rear area commando.
service troops.

X Army Corps

General Benvenuto Gioda.

Corps Troops
9th Bersaglieri regiment (two battalions).
16th artillery raggruppamento (two battalions of 105/28mm guns).
XXXI Guastatori Engineers (Demolition) (assigned from army HQ). Claims to be the first unit to break into Tobruk.
X Engineer Battalion
Service troops.

17th Pavia Infantry Division (two battalions were detached to the Hecker Group in the course of the battle for the attack on Bir Hacheim).
27th infantry regiment (three battalions).
28th infantry regiment (three battalions).
26th artillery regiment (three battalions of 75/27mm).
XVII mixed engineer regiment.

27th Brescia Infantry Division
19th infantry regiment (three battalions).
20th infantry regiment (three battalions).
1st celere artillery regiment (two battalions of 75/27mm & two battalions of 100/17mm howitzers, and one of 88/56mm AT/AA guns).
XXVII mixed engineer battalion.

XXI Army Corps

General Enea Navarini

7th Bersaglieri regiment (two battalions).
XXXII Guastatori battalion (demolition)
service troops.

102nd Trento Motorized Infantry Division (motorized in name only)
61st motorized infantry regiment (three battalions).
62nd motorized infantry regiment (three battalions).
46th motorized artillery regiment (two battalions of 75/27mm guns & two battalions of 100/17mm howitzers).
LI mixed engineer battalion.

60th Sabratha Infantry Division
85th infantry regiment (two battalions).
86th infantry regiment (two battalions).
3rd celere artillery regiment (two battalions of 75/27mm guns & one battalion of 100/17mm howitzers).
LX mixed engineer battalion.

15th Schutzen Brigade (German) (Colonel Erwin Menny)
200th infantry regiment (two battalions).
361st infantry regiment (two battalions) (detached from 90th).
528th artillery battalion (one battery).
533rd artillery battalion.
612th AA battalion of 20mm (four batteries + two platoons of smoke generators.)

XX Army Corps

General Ettore Baldassarre

CXLI/8th regiment of artillery of 149/28mm guns (German gun sold to the Italians. 14 pieces in Africa as of October 1941 with a maximum range of 13,300 meters.).

XXIV special engineer battalion fit for deployment against active and passive obstacles, the execution of road work, and in the preparation of buildings and field work. Three companies strong, with two of them being the engineers, the 3rd being RT.

132nd Ariete Armor Division (General Giuseppe De Stefanis).
132nd medium armor regiment (three battalions).
8th motorized Bersaglieri regiment (three battalions).
132nd motorized artillery regiment (two battalions of 75/27mm, one of 105/28mm guns, & one of 90/53 AA/AT).
III battalion “Lancieri di Novara” with L6’s.
III battalion of “Nizza Cavalleria” with armored cars.
II/24th regiment of AA artillery (105/28mm guns).
DLI battalion of semoventi (self-propelled) 75/18mm howitzers.
DLII battalion of semoventi 75/18mm howitzers.
VI artillery AA/AT of 88/56mm guns.
XXXII mixed motorized engineer battalion.

101st Trieste Motorized Infantry Division
65th motorized infantry regiment (two battalions).
66th motorized infantry regiment (two battalions).
21st motorized artillery regiment (two battalions of 100/17mm howitzers, two 75/27mm guns, & one 75/50mm guns).
XI medium tank battalion.
VIII Bersaglieri armored car battalion.
LII mixed motorized engineer battalion.

German Afrika Korps

General Walther Nehring

135th Flak regiment HQ (Luftwaffe).
1st battalion of 18th Flak regiment (Luftwaffe) (three batteries of four 88mm AA/AT & five batteries of 12 20mm AA guns).
1st battalion of 43rd Flak regiment (Luftwaffe).
Army 617th light AA battalion (three batteries each of 12 20mm self-propelled AA guns).
605th AT battalion.

15th Panzer Division (General Gustav von Vaerst).
8th panzer regiment (two battalions).
115th panzer grenadier regiment (three battalions).
33rd recce battalion.
33rd motorized artillery regiment.
Ist art. battalion (1-3 art. batteries each with four
105mm howitzers ).
IInd art. battalion (4-6 art. batteries each with four 105mm howitzers ).
IIIrd art. battalion (7-9 art. batteries; 7 with four 105mm guns; 8 & 9 each with four 150mm howitzers).
33rd panzer jaeger battalion.
33rd engineer battalion.
support troops.

21st Panzer Division (General Georg von Bismarck).
5th panzer regiment (two battalions).
104th panzer grenadier regiment (two battalions).
605th Pz Jag Abt.
3rd recce battalion.
115th motorized artillery regiment (three battalions as above).
39th panzer jaeger battalion.
200th Engineer battalion.
support troops.

90th Light Afrika Motorized Infantry Division
288th “Sonderverband” panzer grenadier regiment.
155th motorized infantry regiment.
580th recon company (increased to battalion in July, 1942).
190th AT battalion.
900th Engineer battalion.
606th army light AA battalion.
361st Afrika artillery battalion.
three batteries of four 105mm field howitzers.
one battery of 12 20mm AA guns.
(May be 190th artillery regiment of two battalions with 16 105mm howitzers & eight 100mm guns).
support troops.

(attached)
Fallschirmjaeger Lehr (Parachute) Battalion
Approximately 1100-1200 men stationed at Martuba.

(attached)
Hecker Amphibious unit
Approximately 650 men or just over 800 if third San Marco company arrives.
3rd San Marco Battalion was in Africa. 373 men of two companies and possibly a third company (168 men) would have been used in the proposed operation.

778th Pioneer Landing Company (A German Amphibious Assault Engineer company numbering 73 men).
13th company of the 800th Brandenburger Regiment (100 men, 60 of whom had lived in Palestine and spoke some Arabic).
Vehicles: Three British tanks, either light Mk VI’s, or medium Mk IV’s. Also three armored car, and two SP guns.
Artillery included 13 47mm AT guns, three 50mm, six 37mm, and 4 2-pdrs.

Army Artillery
221st artillery regiment (Artillerie-Regiment 221 z.b.V.)
408th motorized heavy artillery battalion (three batteries of four 105mm guns (range of 16,200 yards).
IInd battalion of the 115th motorized heavy artillery regiment (two batteries of three 210mm howitzers; one battery of four 105mm Italian guns.)
902nd motorized heavy artillery battery (three 170mm guns mounted on howitzer carriages).

8th Army

General Neil Ritchie

5th Indian Division
Divisional troops.
10th Indian brigade group.
2nd Highlander Light Infantry.
4th battalion 10th Baluch regiment.
2nd battalion of the 4th Gurkha.
28th Royal Field artillery.
11th Indian Brigade (arrived during the battle – from 4th Indian division).
2nd Cameron Highlanders.
2nd of the 7th Gurhka.
II of the V Mahratta Light Infantry.
25th Royal Field artillery (two batteries).
20th Indian Brigade (arrived during the battle – from 10th Indian division – 21st and 25th Indian brigades arrived later, also from 10th Indian division).
1st South Wales Borderers.
1st of the 6th Rajputana Rifles.
3rd of the Royal Galwal Rifles.
97th Royal Field artillery.
1st Free French brigade (five Free French infantry battalions, 1st Free French Field Artillery regiment, 22nd North AFrican AT battery, 1st Fusiliers Marines AA battalon, and a attached Jewish unit).
2nd Free French brigade group (two battalions).
4th Hussars (a tank transfer unit at this point, joined 2nd Armor brigade in course of the fighting -from 1st Armor brigade along with 1st and 6th Royal Tank regiment also arrived and used as replacements).
1st Duke of Cornwall Light infantry (arrived June 5 during battle from Baghdad).
157th Royal Field artillery.
95th Royal artillery AT regiment (-)?
149th Royal Artillery AT regiment?
Stationed at Tobruk were some miscellaneous troops and artillery.
Dencol, made up of South African, Free French, Middle East Commando, and Libyan Arab Force troops.

XIII Army Corps

Lt. General “Strafer” Gott

Corps Troops
11th Hussars.
7th Medium Regiment Royal Artillery.
67th Medium Regiment, Royal Artillery (eight 4.5″ field guns & eight 155mm howitzers) (assigned to 1st S. Afr.).
68th Medium Regiment, Royal Artillery (assigned to 1st S. Afr.).
73rd regiment AT guns.
one regiment heavy AA.
three regiments of light AA.

50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division
69th Infantry brigade (three infantry battalions).
150th Indian Infantry brigade (three infantry battalions).
151th Infantry brigade (three infantry battalions).
74th Field Regiment Royal artillery.
72nd Field Regiment Royal artillery.
124th Field Regiment Royal artillery.
2nd Cheshire Machinegun battalion.
(attached)
6th South African Armored Car.

1st South African Division (Major General D.H. Pienaar) 1st motorized infantry brigade (three infantry battalions).
2nd motorized infantry brigade (three infantry battalions).
3rd motorized infantry brigade (three infantry battalions).
3rd South African armored cars battalion.
2nd battalion regiment Botha.
President Steyn machinegun regiment .
B company of Die Middelandse machinegun regiment.
1st South African Field Regiment artillery.
4th South African Field Regiment artillery.
5th South African Field Regiment artillery.
7th South African Field Regiment artillery.
1st South African AT regiment.
2nd South African AT regiment.
1st South African Light AA regiment.

2nd South African Division (Major General D.B. Klopper) 4th motorized infantry brigade (three infantry battalions).
6th motorized infantry brigade (three infantry battalions).
7th South African armored cars battalion.
Die Middelandse machinegun regiment (-).
2nd South African Field Regiment artillery.
3rd South African Field Regiment artillery.
2nd South African Light AA regiment.
(Attached)
9th Indian brigade group (from 5th Indian division).
3rd Royal Frontier Force Rifles.
3rd of the 9th Jats.
2nd West Yorkshire.
4th Field Regiment Royal artillery.
4th AA battalion.
95th Royal artillery AT battery.

1st Army Tank Brigade
8th Royal Tanks regiment (Valentine tanks).
42nd Royal Tanks regiment (Matilda tanks).
44th Royal Tanks regiment (Matilda tanks).

32nd Army Tank Brigade (arrived just as the battle started)
4th Royal Tanks regiment (Valentine tanks).
7th Royal Tanks regiment (Valentine & Matilda tanks).

XXXth Army Corps (Lt. General Willoughby M. Norrie).

Corps Troops

1st Armor Division (Major-General H. Lumsden)
Divisional troops.
2nd Royal Dragoons (armored cars) (assigned to 2nd Armor).
12th Royal Lancers (armored cars) (assigned to 22nd Armor).
divisional artillery.
2nd Armor brigade.
10th Hussars, 9th Lancers, Queen Bays, (1/3rd Grant, 2/3rds Crusader tanks).
1st Rifle brigade.
11th Royal Horse artillery regiment.
22nd Armor brigade.
3rd and 4th County of London Yeomanry, and 2nd Royal Gloucestershire Hussars, (1/3rd Grant, 2/3rds Stuart tanks).
107th Royal Horse artillery regiment.
50th Reconnaissance battalion.
201st Guards Motor Brigade (old 200th) (2nd Scottish Guards, 3rd Coldstream Guards, and 9th Rifle brigade. The 1st Sherwood Foresters and 1st Worcestshire reinforced them during the battle as did 2nd Royal Field Artillery).

7th Armor Division (General F.W. Messervy)
Divisional troops.
102nd Royal Horse AT artillery.
4th Kings Dragoon Guards.
15th light AA regiment.
61st AT regiment.
(attached)
4th South African Armored Car regiment.
4th Armor Brigade.
8th Hussars, 3rd, and 5th Royal Tanks (2/3rds Grant, 1/3rd Stuart tanks).
1st Royal Horse artillery.
1st Battalion of King Royal Rifle Corps.
7th Motor brigade group.
2nd Battalion of King Royal Rifle Corps.
9th Battalion of King Royal Rifle Corps.
2nd battalion Rifle brigade.
4th Royal Horse artillery (from Corps command).
3rd Indian Motor brigade group.
1st Frontier Force, Prince Albert Victor’s Own.
2nd Royal Lancers.
18th King Edward VII’s Own.
2nd Royal Indian Field artillery.
29th Indian Motor brigade group (from 5th Indian Infantry Division).
1st Worcestershire (later to 201st Guards).
1st Mahratta regiment.
3rd of the 2nd Punjab.
62nd Royal Field artillery.
3rd Field Regiment Royal artillery.
Mixed engineer (one squadron).

NOTE: Finally, the Hecker Brigade group was to amphibiously land in the rear between Tobruk and the Gazala line and set up a roadblock one day after the start of the battle. This force was to issue from the small port at Derna. Outside of Tobruk were several Axis submarines.

Ironically enough, the Commonwealth had planned a similar operation in their approaching offensive as the Hecker brigade involving the 4th Royal Tank Regiment of Valentine’s, some actually preparing to load onto landing craft when Rommel began his attack. They were to land near Derna and disrupt supply and headquarters in the Axis rear, destroying their tanks when out of fuel, with the crews then linking up with the Long Range Desert Group.

Special thanks to Jack Greene and forum members for editing this Battle of Gazala Order of Battle. This is a work in progress, so please comment for any additions, and/or corrections.

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