On this day in history: The Battle of Beda Fomm (5th-7th Feb 1941) draws to a close, with British forces successfully cutting off a retreating Italian column 62 miles south of Benghazi. This would be the last major engagement of Operation Compass, which saw British forces under Lt General Richard O’Connor successfully advance 500 miles along the Libyan coast and take 130,000 prisoners in less than two months.
At dawn on 7th Feb, around 30 M13 tanks of the Babini Armoured Brigade launched one last desperate attack on British positions (consisting of the Royal Horse Artillery and Rifle Brigade). Under intense fire, one tank reached as far as the Rifle Brigade officers’ mess tent, but all were eventually stopped. Having failed to achieve a breakthrough, and with no tanks remaining, the Italians quickly abandoned their vehicles and equipment to surrender.
By Ibrahim Zamir