Operation Crusader order of battle

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This is the order of battle for the ground forces involved in Operation Crusader, a World War II battle between the British Commonwealth and the European Axis Powers of Germany and Italy in North Africa between 18 November – 30 December 1941.

British and Commonwealth Forces

Commander-in-Chief Middle East Command: General Claude Auchinleck

British Eighth Army

Lieutenant-General Alan Cunningham, succeeded on 26 November by Lieutenant-General Neil Ritchie

XXX Corps

Lieutenant-General Willoughby Norrie

XIII Corps

Lieutenant-General Reade Godwin-Austen

Tobruk Fortress

Major-General Ronald Scobie

Oasis Force

Brigadier Denys Reid

Army Reserve

German and Italian forces

Supreme Commander North Africa: General Ettore Bastico

Italian XX Corps (Corpo d'Armata di Manovra - Mobile Corps)

Lieutenant-General Gastone Gambara
  • Corps assets:
    • Three batteries of truck-mounted 102mm AA/AT guns[5]
  • 132nd Armoured Division Ariete (General Mario Balotta)
    • 32nd Armoured Regiment
      • I Light Tank Battalion
      • II Light Tank Battalion
    • 132nd Armoured Regiment
      • VII Medium Tank Battalion
      • VIII Medium Tank Battalion
      • IX Medium Tank Battalion
    • 8th Bersaglieri regiment
    • 132nd Artillery Regiment[6]
    • One battalion attached from the 26th Artillery Regiment, Pavia division[7]
    • One battalion attached from the 24th Corps Artillery Group[8]
  • 101st Motorised Division Trieste
    • 65th Infantry Regiment
    • 66th Infantry Regiment
    • 9th Bersaglieri Regiment
    • 551st Heavy Weapons Battalion
    • 21st Artillery Regiment
  • RECAM (Raggruppamento Esplorante del Corpo d'Armata di Manovra - Reconnaissance Group of the Mobile Army Corps)
    • III Light Tank Battalion (attached from the 32nd Armoured Regiment, Ariete division)
    • LII Medium Tank Battalion
    • "Romolo Gessi" Battalion, Italian Africa Police[9]
    • "Giovani Fascisti" Infantry Group (2 bns)
    • Raggruppamento Batterie Volanti ("Portees" - truck mounted - Artillery Group)[10]

Panzer Group Afrika

General der Panzertruppe Erwin Rommel

German Afrika Korps (commanded by Generalleutnant Ludwig Crüwell)

  • 15th Panzer Division (Generalmajor Walter Neumann-Silkow until 6 December (killed in action), then Generalmajor Gustav von Vaerst)
    • 8th Panzer Regiment (2 bns)
    • 1st Battalion, 115th Infantry Regiment
    • 2nd Machinegun Battalion
    • 3rd Engineers Battalion
    • 33rd Recon Battalion
    • 33rd Anti-tank Battalion
    • 33rd Artillery Regiment
  • 21st Panzer Division (Generalmajor Johann von Ravenstein until 29 November (prisoner of war), then Generalmajor Karl Böttcher)
    • 5th Panzer Regiment (2 bns)
    • 104th Infantry Regiment (2 bns)
    • 15th Motorcycle Battalion
    • 3rd Recon Battalion
    • 200th Engineers Battalion
    • 39th Anti-Tank Battalion
    • 605th Anti-Tank Battalion
    • 155th Artillery Regiment
  • Special Purpose Division Afrika (Renamed 90th Light Africa Division from 28 November 1941) (Generalmajor Max Sümmermann until 10 December (killed in action), then Generalmajor Richard Veith)
    • 2nd Battalion, 115th Infantry Regiment
    • 155th Infantry Regiment (3 bns)
    • 3rd Battalion, 255th Infantry Regiment
    • 3rd Battalion, 347th Infantry Regiment
    • 361st Infantry Regiment (2 bns)
    • 900th Engineers Battalion
    • 580th Recon Battalion
    • Elements from the 300th "Oasis" Battalion
    • 2nd Battalion,115th Motor Artillery Regiment
    • 2nd Motor Artillery Regiment (Italian)
  • 55th Infantry Division Savona (General Fedele de Giorgis)
    • 15th Infantry Regiment
    • 16th Infantry Regiment
    • "Genova Cavalleria" Machinegun Battalion
    • 155th Machinegun Battalion
    • Elements, from the 300th "Oasis" Battalion (German)
    • 12th Artillery Regiment[11]

Italian XXI Corps

Lieutenant-General Enea Navarini
  • Corps assets:
    • 3rd Motor Artillery Regiment[12]
    • 16th Corps Artillery Group[13]
    • 8th Army Artilley Group[14]
    • 24th Army Artilley Group[15]
    • 340th Frontier Guards Artillery Group[16]
    • 340th Frontier Guards Engineers Battalion
  • 17th Infantry Division Pavia
    • 27th Infantry Regiment
    • 28th Regiment Pavia
    • V Light Tank Battalion
    • "Lancieri d'Aosta" Machinegun Battalion
    • 17th Heavy Weapons Battalion
    • 26th Artillery Regiment[17]
  • 25th Infantry Division Bologna
    • 39th Infantry Regiment
    • 40th Infantry Regiment
    • 25th Heavy Weapons Battalion
    • 205th Artillery Regiment[18]
  • 27th Infantry Division Brescia
    • 19th Infantry Regiment
    • 20th Infantry Regiment
    • 27th Machinegun Battalion
    • 1st Motor Artillery Regiment[19]
  • 102nd Motorised Division Trento
    • 7th Bersaglieri Regiment
    • 61st Infantry Regiment
    • 62nd Infantry Regiment
    • 551st Anti-Tank Battalion
    • 46th Artillery Regiment[20]


  1. ^ Farndale, pp. 165–8.
  2. ^ Playfair, p. 158.
  3. ^ Routledge, pp. 130–3, Table XX, p. 141
  4. ^ Order of Battle at Rats of Tobruk Tribute site.
  5. ^ Naval Blackshirts crews
  6. ^ Two 75L28 battalions
  7. ^ One 75L28 battalion
  8. ^ One 105L28 battalion
  9. ^ Two motorcycle and one armoured cars companies
  10. ^ Two battalions with 65L17, one battery wiyj 100L17 and one battery with 20L65 light AA/AT)
  11. ^ Two 75L28 and one 100L17 battalions
  12. ^ One 100L17 and two 75L27 battalions
  13. ^ Three 105L28 battalions
  14. ^ One 149L28, one 149L40 and one 152L37 battalions
  15. ^ Four 149L35 battalions
  16. ^ Four 75L28 battalions
  17. ^ One 75L28 and one 100L17 battalions
  18. ^ Two 75L28 and one 100L17 battalions
  19. ^ Two 75L28 battalions
  20. ^ Two 75L28 and one 100L17 battalions


  • Gen Sir Martin Farndale, History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery: The Years of Defeat: Europe and North Africa, 1939–1941, Woolwich: Royal Artillery Institution, 1988/London: Brasseys, 1996, ISBN 1-85753-080-2.
  • Heddlesten, James. "Libya September 1941 OoB". Comando Supremo: Italy at War website.
  • Moreman, Timothy Robert; Anderson, Duncan (2007). Desert Rats: British 8th Army in North Africa 1941-43. Osprey. p. 61. ISBN 1-84603-144-3.
  • Paterson, Ian A. "History of the British 7th Armoured Division: Divisional Organisation". Archived from the original on 2007-06-21.
  • Maj-Gen I.S.O. Playfair, "History of the Second World War, United Kingdom Military Series: The Mediterranean and Middle East, Vol II: The Germans come to the aid of their Ally (1941), London: HMSO, 1956/Uckfield, Naval & Military Press, 2004, ISBN 1-845740-66-1.
  • Brig N.W. Routledge, History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery: Anti-Aircraft Artillery 1914–55, London: Royal Artillery Institution/Brassey's, 1994, ISBN 1-85753-099-3
  • "Eighth Army OOB. 18th November 1941". Orders of Battle.com. Retrieved 2008-08-27.
  • The North African Campaign 1940-43. B H Liddell Hart

External links

  • The Major Ground Commands and Commanders on The CRUSADER Project
  • Rats of Tobruk Tribute site
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