Australian troops replace Indians in the Desert

Troops from the 4th Indian Division in Egypt. They had been in the thick of the battle during the early part of the campaign.

It had always been the intention to transfer the 4th Indian Division from Egypt to the Sudan in December. They were designated to join the 5th Indian Division for the the attack on Italian occupied Abyssinia. That move was confirmed on the 14th December and the Indian troops withdrawn from the battle in western Egypt. They had been in the forefront of the action over the past four days, including the assault on Sidi Barrani. In total they had suffered casualties of 41 officers and 391 men.

The 6th Australian Division, who were to replace the Indian troops, were widely dispersed, some units units had not yet arrived in Egypt. However the decision was now made to continue the pursuit of the Italians forces into Libya. Intelligence had been discovered that showed that they had hugely overestimated the British forces that they faced. They were now falling back in disarray. Advanced elements of the British forces led by the 11th Hussars were now way out in the desert, travelling parallel to the main coast road. On the 14th December they crossed the coast road to the west of the Italian base at Bardia. Soon another huge Italian force would be trapped in their coastal garrison.

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