July 20th 1942 (20)
The Dandalo, ever mindful of enemy Destroyers, surged forward through the Suez canal. Up ahead with her guns pointing inland she located the HMS Sussex. A Heavy Cruiser.
21.Panzer quickly responded to the latest British armoured thrust with typical efficiency. The Stuart battalion, outnumbered and out matched, was quickly eliminated.
And the Division edging ever closer to the town of Suez, their final objective.
Oberst Braun was the first of the Panzer Grenadiers to cross the Nile. Some odd looking armoured cars had taken position on the local airfield “Tank Destroyers” he murmured to himself before raising his voice to issue orders “One Company on me, our Panzers would appreciate us taking care of this little problem.”
To the south, Panzers swarmed across the newly raised pontoon bridges.
The retreating Deacon’s were easy targets for the Panzers now encircling Cairo form the south.
With Panzers blocking any reinforcements from reaching Cairo from the desert, 1.Panzer solidified their foothold on the eastern bank of the Nile.
Major Weiss was glad for the support from the Panzerjaegers. British Crusader tanks had attacked in force and his own battalion had less than a third of their fighting strength remaining, but they held firm.
HMS Sussex rocked as her primary batteries tracked their new target. The crew of the Trento remained calm despite the heavy shells striking all around and returned fire.
July 21st 1942 (21)
Major Weiss watched as the British tanks began to full back. His own command was severely hurting but it mattered not, the momentum was with him “We have them beaten! Forward now and complete our victory!”
A Portee battalion that had arrived to reinforce Cairo had been forced to fall back when they found the city swarming with Germans. Unsupported and alone they were easy prey for the Panzers lurking nearby,
Obersleutnant Schwarz was glad to be off the bridge and pushing forward through the city. The British artillery was fearsome when engaging at range. Not so much when the fighting became close and personal.
1.Panzer continued to advance through the streets of Cairo. The British were rapidly running out of space.
Captain Bryce of the HMS Sussex was flung to the deck by a nearby explosion “Damage report!” He shouted as he clambered back to his feet. The deck was littered with the bodies of fallen officers and crew but the old girl was still afloat. “We’ve lost….” The reply was cut short by another shell crashing into the bridge.
Nearby, HMS Valiant began moving in support of her stricken escort. “Sir, it’s confirmed. Three Italian Cruisers and a Submarine have engaged Sussex. Sir, she’s in trouble”
On land, 21.Panzer quickly overwhelmed the British Grants that had come forward.
Pferdmann would have given his right arm for some good bombers right now. “Yes thats right, you NEED to sink that blasted Battleship. Her guns will decimate my forces if allowed to fire unchecked” The Italians were nervous about engaging such a formidable warship. She outgunned the entire Italian fleet currently in the area, but they had a Submarine and that would have to be enough.
Obersleutnant Schwarz gripped his trusty MP38 tight,“Here they come” Well trained and experienced, his men did not need to be told to stay out of sight until the British infantry were closer. With the British nearly on top of them, 37.Pioneers Abt struck. The air was thick with the sounds of battle and the stench of burnt flesh. The lead company was cut down almost to a man within mere minutes, the others quickly pulling back.
The Luigi Cadorna braced as return fire from the HMS Sussex tore across her bow. “We can’t stay here, contact Trento and Trieste. They need to come up and draw this fire” The next volley came without warning. Heavy shells impacting the forward gun batteries left molten slag in their wake. Unable to maneuver in the confines of the Canal, Luigi Cadorna was a sitting duck for the gunners aboard HMS Valiant.
July 22nd 1942 (22)
Obersleutnant Schwarz did not hesitate to lead his men in pursuit of the retreating British. They had been foolish enough to advance on his position and now in disarray were quickly routed.
With the Pioneers advancing to his east, Oberst Braun quickly brought his men forward in support. Advancing through shell shocked streets the fighting was deadly as the British refused to give ground. Moving his command platoon directly into the fight was enough to inspire his men. Fearing for their Oberst they pushed forward with renewed determination, clearing yet more of the streets of Cairo.
The last bastion of British resistance in the city dug in to await their fate with a grim determination.
Trento and Triest surged forward, a furious exchange of fire saw both the Cruisers take extensive damage. Determined to rescue any survivors from the Luigi Cadorna they did not baulk, their efforts rewarded when an ammunition explosion aboard the HMS Sussex split the proud vessel in two.
The Dandolo meanwhile pressed forward. A solitary torpedo finding its mark, its impact leaving a gaping hole in the British battleship and earning some measure of revenge for the Luigi Cadorna.