Thursday, February 5, 2015
The Battle of Cheren
The British had thrown everything they had at the Italians and displayed no shortage of valor but the Italian troops had thrown back each attack. General Platt finally decided to halt, reorganize his forces, wait for reinforcements and further train his troops for a more intricate plan of attack. For General Carnimeo, on the other hand, the 6th Colonial Brigade arrived to lend support as did the 11th MVSN Battalion but he did not have the seemingly endless logistical support available to the British. He could only deploy his men to best effect and make the British pay for every step forward they took. He had superiority in numbers but also much more ground to cover along with inferior weapons and equipment. As February turned to March, the British began to move, reinforced by more troops, including mobile machine gun companies and units of the Free French army. Platt planned a broad, coordinated offensive that would have to include attacking the only fortified strongpoint in the area, Fort Dologorodoc which prevented the British artillery from moving forward to support an attack Acqua Col.
With the rising moon giving some visibility, the British renewed their attack on Ft Dologorodoc, taking two key approach points. When the Italian troops inside counter-attacked to drive them back, a West Yorkshire regiment crept up the rocky slopes and hit the fort from the other side. Only a skeleton force of the Italian garrison remained behind, fighting a desperate and bloody hand-to-hand battle for the strongpoint. However, after a great deal of fierce but gallant combat, they were overwhelmed and the fort was taken by the British as the new day began to dawn. Nearby Italian troops launched multiple counter-attacks to retake the fort but with supplies running low and the British holding the commanding position in the clear light of day, none were successful. Meanwhile, Platt and his attacks were less successful as their repeated advances failed to dislodge the Italian troops. Day after day they came forward, were repelled or made minimal gains only to face Italian counter-attacks that often ended, like the fighting in the fort, in brutal hand-to-hand combat. Platt finally decided he would have to find a new avenue of attack if he was going to have any success.