Battle of Bir Hakeim
|Battle of Bir Hakeim|
|Part of the Battle of Gazala|
Free French Foreign Legionnaires assaulting an enemy strong point at Bir Hakeim
| Free French Forces
|Commanders and leaders|
|Marie-Pierre Kœnig||Erwin Rommel|
|Casualties and losses|
|3,300 dead or wounded
The Battle of Bir Hakeim (Arabic pronunciation: [biʔr ħaˈkiːm]) took place at Bir Hakeim, an oasis in the Libyan desert south and west of Tobruk, during the Battle of Gazala (26 May – 21 June 1942). The 1st Free French Brigade (Général de brigade Marie Pierre Kœnig) defended the position from 26 May – 11 June against much larger German and Italian forces, commanded by Generaloberst Erwin Rommel.
The Panzerarmee Afrika captured Tobruk ten days later but the delay imposed on the Axis offensive by the defence of the fortress, influenced the cancellation of Operation Herkules, the plan for an Axis invasion of Malta. Rommel continued to advance and invaded Egypt, slowed by British delaying actions until the First Battle of El Alamein in July where the Axis advance was stopped; both sides used the battle for propaganda, Winston Churchill renaming the Free French as the Fighting French and Hitler called the French the second best fighters after the Germans.
- 1 Background
- 2 Prelude
- 3 Siege
- 4 Aftermath
- 5 Order of battle
- 6 See also
- 7 Notes
- 8 Citations
- 9 References
- 10 Further reading
- 11 External links
At the beginning of 1942, after its defeat in the west of Cyrenaica in Unternehmen Theseus, the Eighth Army faced the Axis troops in Libya roughly 48 kilometres (30 mi) west of the port of Tobruk, along a line running from the coast at Gazala, southwards for about 48 kilometres (30 mi). Both sides accumulated supplies for an offensive to forestall their opponent and General Claude Auchinleck, the Commander in Chief of British Middle East Command, hoped for the Eighth Army to be ready by May. British code-breakers tracked the dispatch of convoys to Libya as the anti-shipping offensive from Malta was neutralised by Axis bombing and was able to forecast that the Axis would attack first. The Eighth Army was not ready to take the offensive and so Lieutenant-General Neil Ritchie, the army commander, planned to fight a defensive battle on the Gazala line. Auchinleck's appreciation of the situation to Ritchie in mid-May anticipated two Axis strategies: a frontal attack in the centre of the Gazala line and then an advance to Tobruk or a flanking move to the south looping round towards Tobruk.
Auchinleck saw the former as more likely (with a feint on the flank to draw away the Eighth Army tanks) while Ritchie favoured the latter. Auchinleck suggested that the tanks should be concentrated near El Adem, well placed to meet either threat. Since Operation Crusader in late 1941, the Eighth Army had received M3 Grant tanks with a 37mm gun in a turret and a 75mm gun in a sponson, which could penetrate the armour of the Panzer III Ausf. H and J and the Panzer IV at 650–850 yards (590–780 m). The frontal armour of the Grant was thick enough to withstand the 50 mm Pak 38 anti-tank gun at 1,000 yards (910 m) and the short-barrelled 50 mm KwK 38 gun at 250 yards (230 m). The first 112 × 6-pounder anti-tank guns had arrived and been allotted to the motor brigades of the armoured divisions.
At the meeting of Axis leaders at Berchtesgaden on 1 May, it was agreed that Rommel should attack at the end of May to capture Tobruk and then stop at the Egyptian border, while the Axis captured Malta in Operation Herkules and then invade Egypt. The Panzerarmee finished converting to the up-armoured Panzer III Ausf. H and received 19 × Panzer III Ausf. J (Mark III Special) with a long-barrelled 50 mm KwK 39 gun. Four Panzer IV Ausf. G (Mark IV Special) with long-barrelled 7.5 cm KwK 40 guns had also arrived. German Military Intelligence (Abwehr) had broken some British military codes and in late 1941 Black, the code used by Bonner Fellers a U.S. military attaché. The British divulged much tactical information to Fellers, who unwittingly reported it to the Axis as well as Washington.
Until May, monthly deliveries to Libya averaged 61,000 tonnes (60,000 long tons), fewer than the smaller Axis force received from June–October 1941 but sufficient for an offensive. The 1,400 kilometres (900 mi) advance to Gazala succeeded because Benghazi was open, reducing the transport distance for about Panzerarmee to 450 kilometres (280 mi). The capture of Malta would not alter the constraints of port capacity and distance; protecting convoys and a large port close to the front, would still be necessary for a decisive victory. Air attacks directed by Kesselring on Malta, reduced its offensive capacity and supply convoys from Italy reached the Axis forces in Africa.33% of the supplies of the
Unternehmen Venezia (Operation Venice), the Axis plan of attack, was for tanks to make a flanking manoeuvre south of the fortified "box" at Bir Hacheim. On the left flank, the Italian 132 Armoured Division Ariete would neutralise the Bir Hacheim box and on the right flank, the 21st Panzer Division and 15th Panzer Division would advance north behind the Eighth Army defences, to destroy the British armour and cut off the infantry divisions on the Gazala line. On the far right of the attacking formation, a 90th Light Afrika Division (Generalmajor Ulrich Kleemann) Battle Group was to advance to El Adem, to the south of Tobruk, cut the line of supply from the port to the Gazala Line and hold Allied troops at Tobruk by simulating a strong armoured force, using dust machines made from aircraft-engines and propellers mounted on trucks.
The rest of the Italian XX Motorized Corps, the Italian 101st Motorized Division Trieste, would open a gap in the minefield north of the Bir Hacheim box near the Sidi Muftah box, to create a supply route to the armour. Rommel anticipated that having dealt with the British tanks, he would have captured El Adem, Ed Duda and Sidi Rezegh by nightfall and the Knightsbridge defensive box, about 40 km (25 mi) north-east of Bir Hacheim. The Axis tanks would be in a position to thrust next day, west against the Eighth Army defensive boxes between Gazala and Alem Hamza, meeting the eastwards attack by the Italian X and XXI corps. By late May the Axis forces comprised 90,000 men, 560 tanks and 542 aircraft.
Between Gazala and Timimi (just west of Tobruk), the Eighth Army was able to concentrate its forces sufficiently to turn and fight. By 4 February, the Axis advance had been halted and the front line had been stabilised, from Gazala on the coast 48 kilometres (30 mi) west of Tobruk, to the old Ottoman fortress of Bir Hakeim, 80 kilometres (50 mi) to the south. The Gazala line was a series of defensive boxes accommodating a brigade each and laid out across the desert behind minefields and wire, watched by regular patrols between the boxes. The Free French were to the south at the Bir Hakeim box, 21 kilometres (13 mi) south of the 150th Infantry Brigade box, which was 9.7 kilometres (6 mi) south of the 69th Infantry Brigade box. The line was not evenly manned, with a greater number of troops covering the coast road, leaving the south less protected but the line was behind deep minefields.
The longer line made an attack around the southern flank harder to supply. Behind the Gazala line were the Commonwealth Keep, Acroma, Knightsbridge and El Adem boxes, sited to block tracks and junctions. The box at Retma was finished just before the Axis offensive but work on the Point 171 and Bir el Gubi boxes did not begin until 25 May. By late May, the 1st South African Division was dug in nearest the coast, with the 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division to the south and 1st Free French Brigade furthest left at Bir Hakeim. The British 1st and 7th Armoured divisions waited behind the main line as a mobile counter-attack force, the 2nd South African Division garrisoning Tobruk and 5th Indian Infantry Division were in reserve. The British had 110,000 men, 843 tanks and 604 aircraft.
The fortress at Bir Hakeim (Old Man's Well), had been built by the Ottomans and later used as a station by the Italian meharist (camel corps) to control movement at the crossroads of two Bedouin paths. The wells had long gone dry and it had been abandoned. Indian troops re-occupied the site to build a strong point and surround it with 50,000 mines. The fortification was a rough pentagon pointing north, about 4 by 5 kilometres (2.5 mi × 3.1 mi). The troops were relieved by the 1st Free French Brigade, commanded by Général Marie Pierre Kœnig, part of XXX Corps (Lieutenant-General Willoughby Norrie). The French dug foxholes, entrenchments, gun emplacements and underground bunkers, then levelled and camouflaged the ground. The interior of the fort was divided into zones, each the responsibility of a unit, with Kœnig's Headquarters near the centre, at the crossroads. The V-shaped anti-tank and anti-personnel minefields, were patrolled by the 3rd Foreign Legion Battalion (Lamaze), in 63 × Bren Gun Carriers divided into three squadrons. The patrols moved along lanes in the minefields, paying particular attention to the area north to the 150th Brigade Box at Got el Ualeb.
Battle of Gazala
At 2:00 p.m. on 26 May, the Italian X and XXI Corps began a frontal attack on the central Gazala line. A few elements of the Afrika Korps and XX Mobile Corps participated and during the day the bulk of the Afrika Korps moved north, to give the impression that it was the main attack. After dark, the armoured formations turned south in a sweeping move around the southern end of the Gazala line. Early on 27 May, the main force of Panzerarmee Afrika, the Afrika Korps, Italian XX Motorised Corps and the 90th Light Division went round the southern end of the Gazala line, using the British minefields to protect the Axis flank and rear. The Ariete Division was held up for about an hour by the 3rd Indian Motor Brigade (7th Armoured Division), dug in some 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) south-east of Bir Hacheim.
The 15th Panzer Division engaged the 4th Armoured Brigade, which had come south to support the 3rd Indian and 7th Motorised brigades and the Germans were surprised by the range and power of the 75 mm guns on the new M3 Grants. The 4th Armoured Brigade withdrew toward El Adem and by late morning, the Axis armoured units had advanced more than 40 kilometres (25 mi) north. The Axis advance was stopped around noon, by the 1st Armoured Division, in mutually costly fighting. On the right, the 90th Light Division forced the 7th Motorised Brigade out of Retma eastwards on Bir el Gubi. Advancing toward El Adem at mid-morning, armoured cars of the 90th Light Division came upon the advanced HQ of 7th Armoured Division near Bir Beuid, dispersed it and took prisoner the commander, Major-General Frank Messervy, which left the division without effective command for two days. The 90th Light Division reached the El Adem area by mid-morning and captured a number of supply bases. Next day, the 4th Armoured Brigade moved on El Adem and forced back the 90th Light Division to the south-west.
The 15th and 21st Panzer Divisions, the rest of the 90th Light Division and the Ariete Division, started the large encircling move south of Bir-Hakeim as planned. The 3rd Indian Motor Brigade was surprised at 6:30 a.m. on 27 May and overrun at point 171, 4 south-east of Bir Hacheim, by the Ariete Division and some German tanks, losing about 440 men and most of its equipment. The 7th Motor Brigade was then attacked at Retma and forced back to Bir el Gubi. The 4th Armoured Brigade advanced in support and collided with the 15th Panzer Division; the 8th Hussars were destroyed and the 3rd Royal Tank Regiment (3rd RTR) was severely damaged. The British inflicted considerable losses in return but then retired to El Adem.
After overrunning the 3rd Indian Motor Brigade, three tank battalions of the Ariete Division moved to the north-east of Bir Hacheim and the IX Battalion (Colonel Prestisimone) with sixty tanks, changed direction towards the fort. The IX Battalion arrived before the Bir Hakeim minefield and barbed wire at 8:15 a.m., charged and lost 31 tanks and a Semovente. Ten tanks got through the minefield and were knocked out by 75 mm anti-tank fire and 124 Italian tank crew became casualties. The remnants of the IX Battalion retired on the main body of the Ariete Division, which moved north towards Bir el Harmat around noon, following Rommel's original plan.
On 28 May, the Desert Air Force (DAF) made a maximum effort to attack Axis columns around El Adem and Bir Hakeim but bombed Bir Hakeim and its surroundings in the poor visibility, misled by the Italian tank wrecks around the position. Kœnig sent a detachment to destroy the wrecks to avoid any more mistakes. The group sent a column to make contact with the 150th Infantry Brigade, stationed further to the north. After a few hours Italian artillery forced them to retire but the French column destroyed seven enemy half-tracks. On 29 May, the detachment of Capitaine Gabriel de Sairigné destroyed three German tanks and British air attacks intercepted two Stuka raids and fighter-bombers attacked supply lines south and east of Bir Hakeim. On 30 May, 620 soldiers from the 3rd Indian Motor Brigade, captured by the Axis and then released in the desert, reached the fort and added to the 243 prisoners already there, added to the water shortage. The detachment of Capitaine Lamaze, at the request of the 7th British Armoured Division, sealed off the breach opened the day before by the Axis tanks in the minefields. Led by Colonel Dimitri Amilakhvari, the legionnaires were ambushed but managed to retreat with the help of the Bren carriers of the 9th Company Messmer.
31 May – 1 June
On 31 May, the first day of a two-day sandstorm, fifty supply trucks of the 101st Motorized Company of Captaine Dulau, reached Bir Hakeim with water and took the Indians, prisoners and seriously wounded back to Allied lines. A raid by the detachments Messmer, de Roux and de Sairigné, led by Amilakhvari, destroyed five tanks and an armoured vehicle repair workshop. The Panzerarmee had been forced to retreat westwards, to an area north of Bir Hakeim, which became known as the Cauldron, having attacked the 150th Infantry Brigade Box since 28 May. The 150th Infantry Brigade was overrun late on 1 June, despite relief attempts and the Axis gained a supply route through the Eighth Army minefields north of Bir Hakeim; next morning the encirclement of the fort was resumed by the 90th Light Division, Trieste Division and three armoured reconnaissance regiments from the Pavia Division. At 8:00 a.m. German troops approached from the south and Italian forces advanced from the north. Two Italian officers presented themselves at 10:30 a.m. at the 2nd Foreign Legion Battalion lines, asking for the capitulation of the fort, which General Kœnig rejected.
From 10:00 a.m. on 2 June, both sides exchanged artillery-fire but the French field guns were out-ranged by German medium artillery and the fort was bombed by German and Italian aircraft. Stukas raided Bir Hakeim more than twenty times but the French positions were so well built as to be almost invulnerable. The British were unable to reinforce the French, who repulsed the Ariete Division attack but on 2 June the DAF had an easily observed bomb line around the fort and concentrated on the area with fighter patrols and fighter-bomber attacks. The sight of scores of burning vehicles helped to maintain the morale of the defenders, who harassed Axis communications around the fort, as did the 7th Motor Brigade and the 29th Indian Infantry Brigade in the vicinity. On 4 June, the DAF fighters and fighter-bombers disrupted Stuka attacks and bombed Axis vehicles, setting off an ammunition wagon in view of the French. Kœnig signalled Air Vice-Marshal Arthur Coningham: "Bravo! Merci pour la R.A.F." which brought the reply "Merci pour le sport".
From 5–6 June the DAF flew fewer sorties at Bir Hacheim, concentrating on the Knightsbridge Box and around 11:00 a.m. on 6 June, the 90th Light Division, attacked with the support of pioneers, to try to clear a passage through the minefield. The pioneers got within 800 metres (870 yd) of the fort, having breached the outer minefield and during the night managed to clear several passages into the inner perimeter. German infantry gained a foothold but the French, in fox holes, dug outs and blockhouses, maintained a great volume of small-arms fire, which forced the Germans under cover. After the disastrous failure of Operation Aberdeen, which had begun on the night of 4/5 June and was intended to destroy the Axis forces in the Cauldron, Ritchie considered withdrawing the French from the fort, to release the 7th Motor Brigade but decided to keep possession. On 7 June, four DAF raids were made against the Germans in the minefields. That night a last convoy approached the fort and Aspirant Bellec got through the German lines and in thick fog, guided the convoy in. The Germans used the fog to prepare a final assault, tanks, 88 mm guns and Colonel Hacker's pioneers were formed up in front of the fort.
On the morning of 8 June, after the defeat of Operation Aberdeen released part of the 15th Panzer Division and Group Hecker for the siege, Rommel commanded an attack from the north, approaching as close in a thick fog, with artillery firing directly against the fortifications. The Luftwaffe made constant attacks, including a raid by 45 Stukas, three Ju. 88s and ten Me. 110s, escorted by 54 fighters. Just before 10:00 a.m. the attack began, aiming at a low rise which would overlook the French defences. The Chadian and Congolese defenders held on despite many casualties and in the afternoon, another sixy Stukas bombed the perimeter and an attack was made all round the northern defences. An ammunition dump was blown up and the perimeter forced back Kœnig reported that the garrison was exhausted, had suffered many casualties, was down to its reserve supplies and asked for more air support and a relief operation. The DAF had made another maximum effort and flew a record 478 sorties; during the night, Hurricanes and Bostons dropped supplies to the garrison.
On the morning of 9 June, twenty Ju. 88s and forty Ju. 87s escorted by fifty Me. 110 and 109 fighters attacked Bir Hakeim. The Germans waited for the 15th Panzer Division, as the German artillery and aircraft bombarded the fort. A few skirmishes occurred between the 66th Infantry Regiment of the Trieste Division and the men of Lieutenant Bourgoin, whose unit was down only to hand grenades. At 1:00 p.m., 130 aircraft bombed the north face of the fort, the German infantry and the 15th Panzer Division attacked, supported by an artillery barrage. The attackers breached the 9th Company lines and the central position of Aspirant Morvan but the situation was restored with a Bren Carrier counter-attack. Many DAF aircraft were unserviceable and the effort for the day was much reduced but two Hurricanes dropped medical supplies. Diversions attempted by columns from the 7th Motor Brigade and the 29th Indian Infantry Brigade, were too small to have much effect. In the afternoon, Messervy, the commander of the 7th Armoured Division, signalled that a break-out might be necessary and Kœnig asked for DAF protection for an evacuation at 11:00 p.m. that night. This was too short notice and the garrison had to wait for another 24 hours until the night of 10 June, for a rendezvous to be arranged by the British to the south.
Retreat, 10/11 June
During 10 June, the French hung on and suffered many casualties; with only 200 × 75 mm rounds and 700 × mortar rounds left, another attack on the northern sector against the Oubangui-Chari and 3rd Foreign Legion Battalion lines was contained by a counter-attack by the Messmer and Lamaze units, supported by Bren Carriers and the last mortar rounds and in the afternoon, the biggest air attack of the siege, a raid by 100 Stukas dropped 130 long tons (130 t) of bombs. The last rounds of ammunition were issued and bodies searched for spare bullets; Rommel predicted that Bir Hakeim would fall the next day but resisted pressure to attack with tanks, fearing that many would be lost in the minefields.
As dark fell, sappers began to clear mines from the western face of the fortress, heavy equipment was prepared for demolition and two companies were detailed to stay behind to disguise the retirement. A rendezvous was arranged with the 7th Motorized Brigade, which ran a convoy of lorries and ambulances to a point 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) south of the fort. Mine clearance by the sappers took longer than expected and they were only able to clear a narrow passage rather than a 220-yard (200 m) corridor. Vehicles went astray and the ambulances and walking-wounded left the perimeter 75 minutes late at 8:30 p.m. Kœnig put the fort under the command of Amilakhvari, the Foreign Legion commander and left the fort with his female driver at the head of the column.
A flare rose, the Axis troops nearby began to fire and the guide of the HQ column got lost and was blown up three times by mines. When Kœnig caught up with the main column, it was blocked by troops of the 90th Light Division and he ordered a rush, regardless of the mines. Lamaze, Captain Bricogne and Lieutenant Dewey were killed in the mêlée. The reception was organised by 550 Company Royal Army Service Corps (RASC) which drove lorries and guided field ambulances with inexperienced rear-area crews, escorted by the 2nd King's Royal Rifle Corps (KRRC) and the 2nd Rifle Brigade on either side. The ambulances became separated in the dark but were recovered and guided to the rendezvous. The commander the 3rd Battalion was captured but most of the brigade managed to break out, reach Bir el Gubi, then withdraw to Gasr-el-Arid by 7:00 a.m. on 11 June. About 2,700 men, including 200 wounded of the original 3,600 men escaped; during the day, British patrols picked up stragglers.
Possession of Bir Hakeim had made longer the Axis supply route, which caused many losses and after the defeat at the Cauldron, the British got more time to recover. The French impressed the Axis forces facing them and raised morale among the Free French. From 2–10 June the DAF flew about 1,500 sorties and lost 19 fighters over the fort, against about 1,400 Axis sorties in which 15 German and five Italian aircraft were shot down. The 7th Motor Brigade ran four supply convoys into Bir Hakeim from 31 May – 7 June. For the Free French, a victory was badly needed to show the Allies that the army of the French was a serious force that could contribute to the war against Germany. The term Free French was replaced by "Fighting French", after the battle had shown the world that a revival after the catastrophic defeat in 1940 was under way; De Gaulle used it to undermine co-operation with the Vichy regime. In 1960 Playfair (the British official historian), wrote
At the outset it had made longer and more difficult the enemy's temporary supply route; it had caused him many casualties and it gave the British a chance to recover from their defeat in the Cauldron. General Kœnig's brigade made a great impression upon the enemy by their courageous and enterprising resistance and their success gave a well-won fillip to the pride of the Free French, who, for the first time in the Middle East, had fought the Germans and Italians in a complete formation on their own.
— I. S. O. Playfair
and Auchinleck said on 12 June 1942, "The United Nations need to be filled with admiration and gratitude in respect of these French troops and their brave General Kœnig". After the war, Generalmajor Friedrich von Mellenthin wrote, "In the whole course of the desert war, we never encountered a more heroic and well-sustained defence."
Buell in 2002 and Ford in 2008 wrote of 141 French dead, 229 wounded and 814 men taken prisoner, with the loss of 53 guns and fifty vehicles. Axis losses of 3,300 dead or wounded, 227 captured, 164 vehicles destroyed and 49 aircraft shot down were recorded. In 2004, Porch recorded that the Axis took 845 prisoners at Bir Hakeim, only ten percent of whom were French and that Hitler ordered that German political refugees were to be killed, an order that Rommel ignored.
Order of battle
|Bir Hakeim garrison | Equipment|
- List of infantry units from Playfair (2004) unless indicated.
- Bimberg 2002, p. 101.
- Buell 2002, p. 169.
- Ford 2008, p. 64.
- Hinsley 1994, pp. 206–207.
- Playfair 2004, p. 216.
- Playfair 2004, p. 218.
- Carver 2002, pp. 68–69.
- Playfair 2004, p. 219.
- Carver 2002, p. 69.
- Latimer 2003, pp. 44–45.
- Creveld 1977, pp. 193–195.
- Playfair 2004, pp. 219–223.
- Carver 1964, p. 167.
- Playfair 2004, pp. 197–198.
- Playfair 2004, pp. 216–217.
- Walker 2003, p. 116.
- LePage 2008, p. 149.
- Bimberg 2002, pp. 109, 101.
- Playfair 2004, p. 413.
- Playfair 2004, p. 223.
- Playfair 2004, pp. 223–224.
- Playfair 2004, pp. 224–225.
- Montanari 1993, pp. 209–211.
- Ford 2008, p. 35.
- Greene & Massignani 1999, p. 156.
- Montanari 1993, p. 212.
- Greene & Massignani 1999, p. 157.
- Richards & Saunders 1975, p. 199.
- Liardet 2012, p. 2.
- Playfair 2004, pp. 227–231.
- Boillot 1945, p. 24.
- Playfair 2004, pp. 230–231.
- Richards & Saunders 1975, pp. 200–201.
- Richards & Saunders 1975, p. 201.
- Playfair 2004, p. 236.
- Liardet 2012, p. 3.
- Pitt 1980, p. 220.
- Pitt 1980, p. 221.
- Playfair 2004, p. 237.
- Pitt 1980, p. 222.
- Pitt 1980, pp. 222–223.
- Neillands 2005, pp. 124–125.
- Playfair 2004, pp. 237–238.
- De Gaulle 2000, p. 260.
- Pitt 1980, p. 223.
- Porch 2005, p. 272.
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- Boillot, Félix François (1945). Bir Hakeim: 26 mai – 10 juin, 1942 (2nd, rev. ed.). Paris: Presses universitaires de France. OCLC 11585533.
- Buell, Thomas B.; Bradley, John N.; Griess, Thomas E.; Dice, Jack W.; Bradley, John H. (2002). The Second World War: Europe and the Mediterranean. The West Point Military History Series. Garden City Park, NY: Square One. ISBN 0-75700-160-2.
- Carver, M. (1964). Tobruk (Pan Books ed.). London: Batsford. ISBN 0-330-23376-9.
- Carver, M. (2002) . Dilemmas of the Desert War: the Libyan Campaign 1940–1942 (Spellmount ed.). Staplehurst: Batsford. ISBN 1-86227-153-4.
- Creveld, M. van (1977). Supplying War: Logistics from Wallenstein to Patton. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-29793-1.
- de Gaulle, Charles (2000) . Guyard, Marius-François; Barré, Jean-Luc, eds. Mémoires de guerre. Bib. La Pléiade (in French). Paris: Gallimard. ISBN 978-2-07011-583-9.
- Ford, Ken (2008). Gazala 1942: Rommel's Greatest Victory. Oxford: Osprey. ISBN 978-1-84603-264-6.
- Greene, Jack; Massignani, Alessandro (1999) . Rommel's North Africa Campaign: September 1940 – November 1942. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo. ISBN 978-1-58097-018-1.
- Hinsley, H. (1994) . British Intelligence in the Second World War. History of the Second World War (Abridged, rev. ed.). London: HMSO. ISBN 0-11-630961-X.
- Latimer, Jon (2003) . Alamein. London: John Murray. ISBN 0-7195-6213-9.
- LePage, Jean-Denis G. G. (2008). The French Foreign Legion: An Illustrated History. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarlane. ISBN 978-0-7864-3239-4.
- Liardet, J.-P. (2012). "Bir Hakeim 1942, Les Français Libres contrarient les plans de Rommel". Net4war. Retrieved 24 March 2015.
- Montanari, Mario (1993). El Alamein (gennaio – novembre 1942). Le operazioni in Africa Settentrionale III (2nd ed.). Roma: Stato Maggiore dell'esercito, Ufficio Storico, SME. OCLC 313319483.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Battle of Bir Hakeim.|
- (French) Fondation de la France Libre, numéro spécial 70e anniversaire de la bataille de Bir Hakeim, n° 44, juin 2012
- (French) Bir Hakeim, Verger, M.
- Parliamentary Debates, House of Commons Official Report July 2, 1942
- Bonner Fellers and the Black Code