Analyzed By: Ahmed Abdel Moniem Zayed
Arabic Version Link رابط الموضوع باللغه العربية
With God’s Help, I start writing a topic around the issue of the Gap Battle which is a doubtful, critical, and also a mysterious topic for most of the followers. This topic is taken as a victory and a successful operation by the Israelis. On the other hand, Al Sadat took the issue as an operation of a TV advertising show.
The truth, as a person opinion, is that at the end of the war in the beginning of November 1973, the Israelis put themselves in a very very dangerous military position, which will be addressed later, and what made them reach that position was a psychological feeling for the desire for superiority over the Arabs; therefore, the Israeli Generals could not in any way accept the war would end with the state it used to be on October 14, or even before or after that date. Their vanity created inside them the desire for subjugating the Egyptian Army and breaking its bones (an Israeli statement) as a punishment for what the Egyptians had achieved during the first days of the war.
The Gap, in military wise, is a kind of battles of war performed by quick and light force units with for the objectives of weakening the unity of other side’s powers at weak positions, being gathered behind its power lines, and threatening the communication links, army reserves, and commander centers. Consequently, a new reality would be established.
Many Gap battles existed during the modern era battles:
Jordan’s Gap battle in France, when the Germanic forces performed a bold, unexpected attack operation using armored forces against the weakest sites of the American army in 1944. The Germanic forces penetrated the sites and got through deeply into the heart of the allied between the powers of Paton and powers of Montgomery taking advantage of the incompetitor superiority of their tanks. However, since the closure of the Gap and scarcity of fuel sources for this Germanic force, the last Germanic attack in the WWII failed. The bayonet of this attack was the masterful Germanic General Hisler.
There are many other examples for Gap battles have been performed, there is no need to mention them right now.
By God’s Will, my references for this topic are:
For downloading, please check References part.
The reader will find a large number of hand-drawn maps I have drawn them by myself for clarifying the conditions moment by moment.
First: The Conditions before Gap Battle:
After the failure of the Egyptian attack evolution, Israel have immediately started implementing Shovah Yunim plan (English: Tower of Pigeons) and some other people call it Alghazalah (Gazelle in English).
Three military groups were assigned for implementing the Gap under direct command of Sharon and under the supervision of General Barlev (Representor of Chief of Staff).
The Groups were:
So, a force composed of six armored brigades with 540 tanks, one mechanic brigade with 30 tanks, and one paratroopers’ brigade with 2000 paratroopers was prepared to be responsible for the implementation of Gap.
The rest of the Fronts were left for the forces which arrived from Golan Heights and from the forces whose losses were offset by the American bridge, which reached its peak after the 14th of October.
Second: The Israeli Offside to West of Canal:
The Israelis have, immediately, started implementing their plan for crossing to the West of Canal after the failure in attack evolution. There is a dissension between historians about the actual time of the Israeli Cross, however Sharon cuts any doubt and strongly assures that the hour was 0900 morning on 16 October 1973 in his diary. He had a battalion of tanks and a battalion of paratroopers in west of Canal. Most probably, this force has crossed from the northern side of the Bitter Lakes and not from Debsarwar. The mission of this force was attacking the rocket platforms of SAM-2 and SAM-3 using long distance attacking with power of 2-3 tanks per attack, and it was known that those tanks were made by the Soviets by the remnants of War 67. Those tanks were of BT-76 and amphibious Topaz types raising the Egyptian flags. Due to the lack of any form of previous alert or warning, the Air Defense units were surprised by the Israeli armored attacks against them targeting the rockets and battery antennas which lead to the breakdown of a number of batteries and opening a Gap in the sky.
The proclamations from Air Defense forces to Operations Room about the enemy attacks have came as a first warning for a Gap existence. Those data were analyzed coming up with a conclusion that the enemies’ power is just an incursive power which does not exceed seven tanks. Immediately, Army Field II artillery started attacking Debsarwar region and since that region was specified for intensive mango agriculture, the artillery attack effect was so weak. Also, another force (believed to include Palestinian forces) has attacked the enemies’ force. Once the enemies’ force withdrew to the mango agricultural area in Debsarwar, the force informed the commander of Local Force that the enemies’ power did not exceed by any means 7:10 tanks and it forced the enemy to withdraw, which was not true at all since the isolated Israeli force, according to Sharon quotes, was composed of 30 tanks and were used to stay inside the mango agricultural area, and what appeared from the force were the some which performed the attacks against the rockets’ platforms after their failure in attacking them from the sky.
Depending on Local Force Commander’s statement, the Second Army and Armed Forced Headquarters were negligent in dealing with that enemy military group and settled for attacking it using the armored forces while warning only Air Defense Forces. The Egyptian Commander did not realize the real objective of attacking a number of rockets’ batteries in that region specially, except after it was too late.
Third: 16th Infantry Brigade Battles (October 15-16):
I don’t think that there was another Egyptian army unit has faced and involved in fierce fighting than the 16th Infantry Brigade.
The 16th Infantry Brigade was the right side of the Bridge-Head of the 16th Infantry Group, and it represented the extreme right hand side for Army Field II. The Bridge-Head of 16th Infantry Group contained also the command of 21st Armored Group which was subjected to losses while attack evolution, then it returned to Bridge-Head for centralization. Consequently, the Bridge-Head of 16th Group contained, just on paper, six brigades (three brigades from 16th Infantry Group and three brigades from 21st Armored Group) making it overcrowded to a maximum extent causing the Israeli intensive attack against this Group so influential in size of losses.
The 16th Infantry Brigade was taking control of two very important route junctions which were Tartour and Akavich Junctions (both extent from Debsarwar to the center of Sinai), and it was supposed also that this Brigade was taking control of the invulnerable site of Tel Salam which was liberated on October 6, but for some reason that site was kept abandoned after liberating it. The Brigade’s site also included Al-Galaa Field for Agricultural Researches which was named by the Israelis after the Defeat of 1967 as the Chinese Field due to the existence of Japanese writings on the walls of the buildings due to the presence of Japanese experts were working there before the Defeat.
The first attack against the Brigade started at Hour 0500 on October 15 using a very very intensive armored attack followed by the heading of Tovia Armored Brigade from Sharon Group against the 3rd Mechanic Brigade (the central brigade for the 16th Infantry Brigade) for the advantage of attention attracting to the East however the main Israelis’ concentration was towards the West and the 16th Infantry Brigade.
The Egyptians deduced that the Israelis were looking forward to collapse the wing of the Egyptian Bridge-Head in order to reduce its size. At the same moment, Major-General Amnoon, from Sharon Group, headed towards the South to find the abandoned point of Tel Salam, the thing that spread the spirit of optimism among them due to the appearance of the Canal in sight without much effort.
After this, Amnoon pumped an armored battalion towards the North as a try to open Akavich Center however he found that it was closed by the Egyptians. He also pumped the rest of the Brigade (except one battalion) towards the North in adjacency with Canal to attack the 16th Infantry Battalion from 16th Infantry Brigade, and once he reached the route junction for Tartour route, his group was intensively attacked with MD rockets from 16th Battalion and 27 tanks were ruined immediately out of a total of 58 tanks he started moving with them which meant that he lost 30% of his brigade’s power in minutes. Although his losses, a number of his tanks set out in adjacency with the northern earthy veil and Amnoon found himself, in a moment, at the Center of Administrative Affairs area for 16th Infantry Brigade where hundreds armored vehicles for both the 16th Brigade and 21st Armored Brigade were there. It was a horrific surprise for both sides and a short battle started where all types of available weapons were used. The armor of the Group attacked directly against the penetrating tanks for the Group sites and two battalions from the 1stArmored Brigade have performed a successful counterattack which forced Amnoon Force to withdraw back to the South towards Tel Salam point missing his fortune for his major losses he experienced during that morning.
It is worth to be mentioned that Amnoon was assigned for the budge of 16th Infantry Brigade Defenses to the North for the advantage of opening the route to Canal which means his inevitable control on Akavich-Tartour route junction. The main direct mission of Amnoon was taking control of Chinese Farm (Al-Galaa Village) to facilitate the cross for Bern and Magen to the West.
Amnoon has performed his third attack on that day with a mechanical battalion power which was supported with a company of tanks to attack the routes’ junction, but once the move of the armored company started it was attacked in a blink of an eye and massively destroyed. The mechanic battalion was intensively attacked with tanks and MD projectiles forcing it to stop moving and all its tries for withdrawal and being rescued from fighting have failed. After time, Amnoon totally realized that his power which used to contain a mechanic battalion and a company of tanks was totally eliminated, consequently he tried once more to rescue what remained from his mechanic battalion on the hope to find some livings among it. So, he pumped a company of tanks however that company has suffered an intensive attack blocking it from performing its mission and it withdrew immediately.
At the same time, there was a TV debate between Dayan and Gonein which can be summarized in two sentences:
Dayan: We have tried but our tries have been blown with the wind, consequently I suggest the cancellation of the Crossing idea because the Egyptians will cut the throats of our sons on the western beach.
Gonein: If we knew before that this will happen, we wouldn’t have started the crossing operation. But now, we have crossed, so we shall continue till the bitter end.
These two statements from the Israeli reference show the extensive Israeli losses in the operation of opening the pivot of Crossing.
On October 16, Amnoon performed his fourth attack using all the available tanks with him. He attacked using an armored battalion supported with a number of tanks which were maintained during the night before. He took advantage of from his mistakes during the day before since he performed a strong reconnaissance during that morning by himself and he realized that the Egyptians Defensive Forces were composed of veils of MD Matolka rockets, Sager, and RPG. He deduced that this force (16th Battalion from 16th Brigade) was must suffering an acute shortage in weapons due to the battles of the day before. Consequently, Amnoon used a new method in fighting which is fighting with this Egyptian force from somehow a long distance till all their weapon be consumed, then attacking his principal attack. Although Amnoon power became only 27 out of 100 tanks he started fighting with on the day before, he did not give up. The new tactic of Amnoon led him to achieve what he wanted and the Egyptian Forces withdrew from the routes’ junction site after totally consuming their weapons.
Amnoon secured the routes’ junction site and Sharon supported him with two armored battalions to resume his attack against the 16th Infantry Brigade for the advantage of reaching the Chinese Farm. Amnoon left what remained from his original Brigade at the junction site and he used the new support for attacking the Chinese Farm but the direction to the farm was still closed. Consequently, the only success for Amnoon was securing the routes’ junction site and not getting through the Defensive Forces, but the withdrawal of the Defensive Forces was due to the MD weapons carry out.
Sharon’s patience started to finish due to the major losses from Amnoon Brigade part and the remain of closing the center, so Sharon commanded Adan to cross the only cross in the eastern beach and to neglect the Defensive Forces at the Chinese Farm but Barlev refused his command since supporting with 300 tanks with fuel and weapons would be subjected to permanent danger as long as the Chinese Farm is under the Egyptians’ control. Consequently, Barlev released his orders for Bern’s Group to cleanse Akavich and Tartour Centers from the Egyptian Forces and as long as gathering Sharon’s exhausted group, they would be assigned later to totally conquer the Chinese Farm as a main task for it.
Bern Faces 16th Infantry Brigade:
Sharon Group withdrew to the south for re-gathering after experiencing the losses of Tovia and Amnoon Brigades during fighting. Bern Group rushed from Tasa to Debsarwar to deal with the exhausted 16th Infantry Brigade and most of Bern’s tanks were new coming from Atlantic storehouses and full-optioned. On the other hand, 16th Brigade had spent 36 hours in continuous fighting and once Bern Group reached the site, the 16th Brigade tanks were hit one by one, so it withdrew and demanded for an Infantry support; that support was composed of one paratroops’ brigade which reached them by flying from Ras-Sedr, and its mission was simple, same as Bern explained it to his own commander Colonel Isaac, which is cleansing the Center.
At hour 2300 in October 16 night, the paratroops’ units started to get ahead towards the Egyptian sites from East to West, and when they reached a narrow region which its width did not exceed 2 km, the hell was opened against that infantry brigade and it was intensively attacked by armor projectiles, Mortars, and Kayocha rockets. The paratroopers’ brigade discovered the existence of a number of medium submachine guns (Grinov) in the secured sites filling the whole region (here, the importance of reconnaissance for the battlefield comes before getting into a battle) and the paratroopers’ brigade decided to continue ahead by any means and a, literally, bloody battle started. The Egyptians needn’t to get out from their Defensive Units to meet the paratroopers’ brigade whom their commander said: “The body parts of my soldiers have been scattered at the Egyptian Defensive Lines”. And vainly, the paratroopers tried to continue moving ahead or withdraw. All what they did was keeping their faces stuck on ground and retroversion all the time. In the early October 17 morning, it was clear for Bern that the condition of the paratroopers was very terrible, which means the lateness of opening the Center and lateness of pumping the bridge in water for performing the cross.
Bern released his orders for the reconnaissance for Akavich Center from south, and the reconnaissance group reached the water line with surprise since the Israeli paratrooper brigade unintentionally attracted the Egyptians’ attention to it and unintentionally blinded the Egyptians from what they are doing in the South. Consequently, Bern released orders to pump the bridge as quick as possible in water taking advantage of the Egyptians’ busyness in the paratroopers’ brigade and the bridge was pumped in water at 6 o’clock in October 17 morning.
Taking about the exhausted paratroopers’ brigade, Barlev released his orders to pump an armored battalion in order to veil the withdrawal of that brigade but the commander of paratroopers’ brigade doubted that the tanks would know his Brigade place, so he did the most IDIOTIC act during the war; he shot a smoke bomb to show the Supporting Group Commander his actual place, this act which helped the Egyptians to adjust their armor direction more and more accurately, and the paratroopers’ brigade and the armored battalion were intensively attacked with projectiles resulting in, the least to be described by, major extreme losses in the Israeli lines and the paratroopers’ brigade withdrew after losing 70 killed, 100 injuries, and 13 tanks from the supporting battalion after 14 hours of continuous fighting.
The First Egyptian Deal with the Gap:
It was clear for the Egyptian Commanders by the nights of October 16-17 that the Israeli Commanders were planning for crossing the west of Canal:
As a result, a strange plan was put to close the passage for east of Canal and eliminating the enemy’s forces in the west of Canal, which is represented as follows:
Performing main attack by 25th Brigade from south to north along the west of Canal.
Performing main attack by 21st Armored Group from north to south.
Performing main attack by 116th Mechanic Brigade in west of Canal (from east to west).
The main advantage of the plan was closing the penetration passage from the east and eliminating the enemy’s forces in the west of Canal, and this depending on the available information in the morning of October 16. No reconnaissance operations were performed at all before the battle, so the Egyptians did not know that the power of 7 tanks informed by Local Forces became 300 tanks by the noon of October 17. It was expected that the tanks of 25th Armored Brigade will meet face to face with 21st Armored Group at some point and a quick cooperative organization would be made while putting in consideration the importance of being very careful.
The command of 25th Armored Brigade was assigned to be under the command of the Third Army. A battalion from the 3rd Armored Brigade was drawn to be put at Bridge-Head of 7th Infantry Group to fill the gap of the absence of 25th Armored Brigade after leaving.
It is worth to be mentioned that the 25th Separate Armored Brigade, under the command of Colonel/ Ahmed Helmy Badawy, was considered to be one of the strongest Egyptian armored brigades due to owning T62 tanks with the strong and high accurate, at that time, 115 mm cannons.
25th Separate Armored Brigade Battle:
On the start of the Brigade move:
From the Bridge-Head of 7th Infantry Brigade, the bridge was exposed to a long-distance cannon and air attacks using blast bombs (the first generation of cluster bombs) which led to the stop of a number of vehicles due to the explosion of vehicles’ wheels and all the Brigades’ armored vehicles stopped after it passed by Kabreit liberated point causing the forbad of the Brigade from its armored power.
General Adan said: “We were waiting for that brigade and we prepared for it a killing point and the vision was perfect since that brigade was a perfect target for us”. The Brigade reached the southern region of Tel Salam by 2 km much far away from its pumping point. He fell in the well-planned trap prepared by Adan and the Brigade fell in that trap from all sides experiencing terrible losses. Some of the tanks managed in gathering on the right and left sides opening the attacking points against the trap. The veil of MD rockets was so effective against the Brigade and the commander of Brigade demanded for air and armored support in addition to be allowed to be stuck with the land but the Army Commanders refused being stuck with the land and insisted it in performing its original mission. Consequently, the Commander of Brigade ordered his forces to open the second format and to try encircling the enemy’s forces. The right battalion started to move ahead but it experienced large losses and the left battalion which tried to open the second format has fallen inside a mine field and most of the tanks were damaged.
The Brigade Commander demanded once more to stop for enhancing the conditions and for an armored support but the commands was strict to keep on moving ahead for meeting the 21st Armored Group. However, the Commander conducted the case by his own.
He ordered his tanks to be gathered in the Brigade’s region and to be veiled with the Governing Bodies, involving in only firing interruption. When the night came, he got back with the rest of his tanks to Kabreit point.
The Israeli sources say that the 25th Brigade involved in the battle with 96 tanks, 86 tanks were destroyed on the land of the trap. On the other hand, the Historian Gamal Hammad says that the Brigade started fighting in the battle with 75 tanks and it returned back to Kabreit point with 13 tanks only.
And then, the curtain was closed for the 25th Armored Brigade on the 17th of October with his loss for 85% of his tanks in a badly planned battle and under the bad commander side of the Third Army. I will analyze this battle later.
21st Armored Group Battle to close the Gap:
The First Armored Brigade from the 21st Group was assigned to perform its mission which was meeting the 25th Armored Brigade at the point of closure of Gap and the Brigade’s tanks power was reduced to 53 tanks only after his losses due to attack evolution. At 0900, the Brigade started attacking and it managed in reaching the southern side of Chinese Farm and eliminating the enemy there but it was subjected to an intensive armored and air attacks made his continue for penetration become impossible, so he tried to stick with the land but he was forced to withdraw during the night back inside Bridge –Head after losing twenty tanks to make its total tanks become 33 tanks at the end of the day which its power was equivalent to only a supporting armored battalion, instead of 96 tanks.
Amnoon has performed a successful counterattack which managed him to conquer the Chinese Farm after its Defensive Forces there were exhausted and the lack of weapons by its part. By this, Amnoon has performed his main task assigned for him two days ago after failing in performing it along 48 hours of continuous fighting.
Due to the regression of 21st Armored Group conditions and the exhaustion of its tanks in wrong battles, it was supported by an armored brigade which was an adjunct for the Second Infantry Group.
18th Mechanic Brigade Battle:
The orders were released for the 18th Mechanic Brigade (from 21st Group) to perform a quick attack against the vital site in the Chinese Farm and restore the situation as it used to be. The Brigade started its attack at 5 o’clock in the afternoon of October 17 to attack from north to south. Since the enemy took advantage of the previous Egyptian Defensive Forces with high efficiency, Amnoon managed in efficiently defending his site causing major losses for 18th Brigade that led Brigadier-General/ Al-Oraby, the Commander of the 21st Group, to withdrew the Brigade and support it with a company from the 14th Armored Brigade which was re-gathering inside Bridge-Head.
116th Mechanic Brigade Battle (West of Canal):
The aim of this Brigade was moving ahead and eliminating the enemy’s forces in Debsarwar region. Since the latest notifications estimating the enemy’s power was 7 tanks only, the mission seemed to be so easy for the Brigade Commander and immediately the Brigade started going ahead along Abu Sultan – Almoahada route.
But the Israeli Forces planned a trap for this brigade in a region that was far away by ten kilometers from the latest reconnaissance notifications. So the Brigade Commander was surprised with the Israeli well-planned trap and the Brigade was nearly destroyed and its lines were penetrated.
The Battles of the Special Forces (October 17):
Orders were released to the 73rd Battalion from 129th Commandos Group to move ahead and eliminate the enemy’s forces at the western side of Canal. A company from this battalion was pumped towards the direction of Debsarwar Airport for securing the airport. Once getting closer, it clashed with an Israeli armored battalion which was taking control of the airport and the enemy’s force was supported with a paratroopers’ battalion. The clash kept on till the night without achieving any actual result for any of both sides, but the commandos company was forced to withdraw due to the total consumption of its weapons.
Talking about the rest of companies of 73rd battalion, one of them reached the beach of the Bitter Lakes and clashed with the enemy in an aggressive battle. A number of the enemy’s tanks were destroyed and the orders were released for the company to withdraw but the company failed in performing withdrawal due to strength of the clash resulting in losing many soldiers there.
The orders were released for 85th Battalion under the command of Atef Monsef to move ahead with an armored battalion taken from the 23rd Mechanic Group in order to reach Marsah Abu-Sultan (for northern side of The Lakes) and Debsarwar Airport. It started moving at 4 o’clock afternoon on October 17.
The First Force: On moving towards the direction of Marsah Abu-Sultan, the company fell in a trap and most of its officers were martyred when the company reached Suez channel and failed in performing its mission.
Second Force: It separated from the armored battalion due to the difference in speed. The armored battalion fell in another trap and was totally eliminated and the paratroopers’ force was forced to work alone and clashed with the enemy’s forces in Debsarwar Airport without intensive support.
The battalion was subjected to massive losses and the rest of the battalion withdrew to Abu-Sultan junction getting back to Anshas for re-gathering.
It is clear for us from listing the events of October 17 the failure of all the forces assigned for missions in achieving their missions and the destroy of a large number of tanks for only one reason which is
-LACK OF RECONNAISSANCE ONLY-
The lack of reconnaissance led to the incidence of 25th Armored Brigade, 116th Brigade, 73rd Battalion, and 85th Battalion in well-planned traps which led to the martyrdom of hundreds and the loss for tens of tanks.
Also the lack of reconnaissance led to bad planning of the operations. The 116th Brigade clashed in a trap from a very long distance compared to that estimated by Brigade Commander; he did not prepared his forces for the clash and due to the lack of reconnaissance he did not know the actual enemy’s sites to deal with them well, so a paratroopers’ company was pumped to deal with the armored battalion at Debsarwar Airport and since the Egyptian Commanders were notified with the existence with only 7 tanks, the forces were clashed with 30 tanks in West of Canal which were the forces of Adan Group that crossed at a blink of time during the morning of October 17.
The Israeli Forces Conditions (October 17/18 Nights):
It was re-gathering and re-organizing itself after managing in eliminating the 25th Separated Armored Brigade and a brigade from its power was drawn for the Southern Command Center. At the evening, the Group was ready for crossing with power of 200 tanks.
At night, Bern crossed the Canal under a very aggressive attack since the Egyptian Command Center was sure at that moment that it was not only an Israeli offside but it was a very strong tactic battle. Consequently, all efforts of the Second Army were gathered with the armored forces of 16th Infantry Group and 2nd Infantry Group for attacking against the crossing region and the bridge was attacked. However, the crossing was resumed using ferryboats and many tanks with its full staffs were drawn at the bottom of Canal. At 0400 in October 18 morning, Bern Group performed its cross and Israel had 300 tanks at west of Canal composed of one armored brigade following Sharon, two brigades following Bern, and one paratroopers’ brigade following Sharon.
It did not clash in an actual fight since October 14 and it was fully prepared waiting for the permission to cross.
It was reduced to one armored brigade and one paratroopers’ brigade only after the drawn of one brigade for the Southern Commanders (Amnoon Brigade), which was assigned for keeping on tries for deepening the crossing passage and displacing the 16th Infantry Group to the north.
A golden chance for the Egyptian Commanders for eliminating the Gap has been ruined on October 17 due to the false usage of military tactics in the armored war leading to such losses, and the failure in blocking the Gap. When Dayan visited the front end to check the battles of October 15, 16, 17, he said:
“I couldn’t hide my feelings when seeing the battlefield. There were hundreds of burned tanks and military vehicles which were totally destroyed and gathered everywhere separated from each other by few meters. Between the ruined weapons there were SAM-2 and SAM-3 rockets, and on getting nearer from each tanks I hoped not to see the Israeli sign on it. My heart was clenched due to the large number of ruined Israeli tanks; there were really tens of it. I haven’t ever seen that scene during my whole military life even in the most terrible military cinema movies. There was a large arena in front of me for a painful massacre extending along the sight. Those burned tanks and vehicles were the evidence for that painful battle used to take place there.”
Egyptian Forces Conditions in Morning of October 18:
25th Armored Brigade – totally eliminated except for ten tanks at Kabreit point for defense.
116th Mechanic Brigade – 90% eliminated.
18th Mechanic Brigade – 60% eliminated from October 14.
16th Infantry Brigade – 90% of its tools were destroyed and was re-gathering.
In general, the 21st Armored Group was just a group by name since its power did not exceed the power of two armored battalions and the 16th Infantry Group was totally exhausted due to the continuous fighting and scarce of MD weapons.
Other Egyptian Groups along the east of Canal were not exposed to any means of fighting. In the west of Canal, there was the 4th Group at its south except for one brigade, the 23rd Armored Brigade from the adjunct of General Command, and a Republican Guard Brigade in Cairo in addition to one Commandos Group and one Paratroopers’ Brigade except one battalion.
The map clarifies the conditions of forces in morning of October 19.
The Plan for Gap Elimination on October 18:
A very simple, very impossible plan
Performing an attack from Bridge-Heart of 16th Infantry Group by 16th Group and 21st Armored Group against the Chinese Farm aiming for regaining control of it, performing an attack against the secured point in Debsarwar, and recovering the conditions as it used to be.
Performing an attack against the Israeli Forces at west of Canal by 23rd Armored Brigade from the adjunct of General Commander supported with what remained from 116th Mechanic Brigade at the moment that 182nd Paratroopers’ Brigade (except one battalion) conquers the defensive terraces at west Canal and using it in the attack against Israeli Forces and in securing the sides of the 16th Group and 21st Group along the Canal.
Names of Groups and Numbers of Brigades are not shown on Land.
21st Group Slaughs
The power of attack at east of Canal reached 80 tanks after being supported with all available tanks inside 16th Group Sector. Before attacking, an intensive was performed against 16th Group where the Brigadier-General/ Abd Rb Al-Naby, the Commander of the Group, was injured and his place was assigned for Brigadier-General/ Anwar Hab-Alromman.
On the moving start of 18th Mechanic Brigade, the Brigade was subjected to a very aggressive air and armored attack so it stopped moving ahead and it was forced to get back to its pumping point inside Bridge-Head after experiencing major losses since it the effect of the enemy’s air forces was very clear without the veiling of Air Defense Forces.
The First Armored Brigade while moving ahead, it clashed with the enemy’s tanks and it destroyed 13 tanks for the enemy while losing 41 tanks the Brigade started fighting with it due to being attacked from the sides. Only 9 tanks returned back to the Brigade’s site.
The Egyptian attack was converted into a desperate defense against the Israeli counterattack that was under the command of Amnoon in advantage of widening the crossing passage to the north.
For rescuing the position, the 24th Brigade moved from the 2nd Infantry Group Sector to 16th Group Sector to prevent the move of the enemy under the commands of Second Army Commander, Major-General/ Abdelmoniem Khalil.
23rd Armored Brigade Operations (West Canal)
The 23rd Armored Brigade reached Othman Ahmed Othman Route junction on October 17 and kept at its place for 24 hours without receiving any orders. On October 18, orders were released for the Brigade to move ahead for eliminating the enemy forces found in Debsarwar, being supported with what remained from 116th Mechanic Brigade, 182nd Paratroopers, and Commandos Brigade powers.
The Brigade Commander, Brigadier-General/ Hasan Abdel Hamid, put a plan for the Brigade’s attack basing on a uniformed attack.
((The Historian Gamal Hammad wonders in his book, P.470, that however a battalion was drawn from that Brigade on October 17, the Brigade performed the attack using a formation composed of three battalions, so was the formation of the Brigade different from the formation of the Egyptian Army ????)).
It is worth to be mentioned that the armored power of the Brigade was drawn from it from some time from that moment, so it performed the attack using no armors.
After armored and air attacks performed at 0700 in morning of October 18 as a preamble for moving ahead, the Brigade moved ahead and passed by 116th Mechanic Brigade defensive forces under the command of 23rd Mechanic Brigade of Brigadier-General/ Ahmed Abood Alzomor. During the heading move of the Brigade, it was subjected to a long-distance armored attack of 155 and 175 mm gauges. The Brigade entered the battlefield, and as usual result for the lack of reconnaissance, it fell in a well-planned trap from General Bern’s tanks and MD rocket veils.
The Brigade did not manage in skipping this attack and it fought bravely. The Brigade Commander was injured and an 8-tanks power only returned back after the Second Army has bombed a tangle of smoke for veiling the withdrawal of the remaining of the Brigade.
The 8 tanks returned back to the site of 116th Mechanic Brigade. And therefore, the 23rd Armored Brigade followed its instances; Brigades 25, 1, 14, 116, and 18. The Israeli Forces’ attack was converted to a counterattack. One armored brigade commanded by Nitika performed a counterattack against 116th Mechanic Brigade site and the center of its attack from east to west which means it was moving behind the Brigade.
Nitika attacked the Brigade and the 116th Brigade combated the attack and the armors of the Brigade subjected its fires directly which led to massive losses for Nitika Brigade. The clashed did not stop during October 18-19 with the remaining of 116th Brigade.
What is noticeable here the fast reaction of the armored soldiers in the hind lines when they observed the heading of Nitika Brigade behind them, consequently they started attacking using armors, the battlefield armors of 120 mm gauge, directly leading to breaking the parts of the hostile tanks. At 0900, October 19, Nitika attacked the Brigade’s armor-couches and a fight, described by the Israeli experts as an Imaginary Fight, started and continued for three hours from the sides of the armored soldiers and Nitika tanks. The communication with Second Army was dropped and it was clarified later that the enemy penetrated the Brigade’s defensive forces reaching its command center. The Brigadier-General/ Ahmed Abood Alzomor fought bravely till he martyred under the chain of an Israeli tank, who gave an example for the whole Army in Champion.
After the breakdown of 116th Mechanic Brigade after a heroic battle, its remaining was drawn with what remained from 23rd Armored Brigade to Abo-Soeir region for re-gathering and re-organizing.
And with this battle, the main battles of the Glorious October War stopped.
The Mistakes of General Command
In my modest opinion,
I see that the Second Army and General Command deal with the Gap on October 15, 16, 17, and 18 with lack of professionalism; consequently they were trapped in naïve mistakes which led to the widening of the Gap in a massive form, and I summarize those mistakes as follows:
What had to be done, in my opinion:
Any form of force should be pumped to 21st Armored Group region after the Group’s cross to east of Canal. Assuming not performing this step immediately after the first notification for the existence of an Israeli offside at west of Canal, the deal with the case would be as follows:
First: Plan of Handling October 16 Issue
Second: Plan for Eliminating the Gap on October 17:
Pumping 25th Armored Brigade with a strong attack from Fayed to Debsarwar (south to north).
Pumping 23rd Armed Brigade with a strong attack towards Debsarwar from east to west.
Putting 116th Brigade as a second formation for 23rd Armored Battalion.
Putting a Commando’s Battalion and a Paratroopers’ Battalion north Debsarwar for preventing the enemies’ flee.
Performing an armored attack by the Second Army and Second Infantry Group against Debsarwar region.
Not involving 16th Group in any battles in order to block the crossing passage.
The plan requires performing a strong attack with the power of 200 tanks against the waiting points of the enemies in Debsarwar. The power of the enemies was estimated to be composed of 30 tanks and 2000 paratroopers. The advantage of this is totally cleansing the region from the enemies’ forces. Under the superiority reaching 7 to 1 for the tanks and not involving 16th Group in any battles by any means, and assuming that the Egyptian Forces managed in cleansing the southern region of Canal from the enemies’ forces, the enemies’ forces conditions in east of Canal and the southern side of 16th Group would be in a very critical state due the wait of hundreds of tanks from Adan, Magen, and Sharon groups in a very narrow sector waiting for the cross.
With these conditions of the enemy, if the tanks of the 23rd Brigade reached Debsarwar region, they would work on taking control of the defensive platforms and attacking the enemies as well.
Immediately after the end of October 17 battles, the 25th Armored Brigade returned with victory to the 7th Group Sector and by this the case of the Gap would be settled.
In the second stage, the 16th Infantry Group fixes its positions on earth and exhausts the enemies’ power which it must be drawn to the deep to the horizontal route number 3 for keeping away of sight with its tanks from the range of Egyptian MD shooting weapons.
And after this, the 16th Group would be able to get back and take control of the routes’ junction and Tel-Salam point,
And God Only Knows.