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Israeli Order of Battle Along the Suez Canal in the Yom Kippur War, Oct. 6, 1973

Updated on March 13, 2011
Egyptian SAM-6 missiles
Egyptian SAM-6 missiles
Deployments before the Oct. 6 War
Deployments before the Oct. 6 War
The Suez Canal
The Suez Canal
Israeli armor
Israeli armor
Egyptian armor
Egyptian armor

Ever since the October 6th, 1973, Yom Kippur War in the Sinai, trying to ascertain the actual Israeli units and their location on Oct. 6 has proven difficult. Difficult because, even today, tracking the units is elusive because many battalions or brigades were detached and reattached to other units, based on need. So, one might see a battalion or brigade with a division on Oct 6, and then another source will show it with another division on the 8th. The other issue is that many or most books refer to the units by their commanding officer name and not by the designation (for example, Magen Brigade, instead of the 11th and 204th Mechanized Brigades. If you do not know this, the order of battle will remain elusive and contradictory. Another issue is attaching units. If one looks for the sub-units of the 162nd Tank Division for Oct. 6, they will not find a 274 Brigade listed because it was not attached until the 12th. All this creates problems when researching Israeli Order of Battles.

Along the Suez

On the Sinai Peninsula was the 252nd Armor Division (14th Tank brigade, 401st Tank brigade), the 460th Tank x had been recently attached (minus the 71st Tank Bn directed to the Golan). The division had nine tank battalions. The 14th Tank Brigade (Reshev) was really the only unit stopping the Egyptians after the crossed the Suez Canal. Its 460th Brigade (Amir) had the 196th and 198th Tank Battalions, was far away, while its 401st (Shomron) was even further away with the 46, 52,79, 195 tank battalions. 

For the defense of the northern zone, the 275th Infantry Territorial Brigade, in the center, 14th Tank x (headquarters - in Tas). The unit comprised of the 9th Tank Bn (33 tanks) located in the north in the area with ​​275th Infantry x, its 185th Tank Bn (21-25 tanks) was in the center and the 52nd Tank Bn (32 tanks) in the south. Except for three tanks from the 9th Tank Bn at OP Orkal, all tanks were at the beginning of the war were 8-12 km (5-7 miles) from the canal.

All together, the 252th Armor Division had 289 tanks: 90 in the 14th Tk x, 130 in 401 st,  and 69 in 460th (North Sinai). 

The Observation Post system, created by Israel along the Suez Canal (length - 157.5 km, width - 180 meters), was named the "Bar-Lev Line”. The main engineering obstacle was the Suez Canal and the berm (17-25m in height) plus minefields on its eastern shore. Along the canal were minefields and barbed wire defended by 28 infantry platoons. By the beginning of the fighting, only 16 forts were manned. The exception was the northernmost line posts, "Orkal 1,2,3". Egyptian positions were within 900m from "Orkal" and 1,000m from the "Budapest". The men of the 68th infantry Bn\Jerusalem Brigade, a reserve unit, manned the posts. This unit had 200-250 men. The forts sat on top of a berm and the steep side faced the canal while a gradual slope was on the back side. They were generally 1000m (3000 ft) from the Suez Canal. The IDF in 1971 had planned to pour oil in the canal and light it for a blaze should the enemy attack across. However, the currents were swift and by the 1973, many of the discharge pipes for the oil were corroded and the plan was shelved.  Along the canal a few artillery bases existed that were very well defended, these were Budapest, Mazmed, Mazreq. The forts had many pillboxes with two batteries of 155mm and two 120mm and 160mm mortar batteries.

Each fort along the Suez were to have been manned by 25-30 men and three tanks, in reality, they only had 16-25 men and except for Orkal, had no tanks. The men in the forts were reserves and many were cooks, drivers and not hardened infantry. Each had three 52mm and one 81mm mortars plus Super bazookas, in addition to rifles. The southern most three forts were manned by men from the 904th Infantry Bn.  The second defense line was about 8-12 km from the canal and contained 11 dug in forts with infantry companies with  one or two platoons of tanks. In reality, none were actually permanent but acted as bases for mobile units (tanks and mechanized infantry). Part of the 184th Tank Bn\14th Tk Brigade had a company of tanks in two positions plus a mechanized infantry company in another. The Battalion HQ was in Tas. The artillery batteries were also scattered. Once the base was no longer used, it was left abandoned. There was no third defensive line.

For artillery, the IDF had 12 artillery batteries, around 48 guns, along a lateral road. These included: one 1 175mm, 6 155mm, 2 160mm, and in Budapest fort, 4 175mm, 4 160mm and 2 155mm batteries.


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