The Free French occupation of Bir Hakeim had lengthened the Axis supply route around the south end of the Gazala line, caused them losses and gave the British more time to recover in the wake of their defeat at the Cauldron. 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 fortification was a rough pentagon pointing north, about 4 km × 5 km (2.5 mi × 3 mi) wide. On 14 February, the 150th Infantry Brigade was relieved at the box by the 1st Free French Brigade (Général Marie Pierre Knig), part of XXX Corps. By mid-May the perimeter and central areas were honeycombed with 1,200 entrenchments, foxholes, gun emplacements and underground bunkers, deep camouflaged hides for vehicles and supply dumps. A siege of the site began in late May. On the morning of 9 June, twenty Ju 88s and forty Ju 87 Stukas escorted by fifty Me 110 and 109 fighters, attacked Bir Hakeim. The Germans waited for the rest of the 15th Panzer Division to arrive as German artillery and aircraft bombarded the fort. Then a two-prong attack struck the perimeter. Italian infantry fought alongside Kampfgruppe Wolz, the German and native infantry of Sonderverband 288 (Special Commando 288) from the 90th Light Division, elements of the reconnaissance and infantry units of 15th and 21st Panzer Divisions and Kampfgruppe Kiehl a company of 11 tanks. The objective was Point 186, the top of a gentle rise in the ground which acted as a fire-control position for the garrison.