Saturday, April 30, 2005

The Gazala Battle was a disaster (31 May-5 June 1942)

Auchinleck's field commander, General Ritchie, threw away his armor in a counterattack against Rommel. General Frank Messervy had escaped from the Germans and was trying to lead the troops trapped in the "Cauldron" out of danger. General Ritchie had a rugged look, and seemed the perfect picture of a general with a jutting jaw and mustache. The only problem is that he was indecisive, gave contradictory orders, and committed forces piecemeal. The result was that on 5 June, the British had lost 168 cruiser tanks, 50 infantry tanks, 4 artillery regiments, the 7th Armoured Division Support Group, and an Indian infantry brigade from the 4th Indian Division. The British commanders were in the rear while Rommel led his troops in the van. This is from Correli Barnett's book The Desert Generals.

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