Saturday, April 09, 2005

The initial British strategy for the Crusader Battle in November 1941

At the start of the Crusader Battle, the British planned to outflank Axis forces at the "wire" and strike toward Tobruk. They were newly equipped with large numbers (relatively) of new tanks, including the Cru. Mk.VI Crusader II and the American-built M3 Stuart light tank. The British armour was concentrated in the 30th Corps, which struck initially at Gabr Saleh, on the Trigh El Abd. One detachment turned short and headed North, just to the West of Sidi Omar. The 13th Corps, with infantry, attacked directly against the Axis forces between Sidi Omar and Halfaya Pass, in front of Sollum. The German 21st Panzer Div. was sitting at Gambut, on the Via Balbia. The 15th Panzer Division was sitting at the edge of Tobruk, near the Sidi Rezegh airfield. Elements of 30th Corps headed straight at the 15th Panzer Div. The action did not go well for green British armoured forces, and eventually, General Auchinlech relieved his field commander Lt. General Alan Cunninghem, and took charge himself. He eventually won the battle. Correlli Barnett's book The Desert Generals, has a good description of the Battle. Another book that gives the feel of what was happening is Robert Crisp's Brazen Chariots.

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